When you look back at it, it only took A SINGLE year after his WWF debut for Dwayne Johnson to become a top star in the company. Coming from a long wrestling lineage of the Fatu/Anao’i family, being the son of WWE Hall of Famer & former Tag Team Champion Rocky Johnson, AND the grandson of WWE Hall of Famer “High Chief” Peter Maivia, “The Blue Chipper” (as Jim Ross put it) Rocky Maivia was born.
Maivia made his debut at the 1996 edition of the Survivor Series pay-per-view event, joining the team of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “The Stalker” Barry Windham, and led by Marc Mero, which defeated the opposing team of Crush, Goldust, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Jerry “The King” Lawler. The WWE’s plans to make him an instant star was not well-received by fans, as his character was quite bland and two-dimensional, from his look and theme song. WWE made it worse by placing the Intercontinental Championship on him by defeating Hunter Hearst Helmsley (who was in the dog-house for reasons we’ll go over next week) just three months after his debut.
Thankfully (for sake of Johnson and the fans), WWE realized the error and completely revitalized his character into “The Rock,” which skyrocketed him to be one of the biggest heels in the company, and later to arguable the greatest superstar that ever stepped foot in a WWE ring. In the wrestling business (as well as most any businesses), you have to start somewhere, and Johnson’s cutter-cutter babyface debut at Survivor Series 1996 was that start. If you want to feel old, that debut was just over 18 years ago to the day. Time flies, doesn’t it?