D-Lo Brown recently joined Insight with Chris Van Vliet to talk about his career, including his most famous run in the WWE during the Attitude Era.
Brown rose to prominence as part of the Nation of Domination stable, which included Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as he was beginning his rise to superstardom. Despite this, Brown admitted that neither he nor The Rock saw what the latter would turn into when he first started out.
“Not at first, and even Rock will tell you ‘no’ because, at first, he had come off a failed Rocky Mavia gimmick,” Brown said. “He was coming off an injury with the pineapple hair and the frilly, you know? And even he would tell you he was trying to repackage himself and he wanted to get rid of that mystique of that failed babyface.
“And he was afforded the protection of being in the Nation where you were allowed to make mistakes and have great minds around you that can help cultivate you and then, the one thing I did learn about Rock is he was willing to do the work. He was willing to outwork anyone. And what I mean by that is there were times that was, we would be the car and we could see him thinking.
We’d be listening to the radio and he’d go ‘oh, what was that?’ And it would be a catchphrase from a song and two days later you would hear it in a promo. We would watch movies and he would take from pop culture and the things that would work, he would keep in there and the things that didn’t, he would get rid of and you saw that and because of that hard work you went ‘okay , the brother is working. He’s working. He’s putting in the time’ and feeling every incarnation of how he would try different promo styles till finally the one that worked.
“You can see the evolution of it. If you go back and watch Raw, you can see the evolution of his promo styles till finally, it took him about six months to really honey in on it. When he did, that’s when he walked on the stage with the black vest and he called himself ‘The Rock’ for the first time against Steve Austin. And well, y’all know the rest is history.”
So when did D-Lo Brown know The Rock was going to be a superstar? According to Brown, he believes it was when The Rock referred to himself in the third person for the first time.
“I think that was one of the first times he referred to himself in the third person, referred to himself specifically as Rock and so, that was the birth of it and the growth of it,” Brown said. “And I will tell you, one of the greatest seats to ever have, I had the best seat in the house to watch the brightest superstar in the history of the business light up and take off. And for that, I’m thankful and blessed.”
As members of The Nation of Domination, D-Lo Brown and The Rock were involved in many notable, and controversial, angles, including one where the group was parodied by D-Generation X. Members of DX wore blackface during the segment, something Brown didn’t think of match at the time but now believes was something they could’ve changed.
“I can tell you none of us had any big concern about it,” Brown stated. “In retrospect, we could’ve done that segment without the blackface, and, you know, I wish we would have. It would’ve been, it would’ve been just as good. I, obviously, wish we would’ve changed that. Looking back on it in 2022 eyes, not a fan of it.
“But in 1997, 1998 eyes, it was a way of getting these two factions to war because we knew that both of our factions were over enough, or connected with our fans enough, that we could go out there and draw money and fill some houses with it and put up some ratings on TV. And we looked at the individual matchups that we could have and that’s what piqued our curiosity. I think people looked past the obvious elephant in the room.”
D-Lo Brown further pointed out how dated the idea of using blackface would soon become, saying that it was something no one could’ve gotten away with, or even pitched, three years down the road.
“You couldn’t pitch that idea three years later,” Brown admitted. “You’d get laughed out of a building if you pitched that idea three years later.”
In the end, Brown believes the segment could’ve been just as entertaining if the blackface would’ve been removed.
“It is so absolutely true,” Brown said. “If there was never any blackface, you would’ve never known the difference and it would’ve been just as entertaining. I mean, that whole segment was DX entertaining everybody and they could’ve done that easily just, you know, without the blackface.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet and provide an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
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