With such a strong family legacy, I’m surprised that Simone Johnson is facing criticism already – and for such a minute reason. Now going forward under the business name Ava Raine, Simone is a fourth-generation wrestler employed by WWE. Her great grandfather Peter Maivia and grandfather Rocky Johnson are 2008 WWE Hall of Famers and, let’s be honest, you already know with the last name Johnson that she’s the daughter of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the 17x champion who paved out a huge career in Hollywood post-wrestling.
Born in August 2001 to Dwayne Johnson and his former wife, Dany Garcia, Simone Johnson has pursued a career in professional wrestling for the last 2 years. She started using WWE’s Performance Center to train in February 2020 and was formally offered a contract by the company in May 2020. However, two back-to-back knee injuries have kept the 20-year-old from making the jump to NXT 2.0 or beyond. This hasn’t completely sidelined her career, though, as WWE recently debuted her in-ring name – Ava Raine
The announcement of the athlete’s in-ring name has caused quite a stir online. Many wrestling fans don’t think the name suits her at all or she’s simply being lambasted for not carrying the last name Johnson into the ring. The outrage online was so big that Simone was forced to make a public statement.
According to NY Post, the up-and-coming wrestler stated:
I probably sound like a broken record and 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. A name doesn’t discredit any prior accomplishments from any family. I could build my entire career around my father and people would still bash me anyway.
A name is going to be such a small part of her overall character in WWE. And name only takes you so far. Executives within the promotion aren’t going to push Simone aka Ava unless they see star potential in her. Only time will tell if she’s truly capable of carrying the Johnson name into 2022 and later.
What do you think of the name change? Comment and let me know!