WWE stars are paying tribute to Rocky Johnson, the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who died at the age of 75.
World Wrestling Entertainment issued a statement on Wednesday night confirming the industry Hall of Famer’s death.
“WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer, former World Tag Team Champion, and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has passed away at age 75,” it said.
“WWE extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans.”
—WWE (@WWE) January 16, 2020
Cause of death is so far unknown, however friend and fellow former wrestler Brian Blair said Johnson was “under the weather” last week, according to The Guardian.
“A loss for every fan of @WWE, Rocky Johnson was a barrier-breaking performer. Our thoughts are with his family at this time,” tweeted Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the WWE’s current executive.
—Triple H (@TripleH) January 16, 2020
Micky Foley, the inaugural WWF Hardcore Champion, tweeted: “I am so sorry to hear of the passing of the great Rocky Johnson. Always a gentleman, I always enjoyed talking with him. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the fans who loved him. A very sad day for wrestling. #RIPRockyJohnson.”
—Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) January 15, 2020
Others to pay tribute to Johnson included Matt Hardy, formerly of the Hardy Boyz, Kevin Nash, and American wrestler Dana Brooke.
Hardy said in a tweet: “Saddened to hear about the passing of Rocky Johnson. Rocky was always extremely friendly & kind to me every time I interacted with him over the years. My condolences & thoughts go out to his family.”
Nash addressed Dwayne Johnson directly, saying: “So sorry to hear about your Dad. He was always very kind to me. Hung out in Louisville when I was coming back from my torn quad. Laughed and he shared me his knowledge. Again sorry Dwayne.”
Brooke, 31, added: “My heart goes out to the family of @TheRock and may prayers be sent your way during this time! I am sorry for your loss!”
—Dana Brooke WWE (@DanaBrookeWWE) January 15, 2020
“Soul Man” was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 after a ground-breaking career.
After joining the organization in 1982, he and Tony Atlas, known collectively as the “Soul Patrol,” became the first African-American World Tag Team Champions just over a year later.
He also produced memorable rivalries Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco, and Adrian Adonis, before retiring in 1991 and training his son to wrestle, who of course went on to become on the industry’s most famous ever stars.