WWE Legend Pat Patterson Recalls How He Helped Discover Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Pat Patterson and The Rock
In an exclusive excerpt from his autobiography, WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson reveals how he helped Dwayne Johnson get his foot in the door of WWE in the 1990s. WWE

The Rock and I have a special relationship—I have been friends with his family for so long, and I've known him forever. I will always remember when he first got in touch with me about wrestling and said, "It's Dwayne Johnson."


"Rocky Johnson's son."

"Holy shit." I had not seen him in over ten years.

"I would like to meet with you. I'm in Tampa."

I had no idea Rocky Johnson lived in Tampa, or that Dwayne's parents didn't want him in the business. He had an in at the FBI but wanted to try wrestling first. When I saw him in action, I called Vince [McMahon, WWE chairman] and told him he wanted to see this kid, not tomorrow but yesterday. They brought him to the office and he had a meeting with Vince and he was hired. His career was out of my hands from that point forward. I didn't exactly give him a job, but part of what I did was let the office know who I thought we should look at. And in Dwayne, I really saw something special.

Pat Patterson - Accepted
Pat Patterson's "Accepted" is released in August. WWE/ECW Press

When Rock was on his way out, leaving the business for Hollywood, he headlined a house show in Hawaii, the island that was his home for many years. He picked Chris Jericho as his opponent and they had a great match in a sold-out venue. After the show, we could not find The Rock anywhere. We finally discovered him under the bleachers, crying tears of joy. I am telling you: it was real emotion. We couldn't find him before the show, either. I finally discovered him outside, speaking to a guy dressed like a bum. It turned out that man was the actor Bruce Willis. We went to a party with him later that night—amazing things like that happened to me all the time.

One thing I want to say about The Rock: he flew me in for the premiere of one of his movies and I walked the red carpet with him. I can't even describe how special that was, or what it meant to me that he wanted me to hang with him while he was doing interviews. In the theater, I was sitting on one side of his mother, Ata. Then he came in and he sat on the other side of her and the movie started. After there was a wonderful party with food and booze. I barely saw him there—he had all of these movie people around him, talking about his new life in Hollywood. I gave him one final piece of advice that night: "Make sure you enjoy it."

With some guys, like The Rock, you only had to explain the essence of the business once, and they get it instinctively, and go on to enhance your vision. But on the other hand, there are guys you can explain it to a million times and you're never really going to get what you need. But it's your job as a producer to make sure the company's vision comes across anyway.

There are very good wrestlers who are never going to be the performer that Vince sees as the guy. The reality is: you have to convince the director of the movie that you're right for the part. Some guys are just not good enough for WWE. It's hard to meet with so many aspiring Superstars without letting down a few people along the way. I always liked to help the new guys. But I'm never personally on a mission, because if Vince doesn't hire them, there's not much I can do.

Over the years, I've just ignored all casting-couch innuendo made toward me and my work at WWE. I was smarter than that. It still hurts, but there was really no way for me to defend myself. I became the disappointed wannabe wrestler's ultimate excuse for why they weren't offered a contract. And that's just silly. People who were unhappy used the fact that I am gay to get back at WWE. To all the people who have ever said they weren't hired because they were not gay, I can only say, "Guys, I'm sorry. You were just not good enough."

Excerpted from Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE by Pat Patterson. © 2015 by WWE. All rights reserved. Published by ECW Press Ltd.