March 15, 2012
The Powerdriver Review
WWE – The Rock: The Epic Journey of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Two-Disc BLU-RAY Set
THE PROGRAM (1 hour, 56 minutes):
Family Tradition: Dwayne was born May 2, 1972, in Hayward, California. His father Rocky Johnson had married into the Maivia wrestling family. Wrestling was in Dwayne’s blood – literally and figuratively, says Vince. With Rocky Johnson always on the road wrestling, Dwayne became real close to his mother. Vince says that kids who grow up without a father grow up “different”.
The U: We get a shot of the Rock’s high school picture. It’s pretty bad even for 1990. Rocky Johnson wanted his son to play college football since he was so good in high school. Dwayne was actually good enough to play for the top program at the time: the University of Miami. Just to give you an idea of how good Miami was at the time, Dwayne was replaced by Warren Sapp when he suffered an injury. His goals in college were to graduate (duh), win a national championship, and play for the NFL. He achieved the first two, but was passed over by the NFL and went to play for the CFL instead. Injuries got him cut from the CFL, so Dwayne went to his father and asked if he would train him to become a wrestler.
Blue-Chip: Once he was done with his initial training, Dwayne gave Pat Patterson a call. Pat, Vince, and JR all saw star appeal in him. After doing some more training with Tom Prichard, Dwayne made his debut as Rocky Maivia at Survivor Series 1996 in Madison Square Garden.
Rocky Sucks: They discuss the WWF audience hating Rocky when he was just trying to be the “good guy” and won his first IC title from Triple H. Mick Foley recalls his match with Rocky at Cold Day in Hell where Mankind got the biggest babyface reaction he had ever received to that point when he beat Rocky. Ron Simmons says that character just wasn’t Dwayne, which is why he sucked at it.
Nation of Domination: Rocky got hurt in the summer of 1997 and when he came back in the fall, he joined up with the Nation of Domination and started to show his true self to the WWF audience. Clearly Rock was not going to play second fiddle to Faarooq, so Rock dumped him and took over the crew. The Nation-DX rivalry was growing, and more importantly the competitive rivalry between leaders Rock and Triple H was developing as well. They both felt like their matches had a good flow to them and told great stories.
The Corporate Champion: Just as Rock was making strides as the #2 babyface in the company behind Stone Cold Steve Austin in the fall of 1998, he turns heel at Survivor Series where Rock joins Vince McMahon and his Corporation in order to win the WWF title. That started a rivalry with Mankind, who was in the Jake Roberts role at the time of getting the top heel ready for a run with the #1 babyface.
Fighting for Number One: Leading up to WrestleMania 15, Rock remembers a time when Austin gave him a picture of himself that was signed, “Stone Cold Steve Austin #1?. Rock thought Austin was messing with him until Rock found out that was how he autographed his pictures. This was another competitive rivalry where neither one was going to give an inch. Austin wasn’t going to let Rock be the #1 guy, just like Rock didn’t want Austin to be the #1 guy. Regardless, they still had great respect for each other and were great box office hits.
The People’s Champion: Rock’s 1999 mic work including all his catchphrases. The best is of course when he counts on the British Bulldog, “1…2…IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE ROCK COUNTS TO THREE!” Most of what he says just makes his opponents look completely retarded. It’s a good thing he rarely lost.
Rock & Sock Connection: There was a chemistry there that could not be fabricated. They summarize the highest-rated segment in Raw history – the ‘This is Your Life’ segment from September 1999. Vince was pissed at how long it went. He thought it was good, but not THAT good.
Mainstream Star: Now we go to the year 2000. With Austin out recovering from neck surgery, Rock was the new face of the company. They show a ton of footage with Rock battling Triple H during their excellent encounters. From there, they talk about how the Rock went to levels of the mainstream not even Stone Cold Steve Austin was able to achieve. New York Times bestselling author, TRL, SNL, the Today Show, the Republican National Convention. He was everywhere and he was huge.
Electrifying: Rock loses to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 17 and leaves for the spring to be featured in the leading role of the Scorpion King movie. He returns late summer to apparently make fun of Stephanie McMahon, Booker T, and sexual euphemisms.
Icon vs. Icon: Skip ahead to Hogan v. Rock at WrestleMania 18. Andre passed “the torch” to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3 and Hogan passed “the torch” to the Rock at WrestleMania 18. Will Rock pass “the torch” to John Cena at WrestleMania 28? It only makes sense.
Backlash: So Rock came back and left and came back and left to go make movies. The WWE fan base started to feel betrayed and they let him know about it.
Rock Concert: Rock returns in 2003 acting all “Hollywood”. They show the Hurricane getting the cheap win over the Rock. Eventually Rock was so entertaining as a heel, that the crowd started to cheer him again, just like he had done in the years past.
“The Rock Has Done It All”: So finally Rock beats Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 19 with THREE Rock Bottoms. Very short chapter.
Hollywood Sensation: Various people talk about how “well-rounded” an actor he is. All good movies according to certain WWE superstars. Doom, notwithstanding.
Twentieth Anniversary: Rock returns AGAIN to help Mick Foley fight against Evolution at WrestleMania 20. Mick thought that Rock would only come back to wrestle in WWE if it was for a big deal and was surprised that Mick Foley was *that* big deal. This was the last time he would wrestle in WWE until Survivor Series 2011.
Honoring His Family: He comes back again in 2008 to induct his father and grandfather in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Rock Comes Home: Rock admits that he felt he never wanted the WWE or its audience to think that he used them to help his movie career. He returns in February 2011 without a movie to promote. Foley thinks Rock came because he genuinely missed the WWE and wanted to give something to the younger generation of the WWE audience. He makes fun of John Cena a lot too.
A Year in the Making: So yeah, Rock v. Cena is a year in the making. Vince thinks once we get to WrestleMania 28, it’s going to be extraordinary.
Happy Birthday: Vince left Rock a voice mail about getting the celebration together. Then he strokes his ego on the very night of the celebration. And now a special Rock video package set to Diddy’s “Coming Home”.
Rock’s Toy Chest: Vince tells Rock that the WWE is his toy chest. Rock can come play anytime he wants. And that closes out the documentary portion.
Rocky Maivia, Barry Windham, Jake Roberts & Marc Mero (w/Sable) vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Crush, Jerry Lawler & Goldust (w/Marlena) – 4-on-4 Elimination Match (Survivor Series 1996)
Sunny joins Vince and JR for commentary. Since JR thinks she missed all her trips to the woodshed, they argue back and forth the whole match. Jake Roberts is the surprise partner subbing for Mark Henry who is somehow injured. Oh yeah, this match is best well-known for being the WWF debut for the Rock. Helmsley doesn’t want none of Mero, so he tags in Goldust. Mero armdrags him around and tags in Windham for a lariat. In comes Maivia. It looks like he’s going to be stuck in the wrong corner, but Lawler brings him out for a shoulderblock. Rocky NO-SELLS and leapfrogs all over Lawler to put him out on the floor. Tag to Hunter, he gets all aggressive with him. He’s already mad that Rock turns out to be a bigger star than him! Okay, now Rocky becomes the face in peril for a few minutes. He backdrops Helmsley and makes the tag to Jake. He cleans house and goes for the DDT on Hunter, but he gets backed into the corner. Lawler comes in and punches Jake silly. He’s all wobbly-legged, so King makes fun of his drinking habits. That gets him DDT’d just like that at 10:01. After Goldust wears Roberts down with a chinlock, he tags out to Windham. Goldust fights off a SUPERPLEX attempt, but flies down into a gutshot. Crush punches Windham into the CURTAIN CALL to put him away at 12:44. Now it’s Mero who gets worked over for a while. Pretty standard stuff. He comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors on HHH, but then he goes to the eyes and gets tossed to the floor. Jake tries to get him some of Hunter, but meanwhile Mero ascends to the top for the Merosault on Helmsley to pin the IC champ at 19:20. Crush takes a dropkick to the floor, but Goldust pulls him away from a pescado by Mero. Crash and burn! Back in, Crush pins Mero after the HEART PUNCH at 20:33. Jake tries to set up Crush for the DDT, but Crush catches him with the HEART PUNCH to send Jake to the back at 20:54. Oh boy, now Rocky Maivia is all alone against Crush and Goldust. Dang, and MSG is already chanting “Rocky!”. Crush suckers him into a test of strength, but Rocky counters a suplex with an inside cradle for two. Goldust comes in for the failed double team, but the low blow certainly works. He holds Rocky for the HEART PUNCH, but Rocky moves and Goldust gets nailed. Crossbody to Crush gets the 1-2-3 at 23:12! Shoulderbreaker to Goldust gets Rocky the win. (23:44) Survivor: Rocky Maivia. Since Rock’s offense had no sizzle, the fans turned on him instantly, and he wouldn’t get over legitimately until he turned heel. *½
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock (w/Mark Henry) vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) – Ladder Match (SummerSlam 1998)
The DX band sets up their instruments in the ring to play HHH’s entrance. Rock’s entrance music just might be the best one he ever had at this point. This one pretty much ends the Nation as any kind of threat to anybody as a unit. Both guys go for their finishers early, and neither one is successful. With HHH taking a backdrop to the floor on the opposite side of where the ladder is at, Rock heads for the ladder. Helmsley meets him at the ladder for some brawling. Back in, HHH gives Rock the High Knee and reaches the ladder. Rock nails him from behind and turns it over. The “Rocky sucks” chant begins. He brings the ladder to the ring apron, but HHH pulls him aside for more guardrail action. Rock whips him into the ladder to stop all that noise. Now Rock slides the ladder into the ring and goes for the belt REALLY SLOWLY. HHH comes off the top and knocks Rock off the ladder, but the ladder ends up falling on top of him. HHH swings the ladder at Rock and Lawler makes the Mark McGwire comparison. JR wonders why nobody ever brings up Sammy Sosa. Rock yanks HHH by a leg to bring him off the ladder. HHH had been experiencing knee problems at the time, so Rock exploits that. Rock even goes as far as to PILLMANIZE HHH using the ladder. Now he’s got a chair and slams it on the ladder to do more damage to the knee. Probably not all that effective, but it makes a loud noise anyway. Rock makes a scaffold with the ladder between the steps and the guardrail to lift and drop HHH knee-first on the ladder. Rock slowly goes for the belt. Finally, HHH shoves him off the ladder. To the floor we go! The ladder gets propped up against the guardrail as Rock catapults HHH onto the ladder. Next spot, Rock counters a PEDIGREE and backdrops HHH on the ladder. Now the ladder is bent out of shape, so Mark Henry slides in another ladder to the Rock. As Rock begins to climb, Henry tries to stop HHH from getting back inside the ring. Chyna helps out with that. Now HHH shoves the ladder over and Rock goes flying out to the floor. With the ladder opened up and turned over on its side, HHH baseball slides the ladder into the Rock to bust him open. Now Rock returns the favor by turning the ladder over HHH. They meet up at the top of the ladder and trade blows. HHH gets shoved off onto a ladder set up in the corner, but then stumbles back and turns the ladder over on Rock! Looks like Rock wants to go for the People’s Elbow ladder spot, but HHH has a chair and beats the ladder onto the Rock. Now it’s time for the People’s Elbow on the ladder spot. Helmsley kicks the Rock away and starts to climb. Rock grabs at his feet, but HHH kicks him back and flies down into a ROCK BOTTOM! Helmsley pulls down the Rock as he goes for the belt and delivers the PEDIGREE! With HHH in control, Mark Henry throws powder in his face! Now HHH and Rock meet at the top of the ladder again. Rock lays the smackdown on him and touches his IC belt, but Chyna sneaks in a low blow. As Rock collapses from the ladder, HHH climbs up a couple rungs and regains the IC title. (26:07) Good gosh what a pop. Really slow, but this was quite the spectacle and the best match either man had at this point, period. Nowhere close to the HBK/Ramon classics that had come before though. ****
The Rock vs. Mankind vs. Ken Shamrock – Triple Threat Cage Match (IYH: Breakdown 1998)
Winner of this one gets a WWF title shot on an unmentioned date. Mankind tries to sneak out the door right from off the bat while Rock and Shamrock are beating each other senseless. Rock sees what’s happening there and puts a stop to it. Very different crowd than at SummerSlam as the “Rocky” chants begin. Mankind knees Shamrock in the corner, but turns around into a clothesline. Rock tries to leave through the door, but Shamrock stops that and catches Rock with a roundhouse kick of sorts. Shamrock continues to rule the ring for a while. He grabs an ab stretch on Mankind, so Rock walks over and applies an ab stretch on Shamrock for the DOUBLE ABDOMINAL STRETCH spot. Once that’s over, Rock tricks Mankind into teaming with him and then almost immediately turns on him. Shamrock tries to make a quick escape through the door and gets pulled back in by Rock and Mankind as they put the boots to him. A year before it’s a thing, the Rock N Sock Connection actually continue to double-team Shamrock. They even throw him into the cage together. How cute. Every combination conceivable takes turns double-teaming the one that’s singled out. The only combination the crowd turns on is Shamrock and Mankind. No doubt, they are PRO-Rock to say the least. He comes back with a Hurricane DDT on Shamrock and sets both guys for a DOUBLE PEOPLE’S ELBOW! The crowd eats it up like CANDY! He climbs up the wall, but he’s pulled back down onto the top rope. Rock low blows Shamrock and catches Mankind charging for a ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, 1-2-NO! Shamrock makes the save. Big “Shamrock sucks” chants. Shamrock stops the Rock with a Belly to Belly Suplex and applies the ANKLELOCK! Just before Rock taps, Mankind kicks Shamrock in the face. Mankind begins to leave over the cage wall. Rock meets up at the rim and pulls him back inside by his hair. Shamrock tries to stop them both, but Rock kicks him away. Now Mankind kicks Rock down and can’t resist doing his Jimmy Snuka impression. He misses the Cactus elbow on Rock and takes yet another crazy bump in 1998. Shamrock goes for the door, but Mankind of all people prevents him from leaving. With Shamrock comes a chair into the ring. That’s bad news. Mankind ducks a swing and DOUBLE ARM DDT’s Shamrock. That allows him to bash Shamrock square in the face with the chair. Mankind goes for the victory climb over the cage wall. Like a smart person, Rock just lays on top of a KO’d Shamrock for the 1-2-3. (18:49) Entertaining as can be with some more crazy life-shortening risks taken from everybody here. ****
WWF Champion Mankind vs. The Rock – “I Quit” Match (Royal Rumble 1999)
They provide us with the footage of Mabel splashing Mankind on HeAT prior to the PPV. Mankind BUM RUSHES THE SHOW to start and beats Rock down in the corner for the running knee. He follows up with a bulldog and asks the Rock if he wants to quit already. That ain’t happening. They head to the floor where Mankind gets his knees run into the steps. Rock takes some time to steal a headset and to hear himself talk. Mankind shuts him up with right hands and a chairshot to the back. Rock won’t quit, so he bashes Rock in the head with the mic. Back inside, the DOUBLE ARM DDT on Rock. Out comes Mr. Socko. Lawler – “Everybody knows you can’t talk with your mouth full.” Yeah, that’s not going to work. They fight into the crowd as Rock hiptosses Mankind back over the crowd barrier. Over to the timekeeper’s table, Rock hammers the ringbell up against Mankind’s head a few times. The ROCK BOTTOM on the Spanish announce table fails as the table gives way before any damage can be inflicted. They end up brawling over to the entrance where Rock drops Mankind with a DDT on the concrete. No quit in Mankind. Rock finds a ladder, but Mankind kicks him down. He tries to elbow drop the ladder onto the Rock, but Rock moves out of the way and he falls on the ladder all violent-like. Rock props the ladder up against a wall and climbs up into a balcony. Mankind follows and they brawl until he falls off onto an electrical bank to get “electrocuted”. Shane McMahon comes out to try and stop the match, but Rock says he *will* make Mankind say the words. As Mankind starts to crawl toward the ring, Rock puts the bad mouth to him. Once they get back to the ring, Rock handcuffs Mankind’s hands behind his back and gets in all kinds of free shots in on him. Yeah, that’s fair. Mankind low blows Rock and kicks him down so he can bite him on the mat. Big knee drop to the balls. Rock catches Mankind with a clothesline and delivers a chair-assisted CORPORATE ELBOW on Mankind. Still, Foley will not quit. Five disgusting chairshots to the skull. Make it eight chairshots as Foley collapses in the aisle. Mankind will still not say that he quits. Blood is pouring from his head. He’s now up to TEN brain cell destroying chairshots and Foley falls face down and unconscious on the concrete. Rock puts down the chair and places the mic up against Foley’s mouth. That’s when they replay an audio portion of Mankind yelling “I quit” from an interview on HeAT as Rock regains the WWF title. (21:49) After posing with the belt in the corners, Rock stands over Mankind’s broken down body and holds up the gold. This is one of the problems I have with the Rock. There were a lot of moments where he would take way more than he would ever give to a wrestler whether in his interviews or in his matches in the first couple years of his career. You’re only as good as your opponent and if you constantly make your opponent look completely beneath you, then who have you really beaten? I’m not saying that Rock should have taken an equal amount of chairshots to the cranium here, but he certainly did little to nothing to make Foley look good here besides give him a legitimate life-shortening match. There’s looking like a tough son of a gun and then there’s looking like a masochist. I appreciate and encourage realism in wrestling, but this match crosses a line that shouldn’t be crossed. You didn’t have to this type of match, Mick. We all know your better than this. *½
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock – No Holds Barred Match (Backlash 1999)
Shane McMahon is *your* special referee and in charge of the Corporation while Vince is being all busy and concerned with the Undertaker. Rock has Austin’s Smoking Skull belt just for kicks and giggles. Oh, and because it pisses off Austin. If Austin lays one finger on Shane, then he loses the WWF title. Shane makes a ring crew guy take the Smoking Skull belt and lock it up in his office once Austin makes his entrance. Big brawl in the ring to start. Austin hits the Thesz Press and follows up with an elbow. Rock comes back and dumps Austin out as they brawl over to the tunnel. Austin takes a spill into some cyclone fencing. The Walls of Jericho come tumbling down. Nice one, JR. He counters a suplex on some concrete though. Now Rock knocks down part of the stage made up of some cyclone fencing. Austin delivers a clothesline to the Rock off some electrical equipment. He tries a double-sledge off an anvil case, but Rock catches him in the gut on the way down. Some more brawling and eventually they head back to the ring. Austin stomps a mud hole and walks it dry. Shane gets up in Austin’s face and tries to get him to punch him one time. Rock charges and gets dumped to the floor. Over to the Spanish announce table, Rock low blows Austin and puts him through the table with a ROCK BOTTOM. Rock gets on one of the headsets and talks some trash. After that, they brawl into the crowd. Back to ringside, Rock puts Austin on JR and Lawler’s table and steals one of the big cameras away. He starts to talking some more trash and pans the crowd. When he turns back to Austin, the man is standing and flipping him the double-bird right before he delivers the STONE COLD STUNNER ON THE TABLE! Not that much more effective, but it’s one of the best visuals you’ll ever see in the WWF. Back inside, Rock shoves off a Stunner into Shane. Austin turns around into a ROCK BOTTOM. Cover by Rock, 1-2-NO! Getting desperate, Shane goes to hit Austin with the WWF title belt and hits Rock by mistake. Cover, 1-2-NO! Shane refuses to count to three and gives Austin the double bird. He slides out of the ring and appears to be leaving. That’s when Vince McMahon walks down to the ring with the Smoking Skull belt. Shane tries to take it from him and gets wiped out. Vince sends ref Earl Hebner into the ring to count a pinfall on Austin for 1-2-NO! Rock goes to nail Austin with the belt for a second time, but Austin drops him with a STONE COLD STUNNER and hits him with the WWF title for 1-2-3. (17:06) Afterwards, Vince gives Austin his Smoking Skull belt back and walks away. Ugh. I know I’m in the minority, but I really don’t care for these Attitude Era brawls. They all seem the same to me. Brawl all around the arena, tear down the set, break the tables, and then go for the overbooked finish. The one time I ever remember this type of match working properly was the Austin-Foley match at Over the Edge 1998. But the Rock is not Mick Foley. The spot that worked the best was no doubt the Stunner on the table. It worked within the confines of both their characters. It made sense that would happen. The rest though just felt like same old stuff to me that we’d already seen before. **½
Oh yeah, WHERE TO, STEPHANIE? DAAAAAAAAAAAD! Just kidding.
WWF Champion The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle – No-DQ Match (SummerSlam 2000)
This is all happening during the HHH-Stephanie-Angle love triangle. On the Smackdown prior to this PPV, Angle tried comforting a hurting Stephanie by putting a lip lock on her that she fights a little bit at first, and then starts to enjoy it, so the heat between Angle and Triple H is certainly at a fever pitch. Champ enters last. HHH does not wait for him to head out to start beating up Angle. They brawl all around ringside and head over to the Spanish announce table. As HHH lifts Angle up for the PEDIGREE, the table gives way in a moment shown on those “Do Not Try This At Home” PSA’s for quite some time after this. As we all know, Angle got the worst of that incident. HHH finds his trusty sledgehammer as FINALLY…the Rock makes his entrance. See, this is the Rock I actually enjoy. While paramedics attend to Angle and carry him out on a stretcher, HHH elbows the Rock down. Triple H is not cool with Angle leaving this match so quickly, so he gives Angle one good shot to the head. Rock takes hold of HHH and runs him into the SummerSlam set. Here comes a very concerned Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley to check on Angle. HHH spots his wife and tells her she isn’t supposed to be at ringside. High Knee on Rock gets two. Stephanie gets the WWF title and goes to bash Rock, but HHH gets nailed by accident. Cover by Rock, 1-2-NO! Rock grabs hold of Stephanie, but takes a low blow from HHH who then sends his wife away for good. HHH regains the sledgehammer and gives Rock a good jab to the ribs. Shoulder butts in the corner leaves the Rock laying. Rock fires back, but lowers his head for a HHH Facebuster for two. To the floor, HHH runs Rock back-first into the ringpost. Back inside, Rock lays the smackdown to start a comeback, but all HHH has to do is bury the knee into the ribs again. Rock stops HHH up top and brings him down with a superplex. Backstage, Stephanie is begging Angle to go back out to the ring to help her hubby. Kurt says he’ll do it only for her. Stephanie walks Angle back to ringside as he trips up the Rock into a PEDIGREE for 1-2-NO! Angle pulls out HHH and runs him into the steps! Angle jumps on Rock for 1-2-NO! Belly to Belly Throw by Angle gets two. Rock fights back with a hiptoss and a DDT for a nearfall. As HHH climbs back onto the apron, Rock reverses a whip and sends Angle into him. Angle stumbles back into the ROCK BOTTOM for 1-2-NO! Now HHH pulls Rock off the cover! Stephanie tosses the sledgehammer into the ring, but Angle kicks HHH back and picks it up for himself. In comes Stephanie into the ring to “help” again. As he goes to hit Triple H, Angle ducks and Stephanie gets wiped out. Now all of HHH’s attention turns to his wife. As he turns back around, Angle decks HHH with the sledgehammer! Cover on HHH, 1-2-NO! Rock makes the save and lays the smackdown on Angle to send him flying over the top. PEOPLE’S ELBOW to HHH! Cover, 1-2-3! (20:11) Despite being injured and possibly to the point of a serious concussion, you would think Angle had come back out simply to carry out Stephanie’s wishes and leave when he really just wanted to get back out there and win the WWF title. I love it. ***½
WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian vs. The Rock & the Undertaker – (Raw is War, 12/18/00)
Commissioner Mick Foley made this match earlier in the show due to Edge overturning his card table. Seems fair to me. Christian tries to catch the Rock when he’s not looking to start. Rock gets stuck in the E&C corner, but Rock powerslams Edge and tags in the Undertaker. Edge catches Taker with an elbow in the corner, but he flies down from the middle rope into a GOOZLE. Christian runs in to prevent the Chokeslam and takes a soupbone to the face. He hammers both tag champs in the corner. Side Slam to Christian, but Edge hits a sliding clothesline on Taker down on the mat. Taker hits a running DDT on Edge and tags in Rock. He knocks Christian off the apron, but turns around into a SPEAR from Edge. Taker gets drawn in as E&C put the boots to the Rock. Side Slam-Reverse DDT on Rock gets two. Rock escapes a chinlock, but gets nailed by Christian with a spinning heel kick. Tag to Edge, ROCK BOTTOM! HOT TAG TO TAKER! Big powerslam to Christian. Out goes Edge, and Christian receives Old School. Down on the floor, the ref gets nailed by accident. In the ring, Taker delivers the LAST RIDE to Christian. It’s all over, but there’s no ref. Edge runs by Taker and drops him with a tag title belt. Christian covers Taker as the ref rolls back in the ring for 1-2-NO! As Taker makes it towards the Rock, Edge jumps on his back for a sleeper. Taker falls back on Edge and tags Rock. Samoan drop to Edge! Christian gets dumped. Spinebuster and PEOPLE’S ELBOW to Edge! That gets the 1-2-3! (8:40) I had forgotten about this title change. We’ve got NEW WWF tag team champs! Actually a fun, high energy match. The win would be short-lived as E&C would retain the belts by that Thursday’s Smackdown. **½
The first three matches on this disc took place in the Carolinas? Awesome.
WWE Undisputed Champion The Rock vs. Ric Flair – (Raw, 7/29/02)
In my hometown of Greensboro, Ric Flair is back in the main event in this non-title match. WOO! With Flair very limited, I don’t think anyone is expecting a whole lot here. Rock delivers a couple of arm drags and a backdrop. Lock up again, and Flair delivers THREE arm drags to send Rock bailing to the floor. Back in, Rock tries to mock Flair with chops and receives them back twofold. Again, Rock goes to the floor. Flair meets him on the outside with more chops. Back inside, Flair hits the shinbreaker, but can’t deliver the FIGURE-FOUR. Rock punches Flair around and drops him with the Spinebuster. PEOPLE’S ELBOW gets thwarted as Flair trips him up for another shot at the FIGURE-FOUR. Rock ain’t having it and applies the Sharpshooter. Flair makes the ropes. Rock tries the hold again, but Flair goes to the eyes and locks in the FIGURE-FOUR for real this time. No submission, of course. Chops and punches are traded. Flair blocks the spit punch and gives it back to Rock. That doesn’t affect the Rock much as he kips up and gives Flair the ROCK BOTTOM for the win. (7:24) After the match, Rock gives his childhood hero a handshake and a hug before leaving Flair alone with the Greensboro crowd. *½
WWE Undisputed Champion The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) – SummerSlam 2002
He’s won the 2002 King of the Ring, he’s left Hulk Hogan laying in a pool of his own blood, and now he’s here to destroy the Rock and become the Undisputed champion. Rock BUM RUSHES THE SHOW, but Brock throws him away with a Belly to Belly Suplex. Brock had recently injured the ribs of the Rock and he exploits that here with a series of rib busters. The “Rocky Sucks” chants are already filling the Nassau Coliseum. Lesnar takes Rock to the floor and drops him ribs-first on the barricade. Back in, another Belly to Belly Throw gets two. Lesnar telegraphs a backdrop, but catches Rock for a powerslam for two. Shoulder butts in the corner, but then Rock avoids a charge and Lesnar eats the post. Rock delivers a back suplex and they’re both down for the count. At the count of five, we see STEREO KIP-UPS! It takes Rock a few tries, but he eventually knocks Lesnar down. DDT gets two. Heyman stops Rock from applying the Sharpshooter. He punches Heyman off the apron and gives Lesnar a dragon screw leg whip to apply the Sharpshooter for real. Crowd does not want to see Lesnar tap – or better yet, see Rock win. Rock lets Long Island know how he feels about that. Heyman gets back on the apron and puts a chair in the ring. Rock has had enough of him and brings Heyman into the ring. He tries a ROCK BOTTOM, but Lesnar nails him from behind. While the ref is busy with Heyman, Brock jabs with the chair and grabs a bearhug. When Rock starts to break loose, Lesnar drops him with a back suplex, still holding onto the ribs. Rock’s arm drops once, twice, BUT NOT THREE TIMES! Crowd is hating on that one. Rock fights out and low blows Lesnar while the ref is with Heyman. Going back to the ribs, Lesnar charges Rock back into a corner. He tries again, but Rock rallies back and lays the smackdown on Lesnar to send him flying out to the floor. The Spanish announce table gets set up by the Rock. Heyman tries to stop him, so Rock bounces his head off the table. Brock attacks, but Rock ducks and catapults Lesnar into the ringpost. With Lesnar laid out, Rock grabs Heyman and gives him a ROCK BOTTOM THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE. EC-DUB, much? Back inside, the crowd is all over the Rock. Cole of course interprets that as a ‘mixed reaction’ when that couldn’t be farther from reality. ROCK BOTTOM to Lesnar! Cover, 1-2-NO! Rock is PERPLEXED! Lesnar pops up and hits a Rock Bottom of his own for 1-2-NO! Rock comes back with the Spinebuster and tries for the PEOPLE’S ELBOW, but Lesnar jumps up and drills Rock with a clothesline. F-5, but Rock lands on his feet. He attempts the Rock Bottom a couple more times, but Lesnar keeps elbowing out. Finally, Lesnar pulls Rock into the F-5 legit this time! Cover, 1-2-3! (15:49) We’ve got a NEW WWE Undisputed champ. Well, Lesnar owes the Rock a thousand thank-you’s for this one. He put him over REAL strong to say the least. Lesnar becomes the Next Big Thing for the next year or so before he gets all upset with how he’s booked and leaves to try out for the NFL. As for the Rock, this was exit out until he came back in early 2003 acting all “Hollywood” and stuff. ***¼
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan – No Way Out 2003
Okay, so this might be my favorite Rock theme, but for different reasons entirely due to being so over-the-top ridiculous. It’s to the level of self-parody. Neither one had wrestled since they were defeated by Brock Lesnar in August 2002. Rock stalls all Randy Savage-like on the floor before the bell rings. Rock tries to jump Hogan from behind, but he’s met with punches. Rock bails again like a good Memphis wrestler would. Hogan gets baited out to the floor and brings Rock back inside, but Rock stomps him when he tries to join him. Hogan fights back with turnbuckle smashes and lays the smackdown on Rock to send him flying over the top rope. Rock snaps the neck on the top rope to come back inside. Off the doo-rag, ROCK BOTTOM to Hogan! That gets two. Rock puts on the doo-rag and steals Hogan’s belt to give him a good lashing. Rock takes a moment to drink some Dasani, but turns back around into a clothesline. Hulk takes back his belt and starts whipping Rock. He comes back with a DDT and smells what he’s cookin’. Sharpshooter to Hogan. His arm drops once, twice, BUT NOT THREE TIMES! Hogan powers out and Rock goes rolling out to the floor. Rock finds a chair and goes to hit Hogan up against the ringpost, but Hulk moves out of the way just in time. Hulk punches back and hits Rock with the chair across the back. DQ, maybe? Ref finally gets the chair away from Hogan, which allows Rock to give him a good punch to what’s left of Hogan’s testicles. Spinebuster and the PEOPLE’S ELBOW. One more with the Hulkamania pose strikes Hogan for 1-2-NO! Time to HULK UP! Three punches and the Big Boot. LEGDROP gets 1-2-NO! The lights go out for a moment and when they come back on, Rock and the ref is down. Now Vince McMahon walks out. Hogan gets all distracted and turns back around into a STEEL CHAIR SHOT TO THE FACE! ROCK BOTTOM and the ref wakes up for the 1-2-3. (12:37) Afterwards, Vince shakes hands with the ref signifying a screw job occurred here. He continues to mock a bloodied up Hogan when he’s down. Never was a fan of any of this. Rock-Hogan II or Vince-Hogan at WrestleMania 19. Terrible match too with absolutely none of the interest of the first match. ¼*
WWE Raw, 2/24/2003. The night after Rock beat Hulk Hogan at No Way Out, he makes a surprise return to Raw in Toronto. The crowd cheers the mention of their name, so he makes fun of them for it. Rock calls the city OUT for booing him at WrestleMania 18, and then lets them know that Hulk Hogan’s is on Smackdown when they start to chant for him to come out. You see, Canadians are stupid. Their brains are only 2/3 the size of American brains. It’s science. He’s also upset that he didn’t get voted ‘Superstar of the Decade’ on the RAW X Anniversary show. This leads to a rant against Stone Cold. Rock works in that the Toronto Maple Leafs suck in with the introduction that he does for himself, which turns the entire arena against him. The reaction for this comment alone is just HUGE. It’s just a sports team, guys! The crowd makes him pay with a “You sold out” chant, so won’t let them finish “If you smell…” along with him. Just great stuff by the Rock.
WWE Raw, 4/21/2003. Now we go to the Raw before Backlash in Atlanta for the Rock Concert II. Is the ATL crowd chanting for Goldberg or for the Rock? Hard to tell. Rock opens up with a little “Goldberg On My Mind”. Once that’s over, Rock brings out Gillberg. Hilarity ensues. Next song: “The Rock Went Down To Georgia”. We’re in Atlanta and they’re cheering Rock. Moving on. Goldberg shows up at the arena on the TitanTron. Rock demands security to keep him away. Rock thinks about it some more and tries to convince Gillberg to watch out for Goldberg. Probably not a good idea, Duane. Goldberg runs through the security guys, so Rock leaves. Once again, the security guards cannot subdue Goldberg and get tossed aside. Gillberg attacks, but that just proves to be a distraction as Rock lays out Goldberg with a ROCK BOTTOM. Before Rock can leave for good, Goldberg is up and running after him. Once they get a camera backstage, we see Rock hopping into his Hummer limo. Goldberg tries to chase after him in a Plymouth ‘Cuda, but the car STALLS OUT. HA! Goldberg gives up on the car and chases after him on foot. As Goldberg turns the corner, Rock shows up out of nowhere and sees that Goldberg is long gone. Well, this whole segment made Goldberg look like a complete buffoon.
WWE Raw 2/14/2011. Introducing the guest host of WrestleMania 27. And no, it’s not Justin Bieber. It’s the ROCK. This is the promo that John Cena has referenced a ton over the last year. Rock says he’s finally back home and he gives us his word that he is never ever going away. Now he puts the shades on and goes into ‘the Rock’ mode. He targets the Miz and John Cena. Before he can get to John Cena though, the anonymous Raw GM interrupts. Michael Cole goes to read the e-mail as Rock uses him to run through his usual insults and threats. Now back to John Cena. Here’s where the ‘Fruity Pebbles’ line comes into the WWE vernacular. THE ROCK IS GOING TO ELECTRIFY WRESTLEMANIA! IF YA SMELLALALALAALALALAOWW WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN’.
WWE WrestleMania 27. At the start of the show, the Rock comes out to spout off his catchphrases and get the crowd all JACKED. And that’s pretty much it.
WWE Raw, 4/4/2011. The night after WrestleMania 27 where John Cena loses to the Miz, Cena challenges the Rock to a match. He wants it right then and there, but the Rock wants it at WrestleMania 28 in the main event. Bold move, WWE. REAL bold. The Corre (remember them?) come out to attack, but the Rock and Cena clean house hitting their signature moves. Once that’s over, Rock and Cena shake hands and call it a night.
WWE Raw, 5/2/2011. It’s the Rock’s birthday celebration! This is night after Seal Team Six got Osama Bin Laden, so Rock is all patriotic. Then, Rock goes over his life story prior to joining WWE when the Raw GM interrupts through the sound of Michael Cole’s voice. Rock uses this time to make fun of Michael Cole. He tells the Rock that he’s no longer a guy he can make fun of, but he’s now a MAN. Cole takes off his suit and reveals a Kevin Garnett Celtics jersey. HA! Yes, we are in Miami. Being a Celtics fan and the farthest from a Lebron James fan as possible, I’m fine with this. Cole gets out of his cage and joins Rock in the ring. He brings it in for a handshake, which of course leads to a Rock Bottom and the People’s Elbow. Skip ahead to later in the show, Rock comes out again to get a bunch of public thank you’s from Vince McMahon. Rock gives thanks to everybody in the back, everybody in TEAM BRING IT WORLDWIDE (whatever that means), if you smell what the Rock is cooking. Confetti and balloons fall from the ceiling for what feels like a LONG time as Miami celebrates.
The Rock & John Cena vs. Awesome Truth – Survivor Series 2011
Obviously Rock gets the positive reaction, Cena gets the negative one. It doesn’t matter though because at the end of the day, both were equally as strong and that’s all that matters. Whether you paid a ticket to come and boo Cena or cheer Rock, you still bought a ticket to see WWE. The bell rings, but Rock just looks around at the crowd and soaks in the reaction. He’s one of the few who could just stand in the ring and do what he just did. Miz and Rock start us off as I’m sure someone like Miz has to be sporting some kind of a woody right now. Rock armdrags Awesome Truth all over the place and then surprises Miz with La Magistral cradle for 1-2-NO! Of course, Rock gets the “you’ve still got it” chants while Awesome Truth is all DRATS and CURSES on the floor. Rock wants Truth and here we go. Truth does all that juking and jiving only to eat a right hand. Rock hits the Fisherman’s Suplex on Truth, but Cena being in the ring knocking Miz off the apron costs them a pinfall. After they exchange words, Miz declares he wants Cena, so Rock slaps Cena’s hand away for a tag. Cena fires off a monkey flip and a dropkick to send Miz running. Tag to Truth, Cena starts up the shoulderblocks and the Protobomb to set up Five Knuckle Shuffle. Oh wait, nevermind. Instead, Cena walks over to Rock and tells him that he currently cannot see him. Rock steps into the ring and just stands there staring at Cena until Truth attacks him from behind. You better believe Cena is *your* face in peril. They hit him with everything while keeping Cena on their side of the ring. Eventually, Cena catches Truth trying a flying bodypress. Truth slips away from the AA and hits a front sitout suplex for two. Miz starts taunting Rock just serving to piss him off. STF gets applied, but Truth makes the break. Quick AA on Truth. Cena crawls over for the tag, but Miz knocks Rock off the apron while Truth runs him down over on the floor. As Rock gets riled up and enters the ring, Awesome Truth delivers a double flapjack to Cena for two. Truth “dances” a little too much before trying a legdrop and misses to set up the HOT TAG TO ROCK! DDT on Miz, lays the Smackdown on Truth, and gives him the ROCK BOTTOM. Miz charges into the Sharpshooter, but Truth makes the save with WHATS UP. Meanwhile, Cena tackles Truth to take him to the floor. Miz punches on the Rock, but then charges into a spinebuster to set up the PEOPLE’S ELBOW for the win. (21:34) It wasn’t a match that needed to be great to accomplish its intent, which was to ultimately hype WrestleMania. Not to mention it introduces all the WWE’s loyal eight year olds to the greatness of the Rock. **½
Farmland – From 2007, Rock reflects back on a time when he felt he could literally say anything and it would be cool with the WWF audience. Back in 1999 when discussing Triple H as the number one contender over him, he mentions something about that claim being the bunch of cow poop he had ever seen on live TV.
People’s Elbow – More from a 2007 interview. He remembers bringing up the idea for the move to JR. Various superstars talk about how cool they think it is.
Toy Chest – From a 2003 interview. Looks like from the WrestleMania 19 special. Vince told the Rock that WWE was his toy chest, and he could come and play any time he wanted.
The Rock Thanks New York City – After Survivor Series 2011 went off the air, Rock has some fun with the NYC audience and thanks them for all their support. Blah, blah, blah. It’s about eight minutes long of a love fest.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I think it’s hard for long-time fans like me to watch the biographies on these Attitude Era guys. What you’re going go to see is a bunch of clips that you’ve seen hundreds of times before. To be honest, Rock or “Dwayne” comes across as very competitive, goal-oriented, passionate, and positive. He’s a very likeable guy and it comes across well in the interviews.
If you’re a new fan and you’ve been waiting for a chance to experience the Rock and why he’s so revered for the first time, this is probably a very good place to start. The last Rock set probably includes too many matches as where you need a lot of context to understand why they are happening. Here, you’re told about the rivalries in the program that are reflected in the special features, so it gives those matches a level of understanding that you would not have had otherwise. For new WWE fans, I would totally recommend this set.
Old fans like me might pass on this set unless you’re really a huge fan of the Rock. If you remember, the last Rock DVD set released in 2008 was filled with so many of his must-have matches, that this release kind of just fills in the cracks of what is left of his seven year career in WWE. If you feel satisfied that you have enough of the Rock in your collection with the last set, then by all means feel free to pass. Then again, I’m a big fan of the 2003 “Hollywood” Rock, and there’s a ton of footage here from that era. I also loved the triple-threat cage match as well, so I found enough to like here for me to keep this set after I watched it. Slight thumbs up for “the Epic Journey of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson”.