After WWE, Rock Focuses On Movies — And Country Music

'People's Champion' steps out of the ring, but doesn't rule out a comeback.

Can you smell what the Rock is cooking? We can, and according to the freshly minted movie star, it doesn't leave enough time for the body slams, turnbuckle blows and flying elbows that made him famous.

While promoting his new film, "Be Cool," the Rock has confirmed that his ties have been severed with World Wrestling Entertainment. The powerful wrestling company, formerly known as WWF, had been his home since 1996.

"As far as wrestling ... it's at a different place now because I'm not under any contracts — so contractually, there's no ties, there's no relationship," said the man once known for such finishing moves as the Rock Bottom. "It's not there. It kind of ended abruptly. It ended without me even knowing; nobody contacted nobody. It was one of those weird things. All of a sudden I was getting phone calls from my own team saying, 'Congratulations on an amazing career!' I was like, 'Wow, OK.' "

Ever since his youth, the star has always been a chip off the old Rock. Born Dwayne Johnson, he took on his wrestling moniker to honor his father, former WWF tag team champion Rocky "Soul Man" Johnson. Dwayne's grandfather, the late "High Chief" Peter Maivia, broke ground in the '60s and '70s when he wrestled as the first Samoan combatant in the WWF. The Rock himself, with his iconic slick hair and arched eyebrow, won the WWE World Championship belt multiple times while being affectionately dubbed the "People's Champion."

Now, after three generations and thousands of matches in the squared circle, the WWE and the Maivia/Johnson family have officially parted ways. "It's one of those things. It ended with the company last year," the Rock explained. "I wasn't approached about re-signing or anything like that, and the contract just kind of came and went and finished and ended. It was kind of surprising — actually, it was a lot surprising."

WWE spokesperson Gary Davis confirmed the divorce, calling it "an administrative oversight. Everybody here feels bad about it. The Rock is doing phenomenally well with his movie career and is going to keep that momentum going." Davis added that WWE honcho Vince McMahon hopes to sit down with his former star soon to discuss future opportunities.

McMahon may have a hard time scheduling that meeting. These days, the Rock is busier than George "The Animal" Steele at a turnbuckle-eating contest. Upcoming movies include "Doom" (based on the famously bloody video game), "Spy Hunter" (another game adaptation), the football tearjerker "Gridiron Gang," the reincarnation comedy "Instant Karma" and "Johnny Bravo," culled from the Cartoon Network series about an Elvis-loving lothario.

As if all that weren't enough, the former "Scorpion King" is in talks for everything from a biopic about Hawaiian warrior King Kamehameha to a big-screen incarnation of comic-book hero the Silver Surfer.

In a possible attempt to one-up Jennifer Lopez, he has also recently launched a blossoming third career. As gay cowboy Elliot Wilhelm in "Be Cool," the Rock displays vocal talents so impressive that they earned him the coveted final spot on the film's soundtrack (see "Christina Milian, Black Eyed Peas Heat Up 'Be Cool' Soundtrack"). "I love it. I'm on the soundtrack; I made it," he laughed. "That's my dream, being a singer now."

When Loretta Lynn composed her classic statement on female determination, she probably didn't imagine a 6-foot-5-inch muscleman belting it out. " 'You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)'," the Rock proudly exclaimed. "She sang it, and then Sissy Spacek sang it in 'Coal Miner's Daughter'. Me, Aerosmith, Andre [3000], Christina Milian — we're all going to the Grammys. The video is so funny."

Due to this determination to sing cowboy songs and bring video game characters to life, the Rock's wrestling fans will have to get by without one of their favorites. "I'll miss the fans," he laments. "I'll miss that live interaction with them. There's nothing like it."

As any wrestling junkie worth his "Austin 3:16" T-shirt knows the only thing as inevitable as a retirement is a return. The Rock offers an "I would love to" to the comeback question. In the meantime, however, the superstar urges his fans to be cool.

Check out everything we've got on "Be Cool."

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