Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/12/11/book-review-the-peoples-champion-from-wwe-to-hollywood/
BOOK REVIEW: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: The People’s Champion – From WWE to Hollywood
Aside from a few WWE-licensed fluff pieces, several coffee-table style photo books, and a ghostwritten 2000 memoir (THE ROCK SAYS…), there has yet to be that truly comprehensive biography on the life (to-date) of Dwayne Johnson. Enter James Romero, who just last year authored a book on the life of Owen Hart (KING OF PRANKS), to fill the gap providing a retrospective on arguably the biggest superstar the wrestling industry has ever created.
If you found The Rock Says… lacking in detail, you will be more than happy with Romero’s work here. THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION truly is a comprehensive blow-by-blow look at Dwayne’s early years, to his rise within the pro-wrestling industry all the way to his current status as the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. Romero left no rock unturned (pardon the pun) in compiling Dwayne’s life story as evidenced by the lengthy list of sources shown at the end of the book. Mining through memoirs of Dwayne’s peers, wrestling observer newsletters, documentaries, and interviews conducted by third parties with Johnson, Romero was able to give as accurate a story as possible without first-hand access to Johnson himself.
That said, not a lot here surprised or shocked me. Johnson has been quite open about his early years, his struggles with finding a career path (the famous $7 story comes to mind), and his locker-room rise during wrestling’s biggest boom period, so there was little here that I hadn’t yet heard. However, I welcomed the chance to take a trip back to when Monday nights were can’t-miss-television and Vince McMahon’s RAW produced memorable moments and exciting programming.
Some of the more interesting sections dealt with the decades-long behind-the-scenes drama that simmered between both Dwayne and Shawn Michaels. When Rock had been rising-up the card in mid-to-late 1997, both Michaels and Triple H would constantly find excuses as to why Johnson’s ascent needed to be stopped in its tracks when both complaining to Vince McMahon. This likely had a lot to do with the fact that Michaels’ long-time enemy Bret Hart wanted to take Johnson under his wing as he developed. Unfortunately, this would lead to a match between Michaels and Johnson never materializing during Michael’s return in 2002; a true lost opportunity.
While the Hollywood portion of Dwayne’s life isn’t quite as in-depth as his wrestling days, Romero does speak about the near seven-year gap between Dwayne leaving WWE and returning in 2011 to work with John Cena. As Rock gained more and more notoriety on the silver screen, his contract with World Wrestling Entertainment would be allowed to expire – a sore spot that Dwayne harbored for some time. The inner-workings of bringing Johnson back into the fold in time for WrestleMania 27 and beyond were certainly interesting as Romero writes about Johnson looking to embrace his squared-circle past even against the wishes of his movie management team.
All in all, I thought Romero does a great job capturing the life and career of wrestling’s biggest export. While exhaustive in scope, I think hardcore fans will enjoy reading about wrestling’s hottest period when Dwayne Johnson was at his creative peak, seemingly conjuring up never-ending moments on a basis not seen since.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: The People’s Champion – From WWE to Hollywood by James Romero is available on Amazon