The Rock essentially left WWE for Hollywood in April of 2003, but didn’t his contract expire on April 2005? I remember reading he was angry no one contacted him about his expiring contract at the time and that led to bad blood. My question is, could Vince have stopped him from going to Hollywood while still under contract? And have contracts changed since then or could Dolph Ziggler try and get a sitcom on The CW tomorrow if he wanted to?
2nd question – at what point did they know they were turning Rock heel to win the title at survivor series 98? I didn’t think they were quite booking on napkins at this point- I would have guessed it was after the reaction he got at Breakdown. If that’s the case, why have him Job to Mark Henry at Judgement Day the month before?
Finally some questions about the Rock! Anyone else see the trailer for Fate of the Furious before Logan and get all pumped to watch Rock and Jason Statham making a case for the most awesome buddy movie ever? Just me? Fine.
Vince didn’t want to stop Rock from going to Hollywood at all, but what he DID lose was his executive producer credit on all of Rock’s movies from then on, and a decent chunk of money as a result. That’s another reason why they so tightly control how and where guys get lent out to studios now. Plus Dwayne Johnson was no longer obligated to be billed as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, which probably helped him be a more serious actor.
As to the second question, they basically decided the night of Summerslam 98 that Rock was the MAN specifically, but literally from the day he debuted he was getting pushed to the World title within two years. Basically everyone up and down the totem pole backstage pegged him as the next top babyface star, and they were all right. Summerslam 98 was designed to make sure that Rock got over with the fans even in losing, and then everything that followed was pretty textbook in building up fan support without letting the fans KNOW that they’re being manipulated. It was fucking brilliant, honestly. That being said, Rock should not have done a job to Mark Henry, it was a waste of everyone involved, but they wanted to get Mark over as well, I’m guessing. The rest was a masterclass in booking and yet another indictment of Vince these days, who can’t even get Roman Reigns over given the same tools.