Rock Says...by The Rock, WWF Staff, Joe Layden
The Rock is layin' the smack down! With unapologetic honesty, and inimitable style, The Rock tells his story from his boyhood days traveling around the world with his father (professional wrestler Rocky Johnson) to his years as a football player at the University of Miami and his less than glamorous professional days in Canada, to his meteoric rise through the… See more details below
The Rock is layin' the smack down! With unapologetic honesty, and inimitable style, The Rock tells his story from his boyhood days traveling around the world with his father (professional wrestler Rocky Johnson) to his years as a football player at the University of Miami and his less than glamorous professional days in Canada, to his meteoric rise through the ranks of the Federation. The Rock also takes fans on a guided tour of big-time wrestling, and provides a breathtaking, minute-by-minute account of WrestleMania, the Super Bowl of pro wrestling, including an intimate backstage look at rehearsals with his opponent, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and discusses in heartfelt detail the loss of his friend and coworker, Owen Hart.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.86(d)
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I was eight years old when my family moved to the island of Hawaii. This really wasn't all that big a deal to me, since I was accustomed to being uprooted on a regular basis. My father, Rocky Johnson, was a professional wrestler, and life in "the business" in those days was nomadic, to say the least. Professional wrestling in my dad's erahe started in the mid-1960swas not the well-oiled international entertainment machine that it is today. There was no dominant organization, like the World Wrestling Federation, watching over the game and its participants. There were no multimillion-dollar television contracts or Pay-Per-View specials. There was little or no merchandising to fatten the wallets of the wrestlers themselves--no video games or action figures or lunch boxes. Instead, professional wrestling was a gloriously gritty and splintered business consisting of dozens of self-sufficient, and self-governing, territories: Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, just to name a few. Generally, at that time, guys would work a territory for six months to a year, two years at the most. They'd move in, get acclimated, make a name for themselves, and before long they'd wear out their welcome and have to move on. That's just the way it worked. Everyone who wrestled accepted the life--in fact, most loved it.
I was raised in this environment. It was all I knew, all I can remember. There was never a time when wrestling wasn't part of my life. And so, like a child of the circus, I was a road warrior from the very beginning, bouncing from one part of the country to another, from one apartment to another. By the time I started kindergarten I had already lived in five states. I don't recall ever being bothered by the constant movement--to tell you the truth, I found it exciting. And I sure as hell never lacked for attention or love. I went to shows with my mother, Ata, and together we cheered every one of Rocky's sensational, athletic moves. My mom was the real rock of the family. Having grown up in the business, she understood the sacrifices that were necessary for success. And so she did what she had to do to keep the family together. When it was time to pack up the van and move to another town, she made it feel like an adventure.
It was in Hawaii that I got to know my grandparents real well, and I think that's part of the reason I fell in love with the place, and why I still consider it my home away from home. It represents so much of my heritage and my past and all that's important to me. My grandfather, Peter Maivia, was a legend in this business, and not just because he was a terrific wrestler, although he certainly was that: heavyweight champion of Texas and U.S. Tag Team champion were just two of the titles he held. Peter Maivia was known for being one of the toughest guys around. Not in a mean or antagonistic or showy way, but in an honest way. He was just a tough son of a bitch, and if you were smart, you didn't mess with him.
Other wrestlers sometimes discovered this characteristic the hard way. Then, as now, the boys in the business sometimes hung out together when they traveled. And one night, in a hotel restaurant, another wrestler began making fun of my grandfather. Peter Maivia was Samoan and, as was the custom of his people, he often liked to eat with his hands. We call it fa-a-Samoan--the Samoan way. To this other wrestler, though, it was not a custom. It was something to mock. So the boys were all sitting at a table, surrounded by food, and he was really giving it to my grandfather, insulting him, trying to get a laugh out of something that was actually quite honorable. Eventually, my grandfather, who was a very dignified man, told him to back off and show a little respect.
"Don't make fun of me," he said. "This is my culture."
The other wrestler just laughed and kept at it. Eventually my grandfather stood up, grabbed him by the collar, and dragged him into the lobby and proceeded to beat the living crap out of him. My grandfather was an immense man--about five foot ten, 320 pounds--and so the fight, if you could call it that, didn't last long. It ended when my grandfather lifted the other guy off his feet and tossed him through a window. Then, after his point had been clearly made, my grandfather walked over, helped him up, and said, "You okay?" The man nodded and my grandfather smiled. "Good," he said. "Now . . . just don't make fun of me anymore."
That was just one of the stories I had heard about Peter Maivia. But I had heard other stories, too, and I came to see that they were largely true. Even though my grandfather was the toughest man alive, he was also the sweetest guy you'd ever want to meet. He was gentle and kind, especially to my mother and me. If he was capable of knocking the piss out of you, he was also capable of charming you with a song or a smile. He and my grandmother, Leah, loved each other intensely, but they fought all the time. They bickered constantly, and sometimes their arguments erupted into violence. My grandmother would flail away at my grandfather, and he'd stand there absorbing every blow with his massive arms and chest, until she grew so tired that she'd collapse into him, completely spent. Then they'd kiss and make up, and my grandfather would serenade her with a song on his ukulele. Their relationship was wonderful and crazy and full of passion: fa-a-Samoan! It made for some interesting family gatherings, I'll tell you that.
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