Maryland Football: Mojo Rawley brings Maryland flavor to Wrestlemania 33

Dec 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Maryland Terrapins mascot Testudo prior to the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Maryland Terrapins mascot Testudo prior to the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Getting hyped up for a big wrestling match has never been an issue for Mojo Rawley.

The former Maryland defensive lineman is set to make his Wrestlemania debut on Sunday evening at the WWE’s marquee event.

Rawley, whose real name is Dean Muhtadi, will compete in the fourth annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The event honors the former WWF World Heavywweight Champion that stood a mind-numbing 7’4 and weighed 520 pounds.

Baron Corbin, The Big Show, and Cesaro have previously won the annual event.

Prior to being a WWE superstar, Muhtadi was a productive college football player that started off at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. (Division III). The Alexandria native then transferred to Maryland, where he sat out the 2006 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

In two years in College Park, Muhtadi registered 25 tackles (13 solo & 3.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, and a defended pass. His best year came in 2008 when he had 21 tackles (12 solo & 3.0 for loss), and 2.5 sacks.

Muhtadi finished third on the team in sacks during the 2008 season. He also played every single defensive line position for the Terps that year.

Following his collegiate career, he wasn’t selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. Following the draft, he signed with the Green Bay Packers on May 4.

Muhtadi made the team out of training camp and had his shining moment early in his career. On Sept. 3 against the Tennessee Titans, he finished third on the team in tackles (5) and forced a fumble.

Despite his efforts, he was waived the very next day.

Muhtadi signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 20, 2010, where he earned the nickname “The Iron Sheik” due to his strength. He got hurt during training camp and was placed on Injured Reserve.

That would signal the end of his NFL career.

After a lengthy rehabilitation process, Muhtadi landed in the WWE under the developmental NXT brand in August of 2012. Mojo Rawley first appeared on television on May 29, 2013 when he competed in a battle royal.

In June 2015, Rawley really started to make a name for himself as he joined forces with Zack Ryder to form the “Hype Bros” tag team.

On August 22, the “Hype Bros” teamed with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady (Big Cass) and beat American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) and The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) in an eight-man tag match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn.

On July 19, 2016, Rawley was called up to the main roster after being selected in WWE Draft. Ryder was also chosen in the same round to bring the “Hype Bros” to the Smackdown Live brand.

Rawley made his main roster debut at the Battleground pay-per-view when he saved Ryder from a post-match beating from Rusev.

On the Dec. 13 episode of Smackdown Live, the “Hype Bros” won a tag-team battle royal to become the No. 1 contenders for the tag team titles. However, Ryder suffered a knee injury in the match, so they were unable to face the Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton).

Despite Ryder being out in recent months, Rawley has really had a large amount of success as a single competitor. On Jan. 24, the former Terp won a battle royal on Smackdown Live to qualify for the Royal Rumble match at the annual January pay-per-view.

Rawley entered the Royal Rumble at No. 4 and lasted 6:16 before being eliminated by Braun Strowman.

At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in February, Rawley faced Curt Hawkins in a single match on the pre-show. Rawley won the match via pinfall.

On the March 7 installment of Smackdown Live, Rawley announced that he was entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He followed that up the very next week with a count-out win over former Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler.

Rawley will be competing against some very big names on Sunday. American Alpha, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Strowman, The Usos, Sami Zayn, and Ziggler are just some of the names that will be participating in the annual battle royal.

The former Maryland defensive lineman has momentum heading into the match. He recorded the pinfall in a 10-man tag team match on Tuesday’s Smackdown Live.

Rawley hit Tyler Breeze with his patented forearm smash finish to obtain the victory.

It appears that Strowman is definitely the favorite to win the battle royal due to his rise and recent feud with former WWE champion Roman Reigns. However, Rawley definitely is trending upward and has recently been pushed as a mid-card talent.

Next: Maryland lacrosse rolls past Michigan

It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Rawley is one of the last men stand in the battle royal. Regardless of how he finishes, Rawley has a bright future in the WWE and he’s someone that Maryland fans can be proud of.