The Rock has done various Q&A’s with fans on Instagram talking about a wide variety of topics. He has discussed being open to a WrestleMania match with Roman Reigns, and he has talked about what he said to Stone Cold Steve Austin at the conclusion of WrestleMania 19.
His recent post, which you can view below, answered a question on what he thought was his career high and low in WWE. The Rock started out with his career low as that would lead to his career high by talking about his debut at Survivor Series.
“My low started within about six months of my coming into the WWE,” The Rock admitted. “I came in like a bat out a hell. I mean I came in like a runaway train rolling down that track. I was this young rookie, babyface, fresh out of the University of Miami. I was brash, talking s–t.
“I got to the WWE and had a huge initial match. My very first match in the company was in the mecca, Madison Square Garden. It was sold out. It was one of the company’s big PPVs called Survivor Series, and the company had decided I was going win the entire thing. And in order for that to happen, not only did they have to have an incredible amount of investment and confidence in you but also the locker room has to buy into it too. All of my fellow wrestlers had to buy into it from The Undertaker to Triple H to Stone Cold Steve Austin, everybody was in the locker room in that time. The ones who I mentioned certainly did get behind it, some others didn’t but that’s OK. Eventually I persevered through that.”
The Rock noted the high he was on after Survivor Series to the point where WWE decided to put the Intercontinental Championship on him. However, The Attitude Era was coming on during that time, and he talked about how his character was not something people wanted during that era.
“So it was my very first night in the company, Survivor Series. I win the whole thing at Madison Square Garden. I got 22,000 people chanting, ‘Rocky. Rocky.’ I was on a high, it was like a dream because I could not believe what was happening. I was so grateful. It was so humbling,” The Rock said. “And a few months later, the company decides they were gonna make me Intercontinental Champion. That’s how much I was getting over, ascending in the world of professional wrestling.
“Had a phenomenal match with one of my best friends in the professional wrestling business, still today, Triple H, and again, I was on a high. Now what’s interesting what was going on in that time, in the world of pro wrestling, is it started to shift, and no longer did fans want tradition. They wanted to buck tradition. They didn’t like cookie-cutter. They didn’t want stale. And they wanted anti-authority. Anti-authority came in the form of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“I represented everything, at that time, that was wrong with pro wrestling, and the fans turned on me. They started chanting, ‘Rocky sucks,’ at every arena that I went to. Now imagine, at every arena that I went to they chanted, ‘Rocky sucks,’ and it was hard for me, as you can imagine psychologically, but also hard as a company. The company’s scrambling like, ‘what do we do?’ They’ve never seen anything like this before. Vince McMahon said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ a visceral reaction that is so anti what we want.”
The Rock then went into his low, and how the fans rejecting his character at that time led him to question his future in pro wrestling. He said that he had considered many options including wrestling in Japan.
“It all culminated to WrestleMania. It was my very first WrestleMania as Intercontinental Champion,” Rock said. “I wrestled The Sultan, who’s also Rikishi, he’s my family, my ainga, and 15,000 people in Chicago were chanting ‘Rocky Sucks.’ And this is WrestleMania, and I remember Rikisi telling me, ‘don’t listen to them,’ but you can’t help it. You’re listening to them. That was the culmination that the company felt like we can’t do anything anymore with Rocky, me, Rocky Maivia. They took the belt off me. They gave it to somebody else, Owen Hart I think it was, my dear friend. Rest in peace. And I got hurt and was sent home for the summer.
“That was my low because I’m at home, I have no money and I’m thinking my wrestling career is just like my football career. It’s all just gonna end before it actually begins. I’m thinking Jesus Christ like do I go to law school because I wanted to work for the CIA. Well, I can’t afford law school, and my study habits were the s–ts. Do I even consider UFC? I went well, I prefer not to get punched in the face. Do I go to Japan to wrestle in Japan? I don’t know even if I could do that. I’d need a fresh start.”
The Rock talked about his mindset during that time. He said he realized that weren’t booing him, but they were booing his character that would smile all the time even as fans were chanting things like “Rocky sucks” and “Die Rocky die.”
“So I had a lot to reconcile, but the main thing I needed to reconcile was the fans booing me,” he said. “But I realized over that summer, they weren’t booing. They didn’t hate me for me. They didn’t actually hate me. They hated that I actually wasn’t being myself because I would go out as a babyface and they would be like ‘Rocky sucks,’ and I was told by the company, ‘you gotta smile because you’re happy to be there.’ So I would go out and fans would chant, ‘Rocky sucks,’ and I would be, hey, yeah, thank you. ‘Die Rocky die.’ Hey, yeah. I wouldn’t respond, and they hated that. Of course they did. That was my career low.”
Soon after, The Rock was put into The Nation of Domination alongside Faarooq (Ron Simmons), D’Lo Brown and Kama (Godfather). He revealed that he wanted the group to be more than just black power, but also about respect. He said that fans could feel the difference in him after his promo with The Nation on RAW.
“I come back to WWE,” Rock said. “Vince McMahon says ‘hey, I’m gonna bring you back.’ It was August 1997 I’ll never forget it, ‘I’m gonna put you in a militant group called The Nation of Domination.’ These guys wound up being my brothers, great friends, and it was a black militant group. Vince said because you’re half black and half Samoan, I want you to join the group. I said, ‘I’ll join the group that’s fine, but here’s the thing, I don’t want it to be a black and a white thing. I want it to be a respect thing because I want to earn the respect of everybody. I just don’t want to say it’s because of the color of my skin.’ I said there’s something bigger here. There’s a bigger idea here that would help lift The Nation. Yes, we can be proud of who we are and our culture, but it’s also important that I go out there and say it’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing, it’s a me kicking your ass thing. Vince said, ‘sure, you go out and say it.’
“I went out, and I said it, ‘Rocky Maivia is a lot of things but sucks isn’t one of them.’ And this is on live TV on Monday Night RAW. I said, ‘it’s not a black thing. It’s not a white thing. It’s a me whopping your ass thing,’ something to that effect, and I just kept there dropped the mic. Fans were kind of booing, chanting Rocky sucks, but they were feeling something. They could feel a difference because I was just being me.”
The Rock then talked about having a connection with the fans. He talks about the moment he knew he had the audience at his will without ever saying a word.
“The next PPV I had was in Chicago, the place that booed me out of the building,” Rock noted. “The Nation of Domination, our music hits, and The Nation of Domination was this badass music. It had a thumping drive to it. ‘We are The Nation of Domination,'” The Rock said while on the beat of The Nation’s theme music. We would walk out, and I’m walking out. And in this syncopated beat start to hear 15,000 people, ‘Rocky sucks. Rocky sucks. Rocky sucks.’ I mean hard, blowing the roof of the place.
“I get in the middle of the ring. I pause. I want to see what happens to this crowd. ‘Rocky sucks.’ It got stronger, and all I did, I kind of turned around. I look this way. It got so strong. That place was f–king vibrating, that arena. I knew in that moment that I was in rarefied air, and that rarefied air in professional wrestling is me doing absolutely nothing and having the crowd right there in the palm of my hand. Did nothing. ‘Rocky sucks.’ Looked at them. ‘Rocky sucks.’ And all I did was go, ‘no, no, no.’ When I went home that night, back at the hotel, I realized that I had something special, and I was so elated. It was like a weight was lifted off my body. It was almost like a resurrection like a religious experience when you catch the holy ghost because then I realized ah, now with the people, we can dance. Now with the people, we’re gonna have a real relationship.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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My career in pro-wrestling was filled with epic highs and epic lows, but all the more important were the lessons it taught me. Respond authentically. Always honor (and protect) my relationship with the people. And don’t be afraid to step away even when it’s counterintuitive. Because there’s no harder rock bottom lesson than thousands of fans chanting “Rocky sucks” in every arena across the country. That was my low. Until I became me. And that was my high. Stay healthy, my friends and thanks for all the great questions. #rockysucks #lowsbecomehighs