Pro wrestler turned A-list movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson takes a fond look back at his epic WrestleMania match with WWE legend Hulk Hogan. While The Rock was hardly the first wrestler to attempt a transition into Hollywood acting, he's succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of any who came before him. He's now one of the biggest household names in the world, but in all fairness, it's possible Johnson's journey into movies wouldn't have worked out as well as it did had people like Hogan and Roddy Piper not walked down that road previously.
Yesterday, March 17, was the 16th anniversary of WrestleMania XVIII, one of the biggest WrestleMania events in history. Held at a sold out Skydome in Toronto, Canada in 2002, the WWE's showcase annual card was headlined by - although not ended by, a decision that has been criticized ever since - a true dream match for the ages. 80s and 90s icon Hulk Hogan squared off for the first time ever with then-current icon The Rock. It was a clash of the titans rivaling Hogan's prior WrestleMania showdowns with Andre the Giant and The Ultimate Warrior.
Despite his current level of movie fame, The Rock hasn't forgotten where he came from, and took to Instagram to post a fond, heartfelt remembrance of his now legendary match with The Hulkster. Johnson clearly feels honored to have participated in the match, and has enormous respect for Hogan's accomplishments within the wrestling world. He also thanks WWE boss Vince McMahon for making the epic encounter happen. Check out his full post below.
Goosebumps. 16yrs ago today, at WRESTLEMANIA, I had the honor of making history and breaking records with this man: The Immortal @HulkHogan. About a year prior to this match, Vince McMahon came to me and asked how I felt about bringing Hogan back to the @wwe and creating the main event at WrestleMania. I loved the idea and immediately saw the massive business opportunity for us but more importantly, giving the fans a once in a lifetime match to enjoy. I told Vince we should promote the match, ICON vs ICON and the winner would go down as the greatest of all time. Hogan did “the honors” (me winning) that night and passed the torch to me, as Andre the Giant had done for him 15yrs earlier at WrestleMania III. To this day, this crowd of 65,000 strong was the most electric and on fire I’ve ever had the privilege of performing in front of. They were ready. So were we. #ChildhoodHero #IconVsIcon #GreatestOfAllTime #WrestleMania18
The Rock especially seems to appreciate the magnitude of Hulk Hogan "passing the torch" to him, similarly to how WWE legend Andre the Giant did the same for Hogan back at WrestleMania III in 1987. The Rock would himself later essentially pass the WWE torch to current top star and multi-time world champion John Cena when he lost to Cena in the main event of 2013's WrestleMania XXIX. Funnily enough, Cena now looks well on his way to becoming the second wrestler to succeed in becoming a Hollywood heavyweight.
In just a few short weeks, WWE presents WrestleMania XXXIV, the latest edition of its annual spectacular. At this point, The Rock isn't being advertised to appear, but that really doesn't mean all that much, as he's appeared at WrestleMania before without any advance warning. One such appearance was even in the location of this year's event, New Orleans, Louisiana. At WrestleMania XXX in 2014, The Rock memorably shared the ring with both Hulk Hogan and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. That said, even if Johnson never appears in a WWE ring again, he'll always have great memories like the one above.
WWE WrestleMania XXXIV streams live April 8 on WWE Network.
Source: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson