From the Nation of Domination to the People’s Champion, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Various WWE Personas

Published 05/16/2021, 9:07 AM EDT
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – APRIL 1: Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson and John Cena in action during WrestleMania XXVIII at Sun Life Stadium on April 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)


A gimmick is much more than just a wrestler’s character. It represents his personality, but also covers up other shortcomings of the wrestler’s presentation. When we talk about the The Rock, we’re talking about the perfect combination of wrestling skills and the perfect gimmick.

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He debuted as a white bread babyface but became the biggest heel in the company. He then went from Corporate Champion to the People’s Champion, and now a WWE legend. The Rock wore many hats, but his gimmicks always set him a class apart.

The Nation of Domination

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In 1996, Rocky Maivia debuted to cheers inside Madison Square Garden, but they didn’t last long. The cheers turned into jeers, and soon, people began chanting, ‘Die, Rocky, die’. After a run as Intercontinental Champion, he tapped into his darker side and turned heel.

He joined the Nation of Domination, along with Savio Vega, Kama Mustafa and Ron Simmons [Farooq]. The group feuded with the likes of DX and it was the rivalry with Triple H that made Rock a superstar. His heel run with the group cemented his spot as an important part of WWE’s future.

The Corporate/People’s Champion

After the Nation of Domination disbanded, The Rock was ready to become a singles star. He and Stone Cold Steve Austin were poised to take over the spots left empty by Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and became WWE’s biggest stars. At Survivor Series 1998, The Rock reached the pinnacle by winning the WWE Championship.

His role as the Corporate Champion saw his headline WrestleMania XV alongside Steve Austin, and he kept his position as WWE’s top heel. He transformed from Corporate Champion to the People’s Champion in 2000 during his rivalry with Triple H.

It was during this time that Rock broke the record for the most WWE Championship reigns of all time. He won his seventh WWE Title in 2002, after which he transitioned back to his heel ways, but remained entertaining.

The Rock goes Hollywood

In 2003, The Rock returned to WWE after filming a bunch of movies, including The Mummy and The Scorpion King. He reverted to his heel ways and often insulted the crowd during his promos. It was during this run that he retired Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania X9.

The Rock would only wrestle two more matches under this persona, but one of them is one of the most shocking matches in history. He faced Goldberg in his WWE debut at Backlash 2003, where the former WCW Champion bulldozed The Rock out of WWE.

He returned in 2004 to reunite with Mick Foley for WrestleMania XX. The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection reunited for one night only to take on Randy Orton, Batista and Ric Flair in a 2 on 1 handicap match.

Return of The Rock

Although he was way past his peak, The Rock returned to WWE in 2011 and became the host of WrestleMania 27. This role led to him crossing paths with John Cena, and the two set up a match at WrestleMania 28. The Once in a Lifetime match took place in Orlando, Florida at WrestleMania 28.

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In the run up to the match, The Rock proved again why he’s the best smack-talker in WWE by insulting Cena frequently. He even insulted Cena in front of his hometown crowd of Boston, Massachusetts. Ultimately, The Rock beat Cena at WrestleMania, but his run was far from over.

He challenged CM Punk for the WWE Championship at 2013 Royal Rumble and emerged victorious. He wrestled Cena in a WrestleMania rematch, but lost the title to him this time. Although he expressed his desire to wrestle more, a muscle injury kept him away from the ring.

The love for Dwayne Johnson is still very strong, and fans still wait to see him return to the ring. When he returns to the ring, whether against Roman Reigns or for his Hall of Fame induction speech, The Rock will do what he does best: entertain.

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Nathan Fulgado

1026 articles

Nathan Fulgado is a WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports. Having published close to 1000 professional wrestling articles, Nathan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier's College. He has previously worked at Free Press Journal as a local journalist.

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