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Dwayne Johnson

Books by this Author


The Rocky Johnson Story
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After two matches with the WWF, Vince sent Dwayne to Memphis to get some experience with the United States Wrestling Federation, the promotion run by Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler.  Dwayne called himself Flex Kavana.  I asked him, “Where did you get that goofy name?”

He said, “There was a guy called Cabana in a bodybuilding magazine showing people how to flex, so I modified the name and put it together.”

Unbeknownst to Jarrett, Lawler, or anyone else, Vince sent Dwayne a $500 check every week.  It was a blessing because Jarrett was paying a measly $40 to $50 a night.

Dwayne worked in the USWA for a few months, at which time he was called up by the WWF.  Out of respect to his grandfather and me, he changed his ring name to “Rocky Maivia,” but I knew it wasn’t going to get over, and I told him so.  WWF fans didn’t like his character at all.  They weren’t sure how to identify with him.  Was he an African-American, a Samoan, a mulatto, or a Puerto Rican?  He was a babyface, but they would boo him and yell, “Rocky sucks!  Rocky sucks!”

He was really discouraged and the WWF seemed to be on the verge of letting him go, so he came to me and asked, “So what should I do?”

“Just be yourself.”

“Yeah, but what do I call myself.”

“That’s up to you.”

He said, “How about The Rock.”

As people say, the rest is history.  He shortened his name and turned heel.  The transformation — both Dwayne’s and that of the wrestling fans — was like night and day.  I also gave him the idea for billing himself as “the people’s champion.”  “Nobody can ever take the title from you.”  He took the idea to Vince and it got him over to a level he had never known before.

Wrestling fans today are a strange breed.  In my day, they hated the heels and loved the babyfaces.  There were no grey areas.  There was a clear, sharp line drawn between good and bad.  When Dwayne went to work in the WWF as Rocky Maivia, he was a babyface, but the people turned on him because they loved his opponent, Steve Austin … the heel!  When Dwayne changed his name to the Rock and became a dastardly heel, the people grew to love him.  What’s that all about?  We live in strange times.

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