Mojo Rawley On His Lack Of Success So Far On WWE Main Roster

Nov 13, 2018 - by Steve Gerweck

Mojo Rawley recently appeared on Lilian Garcia’s podcast, discussing his background, lack of success on the WWE main roster so far, and more…

On His Family Background: My family was in the United Nations. Really, my family is from – I think you’ve got just about every continent except for Antarctica covered. My dad is Palestinian. My mom is half Syrian. I have family that is in Saudi Arabia. I have family that’s all throughout Africa. We have family riddled throughout Asia. We’re pretty much everywhere. When we get together and take family photos, it’s pretty hilarious, actually, because no one would think that any of us were related. I was born in Virginia, D.C. area, Alexandria. It was a very interesting childhood, I suppose, because our parents had lived in America for decades by the time I was born, so they really wanted to raise us as Americans, so we would kind of fit in seamlessly, but anytime you have parents that are from another country that kinda want to raise you with the culture and the values of their home country, so it was kind of a little bit of a mix actually.

On Learning Arabic: My parents were kind of insistent on not teaching us Arabic too early just because they didn’t want us to have really thick accents where we might be targets domestically, so they kinda waited a little bit, so we could fit in a little better in school or what not. Growing up, Arabic was very limited, but luckily now with WWE I’ve been able to kinda take lessons to brush up and learn what I never learned, kinda fill in the holes. [WWE has] a little tuition reimbursement program, if you want to take some classes, so taking Arabic was what I chose….When you’ve been hearing a lot of these words as a kid, especially when you got into trouble, you pick it up a little faster. You hear these words and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s what mom was saying! I wish I would have known that when I kept upsetting my dad, you know? This could have helped out in my childhood a little bit.’

On Attending The Same High School Featured In Remember The Titans: I played high school football at T.C. Williams in Alexandria, Virginia. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Remember The Titans, but that’s where I went to school. That’s the school I went to and actually I was a freshman there when the movie came out, so all the guys from the movie – half of them – still worked at the school [and were] either coaches or teachers or guys that kinda influenced me. Coach Herman Boone gave me a scholarship out of high school and just kinda grew up with all those guys. It was a pretty cool thing.

On Playing Division Three Football At Christopher Newport University: When you’re in high school, you don’t know how to get to the next level and usually that’s where your head coach comes in, but for us [at T.C. Williams], we never had the same head coach. Every year it was someone different and no college scouts were coming to recruit some of the worst teams in the state. They just assume there’s no talent there. For me it was tough because I was really focused academically and the only level of school that was available to me was division three, which is essentially the lowest level of college athletics and for me, finding a school that I could play football at, but also had a very strong academic background was very tough. If you go the D-III route you have to anticipate that you’re not gonna make it professional, so yeah you want to play football, but you need a good degree to take home. Honestly, I only found one school that was recruiting me that had a strong business school, because that’s what I wanted to study.

On Working At Morgan Stanley: I had an aunt that worked at Morgan Stanley growing up and she was kind of like a second mom to me, so when I was in middle school she would bring me to Morgan Stanley after school and in summers to intern for her. Eleven years old, yes. Seventh grade, yes. At that point, I’m a child. It was just filing, making copies, but was really cool is I got to sit in on some of the client meetings, if the client was OK with it and some of the branch meetings and be exposed to that culture and what it would take to be successful, kinda like the buzz words to look for, so that when I would go to class and learn about business I could apply it right away. I’ve seen these concepts applied at work, essentially, so that experience, even though I really wasn’t doing much at the time, was very valuable to me. It was a really cool thing, so I’ve always been kind of focused from an educational standpoint, so that’s why I didn’t want to risk my academics just to play football in college. You had to find the balance.

On His NFL Pro Day Workouts: I was waking up at 4AM to walk to the bus stop to take the bus to the Metro stop to Metro to the University of Maryland to run a mile to get to campus to do morning workouts. Hop back on the Metro. Go to Morgan Stanley and work 8 hours. Hop back on the Metro, go right back to college park, do evening workouts and run myself to death. Metro to the bus. Walk home and get home at midnight. Wake up at 3:45-4AM every day seven days a week trying to get things done. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t have a choice. I knew I wanted to make an impression and show them I was more in shape than the big guys and break all the records, so here’s years of earning these accomplishments and I finally get to my pro day where I’m gonna put on a day. I’m gonna show these guys that you might not know who Dean Muhtadi is, but you’re about to find out because I’m gonna be yelling. I’m gonna be running at the speed of the linebackers and running backs and I’m gonna lift heavier than the o-linemen and I ended up tearing my hamstring like five days before. 100% [from overdoing] and that’s something I’ve got to try and convince myself now is I’ll get off these red eyes from West Coast RAW and go straight to the gym and get no sleep and try to break all the records they set at the Performance Center and sometimes I gotta check myself and say, ‘Hey man, you’ve done this dance before.’ Injuries have kind of plagued me in my football career from overdoing it. My stock kinda tanked for the NFL, so pretty much what happens is I’m watching the draft; I don’t get drafted. They sign undrafted free agents after the draft; I don’t get signed for that.

On The Difficulty Of Controlling One’s Own Destiny In The WWE: I think it’s a little harder here to be in control of your situation. I’m not using that as a cop out at all, because when I look around and look for someone to blame as to why I haven’t achieved more than I have, I only look at myself. I don’t make excuses. I’m not one of these guys that looks around the locker room and points fingers. That’s never been me; but, hanging in there and getting better, becoming a smarter entertainer, as opposed to maybe one that just hangs his hat on work ethic, using my brain rather than my body. Doing all this hard training, maybe I need to sit back and evaluate myself from a mental standpoint. I watch a lot of tape. Anytime I have a match on TV, I watch it back 10-20 times that night alone, let alone the rest of the week. I’m nitpicking everything I can, but it’s coming together. I feel like we’re making some strides. I can actually physically feel that. I can see it in my work. I think good things are on the horizon, but you work your ass off praying for those opportunities because you might only get one and whenever that comes, you never get a heads up…The day before you’re gonna think you might not even be on the next day and an hour before the show starts, there’s your opportunity. Are you gonna make an excuse about it because you weren’t prepared?

On Being Relegated To WWE’s ‘No Man’s Land’I’m in no man’s land right now. I wish I did know [why] so I could fix the problem, if there is one. The fact of the matter is, of course, there’s a talented locker room. There’s a lot of guys fighting for a very increasingly limited number of spots. That’s kind of been the path of my career. It’s very stop and go. The second I feel now’s the time we’re gonna get going, boom, I disappear from TV for months. We had this awesome moment at WrestleMania, which I had a Mania moment. It was awesome. I am aware of what the critics are always gonna say. They’re gonna think that I only won that match because of Rob [Gronkowski’s] interference. Do I think that’s the case? No. You gotta think maybe a little bit, but you never know. I think it was a really cool thing with my best friend getting involved….you know what the critics are gonna say. I get motivated by that though. I check Twitter. I read the blogs. I want to know when people are talking trash because it motivates me more. It’s been stop and go. I wish I did know why it’s been that way, but things happen and you gotta adapt and I’m gonna find a way to get back on TV. That’s for damn sure. It’s gonna have to happen. I think I can bring something to the table that no one else can. I think my background has prepared me for that. I swear to you, I think the WWE Universe hasn’t even seen 5% of what I can do. They haven’t had an opportunity. Why would they?

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