Anderson: There's no chance Rob Gronkowski could become a pro wrestler

Ty Anderson
March 01, 2018 - 2:14 pm

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

The road to becoming a professional wrestler begins with some very basic steps.

You enter the ring, typically start with some running the ropes drills back and forth, and eventually you take a “bump.” The ‘easiest’ one is a simple collision (often shoulder-to-shoulder, for starters) that takes you down on your back. And the ring, as you quickly realize from a thud that forces you to internally wonder if that was the sound of your back or just the ring acoustics providing that echo throughout the gym, is not of the forgiving variety.

Contrary to popular belief, it feels nothing close to a trampoline. Not even in the WWE.

Consider that to be reason No. 1 of about a billion that the idea of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski -- yes, the same Rob Gronkowski that has had three back surgeries before the age of 29 -- ever becoming a professional wrestler is downright nonsensical.

At the age of 26, I’ll freely admit that I still like the WWE, and find the time to make Monday Night Raw appointment viewing. With the exception of a few years away from it (having The Miz explained to me remains one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever taken part in and I genuinely feel bad for the person tasked with spelling out his whole vibe to me back in 2011), the WWE has been a constant viewing experience in my life. I was booed mercilessly on the MBTA when I was seven (seven!) for painting my face like the Canadian flag on the way to see Bret Hart wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin, and I used to be one of those kids standing in line at the Square One Mall to get my picture taken with any pro wrestler stopping by the local sports card shop. I’m pretty sure there’s still a picture of The Big Show with his arm wrapped around my puny frame, still in a two-sizes-too-big Little League uniform straight from a game after some Saturday morning spent at Merritt Park down in Chelsea, somewhere at my mom’s house.

Suffice to say, I’ve certainly seen my share of careers cut short. And in gruesome fashion.

A neck injury forced Edge, an 11-time world champion, to retire at 37. The final blow seemed to happen when Edge delivered his signature spear, a move he must’ve done about a million times before his neck finally tapped out on him. His longtime tag team partner, Christian, was forced into retirement three years later due to concussion woes.

Daniel Bryan, the ultimate people’s champion and at one point the hottest wrestler in the company, had at least 10 documented concussions to his name before the WWE outright refused to clear him for competition. This forced his retirement and an on-screen backstage role as Smackdown’s general manager at the age of 34.

(Gronkowski, for what it’s worth, has two concussions on record in his NFL career.)

Paige, once one of professional wrestling’s youngest and brightest stars, missed 17 months due to a neck injury. Three months into her most recent return, a ‘stinger’ suffered at a house show has likely put an end to her professional wrestling career.

In the case of all these superstars, WWE made the decision to no longer clear these athletes -- no matter their talent -- because of the liability concerns they’d come with.

Some have it even worse, such as Tyson Kidd, who landed awkwardly when taking a ‘muscle buster’ from Samoa Joe and later required spinal fusion surgery. Kidd, real name TJ Wilson, is beyond lucky to be walking (and currently working as a behind the scenes producer for WWE) today, according to most doctors.

Don’t forget, these were athletes that spent their entire lives training for this line of work.

Gronkowski, meanwhile, has been in a wrestling ring once in his life, and his one move was a football tackle to Jinder Mahal at last year's Wrestlemania. 

And while that moment was certainly entertaining, a full-on jump to the ring would not be as simple as booking him in a way in which he avoids bumps.

Braun Strowman, who has been booked as the WWE’s newest monster incapable of getting put down for good, has received his fair share of shots. Strowman, by the way, is two inches taller and 120 pounds heavier than the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski. Even Brock Lesnar, an absolutely terrifying human that excelled at beating the piss out of people in the UFC before jumping back into the world of pro wrestling, gets slammed down into the mats when matches call for it.  

Even in the ‘staged’ setting, it would just be impossible to book Gronkowski as a ‘monster’ from a believability standpoint given his size in comparison to your current and former 'monsters' alike, and it would be impossible to ask him to consistently take bumps without recognizing the likelihood of putting your multi-million dollar investment at severe risk. Those philosophies would obviously collide, and ruin any and all angles planned for Gronkowski’s WWE career (should it be anything close to legit).

There’s also nothing that says Gronkowski will somehow avoid the injuries that have plagued his NFL career by making a jump to the world of wrestling. 

Realistically speaking, Gronkowski is another injury away from wearing enough additional padding to legally qualify as the NFL on FOX’s new (forever unnecessary) dancing robot mascot. This could be achieved next season in Week 3 or Week 11, or another special teams play gone awry. Or it could happen about two weeks into legitimate training with the WWE. Plenty of wrestlers have torn their ACLs or broken forearms, and more have herniated discs in their back. They do that with not even an ounce of the padding an NFL player wears, too.

But fine, whatever, the WWE tells us and No. 87 they’re not going to put him in these high-risk situations. I’m sure it’ll still be better than any future Randy Orton push, and less insulting to my intelligence than trying to tell me Roman Reigns isn’t going to kick out after taking the 19th finisher of whatever match he’s about to win via a jumping punch.

It guarantees his matches will be lackluster at best, so can he at least add some solid on-mic contributions and cut a decent promo?

Actually, I don’t even wanna think about that. Say what you will about Gronkowski’s acting ability (commercials have limitless takes), but one taste of the typically smarky WWE crowd interrupting his in-ring speech with any number of their taunting chants and Gronkowski would immediately turn into a 12-year-old panicking in the midst of a prank call.

In a way, that’d be fitting, as this whole Gronkowski-WWE thing feels like one big prank. And not a very believable one at that.

Which in the world of pro wrestling storylines, is saying something. 

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