Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson debuted for WWE in 1996 and reached mega-star status as one of the top performers in the company until his contract expired in 2004.
After somewhat of a rocky start to life in WWE, Johnson became WWE Champion just two years into his run, and by the time 2000 came around he was the biggest star in the company. Fast forward to 2001 and he was unquestionably one of the biggest stars in history. Naturally, this meant that he was now in demand outside of WWE.
In 2001, Dwayne Johnson starred in The Mummy Returns and it became evident that Hollywood was calling as The Rock began to spend more time away from the ring to focus on his film career.
Dwayne Johnson’s Contract “Slipped Through The Cracks”
Then in 2004, The Rock would depart WWE and not be seen on WWE television again until 2007. Remarkably, WWE simply forgot to renew The Rocks contract and as a result, Dwayne Johnson’s deal with the company expired.
On his Something to Wrestle podcast, Bruce Prichard discussed the error and revealed that then WWE Chairman Vince Machaon never wanted Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and WWE to part ways:
“I do know [Vince McMahon’s] intent was never to ever let a contract expire with Rock. I wasn’t involved in it, but I guess that somehow it slipped through the cracks. And somehow there was that black hole that somehow it got missed.”
After making unbelievable strides in Hollywood, Dwayne Johnson would eventually make his return to wrestling in 2011, appearing as the host of WrestleMania 27 before once again stepping foot inside the ring to compete, most notably against John Cena at WrestleMania 28 and again the following year at WrestleMania 29.
Speculation continues to persist that the ‘Great One’ could once again be set for action at WrestleMania 39 in April 2023 in a possible clash against his cousin and WWE Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns.