Tag Archive: the rock

My annual wrestling post takes on a new form this year; there’s actually a decent movie in theaters right now.

‘Fighting with My Family’ dramatizes the real life story of WWE wrestler Paige (whose been forced to retire at 26 since the production of the film). Born into a family of indie wrestlers, real name Saraya is the baby of a family that falls deeply into the stereotype of wrestlers and their fans as a group of gypsies. Lena Headey from ‘Game of Thrones’ plays her mother, it’s fun to see her play a character that’s probably closer to her real life personality than the Queen we all love to hate right now.

The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment is the force that brought this project to the big screen. The product of a wrestling family himself, it’s easy to understand why the Rock was drawn to this. He plays himself in the most literal way here: both as Dwayne Johnson, the amiable big guy everyone loves, and the outsized personality the Rock (and his explanation for finding the way into your wrestling character is one I’ve always loved and found accurate).

Genuinely enjoyable small flick. The film’s story doesn’t connect with WWE storylines until the last ten minutes, so you legitimately do not have to be a wrestling fan at all to enjoy this.





Things have been so understandably serious lately, feels like it’s been a good year since a song choice went into ‘out of left field’…

So today is that day.  I’m in that small community who could have told you twenty years ago this guy is a passable singer, now the world knows.  Hear this is a good family movie as well…




Identify what it is you want, and go after it without hurting anybody else. And I’m talking about life as well as the film business.’ – Larry Turman, ‘So You Want to Be a Producer’

I’ve been around too long to believe it will always be like this, but to climb the next rung, to achieve the most immediate goal, I believe I’ve put myself in a position where I just have to outwork any and all obstacles.  That of course isn’t an easy feat, but it does create a new confidence, it reveals a different tone.  It always matters, but when I don’t have to burn any energy defending my identity or playing politics; when everyone who matters is either encouraging or understanding; when all that’s left is me proving I’m more than deserving of what I seek, well, let’s do this.

The ‘hard’ part right now is saying ‘no’, or really, ‘not yet’ to hanging out as much as I like.  The ball games and the concerts and Vegas, I will get it all back.  But not yet.  This moment is about my discipline. Not winning a battle, but winning the War.  I feel I’m very, very close to…something.  That’s part of what’s driving me.  And it seems to be working, I already finished one project a week ahead of schedule, trading fun for work has the project I’m working on now being done way ahead of deadline as well.  ‘Appreciation’ is the best word I can come up with for the feeling of being on ‘third base’.  I wasn’t born here, and the sacrifices I make to try to get ahead, well. I’m not looking for sympathy.  Most people have some degree of ambition; out of that group, some of those give things a go; and out of that group, most quit.  A few of us won’t take no for an answer and keep hustling until they get what they want.  So maybe we can call this my ‘killer instinct’ phase? The sports fans among you will appreciate the analogy.

Even among friends, I’ve heard reference to me in this mode as ‘angry Malik.’  I laugh.  I’m not angry at all.  I’m still a complete goofball, I’m still not sweating the small stuff.  I still just take everything one moment at a time.

In these moments, I’m just hyper focused.  Not angry.  Serious, but not angry.

Let’s do this.


Actor. Writer. Director. Producer.

End of Production Day. Shot in Culver City, CA by Nathan Richardson.

(Also, let me shout out the Rock and Roots of Fight, because, a black and gold Muhammad Ali training shirt had to be the most predictable swagger jack/impulse purchase of my life.)

(Coming Soon…)

The Return of the Rock

Time for my annual pre-WrestleMania post…

The main event for this year’s event is current poster boy John Cena vs. the last generation’s poster boy The Rock.  So who will win?  The answer is obvious if you know how pro wrestling works…

The last true ‘Icon vs. Icon’ match also involved the Rock, when he went one on one with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XVIII in Toronto.  The Hulkster walked in as the heel (bad guy), but the crowd instantly turned him face (good guy) for the sheer nostalgia of seeing the guy we all grew up with back at ‘The Showcase of the Immortals’ for the first time in years.  The Rock won that night, but the memory of the match is seeing one of the Icons of the Business deliver a show on the big stage one last time.  That match, in my opinion, should be the blueprint for Rock-Cena.

But should the outcome be different?  WrestleMania this year is in Rock’s ‘hometown’ of Miami; this time around the roles are reversed and he’s a bigger mainstream star than his opponent.  And (as Cena has repeatedly pointed out in his promos), Rock is way more celebrity/movie star at this point than wrestler.  He’s been that way for years.  And when was the last time a celebrity guest lost or was made out to be the fool at WrestleMania?  Think Snooki, Floyd Mayweather…it just doesn’t happen.

But this time it will.

And generational bias aside, this is why it irks me to no end when people hate on the Rock as a wrestler.

Rock grew up in the Business.  He understood, like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels, that ring psychology thrives when you make your opponent look like a superstar.

I ask you, who sold a Stone Cold Stunner better than the Rock?

I ask you again, when Brock Lesnar was pushed to the moon, who (unlike some of his peers) put company first and dropped the belt to make the new guy legitimate?

So as much as I’ll be rooting for the Rock Sunday night, the smart fan in me knows he’s going to do what’s best for business and, in all likelihood, lose clean to John Cena.

But not without being The Most Electrifying Man in Entertainment along the way…

If all goes well, I’ll have a KU post going into Monday night…


I’m good for one wrestling column a year, and Wrestlemania is this weekend, so…

The draw this year for Wrestlemania is the return of ‘the People’s Champ’, the Rock, as the host of Wrestlemania (don’t ask what that means exactly, nobody really knows.)

Anyway, immediately upon returning, the Rock referenced having a showdown with John Cena, the current face of World Wrestling Entertainment.  The heat between them comes out of some comments Cena made in an interview saying the Rock doesn’t love the wrestling business since once he started making Hollywood movies, he never looked back.

In a series of skits since then, the Rock, one of wrestling’s great talkers (and with the possible exception of Nature Boy Ric Flair, wrestling’s greatest/funniest trash talker) has defended himself (saying he’s made it easier for Cena and other wrestlers to get into movies and other mainstream venues) while at the same time ripping apart every weakness of the John Cena character (his main fans are women and children, he’s hard working but not really a great ‘worker’, the character as a whole has gotten stale).

Now I’ll say that over time I’ve come to respect John Cena.  He’s the face of the WWE in a down time for wrestling as popular entertainment.  He’s the face of a company that is caught between wanting to be seen as ‘family entertainment’, but has its roots in the lower classes and bloodsport.  But what happens when your main attraction is getting booed by your core audience (boys and young men)?

A few suggestions…

1) John Cena, Go Away

Not meant in a mean spirited way.  Here are a few of the guys who are either gone completely or missed most of the past 12 months: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, the Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Batista.  Five well established main eventer and former World Champions.  To his credit, John Cena has been the mainstay in a transition year for the company.  There were hints of it during a ‘Cena’s fired’ angle earlier in the year, but nobody would benefit more from just being gone from TV for a few months than John Cena.  It’s just human nature, people just get bored and tired of seeing the same thing after awhile.  Speaking of which…

2) Character Development

Cena’s best promo in this battle with the Rock was when he became ‘the Doctor of Thuganomics’ again.  Even though Cena rapping always makes me laugh in a condescending way, it did remind me he wasn’t always the ‘goofy Superman’ he is now.  I’m not saying a ‘Hollywood Hogan’ heel turn is needed.  Much as the Miz has also earned my respect as someone ‘running with the ball’, I don’t think he’s ready to be the new face of WWE (yet).  Regardless, it’s way past time to adapt the John Cena character in some way.  I caught the ’50 Greatest Superstars in Wrestling’ DVD over the weekend, and damn near everyone on that list kept evolving their character until (and sometimes after) they stopped being active in the ring on a regular basis.  Hell, when people turned on the Rock when he started making movies, what did he do?  He came out in a bigger pair of sunglasses, and a golden belt buckle and become a heel you couldn’t help but laugh with and cheer for at times.  By comparison, here’s what the other three main guys on Cena’s show in the past show:

The Miz: annoying snot midcarder to ‘the guy in the gym who’s good but really believes he’s the best’

CM Punk: self righteous ‘better than you’ leader to straight out cult-type leader

Randy Orton: heartless, sadistic heel to ‘Stone Cold’ light badass antihero

Speaking of Orton…

3) Find Your Kryptonite

It’s a fair analogy in today’s WWE to say John Cena is Superman and Randy Orton is Batman.  And like in the movie world, Batman is making great movies and Superman is still not connecting to this generation.  In large part, because Superman is seen as ‘too god-like’.  Likewise, Cena needs something, anything, that can be established as a known weakness to his character.  And no, being outnumbered doesn’t count.

For example, everyone knew Shawn Michaels had a bad back.  For the second half of his career, any time an opponent went for the back, there was an instant story.  Stone Cold Steve Austin wore two knee braces and a busted neck.  (I won’t make the millionth joke about Cena’s ability to sell injuries.)  We’ll see where it goes, but Cody Rhodes spent a year building a character that was overly vain.  When he suffered a ‘facial injury’, that meant something.  What’s the one thing that can be expressed within the confines of a wrestling match that brings John Cena to his knees?  The character desperately needs that.

Man, I wrote way more than I planned on this one.  Answers may come this Sunday at Wrestlemania.  We shall see.


It’s the public image of Bruce Wayne.  It’s the Napoleonic Complex of Ari Gold.  She calls it my ‘smartassness’, but one of my close buddies gave it the best nickname of all: ‘Hollywood’.

The ‘Hollywood’ persona gets its roots in the pro wrestlers I looked at as a kid.  Guys like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and the Rock (more on him in a second).  Like in the movies, there’s a few guys who are just over the top, comically ‘bad guys’ (like the drug dealer on Roc who bragged about selling drugs to kids), but the really interesting bad guys are the ones who don’t believe what they’re doing is bad as much as they just believe they’re approaching the world from a different point of view as everybody else.  They may be ‘unpopular’ but they don’t believe they’re ‘bad guys’. 

(Before I get too far off topic, I promised to give a shoutout to my boy John C. who writes about all things wrestling at www.thejohnreport.net.  As my interest in the wrestling business goes in and out, I can always stop by John’s site just to see what’s going on week to week and to reminisce about the ‘glory days’ of my youth.  Speaking of which, he has a nice piece up now on the newly retired Shawn Michaels.)

‘Hollywood’ as my friends know it (especially the Joker) is the kid who wears sunglasses inside the club, the kid who has season tickets to the USC games, the guy who delights in riling up the ‘red staters’ with his liberal attitude, and asks for a double mocha latte when I go to a friend’s house and he asks if I want a glass of water.  ‘Hollywood’ is me being a jackass because sometimes it’s just more fun to be a jackass. 

The best ever ‘real world’ example of this goes back into the wrestling world.  A little backstory first:  the Rock was the most over good guy in wrestling for most of the 90s.  So over he started getting parts in Hollywood movies.  You all know this, but along the way the wrestling crowd started to ‘turn’ on him.  He was still playing to the fans, but the fans started giving him ‘You Sold Out’ chants, and booing all the signature moves of ‘The People’s Champion’.  The booing became so loud and abrasive, The Rock, in mid-match, would start acting like a ‘bad guy’ since that’s evidently what the people wanted him to be.

So the next PPV comes around.  The lights go out.  Everyone looks to the Titantron to see a video they haven’t seen before: a helicopter flies over the City of Angels at night.  30 seconds of build up…60 seconds of build up…IS COOKIN!   


Half the crowd is booing their lungs out, half the crowd (like me) is cheering out of respect.  If the People want to boo him?  Fine.  The man who was once ‘The People’s Champion’ ain’t doing it for the People anymore, he’s doing it for himself.  He’s ‘Hollywood’ now, deal with it.

Yeah.  ‘Hollywood’.