Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a The Rock, has etched his name in history as one of the biggest names ever in sports entertainment. The 50-year-old actor and businessman is a third-generation wrestler, and his daughter Simone followed in her dad’s size 15 footsteps two years ago by joining the WWE as well.
Her debut was since delayed due to her third knee surgery last September, but the game 20-year-old is reportedly training again. So in preparation for her upcoming splash, Simone Johnson revealed her new in-ring name with a subtle update to her handle on Twitter: Ava Raine. But it appears the name change was received by fans with a dull thud.
Her father’s stage name was a nod to his late father, Afro-Canadian “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson. And prior to being known as The Rock, Dwayne Johnson’s first moniker was actually Rocky Maivia, in honor of his dad and his Samoan grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia. So wrestling fans probably assumed Simone Johnson would keep the tradition going — or at least have a punny name of her own, like “The Pebble.” However, based on her replies, the fourth-generation grappler doesn’t see anything funny about that.
“[I] beg of you guys to find a new joke. anything,” she responded to one disappointed follower.
“[I] probably sound like a broken record & hopefully this is the last i’ll mention this, but i don’t understand why people being portrayed as separate individuals from their family name is such a heated topic,” she tweeted to another. “[A] name doesn’t discredit any prior accomplishments from any family.”
Simone did counter the criticism, though, noting that she “could build my entire career around my father & people would still bash me anyway.”
But rumor has it that Simone Johnson wouldn’t have been able to borrow anything close to her famous father’s wrestling name, or her own for that matter. According to an article from popular pro wrestling/MMA journalist Dave Meltzer, WWE owner Vince McMahon issued a memo discouraging newer talent from using certain names. The move is supposedly aimed at wrestlers who may have found some fame prior to joining the organization, or at those whose fame could possibly be parlayed elsewhere.
“As is always the case, the memo only applies to people who are newer and who they decided it applies to. Randy Orton isn’t going to change to Frank Trevino, and Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey don’t have this applied to them,” Meltzer shared in the April 2022 edition of Wrestling Observer Newsletter. He also added the following: “[F]rom this point forward, they don’t want anyone new using former names from elsewhere or real first or last names.”