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The Rock Tells Jimmy Fallon All About His Recent WWE Return

The Rock reveals how hard it was to keep his SmackDown appearance a surprise during a recent appearance on The Tonight Show.

By Chris Phelan
Dwayne The Rock Johnson is interviewed by Jimmy Fallon

In 2023, genuine surprises are hard to come by in WWE. Due to an always-online fanbase that constantly has its ears to the ground and endless social media accounts and websites dedicated to WWE rumors, it can be hard for the WWE Universe to be surprised in 2023.

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But back in September, the WWE Universe was more than just surprised – they were shell-shocked when The Rock made an unannounced appearance on a seemingly random episode of SmackDown!

RELATED: The Rock Gives Hollywood Tour Bus the Surprise of a Lifetime

It was a moment that will live on in fans' minds for a long time – for one brief, shining moment, one of the greatest WWE Superstars ever was back doing what he does best in front of an absolutely raucous crowd.

How Did Rock's Special SmackDown Appearance Come About?

Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Jimmy Fallon point at the crowd

Not content with simply dropping in unannounced in WWE, The Rock recently took a trip on the late-night circuit. On the November 13 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Rock appeared as a special guest and didn't pull any punches when he described what it felt like to be in front of WWE fans again for the first time in years.

The Rock wasted no time explaining how his appearance came about: It was a true last-minute affair, as the former WWE Champion discovered that one of his media appearances lined up with WWE's event schedule in Colorado just hours before he made his shocking SmackDown appearance.

"It was incredible," The Rock confessed. "So here's the crazy thing about that – we were in Boulder for College GameDay. And I found out the night before that WWE SmackDown is going to be in Denver, which is right up the road. So I called my buddy at WWE, Nick Khan, and I said, 'Hey man, I heard SmackDown is here. Can you confirm that?' He said it is. I said, 'Good, well, The Rock is coming to SmackDown."

You know you're a living legend when you can call up the WWE's CEO and tell him – not ask him – you're appearing on a live show at the last minute!

Was it Difficult For The Rock to Keep His WWE Appearance a Secret?

Close up of The Rock as he stands in the ring

Even The Rock acknowledged how difficult it was to keep his appearance from leaking to media outlets. Although critics argue that WWE dropped the ball by not promoting The Rock's appearance ahead of time (even if they only knew about it a few hours beforehand), many in the WWE Universe appreciate that surprises still happen in WWE, despite the 24-hour news cycle spoiling countless storylines, debuts, and happenings in the past. 

"You know how hard it is to keep a secret," Rock told Fallon. "You don't. It doesn't exist. This was a full-on secret. The people went nuts. 13,000 people sounding like 130,000 people, and it was just incredible. So the WWE audience – it's my family – and I love them."

The Rock has since gone on the record and stated his recent appearance made his personal top-five list of loudest crowd reactions in his career – so props to you, Boulder, Colorado! Nice work!

In the end, The Rock explained to Fallon how meaningful his relationship is to the WWE Universe. It doesn't matter how involved (or not involved) he is with WWE; the fans will always welcome him home – and if that means Austin Theory has to be on the receiving end of a few People's Elbows, then so be it!

"I went out there and it was really an incredible thing," he continued. "And I've been really lucky over the years to entertain in a lot of different ways. Yeah, but that kind of connection with the WWE, that kind of connection is just like this tonight with a live audience. There's nothing like it."

Obviously, one question remains: Will we see The Rock officially compete inside the ring again soon, if ever? The Rock has teased this possibility in the past, but it sure seems like the door will always be open for a return – if that's something he desires. After hearing the WWE Universe welcome him back with open arms, we can't imagine how – health and Hollywood schedule permitting – Rock doesn't return for at least one more match. (Somebody has to eventually knock Roman Reigns off his throne, right?)

However, Rock's recent unscheduled appearance reveals the importance of tuning into WWE shows every week. After all, if The Rock can keep a SmackDown cameo a secret in 2023, anyone can!

Before moving on to other topics like The Rock's upcoming Hollywood filming schedule and his thoughts on seemingly the entire country thinking The Great One should consider a presidential run in the near future, The Rock had one last thing to say to the WWE Universe:

"There's nothing like going to SmackDown and laying the smack down on their candy asses all night long."

Even Austin Theory can agree with that. 

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Survivor Series on November 25. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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