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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

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Retrospective: The Rock in The Nation of Domination

By @TrueGodImmortal

As Rocky Maivia turned heel and joined the Nation of Domination, many wondered how he would fit in with the militant black group. Would he work with the overall feel and message of the group? Or would he be held back and get caught in the dynamic and eventually go back to mediocrity? That was a question that would be answered quickly as The Rock would begin to shine with the Nation and he was seemingly a great fit with them. The Rock was obviously at his best as a young heel in place for a big run, but even though he was doing fine, he still took a while to get going. It would be his Intercontinental title feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in late 1997 to early 1998 that would catapult him to the next level.

Rock would employ a new finisher in the Rock Bottom and add a silly move in the People's Elbow to his whole arsenal, making him a more explosive and exciting performer to watch. Unfortunately, Rock wouldn't be very successful in matches against Austin, as Austin mostly had the upper hand, but Rock ended up with the belt eventually and slowly he began using his mic skills to garner more of the spotlight. He was brash, aggressive, confident and funny. Those traits instantly seemed to win fans over in some aspect. The Rock wasn't really a member of the Nation in the same way that Mark Henry or D-Lo Brown was, instead The Rock was using the Nation as a vehicle to help his destination to the top.

As Intercontinental Champion, The Rock was truly the man. He had the momentum, the look, the charisma, and in a big way, he just had the it factor. As 1998 rolled on, The Rock would begin a feud with Ken Shamrock. This feud would be his biggest to date and his most consistent. Rock would have Shamrock chasing the IC Title for months and Ken just couldn't defeat Rock for some reason. The Nation would interfere, matches were overturned, and Shamrock just seemed to struggle to win the IC Title from Rock.

As this feud progressed, Rock became more a star and more comfortable on the mic. He would get a new theme, have a new catchphrase, and his promos, like the one on Wrestlemania 14, felt like a big deal. While not quite main event level, Rock was making an impact and he was obviously destined for more. He and Faarooq began teasing issues as Rock wanted a more dominant role in the Nation. Rock would cut promos and take shots at Faarooq, and you just knew that eventually Rock would get kicked out. We were all wrong. Rock and Faarooq did continue to have issues between them, and when it seemed like Rock would get the boot, Faarooq ended up getting kicked out of the Nation. The Rock was now the leader.

Rock as leader of the Nation was almost tough to book and complete I would assume, as he began getting over with the crowd some, but it still worked out anyways. He would begin feuding with Triple H and DX and the segments between the two were hilarious. Triple H vs The Rock was an epic feud and one that infinitely lasted years with or without a title. It would result in a crazy few months that would eventually see Rock leaving the Nation, but his time there could never be forgotten.



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