For the most part, I think many knew that the animosity between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena before Wrestlemania 28 and 29 had a tinge of reality attached to it. It can’t be much of a surprise to fans, but there was never any real concrete proof, as with most things in the wrestling world.
M&F: So that was real. You’re telling me that’s real?
DJ: Yes, it was very real. When I came back, I needed something real to sink my teeth into, as a performer.
M&F: And why was that?
DJ: John had said some things in an interview that I took exception [in essence, that the Rock cared only about being an actor not about wrestling or WWE fans]. He felt they were okay, I felt that they weren’t okay. I also laughed it off years ago but it wasn’t until I came back and realized that the marquee match-up was going to be between he and I that I would take that edge that we had—and let’s use it. So, we don’t have to hang out, we don’t have to be best friends, we won’t be friends at all.
M&F: Well it worked, because I remember watching it and being like, ‘I think these guys really hate each other.’ I just couldn’t separate it and it was really hard to figure out, and it was awesome to watch for that reason.
DJ: It got really uncomfortable for a lot of people. And it gets uncomfortable for the fans–that they sense something. But then when it gets uncomfortable for the wrestlers and to the executives and the company, then it’s something special.
M&F: Did it get there?
DJ: Right away. And it continued to build. And what happens in wrestling is anybody who is in a feud and anybody who is in a match, everybody knows what everybody is going say. In this case, we approached it differently.
I’d say ‘John, here’s what I’m going to say tonight: Go f*ck yourself.’ He’d say, ‘Well, here’s going to be my response: F*ck you too.’ I mean, it was like that. And it was palpable for the fans, and it was palpable backstage. And I would never be like that under any other circumstance. I’m collaborative with everyone I work with. And I take a lot of pride in that, and you know something? So is John. He’s a great guy. He’s one of the best guys out there, but here’s what we realized: If we wanted to build the two biggest matchups back-to-back and create something special in Miami and in New York, we’re going to do it this way. And we might fail miserably at it. People might think it’s not real or you run into the challenge of the potential for people to go, ‘It’s so real that it’s not real.’ But in this case it worked out very well and through all that edge and attitude and bite that we had and nearly coming to blows backstage and one night in the ring—literally we were nose-to-nose, it was any second. And through that in a crazy, weird completely unexplained way, we became great buds.
Now sure, this could all be some sort of work for The Rock to return and defend his new buddy against Brock Lesnar. He even goes right into wanting to get back into the ring immediately in the interview. But it’s also a question I’m sure he gets all the time. So who knows.
I would go more towards it being true. There seems to be that kind of mentality towards the wrestlers that manage to “turn their back” on the business. I can’t speak from my experience obviously, but you read the reports on people like CM Punk and Batsita and it kinda shows a split in opinion. Common sense would point to that in any job that you feel you’re working hard to maintain. Why does someone else deserve the praise.
The entire interview is worth a look and Johnson talks about his toughest opponents (not John Cena), his role as Hercules, and the prospects of his involvement in an Expendables movie.