In episode 6 of Young Rock, audiences are taken back to 1982 as ten-year-old Dwayne Johnson is hell-bent on seeing the new Hollywood sensation, E.T., which leads to him spending the day with Andre the Giant. However, this is in the midst of his grandmother Lia’s attempt at combating a rival promoter by putting on a battle royal extravaganza featuring all her top wrestling stars, with the caveat being, the winner wins the title that has been vacant since the passing of Johnson’s grandfather, ‘The High Chief’ Peter Maivia. It’s a wrestling spectacle in many ways, but the larger-than-life ‘80s wrestling superstars and their bodyslams help provide wonderful layers to the story, making it arguably the most engaging and compelling Young Rock episode from start to finish.
Following last week’s tease of announcing his vice-president, this week’s episode kicks off in a press conference where presidential candidate Johnson announces that General Monica Jackson (Rosario Dawson) will be his VP. The comedic touch here comes through Jackson’s lack of dialogue during her moment to address the media, as she plays a stern-no-nonsense General, who reportedly criticized Johnson’s (fictional) remake of Matilda for lacking violence to make it entertaining. It’s a good visual change for the opening, plus a nice introduction for Dawson’s character, but more importantly, it quickly sets up Johnson taking us back to his day with Andre the Giant. The former WWE Champion acknowledges that Jackson often disagrees with him, allowing him to see another perspective, which reminded him of his day with ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’.
Although the episode is not strictly focused on Andre and young “Dewey,” the chemistry between Matthew Willig (Andre) and Adrian Groulx (young Rock) is fantastic, and this is beautifully captured in the scene where the two feed birds. It’s a wonderfully written conversation that allows Willig to finally showcase the human side of Andre, as after Dewey tries to shoo away a big bird, Andre defends the bird, calling it his favourite. It’s a well-placed moment that shows the Giant subtly acknowledging his struggles being the bigger person while opening a young Johnson’s eyes by allowing him to see the situation from a different perspective. The scene is sweet, touching, and perfectly captures the message and story of the entire episode.
Willig’s portrayal of Andre has been spectacular throughout the series, but in this episode, he gets to show all the layers of Andre, including Andre’s control and dominance within the wrestling world. Before Andre leaves to take out “Dewey,” he is in a meeting with Lia, Rocky Johnson, and the other wrestlers to discuss the plan for the battle royal, and before his exit, Lia attempts to stop him. However, Andre is quick to remind her that his routine is always the same in the match, which prompts the promoter to agree with him. It’s a wonderful nod to the wrestling icon’s legacy, which wrestling fans will love seeing, as well as being a cool insight into the creative process of building a wrestling match.
The build-up to the climactic wrestling match allows the episode to tease plenty of potential scenarios to ensure audiences are enticed by more than just the wrestling spectacle. In addition to that, it provides humorous moments, such as Lia calling Macho Man sleeping with his girlfriend “beautiful.” The ending proves to be a lot of fun, particularly for nostalgic wrestling fans, as the match captures the ‘80s vibe. It does this with the brilliant execution of the actual wrestling, as well as the intelligent use of cuts to visuals of the match through old grainy television footage. Plus, the addition of a twist ending to the story, which is intelligently incorporated through the wrestling match, provides a very strong episode with a dramatic conclusion.
All in all, this week’s Young Rock episode ticks all the boxes. It hits home another important life message of looking at things from a different perspective, as well as Johnson’s age-old message of being you. Plus, it offers a boatload of wrestling that proves to be a fantastic storytelling device and also allows this week’s spotlighted character, Willig’s Andre the Giant, to shine and make audiences laugh, smile, and sympathise. “My Day With Andre” is most certainly a winner for Young Rock!
The 8th Wonder of the World & the punk scrub known as lil’ Dewey.
Andre was a hero of mine.
And for some reason he took a liking to me too & always treated me like his own son. Maybe because we both had afros✊🏾🤣
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) March 30, 2021
Young Rock is created by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Nahnatchka Khan, and it airs on Tuesdays on NBC.