Alternative Sport Meets: Titus O’Neill & Mojo Rawley from WWE

Photo Credit: WWE

Have you ever thought some WWE Superstars look like they could play American Football – well, many did! They include the likes of Titus O Neill who played for a number of football teams including the Florida Gators, Utah Blaze, Tampa Bay Storm, Las Vegas Gladiators and Carolina Cobras. Titus described the move from American Football to WWE as the ‘toughest transition’ he had to do both mentally and physically.

Other WWE superstars that tried their hand with football before joining the world of sports entertainment include: former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar who played defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in 2004, Roman Reigns who was signed by the same team in 2007 and Baron Corbinwho was a former offensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals in the NFL. WWE legend Goldberg also played in the NFL in the early 90s for the Los Angeles Rams before he began his career in wrestling.

Another WWE Superstar who made the change from NFL to WWE includes Mojo Rawley who originally started his NFL career at the Green Bay Packers in 2009, before moving to Arizona Cardinals in 2010 to play defensive line. The WWE Superstar was signed by the Green Bay Packers in 2009, before going on to the Arizona Cardinals in 2010 to play defensive line. Alternative Sport had a chance to catch up with the legendary player about his switch from the field to the ring.

We caught up with Titus O’Neill and Mojo Rawley to discuss what the transition was like.

 

What is the difference between the training you went through in the NFL compared to the training you’ve gone through with WWE?

MOJO: I was surprised to see the extent of how different the training is. In football, I was a defensive lineman so my weight training was centered around achieving mass and power. I did mostly high weights and low reps. My cardio training primarily required me to operate at a high energy output for short bursts throughout a football game. Now, my cardio and weight training has to enable me to function nonstop throughout a match. I have to be able to function continuously throughout the entirety of a whole match. Quickness within a ring is more important than straight line speed on a football field. The structure of my training has changed completely but my training style has not. Intensity, conditioning, power and HYPE!

Every time I go into a WrestleMania stadium, I feel like I’m going into a football game just because I spent so much time as a college and professional athlete going in and out of stadiums the same way, dressed the same way, headphones on, fully focused, ready to put on the best show, the best performance possible.

Titus O’Neill

 

Following a successful Super Bowl, how are you feeling about WrestleMania heading to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida?

TITUS: Playing at the University of Florida was bigger than most crowds in the NFL anyway, playing in front of 90,000 people week in week out, whether it be home or away. Every time I go into a WrestleMania stadium, I feel like I’m going into a football game just because I spent so much time as a college and professional athlete going in and out of stadiums the same way, dressed the same way, headphones on, fully focused, ready to put on the best show, the best performance possible.

I feel the same way going into Raymond James stadium. I obviously have attended a lot of events there, whether it be college football, the National Championship, the Super Bowl. It’s the biggest game on the biggest stage in all of sports and entertainment and all eyes are focused on the City of Tampa and Raymond James stadium. And I’m looking forward to being a part of that.

It was the hardest transition I’ve ever had to make, both from a physical and mental standpoint because football, you go and you execute everything within that position that you play: whether you’re a quarterback, or another position.

Titus O’Neill

 

How can playing football prepare someone to become a WWE Superstar?

TITUS: Playing American Football and being in WWE takes an extreme work ethic. There is a certain type of pageantry and charisma on the field. There are a lot of great personalities in football locker rooms, all across the country. And so that lends great to when it comes to transitioning to WWE because you’re out to become a sports entertainer. Some of us were already sports entertainers. We just weren’t getting paid for it and not being shown in over 130 countries and translated into 25 different languages. We were just doing it on an American football field or in an American football locker room.

It was the hardest transition I’ve ever had to make, both from a physical and mental standpoint because football, you go and you execute everything within that position that you play: whether you’re a quarterback, or another position.

You have to be able to go with the punches, go with the flow, feed off the energy of the crowd, give the crowd some energy so that you can ultimately take them on a rollercoaster. And in football, American football, you take them on a roller coaster by scoring points. In the WWE you take them on a rollercoaster by storytelling. A good guy versus bad guy. Most of the time, good guy. They want the good guy to win it – unless you’re a really good bad guy! Nobody does it better than us in WWE.

 

 

All quotes and images courtesy of WWE

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