What If is a column by Walter Yeates that ponders how much success a wrestler from the past would have if they were in their prime in today’s wrestling industry. The previous column on Lex Luger can be found here.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a name for himself within the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) long before Dwayne became the box office success in Hollywood that he’s more famous for today. The Rock was one of the most charismatic and best on the mic in the history of professional wrestling within the United States. While some critiqued his in-ring skills, Dwayne Johnson holds up as one of the best draws and influential individuals in the history of WWE.
The Rock would become a 5x World Tag Team Champion (WWF World Tag Team Championship lineage), 2x WWE Intercontinental Champion, 2x World Heavyweight Champion (WCW World Heavyweight Championship lineage), and 8x WWE Champion (WWF World Heavyweight Championship lineage) — making Rock one of the most decorated wrestlers to ever work for the company.
In his prime, people would flock to arenas hoping to see The Rock grab a microphone and captivate an audience with his wit and charisma. Whether he was Face of Heel, fans showed up to see The Rock. He along with Steve Austin and The Undertaker are arguably the reasons behind the WWE ‘Attitude Era’ reaching lofty ratings and live event numbers.
Which brings us to how The Rock would fit in modern-day professional wrestling if he were in his prime. Off the top, it’s difficult to see him anywhere besides WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), or All Elite Wrestling (AEW). John Moxley was able to transition to the NJPW style after dedicating himself to it, therefore Rock could make the same transition. Also, Rock being attached to NJPW would allow a teased program to take place.
— オカダ・カズチカ (@rainmakerXokada) March 26, 2018
Rock in modern WWE would see him as the figurehead of the company, without question. He had the on-screen ability and has shown the private judgment and professionalism that individuals like Seth Rollins lack. However, he alone wouldn’t be able to reverse the decline of rating and live events attendance for the company.
The Rock in AEW would be interesting, despite originally touted to be a product vastly different from WWE, it has far more similarities than a product like NJPW. TNT has given life to old elements of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to bring back that 1990s feel. Rock would likely have no problems fitting into AEW and bringing a spark to their non-wrestling segments.
Rock’s strengths wouldn’t be utilized in Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) or Lucha Libre AAA (AAA). National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) would provide a unique challenge, but the biggest attraction would be his chase of the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.
Ring Of Honor (ROH) would be intriguing, especially with some of the names on their roster, but the thought of seeing The Rock against Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Kazuchika Okada, Kota Ibushi, Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, and Hirooki Goto in NJPW make it difficult to not wonder ‘What If?’