Along with his father and grandfather, several members of Johnson's family are current and former professional wrestlers, including his uncles, the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika Anoai), and cousins such as the late former WWF Champion Yokozuna and former WWF Tag Team Champion Rikishi. When he declared his intention to join the family business to his father, the elder Johnson resisted, but agreed to train his son himself, warning him that he would not go easy on him. With help from former WWE executive and veteran wrestler Pat Patterson, Johnson secured a tryout with the WWF. Impressed by his talent and charisma, he was signed to a WWF deal after a short stint for "seasoning" in Jerry Lawler's USWA, where he wrestled under the stage names of Flex Kavana and Pidlaoan Rock.
Johnson first wrestled in the WWF as Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather's ring names. The WWF played up his connection to his father and grandfather, calling him the first third-generation superstar to wrestle for the company. Johnson was first portrayed as a clean-cut babyface, and gained early success, winning the prestigious Intercontinental Championship after only three months. He was the first Intercontinental champion of Samoan desent. However, wrestling had changed since Hulk Hogan's heyday in the mid 80s, and fans quickly grew sick of the two-dimensional good guy character. Despite often being loudly booed, Johnson was forced to go to the ring and smile, as if the crowd was cheering (like they were "supposed to").
Eventually, Johnson was allowed to turn heel and joined the Nation of Domination (wrestling's version of the Black Panthers), spewing venom at the fans for turning on him, influenced by Johnson's real-life feelings toward the WWF audience. In the Nation, Rocky Maivia became The Rock, a cocky and charismatic bully who even drove out the Nation's leader Faarooq. Now allowed to be more or less himself (Johnson has often said in interviews that The Rock is merely Dwayne Johnson with "the volume turned way up"), The Rock became wildly popular, establishing several much-quoted catchphrases including "Do you smell what The Rock is cookin'?", "Layeth the Smacketh down," "It Doesn't Matter What Your Name Is!", and "Know your role and shut your mouth!" Johnson's popularity as The Rock propelled him to the WWF Championship at the 1998 Survivor Series at age 26. At the time, he was the youngest WWF Champion in history, siding with then-heels Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon as the crown jewel of their "Corporation" stable. The Rock would begin to feud with Mankind over the WWF Championship in which the title would change back and forth between the two, first during the main event of the January 4, 1999 episode of RAW, when Mankind pinned The Rock with the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock would once again capture the WWF Title in a bloody "I Quit" match at the 1999 Royal Rumble that saw The Rock hit Mankind in the head with a chair over 15 times. This latest reign didn't last long however, because during that year's Superbowl halftime show, on January 31, 1999, Mankind pinned The Rock using a forklift in a empty arena match which saw the competitors use everything from bags of popcorn to fruit to punish each other. This feud lasted until the Februaury 15th, 1999 edition of RAW, where The Rock regained the WWF Title in a latter match after The Big Show Chokeslammed Mankind off a ladder. The Rock then focused on Stone Cold Steve Austin, his opponent at Wrestlemania XV. The Rock would lose the WWF Title to Austin at that event, and continued his feud with Austin until May 1999. WWF fans began to cheer The Rock dispite being a bad guy, due to his hilarious interviews and segments which mocked wrestlers and announcers. Johnson eventually turned face again after the Corporation betrayed him and established a feud with The Undertaker and the Corporate Ministry.
At WrestleMania XX the Rock seemingly had his last match for quite some time, if one doesn't count his numerous antics over the summer with the Diva Search contestants and Eugene. In March of 2004, Mick Foley was facing seemingly overwhelming odds against Ric Flair, Batista, and Randy Orton, the stable collectively known as Evolution. The Rock returned to aide his old friend and the match was made for WMXX to feature Mick & the Rock against Flair, Batista and Orton. In an above-average match, Evolution came out victoriously after Orton nailed Foley with an RKO and scored the pinfall.
After The Rock's first role in The Mummy Returns, he reprised his role as The Scorpion King in the 2002 movie of the same name. The movie was generally panned by critics, but was a box-office success, taking in more than $90 million. His five million dollar paycheck for The Scorpion King earned The Rock a listing in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest salary for an actor receiving top billing for the first time. His next role was in The Rundown, a formulaic action/comedy which earned generally favorable reviews from critics initially skeptical of the grappler-turned-actor, but was less financially successful.
In 2004, The Rock starred in a remake of Walking Tall, as war hero-turned-sheriff Chris Vaughn (loosely based on Buford Pusser, the real-life inspiration for the original), who returns to the town where he grew up and rids it of corruption with his trusty four-by-four.
In 2005, The Rock will see more exposure on the big screen as he starred alongside John Travolta and Uma Thurman in Be Cool (where he was Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher's crew members for blowing his trailer up into pieces, while shooting the movie), the sequel to Get Shorty, and will star in Spy Hunter, a movie based on the popular video game. He has been approached to play the role of Duke Nukem in a live action Duke Nukem movie, and will star in a movie based on the popular Doom video game series, which recently finished filming. Johnson will also star in the live-action movie adaptation of the Cartoon Network series Johnny Bravo. He is now filming in Richard Kelly's Southland Tales as a amnesiac action film star, Boxer Santaros.
One of The Rock's most anticipated personal projects is the role of Kamehameha I, the warrior chief that united the Hawaiian Islands and governed them as the Kingdom of Hawaii. A former Honolulu resident, The Rock developed an admiration for the king who became known as the Napoleon of the Pacific for his skills in warcraft and diplomacy. The Rock signed to create the movie with Columbia Pictures. Its preliminary title will be King Kamehameha and began the first stages of production in Hawaii in 2003.
Gridiron Gang (2006), post-production
Blowback (2006), anounced
Instant Karma (2005/I), in-production)
Ride Along (2006, announced)
Southland Tales (2006, filming)
Johnny Bravo (2005, announced)
Spy Hunter (2005, pre-production)
Doom (2005, completed)
Be Cool (2005)
Walking Tall (2004)
The Rundown (2003)
The Scorpion King (2002)
The Mummy Returns (2001)