Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Used To Wrestle at Flea Markets and Used Car Dealerships Before He Made it Big

Dwayne Johnson is one of the highest-paid actors in the movie business. The Young Rock star has earned many millions of dollars over the years appearing in blockbuster action flicks such as the Fast & Furious franchise, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and The Mummy Returns

However, despite his current success, there was a time when Johnson was making only $40 a night as a professional wrestler. 

Johnson had to overcome a ton of obstacles to get to where he is today, which included wrestling at flea markets and used car dealerships in order to make ends meet. 

Dwayne Johnson had to pay his dues when he first started wrestling professionally

Dwayne Johnson at The Lot in West Hollywood | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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Johnson opened up about the challenges of his early professional wrestling career during a 2018 interview with Stephen Colbert.

“It was hardcore,” Johnson said. “So when I first started out, we would … live life like gypsies and I would wrestle, I had a guarantee of $40 per match every night.”

Johnson was so broke that the only place he could afford to eat at was Waffle House.

“It was long green, really long green,” Johnson said. “I was living at the Waffle House, I ate there three times a day.”

He had to wrestle at flea markets and used car dealerships 

Aside from the low pay, Johnson also had to swallow his pride and wrestle at some unusual locations, which included flea markets and used car dealerships. 

“So Monday nights were the flea market, I would wrestle there, at the Big Top Flea Market in Memphis, Tennessee,” Johnson said. “Saturday would be the State Fair, every Saturday. And then throughout the week, we would wrestle at used-car dealerships.”

Johnson would have to put on his gear in the dealership office, and then go outside to the parking lot where the ring was. 

“Check this out, we used to set up rings in used car dealerships, in the parking lots of used car dealerships,” Johnson said. “And people would go in, they’d buy used cars, and if you want, you could see free wrestling matches. And I would be there with my pineapple haircut and I would be putting on my boots and wrestling gear next to an office who was trying to sell cars.”

Even though it was a less-than-ideal phase of his career, Johnson knew it was what he had to do to progress his career. 

“It was the oddest thing, but at that time it was what you did to make money, and you’re on the road, ” Johnson said. 

Dwayne Johnson is a third-generation professional wrestler 

Many people may wonder why someone would desire to wrestle professionally when the rewards were so slim. But Johnson came from a family of professional wrestlers, so the job meant more to him. 

“There’s a lineage that I came from,” Johnson said. “My grandfather wrestled for Vince McMahon’s dad in the ‘70s, and my dad wrestled for Vince McMahon in the ‘80s, and I came along in the ‘90s and the early 2000s wrestling for Vince McMahon.”