AEW's Ricky Starks Addresses Parallels to The Rock (Exclusive)

Like poetry, professional wrestling tends to rhyme. With the spectacle sport existing in its performance-based nature for decades, many stars of the modern era take inspiration from wrestlers of yesteryear. Tag teams like The Usos use Bubba Ray and D'Von's Dudley Death Drop as a finishing move. FTR comes out to a theme that pays homage to the Midnight Express. Darby Allin has donned face paint that mirrors that of his manager and tag partner, Sting. 

While some of these tributes are intentional, other comparisons are no more than a coincidence. That's especially the case with AEW star Ricky Starks, who has been compared to The Rock for a number of years. Upcoming opponent MJF brought attention to this on a recent episode of AEW Dynamite, referring to Starks as a "dollar store Dwayne."

"I tell this all the time, The Rock wasn't my favorite wrestler. He was like my number three favorite wrestler," Starks told's Liam Crowley. "That's not to discredit The Rock from any type of talent he has, but I say that to say he wasn't a big inspiration."

Starks noted that while the collations are flattering, he wants to make sure he is respected for his own originality.

"I always tell this: I don't hate the comparisons," Starks continued. "What I do hate though, is being discredited for my natural creativity in lieu of someone saying, 'Well, you're just literally copying The Rock,' which isn't true at all."

Starks and Rock's biggest parallels come on the microphone, as many have linked the Absolute One's tone to that of the Brahma Bull. That said, Starks pointed to his hometown as the actual area of inspiration for his cadence.

"My inspiration and who I am and how I talk and all that, cadence wise, comes from people in New Orleans," Starks clarified. "I can see how there's a similarity there, but I'm being 100 percent forthcoming and honest when I say I don't really look to The Rock for my inspiration. I do look to The Rock in terms of what a businessman he is and what he's contributed and how he holds himself. If some by chance, somebody thinks that I'm Rock-lite, then that's cool."

Starks challenges MJF for the AEW World Title this Wednesday at AEW Dynamite: Winter is Coming.