Dwayne Johnson on Returning to WWE and Continuing His Family's Legacy (Exclusive)

The Rock spoke with ET at this year's Wrestlemania Kickoff event in Las Vegas on Thursday.

After joining the board of WWE's parent company, TKO, in January, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has made his return to the world of professional wrestling a serious deal -- and the wrestler-turned-actor says he's doing it all for the love of the game.

Johnson spoke with ET's Nischelle Turner at the WWE WrestleMania 40 Kickoff event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, noting the reason he's back is "very simple."

"I love it," Johnson said. "I love what I do, I love this world of wrestling, I love pro wrestling, I was born into pro wrestling, I will always be a pro wrestler at heart and in attitude too."

Johnson has been gunning for a chance to get into the ring against Roman Reigns, and the pair have been hinting that they will throw down at this year's WrestleMania XL in April. But for Johnson, being a part of the WWE and TKO is bigger than simply a return to wrestling -- for him, it feels like "a great opportunity" to make things bigger and better than ever.

Looking back at his career and what he's now building with the WWE, Johnson reflected on being a part of a wrestling lineage -- with his father, Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather, Peter Maivia, both legendary wrestlers before him.

"I think my dad would've never ever imagined anything like this, and my grandfather too," Johnson said proudly.

"I took a little visit on the day that I took the board appointment in New York City -- [when] we opened up the stock exchange that morning, which was awesome -- and I said to WWE president CEO Nick Kahn, I said, 'Hey, let's go down to Stamford and I just want to see everybody face to face at the Stamford WWE HQ, just so I can see them, say thank you and let's bring in the future together.'"

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announces he has joined the Board of Directors for TKO at the New York Stock Exchange on January 23, 2024. - Michelle Farsi/Zuffa LLC

Johnson said he'd never been to the base of operations before and he got a tour from Paul "Triple H" Levesque, CCO of the WWE, who showed him a slew of memorabilia.

"He goes, 'Hey, I got one more thing to show you,' and we went downstairs, [where] you see on the wall these pictures of these wrestlers," Johnson remembered. "He goes, 'Oh, look at that one.' And over in the corner is this incredibly well-lit picture, black-and-white, of my dad and Tony Atlas, the day they made history and became the first Black tag team champions."

"I have never seen that picture before and I was so choked up... I was really moved," Johnson added. "In that moment, I thought, 'Man, they were wrestling in what was a field house back then and wrestling has changed!' My dad just made history and the bumps and the bruises and the sacrifices that he made and that all those guys made. Now we're talking about the biggest WrestleMania of all time and the company signs a $5 billion deal with Netflix. It's just incredible."

"I'm so grateful for the work that he put in and the ground that he laid, [with] my grandfather and all the other wrestlers," Johnson said. "But also, I'm so grateful to come back in this capacity that I could come back and give to this business and give to the men and women in that locker room, and try and do my little part to do this with everything and create greater opportunities for all of them."

"It's the greatest thing in the world, so I'm so grateful now," he added.

WrestleMania XL is set to go down April 6-7 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 


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