Think of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and you’ll likely conjure up images of a man with muscles larger than any you’ve seen before, teeth that are brighter than the sun, and a perfectly polished bald head. But the 49-year-old hasn’t always looked like that.
True fans of the Hollywood megastar will know him from his wrestling years. He joined WWF – The World Wrestling Federation – in 1996, during which time he perfected his smouldering look and charismatic attitude. He continued wrestling and making occasional appearances all the way up until 2019.
And, it was actually on this day (in the USA at time of writing) 17 November 1996 that he made his WWF (later known as WWE) debut, and it’s safe to say, he looked different. The Rock entered the ring for the first time in 1996 as Rocky Maiva. He took the name from a combination of his father and grandfather’s wrestling names – The Rock was born into the Samoan Anoa’i family, a whole family of professional wrestlers – and actually had very little wrestling experience when he started.
However, due to his lineage, the producers behind WWF were keen to promote him, and he won his first match at Survivor Series on 17 November. The following year, in 1997, he began referring to himself as The Rock, in third-person.
As the ESPN Instagram account (see photo above) shows, The Rock hasn’t always been chiselled abs and arms larger than your head. While he was certainly not a skinny guy, the image in question shows his muscles haven’t always been so defined. He used to have hair, too, with his debut look being a perm, of all things.
We could also talk about his wrestling attire, but the less said about that, the better. He was new to the scene and had yet to develop a concrete character. Once he dropped the Rocky Maiva name and came to be known as The Rock, he changed his appearance in the process, donning a pair of black budgie smugglers, cutting his hair and he started to become noticeably more ripped.
It’s not just us that are a little taken aback by the unearthed image, as several comments on the ESPN post show others are just as shocked:
“All that damn hair”
“Back when he was semi-athletic (aerial style, not grounded)..”
“This look like somebody dressed up as the rock for Halloween”
And, referencing the fact fellow Hollywood actor Kevin Hart previously dressed up as an iconic image of The Rock wearing a black turtleneck sweater, jeans and a gold chain, another user added:
Since hitting Hollywood stardom, The Rock has become a man of serious style and paving the way for big and tall guys to take an interest in fashion style too. It’s no wonder he’s become one of the most likeable people in the world.
Watch The Rock putting in the hard yards at the gym in the video below.