Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Are You Ready For Some Football, Wrestling-Style?
Sep 6, 2013 - 5:40:14 AM
You rock, Maricel.
Writer's Note: Saturday, September 7th at 7pm EST, join me on LoP Radio for a replaying of our interviews with Diamond Dallas Page and Jimmy Jacobs. LoP Radio already features interviews with the likes of Christopher Daniels and Adam Pearce, but now people can have all of the LoP audio interviews in the same archives, ready to be listened to at your leisure. Please tune in, especially if you missed the DDP and Jacobs interviews the first time around. Click the following link to check the show out..
LoP Radio interviews.. Diamond Dallas Page & Jimmy Jacobs
"Best of both worlds.."
This is a column I've done a couple different times in the five-and-a-half years that I've been writing columns here on LoP, but it's always popular, and it always creates a lot of discussion, so it's time to have fun again..
I'm going to look at the WWE and TNA rosters and create a football team out of them. Of course, I'm talking about the American version of the sport. Sorry, soccer fans. You have other columnists that can handle your sport.
There are 22 starting positions on a football team, not counting the Kicker and Punter, and that's what I'll be covering here. No need to create an entire 53-man NFL roster. Nobody is going to care if I have Yoshi Tatsu or Jessie Godderz listed, you know? There are different offensive and defensive schemes in the world of football, and I'll be using whichever schemes fit my talent the best. My only "catch" is that my Offensive Line and Defensive Line will not have specific positions listed. Instead of saying who the two Tackles, two Guards and Center are on the O-Line, I'll just have five people listed as Offensive Linemen, although I may throw out some "recommendations" for line positions. Same for the defense.. Defensive Linemen, instead of Defensive Ends and Defensive Tackles. There really isn't much more that needs to be explained, so let's go ahead and get this shindig underway, ladies and gentlemen.
Quarterback: Dean Ambrose
Originally, I had Randy Orton in this spot, but then I thought about Randy's issues with his hypermobile shoulders, and I kept picturing him throwing the ball downfield, only for his entire arm to detach and go spiraling down the field still holding on to the football. Can't have that, so I switched it to Ambrose. The Quarterback needs to be one of the more intelligent players on your roster, and with Ambrose, you have someone who is always thinking and always doing the little things (sometimes so little that the average fan doesn't even notice) to succeed. He's also 6'3" and 225 pounds, which is about as close to "prototype Quarterback size" these days as it gets. He's also about as tough as they come, capable of taking crazy levels of punishment and keep getting back up for more. That's what I want in a Quarterback. Someone who can lead the offense in an intelligent fashion, can be counted on to be tough and not fold under pressure, and who is used to working with a team.
Running Back: Dolph Ziggler
In the making of this column, I went back and forth a lot, having a handful of people placed in this spot, but in the end, I couldn't pass up on Ziggler being my team's starting Running Back. At 6'0" and about 215 pounds, he's not a large Running Back, but he's right in line with guys like Adrian Peterson (6'1", 215), LeSean McCoy (5'11", 210), Marshawn Lynch (5'11", 215), OJ Simpson (6'1", 215) and so on, so it's clear that great success can be had by a Running Back with that size and frame. What ultimately won Dolph the spot here would be his versatility as a Running Back. He's as quick and athletic as they come, so that part of the game is covered, but he's clearly the type of Back that wouldn't be afraid of contact. Many times, with smaller Running Backs, you see players who want to "dance" and avoid contact, and it costs them yards. Ziggler can "dance", but he certainly knows when to move straight ahead and seek out contact when necessary. That means Dolph could be successful running between the Tackles, and he could be successful taking it to the outside. That's the type of Running Back you want in today's day and age. Multi-dimensional and unafraid.
Offensive Lineman #1: Hernandez
A theme that you'll notice with my Offensive Line is that I'm featuring some big, angry guys. I'd need a line that could pave the way and create running lanes for my Running Back, and that would be able to stand up to pressure and protect my Quarterback, and I think I have that in these names. At 6'2" and 285 pounds, but blessed with enough agility to allow him to land suicide dives over the top rope, I think you could have Hernandez as a successful Center or Guard, as he would help in the run game specifically, pulling to the outside to block on plays like sweeps.
Offensive Lineman #2: Big Show
Show, on the other hand, would probably be a Tackle. He'd probably protect the Quarterback's blind side. He's probably not as quick as the average Tackle in the NFL, but with his weight and his strength, that more than makes up for things. The outside pass rush might be able to beat him off the block with their first step, but he'll make that lost ground up quickly. If he can get his hands on you, you're not getting past him, and that means he's doing his job. The only concern I'd have with him is his height means an altered passing lane. Show will certainly block the Quarterback's vision if he isn't careful, but that can be fixed quite easily. Just be sure the Quarterback isn't wearing cement shoes and can move around a bit. Problem solved.
Offensive Lineman #3: Bully Ray
I wanted to switch it up, so if I have Big Show on one end of the line, I'd put Bully on the opposite end. Bully is an angry, nasty man, and that would make him out to be a great run blocking Tackle, if you ask me. Let him get out in front of the Running Back and basically punch someone in the mouth to open a lane. As mean and angry as Bully is, I don't exactly see him struggling in pass protection, either. He's 6'4" and weighs around 300 pounds (don't pay any attention to his usual listed weight of 325), so he's plenty big enough to handle the job duties of the line.
Offensive Lineman #4: Big E Langston
Big E is an interesting choice here. At 5'11" and about 290 pounds, he's relatively undersized for an Offensive Lineman, but that strength.. that strength.. is what places him here. Put him in the middle of the line, probably playing Center, and let him work the middle. On running plays, that strength will pave the way for the Running Back to take the ball between the Tackles. On passing plays, that strength will be used to keep Defensive Tackles out of the Quarterback's face. Beneficial in both aspects of offense. I'll take it.
Offensive Lineman #5: Tensai
If I have Big E at Center and Hernandez at one Guard spot, Tensai works out nicely in the other Guard spot. Tensai would be the prototypical "road grader", at 6'7" and 360 pounds, with a mean streak. You get in his way, best believe that you're getting smacked. This completes my line, and it features some of pro wrestling's meanest men. Size and power in all five spots. The right attitude in all five spots. The ability to protect the pass and set up the run. I really can't ask for much more than that.
Wide Receiver #1: Kofi Kingston
When it comes to Wide Receiver, someone with speed, athleticism and explosive quickness. Someone that can get himself open. Someone that, when the situation calls for it, can use his leaping ability to win "jump balls" from opposing Cornerbacks and Safeties. I think I have all of that in Kofi Kingston. He's one of the best pure athletes on the entire WWE roster right now, and is a good enough size (6'0" and 215 pounds) for a Wide Receiver. It's his explosiveness that I like here, though. He isn't the tallest guy in the world, but those "hops" can be lethal at his position, and in the red zone, you can just throw the ball up, and Kofi will sky above the defender to bring it in for a touchdown.
Wide Receiver #2: Daniel Bryan
Every group of Wide Receivers needs that slot guy. Smaller, quicker, willing to do the dirty work to make catches and help his team. Daniel Bryan definitely isn't going to be confused with someone like The Great Khali as far as his size is concerned, but there might not be anyone that works harder than Bryan. In the NFL, the best slot guy year after year is Wes Welker. At 5'9" and 185 pounds, Welker isn't the biggest guy around, but he's tough and scrappy, and he always finds a way to get open. Bryan is listed at 5'10" and 200 pounds, but I think he's more along the lines of Welker's height and weight numbers on the dot. Bryan's scrappiness will let him get open, and he'd be a fantastic option for my team. A "security blanket" for the Quarterback. Someone that, when other options fail, can be depended on to make plays.
Wide Receiver #3: Fandango
Surprise! Some of you are probably scratching your heads a bit right now, but hear me out. My Wide Receiver corps has the fast, explosive guy, and it has the slot guy. What it didn't have was the tall, long-striding game changer. In Fandango, I think I have that. At 6'4" and 235 pounds, he's a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses, who would be lining up guys that are sometimes an entire half-foot shorter and 50 pounds lighter than he is to cover him. On top of that, the man (both in the Fandango gimmick and as Johnny Curtis in the past) has deceptive athleticism, as well, with many of his moves involving him jumping and leaping around. He's going to be incredibly tough to cover, and that's the kind of matchup issues you try to create as an offense. The defense will have to either throw a Linebacker on him, as well, which opens up the middle of the field for Daniel Bryan to get open, or they'll have to send Safety help over, which would open up Kofi Kingston in the back end. Pick your poison.
Tight End: Randy Orton
Once Orton was removed at Quarterback, I knew I had to have him here at Tight End. He's 6'4" and weighs 245 pounds, which is about as ideal as it gets for the Tight End position. Orton's wrestling offense doesn't necessarily call for it all the time, but he's a lot more athletic than most people give him credit for. Think of all the "out of nowhere" RKO spots he's had to hit, and how he had nothing more than a second or two to be in the exact spot needed at the exact moment needed. Think of the random time when he hit an RKO, then jumped in the air and did a picture-perfect cheerleader-style mid-air split. He's big enough to handle blocking to help out in the running game, but also quick and athletic enough to go out and make plays in the passing game. He also has quite the obvious mean streak in him, which will certainly come in handy on the football field. He won't take shit from anyone, and will fight to come out on top.
Defensive Lineman #1: Brock Lesnar
With my Defensive Line, I'll want the bigger guys with more athleticism, and that's where Lesnar comes in. 6'3", 290 pounds, freakish athleticism for someone his size, and an apparent disregard for his own well-being? Yeah, go ahead and put him on the end of the line and let him go after the opposing Quarterback until he can't go any longer. Someone is going to get hurt.. it might even be Brock himself.. but damn, it'll be fun to watch him do his thing, one way or another.
Defensive Lineman #2: Mark Henry
NFL teams love placing a massive mountain of a man in the middle of their Defensive Line to stuff the run. With Mark Henry, this team would have just that. Henry is stupid strong and deceptively quick for someone his size. Opposing Offensive Lineman just aren't going to be able to push him around at the line of scrimmage, meaning he'd be able to plug up any holes in the running game, forcing teams to be more predictable and hit the outside. As an added bonus, Henry's strength will allow for him to bull rush successfully, getting into the backfield and wreaking all kinds of havoc.
Defensive Lineman #3: Bray Wyatt
Put Wyatt right there next to Henry in the middle of the line. Obviously, he isn't as large as Henry, but at 6'3" and 300 pounds, he isn't exactly a tiny man, either. What sets him apart is his explosiveness. Watch him wrestle. He explodes into his moves. He's violent. He borders on being out of control at times. That "wreaking havoc" thing I mentioned? Yeah, Wyatt's doing that. He'll find himself in the backfield quite frequently. You have a run-stuffing Defensive Tackle, and you have a pass-rushing Defensive Tackle, with both able to venture onto the other side of the fence when called upon. I love it.
Defensive Lineman #4: Roman Reigns
Another big man (6'3", 270 pounds) with sudden, violent explosion. If Henry and Wyatt do their jobs correctly, that should benefit Reigns and Lesnar on the outside. With Henry and Wyatt drawing opposing Guards and Centers to take care of them, you're looking at one-on-one matchups for Reigns and Lesnar more often than not, except when the Tight End stays "home" to block. I like my odds with Reigns and Lesnar in one-on-one situations, that's for sure.
Linebacker #1: John Cena
At 6'1" and 240 pounds (I don't buy his listed weight of 250+), Cena is right in the "sweet spot" as far as how big you want your Linebackers to be. I think Cena would have to play in the middle, because while he's plenty big and obviously he's more than strong enough, but he doesn't have elite level athleticism, so put him at Middle Linebacker. Let the Outside Linebackers handle the athleticism, while Cena just destroys anyone with a football in their hands that crosses his path, whether it's a Running Back that has broken through the line, a slot Wide Receiver testing his luck, etc. If there was ever someone that was going to put his body on the line for the benefit of his team, it would be John Cena. You're in for success if you can put someone like him here.
Linebacker #2: Magnus
Magnus is a little taller than Cena, and not quite as stocky (6'3", 240), but he has great speed and athletic ability for someone his size. If you throw him on the outside, he's big enough to play in coverage, as the first line of defense against the Tight End, but he's also fast enough to come around the edge and get to the Quarterback if you need him to rush the passer. I prefer my Linebackers to have that type of versatility, and that's why I chose Magnus here, even though it might be a slight surprise to some of you.
Linebacker #3: Jack Swagger
Chances are, Swagger would end up being my Strongside Linebacker. He'd be the guy to watch the Tight End and follow the play that way. At 6'7" and 270 pounds, Swagger is larger than the average Linebacker is, but he also possesses a combination of size, speed, strength, and athletic ability that the average Linebacker doesn't have, so it's alright. He's big and strong enough to cover Tight Ends. He's fast and athletic enough to rush the passer, either around the edge or through holes made by the Defensive Linemen. He's quick enough to fall back into pass coverage in the back end. He would be a nightmare for opposing offenses, who would have to see where he is and what he's doing at all times.
Cornerback #1: CM Punk
One thing in particular helped make Punk stand out for a Cornerback position. A Cornerback is truly successful when he can get into a Wide Receiver's head. He has to know the routes that the Receiver is running, and he has to know how to shut him down. Once he can start doing that, the Receiver can start to second-guess himself, throwing himself off of things. If there was ever someone built to get into someone else's head and generally annoy and piss them off, it has to be Punk. At 6'2" and 215 pounds, Punk is actually on the larger side for a Cornerback, but he's not too big to shadow these Wide Receivers and defend the pass. He's a smart player that would be a student of the game, following the styles and tendencies of the people he lines up against, so you know he would always be prepared.
Cornerback #2: AJ Styles
Styles is definitely quicker, faster and more athletic than Punk is, and that is why he would be the Cornerback covering the quicker, faster and more athletic Wide Receivers. Simple, isn't it? At 5'11" and about 210 pounds, Styles is closer to the size of an average Cornerback. He's smaller than Punk, but not too small to where he can't do his job correctly. You take the opposition's top Receiver, and you put AJ opposite of him, and I'm confident that you would see AJ become successful. While he might not be the shit-talker that Punk is, he'd use his exceptional physical traits in a way that perhaps Punk might not be able to. I like that combination of players.
Strong Safety: Antonio Cesaro
When it comes to a Strong Safety, you need a player that is multi-dimensional, because you need him to be able to play the pass as well as the run. A lot of his pass responsibility involves helping against the Tight End. That means your Strong Safety has to be stronger and bigger than the Free Safety, but without compromising too much in the speed and athleticism department. That sounds like Antonio Cesaro to me. Cesaro is a bit bigger (6'5", 230) than the average Strong Safety is, but that's what makes this work. He's big enough to match up against opposing Tight Ends, certainly strong enough to come up to the line of scrimmage and play the run, and athletic enough that he can also hang with Wide Receivers when he is called on to do so. It's usually the offense that gets to have "matchup nightmares", but in this instance, I think I'd have yet another one on defense.
Free Safety: Kurt Angle
The Free Safety is something different entirely. In this position, you need someone smart and wily, as his job is to basically watch how the offense is lining up and watch the plays unfold in front of him. If a Wide Receiver gets past the Cornerback covering him, it's the Free Safety that generally moves up to play the coverage. If a slot Wide Receiver can find some wiggle room to work with, it's the Free Safety that is often called on to come in and close the gap. I picked Kurt Angle here because I think he is one of the smarter in-ring performers we've ever seen. He's not going to be tricked into falling for play action calls by opposing Quarterbacks very often, and he makes for a great "final option" in defending the pass.
Well, there you have it. My 11-man offensive roster, and my 11-man defensive roster. When you're "grading" the team I put together, try not to use that person's wrestling as your guide. For example, Tensai is on my Offensive Line, but don't see him as a "jobber" in wrestling and automatically equate that to him being a failure in this venture. Tell me what I got right. Tell me what I got wrong. Tell me who you would have on your rosters. Drop me some feedback and let me know what's up.
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