Is Young Rock’s Downtown Bruno Based on a Real Person? Where is He Now?

‘Young Rock’ follows the remarkable and often tumultuous early years of the wrestler turned actor and businessman Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The comedy series takes a lighthearted look at his younger days, introducing a variety of colorful characters inspired by real people that influenced The Rock’s life in one way or another. Season 2 opens with the Johnson family going through some tough times, and Dwayne is forced to stay with an associate of his father — a man named Downtown Bruno. It looks like Downtown Bruno is going to make a few more appearances on ‘Young Rock,’ so we decided to take a look at whether he’s based on a real person or not. Here’s what we found.

Is Downtown Bruno Based on a Real Person?

Yes, Downtown Bruno, whose actual name is Bruno Lauer, is very real and actually hosted Dwayne Johnson in his younger days when the Johnson family was seemingly going through a rough patch. Lauer is quite the icon in the American professional wrestling industry and has played the role of wrestling manager, referee, and also (occasionally) as a wrestler. He is also widely known by his ring name, Harvey Wippleman.

Image Credit: WWE/YouTube

Lauer was born on October 27, 1965, and grew up in Walls, Mississippi. However, he spent most of his time in nearby Memphis, which is also where he got his start in the world of professional wrestling. His early career involved working with wrestling promotions in the Southern United States, and it was around the mid-1980s that Lauer seemingly adopted the name “Downtown Bruno.”

Image Credit: WWE/YouTube

In 1991, Lauer began working in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and took on the ring name “Harvey Wippleman.” He became popular as a “heel” manager, representing wrestlers like Sid Justice, Kamala, Giant Gonzalez, and Bertha Faye. Interestingly, in 2000, Lauer also reportedly became the only man to win the WWF Women’s Championship after he defeated The Kat while dressed up as a woman. He seemingly lost the title the following day in another match. After that, Lauer worked predominantly backstage for the WWE while also continuing to manage talent. The year 2008 saw the release of his autobiography, ‘Wrestling with the Truth.’

Where is Downtown Bruno Now?

In 2020, Dwayne Johnson proclaimed on a social media post that Bruno Lauer was the Greatest of All Time (GOAT). As depicted on ‘Young Rock,’ the real-life namesake of the show drew attention to how Lauer had given him a place to stay in his younger days.

Image Credit: TheRock/Instagram

In January 2021, Lauer and Johnson were once again in the news when the latter gifted the former a new truck. On the occasion, Johnson reminisced about how, when he was 15, Lauer had given him his last $40 to get a car, which ended up having a homeless person asleep in the back. A version of this incident is also seen in season 1 of ‘Young Rock.’

As of 2021, it was reported that Bruno Lauer was still working with Vince McMahon’s WWE in a backstage capacity. In June 2021, Lauer was also elected as a member of the board of aldermen of his hometown of Walls, Mississippi — a position he will hold for a four-year term. It appears that he presently resides in Walls with his wife, Gail Lundy, and their two children.

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