Johnson made his WWF debut as Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather's ring names, although his real name was acknowledged by the announcers. He was initially reluctant to take this ring name but was persuaded by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. He was given the nickname "The Blue Chipper" and his lineage was played to on TV, where he was hyped as the WWF's first third-generation wrestler. Maivia, a clean-cut face character, was pushed heavily from the start despite his wrestling inexperience. He debuted on Monday Night Raw as a member of Marc Mero's entourage on November 4, 1996. His first match came at Survivor Series, on November 17, in an eight-man elimination tag match; he was the sole survivor and eliminated the final two members of the opposing team, Crush and Goldust. On February 13, 1997, he won the Intercontinental Championship from Hunter Hearst Helmsley on Monday Night Raw. Maivia then successfully defended the title against Helmsley at In Your House 13: Final Four. He had his first WrestleMania match at WrestleMania 13 where he was victorious in his Intercontinental Championship defense against The Sultan. WWF fans started to reject his character and push from the company. He defeated Bret Hart by disqualification in a title defense on the March 31 episode of Raw is War. Behind the scenes, Hart mentored Johnson for his first year in WWF and refused to be booked to take the title from him. On April 20, at In Your House 14: Revenge of the 'Taker, he lost to Savio Vega by countout but retained the title. Audiences became increasingly hostile toward Maivia, with chants of "die, Rocky, die" and "Rocky sucks" being heard during his matches.