Former WWF Head of Talent Relations and Four Horseman JJ Dillon has recalled the moment The Rock spoke to him about walking away from the company as he had $12 to his name.
Dillon was in charge of the hiring and firing in the World Wrestling Federation when a young Dwayne Johnson joined the company as one of their original developmental talents in the mid-nineties. While many spoke highly of Johnson and his unlimited potential, potential wasn’t putting food on the table.
Speaking to Gerald Brisco and John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield on their Stories With Brisco and Bradshaw, JJ Dillon has spoken of the time The Rock came to him looking for a way out of his situation in the company early in his stay when money was scarce.
JJ Dillon recalled:
“Rock, he was going to get the push of his life, but he couldn’t see at that point how really big that opportunity was going to be for him. He had everything. He was multiracial. He had the size, he had athletic ability. He had everything. And I came up there and he said, ‘Can I talk to you privately?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘You have connections everywhere. I’m asking you to help me get out of here and find a place for me to go.’ So I listened to him and I said, ‘There’s more to this story than what you’re telling me. You need to kind of trust me and open up to me and tell me what’s going on in your head, what’s really, really troubling you?’”
As it turned out, The Rock’s issues were finance-based, mainly the complete lack of any:
“After talking about it a little bit, he reached into his pocket and he had a $10 bill and a couple of singles, and he said, ‘This is all the money I have to my name. I’ve never been in a situation where everybody talks about this great potential that I have. But for me, I have 12 bucks in my pocket and that’s eating away at me.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m glad that you opened up to me and told me because that’s something that can be an easy fix.'”
“So I don’t know where we were, I said go up to the box office and pull $200 and I’ll sign for it and I’ll work it out. They came to me and gave me $200 in cash. I called The Rock over and I shook his hand and palmed him $200 in cash. I said, ‘Now you’ve got money in your pocket. You can eat, you’re okay. This is just a little speed bump in the road. I couldn’t do justice to the business by allowing you to just not take full advantage of this opportunity because you are just caught in a position where you don’t have any cash in your pocket and we’ve all been there.”
“He gave me a big hug and that was the turning point for him. Just having that money in his pocket so that he could eat and do what he wanted. I just was in the right place at the right time and knew the right thing to do.”
Thankfully that $200 might have been the smartest investment in wrestling history as The Rock went on to be one of the biggest box office draws both in the ring and then on the silver screen. The production company that he runs with business partner Dany Garcia is named Seven Bucks after the time Johnson found himself even more down on his luck than in his encounter with Dillon.
Twenty-five years on from The Rock’s WWF debut at Survivor Series 1996, there are reports making the rounds that WWE wants the highest-paid actor in Hollywood back to celebrate the anniversary at this year’s event.