In a recent edition of Bruce Prichard's Podcast Something to Wrestle With, Prichard talked about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's rise to fame during the Attitude Era of WWE, as well as the resulting jealousy from his fellow superstars in the locker room.
Vince McMahon's "Kiss My Ass Club" was created at Survivor Series 2001. As the name suggests, McMahon would order people to show their respect and loyalty by having to kiss his backside. If anyone tried to protest joining the club, McMahon would threaten to fire or suspend them.
The club almost started years earlier. After The Rock won the WWF Championship and aligned himself with Vince at the Survivor Series in 1998, there was reportedly an idea to have The Rock kiss Vince's derriere. The angle never happened and there were reports that Rock had refused to go through with the angle. Prichard explained that The Rock wasn't the one against the angle, but rather, Prichard and fellow management didn't want to tarnish the stardom The Rock was reaching.
"Let's address the kissing his ass thing," Prichard said. "That was actually brought up, and it wasn't Rock [against it], it was a lot of people including myself, Pat Patterson, Jerry Brisco, there were a lot of people that felt that if you do that to him right now, that it's gonna kill him. It's gonna kill him as a heel, it's gonna kill him as a competitor. From this vantage point, exactly what you just said, he's two gears in and we didn't know exactly what we have here. We feel we've got lightning in a bottle."
Prichard explained that The Rock's fellow WWE superstars were unhappy with the direction of the segment, and many were jealous of his quick rise to fame while others had been in the pro wrestling business for decades.
"It was everyone else that had that reaction," Prichard said. "I think that because they didn't [make The Rock kiss McMahon's ass] there's probably a segment of the locker room who's already jealous of the kid who's come in and in two years is on top of the world. Sure, he's already a good-looking son of a b---, he walks through like he's king s--- because he was king s---, yeah, but a nicer guy. And from the day that he started up to today you pretty much had the same guy. He never really got a big head, he was nice to everybody, but I think that there was still a jealousy of, 'Oh f--- him he's only been in the business two years and I've been in it for ten years, or I've been in for 15 years, why aren't they pushing me like they're pushing him? Look at him getting all this s---.'"
Prichard discussed how, regardless of if it was Bret Hart evolving from tag-team wrestling or The Rock emerging from obscurity, the locker room would be jealous of the top guy getting the push. He then went on to commend The Rock for his success, saying that he was unimpressive in the ring at first but grew in to a mega star.
"'Now why this kid? I've been busting my ass here for all these years now,'" Prichard imitated. "It was a general feeling in the locker room with a lot of the new guys coming in. There was resentment against Bret Hart almost for the opposite. When we made Bret Hart champion, the resentment towards Bret was, 'What the f--- man? He's been a midcard tag-team guy his whole career, why is he getting the belt?' You know it's whoever is on top, whoever is achieving success at the time. Those that are not achieving that success and feel that it's due them are gonna complain and say, 'Oh that should have been me, so in my opinion, that's what was going on at the time as far as dealing with Dwayne Johnson. During that time, it was the same Dwayne Johnson that had walked in and had his tryout in Houston, Texas all those years ago, and busting his ass in the warehouse, and then got overlooked, first went out and s--t the bed. Rocky died and then returned to make the most of it and became successful. Yeah, I just think it was jealousy more than anything else and people looking for anything to hang their hat on you."
You can watch the full interview at 3pm on 12/24 by following this link. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something To Wrestle with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.