Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson returns to WWE for first time since 2019, hits wrestler with People’s Elbow

Finally, The Rock has returned to Denver.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stepped into a WWE ring Friday night for the first time since 2019 and gave everyone a show.

Johnson was in Boulder, Colorado, earlier in the day on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

With WWE’s “SmackDown!” in nearby Denver, the rumor mill was churning.


The Rock in the XFL's opening week

XFL owners Gerry Cardinale, Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia react before a game between the San Antonio Brahmas and the St. Louis Battlehawks at the Alamodome Feb. 19, 2023, in San Antonio.  (Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

McAfee appeared in the ring with Austin Theory doing a promo in which the former punter said it’s “the people’s show.”

“Do you know what that means?” McAfee asked.

One of The Rock’s nicknames was The People’s Champ, and one of his signature moves was The People’s Elbow. So, McAfee was hinting at Johnson’s attendance.

A few seconds later, The Rock’s “If You Smell” blared through the loudspeakers, and the crowd gave one of the loudest roars in recent WWE memory.

Johnson stood on the stage for well over a minute to soak in the boisterous crowd, and high-fived some fans as he made his way to the ring. He even took a selfie with fans.

When his music stopped, chants of “Rocky” rolled through the crowd.

But that didn’t stop Theory from taking his shots at The Rock, both on the mic and then with his fists.

That only lasted a few seconds.

The Rock at XFL

XFL owner Dwayne Johnson stands on the field before a game between the Arlington Renegades and the Vegas Vipers at Choctaw Stadium Feb. 18, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.  (Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

He officially retired from professional wrestling in 2019, but The Rock hit Theory with a spinebuster. And while Theory lay in the middle of the mat, The Rock struck with his electrifying People’s Elbow.

McAfee also hit Theory with the move.

The Rock’s music then blared again, and he received a standing ovation.

Johnson is one of the most decorated superstars in WWE history, winning the WWE championship eight times.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson enters the ring to talk smack about opponent John Cena during the WWE Raw event at Rose Garden arena in Portland, Ore., Feb. 27, 2012. (Chris Ryan/Corbis via Getty Images)


It was The Rock’s first time in the ring since the 20th anniversary of “SmackDown!” on Oct. 4, 2019, and just his second televised appearance since 2016.

He has since bought the XFL and continues his blockbuster movie career.

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