“This is How I Brought Dwayne Johnson into the World of Wrestling” – Jim Ross


Jim Ross, a professional wrestling commentator, explained how he managed to bring Dwayne Johnson, currently one of the most famous faces in the world, into the world of wrestling. Johnson is 44 now, and he is very rich, but his story could have been a lot different. At this moment, “The Rock” is considered to be the world’s highest paid actors in 2016, according to Forbes. He earns $NZD89 million (more than double than in 2015). Dwayne used to play college football in Miami. After graduating in 1995, he signed for Calgary Stampeders. They compete in the Canadian Football League. He was part of the practice team and was cut during the season.

At that time, according to the story of Jim Ross, Dwayne didn’t have much. “He was out of work, cut from the Calgary Stampeders practice squad, had $7 in his pocket and I signed him to a WWE deal worth $100,000. I did have some leverage in that deal because we had the money and he didn’t,” Ross later described on Fox Sports radio. Jim decided it would be good to turn Johnson from football to “global phenomenon.” At that time, Ross was the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations for the WWE.


Vince McMahon, the WWE boss, was suspicious about signing Johnson, but Ross somehow managed to convince him. He was optimistic about it. “Well here’s the deal, we have 90-day outs in the contract. That means we can release him for any reason or no reason with 90 days notice, so he basically has a three-month contract with us, and we have a three-year contract with him”. Those were Ross’ words.

Not only Dwayne Johnson, but Jim Ross also managed to find another interesting man to put inside the ring. At the same time, he was in touch with Steve Austin, the “Stone Cold.” Austin was also a former college football player. He combined Austin and Johnson to be the biggest “crowd pullers” during his time in wrestling.

“I connected with them on the recruiting visit, they got in my head and I got in theirs, I found out what their goals were and that they were a different breed of cats,” Ross stated. “Both guys were chosen to be a star, ‘the’ star, and in that world, even though it’s show business, you still want competition for the top spots. “Those guys were very competitive. Austin played linebacker at North Texas State and defensive end and Rock played some football in Miami and was on the national championship team. I knew what their motives were so their motives impressed me, and then they had the ‘it’ factor. I felt that those guys were going to be big.”


Interesting thing is that Ross could feed his confidence and optimism just by being with Johnson in public. The reaction was pretty good. “I took The Rock to lunch and every woman wanted to come past and see if we needed more tea,” Ross said. “People who didn’t even work there wanted to come by and see if we were alright. They just wanted to be near that big stallion.

According to Jim Ross’ words, “Dwayne had a great exotic look, he was 6’5 (1.96m), he was 275 pounds (125kg) at the time, he had a college degree, and this is going to sound really funky, but, he had great teeth … he just melted those women. And the guys, they looked up to him. He’s a big stud man, gosh look at him. “He was ‘it’, he had ‘it’ and there’re some things … you just feel, it’s a feel thing.”

Both Johnson and Austin had long wrestling careers. And both of them were great wrestlers. Jim Ross was right. Dwayne Johnson had his debut in the WWF in 1996 under the nickname Rocky Maivia. The nickname did not last long because he started calling himself “The Rock” after joining The Nation of Domination. He became Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson. Austin won 8 WWE champions and was one of the biggest rivals of Johnson, alongside Triple H. He left wrestling in 2004 but returned a couple of years after.

The Rock started his Hollywood career after wrestling, and it was and still is very successful. He performed in The Scorpion King, Central Intelligence, Gridiron Gang, Empire State, Faster. He is now even a co-star in the HBO series Ballers.