Mojo Rawley Reveals Why He Has Gronk to Thank for Getting Him Into the WWE
Posted by: Gronkowski
Well, technically it was Papa Gronk ... but you get the connection.
In a new interview with ABC 15 in Phoenix, Mojo Rawley -- the most hyped man anywhere -- shared the life path that took him from the NFL to WWE.
Having been signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent defensive lineman in 2009, Rawley (whose real name is Dean Muhtadi) was on the Arizona Cardinals when a calf injury sidelined his football career.
He was going to abandon pro sports all together and take a job at Merrill Lynch until destiny came a-knocking in the towering form of the Gronkowski family.
Muhtadi had long been friends with them after playing with Dan and Chris at the University of Maryland, where Rob and Gordie Jr. would often come visit to party ... erm, we mean drink tea and go to the library.
"It’s just a friendship that we’ve maintained through the years, especially before anyone had achieved any level of success," Rawley told ABC 15 of his bro-mance with the Pats top tight end. "We all kind of grew up together, trained with each other, kind of coached each other along and helped each other out whenever we could. It’s paid dividends for all of us, every single one of us."
Just as Mojo was resigning himself to a financial career in a suit behind a desk, Papa Gronk a.k.a. Gordy Gronkowski Sr. offered to introduce him to WWE veteran Mike "I.R.S." Rotunda, who was his college roommate at Syracuse University.
"They knew how much of a fan I was, and made the phone calls," said Rawley, who got his first interview with WWE during a live event in Washington, D.C.
"That was it. The rest was history ... I left the NFL to come here, and I couldn’t be happier about it."
Nearly six years after Muhtadi signed with WWE's NXT division and officially transformed into Mojo, he's now at the top of his game dominating matches as his new heel persona after breaking away (and almost literally breaking!) tag Hype Bros. team partner Zack Ryder.
Oh, and he's now friends and WWE co-workers with Rotunda's son, Windham -- better known as Bray Wyatt. Isn't it funny how the world is so connected?
Mojo dominated the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match at WrestleMania last year -- once again with a little help from his buddy Gronk, who notoriously jumped into the ring to help take down Jinder Mahal.
Following the "no days off" philosophy preached by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, Mojo will be heading back to WrestleMania in New Orleans in April -- but not before competing in matches all over the country, and the world.
And unlike the NFL, WWE has no official off-season.
You take your training protocols and regimen and you just throw them out the window, because they are not applicable here," Mojo said. "Football, it’s little bursts. A play is three to five seconds (sadly not six to nine) and that’s it. A wrestling match is a lot longer than that. You don’t know how long they’re going to be sometimes. You’ve got to train more for conditioning, endurance and stamina as opposed to necessarily maximum power.
"We’re on the road five days a week, traveling, flights, long drives every day. It’s really the travel that will beat you up. It’s not like football where you can hang on to those nagging injuries or postpone surgery for a month or two until the offseason, and you have this long break to come back brand-new. We don’t get that luxury here. It’s about maintaining and just finding ways to be able to show up every day in one piece and get the job done."
Catch him on "SmackDown Live" next Tuesday from L.A.'s Staples Center, airing live on USA Network at 8 p.m. ET. And keep an eye out in the crowd for Gronk, 'cos you never know when he's going to show up to cheer his best buddy.
In the meantime, check out what the boys are doing this weekend.
Before you go...