THE STORY OF THE ROCK & MAXIMUS
Earlier today, inhabiting my gimmick on Twitter, "The Gladiator" Maximus, I had the following exchange with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
While this enjoyable exchange was brief, it remains no less exciting and significant to someone who grew up idolizing the character Dwayne Johnson created.
Apart from the fact that The Rock was a big source of happiness and inspiration in my adolescent life (providing me one of the few sources of joy & escape I had during those awkward years), this interaction is particularly special because Maximus, the "social media ambassador" for The Work of Wrestling, is also my WWE video game created-wrestler.
Maximus, much like other fictional characters or artists or performers I've admired for the entirety of my life, exists as a wholly positive connection to my past.
He is a creative catalogue, a living archive of how my life, and my mind, has evolved from childhood to adulthood.
In Maximus exists my thirteen-year-old self and my twenty-eight-year-old self.
WATCH THIS VIDEO THAT SHOWS MAX'S EVOLUTION
He is me. And he is the ever-evolving vision I have of myself if I had become a pro-wrestler.
Maximus has been with me since WrestleMania 2000 on the Nintendo 64. Max is as much an ever-present fixture of my imagination, and my memory, as The Rock (or any of the other performers and characters I've admired).
Naturally, as the top two performers in the business, The Rock and Maximus have been long-time rivals.
Using the various WWE video games since WrestleMania 2000, I was able to construct an elaborate feud between the two that has continued, almost entirely in my imagination, from one game to the next, spanning generations. As a teenager I would record and edit video game footage on VHS tapes, spending hours upon hours meticulously creating pro-wrestling stories for Max. Max's most consistent rival was The Rock. The crux of their conflict revolved around being the top babyface. I never dared to make either a heel in my naive, optimistic world. Their fight was always about discovering who really was "The People's Champion" and the second Max got too big for his britches and proclaimed himself the new "People's Champ", Rocky would return to set things straight. They've yet to really settle any score.
So this interaction on Twitter between Maximus and The Rock serves as a strangely vindicating, reality-bending moment for me, where my imagined rivalry/friendship between the two has literally come to life.
It's as though, years and years after both people had moved on, they crossed paths, briefly, with a wink and a nod; their entire history summed up in that one simple gesture.
The concept behind Maximus having a Twitter is that he is a legitimate wrestler sending out Tweets from an alternate video game reality. Now I'm guilty of regularly breaking that kayfabe, but every so often I like to send out some messages directly from Max's perspective.
The fact that The Rock & Max had this real-world interaction is yet another seminal moment in the fictional life of my video game avatar, and I'm grateful to Dwayne Johnson for taking the time to make that possible.
The Rock occupies a very special place in my history, along with a relatively short list of inspiring male & female role models, all of whom helped me learn the virtues of hard work, determination, and confidence. My sense of self-worth, my concept of manhood, my love of competition, and my ambition to be the absolute best at what I do is owed, in large part, to those wrestlers I've admired.
Pro-wrestling has the ability to change lives, and, like any good art, the medium is a means of understanding life, and using the lessons our role models offer as a way of navigating life's obstacles and ascending to a place of higher awareness and strength.
Dwayne Johnson helped me get there, and this is my way of giving thanks.
So while this exchange was brief and via Twitter, it's no less surreal and powerful than having The Batman literally reach out of a comic book and give me a pat on the shoulder.
Thank you, Rocky.
Keep layin' the smack down.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @MaximusWrestler!