As seen above, WWE has released Cathy Kelley’s new sitdown interview with Simone Johnson, The Rock’s 18 year old daughter. Simone recently signed with WWE and has reported to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, where this interview was recorded. Johnson is now training to be the first-ever fourth generation Superstar, and will eventually make her WWE NXT debut.
Kelley asked Johnson how she would describe the feeling of signing with WWE. Simone said she’s loved pro wrestling for as long as she can remember, but she can’t put this opportunity into words.
“I keep just going back to the idea of… I’m like, ‘Oh, I feel like a kid again and I feel like 10 year old me.’ Because I have loved wrestling for as long as I can remember, and now that I have the opportunity to to finally pursue that, like, I don’t know, I can’t put it into words,” Johnson said.
Johnson revealed that her grandmother Ata Johnson is the one who got her into pro wrestling, not her famous future WWE Hall of Famer father. Cathy asked Simone if there was a specific moment that made her want to be a WWE Superstar.
“When I was 9 or 10, I was over at my grandma’s house and she was like, ‘Hey, I want to show you something.’ My grandma used to have like all the old WWE DVDs. She had like stacks and stacks of them, and we would just sit and watch those, and I remember watching everything from wrestling in the 1980s, to the Attitude Era, and then to present day, and just seeing the change in wrestling and how it’s progressed, especially to see what it is now. She’s actually the one who got me into wrestling and then the minute I stated watching it I fell in love, and I knew that it was what I wanted to do.”
Cathy asked Simone why now is the time to start training for a WWE career.
“I think that the opportunity just presented itself to me now, and it’s something that I know that I’ve always wanted and thankfully my parents have always been really supportive of it,” she answered.
Simone also revealed the first time she saw her dad wrestle live – the main event of WrestleMania 28. That match in 2012 saw The Rock return to the ring to defeat John Cena.
“My early memory of watching my dad was when he came back for WrestleMania 28, and that was the first time that I actually saw him wrestle live,” Simone said when asked about her early memories of her dad’s career. “I was so happy because I had always seen him act, but to see him do something so different and then to see him do something that I know that we both really connected with, it was amazing.”
Simone recently signed a WWE contract to begin training as the first-ever 4th generation Superstar. Cathy asked about how The Great One reacted to the decision. Simone said her whole family has always been supportive, and Dwayne has been with her every step of the way.
“He was so supportive,” Simone said. “My whole family has always been so supportive, and I’m really thankful for that, and he’s been with me every step of the way.”
Cathy mentioned how Simone comes from a long line of wrestling greats in the Maivia and Johnson families, and asked what it means to carry on that legacy in WWE.
“It means the world to me and it was definitely a big reason for me wanting to go into wrestling,” Simone said. “Because obviously wrestling was all I admired and I love it, but to know that my family has such a personal connection in it, it’s really special to me, and I feel really grateful to just be able to have this opportunity to not only wrestle, but also carry on that legacy.”
Simone did acknowledge that there is pressure in being the first-ever fourth generation Superstar. Cathy asked about that pressure.
“I do feel pressure, but I know that at the end of the day, it’s something that’s always going to be there. So, I know it’s up to me to take that pressure and use it to just motivate myself,” Simone said.
The video features footage from The Rock’s 2019 visit to the WWE Performance Center as Simone talked about having him there. Cathy asked if Simone has had the opportunity to train in the ring with her legendary father.
“I have,” Simone said of training in the ring with her dad. “He came down to the Performance Center for a day. It was great because he got to see everyone here, and he got to see, kind of, how our culture is here. Obviously I love spending time with him, but to be able to train with him and do something I know we both love, was great.”
Simone also revealed the best advice her dad has given her in regards to the world of pro wrestling. “He’s told me, always just to be authentic to myself and remember the importance of connecting with the audience,” Simone said.
Simone was also asked about the first time she got in the ring. She recalled how she stepped in the ring at the age of 11, when her dad was training for WrestleMania 29. That main event saw Rock drop the WWE Title to John Cena in a rematch from the week before.
“So, the first time I actually stepped foot in a ring was when I was 11,” Simone recalled. “At that time my dad was preparing to come back for WrestleMania 29, and he was training one day and he brought me with him, and to be able to just finally be in a ring, it was kind of surreal to me, and it just further cemented the idea that this was what I wanted to do.”
Cathy also asked Simone about the feeling she gets when she’s at the state-of-the-art Performance Center, and the culture there. Simone talked about how WWE developmental can be a team effort at times.
“I think what I love the most about the Performance Center is that we get to learn from some of the best coaches in the word, but we also get to learn so much from each other,” Simone said. “I think that’s something that’s really special. Everyone here is so driven and wrestling is a very individual sport, but here I feel like, in a way, we all are a team because we’re all trying to better the company, and better ourselves.”
Simone revealed another supporter who is always wishing her the best – Triple H. Cathy asked about talks she’s had with the WWE Hall of Famer in coming to the Performance Center.
“Triple H has always been so supportive and encouraging,” Simone said. “That’s really something that means the world to me and every time I see him he’s always wishing me the best, and to have his support means everything.”
It was revealed that Simone will continue furthering her college education while training for a WWE career. She’s currently studying entertainment management. Cathy asked how she plans to balance both.
“My parents have always been really big on me going to college, furthering my education, and I want to make them proud,” Simone said. “I also want that for myself, so I think in my head I knew that I was always going to have to figure out a way to balance them both, so I think keeping that in mind is how I’m able to do it.”
Cathy noted that entertainment management is the “best of both worlds” and Simone agreed. “Yeah, I’m really happy about that. I think they go really well together,” Simone said.
Cathy also asked Simone about any goals she has set for herself.
“I don’t know if I have any particular goals right now, more so just continue to work hard and be the best version of myself, and the best athlete I can,” Simone said, agreeing that she needs to hit the ground running.
Cathy then congratulated Simone and she thanked her to end the interview.
Stay tuned for updates on Simone’s career in NXT.