Even the most electrifying man in sports entertainment history has had a few days where he appeared, shall we say, unplugged. Inspired by his father Rocky Johnson and grandfather “High Chief” Peter Maivia, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started his career as a professional wrestler in 1995. He made his WWE debut after receiving less than a year of training, and though it at first looked like he may have been rushed into the spotlight, The Rock more than earned his moniker as The People’s Champion by the turn of the millennium.
After completely dominating the world of wrestling and becoming a seven time WWE Champion, The Rock decided to leave wrestling behind and attempt a second career in Hollywood. Although he once again was off to a questionable start, as of 2016, he’s the highest paid actor in the business, with enough mainstream appeal to get named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. Every piece of The Rock’s life has in some way lead him to become the intensely likeable public figure that he is, but like most people in this world, the missteps on his path to greatness occasionally weigh heavy on his mind to this day.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, The Rock seems to have avoided the typical pitfalls of wrestling like drug abuse or any other negative lifestyle choices. His career has been far from perfect, though, and at times his personal life may have suffered because of it, as well. Now that he’s welcomed in WWE whenever he wants, can do whatever he wants when he does go there, and gets to star in an HBO sitcom and nonstop blockbuster films on his days away from wrestling, The Rock really doesn’t have anything left to complain about. However, if you’re a fan of his who wants a look into his past, keep reading to learn 15 things Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson probably regrets.
15. His Post-Football Depression
Anyone who has dealt with depression knows that it isn’t exactly something one can regret, but they would nonetheless all agree the ability to look past the low points in their lives would be seen as a blessing. The only thing surprising about Dwayne Johnson being the same as most people in this regard is that a person as successful as he would become ever struggled with the depression in the first place. However, Johnson wasn’t successful from day one, and in fact the first career he attempted didn’t pan out in the slightest. Though he was good enough to sign with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Stampeders fresh out graduating from college at the University of Miami, he was quickly cut from the team after less than two months of practice. Like many young athletes, Johnson didn’t have much of a backup plan, moving back to his parent’s house and finding himself feeling worthless, weak, and most of all, alone. With the love and support of his father, grandfather, and extended wrestling family, Johnson eventually fought out of his depression and started training for a career in sports entertainment, kicking depression’s ass in electrifying fashion.
14. His First Ring Name
If you’ve ever complained about WWE’s modern day tendency to give indie wrestlers nondescript fake names, just remember that when left to their own devices, even the greatest wrestlers of all time have proven completely inept at this seemingly simple task. Terra Ryzin’ was never going to become the COO of WWE, Texas Red could never go on an undefeated streak at WrestleMania, and Flex Kavana sounds like he’s anything but The Great One. Of course, Triple H, The Undertaker, and The Rock respectively all went on to achieve those accolades, and all it took was a simple name change and several years of improvement. Puns aside, Flex Kavana might be the worst and most bizarre name of all, although Johnson wasn’t entirely without success using the name. His career as Flex only lasted a few months to begin with, during which he feuded against Jerry Lawler and won the USWA Tag Team Championships with Bert Sawyer (pictured above). By the time he was ready to graduate from USWA to WWE, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross convinced him he needed to change his name, suggesting Rocky Maivia as a tribute to his heritage.
13. His Days As A Smiley Blue Chipper
At 24 years young, Rocky Maivia made his WWE debut at the 1996 Survivor Series, winning the match for his team (featuring legends Barry Windham and Jake Roberts, plus Marc Mero) by singlehandedly defeating Goldust and Crush (Rock rivals Jerry Lawler and Triple H were also in the losing group). Taking his oft-referred to nickname as “The Blue Chipper” way too literally, Maivia donned a flashy blue ring gear, bouncing his way to the ring with a big smile on his face, shaking hands with fans and generally acted like a plucky newcomer who was in over his head. The idea was for fans to appreciate his energy and respect his heritage, but thanks to how cheesy and untrained Maivia was in the role, he was soon harshly rejected with loud chants of “Die, Rocky, Die!” WWE officials still saw him as a star with huge potential, leading to an early reign with the Intercontinental Championship that only served to further disenchant fans and inadvertently turn Maivia into a huge heel. Integral though it all was to who The Rock would become, everyone involved needs to realize things could have been handled much better in hindsight.
12. The Infamous Fanny Pack
All of the men voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive probably have some outfit in their wardrobe that would never make the cover of their issue. In The Rock’s case, it would be his infamous turtleneck/fanny pack combo popularized through memes on the Internet, taken sometime around 1997 or ‘98. In all fairness to The Great One, there was actually a point in time when practically every wrestler around wore a fanny pack. It seems ridiculous now that the trend is over, but the prevailing wisdom was that as silly as a fanny pack might look, it isn’t without its practical uses, and wrestlers are typically big, tough, and confident enough that no one would mock them for looking silly. The problem with this photo is that The Rock isn’t wearing a fanny pack for practical purposes, he’s outright modeling it, wrapping his hand around the fanny pack like it was integral to his swag. And if that wasn’t bad enough, The Rock was correct in pointing out to People that the real funniest part of the picture is the towel he put beneath his arm, because he didn’t want his turtleneck to get dirty when he touched the wall.
11. His WrestleMania Debut
WWE is an always evolving company, and in spite of how long the event has been around, the idea of a career defining “WrestleMania Moment” is a relatively new concept. Even so, The Rock would be within reason to regret his first dance at the big stage, when he defended the Intercontinental Championship against The Sultan (a.k.a. Rikishi) at WrestleMania 13. The match was hardly a classic, seeing Rocky Maivia retain after less than 10 minutes of pedestrian action during which the crowd loudly chanted “Rocky Sucks.” The only true highlight came when the match was over, and The Sultan’s managers, WWF Hall of Famers Bob Backlund and The Iron Sheik entered the ring and attacked The Rock, causing his father Rocky Johnson to run out for the save. The next year, Rock again found himself defending the Intercontinental belt, this time against Ken Shamrock in a far more heated and memorable affair. By 1999, he was in the main event against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Clearly, The Rock’s first WrestleMania encounter was a class below what he was capable of, and the only upside was that he briefly was able to share the ring with his father.
10. The Nation Attacks Chyna And Rock Runs His Mouth
Part of Rocky Maivia’s transformation into The Rock was a great boost of confidence, a small downside being that some of this confidence was of the high school jock variety, filled with deeply questionable undertones of misogyny and homophobia. We’ve decided to leave The Rock’s constant transgender jokes about Kevin Kelly for how ultimately irrelevant they were, but a few moments in his wrestling career standout as exhibiting particularly deplorable behavior towards women. While heels are allowed to be jerks, and thus can make hateful comments, there’s still a line they shouldn’t cross simply to get people to boo them. The Rock leapt across that line in August of 1998, when during his feud with Triple H, he kidnapped Chyna with the aide of his cohorts in The Nation of Domination. Forcing Chyna to her knees, The Rock menacingly told her that was where she belonged, and starting gesturing towards his pants in a manner that made the scene dangerously resemble a sexual assault. The Rock decided he didn’t want to kiss Chyna and started to let Mark Henry take over, making it a gang assault. Luckily, Shawn Michaels made the save, and Triple H got his revenge at SummerSlam, but the incident still feels hard to watch now that the Attitude Era is over.
9. The Bad CGI King
Looking back at Dwayne Johnson’s film career, the true shock of his unbridled success isn’t that he started as a professional wrestler. No, the real surprise is that he became a huge star despite his first movie being virtually unwatchable in retrospect, although it isn’t entirely his fault. There might be a few diehard Mummy Returns fans out there boiling with rage over the thought, but just look at that picture and think about how it was supposed to look like a serious monster in the real, human world. Obviously, CGI has come a long way since 2001, and The Scorpion King was popular enough to earn a sequel regardless of how poorly formed he looked in his first appearance. From there, The Rock kept getting bigger and better film roles, such to the extent he probably rarely thinks about his silver screen debut. We still have no doubts that when he does, though, it’s only to laugh over how awful the CGI was.
8. His Extremely Brief Music Career
Other than his early attempts at football, Dwayne Johnson has seemingly excelled at any and every aspect of entertainment he’s attempted his hand at. With that in mind, we have to imagine there’s a reason he only made the trip to a recording booth a small number of times throughout his career. His first single was a feature on Wyclef Jean’s song “It Doesn’t Matter.” He followed it up the next year with his own spoken word track, “Pie,” released on WWF The Music, Vol. 5. “Pie” is a bizarre gospel/rap hybrid co-written by hip-hop icon Slick Rick, who appears on the track in character as a baker literally selling The Rock pie. Shortly after Rick shows up in the song, The Rock starts rapping. We would never consider putting any of The Rock concerts on this list, because those were hilarious and epic segments, and also, they didn’t feature any rapping. Or gospel, for that matter. Rock has proven he’s more than adept with a guitar, but the songs he actually released were awful and far out of his element, likely explaining why so few people have heard them.
7. Downplaying His Wrestling Career From 2004-2011
Wrestling fans will always have mixed feelings on The Rock leaving the industry behind for Hollywood. No matter how hard they try and be happy for his success, there’s always that feeling of loss, wondering how electric things could have been if The Great One stayed in WWE throughout his entire career. In recent years, The Rock has been doing his best at having it both ways, continuing his hectic film and television schedule while making occasional WWE appearances on special occasions. This is probably the best fans are ever going to get from him again, and it at least beats the hell out of what they got from 2004 to 2011. Shortly after The Rock’s last match in 8 years, a loss at WrestleMania XX to Evolution, he started heavily distancing himself from wrestling entirely, taking The Rock out of his name and exclusively referring to himself as Dwayne Johnson. He even went by his real name during a rare video appearance for WWE in this era, earning harsh boos from fans who felt like he was betraying his roots. Since he made his official return to the WWE Universe as The Rock to host WrestleMania XXVII, fans have gradually forgiven him, but this remains a mistake he won’t want to make again.
6. His First Marriage
Truth be told, The Rock is such an affable person that he seems not to regret his divorce too much, but we nonetheless feel anybody who went through that sort of legal and personal drama needs to have some negative feelings about the ordeal. In The Rock’s case, he and his first wife Dany Garcia had known one another for so long that there’s no way the split was entirely painless. Their daughter, Simone, certainly complicated things, as well. The couple began the divorce process in 2007, and Rock almost instantly went public about a new relationship with Lauren Hashian, causing speculation he left Garcia for his new flame. He’s remained with Hashian ever since, and now they have a daughter as well, born in December 2015 and named Jasmine. Despite the inherent emotions that must be involved, Johnson and Garcia have apparently remained friends and business partners ever since. In fact, Garcia is still The Rock’s manager and producing partner. Amazingly, no lingering feelings or jealousies seem to get in the way, perhaps because Garcia has a new paramour of her own, new bodybuilder husband Dave Rienzi.
5. Tooth Fairy And Other Horrible Films
Just about every Hollywood actor has taken a role or two they aren’t particularly proud of. In Dwayne Johnson’s case, he took a bunch of terrible roles in a row, the absolute nadir of which being 2010’s Toothy Fairy. He had also appeared in serious critical bombs like The Game Plan, Doom, and Race to Witch Mountain along the way. Part of the problem was that he kept trying to change himself to conform to some idealized image of a “Hollywood star,” something he and business manager Dany Garcia later realized was a huge mistake. Immediately after Tooth Fairy, Johnson started acting more like himself in the action film Faster, followed by a countless sea of increasingly big budget affairs relying on his natural and unique charms. It seems the more Dwayne Johnson acts like himself, the more successful his films will be, making the films where he lost weight and wore tutus seem like an even bigger mistake in retrospect.
4. Twice In A Lifetime
Regardless of your personal feelings on the wrestlers involved or the quality of their first in ring encounter, it’s hard to deny that the Once In A Lifetime match between The Rock and John Cena that took place at WrestleMania XXVIII was a historic affair. The event was the most purchased Pay-Per-View in wrestling history, not to mention the highest grossing. In the main event, Cena and Rock spent a half hour battling it out in a back and forth affair, ending when The Rock caught Cena in his Rock Bottom and won the match. The ending was a surprise, considering it seemed like the whole point was for Rock to pass the torch, but nonetheless, if that had been the end of it, we wouldn’t have anything to complain about. The problem is 100% of the marketing for the match focused on the term Once In A Lifetime, giving fans the reasonable expectation they wouldn’t be seeing this match again any time soon. Instead, it soon became apparent they’d be getting that exact same main event again the next year, with diminishing returns. The only plus side about Cena-Rock becoming a Twice In A Lifetime affair is that now that they’ve completely destroyed any mystique the match has, there’s no threat left it could ever happen Thrice In A Lifetime.
3. Supporting Roman Reigns
Considering they’re both part of the extended Anoa’i wrestling dynasty, to say The Rock regrets returning to WWE at the 2015 Royal Rumble in support of his non-biological cousin Roman Reigns is probably a bit of a misnomer. After Roman won the Rumble, runners up The Big Show and Kane reentered the ring and attacked him, drawing out The Rock to make the save. Regret or not, the whole of the WWE Universe must have realized they were making a mistake when not even The Great One could get Roman cheered, and instead The Rock was met with harsh boos for siding with The Big Dog. Obviously, The Rock takes little of the blame for this one, as the real problem is Roman Reigns and Vince McMahon’s complete blindness to the fact fans simply don’t like The Guy. According to Roman, he could tell The Rock knew fans weren’t going to react the way they were “supposed to,” making it clear he knew it was a bad idea from the start.
2. His Misogynistic Segment With Lana
This list already covered how The Rock’s character during the Attitude Era occasionally went too far in promoting misogynistic behavior. Though nowhere near as bad as what he did to Chyna, a more recent incident with Lana proves that sexist undertones are still part of his character and/or personality. During a January 2016 return to Raw, The Rock spotted Lana backstage and implied the two had engaged in some particularly acrobatic adult behaviors, making the Ravishing Russian shyly stare at the ground. Many insiders took this as Lana’s punishment for being open about her relationship with Rusev despite temporarily splitting with him on screen. Regardless of whose idea it was, or why it happened, The Rock nonetheless deserves some of the blame for participating in the segment at all. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with him engaging in an actual long term angle with Rusev about the alleged affair with Lana, but as a one off, it demeans and insults her character for absolutely no reason. For barely retaliating, Rusev winds up looking weak, as well. With his returns becoming fewer and further between, The Rock needs to stop agreeing to questionable segments like this and focus on what he does best, entertaining the fans.
1. How’s Your Catchphrases? ‘Cause…
There was a time in the late ‘90s when just about every single sentence to come out of The Rock’s mouth was tailor made for a t-shirt. In a single catchphrase, he named no less than three video games and a TV show, promising to lay the SmackDown on anyone who didn’t know their role and shut their mouth. He took roody-poo jabronis, got them to shine their boots up real nice, and stick them straight up their candy—you get the idea, dude was good on the microphone. He still knows how to hold a crowd in the palm of his hand, but The Rock’s catchphrase game has been off point for a while now. Hardly on the level of asking people who in the blue hell they were, The Rock now comes up with bizarre insults like Fruity Pebbles Yabba Dabba Bitch and Kung Pao Bitch. The fact he needed to use “bitch” twice is enough to elucidate the problem. And yet, the worst of all came sometime around 2003, when he asked, “How’s your lips? ‘Cause they’re gonna get slapped off your face!” It really doesn’t matter what the second sentence in the catchphrase was—not even The Great One can make asking a person about their lips feel threatening.
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