The season premiere of NBC’s Young Rock sees Dwayne shutting up his bullies in his university gym in the perfect way.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the series premiere of Young Rock, “Working the Gimmick,” which aired Tuesday on NBC.
NBC’s Young Rock covers many hilarious, career-defining moments in the life of Dwayne Johnson. The first episode shows his 10-year-old self in the early ’80s, Dewey (Adrian Groulx), running afoul of Andre the Giant, as well as his high-school iteration (Bradley Constant) trying to shoplift and look cool for the ladies.
However, there’s one intriguing moment where Dwyane undercuts the humor with a solid, intimidating lesson on how to deal with bullies — and he does so in the perfect way.
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This chapter of the premiere focuses on Dwayne (Uli Latukefu) during his first day at the University of Miami. At first, he’s hyped by football coaches and scouts, but when finally he gets there, his teammates revere him more than he expected. It turns out this all due to his dad, Rocky Johnson, popping in earlier and lying to them that the father-son duo will be on the cover of Wheaties.
Pops is working the gimmick, something he taught Dwayne to live and breathe every day for the last 20 years. But all the boy wanted was his dad to show up and give him some love. Still, Dwayne can’t sell his dad out and has to keep up the lie, admitting the cereal box won’t come out in America. When one of the guys claims he can get it because he has family in Singapore, Dwayne gets his geography mixed up and they realize he’s lying. With everything on the table, all his fellow players start making fun of him, but an embarrassed Dwayne has the perfect retort. He walks past them, giving his iconic Rock smolder in the process, and proceeds to the bench press. The record at the school at 225 pounds is 35 reps, so Dwayne pushes 36, sending the entire locker room into a frenzy.
At this point, the bullies back down and give him the respect he commands. It seems like an ideal situation given that Dwyane would go on out to become a muscular titan and one of the most amazing physical specimens ever, but as he tells Randall Park in the future, it’s not just about the look, it’s about feeling confident.
Park asks if that moment at school was when decided to be real, but Dwayne makes it clear he just had to find a way to make the gimmick work his way. That’s why he wants to use truth, backing up everything he ever said and delivering all his promises he made in and out of the ring, to run for president in 2032.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Joseph Lee Anderson, Stacey Leilua, Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant, Uli Latukefu, Ana Tuisila, Fasitua Amosa and John Tui, Young Rock airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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