Home ARTICLES The Gridiron to the Squared Circle: Successful CFL-to-WWE Transitions

The Gridiron to the Squared Circle: Successful CFL-to-WWE Transitions

by Spencer Love
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Angelo Mosca | Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Rough Riders, Montreal Alouettes

Angelo Mosca attended the University of Notre Dame and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1959 in the 30th round (350th overall). However, he had already made the decision to play in the CFL, in 1958 for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1960 and played for them for two years. He would also play for Montreal for one season. He would finish his career from 1963-1972 with the team he started with, Hamilton. Mosca was a five-time CFL all-star. Mosca also played in nine Grey Cup games, more than any other player in CFL history. Mosca’s teams won five Grey Cups. One with the Rough Riders, four with the Tiger-Cats.

In the 51st Grey Cup, he became infamous for a late out-of-bounds hit on B.C Lions star running back Willie Fleming. The Tiger-Cats would go onto win that Grey Cup and Mosca’s reputation as being the meanest CFL player grew. He would later promote this reputation throughout his wrestling career with the nickname “King Kong” Mosca.

On August 25, 2015, the Tiger-Cats announced that they would retire his number, it’s only the second name retired in Tiger-Cats history. Mosca is currently a Canadian Football Hall of Famer (1987).

While Mosca dabbled in wrestling during the CFL offseason, he made the full transition to the sport following his retirement in 1972. As they did in football, Mosca’s accolades began to accumulate quickly; within just a few years of becoming a full-time wrestler, Mosca had won championships across no less than eight promotions, including the prestigious Stampede North American Championship. In 1981, Mosca joined the then-WWF, facing off with the likes of Pat Patterson and WWF Champion Bob Backlund. While never capturing a championship with the promotion, Mosca’s reputation as the most feared player in the CFL translated to the squared circle.

Bill Goldberg | Sacramento Gold Miners

Prior to his time as a professional wrestler, WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg earned a scholarship to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, where he served as a defensive tackle. He was taken in the 1990 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round, with 302nd overall selection. He played for the Rams in the 1990 NFL season, followed by a short stint in the CFL with the Sacramento Gold Miners and Atlanta Falcons from 1992-1994. He was cut from the Falcons before being selected in the 1995 expansion draft by the Carolina Panthers, he never played a game and was the first player to have ever been cut from the Panthers. His football career ended when he “tore his lower abdomen off his pelvis”. Though Goldberg has claimed he wanted to return to football, he was unfortunately never looked at as an asset following his injury.

Goldberg began training for a career in powerlifting after suffering the career-ending injury in 1995. While training, both Lex Luger and Sting caught a glimpse of the former football standout. Both encouraged Goldberg to pursue a career in professional wrestling. Within weeks, the former football player had begun training at the WCW Power Plant.

The rest, they say, is history.

Goldberg’s ruthless aggression on the football field translated beautifully to the squared circle. Debuting for WCW on September 22, 1997, Goldberg would go on an (admittedly inflated) 173-match winning streak, routinely dominating opponents en route to winning both the WCW United States Championship and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Through his full-time run as a wrestler, Goldberg became one of the most popular stars in the world. In 2016, after over a decade away from the business, Goldberg returned to WWE and engaged in a widely-praised feud opposite Brock Lesnar, winning the WWE Universal Championship in the process. While his most recent matchup against the Undertaker didn’t receive quite the amount of praise as his previous run (to put it lightly), Goldberg still remains one of the most successful CFL-to-WWE transitions by any measurable standard.

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