While Deonna Purrazzo has gone on to become synonymous with IMAPCT Wrestling, the current Knockouts Champion has also spent time in WWE.
Purrazzo initially worked as an extra for the company in 2014, before appearing in NXT the following year and into 2016. Following this early run the Virtuosa left the company before returning in May 2018.
After again appearing in NXT and the newly launched NXT UK, Purrazzo was released in April 2020. Although not before passing on her knowledge and experience to younger wrestlers such as Simone Johnson, who just so happens to be the daughter of WWE legend The Rock.
Speaking in a new interview with Stephanie Chase, Purrazzo reflected on her time working with Simone.
“That was really cool. It was like a year or so after Simone had already been training at the PC. Simone is great. She loves wrestling and loves picking people’s brains and always asking ‘would you stay and do extra training with me?’ Sara Amato would ask me to stay and do extra training and really help her. When we did get paired up together, it was fun because she was learning wrestling before my eyes. To be able to give back a little bit and teach her the right way and for her to know that she would be safe and could ask questions and she’s not going to get hurt and she’s being taught the right way, I am honoured to have been part of that. Giving back is so important, especially because it’s Simone. That’s The Rock’s daughter and that’s cool because you’re teaching this generational wrestler who is hopefully one day going to go on and be a star and also carve out her own path. There were so many elements that were really cool,”
It was during one of these training sessions that Purrazzo revealed that The Rock actually came to watch for himself. After working out in the ring with Simone, the IMPACT star then got to go one on one with The Great One as they discussed the pair’s performance.
When The Rock came, no one knew,” Purrazzo recalled. “Sara Amato came up to me and said, ‘we’re going to partner you with Simone, this is the drill you’re going to do.’ No problem, we had been working together for quite a few training sessions at that point. With all that training, it was like an ‘all in day’ so everyone was at the PC and every class was going at once and The Rock just kind of walked around and was watching. Simone and I, it was our turn, and he’s sitting ringside and it’s just like ‘oh crap.’ It was also like, I wanted to make her look good in front of her dad. I wanted her to shine and for him to see her kick ass and be a superstar. I was honoured to be able to do that and then I got to meet with him and him critique what we did. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will probably never ever happen for me again. For that to be on YouTube and out there and people see that moment, it’s really special for me.”
After being released by WWE Deonna Purrazzo joined IMPACT a month later. The star has since gone on to win the IMPACT Knockouts Championship on two occasions. Purrazzo’s most recent title defence came at Slammiversary where she defeated surprise opponent Thunder Rosa.
Simone Johnson started training at the WWE Performance Center in early 2020 before signing a contract later that year. The fourth generation wrestler is yet to make her in-ring television debut.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.