Great column, Joe. We share the same opinion about the Rock.
Steve Austin's popularity was fueled by the temporary frenzy of liberalism. Once the shock (or the smoke screens) of stunning your boss, his family, drinking beer, saying ass, doing the middle finger wore off, America's emotions began to come back down to earth.
On the international stage, the Rock is a much bigger star. The Rock is more appealing, he breaks all kinds of barriers, and unlike the wrestlers who have gone to Hollywood to be type casted, the Rock took risks to do films that a normal meat head wrestler would not put themselves into. Some of those films weren't great, but that wasn't the point. The idea was to develop the Rock's acting ability add more to his experience. What the Rock did in wrestling, putting his character in vulnerable positions, putting a lot of wrestlers over is similar to what he's done in Hollywood with the accepting film project which are challenging and out of character. A lot of wrestlers don't have that aura where they could put themselves in the receiving end of an undesirable scenario and still come out looking fabulous.