Johnson, 51, appeared on the Pat McAfee Show's live broadcast from the University of Colorado's campus and was asked by McAfee, who wrestled The Miz at WrestleMania 39, to confirm speculation that the company had planned for him to be part of the 'Bloodline' angle that has centered around his family for the past three years.
"The Rock headlining WrestleMania with Roman Reigns, SoFi Stadium, that was locked. We were doing it," Johnson said. "In the beginning of 2022, (WWE CEO) Nick Khan was very instrumental in bringing Vince and I together. We all flew to LA. We met. We sat. We broke out the Teremana, and about an hour later we started talking about the potential of what this match could be. Myself and Roman Reigns headlining WrestleMania at SoFi. We shook hands and we hugged right there and said, 'Let's do this.'"
"The north star thought was let's not do something good, let's not do something great, let's do something unprecedented," Johnson added. "A match? Great. Roman's an incredible athlete. He's going to be on Mount Rushmore. The bigger thought was what can we do for the fans where WrestleMania isn't the end of something, it's actually the beginning of something bigger. We got really, really close but we couldn't actually nail what that thing was."
Johnson's since-canceled show, Young Rock, had previously teased a potential WrestleMania match against Reigns. The comedy series, which chronicled the WWE legend and box office megastar's youth, included a scene in which a younger version of Johnson is watching the Royal Rumble with several family members, including a character identified as his cousin, Joe Anoa'i, which is Reigns' real name
During the scene, a 10-year-old version of 'The Tribal Chief' clutches Johnson's neck and yells "acknowledge me" to the full room, a nod to Reigns' catchphrase.
The current version of Johnson explains in a voiceover that the child is "my cousin Joe, who would later go by Roman Reigns, future WWE champion," as a list of Anoa'i's accolades is shown.
"Come on, Dewey, let's wrestle," the child version of Anoa'i pleads to the version of Johnson in his early 20s.
"No, the world's not ready. A match that big can only happen at 'WrestleMania," Johnson responded.
The potential feud was also addressed on an episode of the docuseries WWEEvil.
A potential match between Reigns and The Rock has long been speculated since Anoa'i began his current "Tribal Chief" incarnation of his character in 2020, which has included the dominant champion making numerous references to being the "Head of the Table" of his legendary wrestling family during his nearly two-year long title run.
In 2021, Anoa'i addressed rumors of possibly working with Johnson and John Cena -- prior to their eventual SummerSlam match -- during an appearance on ESPN's SportsNation.
“I get this a lot with Dwayne, and then John Cena as well...If I were these guys, I don’t know if I’d want to come back and deal with me," Reigns said. "I’m a problem right now for everybody. So, if I were them, I would stay on set. I’d keep pumping out these streaming service movies. Don’t come to my ring, is what I would do.”
Reigns has served as WWE's franchise player, a role previously held by Cena for nearly two decades before transitioning to acting. The former Georgia Tech football standout has closed out WrestleMania during six of the last eight years, which included retaining the Universal title and winning the WWE championship in a title-for-title match against Brock Lesnar earlier this month.
Reigns had previously spent the majority of his run as a top WWE star playing a protagonist role, but emerged as SmackDown's top villain after returning to action in August 2020.
The Rock made his last WWE appearance during SmackDown's 20th anniversary episode and wrestled his last match at WrestleMania 32 (2016), appearing in an impromptu match against then-Wyatt Family member Erick Rowan, which escalated into a brawl that saw Cena run out to assist his fellow wrestler-turned-actor.
Johnson also made his WWE return after a several-year absence in the lead-up to WrestleMania 27 (2011) and served as the event's host, which saw him cost Cena the victory in his main event WWE Championship match against The Miz.