Since early on in his professional wrestling career, Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson has been a fan favorite. His shift to Hollywood superstar appeared to go off without a hitch, even finding himself named the world’s highest-paid actor by Forbes in 2016. Three years later, Time honored Johnson as one of its top 100 most influential people of 2019.
« As ‘The Rock,’ he was enticing, charming, handsome, cocky, and winning, even when he technically wasn’t winning, » BuzzFeed News reporter, Scaachi Koul, once wrote. « He’s always had a populist appeal, managing to morph himself into whatever his audiences wanted. » Basically, it was easy for the world to fall in love with a man who puts his kindness before anything else. The Rock has shown himself to be a loving son, a wonderful father, and an amazing friend.
However, there have been some who don’t buy it. You might say they couldn’t « smell what The Rock is cooking. » Over the years, Johnson has crossed paths with several people who weren’t convinced he was that amazing person the rest of the world saw. Some of these feuds were kept behind closed doors, whereas others were aired out in public. Let’s take a look at the biggest Dwayne Johnson doubters and sort out their beefs. Here are the stars who can’t stand The Rock.
Did Vin Diesel big brother Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson?
While filming Fast & Furious 8, Dwayne Johnson shared a since-deleted Instagram post to criticize some of his male co-stars in 2016. « Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t, » he wrote (via Vanity Fair). « The ones that don’t are too chicken s**t to do anything about it anyway. Candy a****. »
Later, it was reported that the target for The Rock’s criticism was Vin Diesel, something Johnson all but confirmed when he thanked pretty much everyone from the Fast & Furious franchise on Instagram … except for Diesel. While The Rock later told Entertainment Tonight the feud was the result of « different philosophies, » Diesel, who typically seemed eager to shut down any talk of their beef, shed light on their relationship. « Dwayne has only got one Vin in his life, » he told USA Today, before explaining how he paved the way for Johnson as « the first multicultural megastar in Hollywood »: « Dwayne Johnson only has one big brother in this film world and that’s me … I’m always rooting Dwayne on. »
By the summer of 2019, it was Diesel who sent what appeared to be an official olive branch to Johnson via Instagram, speaking appreciatively of his work on the spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw, and congratulating him on his wedding. The Rock responded with his own Instagram video, thanking Diesel for the « very classy post. » Showbiz feud or not, it seems these two will always be family.
Did The Rock block Tyrese’s paper?
When Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel threw thinly-veiled barbs at each other, Fast & Furious‘ Tyrese Gibson made it clear that he wasn’t involved. In a now-deleted post on Instagram, he explained how he felt about The Rock (via Entertainment Tonight): « He’s my brother we have NEVER had a problem and will never have a problem. »
That all changed, however, when Fast & Furious 9 was pushed back a year. Shortly after, it was revealed that Johnson had scored his solo spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw — but not before Gibson slammed Johnson on Instagram for « making the fast and the furious franchise about YOU, » and questioned whether it would « be another #BayWatch, » a Johnson-led flick that flopped. While Hobbs & Shaw would take the top spot at the box office, Gibson posted another public shot at Johnson for the movie’s less-than-stellar opening weekend numbers compared to other Fast & Furious movies. « He tried, » Gibson wrote in part in a since-deleted Instagram (via MovieWeb). « Breaking up the family clearly doesn’t have the value that one would assume it does. ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Has Lowest Fast & Furious Box Office Opening Since ‘Tokyo Drift.' »
When it picked up steam globally, Johnson made sure to let certain people know by tweeting, « Remember, the best way to shut the mouth of a [clown] is to flex with success and a smile. » Gibson later admitted regret over how he’d aired out his grievances, but has yet to publicly apologize.
The Shawn Michaels match that never was
It’s not exactly clear what happened between Shawn Michaels and Dwayne Johnson, but there are a couple of different accounts that suggest these wrestling legends never really liked each other behind the scenes — which might explain why they never faced each other in the squared circle, despite the wishes of so many wrestling fans.
According to Johnson’s dad, Rocky, the beef allegedly started because of a stiff kick to The Rock’s face during the latter’s match against Triple H. « Shawn threw the karate kick, and I guess he kicked him a little bit too hard, » Rocky told The Hannibal TV. « So Dwayne came back into the dressing room and told him, ‘Hey man, you hit me too hard. Calm down.’ But then [Michaels] got smart with him. He said, ‘If you can’t take it, you shouldn’t be in this business.’ And then, next thing you know, he’s on the floor and Dwayne’s on top of him. »
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter suggested that the beef began much earlier than that, when Michaels reportedly disrespected Johnson’s promoter grandmother in the ’80s (via Wrestling News). As Johnson was rising in the WWE ranks, Michaels reportedly worked hard to keep him down. That plan may have backfired. When The Rock became the WWE’s biggest star and got to wrestle whomever he wanted, Michaels was never considered. « I was never ever interested in working with him, to be honest with you, » Johnson told WWE.com.
The Rock vs. John Cena: a hypocritical battle?
Sharing a lot in common, John Cena and Dwayne Johnson have become quite close in recent years. But things weren’t always peachy between the wrestlers-turned-actors. In fact, Johnson told Jimmy Kimmel that before Cena became « one of [his] best friends, » the former WWE rivals « had real problems with each other. »
After Johnson made his transition out of wrestling, Cena became vocal about how he felt about The Rock. « He, at one point, loved wrestling and wanted to do this all of his life, » Cena told The Sun in 2008 (via the Bleacher Report). « Explain to me why he can’t come back for a 15th Anniversary show or why he can’t make an appearance at WrestleMania. Simply put, it’s because he wants to be an actor. » He added, « Just don’t f**k me around and tell me that you love this when you are just doing this to do something else. That’s the only thing that gets me really p***ed off. »
That, of course, was before Cena himself began focusing on acting. He was asked about this retrospective hypocrisy in an interview with Gorilla Position a decade later. « This is a very tough balancing act and … I called [Johnson] out because of ignorance, » Cena admitted, while apologizing and saying he was wrong. « I called him out as someone who had tunnel vision in WWE and didn’t understand the process that when you make a movie, you are not allowed to do anything else. »
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson renamed TJ Perkins
Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson is one of those stars who don’t often let things go on social media. If a fan shouts him out on Twitter, there’s a chance he responds. If a wrestler mentions him by name, it’s almost guaranteed to lure him out of lingering.
That was the hard-learned lesson that professional wrestler TJ Perkins received after he took a bit of a shot at The Rock on Twitter. When Perkins was asked if there was a motto or quote he lived by every day, the WWE’s first Cruiserweight champion gave an uncensored version of the Nike slogan, « Just f**kin do it. » Another follower then suggested a quote from Johnson himself, « Always be the hardest worker in the room. » It was here that Perkins appeared to give Johnson a jab, tweeting alongside a wink emoji, « That goes without question. But real ones don’t say it out loud. »
Johnson probably didn’t love the « real ones » remark and made sure Perkins knew it. « Yeah that Rock fella has a big mouth, » he tweeted in response. « I never heard of you CJ but I wish you the best of luck in the wrestling biz champ. » Perkins accepted the chirp as good as one can, but also jokingly replied, « D**n, now I gotta change my name to CJ. Those are the rules. » Even though he took his supposed public shaming well, we imagine it’s unlikely Perkins became a bigger fan of Dwayne Johnson after that.
CM Punk thought The Rock was ‘out of touch’
After WrestleMania 27 drew in more than a million buyers on Pay-Per-View in 2011, many were quick to give Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson credit. After all, that was the night when he would make his return to WrestleMania after seven long years. According to the Bleacher Report, « The success of this show hinged on one man and one man alone: the Rock. »
But not everyone was as convinced that Johnson was responsible for the historic numbers. CM Punk, one of the stars of the event, felt that The Rock’s impact was mightily overblown. « I have no personal problems against Dwayne, » he said on Mark Madden’s radio show (via the Bleacher Report). « It’s very frustrating being here and watch a guy come in and get credit for a WrestleMania buyrate when he didn’t do anything on the show. He certainly didn’t do anything entertaining. »
Punk also went on to suggest that The Rock’s whole bit was outdated: « There’s a line he crossed at some point where I think he is just as out of touch as the Vince McMahons and everybody else. I’m not calling Rock old, he’s still obviously a young physical fit guy but his ideas are old and his shtick is corny in my opinion. » Ouch. The Rock defeating Punk in 2013 to win the WWE Championship title following the latter’s hold on it for over 400 days probably didn’t help matters.
The Rock’s beef with Kevin Nash goes way back
There’s a long-standing legend in wrestling that Kevin Nash wasn’t thrilled with Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson after he went off-script during a promo. According to rumors, Johnson improvised the famous line, « Big Daddy b**ch, » which caught Nash off guard. More importantly, Nash allegedly felt that the insult made his character look weak.
It’s possible that The Rock’s unscripted shot was his way of returning some ill treatment from Nash dating back to their WCW days. While neither Johnson nor Nash ever verified this story, Nash has addressed their relationship in other spots. « I’m sure I rubbed him the wrong way, because I’m an abrasive South Detroit f**king c**ks**ker, » he said in an interview with Title Match Wrestling in 2012. « He had already p***ed all over his territory, and I went in there and said, ‘Dude, I’ll knock you the f**k out.' » Nash went on to claim that Johnson tried to manage their matches too much, reportedly asking him, « What one thing do you want right there? »
Nash has more recently said that he respects Johnson, telling the Daily DDT in 2019 (via EWrestlingNews) that he credits The Rock for being the wrestler-turned-actor who « opened the door for all of us » to Hollywood. However, it seems clear that there was some bad blood between the two.
Ahmed Johnson spilled the tea on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
To say that Tony Norris — a.k.a. Ahmed Johnson — can’t stand Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson would not be entirely accurate, but the former wrestler certainly hasn’t been shy about sharing gossip about his colleague. During a lengthy 2013 Perfect Plex Radio interview, Ahmed Johnson was asked about The Rock.
« The Rock is the best in history on the mic, » he began. « You will never find another guy like that … on the mic. » But then Ahmed Johnson claimed that he and The Rock once got into a backstage row: « He made the statement that his mother had an affair with a white guy and got pregnant with him … So, he was denying his black heritage all the way around. » Ahmed Johnson added that he confronted The Rock over the matter, saying, « That led to a fight between me and him in the locker room. A fist fight. »
In another interview with Workin’ Punch Productions in 2016, Ahmed Johnson shed more light on this locker room « scuffle » (or what may have been a different incident). « I didn’t like the fact that he was getting a little too cocky for me, and we had a match coming up — matter of fact that same night. We was going to the match, and I was willing to do his high spots, but he wasn’t willing to do all mine … We got into a little confrontation back there. »
Did Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson get Randy Orton in trouble?
It’s safe to say that Randy Orton isn’t the biggest fan of The Rock. The wrestler made that known when he was asked about an upcoming WrestleMania match between Dwayne Johnson and John Cena during a 2011 ESPN interview. After initially using the question to slam Johnson for stepping away from wrestling and focusing on acting, Orton criticized The Rock’s abilities as a wrestler and entertainer.
« I think Cena will own The Rock, » Orton said. « I think Cena is wittier and can go off the cuff. Cena writes his own stuff, while The Rock has stuff written for him. It just all comes down to who you are in the ring and what kind of performer you are in the ring, and I think Cena is 10 times the performer in the ring that The Rock is. » Ouch.
Recalling this infamous interview on KUPD Radio, Orton revealed that he « got in trouble » for putting that out there. « I heard [WWE CEO] Vince [McMahon] was mad, » he said. « And John Laurinaitis, the Vice President of Talent Relations, pulled me aside and had a little talk with me and told me that Vince was upset and I shouldn’t have said this going into WrestleMania. Basically, Rock called the office and he said, ‘Yeah, you know, Randy Orton did an interview and he buried me.' » According to Orton, he later confronted Johnson and asked, « Is that what we do here? »
The ‘professional jealousy’ between Triple H and The Rock
WWE fans have always kind of felt that Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson and Triple H weren’t friends. There was just an energy between the two that screamed hostility — it was palpable. And well, according to wrestling industry legends Bruce Prichard and Ric Flair, there was definitely some friction there.
While chatting about the two wrestlers on the Wooooo! Nation podcast in 2018, Prichard claimed, « The Rock and [Triple H] didn’t really care for each other. » At this point, Flair interjected with a laugh, « I don’t think they do right now. » In response, Prichard said, « I don’t know now. I’ll tell ya, at the time, there was a professional jealousy. I mean, it was brutal … The audience, man, they felt it because it was real. There was animosity there. There was professional jealousy there. And these two guys didn’t like each other. »
According to Triple H (real name Paul Levesque), however, while the two men battled for their entire careers, it was always professional. « It’s always competitive with Rock and I from the very start of our careers, » he said during a Facebook Live session the previous year (via Wrestling News), adding, « He and I, over the years, we’ve had this interesting rivalry at a time in our lives when we were really trying to establish ourselves and make something. » At the very least, it sounds like it worked out well for both the wrestler-turned-actor and the wrestler-turned-WWE exec.