Ex-WWE Star Persuaded The Rock to Claim Victory in Debut Match

Exploring The Rock's unexpected start in professional wrestling.

by Noman Rasool
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Ex-WWE Star Persuaded The Rock to Claim Victory in Debut Match
© WWE/Youtube

Before he became a global entertainment icon, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson dipped his toes into the wrestling world, following in the footsteps of his father, Rocky Johnson, and embracing his rich family heritage in the sport.

On March 10, 1996, at a WWF Superstars taping in Corpus Christi's Memorial Coliseum, The Rock faced off against Steve Lombardi, known in the ring as the Brooklyn Brawler, in what would be his first-ever wrestling match. This initial bout set the stage for what would become an illustrious wrestling career.

Just seven months later, under the ring name Rocky Maivia, he made his official WWF debut at Survivor Series. His rise from there is well-documented, leading him to become one of the most recognized figures in both wrestling and Hollywood.

In a candid conversation with Chris Van Vliet, Lombardi reminisced about his role in The Rock's debut. He shared a pivotal moment backstage when The Rock, uncertain of wrestling norms, questioned the outcome of their match.

"I’m The Rock’s first match ever in front of 15,000 people and when I talk to Rock he says, 'Well, you had my dad’s first match in WWF too,'" Lombardi recalled. The Rock was puzzled about the match's conclusion, asking Lombardi, "How’s the Brooklyn Brawler going to beat me?" Lombardi assured him, explaining, "Vince did not bring you all the way here to lose, you are going over." The phrase "going over," wrestling jargon for winning, was unfamiliar to The Rock at the time, highlighting his inexperience.

"That is unheard of for a person’s first match," The Rock had remarked, surprised at the decision for him to win.

From Wrestling to Hollywood

From that uncertain beginning, The Rock not only dominated the wrestling world but also transitioned seamlessly into a blockbuster movie career.

His production company, Seven Bucks Promotions, has been involved in various successful projects, including the recent documentary "Who Killed WCW?" This deep dive into the history of WCW showcases The Rock’s continued influence and involvement in the wrestling industry, even as he remains a major force in Hollywood.

The journey from a rookie wrestler to a worldwide star is a testament to The Rock's enduring appeal and relentless work ethic, proving that even legends have humble beginnings.

The Rock
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