“Now there’s gonna be the man right there!” -Jim Ross at the 1996 Survivor Series
Out of all the opening quotes I have used on this site, this one is my favorite (and that is saying something because I still love “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” on my Favorite Wrestler article). Sure, it could be considered self-promotion by JR considering he was the one that signed Dwayne Johnson, but you can’t argue that he was right on the money. Dwayne Johnson became the man.
However, in the context of the quote, it is Jim Ross saying that Rocky Maivia is going to be the man. It wasn’t The Rock at that time. That simple fact can’t escape my brain.
The Rock has been around since the winter of 1997. Rocky Maivia got less than a year.
What I am about to say is the most controversial statement I have ever uttered.
Rocky Maivia was better than The Rock.
Want proof? I’m going to do my best to give you proof (and destroy my credibility forever).
1. The Look
While The Rock is known for his $500 shirts and snazzy clothes as he cuts his scathing promos, let’s ignore that for the sake of this argument. I’m strictly looking at in-ring gear. The Rock’s attire was basic black trunks emblazoned with his name, the Brahma Bull insignia or some other design. That doesn’t necessarily light the world on fire.
Rocky Maivia, on the other hand, embraced his heritage and took a more colorful approach, wearing blue or black trunks decked out with some tribal flair. Throw in his entrance garb (which cannot even be put into words) and that makes one exciting wrestler.
Plus, the haircut that Rocky Maivia sported screamed “Wow, look at that guy…he MUST be a wrestler!” The Rock’s haircut, until he just shaved it all off, was boring. Rocky Maivia had that mop-top that drew attention. If Dwayne had kept that head of hair, who knows what he could of achieved?
2. The Name
It may seem like a miniscule fact, but The Rock wasn’t entirely Dwayne Johnson’s creation. Everybody’s favorite Hawaiian superstar, Don Muraco, had been nicknamed “The Rock” while the Tooth Fairy himself was still trying to be a football player. Plus, The Rock, as a name, is pretty bland. Rocks are one of the most basic items in the world.
Rocky Maivia, on the other hand, has panache to it. Plus, its meaning makes it so much better. Taking his father’s first name and his grandfather’s last name, Dwayne Johnson honored the two generations that came before him and continued a legacy that made sense…as opposed to copying a beach bum.
If I can settle on one thing, it's this: both are better than Flex Kavana.
3. The Character
Let’s face it: The Rock is an asshole. All of his quips and jokes are undeniably funny, but they are actually cruel and hurtful. I’m sure The Big Show cried himself to sleep after The Rock started calling him “Big Slow” and ripping on his new hair cut. The Rock was not a good role model nor was he a good person when it comes right down to it.
Rocky Maivia…now that’s the kind of guy you want to take home and meet your parents! Smiling from ear to ear, Maivia embraced all of the decent qualities a human being should exude. Being the ultimate babyface was going out of style when Maivia debuted in 1996, but the fans of the time really dropped the ball on embracing one last do-gooder in Rocky Maivia. Instead, they chastised him with catcalls of “Rocky Sucks” and “Die, Rocky, Die” until he was forced to turn to a meaner, colder side of himself. Nobody wants their child to act like The Rock. I know I would want my kid to try his best, be very respectful and be nice to everyone. I certainly wouldn’t want him to tell people to stick things up their asses.
4. The Moves
Truth be told, The Rock was a really underrated worker. He was no technical marvel, but he was a great main-event style WWE wrestler. However, his repertoire was fairly simple. Beyond some Samoan drops, DDTs and Rock Bottoms, all that made up The Rock was an absolutely ridiculous elbow and heavily exaggerated kicks and punches. Nothing mind-blowing.
Imagine if The Rock busted out a dropkick every now and then. Imagine if The Rock used some of the fundamentals like textbook arm drags and hip tosses. Imagine top rope cross-body blocks! That’s the type of action you get with Rocky Maivia. Also, Rocky Maivia’s finishing move was the dreaded SHOULDER BREAKER. It targets one specific area and delivers a ton of damage. It is a lot more practical than the Rock Bottom or an absolutely silly elbow.
Had he kept the flashier offense, maybe Dwayne Johnson would be regarded as a better worker. He might have been green as Rocky Maivia, but he sure was exciting.
5. The Staying Power
This one solidifies my argument, but it isn’t what it looks like on the surface. The Rock accomplished everything that he set out to achieve in the WWE, so he left for Hollywood. Rocky Maivia was destined to be a mid-carder for life that occasionally got a whiff of the top tier. That being said, The Rock didn’t have the staying power of Rocky Maivia…because as Rocky Maivia, the WWE would never have lost Dwayne Johnson. He could be a 11-time IC Champion right now and looking to get his first real chance at a World Championship. Instead, the WWE has been without his talent, full-time, for over eight years now. The Rock is a main-event level talent on a Hollywood scale. Rocky Maivia is a WWE talent for life.
Five categories. Five arguments. Five attempts to convince you that The Rock was an overrated hack and Rocky Maivia deserved more praise.
Overall, what I think I accomplished was…
It doesn’t matter what I accomplished. I know I’m wrong.