These days, Dwayne Johnson mostly keeps busy by starring in high-profile movies like Red Notice and Black Adam. Though we certainly can’t forget the fact that the beloved entertainer made a name for himself as a professional wrestler, who was famously known as “The Rock.” Over the past few years, there’s been speculation regarding whether Johnson might jump back into the ring, but nothing seemed to materialize. That’s all changed now, however, as he made his long-awaited WWE return this past Friday. It would be an understatement to say that the crowd was electric, and the Internet seems to be shook as well.
The Rock made his first WWE appearance in four years during an episode of SmackDown filmed at Denver’s Ball Arena. He made his grand entrance during a segment involving Austin Theory and former NFL punter Pat McAfee. (McAfee and Rock had just done an interview this week, during which the latter teased a WrestleMania 40 return.) The 51-year-old entertainer walked in and was met with a roaring crowd and his theme song, “Electrifying.” The major moment was shared across the interwebs, and one fan on X (formerly Twitter) going by the handle @NIKKiPZZAZZ found the comeback to be quite “surreal”:
It has been literally twenty years since there has been a pop like that. The Rock does know how to make an entrance. The Rock. It feels funny even saying 'The Rock'. Surreal.
Appropriately, the Fast X alum’s appearance proved to be electrifying. He took to the ring to trade barbs with Austin Theory before the two came to blows. The face-off ultimately ended, however, with Dwayne Johnson hitting Theory with his signature move: the People’s Elbow. Needless to say, the moment stoked up a plethora of emotions within fans, even long-absent wrestling viewers like X’s @RDJ2_5199:
Chills and I haven’t watched in years 😭
If you’ve been a devoted wrestling fan for years, then chances are you probably feel the same way. Viewers can probably remember many nights in which The Rock delighted audiences with his physicality and showmanship. And let’s be real, his penchant for trash-talking is still legendary. Though he’s been away from the ring for a while now, many still revere him. And while responding to the moment he used the People’s Elbow, one fan summed up the star’s place in wrestling history quite well:
Be honest to yourselves, The Rock is the greatest WWE ‘superstar’ of all-time. He will forever have the entire world of wrestling in the palm of his hands.September 16, 2023
The icing on this already-awesome cake, though, was the fact that backstage, Dwayne Johnson was able to see (or not see) an old colleague. That person was none other than John Cena, who also returned and showed Johnson some love. The video of their meet-up has gone viral, and one fan screenshotted it and provided a sweet caption:
The Rock and John Cena hugging?! Things just got better pic.twitter.com/cnsSGI2ZZOSeptember 16, 2023
One may be surprised to see both of these stars back in their old stomping grounds. While we can’t confirm exactly what initiated these appearances, one would think that SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes in Hollywood may have opened up their schedules a bit. When it comes to Dwayne Johnson, a lot has been said about a return on his part. It was reported in 2022 that Johnson had cleared his schedule and could make his return this year. Johnson addressed the rumors in October, saying that nothing was set in stone and throwing some shade at his cousin – fellow wrestler Roman Reigns. Though Reigns didn’t appear amid his relative’s big comeback, the night was fun nonetheless.
Of course, many are surely now hoping that this won’t be the last time The Rock appears in the ring. He’s still a busy man, though, as he has other professional obligations, in addition to his acting work. But who knows, maybe he and the WWE can work out another collaboration so that “The People’s Champion” doesn’t stay away for too long.