Ring of Honor star Moose talks about his time as a lineman on the Patriots, and why the upcoming Global Wars PPV will be a dream come true for him.
Count Quinn Ojinnaka among NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s detractors.
“I’d love to give Goodell a spear,” said Ojinnaka, who is known in Ring of Honor as Moose. “Free Tom Brady.”
The 6’5”, 300-pound former offensive lineman–who is about to become the biggest free agent in wrestling–is furious about Goodell’s treatment of the Brady suspension.
“Goodell lost the battle,” said Moose. “Tom Brady played last year, and he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, so why would the NFL not want to see him play? They’re making a lot of money off the guy, and I really thought we ended this last year.”
Moose played alongside Brady for the New England Patriots during the 2010 season, and he credits Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick with preparing him to succeed in wrestling.
“Playing under Bill Belichick helped me a lot with how I get ready for a match,” said Moose. “Bill Belichick got you better prepared than any other coach in the NFL, and that’s one of the reasons why I come so prepared to my matches. I watch tape of my opponent, I study my opponent and I go into the match knowing more about him than he knows about himself.”
Moose explained that Belichick treated him in the same manner that he treated every other player.
“On the field, Belichick was an a--hole to everybody,” said Moose. “At the end of the day, all he cared about was winning.”
The 32-year-old Moose is set to become a free agent in June, and speculation is rampant that the WWE will swoop in and sign him to a lucrative contract with NXT.
“I can’t talk about WWE,” said Moose. “I’m happy with Ring of Honor. My contract is coming up in June, but until then, I’m happy here and we’ll see what happens.”
Moose is featured in a major match in Ring of Honor’s Global Wars pay per view this Sunday, as he teams up with the electrifying Kazuchika Okada against “Big” Mike Elgin and the legendary Hiroshi Tanahashi. This past February, Moose battled Okada–and more than held his own–at the 14th Anniversary PPV in Las Vegas.
“Okada is my favorite wrestler, so when I found out I was working with him, I thought [manager Stokely Hathaway] was ribbing me,” said Moose. “But the boys kept coming up to me saying, ‘I heard you’re working Okada.’ It was surreal. Then the booker told me, ‘It’s you and Okada next month at the pay per view,’ and it was like a dream come true to wrestle the guy I consider to be the best wrestler in the world.”
The agile-yet-powerful Moose features a rare skillset for a man his size. He studied tape of Okada and incorporated devastating dropkicks into his arsenal, as well as infused his own brand of charisma and personality into his character. Moose helped learn the business at WWE training camps, which only adds fuel to the fire that Vince McMahon and Paul Levesque will be in major pursuit of the ROH star.
“When I was trained at WWE–with guys like Apollo Crews, AR Fox, and Heath Slater–guys used to get in a debate and say, ‘I want to wrestle just like him,’ or ‘I want to wrestle just like that,’” said Moose. “That’s when it hit me – I want to be Moose.
“I don’t want you to think of someone else when I wrestle. When you think of Moose, I only want you to think of me. I don’t want to be a standard big guy. I don’t want to wrestle like Mark Henry. And Mark Henry is great and he’s been doing this for years, but I don’t want people to tell me I wrestle like the Big Show or Kane, either. I want to have my own style, where I can switch it up and throw in some high flying stuff, throw in some power stuff and do some agile stuff. When you see me wrestle, I want you to be thinking about me.”
Moose credits his parents and the NFL for teaching him the importance of humility and respect, which are traits that are held in high esteem by the Japanese wrestlers. Okada praised Moose’s work after their match in February and requested the opportunity to work with him again in the future.
“Weeks before wrestling Okada, I was nervous,” admitted Moose, “but I just thought about how long I’ve dreamed of being in that position. I wanted to show the world what Moose could really do when he’s in the ring with top talent, especially with Okada, who is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He made it easy for me. Going into the match, he said we could do whatever I wanted to do. That just made working the match so much easier for me.
“We had a lot of chemistry, and now I get to tag with him on Sunday, which is another dream come true. One dream was to wrestle him, another dream is to tag with him–and I’m doing both of them less than three months apart. Even though the card is stacked, we’re going to have the best match on the card.”
Moose views himself as a spark plug for the talented-laden Ring of Honor roster, which reminds him of Rob Gronkowski’s role with the Patriots.
“The guy who set the tone when I was there was Rob Gronkowski,” said Moose. “He was a rookie, but he always had that ‘It Factor.’ He had the ability to make the block to set the tone, or make the catch to get everybody hyped up to keep playing. Obviously Tom Brady was the mental leader, but physically it was Rob Gronkowski.”
The Patriots have won four Super Bowl championships in the past fifteen years, and Moose is also looking to capture gold with Ring of Honor.
“Winning gold would be great,” said Moose. “But the office controls who wins the gold, so my focus is on what I can control. I want to be better in my next match than I was in my last. It would be great to have the title, but if I don’t, it will not tarnish my career. Me not winning a championship before June–or if I stay, after June–does not make or break my career.
“Look at AJ Styles–he never won the Ring of Honor title, and he’s still considered one of the greatest wrestlers alive. Whatever happens, happens, and I’ll be ready for whatever.”
If Moose ever does compete for the Ring of Honor world title, he would love to have Belichick accompany him to the ring.
“It would be awesome to have Bill Belichick in my corner,” said Moose. “That would definitely be awesome. Let’s talk to Joe Koff and make it happen.”
Moose also offers a unique perspective on competing in the NFL and in pro wrestling.
“I played so many games in football, and now I’m taking bumps inside the ring, so it’s definitely tough, especially coming from the football world,” said Moose. “There are no breaks in wrestling. With football, you get at least four months off every year and you can rest and fix whatever is hurt. In wrestling, you just keep going. At the end of the day, the two hurt your body the same way.”
Wrestling fans, Moose revealed, are his personal highlight of the business.
“If you treat the fans good, they will treat you even better,” said Moose. “Every time I’m on Twitter, I try to find a way to respond. It’s little stuff like that which a lot of guys don’t do, and I pride myself on doing that. If you treat the fans good, they’ll always be in your corner.”
As for career goals, Moose knows exactly what he wants to accomplish.
“I hope that I go to Japan on a more consistent basis, but my main goal is to get better every time I step in the ring,” said Moose. “The rest will work itself out.”