Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (born May 2, 1972) is an American actor and third-generation professional wrestler, best known for his time in World Wrestling Entertainment as The Rock. He continues to use the name as an actor.
Born in Hayward, California Johnson first gained mainstream fame as a standout in the then-World Wrestling Federation. He was originally known in the promotion as Rocky Maivia, in homage to his father, Rocky Johnson, and his maternal grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia. His mother Ata Maivia was a Samoan of royal lineage of Samoa.
He used to hold the record for most reigns as WWF/E Champion, having held the title 7 times. After largely retiring from the ring, Johnson began a successful acting career in Hollywood.
High school in the Lehigh Valley
As he entered 11th grade, Johnson's father's job required his relocation to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the state's rugged Lehigh Valley region. For Johnson, the Lehigh Valley proved a huge cultural shift from what he had known and seen in the San Francisco Bay Area in his early youth. But Johnson welcomed the change and assimilated quickly in the new area. In Bethlehem, Johnson began to cultivate an intense athleticism, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He began playing football at Bethlehem's Freedom High School, a member of what was then known as the East Penn Conference (recently renamed the Lehigh Valley Conference).  The conference was--and continues to be--one of the highest quality high school football and wrestling conferences in the United States. In football, the conference has produced a considerable amount of high-level Division I collegiate and NFL football talent.
Known for its blue collar ruggedness, the Lehigh Valley proved a hand-in-glove match for Johnson, who fit in well with the area's street toughness. That toughness carried to his football play, where Johnson began, for the first time, to face high quality players and began to excel amidst the area's extraordinary athletic competitiveness. He would later credit the high level of athletic competitiveness he encountered in the Lehigh Valley with building the foundation for his life-long passion for winning and embracing challenge. In addition to playing football at Freedom High School, he also was a member of the high school's track and field team.
Johnson has said one of his most enduring athletic memories was his participation on the Freedom High School football team when they beat cross-town rival Liberty High School in his senior year, saying: "I can still remember holding that trophy up in the air and running a lap with it. We had an awful year my senior year, but as long as we beat Liberty, nothing else mattered".
University of Miami
Johnson received collegiate football scholarship offers from several universities and settled on the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, one of the top football programs in the nation. While the University of Miami football program did not openly recruit Johnson, he entered try-outs as a "walk on" for the program and made the team, playing defensive tackle. In 1991, he was part of the Miami Hurricanes' National Championship team.  After an injury kept him sidelined, Johnson was replaced by Warren Sapp, who went on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is now with the Oakland Raiders.
After his graduation from the University of Miami, Johnson, who was not drafted by the NFL, signed a three-year contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, but was cut from the team 3 months later, without playing a game. (Note: some sources indicate he may have dressed for a CFL regular season game.)
While a student at the University of Miami, Johnson met his future wife Dany Garcia, who also was a University of Miami student at the time. Garcia, who graduated from the University of Miami in 1992, is the founder of a Miami-based wealth management firm. The two have remained close to their alma mater, giving a $2 million donation in 2006 to build a living room at the university's alumni center for visiting alumni. Additionally, Dany is a member of the University of Miami's Board of Trustees.
Johnson graduated from the University of Miami in 1995 with dual degrees in criminology and physiology.
World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment
Along with his father and grandfather, several members of Johnson's family are current and former professional wrestlers, including his uncles, the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika Anoai), and cousins such as former WWF Champion Yokozuna, former WWF Tag Team Champion Rikishi and current wrestler Umaga (formerly known as Jamal). When he declared his intention to join the family business, his father resisted, but agreed to train his son himself, warning him that he would not go easy on him.  With help from former WWF executive and veteran wrestler Pat Patterson, Johnson secured a tryout with the WWF. Impressed by his talent and charisma, he was signed to a WWF deal after a short stint for "seasoning" in Jerry Lawler's USWA, where he wrestled under the ring names of Flex Kavana and Pidlaoan Rock.
Johnson first wrestled in the WWF as Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather's ring names. The WWF played up his connection to his father and grandfather, calling him the first third-generation superstar to wrestle for the company. He made his wrestling debut for the WWF at the 1996 Survivor Series, becoming the sole survivor on his team. Johnson was first portrayed as a clean-cut babyface, and gained early success, winning the prestigious Intercontinental Championship after only three months. He was the first Intercontinental champion of Samoan descent. However, wrestling had changed since Hulk Hogan's heyday in the mid 80s, and fans quickly grew sick of the two-dimensional good guy character, thanks in part to the exploded popularity of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Despite often being loudly booed and jeered with chants of "Die Rocky Die!" and "Rocky Sucks" from the crowd, Johnson was forced to go to the ring and smile, as if the crowd was cheering (like they were "supposed to"). After losing the Intercontinental title to Owen Hart and returning from an injury, Johnson was allowed to turn heel and joined the Nation of Domination (a group that tried to dominate everything), spewing venom at the fans for turning on him, influenced by Johnson's real-life feelings toward the WWF audience. Now allowed to be more or less himself (Johnson has often said in interviews that The Rock is merely Dwayne Johnson with "the volume turned way up"), Rocky Maivia became The Rock.
Rocky Maivia, now known as The Rock, was a charismatic bully, eventually driving out the Nation's leader Faarooq. He spent the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998 feuding with both Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ken Shamrock. At WrestleMania XIV, Gennifer Flowers was made a special guest interviewer, interviewing The Rock. The Rock was posed a question about how he would conduct affairs as the President of the United States. He responded by stating to her that the title “Ruler” would sound better than “President” and he would transform the White House into a Palatial Palace.
The Rock became wildly popular, establishing several much-quoted catchphrases including "Can you smell what The Rock is cookin'", "Lay the Smackdown", "Take that (object) shine it up real nice, turn that sum-bitch sideways, and stick it straight up your candy ass!", "It doesn't matter what you think!" (immediately after asking for the intervewier's opinion), "Know your role, and shut your mouth!", "Don't give me all that monkey crap!, "Who is this roody pooh", ", "Jabroni" and "Just bring it!" (After which titles #2 through #4 of the five Sony PlayStation SmackDown! video games have been subtitled (WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It, and WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth). In essence, it was a reversal of his Rocky Maivia character, where he was cheered instead of being booed as he was "supposed to be". The Rock also became famous for referring to himself in the third person, starting many sentences with "The Rock says...", "Finally...The Rock has come back to..(city name)", and occasionally following up statements with "... or so The Rock has heard."
Johnson's popularity as The Rock propelled him to the WWF Championship at the 1998 Survivor Series at age 26. At the time, he was the youngest WWF Champion in history (Brock Lesnar later became the youngest at 25, and Randy Orton later became the youngest world champion in the WWE at 24), turning heel again and siding with Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon as the crown jewel of their "Corporation" stable. The Rock began to feud with Mankind over the WWF Championship in which the title changed back and forth between the two, first during the main event of the January 4, 1999 episode of RAW, when Mankind pinned The Rock with the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The Rock once again captured the WWF Title in a bloody "I Quit" match at the 1999 Royal Rumble that saw The Rock hit Mankind in the head with a chair ten or eleven times as opposed to the agreed upon three times, knocking him unconscious and using a tape recording of Mankind saying "I quit" to trick the referee. This latest reign did not last long, however. In a match that counter-programmed the Super Bowl halftime show on January 31, 1999, Mankind pinned The Rock using a forklift in a Empty Arena Match which saw the competitors use everything from bags of popcorn to fruit to punish each other. This feud lasted until the February 15, 1999 edition of RAW, where The Rock regained the WWF Title in a Ladder Match after The Big Show chokeslammed Mankind off a ladder.
With Mankind out of the way, The Rock had to defend his World Wrestling Federation Championship at WrestleMania XV, against Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock lost the WWF Title to Austin at that event, and continued his feud with Austin until May 1999. WWF fans began to cheer The Rock despite being a bad guy, due to his comedic interviews and segments which mocked wrestlers and announcers. Johnson eventually made his second face turn after he betrayed Vince McMahon and established a feud with the, then heel, Undertaker and the Corporate Ministry, and would sometimes find himself fighting alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin. His feud with the Undertaker ended with a defeat at the King of the Ring.
The Rock, now a face, feuded with Mr. Ass over the summer of 1999, including an infamous "Kiss My Ass" match at that year's SummerSlam. In the fall, the Rock found himself in several WWF Championship opportunities, both in singles and tag. He teamed with now former enemy Mankind to create the "Rock 'n' Sock Connection" and won the WWF Tag Team Titles. Aside from the championships, the team was regarded as one of the most entertaining teams in recent memory, where Mankind would imitate The Rock, while The Rock would mostly ignore Mankind. The team was also involved in a segment which occurred on RAW called "This Is Your Life", in which Mankind brought out people from The Rock's past, such as his high school girlfriend and gym teacher. The segment is to this day the single highest rated segment in terms of viewership in RAW history. As a singles competitor, The Rock participated in a six-pack challenge match at WWF Unforgiven 1999.
In January 2000, The Rock entered in the WWF's annual Royal Rumble match and lasted until he and the Big Show were the final two men. In a scripted move, the Big Show was going to seemingly dump the Rock over the top rope in a running powerslam-like position, and when they got to the apron, the Rock reversed it on the Show, sending the Show to the outside floor and then coming back up with the rest of his body. Those watching the event on PPV did not see The Rock's feet hit the floor. The Big Show attempted to prove to the audience and to others, like Triple H, that the Rock's feet, not his, touched the mat first. He did manage to prove it, by providing video footage showing that he was the rightful winner. The decision that The Rock had won the Rumble match could not be reversed, so a number one contendership match at No Way Out 2000 was held, which saw the Big Show come out on top after Shane McMahon interfered, knocking The Rock in the head with a steel chair as he attempted to finish off his opponent with the Rock Bottom. The Rock later defeated The Big Show on March 13, 2000 to regain the right to face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania 2000.
The Rock, The Big Show, Mick Foley and Triple H competed in a fatal four-way elimination match for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania 2000. Each competitor had a McMahon in their corner--for Triple H, his on-screen wife (and off-screen then girlfriend) Stephanie McMahon; for Mick Foley, the matriarch Linda McMahon; for The Rock, Vince McMahon; and in Big Show's corner, Shane McMahon. Triple H retained the title when Vince turned on The Rock, giving him two vicious chair shots, allowing Triple H to pin The Rock for the three-count. A month later at Backlash 2000, The Rock captured the WWF Championship from Triple H after Stone Cold Steve Austin made a brief return and intervened on The Rock's behalf.
Over the next couple of months The Rock feuded with Triple H over the Championship, and going on to having several classic matches, such as an Iron Man match against The Game at WWF Judgment Day 2000, which starred Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee and saw the return of The Undertaker, The Rock would lose the title as a result of Undertaker's interference attacking Triple H. The following night on Raw, The Rock would get his revenge, and along with The Undertaker, took out the entire McMahon-Helmsley regime. Rock would later win the WWF Championship again at King of The Ring 2000 against Triple H in a Tag Team matching pitting himself, Kane, and Undertaker versus Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Triple H. The Rock would go on to defend the Championship against Superstars such as Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Kane, The Undertaker, and Shane McMahon.
The Rock later lost the WWF Championship to Kurt Angle at WWF No Mercy in October 2000. During this time, he feuded with Rikishi (after he made accusations that The Rock called him to run over Steve Austin in November 1999) and defeated him at that year's Survivor Series. He also participated in the 6 Man Hell in a Cell match at that year's Armageddon event for the WWF Championship, in which he was unsuccessful. It is also notable that The Rock was the only man not to climb to the top of the cell in this match.
In 2001, The Rock feuded with Kurt Angle over the WWF Championship, and the feud was settled at No Way Out. In a battle that saw The Rock kick out of the Olympic Slam and Kurt kicking out of the Rock Bottom and The People's Elbow (at different times), The Rock finally came out on top, delivering a second Rock Bottom to regain the WWF Championship. Afterwards, The Rock feuded with the Royal Rumble winner Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock went into WrestleMania X-Seven as the WWF Champion, but was defeated again by Austin, after a shocking turn from the rattlesnake, who used Vince Mcmahon to win the title. Jim Ross is famously quoted as saying "Austin has sold his soul to the devil to get back to the top". After losing to Austin in a rematch on the following night's RAW, he went on hiatus to film the movie "The Scorpion King" after a kayfabe suspension from Mr. McMahon. The Rock would return in July 2001 and would decide which side of the WWF/Alliance wars he would align himself with. After Vince McMahon, on the WWF side, urged the Rock to "give the people what they want," the Rock delivered a Rock Bottom to Vince. The Rock seemed to have joined the Alliance, and smiled, shaking Shane McMahon's hand, but quickly drew him in for a Rock Bottom. At Summerslam 2001, The Rock defeated Booker T to win the WCW Championship. He would later lose the WCW title to Chris Jericho at No Mercy of the same year, only to win it back a few weeks later on RAW. The Rock was also involved in a match at Survivor Series which saw him defeat Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Classic Survivor Series match to end The Alliance once and for all. The Rock closed out the year losing the WCW Championship to Chris Jericho at Vengeance, who would go on later to become the first WWF Undisputed Champion.
As 2002 came along, Vince McMahon introduced the nWo, and The Rock began a feud with Hollywood Hulk Hogan, which ended with a victory at WrestleMania X8. This match, one of the most memorable matches of all time pitting "Icon vs. Icon", saw the Toronto fans audibly cheer for Hogan, who was the heel, after every move (including heelish moves like "the back rake of doom"). The fans also clearly booed The Rock, the supposed face in the match, despite the WWF's best efforts to make Hogan a despicable character before the match. On July 21, 2002, The Rock would win his record-breaking seventh and final WWE Championship. He defeated Kurt Angle and The Undertaker in a classic match at Vengeance, after he put the Rock's Bottom in Kurt Angle's mouth. He would lose it to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam after only a month long of reign.
The Rock's last heel turn began on SmackDown! in February 2003, where he publicly criticized Hulk Hogan. Their WrestleMania X8 rematch at No Way Out ended with The Rock claiming victory again, with assistance from Vince McMahon and Sylvain Grenier. It is widely speculated that this heel turn was due to The Rock's growing Hollywood stardom, giving the appearance of having "sold out" his wrestling roots.
The Rock later drafted himself to RAW and started a feud with The Hurricane and other babyfaces. He also had a comical gimmick, where he played the guitar and sang songs mocking the host city for the event, which culminated in a "Rock concert" which took place during the main event of the March 24, 2003 edition of RAW, where The Rock mocked host city Sacramento because of the Sacramento Kings' inability to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, the city The Rock now thought of as home. He sings, "Well, I'll be sure to come back when the Lakers beat the Kings in May!" The Rock would also tease Canada in a song as well, saying "Canadians have no class... that's why they can kiss the People's Ass" (basically referring to the fact that they booed him at WrestleMania X8, despite being the "good guy").
When Steve Austin returned, they once again feuded, with the Rock defeating Austin at WrestleMania XIX; this was the first time the Rock defeated Austin at WrestleMania, and Austin's last major appearance in a wrestling role. The Rock then had a feud with former WCW star Bill Goldberg, losing at Backlash in this match, both superstars recived a mix reaction from the fans with some being more pro Rock and the others pro Goldberg. After that, The Rock turned face once more by betraying Chris Jericho and Christian. This was specifically when Christian (who was the WWE Intercontinental Champion at the time) labeled himself as the New People's champion (based around the fact that Christian was labeled by The Rock as his "favorite wrestler". This would eventually lead to Christian labeling his fans as "his peeps"). The Rock, with the help of then RAW star and then babyface, Booker T defeated Chris Jericho and Christian, and even did his version of the "spinaroonie".
At WrestleMania XX, The Rock had his last match with WWE to date. In March of 2004, Mick Foley was facing seemingly overwhelming odds against Ric Flair, Batista, and Randy Orton, the stable collectively known as Evolution. The Rock returned to aid his old friend and the match was made for WMXX to feature Mick & the Rock against Flair, Batista and Orton. Evolution emerged victorious after Orton nailed Foley with an RKO and scored the pinfall. The Rock later participated in numerous antics over the summer of 2004 with Randy Orton and Eugene before going into acting full-time.
Fueled by the star power of The Rock and other stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Triple H, The Undertaker and Kane, the WWE experienced a massive surge in popularity not seen since Hulk Hogan's reign in the '80s. In particular, Johnson's extremely entertaining interviews and storylines made WWF programming a must-see for wrestling fans. From 1998 to 2002, The Rock feuded against the WWF's top stars, winning the WWE Championship seven times during his career, and eventually crossed over into mainstream popularity, such as with a guest appearance on R&B singer Wyclef Jean's track "It Doesn't Matter" and the accompanying video. While still wrestling full-time, Johnson made an appearance as host of the popular sketch comedy TV series Saturday Night Live. The episode was very popular, and it showcased Johnson's acting and comedic ability favorably. After this, Johnson started to get offers from Hollywood for a multitude of different projects. He was a guest star on Star Trek: Voyager and That '70s Show; in the latter, he played the role of his father. The Rock's first role in a major film was a limited appearance as The Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, and his natural charisma translated well to the silver screen. He made occasional wrestling appearances up to 2004's WrestleMania XX.
Thanks to Audrey C for these photos!
This info came from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwayne_Johnson
Back to the Retro