Remembering Rocky Johnson
I was saddened to learn about the death of Rocky Johnson recently and while he came along mostly before I was a big wrestling fan, I still had memories of him and got to see videos of him from back during the VHS era of companies releasing videotapes to the modern era of looking stuff up on Youtube.
One of the things that got to me though is when remembering him, several media outlets put it out there in front of everybody’s faces that he was the father of The Rock. Yes, we get that. He is Duane Johnson’s father, they made plenty of mentions of that when The Rock was actually wrestling full time instead of being the movie star he sees himself to be nowadays.
But Rocky was more than that. He wrestled in a lot of places for a long time and was a big name in the industry in his own right. One of the things I remember was back in the early 1990s and a magazine republished an old story of a big battle royal from around 1970 and how Rocky won the whole thing (I think it was one of the big Californa battle Royals they would hold) and then after winning a battle royal with all those guys, he challenged for the areas top title (The United States title I think?) and beat the champion too! It was a well-written article and went over not only Rocky’s moments but a lot of the other guys too until Johnson was the winner in the ring, only to go on and challenge for a top belt right after and win.
Another memory is the often shown match where he and Tony Atlas won the WWF Tag Team Titles from the Samoans in the No Disqualification match. The moment when that wood chair was busted over one of the Samoans head was a moment that lived on in history and I remember that match being played on Tapes for years afterward. It was there that they became the first black world champions. The WWF liked to point that out too. Rocky did as well, but for him, it was for good reason.
It is sad that Johnson and Atlas didn’t seem to get along very much behind the scenes though. Recently I was watching an old shoot interview clip of Rocky Johnson explaining away why. In his eyes, Atlas was under influence and not always the best person to be around, but then again Tony Atlas has done interviews before talking about Rocky Johnson and his attitude wasn’t much better and some have said it was because Tony Atlas was trying to replace Johnson as a top black draw in the wrestling world.
It is not pleasant to hear when I hear things like that but no matter where he was Rocky made a big impact and probably made promoters lots of money doing so. There are a lot more matches than the ones I mentioned here. The times he wore a mask in Memphis, the 6 man match he was in the headlined the show where Hulk Hogan won his first WWF Title and touched off Hulkamania, and the speech he gave went he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
There are a bunch of memories of what Rocky did all over the world. So in times like these when the wrestling world is saying goodbye, I want people to know he was most then just “The Rock’s Father” and created many memories of his own.