There are few things that make wrestling fans more excited than seeing their favorite wrestlers (or at least actors portraying them) in anything outside of the squared circle. And of all the shows to do this, few compare to Young Rock and the large number of WWE superstars who were portrayed in the show’s first season on NBC. Over the course of the first chapter of the show’s run, Andre the Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Rocky Johnson were just a few of the heavyweights who played large and impactful roles.
Before we jump into the action once again with Young Rock Season 2, now seems like the right time to go back through the first 11 episodes (12 if you count the holiday special) and break down all the WWE wrestlers who have popped up so far.
Rocky Johnson - Joseph Lee Anderson (Season 1, 'Working The Gimmick')
No professional wrestler plays a bigger role in Young Rock than Rocky Johnson (as portrayed by Joseph Lee Anderson) Dwayne Johnson’s father. Starting with the debut episode, “Working the Gimmick,” we see Johnson in various stages of his career — working for WWF in 1982, wrestling random matches in 1987, working odd jobs and training new wrestlers in 1990 — as he tries to provide for his family while chasing the glory of yesterday.
Andre The Giant - Matthew Willig (Season 1, ‘Working The Gimmick’)
Outside of Rocky Johnson, Matthew Willig's version of Andre the Giant has the closest bond with the 10-year-old Dwayne Johnson (Adrian Groulx) and helps the former WWE superstar with a couple of life lessons throughout the show’s first season. This includes teaching Dwayne why you should never call wrestling “fake” and how to find happiness through life’s simpler moments like feeding birds in the park. He’s also at the center of some of the show’s best wrestling moments as well, including the Island Battle Royale.
Junkyard Dog - Nate Jackson (Season 1, ‘Working The Gimmick’)
Junkyard Dog (who's played by Nate Jackson) was a trailblazer in professional wrestling who opened the doors for future African American champions, shows up sporadically throughout Young Rock Season 1, though he’s not always on the right side of Dwayne Johnson’s grandmother’s promotion. We see him in action a few times, but we also see the “King of New Orleans” helping Ata Johnson (Stacy Leilua) find ways to make a 15-year-old Dwayne (Bradley Constant) listen to his mom.
The Iron Sheik - Brett Azar (Season 1, ‘Working The Gimmick’)
One of the most high-profile wrestlers to be depicted on Young Rock, The Iron Sheik is portrayed as a fun-loving and loyal friend of Dwayne Johnson’s family and remains so in all three of the show’s timelines. Brett Azar's work as the foul-mouthed wrestler, who has one of the craziest Twitter accounts in real life, provides a lot of laughs throughout, including an interaction with Lia Maivia (Ana Tuisila) where she tells him he has to tone down his language for a family-friendly event.
The Wild Samoans - Fasitua Amosa And John Tui (Season 1, ‘Working The Gimmick’)
Fasitua Amosa and John Tui's take on Sika and Afa Anoa’i, a.k.a. The Wild Samoans, appearing throughout the first season of Young Rock, providing great action in the ring and laughs when outside the squared circle. Members of the Anoa’i Family wrestling dynasty, these two are prominent figures in some of the show’s best moments so far.
‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage - Kevin Makely (Season 1, ‘Forward, Together’)
The late great “Macho Man” Randy Savage shows up multiple times throughout Young Rock Season 1, and makes sure to say all his famous catchphrases and bring up everything from his relationship with Miss Elizabeth to his popular Slim Jim ads. We also get to see Macho Man in action, both in the ring and in the squared circle of love, including his famous elbow drop, which is pulled off masterfully by actor Kevin Makely.
Vince McMahon - Adam Ray (Season 1, ‘Forward, Together’)
Though he only appears briefly and is technically not a wrestler (though he did win the WWF Championship at one point in his career), we can’t have this list without including Adam Ray's work as Vince McMahon, right? The show’s version of the over-the-top wrestling promoter billionaire is charming and comforting in his phone conversation with Lia Maivia when her big show starts to fall apart.
Ric Flair - Matthew Farrelly (Season 1, ‘On The Road Again’)
In the the second episode of Young Rock Season 1, “On the Road Again,” Rocky Johnson is shown taking on two wrestlers in a series of flashbacks. The first of those opponents is none other than the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, portrayed by Matthew Farrelly, in a match that is made to look like Johnson defeated the future two-time WWE Hall of Famer.
‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper - Jade Drane (Season 1, ‘On The The Road Again’)
Later on in “On the Road Again,” Rocky Johnson recalls having a match with the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, portrayed by Jade Drane, in the Soulman’s heyday. Like the match with Ric Flair earlier in the episode, Johnson makes it seem as if he defeated the wrestler-turned-actor.
King Kong Bundy - Alexander Board (Season 1, ‘Forward, Together’)
King Kong Bundy appears briefly on the Island Battle Royale poster, being brought to life by Alexander Board, in the Young Rock Season 1 episode “Forward, Together,” but despite that, he makes a big impact on the rest of the season. Just days before the big show, Bundy pulls out, saying his mom his sick, but he actually is working a different show for a rival promoter.
Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine - Toby Kiddle (Season 1, ‘Forward, Together’)
Toby Kiddle takes on the role of Greg "The Hammer" Valentine for the Island Battle Royale poster brought to life in the episode “Forward, Together,” but he is not seen in the final match itself.
Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat - Ivan So (Season 1, ‘My Day With Andre’)
WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is portrayed by Ivan So in the episode, “My Day with Andre,” as one of the final competitors in the Island Battle Royale, eliminating Sgt. Slaughter with a flying crossbody from the turnbuckle.
Sgt. Slaughter - Wayne Mattei (Season 1, ‘My Day With Andre’)
Wayne Mattei shows up briefly as Sgt. Slaughter in “My Day with Andre” as one of the big-name wrestlers in the Island Battle Royale, being one of the first of the marquee stars to be eliminated in a match that would eventually end with a major swerve that saw The Iron Sheik sneak in and steal a victory from Rocky Johnson.
If Young Rock Season 2 is anything like the first chapter of the hit NBC comedy series, we can expect to see plenty of other great WWE superstars from yesterday and today portrayed on the show. If you want more info on Young Rock and other new and returning shows, check out CinemaBlend's 2022 TV schedule.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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