He built a legend being “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment.” From there, he became one of the highest-grossing actors in Hollywood. The premiere episode of ‘Young Rock,’ it looks towards a future for Dwayne Johnson in 2032 with a presidential run. He does appearances complete with a Kevin Hart joke. It’s a funny play on the speculation that people have had in the past asking if Johnson would consider running for the Oval Office. Johnson, playing himself, has a sit-down interview with actor-turned-news journalist Randall Park to tell the world more about his upbringing. Johnson, throughout his rise to fame, has always been forthcoming with how his struggles shaped him. Writers Jeff Chiang and Nahnatchka Khan split the premiere up into three different timelines with an overarching lesson that tries to connect them all. Striving to connect some comedic elements you may be familiar with in sitcoms and heart that’s personable to Johnson’s own story.

The theme that really drives the episode named ‘Working the Gimmick’ is the one with younger versions of Johnson and his father, Rocky (Joseph Lee Anderson). At first, we meet 10-year-old Dwayne (Adrian Groulx) in Hawaii while he’s watching his father wrestle. Afterward, in how Rocky Johnson presents his wrestler character, he speaks to Dwayne about giving the projection that he really lives this gimmick. This was in a time that promoters and wrestlers alike protected the business where there was no fourth wall broken. That time period also doesn’t shy away from Rocky not being there as often as Dwayne would hope.

For wrestling fans, there is something for you in terms of providing nods to the prominent figures of that time period. The Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog, and The Wild Samoans are presented with care resembling their real-life counterparts. (portrayed by Brett Azar, Nate Jackson, and Fasitua Amosa and John Tui respectively) When 10-year-old Dwayne calls wrestling fake, everybody stops and Matthew Willig‘s portrayal of Andre the Giant tells him never to say the “F” word.

Rocky’s principle of “working the gimmick,” is something that Dwayne would carry with him as he got older. It would get him into trouble as a 15-yr old high schooler (Bradley Constant) when he shoplifts to keep up an appearance for a girl he likes. Through the first two eras that the show visits, his mother, Ata (Stacey Leilua) serves as Dwayne’s anchor. As they moved to Pennsylvania, the Johnson family falls on hard times, but Dwayne learns a valuable lesson about being there for family.

As present-day Johnson finishes telling these stories, he mentions he took the working the gimmick principle and put his own spin on it. This circles back around in the last 1990 period when 18-20-year-old Dwayne (Uli Latukefu) joins the University of Miami football team. He speaks to it as almost as putting on an extra suit of armor to up his confidence. It’s not really lying, but “turning himself up to 10.” Just like in wrestling where your character has just enough of you to make it believable. The banter between Park and Johnson is funny as they play off each other. Each younger actor portraying Johnson holds on to different parts of his charisma.

They touch on each era for as long as you can within a 30-minute timeframe. Not really going deep into each one, but enough to pique your curiosity to keep coming back to the series. It can feel like an appendage to Johnson’s campaign storyline. Almost like he’s charming you to gain your vote as if he was a real-life candidate. However, it’s the anchor of family and how he’s trying to connect these stories to the man who he sees as his hero that with keep you around.

Photo Credit: NBC