Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: The People’s Champion – From WWE to Hollywood by James Romero

January 21, 2021


This is well-written and extensively detailed, though it’s unclear if it’s the right fit for its target audience.

The most notable element is the sheer length and depth of the book. At nearly 400 pages, it covers virtually every significant aspect of Johnson’s in-ring career and plenty more detail that a writer could have been forgiven for overlooking.

As with Romero’s first book, Owen Hart: King of Pranks, it reads smoothly enough. There’s the occasional detour into opinion, but it’s rare enough to not be distracting or descend into a rant.

Readers should be clear about what they are getting here, however. While clearly extensively researched, the book is effectively a compilation of stories and recollections from other published sources including books and interviews. While these are listed at the back of the book (running to several hundred sources), they aren’t acknowledged in the body of the text. This would likely have been unwieldy, but it’s certainly confusing to see what appears to be a direct spoken quote from Johnson and realise it’s actually an extract from his WWE autobiography.

The book does a particularly good job of detailing the development of Rock’s in-ring persona, including notes of the first time his many catchphrases and characteristics appeared on screen. It’s also striking to be reminded of how quickly WWE’s popularity skyrocketed and slumped during his career. There’s also a nice touch with artwork in the form of a small portrait at the start of each chapter depicting Johnson’s appearance during the timescale it covers.

The main drawback with the way the book is produced is that it isn’t shaped into any real narrative. It’s perhaps unavoidable, but the fact that Johnson’s wrestling career largely tailed off and splutter out, save for his return for the (spaced out) Cena program means the story itself doesn’t have a particularly satisfying arc or conclusion.

The main question is who the book is for. It’s extremely detailed and wrestling-heavy for those who know Johnson primarily from his acting career, but a wrestling fan with the inclination to read 400 pages on his career is likely going to already be familiar with many of the incidents (and indeed the original sources) covered here.

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