Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Blurs Real-Life WWE Board of Directors Role With WrestleMania Storylines | Video

In a 20-minute video, he incorporates his own behind-the-scenes influence while talking the wrestling promotion’s $5 billion Netflix streaming deal, Endeavor and agent Ari Emanuel, plus more

Two men with their arms around each other's shoulders.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Ari Emanuel (Getty Images)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson surprised fans Friday, ahead of an appearance on Friday’s WWE SmackDown on Fox, by releasing a self-taped interview on social media. A long interview, coming in at 21 minutes, in which he hypes up his match at this year’s WrestleMania, set to take place a month from now in Philadelphia as part of the two-night event. As part of the way pro wrestling regularly mixes reality with its storylines, he directly addressed WWE’s recent $5 billion deal with Netflix, his recent real-life joining of parent company TKO Group’s board and reported behind-the-scenes controversy over the main event of this year’s WrestleMania.

Johnson has recently embraced a bad guy character, playing up his Hollywood persona as he feuds with Cody Rhodes, son of legendary pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes. The backstage drama involved Rhodes initially being scheduled to wrestle in the main event at WrestleMania against champion Roman Reigns, then that match being changed to Rock against Reigns. Johnson and Reigns are unofficial family members due to close ties between their families, which has been utilized as part of Reigns’ pro wrestling faction, known as “The Bloodline.”

As Johnson pivoted deeper into his heel persona, he referenced his nickname for Rhodes fans upset about Rock being inserted into the main event: “Cody Crybabies.” He played a clip with a podcaster bringing up the fact that Johnson is now a member of the TKO board and accused him of using his power there to put himself in the WrestleMania main event over Rhodes. The Rock wrestling in the main event was reportedly part of the deal that included Johnson joining the board and receiving $30 million in stock over the course of several benchmarks, including wrestling/performing for the company.

“It has nothing to do with the board,” Rock continued. “It has nothing to do with the fact that The Rock owns everything as it relates to ‘The Rock,’ ‘the People’s Champion,’ full ownership, which means The Rock is the boss.”

Johnson was referring to another part of the deal, which included him acquiring the rights to “The Rock” name, along with all of his nicknames and catchphrases from over the years.

Watch the full video here:

The Rock got further into his real-life board position and the company’s Netflix deal while discussing Seth Rollins. Rhodes had been set to face Rollins at WrestleMania but instead has teamed up with him in a storyline feud against Rock and Reigns in what is rumored to be a tag match that will take place at WrestleMania.

Johnson played a clip of Rollins doing media interviews saying that they don’t need The Rock to be part of WWE and can be successful without him.

“If you were a little smarter, Seth, you’d realize how stupid you sound. … You need The Rock in ways that you can’t even imagine,” Johnson said, before showing footage and photos of Johnson with Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel “You think when Ari Emanuel, The Rock’s good friend, The Rock’s business partner for decades, The Rock’s lead agent, someone who The Rock looks to like a big brother. You think when he goes to sit with Netflix, across from Ted Sarandos, The Rock’s good buddy and business partner, sitting across from Bela Bajaria, The Rock’s good friend and business partner at Netflix. You think when they’re inking, when they’re signing this $5 billion deal for the WWE and Netflix, do you think that Ted and Bella are saying, ‘Hey, Ari, when WWE comes to Netflix, is Seth Rollins going to be champion?’”

Johnson dismissed that idea — and also appeared to make a reference to the critically maligned but quite popular Netflix film “Red Notice,” which he starred in alongside Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds.

“No, they’re not asking that, number one, because they don’t care. And number two, they don’t know who in the hell you are,” Rock said of Rollins. “You know what they’re asking? ‘Hey, Ari, we’ll sign this $5 billion historical deal. Never before. But one question, where’s the People’s Champion? … One question, where’s the man who has the most watched film in the history of Netflix, The Rock?’”

“Ari looks at them and says, ‘He’s locked in for life,’” Johnson continued. “‘Director of the board, owns everything as it relates to his name. He’s locked in for life.’ Signed, $5 billion.”

Rock then addressed a Rollins interview where he criticized The Rock for not having fresh material — and teased being able to control company storylines.

“OK, well, The Rock has some new material for you,” he began. “How about this? The Rock sits at the top. Director, TKO board — not WWE, but TKO, which means The Rock is the boss, which means The Rock is your boss, which means The Rock owns everything. … Which means, Seth Rollins, if you keep running your mouth and sticking your nose in the Bloodline’s business, then that world title that you have around your waist, very soon, very soon, The Rock will make that title go to somebody else. Read between the lines. Yes, The Rock just blurred it.”

With Rock having a personal investment in WWE and the company’s founder Vince McMahon being persona non grata following a horrifying accusation through a lawsuit of real-life sexual abuse and trafficking, this could be part of the company positioning Johnson as being a new authority figure for the company’s storylines in the spot once held by McMahon.

Johnson followed up putting his finger directly on the mixed reality of pro wrestling by building up what sounds like it might be that rumored tag team match taking place at WrestleMania.

“You keep sticking your nose in our business, The Rock and Roman Reigns are going to beat your goofy ass right back to the circus with the rest of the clowns,” Johnson said. “Cody Rhodes, for you, the Cody Crybabies, for your new best friend, the walking clown emoji himself, Seth Rollins, and to your goofy-ass dog, The Rock says this: you all are advocates of Cody finishing his story. It’s so important.”

“Cody Rhodes, you took something from The Rock,” he added. “You insulted my family. You took something from The Rock. You took something from Roman Reigns. You took something from the millions and millions and millions and millions of the real fans who wanted to see the biggest WrestleMania event of all time. You took it away. … Now you’re going to pay. Cody Rhodes, from the bottom of my heart, man to man: f–k your story.”

Johnson closed by hyping up that he’ll be on “SmackDown” not just this week, but for at least the next two weeks following on March 8 and March 15. He closed with his catchphrase, and an additional “F–k your story” before walking out of frame.

Earlier, he built up Roman Reigns’ nickname of being the “Head of the Table,” the leader in charge of his extended Samoan family in the wrestling world.

“It has to do with common sense,” he added. “When Roman Reigns years ago dropped the words, ‘Head of the Table,’ those words were specifically and solely set up and created so one day, Roman Reigns, the champion of the WWE, would come face to face with his cousin, The Rock, the People’s Champion, and together, combined, they will make the biggest WrestleMania of all time, the biggest match of all time.”

He followed up by addressing Cody Rhodes losing to Reigns at last year’s WrestleMania, which reportedly happened after Vince McMahon came back to power behind the scenes and as part of the company closing the deal which led to the UFC merger as part of their acquisition by Endeavor.

“When Roman Reigns said those words, that’s why he said it, because that is Roman Reigns’ story. That is The Rock’s story,” Johnson said. “At one time, that was Cody Rhodes’s story, but it was last year. And what happened last year at WrestleMania? What’s the technical term? Oh, he s–t the bed.”

Johnson laid out how he came back at the beginning of this year to WWE and made a surprise appearance to fans in San Diego. He managed to get in a subtle plug for his tequila brand while noting the huge reaction fans gave him.

“The Rock was going to go out there and he was going to test the waters,” Johnson said. “He was going to see how the crowd reacted. Where should The Rock sit? You remember. ‘Should The Rock sit at a booth?’ Crowd didn’t know where I was going. ‘Should The Rock sit at a bar?’ Oh, bigger reaction. Yeah, The Rock loves a bar, because The Rock loves him some tequila. ‘Or should The Rock sit at the head of the table?’”

“Crowd that night exploded,” Johnson noted, “because they knew after all these years, they were finally getting The Rock versus Roman Reigns, the biggest WrestleMania of all time.”

As he went on, he began to address Rhodes and the tradition that the winner of the annual Royal Rumble match gets a title shot at WrestleMania. While Johnson said he was happy for Rhodes, the mixed reality goes a bit further as he introduces the idea that he called up Rhodes and asked him to let Rock and Roman take the main event spot — and to delay the moment that Rhodes has regularly talked about as “finishing his story” and winning the world title that his father Dusty Rhodes never did.

“It was a conversation that a few have had with Cody Rhodes before,” Johnson said. adding that he’d told Rhodes, “you can always, with all due respect, finish your story another time.”

Rock said that Rhodes agreed to the Rock and Reigns match headlining this year’s WrestleMania.

“He agreed,” Johnson continued, before quoting him: “‘The Rock, it stings. But I agree. It stings, but I’m a team player. It stings, but I want what’s best for the business.’ Good man.”

The promo then covered Rhodes introducing Rock at a “SmackDown” show in Birmingham, Alabama and once again referenced Rhodes’ father.

“The Rock came out, and he dapped you up, he pulled you in and gave you a big hug,” Johnson said. “And I whispered something in your ear: ‘Let’s put on the biggest WrestleMania of all time. Let’s do it for the American Dream. Let’s do it for the Soul Man.’”

But Johnson brought up the look Rhodes gave as he left the ring, which fans called out as being indicative that, in real life, Rhodes wasn’t happy about being taken out of the main event of this year’s WrestleMania.

“You gave The Rock a look. And it’s the same look he gave the world,” Johnson said. “Like The Rock went out and ran over your goofy-ass dog.”

Following that moment, online fan uproar and backstage discussions, the main event of WrestleMania appeared to shift once again as the company moved toward a long-planned press event in Las Vegas. Johnson’s interview appeared to get deeper into the storyline side of it at this point, claiming that he was upset Rhodes didn’t talk to him about being upset with the match in private before that event took place.

The Rock also took credit for the wrestling industry being hotter than it has been in decades. While this clearly plays into his character, it’s also a fact, with attendance and television ratings for WWE doing well and the company continuing to expand internationally following its merger with UFC under Hollywood talent company Endeavor.


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