Dwayne The Rock Johnson Explains Staying With WWE Instead Of Pursuing MMA Career

While appearing on "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who most recently appeared for WWE on the September 15 episode of "WWE SmackDown," spoke about how he considered pursuing a career in mixed martial arts while working for WWE in 1997.


"At that time, I was making $150,000 wrestling 235 days a year," Johnson said. "So do the math of that and how much you're making per match. We start hearing, 'Hey, these guys over in PRIDE are making 250, 350, 500, and I thought then, 'Well f**k, I don't think I'm gonna make it in WWE. People are booing me out of the arenas. I can't be myself. They're telling to me f*****g smile. I don't wanna f*****g smile; it's not who I am.' 

"I started talking to Ken Shamrock at that time, who was wrestling with us. I run into Mark Kerr. I started talking to him, 'Hey, tell me a little bit about PRIDE?' And I had this idea in my head: 'Well, maybe I should go. Maybe I should train to MMA and go to PRIDE and make money, real money, and then I don't have to smile."


Johnson went on to say that he got a call from then-WWE chairman Vince McMahon but didn't tell him about his MMA idea. McMahon told Johnson that he wanted to turn him heel and put him with the Nation of Domination. McMahon wanted to see how it would work out for Johnson after he received a negative response from fans while performing as a babyface. Johnson said he requested two minutes of microphone time to be himself. McMahon ended up granting Johnson one minute. "The Great One" said that within a month of delivering that promo, he became the hottest heel in WWE.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit "The Joe Rogan Experience" with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.