Young Rock aired its ninth episode on NBC on Tuesday night, set once again in 1982 in Hawaii. While Vince McMahon and various WWF wrestlers have been seen and mentioned throughout the series, this week hinted at a pivotal time in the Johnson family. Early in the episode Rocky Johnson, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's father, mentions having conversations with McMahon about "working the New York territory" (what is now known as WWE) with Tony Atlas as his tag team partner. In real life Johnson arrived initially arrived in the WWF in 1982 as a singles wrestler, then was paired up with Atlas.
The show also hinted at Johnson becoming a WWF Tag Team Champion. That wound up happening in December 1983 when he and Atlas beat The Wild Samoans on an episode of Championship Wrestling to win the tag titles. They made history as the first black men to hold championship gold for the World Wrestling Federation.
In an interview with ComicBook earlier this year, executive producer Brian Gewirtz discussed how there was debate over keeping the show's setting exclusively in 1982 or include "The People's Champ" first starting his own pro wrestling career in 1996.
"When we first started conceiving the show, a lot of the brainstorming revolved around Dwayne telling stories of his life to our partners and the show creators, Nahnatchka Khan and Jeff Chang," Gewirtz said. "The stories were so wild and so buried throughout his life. It seems like if you're putting all your cards into Little Dewey in 1982, you can somewhat tell that there's always a possibility that you could eventually get there, but you never know with television. The idea of being able to... Stories of him in Bethlehem, and Memphis and the University of Miami and meeting all these iconic figures, it also blew up in some pretty dramatic [ways] for people in his life. It seemed like a much richer show and more complete to be able to extend to these three eras and still having a turn... Like you just mentioned, a break in the WWE, there's so many places for us to go as well."
The final two episodes of Young Rock will air on April 27 and May 4 on NBC.