The wrestling world has seen its fair share of multigenerational legacies, but few are as storied as the lineage of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. From his great-grandfather, Peter Maivia, to his father, Rocky Johnson, and then to himself, The Rock, wrestling runs deep in the family’s veins. Now, a new chapter is being written as The Rock’s daughter, Simone Johnson, known as Ava Raine in the wrestling world, steps into the squared circle.
Simone Johnson’s desire to pursue a career in wrestling dates back to 2017, and in 2022, she commenced her training at the WWE Performance Center. In October of that same year, Johnson made her much-anticipated NXT debut, taking on the persona of Ava Raine and aligning herself with the Schism faction.
In a heartfelt conversation with Kevin Hart on “Hart to Heart,” The Rock candidly discussed his daughter’s foray into the wrestling business. He reminisced, “That was a special moment when my daughter Simone said, ‘I want to get in the business.’ Much like I said that years before her. ‘What business?’ ‘The wrestling business.’ I said, ‘I love it.’ Immediately, I loved it, it was a great sense of pride as a father.”
However, as any caring parent would, The Rock also acknowledged the concerns that come with his daughter’s chosen path. He delved into the complexities of the wrestling world, both its grandeur and its challenges. He expressed his thoughts, saying, “But then, of course, as a parent, you start to think about all the pitfalls, all the hardships, all that she’s going to go through because I’ve lived that business. There is the pomp and circumstance of pro wrestling; the pageantry, WrestleMania, the bright lights, big contracts, global company, but then there is that underbelly in the world of pro wrestling. All that stuff you have to deal with, the backstage politics, all of that. I start thinking about all of that for her.”
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Yet, despite these concerns, The Rock’s fatherly pride shines through. He believes in the values, philosophy, and work ethic he has instilled in his daughter and is confident that she is prepared for the journey ahead. He shared, “She made that decision when she was 16. She was ready to go. For someone to say, ‘here’s what I believe my life path is and my journey, it’s in the world of pro wrestling, that my great-grandfather was in, my grandfather was in, my dad was in.’ She’s the first fourth-generation wrestler.”
As he discussed his daughter’s aspirations, The Rock also acknowledged the positive evolution of the wrestling industry for females. He highlighted the significant changes over the last two decades, emphasizing the increased inclusivity, respect, and opportunities for female wrestlers.
Ava Raine’s presence in NXT as a member of Schism is a testament to her dedication. Her in-ring debut at NXT Stand & Deliver 2023 marked a significant milestone, and she continues to make strides in the wrestling world.