The Rock's Championship Wins Only Hardcore Fans Remember

The word "icon" is thrown around regularly in the world of professional wrestling. However, it's largely a stretch of the truth. While there are many good wrestlers who have entertained us, there are few great ones. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson falls into the latter category. In fact, he even dubbed himself "The Great One." The Rock's time in the wrestling industry might have been cut short due to his Hollywood career exploding, but he still managed to pick up more than a few pivotal championship reigns over the years.


His Intercontinental Championship tug-o-war with Triple H is often remembered as the turning point in his career; however, it was his WrestleMania headlining extravaganzas against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin that cemented his name in the almanacs of wrestling. That said, there were several of The Rock's championship runs that went under the radar for a variety of reasons. Some of them were a result of the manic booking of the Attitude Era, while others were simply due to the fact he had Hollywood commitments and had to relinquish the straps. So let's us go down Know Your Role Boulevard, hang right at Jabroni Drive, and proceed straight ahead to find out more about The Rock's championship wins you probably forgot about.


Flexing in the USWA

In 1996, The Rock's football career came to an end. Deciding to try his hand at wrestling, he received a few tryout matches with the WWF. The talent was there and he impressed the officials with his athleticism, but he wasn't signed up for a contract just yet. Instead, he headed to Memphis, Tennessee, and wrestled for United States Wrestling Association (USWA), where he performed under the incredible name of Flex Kavana. It would prove to be a short stint in Memphis, as the WWF realized he was a gifted superstar in the making and weren't too keen on losing him to any potential rivals such as WCW or ECW.


Nonetheless, Kavana had a memorable time in USWA. Instead of pitting him against the likes of Jeff Jarrett or Jerry Lawler for the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship, he was put in a tag team with Bart Sawyer. The two had a brief but decent run together, as they won the USWA tag team championship on two occasions, even defeating Lawler and Bill Dundee for the titles. Not too long afterwards, the WWF came knocking again, so Kavana signed on the dotted line and changed his name to Rocky Maivia.

The first Intercontinental Championship reign

As soon as Rocky Maivia debuted in the WWF, he received an immediate and massive push. From the extended vignettes to pointing out he was a third-generation superstar, it was clear that the company was high on him and wanted the fans to know he was the next big thing. It didn't take too long for him to win his first championship gold either, as he beat Triple H (then known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley) for the Intercontinental Championship on a February 1997 episode of "Monday Night Raw." The wrestling world took notice of this rookie who had only debuted the previous November and now held the second-biggest prize in the company.


However, his clean-cut babyface shtick wasn't getting over with the fans as much as Vince McMahon and Co. had envisioned. Instead of getting behind Rocky and his terrible finisher, the running shoulder breaker, they booed and chanted "Rocky sucks" or "die, Rocky, die." His run as Intercontinental Champion hardly lasted two months as he lost the title to Owen Hart on "Raw." The Rock revealed later that this had been one of the lowest points in his career. Soon thereafter, he suffered an injury that forced him off television for a few months, which was one of the best things that could have happened for his career in that period.

The Rock put the smackdown on the WCW World Championship

The Alliance is often cited as a storyline of lost opportunities. While many fans had dreamed of seeing WCW, ECW, and WWF superstars face off against each other, it always felt like there would only be one clear winner in the inter-promotional wars. Plus, it didn't exactly feature seismic match-ups like Sting versus the Undertaker or "Stone Cold" Steve Austin against Goldberg. For the most part of the storyline, The Rock wasn't in the picture since he had taken time off to film "The Scorpion King," though he returned in July 2001.


Immediately, he was put into a feud with Booker T, then WCW World Champion. At SummerSlam, predictably, the Rock defeated Booker to become the new champ and be the final nail in the coffin of WCW (via It never seemed quite right to see the WCW strap over the Brahma Bull's shoulder, and he dropped the title to Chris Jericho two months later at the No Mercy pay-per-view. This wouldn't be his last run as WCW's chosen one, though.

The Rock's second WCW World Championship reign

If his first reign as WCW World Champion was unremarkable, then his second stint was barely a blink of an eye. Chris Jericho didn't exactly have a lengthy run as champ either, losing the title back to The Rock on "Raw" a month later. At this point, it felt as if the WCW World Championship was going to change hands as often as the Hardcore Championship, with no one being afforded time to establish or give an iota of credibility to the title.


In his second run as WCW World Champion, The Rock held onto the rebranded World Championship title for 34 days (via, losing it to Jericho once again. By now, everyone must have realized that having two major world championships was a bad idea and didn't work, so the decision was made to unify both the World and WWF titles as the Undisputed WWF Championship. It was a sad end to one of the most prestigious titles in all of professional wrestling.

The Rock and Tombstone Connection

Despite being around in the same era, The Rock and The Undertaker aren't remembered for any particular memorable feud. The two superstars did cross paths several times, but they hardly had the rivalry of Rock and Triple H, Rock and Austin, or even Rock and Cena. However, they did have a short-lived team-up.


In December 2000, the two were WWF Tag Team Champions for a whole two days — or one depending on how we look at it (via The Rock and Undertaker won the belts from Edge and Christian on "Raw," only to lose the titles to the same team a day later at the taping for "SmackDown." Considering the episode only aired on television a day afterwards, the company officially recognized this championship reign as two days. It was a strange decision to have Rock and Undertaker defeat Edge and Christian at the time, since it didn't lead to any sort of angle between the teams. Instead, the Deadman partnered with his brother of destruction, Kane, to challenge for the titles again a few months later.


The undisputed fork in the road

The year of 2002 was a big one for fans. It was the end of the Attitude Era and the start of Ruthless Aggression. Not only did the WWF change its name to WWE because of a lawsuit, but it also began to introduce the next generation of superstars. Wrestlers like John Cena and Brock Lesnar stepped up to the plate and the WWE pushed them to the moon. Lesnar in particular experienced a meteoric rise that saw him claim the Undisputed WWE Championship only four months after his debut. The person he defeated at SummerSlam was none other than the People's Champion.


However, this was a weird period of time for The Rock. It was common knowledge that he was about to depart the company for Hollywood and even the fans knew it. So when he won the title in July 2002 and lost it a month later to Lesnar, no one was surprised by the outcome of their match. That said, The Rock was proud to do the job and put Lesnar over on his way out.

Playing games with The Game

The battles between Triple H and The Rock are the stuff of legend. No one expected their ladder match at SummerSlam 1998 to be as great as it was, but it only proved that the chemistry between these two performers was off the charts. After both of them graduated to the main event scene, they had many other famous tussles over the championship. However, the hyper-eccentric booking of the Attitude Era hurt some of their reigns, as most fans can't even recall who held the title at important points in their long rivalry.


A classic example is their championship to-and-fro dance from April to June 2000. At Backlash, The Rock won the WWF Championship from Triple H after a little help from "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Less than a month later at Judgment Day, he lost the title back to Triple H after an Iron Man Match. It didn't end there, though, since The Rock won the title again at June's King of the Ring. Fans can't even blame Vince Russo for this cacophony of booking madness, since he had already departed for WCW by then.

Break the records down

While The Rock held multiple championships in the WWE and even became a Triple Crown champion, he also picked up another unfortunate accolade: Some of the shortest title reigns in the company's history. His tag team endeavors were particularly short, as evidenced by his two-day reign with the Deadman; however, he had another blink-and-miss-it run as tag champ with Y2J.


In between The Rock and Chris Jericho's clashes for the World Championship, the two were paired up as a tag team and won the WWF Tag Team Championship from the Dudley Boyz in October 2001 (via Naturally, the run's only purpose was to heighten the tension between the two superstars since they were on a collision course with each other. They held onto the titles for nine days before losing them to Booker T and Test, who also lasted as champs for about as long as a power nap.

A stunningly short reign

WrestleMania season is considered the busiest and most important time of the year in the wrestling industry. It's the time when the WWE sets up all of its major storylines for the ultimate payoff on the grandest stage of them all. In 1999, it was obvious that The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin were set to reignite their legendary feud in a main event clash. After The Rock sold out and became the Corporate Champion at the previous November's Survivor Series, there was no doubt that he'd be facing the Texas Rattlesnake since it was the bout that fans most wanted to see.


Throughout this period, however, Mankind had become a thorn in The Rock's reign. Feeling screwed out of the title, he challenged the Corporate Champ at Royal Rumble but lost. However, Mama Foley's baby boy finally won the big one on a special episode of "Sunday Night Heat," making everyone wonder if it would be Mankind versus Austin at 'Mania instead. Vince McMahon had other plans up his sleeve, though, as Mankind lost the title back to The Rock in a February episode of "Raw." This allowed the Brahma Bull to go into WrestleMania as champion and to be pinned by Austin.

The tag team merry-go-round

The Rock 'n' Sock Connection is remembered more for its hilarious skits than it is as being a revolutionary tag team. Truthfully speaking, that's because The Rock and Mankind weren't really paired as a group for too long or given a sustained period of success. Also, their title reigns were dreadfully short — once again proving that The Rock experienced some of the wildest booking during his championship runs.


In the space of three months, the Rock 'n' Sock Connection were part of a merry-go-round of tag teams to hold the titles. It started in late August 1999 when they defeated The Undertaker and Big Show for the titles. In early September, they lost the belts back to the same team. A few weeks later, The Rock and Mankind won the titles for the second time from Taker and Big Show, only to lose them three days later to The New Age Outlaws. Then, they challenged for the belts yet again and regained them a few weeks later, only to lose four days later to Hardcore and Crash Holly. Honestly, it's tough to keep track of what happened in the WWE in the late '90s.