I’ve been told by everyone that no matter who I make my favourite wrestler of all time; I have to base it on wrestling ability. Why the hell should I do that? Sure, your favourite wrestler could be someone who can expertly apply a submission hold at the drop of a hat, but submissions do not a fun match make. What you want is someone who you are excited by, a wrestler who is fantastically good fun and entertaining, who can also mix up his charisma with a decent fighting style. And that, god almighty, happens to be Dwayne Johnson, formally known as The Rock. Sure, he might not have the best fighting style, and you can crow til’ the cows come home (is that mixing a farmhouse of metaphors, there?) about if in real life he’d have any ability to take on big guys like Kane, The Undertaker, or whoever, but the pure fact is that The Rock is the biggest name wrestler to have ever competed in the WWF. Well, maybe Hulk Hogan can match him there, but still.
Besides, The Rock is one of the purest athletes that the WWF has ever seen. He started out as an American Football player (which we Brits traditionally, and fairly, judge to be a wuss sport), but after an injury he moved over to the World of Wrestling and eventually got in with the WWF after many years of training and hard work. Yes, I have his autobiography. Once with the WWF he started some of the most infamous rivalries and partnerships in recent history, against ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Mankind respectively, and then with HHH. With these wrestlers he tried out things that had never been seen before in wrestling – he kicked out of Austin’s patented ‘Stone Cold Stunner’ finishing move, something which hadn’t been done before, and he cut promos that nobody could match.
The Rock, you see, was a character unto himself. Detached from reality, The Rock is a supreme asshole, who is cocky, unendingly confident in his own ability to excite a crowd, and always speaks in the third person. He pioneered catchphrases. Well, not pioneered, but he certainly made the technique his own. Here’s just a sampling of the catchphrases he created whilst with the WWF:
“If you smell what The Rock is cooking”
“Finally, The Rock, has come back, to [wherever place happens to have returned to]”
“I want you to take your [whatever item it is], turn it sideways….” (at this point, the commentators would shriek “oh no!”, because they knew what was coming) “and stick it STRAIGHT UP YOUR CANDY ASS!”
Well, you get the idea. Anyway, The Rock has a tremendous charisma that surges straight off the screen whenever you see him, and went straight into the crowd. I’ve been to see wrestling live, for I am a sad weirdo, and right now I can say that nobody got a bigger cheer than The Rock. He was, and is, the biggest superstar within the company. And he acknowledged this by inventing a move which is arguably the silliest in the history of wrestling (although Scotty Too Hottie could disagree with this), in the form of The People’s Elbow. This is a simple elbow drop, a bread-and-butter wrestling move, turned into a massive display of pointless showboating just because the crowd loved it. On top of this, he had some proper moves going on. The Rock Bottom is one of the more distinctive finishing moves to have ever been defined, and he was also able to snap out a spinebuster that looked easy as anything, as well as samoan drops, hip tosses, even clotheslines, all delivered with a snap and crackle that no other wrestler can deliver. He was just so fast.
In many respects, he is one of the best athletes that the WWF ever hired. His roots aren’t in wrestling, sure, but in terms of energy and spark his ability was undeniable. Even after matches that lasted over an hour, you could see that The Rock still had energy to spare, and that meant you could never put him down. There was no foregone conclusion with The Rock, because he had so much stamina. At the same time, he wasn’t averse to losing matches, like some other wrestlers have been in the past, and he suffered some stunning defeats in the past – when he returned recently alongside Mick Foley, as a tag-team fighting some unpopular characters, the pair of ‘em actually lost the match. That’s unbelievable! But it happened, and it just goes to show the level of respect that people like The Rock and Mick Foley have for the next generation of wrestlers.
When The Rock ostensibly retired from wrestling, it was a massive blow for the sport, but a great gain for cinema. He’s got a humour about him that not many other wrestlers were willing to show off, because he’s essentially making fun of both himself and of his competitors, and his own fans. But despite all that, he’s my favourite wrestler, because he made wrestling into entertainment. There’s a lot of dull feeling going round wrestling at the moment, with nothing truly exciting going on anymore – at least part of that, I guarantee you, is because The Rock has retired. He was, as he always said, ‘the most electrifying man in sports entertainment’.
Also? He paid me to write this.