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Former College Football Players Standing out in Developmental

Mojo Rawley and Baron Corbin are getting praise for their work, especially among those without prior wrestling experience. At one point, both men attending training camp with the Arizona Cardinals at the same time. Those on the main roster who had no prior wrestling experience before attending developmental include Bray Wyatt, Big E Langston, and Roman Reigns.

Credit Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer Newsletter


  1. Who is Dolph jobbing to tonight?

  2. How could Bray Wyatt have no wrestling background? That seems impossible based on his name alone. I can't believe didnt make him wrestle as a kid.

  3. he had no prior pro wrestling experience and left college to sign with WWE. He played college ball

  4. Apparently, Mojo Rawley and Baron Corbin

  5. I don't get why they ever stopped aggressively recruiting former football players. With the history of wrestling being built on the backs of guys like Ernie Ladd and Wahoo McDaniel, you'd think it would be common sense to keep pushing that legacy.

    I think the problem with WWE's developmental system is that whoever is in charge gets stuck on one idea so they'll hire a whole bunch of indy workers, or models, or football players, and then get discouraged when 90% of the guys don't amount to anything, so they move onto the next group, and so on. They honestly need a bunch of talent scouts who are specialized in one area, like football, so they continuously bring in a diverse roster of guys.

  6. He actually attended my college at the same time I was there. He was a backup center on the football team.

  7. I remember seeing Corbin on NXT and thinking "that dude's got a solid look if he gets rid of the dumb chin strap." So there's my contribution to this conversation

  8. It's probably harder to get former NFL players than it was when Wahoo and Ladd joined. Pro football players didn't make nearly as much money as they did now. Nor were there as many lucrative jobs in broadcasting for former NFL players.

  9. Except those guys were shitty wrestlers.

    And 90% of the indy guys haven't flaked. Punk, Bryan, Cesaro...they're some of the best parts of the show.

  10. Wahoo was one of the biggest stars of his era...Ernie was pretty successful in his own right. Workrate isn't everything when it comes to being a succesful wrestler.

  11. Shitty wrestlers that drew money and knew how to hype up feuds. That's half of the business right there..

  12. Those sound like names you'd find on the old GI Joe file dossiers. "Mojo Rawley - Traffic Enforcement Specialist, Codename: Rush Hour"

  13. Name me a wrestler that came up in the '60s that you'd consider a "good" worker by today's standards.

  14. Drawing money > workrate...

    How many times do we have to go through this?

  15. Threadjack: Austin's podcast with Lawler. Yeah, I could probably google it but...Lawler was saying how he got the Raw announcing gig minutes before air because Vince couldn't find Savage and someone in the back told him to turn on Nitro. That...that's not true, no? I seem to remember at the time Vince wishing Savage well on air and him getting something of a sendoff.

  16. And?

    I don't give two shits about drawing money. I want my wrestlers to be able to wrestle, so no, I think picking up football failures is a terrible idea.

  17. Of his era. HIS ERA.

    Wrestling has changed quite a bit sine then.

  18. Or we could get good wrestlers that draw money and know how to hype up feuds.

    They're NFL players, just because some of them knew how to talk doesn't mean that they all how to talk, or would be better at talking than...I dunno actors or communication majors.

    Let's recruit some failed newscasters. Or why not raid sales departments.

  19. if they dont draw money... you dont get to see new wrestling.

  20. Making money has never changed.

  21. I think Punk is doing fine for himself and the company.

  22. And football players are better at drawing money in wrestling than wrestlers?

    What proof do you have of this. Any? Or you just being Contrary!Fuj?

  23. The company would do fine without Punk at this point.

    But besies that... who is their number one draw?

    Cena, who played football

  24. I never said football players are better than drawing money.

    Looking into people from all walks of life have proved beneficial.

    The proof is in the stars that came from football.

  25. Side note to this: Quite a few footballers got into pro wrestling as a second job, to help with the bills in the off season.

    That's just not happening in this modern era.

  26. gee.. lemme guess.. BECAUSE most newscasters and sales dept people are built like FUCKING wrestlers.. Football players are generally the right size and have the conditioning for wrestling.. period. If a few of them can talk and learn some moves then of course you go for them.

    A LOT of good wrestlers also played some football in college or in Canada, so it's a good transition, and just because a lot of the guys don't make it means you can't find some good ones in the bunch.

  27. I think a lot of it has to do with football players being used to the type of physical punishment that you find in wrestling. Plus they know how to work out, how to eat properly, how to play through pain, etc.

  28. Two of the three of the biggest stars in wrestling used to play football. The third was going to be the frontman for Metallica.

    Just saying.

  29. Fine, let's go more recent. Brian Pillman helped get light heavyweight wrestling over in the U.S. He introduced the ' worked shoot' and helped launch the Attitude Era. He had a supporting role in one of the hottest feuds in history. He could wrestle, he could talk. He could play heel or face. And he only started wrestling after his football career ended.

  30. Brian Pillman played football too. Don't tell me he couldn't have been successful in today's wrestling.

  31. The Rock played football in college. I think he drew a a dime or two.

  32. Savage started at the end of '94 with WCW. Nitro started September '95, so unless Vince was looking for him for around 9 months... no.

    I wish one of these wrestling "journalists" would do a fact-checking gimmick.

  33. And was also an indy wrestler, so you have a bit of a dilemma here.

  34. Not really. It just shows that former football players can be successful wrestlers, which was his entire point.

  35. UPW?

    The place he trained at? For a year...
    He was an "indy wrestler" while he was training. That's not really going "around the horn"

    You wanna count OVW... for another year?

    This isn't Danielson or Punk going from ROH/FIP/PWG/IWA/CZW

    He went from training... to OVW in a year.

    Give it up for John Cena KING OF THE INDIES!

    Be realistic.

  36. Well, he wasn't much of a football player either, we're not talking about failed professional football players who got sucked into the business. He was a D-3 player.

    It's more realistic to call him an indy guy than a converted football player, because his football career never got started.

    Don't forget that Danielson and Joe were on WWE TV about year after starting out. Cena just caught on after his tryouts.

  37. That's not fair either to say either. Because he didn't catch on. He got sent to a developmental. He had the look they wanted but none of the skill, whereas Joe and Danielson were TV ready (albeit as job guys) after a year.

    To say he was an indy guy when he was training for less than a year, before being absorbed into the WWE system, is just exaggeration

  38. I played football. So did most every male in the United States.

    What exactly is your point?

  39. He doesn't really fit under either heading - which just shows what we've been saying -successful wrestlers can come from all sorts of backgrounds.

  40. Ric Flair played football too.

    You might as well say that we should higher more people that eat hamburgers and apple pie. It just means that you're American and are an athlete.

  41. I doubt your tree hugging, hipster ass played any football.

    But I will indulge you.

    My point is that he got pretty far in football before trying his hand in wrestling and look where he got.

  42. Yeah, but to say he was a "football player" is a bit of an exaggeration too. He played D3 college, he was apparently good at it, but that's 4th division college football. He wasn't a converted NFL prospect/player/practice squad fodder like a bunch of recent guys or the old school guys were.

    We're both putting round pegs into square holes. The truth with him is in the middle, and maybe not there, because he was a bodybuilding guy too.

  43. Did football help with that?

    Or was he just a talented athlete who decided to play football.

    I can name a lot of ex-Football busts too.

  44. Based on past history, a very lucrative path.

  45. Everybody can draw money.

    Football is a path, yes. But so is any realm of athletics, honestly.

  46. Yes...

    Um, I think we agree with each other now <.<.

  47. Kendrick, London, Low-Ki they flaked.

    Our are we just gonna count the success stories?

  48. What's your point?

    Football players can be stars? Yeah okay.

    But I think you're looking at football, and not at star.

    Football didn't teach the Rock to be a star.

  49. He was a talented athlete who played pro football and then became a successful wrestler after his football career ended.....

    Yes, there are plenty of ex-football player busts (*mongomcmichael*) But I'm not trying to say that the WWE should *only* recruit football players. I'm just saying that plenty of really good and successful wrestlers played pro or big-time college football, so it's as good a place as any to look for future wrestlers.

  50. Do I have to list all the failed football players?

  51. Yeah, but I don't think Fuj is arguing that WWE should *only* recruit ex-football players. the argument is that good wrestlers can come from a football background, just like they can come from an 'indy' background.

    Doesn't matter where they start, most guys who try wrestling *don't* make it. You're going to have a high failure rate no matter where you recruit from. All the more reason to cast a wide net.

  52. I don't mind, I can tell you aren't gonna give up on this.

    So you are gonna warp the situation enough until you come out right in your hipster mind.

    The problem with you is that you are so wrapped in your beliefs that the WWE should be going after INDY WRESTLERS ONLY, what you are eventually doing is homogenizing the wwe style even before its gets to developmental.

    Depriving different areas of talent would depriving us of people like

    The Rock
    John Cena
    The Miz
    Brock Lesnar
    Kurt Angle
    Ken Shamrock

    Quite a few people in that list drew some money, and others werent too bad in the ring either.

    But as far as you are concerned, its gotta be from the INDIES!!!cuz thats where all the greatest wrestlers come from.

    We get it.

    You are a workrate guy.

    Wrestling is a 3 ring circus though and the name of the game is to MAKE MONEY. Some of those workrate guys aren't gonna make the company money.

    Some of the different avenue guys aren't either.

    But at least by having multiple streams of talent coming in, its makes the overall product better.

    Get it?

  53. Well, Mongo was an old school convert, he stood no chance.

  54. See below jdg9, cuz this guy is a maroon,,,

  55. LOL, I know the point you're making by putting him there, but the Miz just looks completely wrong on that list.

  56. Lol... Bruno shit all over that guy in his shoot interview.

  57. He does, but he stood out cuz of the reality TV and for about 18 months, he wasn't that bad,

    Tag teaming with JoMo and Big Show

  58. Don't forget, baseball gave us Randy Savage.... and the KISS Demon.

  59. AJ Styles came from cheerleading.

  60. Considering his background was those stupid Real World/Road Rules competition shows, and being a paid party guest, he did pretty well for himself.

  61. That is quite possibly the biggest straw man argument I've ever seen.

    I don't have a problem with football players wrestling.

    But (and I'm going to be using an analogy here) if you want to find the best actors, you look at acting schools. You look at the people that worked their way up through theater and conservatories. Yeah there have been other people that have made the transition into acting (the Rock for example) but getting good at something is a combination of skill and practice.

    Let's compare people. You have newly signed wrestlers A and B. Wrestler A and Wrestler B are both 25 and have the same build. One was playing football at a collegiate/professional level since 18, and one was wrestling at an indy level since 18.

    Which one is the better wrestler?

  62. Not at college or anything like that, but I played football as a kid, cause guess what? Everybody played football.

    He got far in football cause he's a physical freak. He got far in wrestling cause he's a physical freak and has a ton of charisma.

    Guess what makes him a star? It's not the physicality, it's the charisma.

    CM Punk? Not a physical freak or even a great athlete, still loaded with what matters in wrestling (charisma and mic ability).

  63. Bruno is also a boring wrestler. Charismatic? Yes. Engaging from a workrate perspective? No.

    Rocca could move.

  64. I think they should look at charismatic athletes and gauge if they can be turning into wrestlers. If they happen to be in football, so be it, but I don't think football makes you any more ready for wrestling then any other full contact sport (and a good deal less than a lot of them, considering the team emphasis).

  65. You should look at the amount of people recruited from football. And compare it to other sports.

    Randy Savage was fucking awesome, let's hire more baseball players.

    Nash and Hogan were huge stars, let's hire more bouncers.

    If 90% of my employees are red-heads, it's statistically likely that my best employee will be a ginger.

  66. But football doesn't teach you how to wrestle. Being on the indies will. Maybe it's not WWE Wrestling, but it's a lot closer than the NFL.

    It takes time to get good at anything you do. Why wouldn't you hire that got started earlier than Mr. Football?

    Let's look at the Shield. Rollins is a better wrestler than Reigns. Does Reigns have less raw talent? I don't think so. But Seth has been wrestling for a LOT longer.

    Experience matters. Just look at Mr. Zayn.

  67. "I don't mind, I can tell you aren't gonna give up on this.

    So you are gonna warp the situation enough until you come out right in your hipster mind."


    Sigh... Obviously B.

    But does that mean wrestler B is going to make the company more money?

    No. It doesn't and that is the point we have all been trying to get through that dense fucking skull of yours.

    IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT HOLD FOR HOLD. It is the total package. Look, skill, charisma, marketability, promo. Some of those flippity floppity guys cant cut a promo to save their life. I cite AJ Styles. 10 years in TNA and his promo is no better than year one.

    Whereas Titus O'Neil is in year 2-3, already cuts a better promo. Obviously AJ can work circles around him, but wrestling isn't about just the in-ring stuff. That's the part you love and give a shit about. The paying fan wants to be entertained in the ring for sure, but Rock and Austin post injury were never Benoit and Eddy. Cena and Hogan were never Dibiase and Steamboat. Who drew more money? Who put more asses in seats?

    I have no problem having the WWE pull kids from the indies. I also want them to pull people from MORE avenues.

    You just want them to pull from the indies only cuz ur a hipster douche.

    Are you seeing the difference?

  68. Where are you even going with this?

  69. I know you didn't play football at a competitive level, you were too busy smoking cigarettes and listening to the Cure.


    So if someone comes from a football background and has charisma and someone comes from a indy wrestling background, The WWE should only hire one of those people?

    They shouldn't hire both in hopes of having that charisma connec to the audience in such a way that they would pay to see them perform?

    What if the indy guy doesn't pan out?
    Then should they go with the football guy as option B, or just say fuck it, Cuz he isn't wrestling.

    Guess what? WWE ISN'T WRESTLING. They were never built on wrestlers. They were built on larger than life characters. the indy scene is smaller nowadays. You don't see larger than life characters on the indy scene. You see guys built like the average in shape Joe schmoe. ... or worse...

    Look at the end of the day, If you had a promotion, you wouldn't draw a dime because the style that you love caters to a subset of the fanbase and eventually the talent that does rise to the top would leave for greener pastures or you would change your business model to make it a more 3 ring circus type of atmosphere.

    Essentially, You don't get it.

  70. I know WWE loves giving guys fake names that can be copyrighted, but man, "Mojo Rawley" is an awesome wrestling name

  71. I'm saying that if you want wrestlers, hire wrestlers.

    Can you turn football players into wrestlers? Yes, but it's a lot of work, and it seems quite unnecessary to me.

  72. I'm Straight Edge and the Cure suck.

    I was banging to Eminem, RATM and Megadeth.

    WWE isn't wrestling? You're right, asshole indy goofs who wrestle in Japan suck and don't draw money.

    What the fuck are you even babbling about? Being an indy wrestler isn't just about learning holds and counters. You learn to cut promos, work heel or face, develop a character, work-out on the road.

    I'm not Ryan Fuj. I don't really like indy wrestling. It's mostly filled with green rookies, broken down old-timers and charisma-less lifers. But that's where you get good. Nobody actually likes college theater. But guess what? Without those painful versions of Hamlet and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, there would be no Dinero, Pacino or Streep.

    You don't cast for Lincoln by looking at Muscle Beach.

  73. Wow Fuj, you're really doing a great job in this argument. It's almost like you're arguing against points I never made.

    Charisma and character sell tickets. I agree with you.

    But there is no greater chance that football players have charisma than indy guys. And indy guys have all that other shit you need as a wrestler. BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN WRESTLING!

    If Hogan and Rock had a child and he happened to be playing football, snatch that motherfucker up. Of course you keep your options open, that's an obvious statement, but trawling the indies for talent is working fine for them and WWE is not in a talent glut.

    Who's more entertaining Fuj. Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns?

  74. This has far off the point.

    The original point... as it stood is that you just want WWE to hire wrestlers as opposed to the majority who have chimed in to hire from all aspects because historically speaking, many of wrestling biggest stars have come from outside the wrestling bubble.


  75. I'll take the guy I can mold into anything over the guy with all the bad indy habits.

  76. And Fuj wins! He beat the voices that were echoing back from him inside his head.

    Congrats on the win over the straw man Fuj. Real good job there.

  77. And what makes you think that football players are more pliable than indy guys?

    True, not every indy guy adapts. But when you do, you get some of the best talent that WWE has ever had.

    I'd argue that Austin is an indy guy. As was Foley. As was RVD and the Hardyz. You make not like them as talents, but all of those guys drew some money. And then you have the current crop of Punk, Bryan, Cesaro, Ambrose and Rollins.

  78. Zeb Colter agrees with you.

  79. Did Cesaro play football?

    NOOOOOOO!!! You donkey!

  80. ECW isn't an indy? I'd say that was much more integral to his success than football.

    Ric Flair played football too. As did the Rock.

    What is your point?

    If I want a badass football team, I'd hire people who were good at football and I'd probably look at people who played football. If I want a badass wrestling roster, I'd hire people who were good at wrestling and I'd probably look at people who wrestled.

    That is my point. Yes there are other routes to success. No, it is not as likely.


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