Dewey Johnson: How Dwayne Johnson went from troublemaker to ‘The Rock’.

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From American football to pro wrestling to Hollywood, Dewey Johnson has come a along way. Here’s a comprehensive biography of the legend that is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

It’s no doubt that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is one of the most badass motherfuckers in Hollywood. I reckon he would crush any Hollywood actor and could probably bench press three times my bodyweight. However he wasn’t always ‘The Rock,’ he was once nicknamed Dewey Johnson. He has since come a long way. From football to wrestling to acting, he’s has done it all. Let’s take a look at Dwayne Johnson’s journey from football days as Dewey Johnson to his spandex wearing wrestling days as The Rock, and eventually, Hollywood superstardom.

Dwayne Johnson: A brief bio

dewey johnson
I looked like that at 15 too, I promise. Source: LinkedIn.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was born in 1972 in California. His dad and his grandfather were also pro wrestlers. Basically his entire family were somehow involved in the industry – so it’s no surprise The Rock eventually followed in their footsteps.

However before stepping into the ring, Dwayne Johnson was a savage footballer. The Rock’s success in Hollywood makes complete sense once you understand how football shaped his life and mindset.

As a child, Dwayne Johnson was a bit of a trouble maker. He moved around a lot, ending up at Freedom High School in Bethlehem. His family struggled to get by. He would regularly get into scraps with other kids – and as a big kid from a wrestling family, others obviously wanted to test him. The Rock previously also had some trouble with the law in Hawaii, so I guess you could say he had a thing against authority.

Dewey Johnson: Football career

dewey johnson
Having this run at me would make me cry. Source: Daily Mail

Dwayne Johnson’s journey into football started in the boys bathroom at Bethlehem. Well, actually the teachers bathroom to be exact. The Rock claimed that the smoke-filled boys bathroom was too dank for him, so he decided to stroll through the teachers lounge and into their bathroom. What a badass! I wish I was cool enough to do that when I was in school.

At the bathroom sink a teacher stormed in and warned him that he couldn’t be in there. The Rock paused and looked over his shoulder nonchalantly, demonstrating his excellent ability of badassness, saying he’ll “leave when [he’s] done.” When a 6’4 225 pound angry teenager with a thin moustache says he’ll leave when he’s done, he means it.

The next day Dwayne Johnson’s sensitive side kicked in and he apologised to that same teacher. The two shook hands and the teacher then asked The Rock: “Son, I want you to come out and play football for me.” The rest is history.

The Rock fell in love with American football. It gave his life purpose. His grades started improving, as did his life in general. The discipline and focused mindset of football provided Dwayne with a way to stay out of trouble.

Jody Cwik, the head football coach at Freedom High, became a mentor and a father-figure  to young Rock. It was around his junior year that The Rock gave up his street tough guy lifestyle back in Hawaii and became the tough guy on the field. He was the most alpha lion in a pack of hungry savages. His family tree, besides the wrestling royalty, included a motherfucking Navy Seal. Now that is badass.

Best quote ever from The Rock: “I’ve got warrior blood in me bro!”

Coach Cwik had a heart-to-heart convo with young Rock and told him: “Listen, your family doesn’t have any money. Your grades are average. If you’re going to get out of this town and make a different life for yourself, football is the vehicle.” He explained to young Rock how he could get a scholarship. Things were looking up.

Suddenly Johnson realised that he could become the first person in his family to go to college. Juvenile angst turned into career focused obsession. All of a sudden the scholarship offers from colleges around the country flooded in quicker than a bag of goon around an Aussie.

However, Dwayne Johnson wanted a place at the notorious University of Miami. So, like a boss, he cold called the Miami Hurricanes’ recruiting coordinator and smoothed talked his way onto the team. 

dewey johnson
Don’t fuck with me. Source: Sports Illustrated.

The Rock was nicknamed Dewey Johnson

During autumn of 1990, The Rock stepped onto campus and joined a team full of beast players and many future pros. He became known as “Dewey” Johnson , an indestructable line backer. The level of shit-talking and all around fuckery greatly impressedyoung Dewey Johnson, and he felt right at home.

“Oh, man, the s— talking was an art form,” he said. “It never stopped, and it was creative. It helped me when I got into wrestling, right, tapping into all of that for the Rock.” Now we know where the Rock gets his bad boy charisma.

Dwayne (Dewey) Johnson made a beast of an impression as a freshman. During his college football days Dewey Johnson would play mind games with the teams he would face, often beating them psychologically before crushing them on the field. His mindset was that he wanted to dominate a team in every way, and that another team would never outwork his team. This mindset led to a 1991 national championship.

“He had tremendous get-off, he was strong, he could use his hands, he was tough as nails, and he worked his ass off,” said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who directed the defensive line at Miami from 88 till ’92. “Dewey was a helluva football player. I thought he had a chance to be an All-America.”

Later in his college career, young Dewey Johsnon became plagued with injuries. However he looks back on his college days as a foundation for who he is today.

Coach Cwik told The Rock: “They can hold you, they can kick you in the balls, they can f—— spit in your face—are you going to cry about it or are you going to overcome that and make the play?’ That’s bigger than football, man. That’s a whole worldview.”

After college, the indestructable Dewey Johsnon became a distant memory. no NFL team would draft him so he joined the Canadian Football League. An injury ended his football career and he was cut two months into the 1995 season. Dewey Johnson then fell into a serious bout of depression, where he couldn’t leave his apartment for a month and a half. 

Dewey Johnson became The Rock: Wrestling Career

Rocky Maivia makes his debut. Source: Uproxx.

Dewey Johnson was no more, he was now just regular Dwayne – for now. After recovering from his depression, Dwayne Johnson begged his father to train him up in the wrestling business. This was partly out of desperation, but he did also loved the sport. The Rock’s father was hesitant because he knew that a wrestler’s life was no walk in the park. He didn’t want his son to struggle like he had struggled. Yet Dwayne Johnson managed to persuade his dad, and for the next few months he underwent a brutal training schedule.

On November 16th 1996 he made his WWF debut (World Wrestling Federation) as Rocky Maivia, a combo of his father and grandfather’s nicknames. His ‘Rocky’ alter ego was considered a pretty top bloke, or a “babyface”, as it’s known in the wrestling business.

Despite his lack of experience, the business marketed the shit out of him, realising that he was a star in the making. His debut event was called the survivor series and it was pretty dope… except for his blue spandex briefs and ultra cheesy fight moves. He kind of reminded me of a mix between Wonder Woman and Superman (Wonder Man?) but without the cape. 

Less than a year later in February 1997 at the age of 24 Rocky won his first WWF title, becoming the youngest dude ever to do so. But soon afterwards fans turned on him shouting things like “Die, Rocky, die!” and “Rocky sucks!” It turns out that no one likes a good guy. Bad guys are always way more interesting.

Dwayne Johnson has famously said that the reason his first run as Rocky tanked after its initial run of success was because he wasn’t being authentic. After rethinking his image, Rocky Maivia transformed into The Rock. He became the poster boy for wrestling. He had become the ultimate bad boy. He was now the main super-villain within the Nation of Domination.

Legendary! Source: New York Daily News.

Fans couldn’t get enough of The Rock. He became an international celebrity. Basically the next several years went something like this: The Rock won, then lost, then regained his federation championship like 6 times, becoming possibly the most popular wrestler in the history of the sport. He became known as The People’s Champion, and his signature eyebrow move, funnily enough, became known as The People’s Eyebrow.

He couldn’t do anything wrong. The Rock was also personally responsible for doubling the WWF’s female fan base due to his movie star good looks and his pearly white smile.

His face appeared on T-shirts and posters, and they even made Rock action figures and video games. Not bad for a trouble maker from Hawaii. By the 2000s, The Rock was bringing in $120 million for the WWF in merchandise sales per year. He was basically shitting gold.

Dwayne Johnson takes Hollywood

Dwayne Johnson used his massive success and devilishly good looks to get into the movie and TV business. His first television acting job came in 1999. He played his own father in an episode of That 70’s Show called “That Wrestling Show” (lol).

Forget the Nation of Domination, The Rock was set on world domination. He even appeared on the Disney Channel show Corey in the House, entitled “Never the Dwayne Shall Meet.” This is starting to get ridiculous.

Dwayne Johnson movies

Check those guns! (and I’m not talking about the metal ones). Source: Collider.

However Dwayne Johnson broke into mainstream Hollywood as a lead in 2001’s The Mummy Returns, playing the Scorpion King aka Mathayus of Akkad. He earned $5.5 million for having his beautiful face on camera, which was the most in history for a debut performance. In fact, he did so well that they even made a movie built around his character called The Scorpion King (2002).

His performance wasn’t exactly Oscar’s worthy considering he spent most of the film hacking blokes to death. But he took his acting as seriously as all his other previous endeavours and worked closely with an acting coach. Dwayne Johnson became the new face of Hollywood action. His charisma in the ring translated seamlessly to the big screen.

In 2003 The Rock starred in The Rundown, which this time had a comedy flavour to it. This film started to show fans that he wasn’t just good at running around in spandex or swinging swords. The big man actually had some comedic talent.

When you think about iconic action films, the Fast and Furious franchise is right up there.  Johnson appeared in Fast Five (2011), the fifth film in the franchise as the villain Luke Hobbs, who is assigned to hunt down Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Connor. Dwayne Johnson got the part because fans wanted to see him and Vin Diesel in a film together. The result was a box office shebang, making $625 million.

The Rock also starred in Fast and Furious 6 (2013), but this time Luke Hobbs was the protagonist. This was the first film to shift away from the underground car-racing theme of the previous films, broadening the fanbase. The film was an even bigger success than the last, grossing $789 million.

If you think that was a lot then get ready for this! The Rock also starred in Furious 7 (2015), which grossed a whopping $1.515 billion, making it the sixth highest grossing film of all time. Now that is just fucking crazy!

While a lot of great things can be said about The Rock’s film choices, 2010’s Tooth Fairy. definitely isn’t one of them. I love Dwayne Johnson as much as anyone, but this is just not ok. He plays a hockey star temporarily transformed into a tooth fairy as punishment for discouraging a young fan. Nobody wants to see The Rock in a tutu with big fairy wings. Nobody. Oh, and by the end of the movie he becomes a better person or something. Umm, who cares?

Dwayne Johnson himself even makes fun of the movie for being an epic fail. No worries though, we still love The Rock and thank him dearly for giving us many great films and just being an all around great dude.

Take it away from me! Source: Blue-Ray.

The Rock’s Net Worth

If that wasn’t enough, he is currently the world’s highest paid actor and was voted world’s sexiest man (can’t argue there). His YouTube channel climbed to a million subscribers in less than a week. Across all his social media he has more than 138 million followers. If you’re a follower of his than you will agree that his social media pretty is pretty great, providing an insight behind the scenes of his movie sets or into the gym. If you’re not a follower then get on it!

The Rock still manages to appear regularly in the wrestling ring. His hectic schedule calls for him to be out on the road and wrestling for more than 200 days a year. You’d think with a net worth of $185 million he could afford to take a holiday.

Despite that insanity, he is still very close with has family and manages to call home everyday. Nawww, how sweet.

What’s most impressive is that, regardless of the fact that he’s been successful at everything he’s ever done, The Rock is still not satisfied.

“I want to do more in the WWF. I want to do more in the movie industry. Ultimately, I want to be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, period.”

Anyway, there you have it! A comprehensive guide to all that you need to know about Dwayne Johnson, The Rock. Everything from his troubled upbringing to sports and Hollywood royalty. A beast amongst men. We salute you Dwayne!

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