The Rock’s 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Rivals
Before The Rock embarked on a successful acting career in Hollywood, professional wrestling was The People Champion’s first love. The Rock has been an exceptional heel, and a babyface, which is why he has had plenty of success in his career.
Ultimately, Rocky needed partners to dance with, and some of the feuds that he participated in were amongst the greatest in WWE history. However, not all of The Rock’s adversaries were up to scratch which is why some of his rivalries failed.
10Worst: Big Show
At the 2000 Royal Rumble, The Rock outlasted Big Show by winning the Royal Rumble match for the first time in his career. However, The World’s Largest Athlete was aggrieved as footage showed that Rock’s feet did touch the fall.
Ultimately, they collided at No Way Out with Big Show defeating The Rock to get his spot in the WWE Title match at WrestleMania 2000. Their matches together were average and nothing special which is disappointing, considering how good both in-ring performers are.
9Best: Kurt Angle
The Rock finally reclaimed the WWE Championship at King of the Ring 2000, and he was a dominant champion. However, his rivalry with Kurt Angle over the WWE Championship was refreshing with Angle proving his worth as a certified main eventer by bossing 2000 in his rookie year.
Rock and Angle traded jibes on the microphone, and they backed it up in the ring. Angle shocked The Rock at No Mercy for his first reign as WWE Champion. Nonetheless, their feud culminated at No Way Out 2001, which had massive WrestleMania implications with The Rock becoming a six-time WWE Champion, and going on to face Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven. Rock’s feud with Angle certainly improved both men’s in-ring prowess.
Rikishi’s heel turn failed drastically as he was a beloved figure, and one of the most over superstars in 2000. Ultimately, Rikishi was unveiled as the person that ran down Steve Austin, and he said that he did it for The Rock. Rock was far from impressed, and Rikishi was bitterly disappointed with Rock for rejecting his advances.
The reason why Rikishi’s run as a heel failed was he did not generate the same star power as Triple H, The Rock, or Austin. Nevertheless, Rock and Rikishi’s match at Survivor Series 2000 was incredibly lackluster, and it became abundantly clear that Rikishi’s push was not going to last a long time.
7Best: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho’s WWE debut was an iconic moment as he interrupted The Rock on an episode of Raw in August 1999. However, their feud did not escalate until the height of the Invasion storyline in 2001. Despite both men representing the WWE, Rock mocked Jericho for not winning the big one.
That all changed at No Mercy when Jericho ended Rock’s WCW Championship reign for his first World Title. The bitter rivals briefly held the WWE Tag Team Championship together during this time frame. Nonetheless, their feud was memorable as both had tremendous in-ring chemistry together, and Y2J felt like a legitimate top star. In fact, Jericho dominated their feud, and he defeated him at Vengeance 2001 en route to becoming the first-ever Undisputed WWE Champion and he retained at Royal Rumble 2002.
6Worst: Mark Henry
The Rock’s popularity increased drastically after he dropped the Intercontinental Championship to Triple H at SummerSlam 1998. Rock was still the leader of The Nation but the faction disintegrated with Rock slowly transitioning into a face. Moreover, Rock found himself in a brief feud with Mark Henry, who turned on Rock alongside D’Lo Brown.
The World’s Strongest Man was still incredibly green, and he was clearly not ready to be a high-profile program with someone of Rock’s caliber. Henry managed to upset Rock at Judgment Day: In Your House but it was a feud that wasn’t going to do Rock any favors.
5Best: Triple H
The Rock and Triple H’s feud shaped up both men’s future, who had a personal dislike for each other as they wanted to be the face of the company. They originally feuded over the Intercontinental Title briefly in 1997. However, they took it up the notch with their respective factions The Nation and D-Generation X in 1998.
Ultimately, their rivalry was at its peak in 2000 when they traded the WWE Championship in Steve Austin’s absence when he was nursing a neck injury. Their matches were magnificent and with Rock as the clear babyface, and Triple H as the heel, it was one of the most personal rivalries that was iconic in the Attitude Era.
4Worst: The Hurricane
In 2003, The Rock turned heel when he returned to WWE and he was portraying his Hollywood gimmick. However, leading up to his third WrestleMania encounter with Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIX, Rock participated in a mini-feud with The Hurricane.
The Rock and Hurricane’s backstage skits were hilarious but The Hurricane was not on Rock’s level. They did manage to keep fans engaged with their comedy but Rock needed something bigger during his feud with Austin. Surprisingly, Rock suffered a shock loss to Hurricane with Steve Austin’s interference distracting The Rock, which was one of the biggest upsets in WWE history.
One of The Rock’s greatest rivals is Mankind, with their feud kickstarting at the 1998 Survivor Series. They pulled off a remarkable double turn with Rock turning heel, and Mankind reverting as a face in the tournament final that saw Rock capture the WWE Championship.
Their feud was off the charts, and whilst it was a filler feud with Rock going on to face Steve Austin for the WWE Title at WrestleMania XV, it did both men wonders. They competed in seven WWE Championship matches which saw the title trade hands multiple times. Rock got the last laugh when the feud culminated in a ladder match for Mankind’s WWE Title in a ladder match on the February 15, 1999 edition of Raw.
2Worst: Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn was receiving a slight push as a singles competitor after winning the 1999 King of the Ring tournament. Mr. Ass was on a collision course with The Rock at SummerSlam in a Kiss My Ass match.
However, Mr. Ass looked extremely weak in this feud with Rock burying him in a promo. He could have benefitted from beating Rock at SummerSlam to back up his King of the Ring tournament but he suffered a debilitating loss to The People’s Champion. Ultimately, the feud was a complete waste of time for Rock, who could have had a bigger match at The Biggest Party of The Summer.
1Best: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Unquestionably, The Rock’s greatest rival is Stone Cold Steve Austin. Like Rock’s feud with Triple H, it began in 1997 and started over the Intercontinental Championship. Austin forfeited the gold to The Rock and he famously threw the IC strap into the river off a bridge.
Nevertheless, they went their separate ways but when The Rock was The Corporate Champion their feud was at an all-time high. The two pioneers of the Attitude Era collided in three high-profile matches at WrestleMania with The Texas Rattlesnake prevailing at WrestleMania XV and WrestleMania X-Seven for the WWE Title. Their final match at WrestleMania XIX was another epic that ended up being Austin’s swansong with Rock finally getting his win over Austin. It was a great feud that was surprisingly one-sided in Austin’s favor.