As 2022 ends, it’s exhausting to say that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had a extra influential 12 months in his appearing profession, even when that affect was his long-in-the-making Black Adam film nearly singlehandedly tearing aside the DC cinema slate for years. However was it his 12 months as an actor? Completely not, as a result of that’s, was, and endlessly shall be, 2000.
As a result of that’s when “Tsunkatse,” the fifteenth episode of Star Trek: Voyager’s penultimate sixth season aired, marking the debut of Johnson’s appearing profession earlier than he would actually explode onto the scene a 12 months later in The Mummy Returns. Born of an absurd thought for broadcaster UPN to cross over two of its greatest exhibits—Voyager and WWF nee WWE Smackdown—Johnson performs a serious function within the episode because the Pendari Champion, a hulking combatant within the melee bloodsport Tsunkatse that goes toe-to-toe with a captured Seven of 9.
It’s deeply foolish, if solely as a result of for Star Trek followers The Rock is maybe solely the third most notable visitor star—Deep House 9 legends J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Combs, greatest identified for enjoying Common Martok and Weyoun (amongst many different roles!) respectively, on Voyager’s predecessor have visitor turns too. Hertzler performs a fellow combatant within the ring of this wildly widespread deathmatch, a Hirogen—a race of Predator-esque hunters Voyager had beforehand encountered—who trains the captive Seven within the arts of Tsunkatse so she will survive lengthy sufficient to be rescued by the crew, whereas Combs dazzles as Penk, the slimy overlord of the Tsunkatse tournaments that captured Seven as his new final warrior.
However we’re to count on delight from Star Trek legends like these stars. The Rock, for Star Trek and for the world at massive past his flip as one of the vital iconic wrestlers of his age, was an untested, unproven appearing chameleon, at this level simply beginning out a journey that will result in field workplace dominance and, effectively, Johnson simply sort of taking part in a heightened approximation of himself throughout a sea of motion films. Generally, that’s all you want, and it’s all effectively and good, however outdoors of some particular roles, it’s exhausting to notably argue that Johnson has solid an appearing profession for himself that challenges him dramatically, as an alternative largely difficult him by what number of stunts he can do, what number of tight button up shirts he can match his big arms into the rolled sleeves of, what number of instances he can blur the road between the character he’s meant to be taking part in and the persona of the Rock within the viewers’s head.
The Pendari Champion is the predecessor to what Johnson’s profession would turn out to be actually and and spiritually, as a result of they’re actually simply the Rock with some Star Trek alien brow make-up utilized. Maybe then, it’s the ultimate type of Johnson’s extremely particular area of interest. The concept at its purest, when the Rock being the Rock, However Askance, was a novel factor. You can even say that Johnson has spent nearly two and a half decade lengthy appearing profession chasing the identical excessive as “Tsunkatse,” however finds himself unable replicate the enjoyment of the primary time he might flip the Rock right into a trans-medium efficiency.
Everything that Dwayne Johnson is—at the height of his wrestling career then, at the height of his acting one now—is in the Pendari Champion. The taciturn nature, breaking ever so slightly for a trademark People’s Eyebrow. The canonization of the Rock Bottom as the second greatest act of martial combat in Star Trek, just behind the double-fisted punch. The truth that he barely has dialogue, the truth that his costume needed to have a really low cost harness put in so he really regarded barely completely different than he does on any common episode of Smackdown. It’s the embrace of Johnson completely right into a bizarro Star Trek plot about making an attempt to flee a harmful alien struggle membership: he’s there to be Johnson, and but not Johnson. Is Dwayne Johnson the Pendari Champion, or is the Rock the Pendari Champion?
We have now Star Trek: Voyager to thank for this timeless query, the standard, ridiculous episode of tv that launched the one profession able to tanking a complete superhero film universe in a single go. Not less than Seven of 9 survived a Rock Backside the DCEU couldn’t.
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