Whilst talking with the show’s host, Jay Glazer, Johnson discussed his start in then-WWF. He shared how it’s hard to pick just one moment as he’s been blessed with so many memorable career highlights. When pressed to pick one, however, Johnson pointed to the moment he was “[…] able to speak my mind and be authentic in the WWE.”
“I was told by Vince McMahon, who was a very close friend of mine still today, is a mentor in the world of business, he would tell me, ‘You gotta go out there, you gotta smile, you just gotta… you just gotta smile!'”
Johnson continued, “This was my rookie year, so you can imagine. Smile! So, I said OK, and again, you’re pissing vinegar… you’re ready to get out there and bang, man. And he said, ‘I want you to be… you’re grateful that you’re here, so you gotta smile.’ And then I would go out and I would hear these fans, they just knew that I wasn’t being authentic. You know, and they would be like… ‘You f–king suck!’ And I would smile, ‘Hey, thank you, man! I know I do, right?’ I gotta smile.”
Dwayne Johnson On Becoming The Rock
Vince McMahon eventually had Johnson turn heel, turning him into The Rock. At that point, Johnson knew it was time to ask for some promo time. He approached Vince and asked for two minutes on a microphone during a live Raw so he could speak his mind.
“Vince McMahon said, ‘OK, you got two minutes.’ I said, ‘Alright.’ I grabbed the microphone on live TV, which that’s a lot, man, because at that time there was just two hours of RAW live, that’s it. Pass me the ball, that was it. Just give me one shot.”
Dwayne Johnson promised Vince that if his promo bombed, he would never have to give him mic time again. He shared how he made the most of the opportunity afforded him by being as real and genuine as possible whilst also embracing who The Rock was.
“[…] I said, ‘I may be a lot of things, but sucks isn’t one of them.’ And I said, ‘Me joining The Nation is not a black thing, it’s not a white thing, it’s a respect thing, and I’m gonna earn it every night by kicking that ass.’ You know, and I start talking a little s–t, but it was in that moment, that you could feel the crowd of 15,000 or 20,000 people go, ‘That’s real. What he just said, he just spoke from the heart.'”
According to Johnson, that promo and opportunity helped lead to the birth of The Rock and all that the character would become.