November 17th 1996 was a landmark day in WWE history, although no one quite realised just how important it would prove to be. On that famous night at Madison Square Garden at Survivor Series, Dwayne Johnson made his WWE debut.
Known as Rocky Maivia, Johnson became the first third-generation Superstar in WWE history and emerged as the sole-survivor for his team. Although the company clearly saw the former college football star as a man with potential, no one could have foreseen the legend he would become.
Matt Hardy Reflects On Dwayne Johnson’s WWE Debut
While Dwayne Johnson was finding his feet in WWE, Matt Hardy was also trying to make a name for himself. The tag team legend began appearing for the company in 1994, but wasn’t signed to a full-time contract until 1998. Speaking on his podcast, The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy, the now AEW star said that while it was clear The Rock had potential, no one envisaged him becoming the megastar he is today.
“I mean, he seemed like a special act. I mean, I don’t think anybody, when he first debuted as Rocky Maivia I don’t think anyone really would have immediately thought he was going to come to this huge media star, The Rock, you know, with everything he’s done, but I think he was always gifted and always special and just everything film in the right path. And he’s literally like the biggest star in the world right now. One of the biggest stars in the world.”
Survivor Series proved to be a special event for Dwayne Johnson throughout his career, as two years after his debut he became World Champion for the first time on the show.
The man himself recently took to social media to celebrate the 26th anniversary of his debut, joking that he was prepared to be the hardest worker in the room, but “famous for wearing a fanny pack.” The Hollywood star added that his career had been a “special journey.”
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