Like his father and grandfather, several of Johnson's other (non-blood) relatives are or were professional wrestlers, including his uncles, Afa and Sika Anoaʻi (The Wild Samoans) and his cousins, Rodney (Yokozuna), Solofa (Rikishi), Matt (Rosey) and Eddie (Umaga). When Johnson declared his intent to become a wrestler, his father initially resisted, but then agreed to train him himself, warning that he would not go easy on him. Veteran wrestler Pat Patterson got Johnson several tryout matches with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1996. Under his real name, he defeated The Brooklyn Brawler at a house show and lost the other matches to Chris Candido and Owen Hart. After wrestling at Jerry Lawler's United States Wrestling Association as Flex Kavana and winning the USWA World Tag Team Championship twice with Bart Sawyer in the summer of 1996, Johnson signed a WWF contract. He received additional training from Tom Prichard, alongside Achim Albrecht and Mark Henry.