A free daily digest of the biggest news stories of the day - and the best features from our website
Thank you for signing up to TheWeek. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
Is there anything The Rock won't fight? From his turn as Luke Hobbs in The Fast and Furious series to his voice acting in the Disney princess movie Moana, you can bet that Dwayne Johnson will find something to conquer wherever he goes, be it with a hilariously massive gun, or, you know, his guns.
Although he's made his share of bad movies — and, let's face it, some extremely terrible ones — The Rock always seems to be the guy on set having the most fun, no matter how ridiculous his punching bag du jour might be. That's part of what makes him so watchable.
In honor of his return to Ballers this weekend on HBO, here are Johnson's 17 greatest foes of all time, ranked:
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
17. The Rock vs. John Cena
WrestleMania 28 (2012)
The Rock made his big return to Wrestlemania in 2011, where, as the host, he taunted John Cena and performed a nasty procedure called a "rock bottom" on him as part of an ongoing feud. The pair announced afterwards that their rivalry would come to a head at Wrestlemania 28, an event described as being "once in a lifetime" (a little misleading, because they would also face each other again at Wrestlemania 29). The Rock was the underdog going into Wrestlemania 28, although he ended up beating Cena with that thing called a "rock bottom" again. This ranks last on the list of The Rock's victories not because the match was underwhelming, but because even John Cena is only a man.
16. The Rock vs. death itself
For a brief period in 2011, there were a number of viral hoaxes claiming that The Rock was killed doing a stunt for Furious 7 (depending on your level of gullibility, it was either by falling off a cliff or crashing a car). The joke's on anyone who thinks a silly thing like the Grim Reaper can actually stop The Rock.
15. The Rock vs. a guy with a kitchen knife
Central Intelligence (2016)
Defeating knife-wielding foes is just a typical day at the office for The Rock, but what makes this battle (which starts at around 2:00 in the above clip) so impressive is that he is armed with only a banana. Johnson shuts down his enemy with a gut punch and banana-to-the-mouth when another weapon is not immediately available. Perhaps the best part of the whole sequence is the cut to a cowering Kevin Hart, who shouts, "He's got a banana!" It's played for laughs, but when you know how The Rock uses produce, you'd be quaking too.
14. The Rock vs. the memory of a young, hot David Hasselhoff
It takes some confidence to step into the role of Mitch Buchannon, famously played by a steamy, bronzed, youthful David Hasselhoff. The Rock, though, is not a man who is easily intimidated. The "bigger and browner" Batman (as The Rock describes himself in this movie) might not appear to be very hydrodynamic when he's patrolling the beach, but looks can be deceiving — and there is really not much else to be doing during this movie other than, well, gawking. There is little doubt that The Rock can hold his own in comparisons to Hasselhoff's Mitch. Ahh, the wonders of Spandex.
13. The Rock vs. a gigantic lizard
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
Allow me to introduce you to THUNDER COOKIE!
12. The Rock vs. a train
Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
Extended Nationwide commercial Race to Witch Mountain features The Rock in a hairpiece as an unsuspecting taxi driver who gets stuck with two teenage aliens in the back of his cab. This children's movie has a strong '90s vibe, despite it coming out in 2009, but it does include a very fun game of chicken with a train that The Rock wins thanks in part to one blonde alien's help boosting the cab to over 100 miles per hour. The train explodes and flips all over the place, but The Rock and his friends make it out unscathed.
11. The Rock vs. shirts as a concept
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Who needs 'em? Not The Rock.
10. The Rock vs. the entire Thracian army
Johnson was "cast" as "Hercules" in this "fictional" movie, but he could just as well be playing himself. The Rock defeats an entire Thracian army at the end of the film by tipping over a statue of Hera, which is extremely believable.
9. The Rock vs. Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics
Several people have convincingly made the case that Moana is The Rock's best movie. It's certainly his most charming. As the voice of the unreliable demigod Maui, The Rock also gets his own number in the film, composed by none other than Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda. Even the jaunty little patter section doesn't get the best of The Rock.
8. The Rock vs. Firefly
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
With killer satellites taking a really long time to boot up to destroy the world, The Rock has to catch a guy named "Firefly" in order to deactivate the launch device and save everyone. He does, but not before firing a zillion inaccurate rounds and chasing Firefly across the water in a hovercraft. Sadly, even The Rock could not save London, which is wantonly destroyed by the evil mercenary Zartan (with a name like that, you know he's evil) in a show of force.
7. The Rock vs. Reaper
While it's hard to pick which insane Doom battle to include here, the final showdown between The Rock and Reaper comes out ahead of the rest because it shows The Rock doing two things he doesn't normally do: playing the villain and losing. The Rock is tossed through a portal to Mars along with a grenade, but not before a gruesome battle with a 24-chromosome-equipped Karl Urban. The pair evidently won a Fangoria Chainsaw award for "bloodiest battle" for this movie, and it's not hard to see why.
6. The Rock vs. an entire offensive line
The Rundown (2003)
The Rock plays a bounty hunter in this Brazil-set action film, although the most entertaining battle happens in a stateside club at the very beginning when Johnson's character is sent to collect a gambling debt from an unforthcoming football player. "We've got a problem," The Rock tells his boss after scoping out the situation. "The entire offensive line is here." But he isn't worried about himself: "They've got a legitimate shot at repeating this year, I do not want to hurt them." Alas, it isn't avoided.
5. The Rock vs. machismo
The Tooth Fairy (2010)
"The Rock" is basically synonymous with "a buff, tough guy who beats up everyone, with or without a banana," but he wasn't ashamed to dress up as a fairy to star in this feel-good family comedy. In addition to proving the man can laugh at himself — one of his best qualities, as his fans know — it shows that he isn't afraid to tackle toxic masculinity in his spare time. Now that's sexy.
4. The Rock vs. a building
The Rock came. He saw a skyscraper. And he conquered. Never mind the specifics of the plot — that's not why anyone's watching anyway — the point is, The Rock basically gets in a fight with a building while using a prosthetic leg. He also fights terrorists while he's at it, as if a blazing 225-story tower is not enough. (Did I not mention the skyscraper is on fire? The skyscraper is on fire.) The Rock also defeats another common nemesis in this movie: a fear of heights.
3. The Rock vs. a torpedo
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
It's hard to pick which Fast and Furious moment to use to highlight The Rock's skills in movable battle, but then again, it really isn't. While the team is trying to destroy a submarine, The Rock takes it upon himself to go one-on-one against an already-fired torpedo. After some fans called into question if The Rock could really redirect an immensely heavy projectile with a single bare hand, the actor gave a "non-biased" answer in the affirmative. Let this be a lesson to us all: Never doubt The Rock.
2. The Rock vs. business casual
Ahead of the 2015 premiere of Ballers, WME agent Brad Slater gently warned Fortune, "You won't see [Johnson] with his shirt off in every scene, if at all, like you would in Hercules or G.I. Joe." While this news is enough to turn anybody off the show, I am pleased to inform you that The Rock is killing the fully-clothed "business casual" look. Murdering it. Burying its dead body and dancing on its grave. Have you seen those custom-fitted suits? As co-star Rob Corddry gushed to The New York Times: "He's enormous and beautiful, and his clothes fit him so perfectly." It's extremely satisfying to look at, and I recommend you get an HBO subscription immediately to do so.
1. The Rock vs. an earthquake
San Andreas (2015)
"Oh, ho!" you might be saying. "The Rock cannot possibly fight an earthquake. An earthquake is not a thing you can fight." Well neither are giant lizards, mutants, or buildings, but The Rock has them all under his belt. If you've seen the unintentionally hilarious disaster film San Andreas, you are probably in agreement: The man drives a speedboat up a tsunami the height of the San Francisco bridge, for goodness' sake. The winner is clear — The Rock: 1. Mother Nature: 0.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.
Sign up to our 10 Things You Need to Know Today newsletter
A free daily digest of the biggest news stories of the day - and the best features from our website
Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.
The daily gossip: Prime Video is getting ads unless you pay more, Lizzo accepts humanitarian award after being sued again, and more
The daily gossip: September 22, 2023
By Brendan Morrow Published
The week's best photojournalism
In Pictures A woman picking cotton, a dog dressed up as a lion and more
By Anahi Valenzuela Published
By The Week Staff Published