The Rock makes a triumphant comeback to WWE SmackDown after a decade-long absence.

The Rock returned to SmackDown for the first time in 10 years on September 16, 2023. The crowd at the Ball Arena in Denver erupted in excitement as The Rock made his way to the ring. He spoke to the fans about how much he loved SmackDown and how much he loved the WWE fans.

WWE SmackDown begins with Pat McAfee making his way to the ring. He expresses his excitement to be in front of the amazing WWE universe and welcomes everyone to the show. Just then, Austin Theory enters the scene.

Both men stand face to face in the ring, and Theory begins to taunt Pat, claiming that this is “Austin Theory Live” and that Pat should be booed because he’s 26 years old. Theory goes on to mock Pat’s past, referencing a mugshot. He threatens to hurt Pat, similar to what happened to Aaron Rodgers.

Pat, however, insists he doesn’t want to fight Theory. He calls out Theory’s disrespectful attitude, reminding him that the show belongs to the fans. Pat asks Theory if he understands, and then delivers The Rock’s famous catchphrase: “IF ‘YA SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING!”

Suddenly, The Rock himself makes his entrance, receiving a massive pop from the crowd. The three men stand in the ring as fans chant “Rocky” and “Holy shit.”

Theory questions if The Rock knows whose ring he’s in, but The Rock cuts him off with a commanding “Shut your bitch ass up.” The Rock removes his jacket and delivers his iconic line: “Finally, The Rock has come back to Denver,” which excites the crowd, leading to “Rocky” chants.

Theory sarcastically remarks that the “ignorant people” get to see The Rock and Austin in the ring again, but this time, it’s a real showdown. The Rock starts to respond, but Theory interrupts with “It doesn’t matter what The Rock says.”

The Rock insists that what he says indeed matters, and he emphasizes the importance of what the people say. He references bringing out Stone Cold and imagines what Stone Cold would say in this situation, leading to a “hell yeah” chant from the fans.

The Rock identifies Theory as being from “A-Town,” and Theory agrees. The Rock playfully calls him an “A-hole” and predicts that in a few seconds, the left side of the arena will chant “You are,” while the right side will respond with “an asshole.” The fans enthusiastically join in, chanting “You are an asshole.”

Theory grows frustrated, but The Rock praises the crowd’s participation, highlighting that it’s the people’s show. He continues by telling Theory that he may not know who he is, but he certainly knows what he is—an asshole. He points out that Theory came to The Rock’s show and insulted the fans. The Rock’s theory is that he’ll whip Theory’s “candy ass” all over Denver.

Theory retaliates with a right hand, but The Rock counters by tossing him into the ropes and delivering a spinebuster. The Rock stands tall, gazing at the electrified crowd. He runs to the ropes and executes the People’s Elbow. His music hits, and he gestures to Pat, encouraging him to do the People’s Elbow.

Pat obliges, kicking Austin’s arm and running to the ropes to land his version of the People’s Elbow onto Theory. The Rock and Pat celebrate on opposite sides of the ring as the fans erupt in excitement.