How Dwayne Johnson Escaped A Close Call With A Bear

There was a time early in his career when Dwayne Johnson almost came face-to-face with a bear in what could have been a very bad scenario

By Doug Norrie | Published

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Dwayne Johnson has become about as big a movie star as we have right now, continually cranking out blockbuster movies and having an almost unmatched work ethic in the industry. It’s a testament to his talent and energy that he’s about the most sought-after actor in the game right now with huge releases coming down the pike. But there was a time early in his career when he was just known on the wrestling front, having forged a career in the ring for the WWE before becoming the Hollywood star we know today. And during this time there was a point when he came awfully close to possibly performing his most dangerous stunt ever. It was suggested at the time that he get into the ring and wrestle an actual live bear as part of a show. It didn’t end up happening, but this would easily have been the craziest thing Dwayne Johnson ever did in the name of performance. 

All of this went down more than 20 years ago, back in 2000 when he was wrestling in the WWE as The Rock, one of the most marketable superstars that sport has ever seen. During this time, the WWE was publicly trading as a stock and was making a move off of the NASDAQ and onto the New York Stock Exchange. The CEO of the WWE, Vince McMahon, wanted to put on a spectacle for this move, suggesting that they shut down the actual Wall Street, put a wrestling ring in the middle of the road, and put on a few matches for a crowd. 

It was this story that was detailed on the Something to Wrestle podcast (via Give Me Sport) by Bruce Prichard, the current Senior Vice President of the WWE, who was recounting what Vince McMahon had in mind for the show. Apparently, McMahon suggested that Dwayne Johnson wrestle a bear in the middle of Wall Street, as something of a metaphor for the WWE stock doing well. Obviously, bear markets refer to when stocks are on the decline, while a bull market is when they are on the upswing. A literal bear vs. a symbolic bull (Dwayne Johnson) was going to be the main event. But according to Prichard, it didn’t come to pass. 

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Dwayne Johnson never ended up wrestling the bear because there were just too many problems with the scenario. He admitted that they likely would have run afoul of animal rights activists for starters who wouldn’t have looked kindly on dragging a real bear into a wrestling ring as part of the spectacle. And then on a messaging front, it appeared that having a bear hang out on Wall Street would have been too much fodder for the financial press on the day of the stock opening. So they scrapped it and Dwayne Johnson avoided getting mauled in the ring as part of a show. 

For Dwayne Johnson these days, there’s no worry about having to perform some nonsensical wrestling bit to grab a few extra eyeballs. That’s because he’s too busy putting out blockbuster movies. And what could be his biggest yet is set to hit screens this summer. That’s when Black Adam debuts in the DC Extended Universe and Dwayne Johnson goes full-fledged superhero. It is going to be an event and early trailers for the movie have it looking pretty spectacular.