Long before taking the world of Hollywood by storm, Dwayne Johnson followed in his father’s footsteps and began a career inside the squared circle. Though he’d go on to be one of the top performers ever to step inside a WWE ring, he wasn’t immediately beloved by fans.
Before taking on his persona as The Rock, Dwayne Johnson first appeared in the WWE as Rocky Maivia, paying tribute to his father Rocky Johnson and his grandfather High Chief Peter Maivia. At the age of 24, Johnson made his WWE debut on November 17th at WWE Survivor Series 1996, teaming with Jake Roberts, Marc Mero, and The Stalker (Barry Windham) to take on the four man team of Crush, Goldust, Jerry Lawler, and a young Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
The debuting Rocky Maivia would end the match as the sole survivor for his team, a sign that WWE was behind the young star. However, fans weren’t convinced by the star and booed him in the following months in a rejection of his babyface persona. However, his popularity began to take hold when he turned heel the following year, leaving Rocky Maivia behind when The Rock was born, and he would go on to become one of the most popular performers in the history of the company.
Dwayne Johnson Is Grateful For His Journey In Professional Wrestling
On the 26th anniversary of The Rock’s WWE debut, Boardroom posted to social media in praise of the star’s accomplishments and ending with a goat emoji, indicating that The Rock was the greatest of all time:
On this day, 26 years ago: Rocky Maivia makes his wrestling debut.
He would eventually go on to become @TheRock.
— 10x world champ
— 2x Intercontinental champ
— 5x Tag Team champ
— 2000 Royal Rumble winner
— WWE’s 6th Triple Crown champ
In response, Dwayne Johnson reflected on the night of his debut and expressed gratitude for his journey in professional wrestling.
“Wow 26yrs ago What a fateful night in Madison Square Garden having my first ever wrestling match for @wwe. That big kid who was willing to be the hardest worker in the room would go on to only become famous for wearing a fanny pack. Seriously tho, what a grateful journey”
Wow 26yrs ago 🤯
What a fateful night in Madison Square Garden having my first ever wrestling match for @wwe.
That big kid who was willing to be the hardest worker in the room would go on to only become famous for wearing a fanny pack.
Seriously tho, what a grateful journey🙏🏾 https://t.co/5VoMB5qER0
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) November 17, 2022
Dwayne Johnson’s journey as a young professional wrestler is chronicled in the NBC series Young Rock. Former WWE Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynchrecently guest starred on the program portraying Cyndi Lauper, who was instrumental to bringing mainstream success to WWE as part of the Rock and Wrestling Connection.