While Dwayne Johnson is now known as one of the most iconic stars to ever compete in a wrestling ring, things did not start off that way for The Great One.
Before there was The Rock, Johnson debuted in WWE at the 1996 Survivor Series in Madison Square Garden as ‘Rocky Maivia’, a classic ever-positive babyface character. He quickly rose up the ranks and became the Intercontinental Champion by the following February.
However, as WWE became an edgier product entering the Attitude Era, audiences became less and less enamoured with the star, even chanting “Die, Rocky, Die” during his matches.
The Undertaker did not think Dwayne Johnson would last long
One man who thought Rocky Maivia wouldn’t last long from the start was WWE Hall of Famer, The Undertaker. During an interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, The Phenom recalled seeing Johnson’s debut and thinking he had been “handcuffed from the get go”
“He came into Madison Square Garden, and they’d given him the name of Rocky Maivia. Oh my gosh, it was awful.
“I mean, they handcuffed him right out of the get go, right?
“I remember watching him, and the Garden [fans], they’re merciless if they don’t like what you’re doing. And man, they just lit him up.”
“I had no clue to how charismatic he was. I was like, ‘Such a shame, he’s not gonna be here long.’”
However, Dwayne Johnson soon completely reinvented himself by joining the villainous Nation of Domination stable and transforming into The Rock character we know today.
The Undertaker changed his mind about the future People’s Champion when that change happened, realising that he was destined to become a much bigger star.
“Once he got to The Nation of Domination, it had completely flipped.
“By the time he was at the end of his run with them, I was like, ‘He’s not gonna be here long.’
“You could just tell that he was destined [to move on to better things].”
H/T to The Sun for the above transcription.