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The Rock remains to be one of the most successful and popular wrestlers ever to appear on the screen of mainstream professional wrestling and took his natural charisma beyond, using it as a springboard to Hollywood.
The Rock started his career as a American football player and got into trouble several times due to his very aggressive nature not just in the sport but in his personal life also, but when he went for trials with the WWF he had found a way to channel that aggression. It would seem the obvious transition seeing as his father and his father before that where professional wrestlers and had worked in the very same company. The authorities behind the scenes of the wrestling federation worked with the Rock and it was quickly relied that he had vast amounts of talent and a great deal of potential – perhaps they didn’t know just how much.
In his first appearance as “Rocky Maivia” was along side his father, as a happy, smiley old school good guy wrestler and would go onto have quite a disappointing run due to poor or no reaction from the crowds. This first gimmick didn’t last very long and he was soon to be taken away from the spotlight for a while and repackaged.
Then one night when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – a wrestler in his the prime of his popularity, was causing his usual havoc, a wrestler confronted and challenged him, a wrestler who called himself “The Rock”. This was to be the beginning of a brilliant rivalry between the two wrestlers which went onto be so successful that the feud was repeated many times over the course of the time they where in the WWF/E, with the Rock & Stone Cold having 3 separate high-profile matches against each other at the years biggest event – WrestleMania 15, 17 & 19.
The Rock’s new character started-off as a villain and he soon found himself leading his very own group of mercenary wrestlers called ‘the Nation of Domination’ and would go onto lead a very successful run as an arrogant, cocky, flashy-dressing, no nonsense, brute, but with the fans gradual appreciation for him, he quickly became a crowd favourite. Soon he would be part of a team with Mick Foley (Mankind) as the ‘Rock N’ Sock Connection’ – an unorthodox team of wresters who where almost complete opposites of each other, Foley being a scruffy, eccentric, mask-wearing madman. The team was a huge success and although the Rock wasn’t keen on the teaming to start with, in Mick Foley’s own words, it “softened” the Rock’s character up, which would eventually help him turn into the crowd favourite he was soon to become.
The Rock’s persona that he created and his limitless charisma to go along side it, helped him to become one of the most entertaining wrestlers of all time in the way he talked trash to his opponents, connected with the fans and built-up interviews before matches. It was only a matter of time before movies began to take notice of the star, and the Rock was cast in a cameo appearance of the ‘Mummy Returns’. After trying his hand at Hollywood the Rock returned the WWE and continued to be the wrestler that had made him so popular with the world, until a big time movie deal would come-up, in a spin-off of the Mummy, the Rock would play the same character he played in the Mummy, only it would be as the main hero of his very own film. And so the Rock left once more, this time with a greater sense of not coming back to the WWE and although he was still a much loved character, a majority of the fans soon began to boo him.
When the Rock has finished filming his own action movie thriller, he returned once more to the WWE, by this time the boos towards him where becoming noticeable, so the Rock decided to use this in his advantage and turn one of the most loved superstars in history to the dark side. The Rock came back from Hollywood boasting about his roles and complaining about the fans booing him, he addressed and insulted them and thus a new bad-guy Rock would enter the equation. The Rock would go onto play-up his ‘Hollywood’ gimmick and due to his charisma, was able to make the fans hate him where they once adored him, which ironically made the fans see a new and fresh reborn Rock and along with the funny skits and comments the Rock made, allot of fans began to cheer him once more.
The Rock would make a few more appearances after this, juggling his numerous amounts of movie offers and wrestling, and it was a time in the Rock’s career where he needed to decide once and for all what he wanted to do. Having dedicated his years to the WWF/E as a wrestler, the Rock’s body was worn down and he wanted a new challenge, so he chose to retire as a wrestler after his final wrestling match, re-uniting with Mick Foley to reform the Rock N’ Sock Connection against a team of new, younger wrestlers – which the team went onto lose, and thus paving the way for perhaps new wrestlers to rise to fame.
The Rock in undoubtedly one the most entertaining wrestlers of all time and the ‘intangible’ he so often spoke of – a feature almost like the ‘x-factor’, which is so important, but cannot be described was the uniqueness of the Rock which may very well be attempted to be replicated in the future, but never replaced.