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Dwayne Douglas Johnson (born May 2, 1972) is an American actor and third-generation professional wrestler, best known for his time in World Wrestling Entertainment as The Rock. He continues to use the moniker as an actor.
Born in Hayward, California, Johnson first gained mainstream fame as a standout in the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment). He was originally known in the promotion as Rocky Maivia, in homage to his father, Rocky Johnson, and his maternal grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia (both of whom were also wrestlers, which led him to be billed as the first third generation wrestler in the history of the World Wrestling Federation). After largely retiring from the ring to begin a successful acting career in 2002, Johnson retained the name "The Rock".
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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 descent. 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, thanks in part to the exploded popularity of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Despite often being loudly booed and jeered with chants of "Die Rocky Die!" and "Rocky Sucks" from the crowd, Johnson was forced to go to the ring and smile, as if the crowd was cheering (like they were "supposed to"). After returning from an injury, Johnson was allowed to turn heel and joined the Nation of Domination (wrestling's version of the Nation of Islam), spewing venom at the fans for turning on him, influenced by Johnson's real-life feelings toward the WWF audience. 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"), Rocky Maivia became The Rock.
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Fueled by the star power of The Rock and other stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Triple H, The Undertaker and Kane the WWF experienced a massive surge in popularity not seen since Hulk Hogan's reign in the '80s. In particular, Johnson's extremely entertaining interviews and storylines made WWF programming a must-see for wrestling fans. From 1998 to 2002, The Rock feuded against the WWF's top stars, winning the WWF/E Championship seven times during his career, and eventually crossed over into mainstream popularity, such as with a guest appearance on R&B singer Wyclef Jean's track "It Doesn't Matter" and the accompanying video. While still wrestling full-time, Johnson made an appearance as host of the popular sketch comedy TV series Saturday Night Live. The episode was very popular, and showcased Johnson's acting and comedic ability favorably. After this, Johnson started to get offers from Hollywood for a multitude of different projects. He was a guest star on Star Trek: Voyager and That '70s Show; in the latter, he played the role of his father. The Rock's first role in a major film was a limited appearance as The Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, and his natural charisma translated well to the silver screen. He made occasional wrestling appearances up to 2004's WrestleMania XX, but has since devoted himself to acting full-time. He has not made a live appearance on WWE television since mid 2004.