With no live sporting events to speak of due to the global coronavirus outbreak, fans of all types have been turning back the clock and reminiscing about their greatest sports memories.
Debates on social media and websites like the Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Warrior World rank all-time best lists for various eras, sports and individual teams. Major League Baseball has resorted to streaming simulated games online.
Even superstars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a professional wrestler and actor who spent part of his childhood in Hawaii, are getting in on the action. Johnson responded to a fan’s question this morning via Instagram while he was in the gym.
“In (your) entire professional wresting career, what is the one match, or do (you) have a match, that is most meaningful,” the fan asked.
Johnson, who joined World Wrestling Entertainment in 1996 and performed extensively for the promotion until leaving for a movie career in 2004, mentioned his first professional match in Texas and his most recent retirement match in New York City were contenders, but there was no doubt in his mind that a 2002 match in Honolulu at Blaisdell Arena was the most memorable.
“The one match that I will always, always carry with me deep in my heart, in my bones, happened in Honolulu,” he said. “It was the first and only time that I have ever wrestled in Hawaii. It was not a big pay-per-view. It was not a big television production. It was what we call a live event, or a house show.”
Johnson, who attended McKinley High School and lived in, among other places, an apartment on Kapiolani Blvd. that’s “still there today,” said the reason he quickly agreed to perform here was to pay tribute to his parents and grandparents, who all worked in the industry as owners of a fledgling regional wrestling promotion here in the 1970s.
“They struggled, man. They could never get it off the ground,” he said. “Hawaii for me … always represented struggle. It always represented tough times. Just a force of our human nature to just grit it out and try to make it.”
Johnson said his headlining match in 2002 against Chris Jericho sold out the Blaisdell faster than Elvis Presley did for his famous concert at the venue. He flew his entire family to Oahu so they could watch him perform — including his widowed grandmother.
After the match, the entire family gathered privately in a dressing room.
“She said, ‘we finally made it. We finally made it,’” recalled Johnson. “There were a lot of tears that day in that locker room. Tears of joy and gratitude.”
Watch the complete Instagram video below.
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Most meaningful match of my wrestling career? Honolulu, Hawaii. No big PPV show or TV production. One match. One night only. Sell out hometown crowd. The first and only time I would ever wrestle in my islands. For decades, Hawaii always represented struggle and grit for my family. After the match, while we quietly and gratefully celebrated in my locker room with my family – my grandmother says, “We finally made it” and those four words sealed the deal. Thanks for the great question and thanks for hanging in there while I got emo. I’m poised and experienced enough to take long pause and smile so I don’t start the attractive ugly cry 😭😂 Love y’all and everyone stay healthy and safe. #mostmeaningfulmatch #rootsrundeep 🌺🖤