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The Rock first electrified at Survivor Series

By Scott Fishman

The 1996 Survivor Series from Madison Square Garden had its share of memorable matches and moments.

Bret Hart made his return to WWE against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the first chapter of their legendary career. The Undertaker got his revenge on Mankind, and Sycho Sid defeated Shawn Michaels for the WWE championship.

Despite all of this history made, there was one other happening that would alter the course of the company forever.

The third generation superstar The Rock, then named Rocky Maivia made his big debut. He made one of the most impressive first impressions in company history. He not only competed with legends like Jerry Lawler and Jake "The Snake" Roberts, he did it successfully.

He was the sole survivor for his team against some of WWE's top talent at the time. I'm talking Goldust and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H). The son of Rocky Johnson and grandson of "High Chief" Peter Maivia had arrived in MSG.

It took some time before the talented former University of Miami Hurricane to find himself and develop his true persona, but when he did it was electric.

The months that followed Survivor Series saw Rock capture the intercontinental championship from Triple H and defend the gold against the Sultan at his first WrestleMania.

Two years after his introduction, Rock captured the WWE championship in the finals of a tournament. It was a controversial decision, but he defeated Mankind and solidified himself as a main event superstar.

The Rock's meteoric rise and journey through sports entertainment began at the Survivor Series. It shows how important these traditional elimination matches can be for careers. Look what it did for Randy Orton, who has outlasted opponents on more than one occasion.

Ironically, Orton is also a third generation superstar. Maybe one day we will see both men collide in a singles encounter?

With the exception of maybe The Undertaker, you can say the Hollywood heavyweight had the best WWE debut at Survivor Series. From that faithful night of November 17, 1996 we could smell what The Rock was cookin'.

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