Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the biggest movie stars in the world and recently he commented about how being a wrestling heel helped him in his latest role.
When The Rock started in WWE at Survivor Series 1996, he was a babyface meaning a good guy in pro wrestling. The idea was that fans would like him since he was the first third-generation wrestler following in the footsteps of his grandfather Peter Maivia and his father Rocky Johnson, so he was given the name Rocky Maivia. He was booed within weeks while dealing with “die Rocky die” chants at shows, so he turned heel in mid-1997 and joined the Nation of Domination. From there, his career took off because he excelled at being a bad guy.
At Survivor Series 1998, just two years after his debut, The Rock turned heel to become the WWE Champion thanks to a screwjob finish where he was helped by Vince and Shane McMahon. At WrestleMania 15, The Rock lost the WWE Title to Steve Austin, but it was a moment that was huge in Rock’s career because it established him as a main event performer and he wasn’t even 27 years old yet.
The Rock stars in a new film called “Black Adam” that will be in theatres this Friday, October 21st. It’s the latest entry in the film franchise based on DC comic book characters that are known as the DC Extended Universe.
Here’s more info on the Black Adam character from DC’s website:
One of the world’s foremost wielders of magic, Black Adam has been both hero and villain over a life that’s spanned thousands of years.
Thousands of years before Billy Batson became a magically-empowered hero, the wizard Shazam selected another champion. Teth-Adam or “Mighty Adam” began as a hero of humanity, but then allowed his power to corrupt his ideals and desires. Now labeled Black Adam, he was exiled by Shazam, but returned in the modern day. A frequent enemy to Earth’s heroes, Black Adam believes he is the right person to lead humanity and any action he takes is necessary for the greater good.
In an interview with the New York Times, The Rock was asked if his time as a heel in WWE helped him prepare for his role in “Black Adam.”
“It really did, yeah. Even in the wild, unpredictable world of professional wrestling, there was a great benefit in playing a heel. I became, at that time, the best and greatest heel the company had going. That Attitude Era, I call it a very special time in the world of pro wrestling. The company wasn’t publicly traded, so we flew under the radar. And some of the things — many of the things — that we were able to get away with, we’d be in big trouble these days. But that time as a heel really did teach me that you could do anything — as long as your reason why is relatable.”
While WWE fans will always consider Rock one of the most beloved superstars in the history of the business, it was his initial heel run that elevated him to that main event level. Clearly, he still appreciates what that meant for his career.