Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a legendary figure in professional wrestling, recently made headlines by suggesting in a Joe Rogan interview that he was close to signing with PRIDE Fighting Championships in 1997, considering a transition from wrestling to mixed martial arts (MMA). However, Dave Meltzer, a wrestling journalist, called out The Rock for what he believes are inaccuracies in the story.
Meltzer mentioned in Wrestling Observer Radio that The Rock’s narrative echoed the embellishments often associated with wrestling legend Hulk Hogan. The Rock claimed that in 1997, he was making $150,000 a year as a pro wrestler and seriously considered joining PRIDE, where fighters were supposedly making $250,000 per fight. Meltzer expressed skepticism about the salary figures and questioned the accuracy of The Rock’s recollection.
While acknowledging The Rock’s friendship with MMA fighter Ken Shamrock, Meltzer found the timeline and financial details provided by The Rock to be dubious. He compared The Rock’s statements to Hogan’s historically inaccurate claims about being one of the original stars of PRIDE.
“The Rock was channeling Hulk Hogan … he said in 1997, he was thinking very seriously, and he was very close to signing with PRIDE Fighting Championships … that’s what he said in 1997. He said he was making $150,000 a year as a pro wrestler, and he was hanging out in Southern California and he found out that these fighters in PRIDE were making $250k per fight, and he figured it was better than wrestling 5 nights a week and making not nearly the money — that’s what he said, that’s what he claimed.
“I am … I don’t know. I’m trying to think if the PRIDE fighters were making that kind of money, and I don’t think any of them were. In the 2000s, yes, but he said he was friends with Ken Shamrock, which he was friends with Ken Shamrock, they worked together in WWE, I remember that.”
The Rock’s potential move to MMA in 1997, if true, would have marked a significant shift in his career trajectory. However, Meltzer highlighted the need for fact-checking, as the MMA landscape and fighter salaries during that time might not align with The Rock’s account.
The Rock’s wrestling career began with his WWE debut in 1996 as Rocky Maivia, and he quickly rose to stardom. In 1997, he won the Intercontinental Championship but faced backlash from fans who perceived his character as overly positive. The Rock eventually embraced a more rebellious persona, solidifying his status as one of wrestling’s all-time greats.