JJ Dillon On His Early Interaction With The Rock That Could’ve Changed Wrestling History

The Rock
The Rock

Former professional wrestling manager and WWE executive JJ Dillon was recently a guest on the Sitting Ringside podcast with David Penzer to talk about several professional wrestling topics. Dillon first discussed Sgt. Slaughter turning heel and why the WrestleMania 7 venue was changed:

“We try at times in this business to mirror the political environment. But for some reason when they tried to turn him [Sgt. Slaughter], I firmly believe people were not accepting it because of who he was. He was too identifiable with this county. It just didn’t work.

“No matter what he did, people never accepted it. The worst thing you want to have happen is having something you were so invested in not work out. To go to a big open arena / stadium it would have been promotional suicide.”

Dillon also talked about why the dream match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair didn’t take place at WrestleMania 8:

“These words will never come out of Vince McMahon’s mouth, but I heard it repeated a lot from others, that this match was made 5 years too late. We waited 5 years too long to make this happen.”

Finally, Dillon told the story of an early interaction he had with former WWE Champion-turned-Hollywood mega-star The Rock that could’ve changed the history of professional wrestling forever:

“I was a part of the decision process that ended up hiring [The Rock] and Mark Henry. I remember one night I think we were at The Garden, The Rock pulled me aside and said, ‘I know I can speak openly and honest with you, can you make some phone calls to get me out of here [WWE]. From all my time in college and in Florida and my time in the business, I always had money in my pocket. [Right now] I don’t have two dollars in my pocket, I feel vulnerable.’

“In this particular moment you can’t begin to imagine what is laying in front of you regarding your success and financial rewards, because you don’t have two dollars in your pocket. Because it hasn’t yet happened yet, you can’t let this moment change you. I told him, ‘this is the lowest of lows you’ll experience.’ I said, ‘give me five minutes. put this [thought process] on hold.’

“Five minutes later I come back, and I tell him to open up his hand. I put $200, $300, $500, whatever it was in his hand and told him to wrap his hand around it. ‘Now put that hand in your pocket, how does that feel to have money again?’ This moment right there changed his whole mental outlook and helped him.”