CFL players have a history of giving pro wrestling a shot - InfoNews

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CFL players have a history of giving pro wrestling a shot

March 29, 2019 - 6:02 AM

Next month, Toronto Argonauts tailback James Wilder Jr. will have a tryout with World Wrestling Entertainment. Here's a look at some of the former CFL players who've wrestling professionally during or after football:

Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson: The former Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman spent time on the Calgary Stampeders' practice roster before being released. He then followed in his Canadian father Rocky Johnson's footsteps into pro wrestling and became arguably the WWE's biggest star. He's since become a hot commodity on the silver screen.

Lex Luger: The former Larry Pfohl was an offensive lineman with the Montreal Alouettes (1979-81) and also spent time in the NFL with Green Bay (1982-82) and Tampa Bay 1984). The six-foot-five, 270-pound Pfohl adopted the pro wrestling moniker of Lex Luger and was a WCW world heavyweight champion.

George Wells: The six-foot-two, 233-pound Wells was a defensive end with Toronto (1971-72), Hamilton (1972-73, '78), Saskatchewan Roughriders (1974-78). He began wrestling in '74 during the off-season and went on to appear in the WWE when it was known as the World Wrestling Federation.

Roman Reigns: One of the WWE's biggest stars currently spent 2008 as a defensive lineman with the Edmonton Eskimos under his given name of Joe Anoai. His father, Sika Anoai, and brother, Rosey, who died in 2017, were both pro wrestlers. Reigns is Dwayne Johnson's cousin.

Tito Santana: Born Merced Solis, he played briefly for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and was a tight end with the CFL's B.C. Lions in 1976 before adopting his wrestling ring name. In 2004, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Brian Pillman: After spending time in the NFL with Cincinnati (1984) and Buffalo (1985), the former Miami University defensive lineman played one season (1986) with the Calgary Stampeders. After football, he began training as a wrestler under the tutelage of the legendary Stu Hart, beginning his career with Stampede Wrestling (1986-88). Pillman later worked in WCW, ECW and World Wrestling Federation, becoming the first wrestler in '96 to sign a guaranteed deal with the organization. He died in 1997 at the age of 35.

Angelo Mosca: A legendary player in the CFL, the six-foot-four, 275-pound Mosca was even more imposing in the ring as King Kong Mosca. Inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1987, Mosca played in the CFL with Hamilton (1958-59, 63-72), Ottawa (1960-61) and Montreal (1962). He began wrestling during the off-season and became a full-time wrestler upon his retirement, becoming a perennial heavyweight champion.

Gene Kiniski: A defensive lineman, Kiniski suffered a torn kneecap with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1952 and retired from football the following year. He wrestled and played football in high school and returned to wrestling full-time after retiring from football.

Ron Simmons: A former defensive lineman at Florida State, the six-foot-two, 270-pound Simmons spent time with the NFL's Cleveland Browns (1981), CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders (1981) and USFL's Tampa Bay Storm (1983-85). A teammate in Tampa was none other than Pfohl, the future pro wrestler Lex Luger. Simmons wrestled in the WWF and held such ring names as Doom, Faarooq, Faarooq Asaad and Ron Simmons. His No. 50 jersey has been retired by Florida State University.

Glenn Kulka: The six-foot-three, 275-pound Edmonton native began his CFL career as an offensive lineman with the hometown Eskimos before becoming an all-star defensive lineman with Montreal, Toronto, Saskatchewan and Ottawa. While with the Roughriders in 1995, Kulka teamed up with Bret (The Hitman) Hart in a tag-team match against (Million Dollar Man) Ted DiBiase and (Psycho) Sid Vicious in a fundraising event for the CFL club. He later wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation and retired from the organization in '99. Kulka made his MMA debut July 26, 2008.

(Superstar) Billy Graham: Born Wayne Coleman, the six-foot-four, 275-pound defensive lineman came to the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders in 1968 but joined the Montreal Alouettes later that summer. But Coleman only played five games with the Als before being released. Coleman's charisma and outgoing personality made him a natural as a pro wrestler. As Superstar Billy Graham, he was a former world heavyweight champion in the WWF.

(Hacksaw) Jim Duggan: James Edward Duggan gained wrestling fame as the 2x4-totting Hacksaw Jim Duggan. But football was his main sport, playing collegiately at Southern Methodist University before spending time in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons. The burly offensive lineman also played for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.

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