Professional wrestling is often described as a large fraternity since the men and women who practice the craft are bonded to one another by sheer nature of a shared profession, thanks to the particular lifestyle required of that profession. Of course, certain wrestlers become closer than others, and that remains true even if you become bigger than the industry itself. After all, who wouldn’t want to become friends with the most electrifying man in the history of the sport?
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one WWE superstar who has truly transcended professional wrestling in all ways, departing the sports entertainment business and becoming the highest earning actor in Hollywood less than a decade later. The Rock still pops up in WWE now and again despite his enormous success, which should already be a sign to fans that he has a few friends left in the wrestling business influencing him to come back during his many returns. However, because The Rock is such a big star, there’s a growing reputation among the current WWE locker room occupants that perhaps The Great One isn’t as welcome on Raw and SmackDown Live as he once may have been.
Nonetheless, The Rock made plenty of friends during his peak years with the company, and several of those wrestlers remain some of his closest confidants as he continues to take over Hollywood. Keep reading to learn which 15 WWE superstars are happiest to welcome back The Rock time and time again with our list of wrestlers the public has no idea are close friends with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
15. Vince McMahon
Most people have positive feelings towards anyone that can help make them money, and Vince McMahon is no different about his feelings with The Rock. The two may not exactly hang out all the time, and The Rock is far from one of McMahon’s army of yes men, but there’s no denying the boss and The Great One have developed a strong and positive relationship over the years. Rock has referred to Vince as one of his mentors, and the sheer number of times Vince has begged Rock to make appearances with WWE is a sign that he hasn’t forgotten one of his all-time biggest stars.
McMahon entered The Rock’s life from a very young age, and according to The Rock, Vince immediately knew the two would have a long career together in television. Vince asked an 11-year-old Johnson to appear in the audience during a match featuring his father, Rocky Johnson, and the Brahma Bull was naturally more than ready to take the role. He was also ready when McMahon asked him to be one of the youngest WWE Champions in history less than 15 years later, and remains ready whenever McMahon needs his audience electrified in the way that only The Rock can.
14. Hulk Hogan
Not many people get to meet their heroes, but your odds definitey get higher if you and your hero wind up in the same profession. People who ultimately eclipse their heroes at their same game have particularly high chances of shaking hands with greatness, as was the case with The Rock and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8. As with many future wrestlers throughout the 1980s, Hogan was the top star in WWE during The Rock’s peak time as a fan, and thanks to the Johnson family tree, that wasn’t all.
Rock and Hogan tore the house down at WrestleMania, but they had actually known each other since The Rock was a very young child. Hogan’s WWE World Championship reign started while Rock’s father was a Tag Team Champion, and the connection between Hogan and Rocky Johnson was even deeper than that, still. Johnson and Rock’s uncles, The Wild Samoans, all had a hand in Hogan’s training to become a wrestler, and though they hardly made a deep connection at the time, the familial roots ran deep enough that Rock always considered Hogan a friend.
13. The Big Show
The Rock left wrestling such a long time ago that he doesn’t have very many friends left in the business. It isn’t that they don’t get along, it’s that The Rock only has so much time to fraternize in the locker room during his brief WWE visits, and making friends, unfortunately, isn’t the priority of business. The Rock is so busy, in fact, he doesn’t always have time to stop and chat with his older friends, as evidenced by stories told by one of the few WWE superstars from The Rock’s era still kicking around with the company today: The Big Show.
The Big Show and The Rock got their start in wrestling around the same time, and both were hitting their peak as performers shortly after Show jumped to WWE in early 1999. The two feuded throughout 2000 and had dozens of wars against one another. They slowly became friends and brothers throughout the ordeal, which is often quite common in the industry. Recently, however, The Big Show has said The Rock barely talks to him backstage outside of brief pleasantries. There’s no need to worry about hurt feelings, though since instead of acting like a jilted friend and crying about it, Show says he totally understands.
12. Kevin Nash
Wrestling and the Internet sometimes go hand-in-hand even when they shouldn’t, and bizarre rumors spread faster than anybody can even care to dispute them. For years, it was believed that Kevin Nash and The Rock didn’t get along due to some vague slight between the two of them in early 2002, coupled with The Rock’s star exponentially growing in status while the career of Nash was on a downslide. The reality is far less interesting since whatever happened between the two was such a small issue that neither cared to address, and these days, they’ve completely moved past it and become friends.
Despite a reputation as one of wrestling’s biggest politicians, Kevin Nash is actually rather well-liked within the industry, while The Rock is, of course, well-liked pretty much wherever he goes. There’s no logical reason to assume the two wouldn’t have gotten along outside of those rumors, which were finally quelled when Nash and Rock took to Twitter and shared some kind words towards one another. Nash has also been outspoken about The Rock in his many returns to WWE, trying to get haters to understand that it just means more money for everybody, and that’s nothing to complain about.
Goldberg is generally compared to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin due to their vaguely similar look combined with their enormous popularity during the late ‘90s, and the two have since become good friends, perhaps as a result. It might be a more apt comparison to place Goldberg next to The Rock, since unlike Austin, Rock was also a former football player who was relatively untested when the wrestling world took a total gamble on him and gave him the World Championship in late 1998. Fans may have been begging for Goldberg to face Austin nonetheless, but it was The Rock who actually convinced Goldberg to join WWE in 2003.
Goldberg had long resisted the idea of joining WWE for fears they would destroy his character, and as it would turn out, his fears weren’t entirely unfounded in that regard. The Rock was nonetheless able to convince Goldberg to sign a 1-year contract, and it was during one of The Rock’s concerts that Goldberg made his long awaited WWE debut. The Rock was also Goldberg’s first opponent, although in some ways, it was the match between them that already signified that Goldberg wouldn’t be a success in WWE.
10. Ron Simmons
Not all greatness is completely evident from the very beginning. Occasionally, greatness needs a friend to nudge it in the right direction. For The Rock, one of the first friends to help him turn into a star was Ron Simmons. The Rock eventually became the biggest star in the history of wrestling, but his first few years in WWE were notoriously maligned, with “Die Rocky Die” turning into one of the most popular chants among wrestling audiences. This would be fine if The Rock was a heel, but he was supposed to be getting cheered. So the company had no choice but to make The Rock a bad guy, and they did so by sticking him with Simmons.
Simmons is also known as Faarooq, and at the time, Faarooq was the leader of the Nation of Domination. Rock joined the villainous group in order to earn his razzing the right way, and Faarooq soon took the young superstar under his wing and acted as one of The Rock’s early mentors. Simmons is a WWE Hall of Famer and the first African-American to win a major World Championship in wrestling, so he saw a kindred spirit in the Rock, and claims never to have been resentful of his success as a result. Simmons has, however, joked that he would like it if The Rock asked him to be in some of his movies.
9. Pat Patterson
It would be ridiculous to pretend that one singular person was responsible for a talent like The Rock, and therefore even people who may be able to take credit for elements of his career scoff at the idea that they had much to do with it. However, if one was to try and point a finger towards where it all began, they should look no further than WWE Hall of Fame superstar and longtime talent scout, Pat Patterson. Patterson was the man The Rock called when he was first looking for a job in the wrestling business, and The Rock has never forgotten the fact that Pat told Vince he found the superstar of the future.
Pat Patterson is actually responsible for dozens if not hundreds of wrestling careers, both through means similar to the way he helped The Rock and countless other unique and creative methods. While many have thanked him in their own ways, The Rock gave back to Patterson like only he can, by inviting Pat to join him on the red carpet during a major Hollywood premiere. Patterson is the only former wrestling superstar The Rock has thus far given such an honor, proving how deep and meaningful the bond between the two of them must be.
8. Owen Hart
Society often becomes united in tragedy, and there are few wrestling tragedies more severe than the accident that killed Owen Hart. Owen died at Over the Edge 1999 after a harness broke and caused him to drop nearly 80 feet to the ring. WWE instantly entered panic mode from top to bottom, especially due to the fact that Owen was one of the most beloved superstars in the business. The Rock was one of Owen’s many friends and has since told the story of his reaction to Owen’s death, implying they had a friendship that the world may never truly know.
The entire WWE roster was shocked and didn’t know what to do when Owen fell, and while The Rock was no different, he was more active in his immediate response than most others. The Rock actually asked Vince McMahon if he could run out to ringside and check on his friend, only for McMahon to stop him once he pointed out fans might think it was all part of the show if he did, which Rock agreed would have made things even worse. Nonetheless, the story presents The Rock as someone who deeply cared about Owen, and was just as shattered as everyone else when Owen met his horrific fate.
7. The Dudley Boyz
There’s an odd assumption among wrestling fans that if a group of superstars are going to become friends, they must all hold relatively the same position on the card, or at least be linked to one another on television in some way for it to make sense. The Rock and The Dudley Boyz only interacted a few times on TV, mostly during the Invasion, and never as part of a serious one-on-one feud. The Dudleyz were almost always part of the tag team division in WWE, while The Rock was a top solo competitor, so there was very little reason for the three of them to share screen time.
As it would turn out, though, there were apparently endless reasons for them to share both travel and free time with each other, considering the Dudleyz have both claimed The Rock was one of their favorite people in the business, and that the three of them traveled together all the time. Of course, The Dudleyz also claim The Rock has spent significantly less time with them since leaving the wrestling business, but neither seem to harbor any resentment towards him in the slightest. Bubba Ray Dudley, in particular, has pointed out the Dudleyz haven’t always gotten along with everyone in the wrestling world, but they always liked The Rock because he was genuine, honest, and gave the best show he could to his millions of fans.
6. Mark Henry
The career paths of Mark Henry and The Rock actually started out fairly similar, only to rapidly diverge somewhere around the time Henry started hanging out with Mae Young. Prior to that, Henry and The Rock were partners in the Nation of Domination, with Henry joining around the same time and supported him during his hostile takeover against former leader Faarooq. The two were fast becoming friends backstage as well, and kept that camaraderie alive even as Rocky started to become a megastar and Henry turned more and more into a weird joke.
Henry never forgot his friendship with The Rock, though, and referenced it when discussing his all-time favorite moment in WWE. Unlike most wrestlers who would focus on their own careers when discussing such a thing, Henry claims his career highlight was watching The Rock face Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania, because he was so proud of him for being able to face his icon. Clearly, Henry is not on the list of people resentful of Rock’s success, and is more like the many other superstars on our list who are simply happy to see a friend achieve their wildest dreams.
5. John Cena
Sometimes once in a lifetime just isn’t enough, as was the case with the slow-burn feud between The Rock and John Cena, which gradually turned into a friendship. The Rock made his triumphant return to WWE in 2011 primarily to host WrestleMania, but in doing so he also began an epic war with the new top star in WWE that would last the next two-plus years. The Rock had spent so much time in Hollywood since he first stepped into a wrestling ring that he was experimenting with method acting, and as his fake battles with Cena raged on, he actually started to hate the man in real-life due to things they were saying in the ring.
Cena and Rock are both accepted as some of the nicest and most relatable people in wrestling, and this is a list of The Rock’s friends, so that probably comes as a huge surprise to most wrestling fans. Obviously, then, the catch is that once everything was said and done in the ring, The Rock and Cena were able to shake hands and make up, with The Rock now saying he has let bygones be bygones. Now, The Rock’s rare WWE appearances are generally to help Cena, and that brotherly affection apparently extends to real-life, as well.
The Rock is a third-generation wrestling superstar, and while in general it goes without saying that many people are very close to their blood relatives, The Rock’s family is so vast and filled with wrestlers that it may be worth it to point out one particularly close uncle. Well, technically Haku is not The Rock’s true uncle, since the exact blood relation between the two isn’t clear. What is clear is that Haku helped The Rock out in a manner he would later describe as almost impossible to pay back, although he came up with an idea that seemed to make things square in the end.
Not only did The Rock have a father and grandfather who used to wrestle, but he also has dozens of uncles and cousins who have entered the squared circle, as well. He probably could’ve asked any of them for help, but it was Haku who Rocky called when he needed to borrow ring gear for his first match. Haku gifted Rocky an old pair of trunks, gave him a big hug, and told him how proud he was of his nephew for earning his first match. Decades later, Rock repaid the gesture by purchasing Haku a custom made Ford truck as a surprise gift.
3. Mick Foley
The Rock had some onscreen interaction with just about everyone on our list, but the nature of the wrestling business means that most of them were at least somewhat his enemies when he did so. Rocky was also a huge success from very early into his career, so outside his few buddies in the Nation of Domination, none of his friends are the result of a long-term tag team, either. That doesn’t mean The Rock never had a partner at all, though, and it should probably be no surprise that one of his most famous partners is also one of his best friends in the business.
The Rock and Sock Connection weren’t exactly the most dominant tag team in WWE history, since they only won the World Tag Team Championships on three extremely brief occasions. Nonetheless, they were one of the most popular unions of the Attitude Era during their few months as a team, and part of it was the incredible chemistry between the two. Wrestling fans will never forget when Mankind presented The Rock a parody of This Is Your Life, the highest rated segment in Monday Night Raw history, nor the various ways in which the two made each other superstars earlier on in that year. Through the blood and the laughter, a true friendship was formed.
2. Chris Jericho
When two people have a bunch in common, it’s only natural for them to become good friends. In the world of wrestling, however, this is also a quick recipe for volatile personalities turning into bitter enemies. Of course, the funny thing about wrestling is that while this is happening in the ring a friendship can be brewing in reality. This is exactly what happened with The Rock and Chris Jericho. Y2J made his bombastic WWE debut in 1999 to verbally spar with The Great One, proving out of the gate that Jericho was as quippy, quick, and funny as the top stars in WWE. Two years later, The Rock would solidify Jericho as a main eventer by losing the WCW World Championship to him, also solidifying their friendship along the way.
Jericho and The Rock would feud on-and-off their entire careers, and it wouldn’t even be too surprising if they did battle in the ring yet again should their schedules allow for it. It is only because the two of them are such close friends in reality that this seems possible, but the fact that their personalities so naturally bounce off of each other no doubt plays a role in both of these things being true.
1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
It’s almost impossible to imagine a wrestler becoming the same caliber of star as The Rock, and somehow, the closest a superstar has come to doing so was not only one of his contemporaries, but also his biggest rival. Steve Austin was to WWE during the Attitude Era as The Rock is to Hollywood today, the unquestionable top star making more money than anybody else could even dream of. Despite other wrestlers saying The Rock wasn’t ready, that it was too soon to make him a top star, or that he wasn’t top star material, Austin supported him from the very beginning. Austin actually requested a feud with The Rock as his program for WrestleMania XV.
The friendship between The Rock and Steve Austin has lasted well beyond that initial WrestleMania encounter, and actually started a bit before then, too. The peak of Austin’s star power didn’t quite match that of The Rock, and he’s faded into a quieter public role since retiring from wrestling. Yet, both men still refer to one another as “a close friend.” The Rock never forgot how Austin helped him in his wrestling career, and Austin appreciates everything The Rock was able to bring to the table in making them both superstars. In many ways, although they feuded for many years, The Rock and Steve Austin are more primed to be friends than any other two wrestlers, thanks to the fact that they took over the industry together in such epic fashion.