Photo by Quirk Books
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a friendly reminder: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson remains one of the most interesting men in the world. From remaining one of the biggest movie stars on the planet to branching out into the wild world of tequila, The Rock is an infinitely fascinating guy with a story to match. His life and career have followed particularly unique paths, the sort ripped straight out of a sitcom—appropriate considering that his autobiographical Young Rock premieres this week.
With a life so wild it sometimes reads as a work of fiction (and with a format that will see three distinct eras of The Rock’s youth portrayed), there are plenty of stories the show can look to for inspiration. Here are some of the weirdest, wildest stories from The Rock’s pre-Rock days that we’re hoping the show adapts at some point.
WWE cohort Bruno Lauer bought The Rock his first car at the age of 15, giving the young superstar-to-be $40 to buy a junker from a burnout in a Nashville bar. Sweet story, right? Well, yeah, but there’s more to it—after Rock took off with the car he discovered that one of the burnout’s friends was asleep in the backseat! It’s the sort of stranger-than-fiction moment you have to imagine we’ll see depicted on screen in Young Rock at some point.
It’s a story that feels more myth than reality at this point: after being booted from the Calgary Stampede football team, a young Dwayne Johnson had to move back in with his parents in Miami with nothing but seven bucks in his pocket. It’s a story The Rock has told time and time again as his career has progressed, framing it as both rock bottom and a turning point in his life (in his desperation to get back on his feet he turned to professional wrestling and, well, we all know how that turned out).
Any show about The Rock’s adolescence and young adulthood has to include this moment. It’s the key component in the myth of The Rock and one we’re excited to see play out onscreen whenever Young Rock gets around to it.
Perhaps you’ve noticed, but The Rock is huge. Like, literally huge. A giant person with muscles on top of muscles on top of muscles. As it turns out, he didn’t get that big after a growth spurt in late adulthood—he’s always been massive. At the age of 16 The Rock was allegedly 6’4 and weighed 215. He also already had himself a sweet mustache.
Looking older than you are as a teenager has its perks (you’ve gotta assume he didn’t get carded for too many R-rated movies) but it’s got its downsides as well, namely all of your classmates thinking you’re an undercover cop. That’s apparently exactly what most of his high school classmates thought, so much so that nobody ever wanted to invite him to any remotely illicit get-togethers.
Young Rock is almost certain to get into The Rock’s earliest days as a wrestler in Memphis, Tennessee. He was in the WWF’s developmental program those days, learning the ropes through training and performing in front of small crowds alike. In that era of his career he wasn’t The Rock yet. He wasn’t even Rocky Maivia. No, The Rock’s first wrestling name was Flex Kavana, an admittedly great name for an admittedly not-so-great (YET) wrestler.
If he was lucky he’d be wrestling these matches in front of a hundred people and often it was far less. He’d wrestle in barns, county fairs, wherever he could find the work and usually make no more than $40 a night for his troubles. There’s not too much actual footage out there of the Flex Kavana era, and what footage there is isn’t of the highest quality, which means Young Rock might be the next best thing fans of The Rock can get when it comes to getting an in-depth look at the Artist Formerly Known As Flex Kavana.
Learn more about The Rock in Tres Dean's book, For Your Consideration: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, available wherever books are sold.