MOTW: A Biography for Dwayne Johnson

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
March 28th, 2013

MOTW: A Biography for Dwayne Johnson

-- Born in Hayward, California, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson came into the world on May 2, 1972. Johnson's family had a proud history in wrestling. Johnson's father, Rocky, and his grandfather, Peter, both had professional wrestling experience. Also, Johnson's grandmother was a professional wrestling promoter. Johnson is of Canadian heritage from his father's side and Samoan heritage from his mother's. Johnson moved to live in New Zealand with his mother's extended family while still a young boy. By the time he had reached the tenth grade, Johnson had moved to Honolulu and studied at President William McKinley High School. Johnson moved once again the next year, except this time to Pennsylvania. Johnson got a chance to play football while at Freedom High School. Beside football, Johnson was actively involved in the school's track and field and wrestling teams.

Johnson was a special talent at football. His success resulted in many offers from first division college programs. Although he had many different options available to him, Johnson finally accepted a scholarship from the University of Miami. During his first year in college, Johnson's college team, the Miami Hurricanes, won the national championship. Johnson eventually graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies degree in criminology and physiology. Johnson did have a desire to play in the NFL, but a severe back injury put paid to that. Although he did not make the cut for the NFL, Johnson did sign with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League; however, he was cut from the team only a handful of games into the season.

Although Johnson could not pursue a football career, he did have other avenues open to him. The most obvious career path for him at that point was wrestling. Johnson's father initially did not want his son to pursue a professional wrestling career because he knew of the dangers that it would entail. However, he did teach his son after relenting. For his first season in pro wrestling, Johnson fought under the name Flex Kavana. He achieved immediate success and won the USWA World Tag Team Championship two times. Johnson signed a deal with the World Wrestling Federation not long after these triumphs.

For his WWF debut, Johnson used the stage name Rocky Maivia. Johnson stopped using the name Rocky Maivia and instead referred to himself as The Rock not long after. Johnson was involved in a long-running wrestling feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin for many years. Johnson had trouble with remaining on friendly terms with many of his teammates, so he chose to go it alone and became known as The People's Champion. After only a few short years in pro wrestling, Johnson decided to begin what would ultimately become a successful acting career.

Because of his relative obscurity as an actor, Johnson could only secure a couple of guest appearances on smalltime television shows. In late 2000, Johnson hosted Saturday Night Live, a performance that was deemed a success. This was his first real break as an actor, and as a result, he received many film offers from Hollywood. The very next year Johnson played his first onscreen role, the Scorpion King, in "The Mummy Returns." Although Johnson had a small part in the film, a sequel was to be made due to the success the film achieved. A sequel, "The Scorpion King," was spawned in 2002. This time, Johnson was given a lead role.

Over the following few years, Johnson did not really capitalize on his initial acting success. It took until 2011 for Johnson's acting career to really take off with the release of "Fast Five." Johnson played the role of Luke Hobbs, a secret service agent tasked with capturing the film's baddies. The response to this performance, and the film as a whole, was overwhelmingly positive. The overall success of the film led to a sequel being made, which will be released mid way through 2013. Johnson will once again play a major role in the film.

Johnson never actually retired from wrestling because he did make cameo appearances while he was pursuing an acting career. During WrestleMania XXVII, of which Johnson was host, John Cena challenged Johnson to a match in 2012's WrestleMania. The yearlong buildup to the fight was almost too long for fans to wait. Before the fight, Cena appeared to be dismissive of Johnson's comeback plans. However, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson defeated Cena easily. In January 2013 Johnson participated in his first WWE fight for over a decade. Not surprisingly, Johnson secured his eighth WWE championship of his hugely successful pro wrestling career.