Rocky Johnson


Real Name - Rocky Johnson
Birthdate - n/a
6' 245 lbs.- Davie, FL

Aliases - Sweet Ebony Diamond, "Soulman" Johnson

Athletic background - Boxing (Professional), Gymnastics, Wrestling (High School)

Teachers - n/a

Professional background - ???(`64-`6?), Canada(`67-`69), Detroit(`69), Los Angeles(`70), San Francisco(`71-`74), Georgia(`75), Florida(`75-`76), Dallas(`76), Memphis(`76-`77), Florida(`77-`78), Dallas(`78), WWWF(`79), Memphis(`80), Mid-Atlantic(`81), Portland(`81-`82), WWF(`83-`84), Hawaii(`84-`86), Memphis(`87), WWC(`88), WWE(`03)

Groups - none

Peak Years - `74-`81

Career Highlights - n/a

Finisher(s) -
- Boston Crab
- Over-the-Shoulder Backbreaker
- Dropkick

Favorites -
- Thesz Press
- Overhead Forearm
- Headbutt
- Headlock Takeover
- Jabs & Haymaker

Ringwork Rating -
move set - 7
science - 3
aerial - 4
power - 7
strikes - 8

Intangible Rating -
entertainment - 6
selling - 6
bumping - 5
carrying - 5
heat - 6
legacy - 6

Place in History - Rocky Johnson is one of a handful of fathers of pro-wrestlers who acheived greater success than him, however he might become the most notable case as his son has become one of the biggest stars ever to grace the wrestling world. But it all came from somewhere. Rocky Johnson began making a name for himself in the early 70s as one of the best athletes turned pro and he showed fantastic potential. Over the next few years he became a successful journeyman with strong runs in his homestate of Florida, Dallas as well as Memphis. He was a constant challenger to the NWA title working Jack Brisco, Terry Funk and Harley Race numerous times. Johnson's greatest problem was that he never developed into a top worker before he began his bouncing from gig to gig and he never became one, probably because of it. He eventually half-timed wrestling and while he remained a good athlete with a natural charisma, he never fully lived up to the potential he had. Marrying the daughter of top heel Peter Maivia allowed Johnson more breaks, most notable his runs in the WWWF/WWF, where he was pushed hard, but didn't quite live up to the hype. He's gotten a few chances in recent times due to his son's success, but again he's not really seized them fully. While Rocky Johnson is a notable figure as a top black star in the often-racist world of wrestling his legacy is often overblown and he is not a Hall of Fame caliber star.

Rocky Johnson, left, and his brother Ricky. After 30 years in the business, Rocky Johnson is more than happy to give back. As the boss of the WWE's 'finishing school' in Davie, Florida, Johnson has overseen the polishing of recent WWE arrivals like Brock Lesnar, Orlando Jordan and Sylvain Grenier. He's more than happy to do it. "It takes up a lot of my time because I want it to. I enjoy it. I want to put something back in the business that I made a good living at all my life," Johnson told SLAM! Wrestling while on a recent trip through Toronto to visit family, including his brother Ricky Johnson. The classes run four hours each day, from 10-12 noon, and 2-4 p.m., five days of the week, with Wednesdays and Sundays off. However, the students are welcome to use the facility to practice on their days off or on the off-hours. To a veteran like Johnson, it's obvious who is putting the extra effort in, and who isn't. "I can see the ones who are training, and the ones who are just saying, 'Oh, well, I'm getting a paycheque,'" he said. The wrestlers Johnson works with are under developmental contracts with the WWE, and most have already worked the Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion run by Jim Cornette in Louisville, KY. But Johnson stresses that it isn't a school for beginners. "It's really not a wrestling school. I get guys that have had experience in wrestling. They come out of Louisville, OVW. I teach them, more or less, the skills, teach them mainly psychology. You put a headlock on, now tell me why you put it on." He has been at it for almost three years now, and before that, of course, he had a major hand in training his son, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) for his wrestling career. Johnson also has run a weightlifting gym for 18 years. As a trainer, there are both highs and lows. "My favourite part is watching them succeed and make it. It gives me a feeling that I can't describe. I watch these kids, how hard they train. It goes back to myself 30 years ago, and we never had the equipment and the stuff they have today, and the vitamins and the proteins. These kids today are bigger and stronger, coming at you 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, 18 years old. When I first started, if you weighed 250 pounds, you were a monster." At any one time, he might have eight or 10 wrestlers around, usually for six months or so. Over the course of a year, he'll have a hand in the careers of about two-dozen grapplers. "Out of 20 to 25 guys, you might guy four that make it, and out of that four, you might get one or two that's a top, main eventer in a couple of years." He feels a sense of failure when someone doesn't measure up to their promise. "I don't want to put six months to a year into them and they don't make it. They've lost and I feel that I've lost too," he said. "It's a personal loss. It's not money because I don't get paid by these kids." He has to establish an emotional disconnect--just because he might really like a student doesn't mean that they have all the tools to make it as a WWE superstar. Johnson compiles charts of the progress of his students and files once a week to the talent department at the WWE. He has two assistants to help him with the training. The academy starts up again in earnest in September, and while there are still wrestlers working out, Johnson is on a well-deserved vacation. Besides the stop in Toronto, he is driving out to his birthplace of Nova Scotia to see more family with his fiancee Sheila and his mother-in-law-to-be, Granny. (His divorce to Ata Maivia was finalized about six months ago.) Then, they will all drive back to Biloxi, MI, where Sheila lives and where Rocky keeps a couple of draft horses that he shows in competition. The vacation has also meant a bit of shopping for his first granddaughter, who lives just a few doors down from his Florida condo. "That's my pride and joy, my little angel. I call her Precious," said a beaming Rocky Johnson. 1