WWE

The Rock’s greatest WWE moments as legend celebrates 25th anniversary

Before the world knew Dwayne Johnson the world-famous actor, he became one of the most popular and charismatic wrestlers of all time.

The Rock electrified crowds with his smooth in-ring work, compelling promos and one-of-a-kind catchphrases that live long in the memory of WWE fans.

His scintillating rivalries with some of the company’s best and epic championship wins have made for some of the promotion’s most unforgettable moments.

This month's Survivor Series marked 25 years to the day that the megastar first made his debut in WWE as the baby-faced and bright-eyed Rocky Maivia, before morphing into the superstar we know and love today.

While there are many to choose from, we will now take a look at some of The Rock’s best moments throughout his glittering career.

Joining the Nation of Domination and Intercontinental title reign

As mentioned previously, The Rock made his debut as Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather's ring names.

However, his character, which included wearing flamboyant ring gear and smiling for the audience, didn’t translate well with the masses and he soon began receiving boos along with chants of "die, Rocky, die" and "Rocky sucks" during his matches.

Things would soon change after The Rock sustained an injury in 1997.

Upon his return in August of that year, he turned heel for the first time in his career by lashing out at fans who had been booing him and joining Faarooq, D'Lo Brown and Kama in the stable called the Nation of Domination.

The grappler found his groove during his time in the group and revelled in the role of a bad guy as he saw a big uptick in fan support, and became the intercontinental champion in the process.

Feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin

If you were to a point a wrestling novice in the direction of a feud between two superstars which was full of hostility, captivating promo segments and hard-hitting, entertaining matches which told a compelling story, look no further than The Rock’s rivalry with Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Their feud kicked off in 1999 while The Rock was WWE champion and his popularity was at its peak, despite playing the role of villain, such is the talent of the man.

The pair annihilated each other each chance they got and went toe-to-toe in a manner not previously witnessed in WWE.

The two greats continued to raise the bar both during their matches and in verbal altercations with one another. They were without doubt the two faces of the late 90s/early 00s, the most successful period in WWE history.

The Rock and Austin headlined WrestleMania three times, with Stone Cold winning at WrestleMania 15 and 17, before ‘The Great One’ finally defeated his great rival at WrestleMania 19 in 2003, one of his career’s most iconic moments.

The pair brought their sensational story and rivalry to a close and this would prove to be the final wrestling match of Austin’s career.

Defeating Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania

Sandwiched between The Rock’s second and third altercations with Austin at WrestleMania, the 10-time world champion competed in a match nobody thought would ever take place.

In a clash of generations, The Rock faced the immortal Hulk Hogan in one of the biggest singles matches to take place in the industry’s history.

Their match would generate one of the greatest crowd responses in WWE history as the vociferous fans at the Toronto Skydome in 2002 went wild while the two legendary wrestlers squared off.

The bout was billed as "icon versus icon", with both men representing two different eras of wrestling and The Rock would go on to pin Hogan and secure one of the most significant wins of his career.

Mega WrestleMania 28 match with John Cena

After seven years away, The Rock made a triumphant return in 2011 and was announced as the host of that year’s WrestleMania.

During a lengthy promo, he addressed the fans and started a feud with John Cena and the night after WrestleMania 27 in April 2011, the pair agreed to a match at WrestleMania 28 in April 2012.

Leading up to WrestleMania, the Rock and Cena had several verbal confrontations on Raw, which were made even more intriguing given the pair actually had a strained relationship in real life.

On April 1 2012, at WrestleMania 28 in The Rock’s hometown of Miami, Florida, ‘The People’s Champion’ defeated Cena in his first singles match since 2004, which received raucous cheers from the crowd.

The event was incredibly successful, as it broke the record for biggest professional wrestling pay-per-view buy rate.

Final WWE title reign and second WrestleMania match with Cena

After vowing to once again become WWE Champion the night after defeating Cena, The Rock did just that, as he overcame CM Punk at the 2013 Royal Rumble event to win the industry’s most coveted title for the eighth time.

After Cena won the Royal Rumble match at the same event, this meant the pair clashed in the WrestleMania main event for the second successive year.

This time emanating from New York, the two titanic stars battled not just for bragging rights, but for the right to be called WWE champion.

Like the previous year, the pair told a phenomenal story and had the crowd engaged from start to finish.

This time Cena would get the better of his fierce rival and became the new WWE champion, before having his hand raised by The Rock, signalling a passing of the torch moment.

If we never see The Rock compete in a wrestling ring ever again, he has provided us with some truly legendary moments and is without doubt a future WWE Hall of Famer.

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