On a recent episode of Something to Wrestle With podcast, Bruce Prichard discussed The Rock’s rise to the top during the Attitude Era of WWE. He also talked about the heat The Rock got backstage due to his popularity.
Vince McMahon’s “Kiss My Ass Club” was created at Survivor Series 2001, where Vince would order someone to kiss his backside or else he would fire the person. However, Prichard revealed that the club was almost created a few years prior.
When The Rock won the WWF Championship and joined Vince’s side, an idea was thrown around where The Rock would have to kiss Vince’s backside. The angle never came to fruition, with reports suggesting that The Rock refused to go through with it. However, Prichard explained that it was not The Rock who was against the angle, but that it was Prichard and other WWE management who did not want The Rock to ruin his stardom.
“Let’s address the kissing his ass thing.That was actually brought up, and it wasn’t Rock [against it], it was a lot of people including myself, Pat Patterson, Jerry Brisco, there were a lot of people that felt that if you do that to him right now, that it’s gonna kill him. It’s gonna kill him as a heel, it’s gonna kill him as a competitor. From this vantage point, exactly what you just said, he’s two gears in and we didn’t know exactly what we have here. We feel we’ve got lightning in a bottle.”
Bruce explained that WWE superstars were not happy with the direction of the angle, and were jealous of the Rock’s rapid rise in fame.
“It was everyone else that had that reaction. I think that because they didn’t [make The Rock kiss McMahon’s ass] there’s probably a segment of the locker room who’s already jealous of the kid who’s come in and in two years is on top of the world. Sure, he’s already a good-looking son of a b—, he walks through like he’s king s— because he was king s—, yeah, but a nicer guy.
And from the day that he started up to today you pretty much had the same guy. He never really got a big head, he was nice to everybody, but I think that there was still a jealousy of, ‘Oh f— him he’s only been in the business two years and I’ve been in it for ten years, or I’ve been in for 15 years, why aren’t they pushing me like they’re pushing him? Look at him getting all this s—.'”
Prichard explained that no matter who it was, the locker room would be jealous of the top guy getting a big push. He then commended The Rock for his success, saying he was lacklustre in the ring initially, but eventually became a huge star.
“‘Now why this kid? I’ve been busting my ass here for all these years now. It was a general feeling in the locker room with a lot of the new guys coming in. There was resentment against Bret Hart almost for the opposite. When we made Bret Hart champion, the resentment towards Bret was, ‘What the f— man? He’s been a midcard tag-team guy his whole career, why is he getting the belt?’
You know it’s whoever is on top, whoever is achieving success at the time. Those that are not achieving that success and feel that it’s due them are gonna complain and say, ‘Oh that should have been me, so in my opinion, that’s what was going on at the time as far as dealing with Dwayne Johnson. During that time, it was the same Dwayne Johnson that had walked in and had his tryout in Houston, Texas all those years ago, and busting his ass in the warehouse, and then got overlooked, first went out and s–t the bed. Rocky died and then returned to make the most of it and became successful. Yeah, I just think it was jealousy more than anything else and people looking for anything to hang their hat on you.”
h/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.