During an interview with Screen Rant alongside co-star Emily Blunt promoting their new film, Jungle Cruise, Johnson noticed host Joseph Deckelmeier was wearing a Bret Hart t-shirt and proceeded to explain to Blunt why he had such an affection for 'The Hitman.'
“One thing before we leave, and you’ll appreciate this,” Johnson said as he turned toward Blunt. “The T-shirt he’s wearing, is [of] a guy who didn’t have to be, but he was so good to me when I was a rookie professional wrestler, and his name was Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.
“He comes from a very famous wrestling family. But at that time, he was World Champion and there were a lot of guys in that world at that time, in ’96, that didn’t necessarily embrace me.”
Johnson continued to explain that the environment in the then-WWF was extremely competitive and the locker room had "a lot of sharks in the water, but that guy, Bret, and he was World Champion, showed me how it's done."
Blunt then asked Johnson why she thought the legendary wrestler was so nice to him, which Johnson responded with acknowledgement that the two came from similar legendary wrestling lineages.
“I think it’s because our families knew each other, he knew that I came from a lineage of pro-wrestling, and that I had a real love and respect for wrestling. And he was just a great guy, and I always like to give him props where I can.”
Johnson is part of the legendary Anoa'i family, which includes his grandfather, 'High Chief' Peter Maivia, The Wild Samoans (Sika and Afa), Rikishi, Yokozuna, current WWE SmackDown Tag-Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) and current WWE Universal Champion and "top guy" Roman Reigns.
Hart family patriarch Stu Hart was a former professional wrestler, booker, promoter, coach and trainer best known for founding and operating Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
All of Hart's 12 children either became or married professional wrestlers, which included several competing in his Stampede Wrestling promotion.
Bret and late brother Owen Hart were the biggest standouts of Stu Hart's children, achieving global superstar superstardom with WWE.
Bret Hart was a 5-time World Champion during his lengthy run in WWE and is regarded as one of (if not) the greatest technical wrestler of all-time.