When it comes to professional wrestlers that demonstrate massive crossover entertainment potential, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the first person that comes to mind. The most electrifying man in sports entertainment was a mega star in the WWE before going on to set his sights on acting, and did a darn good job in many of his appearances. After all, the Fast & Furious franchise became a mega-blockbuster thanks to Dwayne.
And now, his daughter Simone Johnson is undertaking a WWE career of her own.
News of Simone's interest in professional wrestling first began bubbling back in 2020, but it appears as though she's finally gearing up to step foot in a WWE ring. With that being said, Simone recently shared her new wrestling name, and fans certainly have a lot to say about her choice. Keep reading for everything we know about Simone's wrestling career.
The Rock's daughter is training with the WWE.
It was revealed by The Great One on Instagram in 2020 that his progeny has officially signed with the WWE and started training full-time at the organization's performance center in Orlando, Florida. The 20-year-old was previously enrolled in the performance center program on a part-time basis while finishing up high school. Now that she completed her studies, she can focus on furthering her family's pro-wrestling lineage.
Simone's great-grandfather, "High Chief" Peter Maivia, along with her grandfather Rocky Johnson, and her father, were all some of the top-ranking talents in their day and are current WWE Hall of Famers.
Famed wrestling superstar Paul Levesque, aka, Triple H, released a statement on Simone's future with the organization when her deal with them was announced. He spoke to her work ethic, family history with the league, and portents of great expectations from the young performer.
"Simone Johnson’s unbridled passion and incredible drive have earned her a coveted spot training with the elite athletes from around the world at the WWE Performance Center," he said at the time. "Not only does Simone now have an opportunity to cultivate and display her passion for WWE within the Performance Center, but she’ll carry on the tradition of her incredible family lineage while creating her own impact as WWE’s first fourth-generation Superstar.”
Simone just announced her new wrestling name, Ava Raine, and critics are out in full force.
On May 29, 2022, Simone announced to her fans that she was rebranding completely as Ava Raine, the new name that she would wrestle under. Naturally, critics came out of the woodwork to slam Simone for her choice and offer joking suggestions for replacement names. Ever-fearless like her father, Simone quickly clapped back at her critics.
Simone then doubled down on her points against her critics. "I probably sound like a broken record, and hopefully this is the last I'll mention this," she wrote. "But I don't understand why people being portrayed as separate individuals from their family name is such a heated topic."
She also noted, "A name doesn't discredit any prior accomplishments from any family," before adding, "I could build my entire career around my father and people would still bash me anyway."
How does The Rock feel about Simone's WWE future?
It's no secret that wrestling isn't exactly an easy business, which would lead many to think that The Rock really wouldn't want his daughter to get too caught up in it all. The WWE also has a reputation for being less-than-friendly to new employees. However, one would imagine that they'd treat Simone a bit differently given her family's long-running history of proven success for the organization.
Nonetheless, Dwayne is incredibly supportive of his daughter's journey and has given off nothing but positive vibes regarding her foray into the world of sports entertainment. "I love the idea," he told Good Morning America in 2018. "We had this big conversation, she came with me to Hong Kong [and] Beijing. I said, ‘Honey, whatever your passion is, I support that.’ And wrestling was good to me, I started my career in Madison Square Garden. So, yeah, bring it on, she’s going to be a champ."
Despite announcing her WWE affiliation in 2020, Simone has faced several knee injuries that have delayed her debut, per Ringside News. She is expected to make her debut in late 2022.
Simone talked about the fear of living up to the expectations she's created for herself as a professional wrestler, and not comparing herself to others in her family.
"It means the world to me. To know that my family has such a personal connection to wrestling is really special to me and I feel grateful to have the opportunity, not only to wrestle, but to carry on that legacy." She also spoke to the same subject during a podcast appearance: "Never meeting expectations that I have on myself, I think that would probably be the biggest [fear]."
"And just, like, not living up to the legacy. But then, when I think about that, I also feel like that's, in a way, comparing myself. So I feel like probably just never falling into that trap of comparing myself."
It seems like Simone has a good head on her shoulders and a realistic approach on how she'll carve out a fulfilling career for herself.