When The Rock became WWF champion at Survivor Series in 1998, his main-event push just so happened to coincide with the rise of Goldberg in WCW. On a recent episode of his Something To Wrestle podcast, former WWE producer Bruce Prichard addressed the notion that The Rock was the company’s answer to Goldberg.
The Rock rode his push all the way to the main event of WrestleMania XV, where he would defend his title against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. With those two as the top of the card, the WWE was in the midst of a hot streak as the Attitude Era was in full effect. Prichard said the WWE was confident in building around The Rock and Austin as the company’s cornerstones.
“Yeah. At this point we took the two hottest babyfaces and flipped one of them heel against the other and felt that it was going to be our next four months,” Prichard said. “I bet around Summer Slam because Rock was red hot as well as Steve Austin, so we’re thinking, where can we go and what can we do? We wanted something fresh.”
By that point, WCW was on a downward spiral and was clearly losing the Monday Night Wars. Prichard disputed the idea that The Rock was WWE’s answer to Goldberg, saying WWE chose to commit to its young talent while WCW remained stuck in the mud with aging superstars.
“Quite the contrary. The Rock was over and Steve Austin was over,” Prichard said. “It was during the time that when you listened to the audience and you did get feedback on the other guys, majority of the feedback was that we were young and they were old.”
Prichard said The Rock was considered the future of the WWE and he had proved himself to be a main-event superstar. The Rock went on to become one of the greatest performers in the history of sports entertainment.
“You had The Rock, first of all he was older. He had been out on his own and was a third-generation wrestler. He was showing it every night. He had the poise and went out every single night to go out and command the crowd, take over and we were willing to take that chance on him,” Prichard said. “You are doing live TV so you can take it off of him any time you wanted to so the way they were writing television at the time you can flip the script any time you wanted to, which is the beauty of doing live TV every single week. He was worth taking the chance and he had demonstrated that he was reliable and that he really wanted it and the audience wanted him so why not take a chance on him? He was that new fresh face coming up.”
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.