The following contains spoilers for Young Rock Season 3, Episode 2, “Rocky Sucks,” which premiered Friday, November 11 on NBC.
The appeal of NBC young rock lies in how the Hollywood darling in Dwayne Johnson gives insight into his past. Many of his stories are wrapped up in the present, where he enjoys his success in movies like black adam and that impending showdown with Henry Cavill’s Superman. But Johnson has also had plenty of flops, and the series dissects quite a few.
Season 3 is giving more details about Johnson’s stint in the World Wrestling Federation. It confirms how much of a mental struggle his early wrestling years were for him, as he couldn’t win over the Rocky Maivia fans. Season 3, Episode 2, “Rocky Sucks” also contains an important piece of information: While many attribute his epic heel turn that won fans over to hot-headed owner Vince McMahon, the man behind the turnaround was actually the divisive Hulk Hogan.
Young Rock confirms that Rocky needed a change
McMahon lost faith in Rocky in 1997 and relinquished the Intercontinental Belt to Owen Hart. To make matters worse, Rocky was injured, resulting in less screen time for him and less time in live shows. This hit him hard, especially as the fans booed him. He just wasn’t recovering as a face, but as he healed, he too found happiness with Dany Garcia; they were married in May of that year.
Hogan, who had already made a controversial move to World Championship Wrestling at the time, offered the youngster some words of wisdom. He explained that Dwayne needed something authentic that would speak to the fans instead of forcing the babyface angle. It wasn’t himself on the microphone; he was simply following someone else’s script and character. Hogan challenged him to refine his inner self and let that inform who he would be in the ring. Hogan was the same charismatic person inside and outside of wrestling, which is why he was the face of McMahon’s company for years before he left for WCW.
Young Rock used Hulk Hogan’s advice to shine
Just before Dwayne was due to go to Tahiti for his honeymoon, McMahon called him and let him know that he was going to be a heel with the Domination Nation. However, there was no plan for him: he was just being brought in as a fourth man to boost the Nation’s “Black Power” angle. This was McMahon doing the bare minimum to keep Dwayne on board. However, Dwayne asked for screen time and got two minutes out of pity. He channeled Hogan, gave his epic Monday Night Raw speech, and insulted the fans, officially becoming The Rock.
This was the turning point of his career. He would go on to lead the pack after McMahon and his backup partner Pat Patterson realized how well Rock fed off the crowd’s obnoxious chants. However, there is a bittersweet aspect to Hogan that inspires him, due to Hulkster’s racist rant in 2015, which Johnson considered “disappointing”. Since then, WWE has been very sensitive and continues to use Hogan, but at least one good thing came out of their relationship: with Young man Rock leaving things clear about the genesis of The Rock.
Young Rock airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC and airs on Peacock.