Dwayne Johnson details the moment that The Rock was born
Over the last two decades, there are very few people who have had a career transformation that way that Dwayne Johnson has. After early struggles to make money on the wrestling circuit while trying to follow in the footsteps of his famous wrestling father, Johnson struck gold when he and the WWE created the character of The Rock.
The smack-talking, butt-kicking character became one of the most beloved in the history of what was then called the WWF (and continued into the WWE days) and led to a successful movie and television career that has catapulted Johnson into being one of the most popular actors in the world at this point.
During an interview for Oprah's Master Series on OWN, Johnson talked about the moment that the character of The Rock was born, in response to fans booking his nice guy character of Rocky Maivia from his first stint with the WWE:
"It wasn't me personally that they didn't like," Johnson says of the hostile fans. "It's that I wasn't being me. I wasn't being real. I wasn't being authentic. Who isthis guy in wrestling who's smiling when he's getting beat?"
"(WWE chairman Vince McMahon) said, 'When you come back, we could continue to shove you down people's throats, or we could turn you heel because they want to boo you anyway,'" Johnson recalls. "I said, 'I think it's a great idea.'"
Johnson asked McMahon for the chance to address the crowd as his new, bad guy persona of The Rock:
"I grabbed the microphone. Fans were already booing. They started chanting, 'Rocky sucks,'" Johnson says. "I said, 'I may be a lot of things, but sucks isn't one of them.'"
"In that moment, The Rock was born," he says. "A month later, I was the hottest heel in the company."
What followed was maybe the most successful career both in the ring and on the big (and little) screen of anyone in the history of the WWE. Johnson will return to the character this weekend for the organization's biggest event of the year, WrestleMania 32, being held this year at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.