The Rock’s Near-Brush with MMA: From WWE Superstar to Pride Fighter?
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, famed for his WWE and Hollywood careers, recently revealed on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast a fascinating twist in his career path: considering a move to MMA in 1997. Johnson expressed his thoughts about leaving pro wrestling to join Japan’s Pride Fighting Championship, driven by the lure of higher pay and a different persona than the one he portrayed in WWE.
In 1997, Johnson was wrestling about 235 days a year for $150,000, a sum dwarfed by the reported earnings in Pride Fighting. Discontent with his WWE character and the audience’s reaction, Johnson sought advice from MMA fighters Ken Shamrock and Mark Kerr about transitioning to Pride. This period marked a pivotal moment in Johnson’s career, as he weighed his options between continuing in WWE or venturing into the more lucrative but physically demanding world of MMA.
Ken Shamrock, an MMA legend who transitioned to WWE, echoed Johnson’s sentiments about financial motivations driving career decisions. Shamrock highlighted the financial struggles of UFC at the time, which led him to choose pro wrestling over fighting. This choice, while driven by necessity, allowed him to support his family and the group home for at-risk kids he was involved with, showcasing the often complex and financially driven decisions athletes make.
While Johnson’s claim of potentially joining Pride adds an intriguing chapter to his storied career, historical context and timing suggest that this possibility, though exciting, remains speculative. Johnson’s eventual success in WWE and Hollywood, alongside his later involvement in MMA events, highlights his diverse and impactful presence across multiple entertainment and sports platforms.
The Rock says he was close to signing with PRIDE back in 1997 and transitioning from Wrestling to MMA.
Imagine if The Rock was competing against guys like Fedor and Cro-Cop back in the day… pic.twitter.com/JqAw4pOkrX
— notNotorious (@Notori6us) November 15, 2023