“The Rock” is going to need some new custom business suits for his well-muscled 6-foot-5 frame.
Dwayne Johnson, the actor, former WWE star and most followed American man on social media platforms in the world, was appointed Tuesday to the board of directors of TKO Group, the publicly traded company consisting of the UFC and WWE.
Johnson is one of the most well-known wrestlers to ever come out of WWE, winning the promotion’s championship eight times.
In addition to his appointment, Johnson, 51, has been granted full ownership of “The Rock” trademark, which had been owned by WWE. And Johnson has signed a new services and merchandising agreement with WWE “that provides for his promotional, licensing, and other services,” per a release.
“Being on the TKO Board of Directors, and taking full ownership of my name, ‘The Rock,’ is not only unprecedented, but incredibly inspiring as my crazy life is coming full circle,” Johnson said in a statement. “At my core, I’m a builder who builds for and serves the people, and [TKO CEO] Ari [Emanuel] is building something truly game-changing.
“I’m very motivated to help continue to globally expand our TKO, WWE, and UFC businesses as the worldwide leaders in sports and entertainment — while proudly representing so many phenomenal athletes and performers who show up every day putting in the hard work with their own two hands to make their dreams come true and deliver for our audiences. I’ve been there, I’m still there and this is for them.”
Earlier this month, Johnson teased a potential match with his cousin, WWE universal champion Roman Reigns, in an appearance on WWE Raw. The match could happen at WrestleMania 40 in April. If it comes to fruition, it would be Johnson’s first proper wrestling match since 2013.
Since his time in WWE, he’s been busy, whether it be with his TV and film studio Seven Bucks Productions or Teremana Tequila or Zoa Energy or Project Rock, the Under Armour apparel line that has a deal with the UFC for fighters’ fight-week footwear. Johnson is also a partner in the recently merged United Football League.
Despite all of his ventures, Johnson has stayed connected to TKO’s properties. He will star as MMA legend and UFC veteran Mark Kerr in an upcoming movie, and he is a vocal fan of the UFC (Johnson is a longtime friend of WWE president Nick Khan). Nahnatchka Khan, Nick’s sister, was the creator and executive producer of Johnson’s show “Young Rock.”
“Very few people on the planet understand the convergence of sports, entertainment, media, and business like ‘Rock,'” TKO executive chairman Vince McMahon said in a statement. “We are proud to have him join the TKO board to help take our company to new heights.”
“The Rock” name comes from Johnson’s original name in WWE, Rocky Maivia, which was a tribute to his family. Johnson is a third-generation professional wrestler. His grandfather was “High Chief” Peter Maivia and his father was Rocky Johnson, who was the first Black champion in WWE history (winning the tag titles with Tony Atlas). Both are in the WWE Hall of Fame.
“My grandfather, ‘High Chief’ Peter Maivia, and my dad, Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson, would’ve never thought this day would come,” Johnson said in a statement. “Which is why I’m very humbled to have a seat at the table that has decades of history and family legacy for me. A table that my family helped to build.”
The TKO Group’s board will expand to 13 people with the appointment of Johnson and Brad Keywell, the CEO of artificial intelligence company Uptake Technologies.