We don’t yet know if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will main event WrestleMania 40 — or wrestle anywhere as part of a comeback he’s been teasing over the past several months. But we now know that if he does, it will be as a member of the Board of Directors for WWE’s parent company TKO.
And that he’ll own the rights to “The Rock” name when he does it.
Endeavor-owned TKO announced as much this morning (Jan. 23) in a press release:
TKO Appoints Dwayne Johnson to Board of Directors
Johnson Granted Full Ownership of Trademarked Name, “The Rock”
NEW YORK—(BUSINESS WIRE)— TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO) (“TKO”), a premium sports and entertainment company, has appointed Dwayne Johnson to its Board of Directors, effective today.
Johnson, one of the most decorated WWE Superstars in company history and the most followed American man globally on social media platforms, brings decades of experience in live entertainment and sports to the Board. Through his expansive business portfolio, which includes Seven Bucks Productions, Teremana Tequila, ZOA Energy, Project Rock, and the recently combined spring football league, the United Football League (UFL), Johnson has significant experience identifying and cultivating revenue generating media rights, live events, sponsorship, licensing, and social media opportunities. The appointment of Johnson reflects TKO’s commitment to delivering long-term value and strong performance for shareholders through strategic growth initiatives across both UFC and WWE.
Vince McMahon, Executive Chairman of the Board, TKO, said: “Very few people on the planet understand the convergence of sports, entertainment, media, and business like Rock. We are proud to have him join the TKO board to help take our company to new heights.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, said: “My grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, and my dad, Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson, would’ve never thought this day would come. 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. 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. At my core, I’m a builder who builds for and serves the people, and Ari 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.”
Ariel Emanuel, CEO, TKO, said: “I am thrilled to partner with Dwayne and welcome his immense talent to TKO’s Board. Dwayne brings an incredible track record of creating content and building globally recognized consumer brands, and he will play a key role in realizing our ambitions for TKO.”
WWE has also entered into a services and merchandising agreement with Johnson that provides for his promotional, licensing, and other services, and an intellectual property assignment agreement pursuant to which Johnson has secured ownership of the trademarked name, “The Rock”. The name is derived from his father, WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, who was the first Black champion in WWE history (alongside partner Tony Atlas). Johnson’s grandfather, Peter Maivia, a Samoan-American professional wrestler, was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
The addition of Johnson, as well as today’s appointment of Brad Keywell to TKO’s Board of Directors, will increase TKO’s board from 11 to 13 members.
It’s the latest big move from Johnson, who’s bouncing back from a relatively rough 2023 with promotion of the newest spring football league, a move to more serious acting projects, and a potential return to WWE television.
Now we’ll see what else The Rock and TKO have cooking.