The more successful a person is, the more likely they are to attract jealousy, especially from the people they work with. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the highest paid actor in Hollywood as of 2016, putting him on a pay scale far above any of his former co-workers in WWE. This alone has been enough to make plenty of actors and wrestlers jealous, and The Rock is only making things worse each time he waltzes back into WWE and takes away precious screen time from the new superstars trying to follow in his footsteps.
While not every wrestler wants to be a movie star, they inevitably want to main event WrestleMania. This honor is something The Rock took away from full-time performers twice within the past five years. The Rock earned his success through hard work and dedication to his craft, with his natural charisma helping him in immeasurable manners along the way. It isn’t exactly fair for other wrestlers to be jealous of The Rock with all things considered, as the fact is, most superstars don’t have the skills The Rock has.
Any resentment over The Rock “stealing” a main event from a newer talent is a questionable complaint, as well, since whenever The Rock is on the show, everyone benefits thanks to the larger audience he always brings. Nonetheless, plenty of wrestlers have spoken out against The Great One for a variety of reasons, objecting to his presence in WWE and in Hollywood, either recently, or in some cases, for quite a long time now. Keep reading to learn about 14 professional wrestlers who resent The Rock, and get a window into what it is about him that causes their scorn.
The Rock is such a beloved and charismatic person that a good portion of the people on this list would later go on to clear up their resentment and make amends with Rocky in due time. In other cases, such as that of Sting, the problem wasn’t so much with The Rock as it was a general resentment towards WWE and the pro wrestling community, with The Rock merely serving as the impetus for these bad feelings. Sting’s problem with The Rock doesn’t even have anything to do with him, and rather revolve around comments The Great One made in reference to Sting’s fellow WCW alum, Booker T.
Sting made his debut in WWE at Survivor Series 2014, shocking many fans who never expected to see the WCW franchise player in Vince McMahon’s ring. The main reason fans thought this would never happen was that Sting himself had spoken out on the subject, and one of the biggest causes in his decision not to join WWE for so long was, in fact, a promo delivered by The Rock. Shortly after Booker T debuted in WWE, The Rock asked Booker one of his catchphrases, “Who in the blue hell are you?”
Sting felt a comment like this undermined the history of WCW, especially considering the caliber of star Booker T was. Sting had nothing bad to say about The Rock specifically, but there must have been a little resentment over what Rock said about Sting’s friend.
13. Kevin Nash
Not all resentment lasts forever, and the extremely brief feud between Kevin Nash and The Rock is a strong example of how quickly people can forgive and forget. The Rock’s charisma must have been in play in this scenario, as the problems between the two began when Nash was one of the top stars in WCW, and he started making backstage comments about how he was quicker on the microphone than The Rock. Nash had been boasting for years that he was going to prove it if they ever got in the ring together, but things went a bit differently when they actually squared off.
Nash got his chance to best The Rock when they feuded in early 2002, when Nash revived the nWo in WWE. The Rock had heard about the rumors Nash was going to try and trip him up, so The Rock beat him to the punch by calling Nash a “big daddy b****,” an insult that wasn’t in the script. Nash was reportedly furious The Rock got the better of him, but it wasn’t long before the two shook hands and forgot about it, as they now appear to be friends today.
In addition to being the highest paid man in Hollywood, The Rock also has one of the best physiques of any leading man in the business today, and that doesn’t really come as any surprise. Most wrestlers have an incredible training regimen to keep their bodies in top condition, as do action stars, and The Rock’s position as both a wrestler and action star means he always keeps himself in peak physical condition. Despite the wrestling industry scrutinized for decades over steroid abuse, The Rock has never come under fire for steroid-related problems except with one minor and surprising exception.
Carlito Caribbean Cool spit in the face of people who were not cool, and apparently one of his pet peeves was steroid use. The Rock headlined WrestleMania 29 in a losing effort against John Cena, terribly injuring himself by tearing his ab and abductor tendons in the process. Carlito took to Twitter only a few days later to suggest these injuries may have been caused by steroids, saying, “I guess instead of getting in tremendous shape for mania…he get in TREN-mendous shape!” Tren is a popular steroid, which for the record, The Rock has never tested positive for using. The Rock also never commented on the accusation, although wrestlers including Gail Kim, Chavo Guerrero, Jr., and MVP all replied to the Tweet by calling it funny.
Most of the wrestlers on the list don’t have any fair reason to resent The Rock, but at least a few have better arguments than others. Taz is the one superstar who could potentially argue that The Rock outright stole an idea of his, but it’s completely possible that The Rock didn’t know Taz had already had the idea, and he independently came up with a similar concept. The reality is, Taz’s idea wasn’t wholly original, though no major WWE superstar had done anything like it before. The Taz Show podcast had hosted the “Hump Day Promos” since 2015, allowing fans to call in and cut 45-second promos on various subjects while imitating their favorite wrestlers.
Taz is a reasonably popular superstar, and the many listeners of The Taz Show no doubt had fun with the concept, but it goes without saying that not every single wrestling fan instantly became aware of the game. A worldwide superstar like The Rock had never heard of it either, which is why he excitedly announced a similar idea to Instagram in 2016 called #RockThePromo, which was essentially the exact same thing Taz had been doing on his show. Taz took to Twitter and accused Rock of “gimmick infringement,” but things were smoothed over in a matter of hours when Rock replied that he didn’t even know Taz had a podcast. To Taz’s credit, rather than feel slighted by The Rock’s ignorance of him, he simply apologized for overreaction and admitted he was merely proud of his show and wanted fair credit.
10. Kelly Kelly
There’s a good chance we’re projecting a little by claiming Kelly Kelly is flat out resentful of The Rock, but it remains completely fair to say that she has been open about the fact that she highly envies at least one of his movie roles. The Rock is slated to star in an upcoming film adaption of the popular ‘90s action-comedy series Baywatch, portraying the David Hasselhoff character. Hasselhoff had top billing on the show, but the real draw was Pamela Anderson, whose role will be taken over by supermodel Kelly Rohrbach in the movie. This hasn’t stopped the former superstar now professionally known by her real married name, Barbie Blank-Souray, from doing her best to angle for the role.
Once The Rock’s involvement was announced, Kelly Kelly wrote on Twitter, “Soooooo @therock I think I would make a great CJ Parker in the new Baywatch movie. #JustSayin’.” Now that things obviously haven’t panned out for Blank, it would only be reasonable to imagine her being a little disappointed. Not that The Rock necessarily could have even done anything about this, or would have wanted to, but it probably stings just a little that The People’s Champ never even bothered to respond to her on the matter.
9. The Rock JR
Imitation has been called the greatest former of flattery, but has also been the source of millions of lawsuits. It makes sense that young professionals would want to emulate The Rock in every way imaginable, considering his wildly successful career and ability to completely transcend the industry. However, it should go without saying that there’s a line between emulation and flat-out gimmick infringement, and there have already been a few so-called superstars who skipped over that line without a second thought.
Indie wrestlers steal gimmicks from big time personas on a constant basis, and it rarely becomes an issue with the public because no one finds out about it. This is how The Rock JR has been getting away with the most blatant rip-off gimmick in wrestling since November of 2015, despite the fact that he has almost none of the charisma that made Rock a superstar. How exactly he gets away with such blatant theft is unclear, though the fact that Great North Wrestling, the company where Rock JR performs, is such a small-scale operation probably has something to do with it.
8. Vince McMahon
The more fans learn about Vince McMahon, the more it becomes clear that the CEO of WWE is a bizarre and mysterious person, who has the capacity for great love and great hatred for his superstars at virtually the same time. McMahon has long considered The Rock a friend, and there’s no question the boss appreciates every time Dwayne Johnson returns home to WWE and gives Raw or SmackDown Live a nice boost in the ratings. Things aren’t perfect between The Rock and McMahon, though, and in fact, they recently got pretty tense after The Rock infamously and openly went off script during a segment on Raw.
Part of McMahon’s mystery is his confusing relationship with fans, on display in January of 2016 when four fans dressed as WWE legends were forced to switch seats when they were “distracting the audience” due to their seats appearing on the hard camera. The Rock shined a spotlight on the distractions by talking to the fans and even letting them talk into his microphone, all while cameras were rolling. McMahon and other officials were furious, and insiders claimed anyone else would have been fired for doing this. Nonetheless, Rock got away scot-free, and McMahon had no choice but to acquiesce to The Rock’s star power and beg him to come back to WWE again whenever Rock was willing to do so.
7. John Cena
It’s very possible that the success of The Rock will never quite be imitated, although many will try both in WWE and in Hollywood. The one superstar who has even come close to The Rock’s crossover appeal is John Cena. The two have naturally spent plenty of time against one another in the ring as a result of their positions at the top of the wrestling industry. Rock and Cena headlined two WrestleMania’s, tagged together at a Survivor Series, and appeared in various segments together ever since, gradually forming a friendship that managed to transcend wrestling just like their careers.
Things weren’t always perfect between Cena and The Rock, though. As both superstars have gone on record to explain many times since, the feud between Cena and The Rock was actually quite real at one point, with tensions flaring after one promo in particular where Cena broke the script to call The Rock out for needing to write notes on his wrists. Ironically, this was the same sort of tactic Rock used to upset a few others on this list. Eventually, professionalism prevailed, and The Rock was able to make up with Cena some time after their feud in the ring began to subside.
6. Shawn Michaels
One would assume that in order to resent The Rock, a superstar would have needed to work with him or have been affected by his work in one way or another, in order to inspire such strong negative feelings in his direction. Shawn Michaels was one of the biggest stars in WWE when The Rock made his debut, and therefore didn’t have much to worry about in terms of the still very inexperienced Johnson stealing his spot. Nonetheless, rumors swirled that HBK was attempting to damage The Rock’s career from the very beginning, first attempting to have his Intercontinental Championship reign truncated, and then trying to block Rock from participating in the main event of WrestleMania XV.
The stories sound like examples of HBK’s trademark jealousy and political maneuvering, but things actually go quite a bit deeper than simple politics. Years earlier, HBK had allegedly made some sort of negative comment about Rock’s grandmother, herself a wrestling promoter, and Rocky had always harbored some resentment of his own against Shawn as a result. Unlike many of the people whom HBK has since made nice with after his religious reformation, there have been no stories about Michaels and The Rock reconciling, causing speculation that this might be one grudge Rock will never willingly forget.
5. Randy Orton
Virtually every superstar who harbors some sort of resentment for The Rock actually owes him a great deal for bolstering their careers and paydays with his extremely high profile appearances in WWE. A few of them, in particular, owe him for a whole lot more than that. Randy Orton’s first WrestleMania moment came in 2004, only two years into his WWE career, not only was he already facing two veritable WWE legends in The Rock and Sock Connection, but he also managed to win the match. The huge win propelled Orton from a rising star into a huge name in his own right, and he was World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the year.
Apparently, Orton forgot about how greatly The Rock helped his career nearly a decade later when he was interviewed by ESPN about the brewing rivalry between The Rock and John Cena. Orton dismissed the idea that The Rock was a better wrestler, claiming Cena would “own The Rock,” and that Cena was “10 times the performer” Rock could ever be. Orton and Cena are known to be quite close, so it makes sense he would support his friend in this situation, and yet the extreme nature of his words imply that there may be a deeper resentment at hand than the specifics of what Orton was talking about at the time.
4. Dolph Ziggler
Many of the superstars on this list claimed that they were jealous of The Rock stealing their spots in WWE, and that indeed was the case in a few situations. However, that doesn’t mean that even the people who are complaining the loudest don’t sometimes understand that from a business perspective, it makes total sense for WWE to choose The Rock over say, Dolph Ziggler, when looking for a superstar to main event WrestleMania. This hasn’t stopped Ziggler himself from complaining about The Rock being in the main event.
Ziggler isn’t so much upset WWE constantly shines a spotlight on The Rock as he is upset that the same spotlight isn’t being shined on himself and other full-time WWE performers. On the subject of The Rock always being the focus of WWE shows, Ziggler was quoted as saying, “[I’m] angrier than you can even imagine, because I want to be in that spot. I want a full-time guy to be there every single night doing what we do best, giving back to our fans.” Ziggler also admitted he totally understood The Rock’s status as a special attraction brings in millions of fans, but his comments speak for themselves as to whether or not he may harbor negative feelings towards The Brahma Bull.
3. Seth Rollins
Despite a general belief that the resentment towards The Rock is widespread within the WWE locker room, the wrestlers on this list have generally been speaking only for themselves in whatever quotes we have referenced throughout this list. Seth Rollins is the one superstar who hinted that he might not have been alone in his problems with The Rock when asked about one of his returns to WWE in October of 2014. Rollins was quoted as saying, “I mean there’s a little bit of resentment there. There’s gotta be, but it’s mostly envy because we all want to have the level of success he has.”
Seth’s words are clearly well thought out, and although he flat out admits to his resentment of The Rock, what he said is completely understandable on a human level. However, the resentment shined through as Rollins continued, and he mocked Rock for “taking the cheap route,” and spending his return promo talking about the history of New York City in order to get a cheap pop. It’s quite possible the specifics of his complaint said more about his real feelings than the milder way he worded them, and a deeper resentment against The Rock has been brewing in Rollins for quite some time now.
2. CM Punk
If a person’s career takes off thanks to their penchant for dropping verbal “pipe bombs,” it’s only natural that this career would also explode in glorious fashion. CM Punk left WWE with a laundry list of complaints, and kept them quiet for several months, ultimately revealing his many quibbles with his past employer during a lengthy podcast with his former friend, Colt Cabana. Punk had been complaining quite a while before he left, though, and one of his first public issues with Vince McMahon was the decision to have Punk end his landmark 434-day WWE Championship reign to a part-timer.
For all of his irascibility, CM Punk is a consummate businessman, and thus his problem isn’t really with The Rock in this matter. In fact, Punk was far less upset than over the incident than was first reported, although he has gone on record to say his philosophy on wrestling includes the World Champion at the end of every show, not just every show the champ has the time to attend. Punk also felt that his matches with The Rock could have been better, though, in the same breath, he also admitted he felt that was about almost every match he had ever wrestled.
1. Triple H
It is often the case that the people that become most jealous and resentful over the success of others are those that feel that they have somehow been overlooked or jilted. While it is true Triple H and The Rock actually started their tenures in WWE a few months apart, most of the wrestling world was in agreement that they became superstars on the same night, when they wrestled an incredible ladder match against one another at SummerSlam 1998.
Triple H and The Rock rode the success of their ladder match all the way to the top of WWE. Yet, both of them took wildly different career paths along the way. The one constant in their careers seemed to be that The Rock was always more successful than Triple H, despite Triple H doing everything in his power to make himself look funnier, stronger, or more dominant in the ring. Fans will remember that Triple H once even considered an acting career, lobbying desperately to be cast as Thor, only to give up all film aspirations after his bus driver movie was a total bomb.
The full extent of Triple H’s negative feelings towards The Rock are not entirely clear, but former WWE employees including Bruce Prichard and Ric Flair have both stated in interviews they firmly believe the animosity between the two is real, and remains quite strong even as Triple H moves into his corporate position.