Dwayne Johnson unsuccessfully attempted to play pro football well before anyone smelled what “The Rock” was cooking in pro wrestling.
WWE is interested in trying to recreate that same show-business magic with NFL players passionate about the rough-and-tumble world of “sports entertainment.”
Jim Ross, a WWE announcer who now assists with the company’s talent-development program, is meeting Wednesday with NFL Players Association officials in Washington, D.C. Ross hopes to develop a working relationship that could lead to the NFLPA funneling players whose football aspirations have ended toward a WWE tryout.
“Everybody doesn’t make the 53-man roster,” Ross told co-host Jim Miller and me Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“Some guys are going to be looking for work, and we’ve got some job openings. Maybe we can put the synergies of those two entities together and create something wonderful some day.”
Pro wrestling has a long history of athletes who have made a successful transition from other sports. Johnson, who was a defensive lineman at the University of Miami, had a brief stint in the Canadian Football League before following in the footsteps of his father, Rocky Johnson, by signing with WWE in the mid-1990s.
Dwayne Johnson, who later branched into acting, has headlined WWE’s past two Wrestlemania events while remaining one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws.
Other current WWE superstars with backgrounds from other sports include John Cena (college football), The Undertaker (college basketball) and Brock Lesnar (amateur wrestling).
WWE has made a significant investment in trying to develop younger talent that can follow in the footsteps of those legends. The company recently announced plans to build a 26,000 square-foot training center in Orlando, Fla., where its developmental program will be based.
Ross also said he has spoken with WWE executives about initiating a relief effort for victims of Monday’s tornadoes in Moore, Okla. He watched from outside his home in nearby Norman as the storm swept through Moore.