Julius “Dr. J’ Erving was a pioneer in the NBA. The NBA Hall of Famer and NBA champion mixed both style and substance to game of basketball. The former slam dunk champion also introduced many to the “slam dunk.”
Comparatively in wrestling, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Dusty Rhodes and Stone Cold Steve Austin are considered elite.
Just don’t forget Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on that list. After all, The Rock has won multiple WWE championship belts and acted in tons of movies.
“He was LeBron, he was Julius Erving, he was Jordan,” WWE Hall of Famer, Mark Henry told me. “He transcended the business because he was a transcending guy.”
That’s a mouthful. In the 70s, Dr. J wore Converse sneakers and donned afros like Dr. J. In the 90s, everybody wanted to wear Nike and be like Mike.
While MJ won six championships with the iconic Chicago Bulls along with head coach, Phil Jackson and teammates, Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr and Dennis Rodman, Jordan’s emphasis on brand and branding cannot be overlooked.
LeBron James, now a member of the Angeles Lakers is thrown into the Greatest of All-Time debate. He’s won championships with the two other teams that he played for: the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now in LA, he has the tall task of eventually winning a championship for the purple and gold.
So is LeBron the G.O.A.T.?
“It’s very subjective,” Dr. J, Julius Erving told me on Scoop B Radio. “You say: ‘Michael or LeBron who was better’ or who was the greatest, the GOAT, that is for the fans to argue about.”
Back to wrestling, Mark Henry believes that what makes The Rock a WWE great is his knowledge of those who came before him.
Henry says that The Rock would quiz him on his knowledge of the greats. “He asked me if I had ever watched his grandfather,” recounted Henry.
“If I had ever watched Big John Stud and he named about five or six big guys and I was like, “yeah, I love seeing them”, he said: “no, like did you study the psychology, like why they did things?” and I’m like, “not really”, and he said “you should”, and he was right. That was one of the things that he did for the business that a lot of people didn’t understand.”
“It’s a testament of your education and the history that you know, because Dwayne would do things that only a third generation guy would do and he would force you to be up on the history, so you would know where you’re going.”
The Rock’s knowlege was superb. So were his skills!
Last year on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Ken Shamrock told me that The Rock made him better and was the real deal. “His mic skills, the way he played his character, I got to learn quite a bit in that area from him by working with him,” he said.
“He was a tremendous talent. You see him now in the movies. He was definitely one of those gems. I got to be able to work a program with him for a year or so and that was precious times. You get opportunities like that, you have to learn. You got to be grabbing things from these people. I don’t care how good you become in anything, you always are going to learn. You should always be trying to learn. I was really blessed to have those opportunities. The Rock was definitely one of my highlights to be able to work with him in the ring and learn from him.”
If you’re keeping score at home, Mark Henry and The Rock were part of the late 90s group, The Nation of Domination. The Nation was comprised of the late Owen Hart, Ahmed Johnson, Savio Vega, D’Lo Brown, The Godfather, Farooq and Crush.”
Henry is a student of his craft too. He lists Undertaker, The Rock, Rick Flair, and Hulk Hogan on his Mount Rushmore of favorite wrestlers. He says that while watching wrestler, Andre The Giant as a kid, he became interested in the business. “Andre was the biggest one; as a little kid,” said.
“I just loved Andre and Junk Yard Dog, you know. Watching the cartoons every Saturday morning, playing the video games, I wish I could have all those quarters back that I played on WrestleFest, you know? I was a fan, and it was only fitting that God put me in a place where I could come into this industry.”
Henry says that it’s “unfortunate” that The Rock didn’t stay in wrestling longer, but believes that The Rock saw the bigger picture, hence a transition into film. Now a host on Sirius/XM Radio’s Bust It Open and a regular on HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness, Henry sees a similar transition from the ring to film in his own life. “I’ve elevated in every sport that I’ve ever been to,” he said.
“And I move onto the next and that’s the way I see it in the future.”