When Dwayne Johnson was in WWE, I will openly say that he was one of my favourite wrestlers.
Better known as The Rock, Johnson, the third generation star, caught my eye from the very beginning. Even as the “Blue Chipper,” I had a feeling there was a lot of potential for the man with so much lineage in the business. I’ll admit to laughing out loud at his promos and being impressed at the amount of dedication he took to getting better in the ring.
Seemingly on a weekly basis, Rock would improve his skills, so much so that by the time he departed WWE, he was one of the better all-around talents, not just a great promo man.
Now, looking at The Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment though, I can’t help but feel that Rocky has slipped from his once lofty position and cannot be labeled as one of the greatest of all time.
Let’s start with the promos, since that’s where most fans will go first on the DVD. Very, very quickly, the dialogue becomes repetitive. Yes, “sing-along” is great for living in the now, but in terms of longevity, it wanes. Imagine if Johnson was still talking about his strudel in a WWE ring today — it would go over like, to borrow a catchphrase, a steaming pile of monkey crap.
Compare that to other great speakers, like John Cena, who gets a lot of comparisons to Rocky these days. Cena, throughout his time in WWE, has held only one or two catchphrases, namely “the champ is here.” He doesn’t feel the need to do what Johnson did, which is pull out the same schtick every week. We don’t hear the “it doesn’t matter” or “if you smell…” line over and over.
Indeed, Rock’s staying power here has been diluted. Even the uproariously funny “Billy and God” conversation, which is thankfully on the DVD, gets repetitive when we hear “millions … and millions” thrown in. Heck, you might as well throw in “did I do that?” or “sit on it.”
Having said that about his promos, I actually found myself enjoying Rock’s match content more than I expected. Due to the sheer girth of WWE’s DVD collection that features Johnson matches, I was pleasantly surprised at not only how many solid bouts there are, but also the quality. We get some expected matches, such as Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18, but there are some gems in here that no one would’ve expected, such as Rocky vs. Eddie Guerrero and a Mankind/Rock ladder match.
Through these bouts and others, the viewer sees just how talented Rock was. The charisma that he had on the mic, which indeed drew millions of fans in, carried through in his matches and you can’t help but be entertained. That value grows as Johnson progresses in his career and his workrate improves, to the point where his matches with the likes of Guerrero and Kurt Angle look solid and not like one is carrying the other.
Still, at this point, I’d have trouble listing Johnson as one of the best of all time, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that he left at a time when his ring work as getting to a level that workrate fans truly appreciated. Had he still been around today, his work would be up there with the top in-ring workers in WWE today; unfortunately, we’ll never know what could’ve been.
Hopefully, if they haven’t already, the WWE Legends Roundtable on 24/7 will discuss Rock’s place in the “best of all time rankings,” because this DVD does little to settle that argument. I definitely will recommend this recording for anyone who was a late-’90s or early-’00s wrestling fan, but for the wrestling historian who is looking at this recording to be the argument for Dwayne Johnson to be labelled as one of the best, then you’ll have to look elsewhere.