In the annals of wrestling history, there are moments that define a wrestler’s dedication to their craft and the fans. One such moment involves Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, then the Intercontinental Champion, defying the orders of Vince McMahon to wrestle at an indie event just days before a high-profile WWE pay-per-view.
In the lead-up to Over The Edge: In Your House in May 1998, The Rock was already on the path to superstardom. Despite the looming title defense against Faarooq, The Rock made an unexpected appearance at a Border City Wrestling card two days prior, teaming with D’Lo Brown against Larry Destiny and Scott D’Amore. Little did the audience know that this seemingly routine indie event was about to witness a display of The Rock’s unyielding commitment to the sport.
Scott D’Amore, who later became President of IMPACT Wrestling, shared the backstage saga in a recent interview with Alistair McGeorge of The Metro. According to D’Amore, The Rock, nursing a knee injury from six days prior, insisted on participating in the indie show despite explicit instructions from Vince McMahon to stay home.
“On a bum knee after getting hurt six days earlier, [he] still showed up at Border City Wrestling when there was no reason he had to, and by just showing up, he had done more than can be expected of him,” D’Amore recounted.
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However, The Rock‘s determination didn’t end with just showing up. Even upon arrival, he wasn’t initially slated to wrestle. Vince McMahon had explicitly advised against it, and The Rock, mindful of the risk, brought Mark Henry as backup. Yet, once he started interacting with fans, The Rock’s enthusiasm for the ring took over.
“He grabbed me in the locker room and was like, ‘Well, what would you think if The Rock went out and wrestled?’ I was thinking like, ‘What, why?’ And then he’s like, ‘Well, I’m feeling it, you know?'” D’Amore shared.
This impromptu decision, though met with gratitude from D’Amore, was not without its concerns. The risk involved in The Rock wrestling on a bum knee just days before a major pay-per-view event was apparent. Yet, it was this very risk-taking spirit that would go on to define The Rock’s legacy in the world of professional wrestling.
The Rock’s Undeniable Passion