In the spring of 2020, Mojo Rawley inexplicably jumped from WWE Raw to Smackdown, but we all knew why.
"So, yeah," Rawley started, in an interview with Fightful "I was on red brand and then we had this idea, me and Rob (Gronkowski) were setting up something big and it was gonna be really cool stuff. I’m hoping later in my career, whether it’s in WWE or somewhere else, we still get to do what we had in mind. The world shut down and the pandemic happened, so we didn’t get to follow through with it and of course he went back to football. He had a great offer there. I was a heel on RAW and then all of a sudden I show up on Smackdown and I’m magically old Stay Hyped babyface Mojo. I was just like, ‘This is confusing.’ Then we ran the bit with Rob until he went back to football, then overnight I was a heel again."
Around that time, Gronkowski debuted on Smackdown with a very.....polarizing entrance. Mojo Rawley says that's just Gronkowski.
"Loved it. I mean, that’s Robby G to a T. He’s such an idiot, but I love him for it. I’m the same way. It would have been more fun if the fans and everything were there. SummerSlam was supposed to be in Boston that year. So, that can tip you off a little bit," said Rawley.
Little did the world know, Gronkowski wasn't just heading to Tampa Bay for WrestleMania (or so we thought at the time) -- he was headed back to the NFL. Rawley said he'd made a push for Gronk to Tampa long before
"Bro, we were trying to get him to go to Tampa Bay back in 2012 ‘cause he had this ridiculous home at the yacht club in Tampa. Which I didn’t want to move into ‘cause I was making starting NXT salary, so I was broke as hell. I was scared I would break everything in there and be able to pay for nothing. He convinced me to move in, but we used to throw bangers there for like the FCW roster and stuff. You can ask some of the boys about those. But, yeah, we were trying to get him to come to the Bucks back then so we could keep the house and stay there and what not. But, fast forward years later, he’s back. So, it’s all good."
Fightful reported last year that Gronkowski had to be coaxed into doing the dive we saw on WrestleMania, and it actually significantly delayed the filming schedule. Rawley said there was a lot more at play than met the eye.
"Yeah, man. So, I think other than Tom Brady and his agent, I was the only one that knew that knew that he was really going back to football. I mean, maybe a couple of his family or whatever. But we’re literally on the bus, Drew Rosenhaus is calling, Brady’s calling, like he’s trying to figure out his life, and they come up to me and they’re like, ‘We’re gonna have Rob jump off the ceiling, pretty much, and we’re gonna have some NXT guys who just got here catch him.’ I was like, ‘Uh, no you’re not. Absolutely not. This guy has zero training. Doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s probably crazy enough to accept it on a whim without thinking.’ I was like, ‘I gotta stand up for my buddy here. I’m the one that brought him in. They pretty much write it into the script without asking him first. Then Matt Bloom comes up to me, he’s like, ‘Dude, I got fifteen guys from NXT all over 6’3. We’ll have an army there to catch them. We’re gonna get this done.’ I was like, ‘Matt. He can’t do this.’ I didn’t want to spill the beans and tell everyone he was getting ready to go back to football. I didn’t know how to say it without making either of us look bad. So, we’re standing there and I was like, ‘It’s your call. It’s a lot of guys. They’re gonna be there. I will not drop you. I’ll be right in the front. If you short it, it’ll be just me. I got you. If you want to. If you don’t want to do it, I’ll get you out of it. No problem, it’s on me. Don’t worry.’ Then we’re literally having this conversation and Vince comes out doing the whole Vince thing," Mojo said.
"The Vince thing" was then-74-year old Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman, scaling the platform Gronkowski was supposed to jump from and doing it himself. Except McMahon had only a crash pad, and not a dozen NXT stars to catch him, Mojo recalled.
"‘It’s super easy, Rob. Watch, I’ll show you right now.’ Literally pulls out his money clip and his phone and he hands it to me. He just walks up there without any hesitation and just jumps off on the crash pad. Which, mind you, is ten times worse than having fifteen giants catch you ‘cause you actually have to fall to the ground with the crash pad. He does it, I looked at Rob and I’m like, ‘Well, you gotta do it now.’ He knew. So, he went for it. But, man, what the hell? That was pretty crazy. They always say [he won’t ask you to do anything he’s not willing to do himself.] But, I can tell you, too. Those heights sometimes, man, they may not look that high on TV, but when you’re up there, it feels ten times higher. So, hats off to the both of them."
You can see Mojo Rawley in Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins, which releases on July 23.