Entertaining “Young Rock”, but a Jabroni on precision – GV Wire
Can you smell what The Rock is up to?
Wrestling superstar turned action superhero Dwayne Johnson’s youth-centric television sitcom “Young Rock” returns for a second season on NBC next March.
Although I have found this to be one of the best family TV shows in years, as a wrestling fan I find it hard to suspend my disbelief.
While the show is more than just a struggle – it tells the story of Johnson’s life and lessons as he grew up – its historical accuracy is “deep inside.”
The three stages of the rock
Beginning last February, the premise of the first season is that Dwayne Johnson will run for President in 2032 and tell stories of his life growing up. This leads to “flashback” and “flash forward” segments, similar to the NBC drama “This Is Us”.
The overlapping storylines center on Dewey, 10, as he was called in his youth, living with his family in Hawaii in 1982; as a clumsy 15-year-old teenager in 1987 in Bethlehem, PA; and a frustrated bench driver for the University of Miami football team in the early 1990s. All of the “Rocks” are played by different actors.
As he was well promoted during his WWE career, The Rock was a third generation professional wrestler. His grandfather, Grand Chief Peter Maivia, was considered the patriarch of the Samoan wrestling dynasty. Rock’s father, Rocky Johnson, was a main event in the 1970s and early 1980s.
His grandmother Lia Maivia really led the promotion of wrestling on the islands, replacing her late husband, Peter.
It’s only natural that professional wrestling is a big part of the storylines, especially in the Hawaii scenes of 1982. But, that can leave a wrestling purist with a raised eyebrow in confusion.
Precision of the fight? It does not matter
On the Christmas special that aired last week, we find a colorful cast of familiar wrestling names competing in a “Mistletoe Royal Battle,” where the goal is to climb a ladder to introduce Miss Elizabeth to the kissable plant. A match like this would never have happened then.
Recurring characters believed to wrestle on the island include Andre the Giant, Iron Sheik, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and the Wild Samoans.
The only problem is that none of them wrestled regularly, if at all, in Hawaii. And certainly not in the 1982 period. Lia Maivia’s Polynesian Pro Wrestling also didn’t have a full-time program.
Of the wrestling characters, Andre was the only one to compete on a semi-regular basis on the islands, and that would be maybe once or twice a year. Control results database Cage match did not find any André match in Hawaii in 1982.
Iron Sheik and the Samoans were regulars at Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1982 (all would make it to WWF, as it was then called, less than a year later). Savage ran his family’s International Championship Wrestling in the Kentucky / Tennessee area.
The series’ main character, Rocky Johnson (played by Joseph Lee Anderson), occasionally wrestled for his stepmother’s group. But by Christmas 1982, he was already part of the WWF.
In fact, on December 28, 1982, at the WWF show at Madison Square Garden in New York City, not only did Johnson wrestle, but Ms. Maivia was seen in the crowd.
Although not specific, I am giving the show a pass. It is produced in association with WWE.
Andre, Savage and Sheik were the most recognizable wrestlers of the 1980s and certainly the most interesting personalities.
If the series kept historical accuracy, the wrestling characters would be Ripper Collins, Superfly Tui, and Farmer Boy Ipo. Which? Exactly.
At least the actors watch the role
Granted, the actors really look like the legends of the wrestling they play. Matthew Willig, a 14-year retired NFL veteran, looks a bit like Andre the Giant, whom he plays on the show. Willig is listed as 6’7 ″. André was billed at 7’4 ″.
Willig displays André’s tenderness and vulnerability, traits for which André was known among his friends. He often called the wrestlers he respected “Boss”. Alternatively, the real Giant was downright mean to those he didn’t like.
Brett Azar really looks like the Iron Sheik, with his bald head and characteristic mustache. Azar has a background in bodybuilding. Kevin Makely had to go to Macho Man School because he has the moves of Randy Savage.
Ditto for the actors who play the Wild Samoans (John Tui and Fasitua Amosa).
A family sitcom at heart
“Young Rock” is one of the few current TV shows that I can comfortably watch with my kids. It’s reminiscent of classic family sitcoms which are funny and have a moral message, but keep it relatively clean.
Father Rocky struggles to feed his family after his wrestling career fell in the mid-80s. Mother Ata (played by Stacey Leilua) has traits of other classic TV moms – balancing keeping her family healthy from mind, while pursuing his own dreams.
Grandma Lia (Ana Tuisila) loves her family, but has a dark side when it comes to wrestling. A Season 1 storyline sees Lia embark on a promotional wrestling war on the Islands. This was actually true and led to criminal charges against Lia and her business partner.
Behind the camera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., the former pro wrestling star, serves as the show’s wrestling coordinator. He also helped with another wrestling-based show, “GLOW” on Netflix.