The WWE Network is finally building an intriguing collection of series, and one of the standout titles has been their Ruthless Aggression documentary series. Although it was not the best of the Network's new shows, it was one of the more well-promoted ones due to it documenting some of WWE's biggest names. So naturally, when season 2 was announced, and the debut episode was going to explore Rock's lauded Hollywood Rock days, fans were very intrigued by this. Rock's popular heel run has been discussed many times before, but it's never had an entire documentary dedicated to it. Also, the episode dropped fresh off the company celebrating Dwayne Johnson's Survivor Series debut 25 years ago. So it felt apropos Ruthless Aggression season 2 kicked off by exploring the Hollywood version of The Rock.
Hollywood Rock is a very well-put-together story, as it effectively plants the seeds for what led to Rock's eventual heel run in 2003, especially for new fans that were less familiar with the early 2000s. The episode starts by highlighting and reminding fans how big The Rock became when he ascended to the top of WWE in the early 2000s, as well as his unmatched ability to crossover like few had ever done. From there, it looks at two memorable moments that saw the ‘People's Champion' get booed as fans became increasingly irritated by his shorter stints in the ring, first at WrestleMania 18 and then SummerSlam 2002 against a young Brock Lesnar. However, it also highlighted a forgotten moment on RAW's 10th Anniversary, where he was booed in New York City for doing a promo via satellite. These opening scenes in the documentary lay a great foundation for why Rock made such a change after being the resounding fan favourite for so long. They're also enhanced, most notably by former RAW head writer and Rock's Seven Bucks Productions SVP of television, Brian Gewirtz, who is able to provide insight into The Rock's mindset at that time.
In these types of documentaries, there's often a standout interviewee, and Gewirtz, as he was for many episodes of season 1, is that standout. Gewirtz's close relationship with ‘The Great One' then and now makes him the perfect voice to guide this episode, especially as a lot of Rock's interviews in the episode are rehashes from past DVDs. The former RAW writer is a gem as his insight, such as when he highlights Rock's incredible nuances like his eyes wide reaction to Hurricane supposedly flying away during their entertaining backstage segments, turns this documentary into something more than just a nostalgic story built around nostalgia. He allows you to see what made the Hollywood Rock run so entertaining, as well as reminding you of the special person the former WWE Champion is.
A key component to any film, story, angle, etc. is allowing the audience to emotionally invest. There is a ton of entertainment in this episode, thanks to fans being able to revisit countless classic segments during his heel run e.g. The Rock concert, but again, what takes this episode up a notch is the reminder of The Rock's heart and passion for his fans. The heart-warming clips, where he interacts with young fans after RAW has gone off the air during this run, endear you to the man once again. It also highlights and shows you how the fans in 2003, once again, realized how special he was and why they could no longer continue to boo him.
Hollywood Rock does, unfortunately, have a fair share of problems, most noticeably its lack of new or engaging interviews, a problem Ruthless Aggression season 1 had too. The Rock's sound bites come from interviews that are around ten years old, so it does feel dated. Other interviews like Johnny Gargano's, add little to the episode beyond Gargano showcasing his fandom. This means there are plenty of moments where the kick-off to Ruthless Aggression season 2 can feel like a half-hearted effort from WWE.
For long-time fans, the debut episode of season 2 will likely provide very little new information, as there's hardly anything that's never been mentioned in other documentaries or interviews. Therefore, it can feel more nostalgic than insightful and refreshing because The Rock's career has been covered in detail countless times, and considering his WWE career wasn't very long, it's difficult to find too many new angles to explore.
Hollywood Rock was undoubtedly a nice end to a week designed to celebrate The Rock's 25th anniversary with WWE. Although the first episode of Ruthless Aggression season 2 will likely not fall in the memorable category, it's still a fun trip down memory lane, and it does offer enough interesting details into that unique time period for both The Rock and WWE.
Hollywood Rock is now available to stream on the WWE Network.
All images and videos are courtesy of WWE