The Rock is arguably the most popular entertainer in the world today and he’s just been named the sexiest man alive. Movie fans watch him in various hit films every year. Rock maintains one of the busiest schedules, releasing more movies than the average top actor. Hollywood has welcomed The Rock, but his ties go back to the world of professional wrestling. WWE hired him with the potential of making him a big star. Not even Vince McMahon could have predicted he would go on to achieve the things he did. It wasn’t always an easy road for Rock in WWE, struggling in his early years trying to make a name.
The ascension of Rock helped usher WWE into the greatest success in wrestling history during the Attitude Era. There’s no debating that he belongs in the conversation when breaking down the best of all time. Most wrestlers loved working with him, but some more so than others. Others didn’t enjoy Rock for a multitude of reasons during his wrestling career. The same can be said for a couple of actors to co-star with Rock in films. We’ll look at both sides of Rock and his career. These are the top eight people that loved working with The Rock and the top seven that hated working with him.
15. Loved It: Steve Austin
The Rock’s greatest rival in his wrestling career has to be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Both Rock and Austin ascended around the same time to lead WWE into the next boom period. WWE set records in ratings, buy rates and just about every other avenue of success at the time. The company started to progress into becoming a global phenomenon as it left WCW in its dust.
Austin and Rock didn’t always like each other, due to the nature of competition, but they loved working together. The competition between the two was unlike anything else in wrestling. There has never been and will never be a top two battling for the top spot like Austin and Rock did. Austin has revealed numerous times that Rock brought the best out of him. The two held a close relationship – especially when their careers progressed. It was only fitting that Austin wrestled his final match against Rock at WrestleMania 19.
14. Hated It: John Cena
Things are good between The Rock and John Cena now, but they had a great deal of animosity working together. Cena started the rivalry by taking shots at Rock in various interviews, due to the movie star’s lack of interest in making appearances for WWE in between filming movies. It only made sense that Rock would feud with Cena when he finally returned to a WWE ring after many years away. The two engaged in very personal promos.
Cena genuinely didn’t like Rock distancing himself from WWE during the years away. The visible tension in the ring was very real according to Cena discussing the feud. At one point, Cena actually called out Rock for writing notes on his arm to remember promo talking points. Rock was livid and the two continued to exchange personal insults for weeks. The two main event matches they worked at back-to-back WrestleMania shows helped smooth things over, with respect being earned on both ends.
13. Loved It: The Dudley Boyz
The Rock worked matches with just about everyone on the roster during the Attitude Era. Many various tag team combinations saw Rock work with different people. On multiple occasions, Rock competed with or against Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley. The three men formed a friendship and Rock actually adopted them as his traveling partners, along with Tazz. They traveled the roads together from town to town gaining friendship.
Tazz has revealed Rock used to pay for their meals due to the fact he made by far the most money as a top main event star. It all started with his relationship with Bubba and D-Von, making them all connect on a personal basis. Pro wrestling is the only profession that could see people become closer when one party puts the other through a table. The Dudleyz have nothing but kind words to say about working with The Rock and consider him one of the better friends they made in the business.
12. Hated It: Kevin Nash
The return of the New World Order coming to WWE for a storyline in 2002 featured The Rock working against Kevin Nash on a couple of shows, including one memorable promo. Rock used his sense of humor to humiliate the nWo in a backstage promo and mocked Nash for his past life as Diesel. Nash went on the record saying some insulting comments about Rock and their interactions with each other.
WWE won the Monday Night Wars and did not want the controversial figures from WCW poisoning the locker room. That is one of many reasons the majority of workers didn’t get along with the likes of Nash. However, Nash took Rock’s negativity towards him harshly. Years later, Nash made implications that he thought Rock was gay as a very lazy and offensive form of an insult towards the star. The big man clearly didn’t like working with Rock, causing a poor relationship between them.
11. Loved It: Chris Jericho
The passion for entertaining superseded the athletic aspect of professional wrestling for The Rock. He clearly most enjoyed cutting promos and talking on the microphone. This led to Rock becoming one of the biggest stars in Hollywood after all. One person to share this interest with him is Chris Jericho. Both men loved the in-ring portion of wrestling, but they were wordsmiths on the microphone more than anything else.
Jericho and Rock took part in many great promo battles against each other. Hell, Jericho has one of the greatest WWE debuts of all time, due to the fact that his promo was interrupting The Rock. The two enjoyed working with each other and formed a friendship out of it. Jericho has kind words for Rock in a couple of his books. Some of Jericho’s best and most high profile moments took place working with a peer he absolutely respected greatly.
10. Hated It: Vin Diesel
We have looked at the wrestling career of The Rock, but the same things can be applied to his Hollywood career. One specific actor to dislike having to work with The Rock is Vin Diesel. Both men have starring roles in the Fast and Furious film franchise, but dissension has started during the filming of the upcoming Fast 8 movie. Rock started the public war by going on Instagram and posting a message calling out one of his male co-stars for being unprofessional on set.
It was revealed that Diesel was the target in question and both men have disliked each other for quite some time. The majority of the cast and crew favor The Rock for being respectful and courteous. Diesel is the odd man out with everyone siding with Rock here. There are also rumors out there that this is all part of a massive work for a potential Rock vs. Vin WrestleMania 33 match. That remains unlikely with the animosity probably being very real.
9. Loved It: Kevin Hart
The other big name in Hollywood with a movie schedule as hectic as The Rock would be Kevin Hart. Both men have a strong drive to get a full body of work out there with numerous movies per year. Hart and Rock recently co-starred in the 2016 comedy film Central Intelligence. They will also be together as the major stars in the upcoming 2017 Jumanji remake.
Rock and Hart have struck up a friendship due to the similarities in their passions. The glaring differences are what set them apart in making them a dynamic comedy duo. Hart and Rock discussed their friendship in interviews for the Central Intelligence press junket. The fact that they are working on movies together in consecutive years should indicate many more projects together. Friendship is hard to find in Hollywood these days and Rock has found a friend that loves working with him in Kevin.
8. Hated It: Ahmed Johnson
Before The Rock emerged as the next big star in WWE, Ahmed Johnson received an equally big push with his introduction in the company. WWE wanted Johnson to become a future world champion and huge star due to his massive physique. The lack of promo skills and in-ring talent is what prevented Johnson from moving up the ranks like Rock. An injury ended Johnson’s short-lived tenure in the Nation of Domination faction.
Rock replaced him and ascended to the top of the WWE following the run with the Nation. Johnson has stated he disliked working with Rock, but it may very well be out of jealousy. The criticism from Johnson towards Rock came from him believing Rock didn’t show enough humility and started to become cocky. Rock never. There were rumors of Johnson and Rock having a backstage scuffle at one point that came from the issues between the two.
7. Loved It: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle entered WWE in 1999 and instantly understood the professional wrestling world. The ascension of Angle saw him enter the main event picture. Angle won the WWE Championship within one year by defeating The Rock when he was at the top of his game. The moment helped Angle become a credible main eventer. Various interviews have seen Angle credit working with Rock among the bigger learning experiences.
Angle went as far as to say Rock carried him through a couple of matches when he was still learning how to get to the next level. The good relationship and friendship has continued through the years. Angle visited The Rock on the set of his Pain and Gain film. Rock went to Angle to come help him earlier this year in judging a fan promo contest called Rock the promo. The two legends grew close from having a good time working together to create magic in the squared circle.
6. Hated It: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels and The Rock never actually worked a match together, but they grew a disdain for each other working together in WWE. Michaels was the most powerful man in WWE when Rock entered the company. The power of Michaels was often abused to harm the careers of wrestlers he didn’t like for whatever reason. Michaels apparently disliked Rock and tried to sabotage his career in favor of pushing his best friend Triple H over Rock.
The Rock held on to his career for many years. With his star power growing and getting him to his own position of power, Rock refused to work with Michaels many years later at one of the WrestleMania events. The bad blood lived on, with the past causing great tension between the icons. It’s a shame Michaels started a war that didn’t end in time to give wrestling fans a dream match that could have been something special.
5. Loved It: Mark Henry
The Nation of Domination is among the most underrated factions in WWE history. The Rock showed the early glimpses of what would become the character change that made him an icon. Another future Hall of Famer joined the group when Mark Henry came aboard. Rock was the voice of the group and Henry was the muscle. They both entered the industry at the same time and were trying to learn the ropes.
Henry revealed on the Talk is Jericho podcast that Rock helped him progress a great deal. Rock was more accustomed to the business, due to his family ties as a third generation wrestler. The advice passed along from Rock to Henry helped him continue to hold a roster spot in WWE. Henry claimed they were still good friends today. Henry learned a lot from working with Rock and he isn’t afraid to express it.
4. Hated It: CM Punk
CM Punk made his feelings well known about all of the older part-time wrestlers to come back to WWE around WrestleMania season for a main event match and big payday. The sentiment of Punk was that the active wrestlers putting their bodies on the line all year deserved the spots, rather than guys like The Rock coming back and instantly being given the attraction matches. Punk had the opportunity to work a couple of matches against Rock and didn’t enjoy the experience.
The WWE Championship reign of Punk ended when Rock defeated him at Royal Rumble 2013 and moved into another WrestleMania main event against John Cena. Punk made one public criticism about Rock not fraternizing with the boys backstage and acting like he’s above the roster. The belief of Punk was that Rock was “Hollywood” and didn’t show respect to the rest of the wrestlers. Punk was also annoyed at getting snubbed from the WrestleMania main event for the second consecutive year thanks to Rock.
3. Loved It: Vince McMahon
The person to benefit most from The Rock’s success has to be Vince McMahon. You can’t argue against McMahon always believing in him. From day one, WWE presented Rock as a huge future star due to his potential. The company was going to give him plenty of chances thanks to McMahon seeing something special there. Rock’s father and grandfather having history in WWE made him an even more valued commodity by Vince.
McMahon was repaid for his confidence when Rock found his place on top of the wrestling world, drawing in millions of viewers and millions of dollars. WWE also benefited from Rock’s Hollywood roles. The fact that Rock continues to make occasional appearances for WWE at WrestleMania is just icing on the cake. McMahon has a very close relationship with Rock to this day. Both men vocally show their support and appreciation for what the other has done for their personal success.
2. Hated It: Triple H
The Rock and Triple H were rivals from day one in WWE, both on-screen and in the locker room. Many fans would say Triple H is their favourite opponent of Rock’s, with both men bringing the best out of each other. They truly delivered magic with a great deal of chemistry, but they didn’t always get along. Triple H specifically took many shots at Rock through the years, in an assumed fit of jealousy.
During the peak of their careers, Triple H was always just below The Rock. Triple H improved his game in every aspect around 2000, but he still had to settle for second place behind Rock in the hierarchy of WWE. This led to him taking pot shots when Rock decided to go to Hollywood for a new career in movies. Triple H claims he could have had a movie career too, but he loved wrestling too much to leave it. His most public insult came at the 2008 Hall of Fame, when insulting Rock before inducting Ric Flair. Things are more peaceful today, with Triple H in management appreciating working with Rock as a talent.
1. Loved It: Mick Foley
Every 90s wrestling fan that watched them both perform together will find joy in knowing Mick Foley loved working with The Rock. The chemistry between the two very different wrestlers allowed them to be outstanding rivals and partners at different points in their careers. Rock’s best opponent as a heel had to be the lovable Foley. They were even more fascinating together as the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection tag team.
Foley has nothing but great words to say about Rock, both as a talent and as a person. He credits Rock for helping him become as big of a star as he did. The beating Foley took from Rock in various matches is part of the reason fans started to rally behind him as an underdog hero. They always appear to be happy when seeing each other at the occasional WWE function too. Foley revealed their daughters are good friends that keep in touch to keep the next generation Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection going strong.
Sources: The Sportster