Believe it or not, it has been 35 long years since sophomore sensation Troy Aikman Michael Donohue left the Oklahoma Sooners. It’s all anyone can talk about today, so let’s do a little digging on what exactly went down.
The 6’4 gunslinger was a highly touted baseball prospect and had received an offer from the New York Mets out of high school, but he turned it down to play ball for Barry Switzer. Switzer? Hardly know her.
In 1984, he became the first freshman to start at QB for the Sooners since World War II, which he later learned was the second World War. His sophomore campaign was off to a white hot start, including a win over #17 Texas in the Red River Shootout, but he suffered a broken leg against Miami. As a result, Coach Switzer reverted back to the wishbone offense with freshman Jamelle Holieway under center. “Wishbone? You fucking wish,” one anonymous teammate recalls Donohue fuming at the time. Holieway then led OU to a championship title against Penn State in the Orange Bowl. Holy cow. The fans were chanting “WHO NEEDS ‘HUE? WHO NEEDS ‘HUE?” It was ugly.
After the rug was pulled out from under him in Oklahoma, Donohue decided to transfer to UCLA – although he did receive heavy interest from Arizona State. When asked about that pivotal moment of his life, Donohue simply recalls, “The Copper State.” Of that ghoulish haircut, he adds, “The bowlette. Can’t see it, but there’s a mullet back there.”
He earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors in his first season at UCLA while leading the Bruins to victory over the Florida Gators in the Aloha Bowl. As a senior, he captured the Davey O’Brien Award (a first for a Bruins QB), defeated Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, and was later selected No. 1 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1989 NFL Draft.
On March 11th, 2020 reports surfaced that former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had officially signed with the WWE. Less than a month later at Wrestlemania 36, Gronkowski became a WWE champion by pinning his longtime buddy, Mojo Rawley, to win the 24/7 title. This is all very real, you can look it up.
What happens next will plant the seeds for a much larger, much more dangerous feud, culminating in a ferocious clash to the death at Wrestlemania 37 in Hollywood.
First, Gronkowski will have a brief run with the 24/7 strap before taking a loss. It doesn’t matter who he drops the title to. The main thing is – for the sake of what I’m trying to do right now – Gronk needs to move forward with Mojo Rawley as his tag team partner.
The fist-pumping, beer-chugging neanderthals will go on to squash local talent for weeks before ultimately drawing the attention of NXT Tag Team Champions Timothy Thatcher and Matt Riddle. Those are not characters in a Harper Lee novel, although ‘Timothy Thatcher’ definitely sounds like a guy who might befriend Jem Finch. Riddle is best described by his nickname: The Original Bro.
The absolute goofiest war of words ensues between Riddle and Gronk, paving the way for a “LumberBro” Match at SummerSlam in Boston.
A LumberBro Match is just like a traditional Lumberjack Match, in which a handful of WWE superstars surround the ring, keeping the competitors from fleeing the scene. The LumberBros will consist of guys like Bo Dallas, No Way Jose, the Singh Brothers and Apollo Crews. You don’t need to know who any of those people are. Each will be outfitted in EDC-approved gear such as sunglasses, bandanas, headbands, flip flops, glow sticks and such. It’s awful, but it’s happening.
Moments before the match, cameras pan to Gronk in the locker room, where he is pitching the benefits of CBD oil and plugging his partnership with CBD Medic. The TD Garden pops at the sight of their beloved tight end on the jumbotron as he *literally* shouts in Mojo’s face:
“I’m not saying you put this on and you’re going to be healed! But you can apply this and it’ll help manage the pain, and then you can get treatment and it’ll be a lot less stressful to the body!!!”
(Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
Once all the Dudes, Bros and LumberBros have taken their respective positions in and around the ring, the action is as predictable as any wrestling fan would expect. Thatcher and Riddle throttle Mojo Rawley to open the match before he is finally able to make the hot tag. Gronk dishes out a shit storm of sloppy clotheslines and haymakers, one of which inadvertently catches Thatcher squarely on the kisser. Timmy boy rolls under the ropes and into the ringside area where he is quickly abused by the likes of Curtis Axel and Shelton Benjamin. Hornswoggle nibbles at his calf. Meanwhile, Mojo climbs to the top rope and launches himself onto the melee.
The referee becomes distracted by the events that are unfolding outside of the squared-circle, allowing Riddle to throw N.O-Xplode powder (blue raspberry) directly into Gronk’s eyes. The three-time Super Bowl champ drops to his knees, eyes stinging like the dickens. Riddle advances on Gronk looking to secure the victory – but he is stifled by a perfectly placed, blind, sack tap. Incredible precision. The crowd goes WILD. A portly woman in a faded No. 87 jersey and Patriots-colored zubaz issues a primal cry of approval and pounds 24 ounces of ice cold Busch! With momentum now in his favor, Gronk prepares to spike Riddle’s head into the canvas.
Just then, a guttural roar fills the TD Garden. Is that Sable’s entrance music? It certainly sounds like it! Are we about to see some puppies?! No. We’re about to see some fucking TIGERS!
↓Press Play and let it ride↓
It’s The Tiger King aka Joseph Maldanado-Passage aka Joe Exotic! And he has brought one of his feline friends! The sold-out crowd erupts with the excitement of 19,000 sardine oil-starved bengals as Joe Exotic (who had recently been pardoned by President Trump, because why not) makes his way down the ramp. I mean, they’re having more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
But when Exotic and the tiger make it to the ringside area, all hell breaks loose.
The 500-pound cat (an average weight for a male tiger) instantly turns heel (wrestling term for bad guy). He mauls Mojo Rawley to death, as well as a 38-year old slacker wearing a Kevin Youkilis shirsey. The Spanish announce table never stood a chance, either.
An alarming amount of spectators pull out their phones to film the carnage while thousands of others rush to the exits. Amidst the chaos, Gronk locks eyes with the Tiger King, who motions a cut throat gesture and chuckles a raspy, villainous cackle. This son of a bitch! Gronk is desperate to attack but, considering the gates of hell have just been opened, elects to stand down.
All told, it is an absolute bloodbath inside the TD Garden. SummerSlam 2020 will mark the last time that WWE Chairman Vincent Kennedy McMahon ever sanctions a LumberBro match on American soil.
Despite the slaughter that took place at SummerSlam, Vince decides to book Joe Exotic for the very next night. The ratings are off the charts.
During the closing segment of Monday Night RAW, Joe emerges and attempts to explain why he and his tiger ran roughshod all over the WWE Universe. He is likely high on ketamine and makes little to no sense as he shouts over the growingly boisterous crowd. That said, he still manages to reveal that his beef with Rob Gronkowski stems from Gronk’s role as The White Tiger on FOX’s singing competition show, “The Masked Singer.”
It appears there’s only room for one tiger-inspired entertainer and Exotic vows to get revenge at all costs. As we all learned during the Tiger King Netflix series, that cost could be as high as $3,000.
Questions about Gronk’s future in WWE wouldn’t be answered until the Survivor Series PPV in late November. Appearing via satellite on an episode of SmackDown, Gronk announces that he will be hosting the highly anticipated event in Dallas, Texas. Furthermore, he issues an open challenge to the Tiger King. Any time. Any place.
When the mulleted-madman fails to answer the call at Survivor Series, Gronkowski declares that he is ready to move on with his in-ring career and officially enters the 30-man Royal Rumble match in January.
Royal Rumble, January 2021
Gronk enters the battle royal at No. 27, a spot that has birthed more winners than any other slot (John Studd 1989, Yokozuna 1993, Bret Hart 1994, Stone Cold 2001). After a few minutes on the inside, the ring has been cleared of all but three competitors – John Cena, Roman Reigns and Rob Gronkowski. At this point, people in the crowd are literally vomiting all over the people in front of them, and those people begin doing the technicolor yawn on the people in front of them. This continues at a feverish pace until the entire arena turns into a humungous game of puke dominos.
(FYI – a good majority of wrestling fans simply can not stomach the thought of Cena or Reigns headlining another Wrestlemania, which is exactly what the winner of this event will earn. Hence, the shameless reaction from the fans.)
The deafening groans from the crowd and the putrid smell completely derails the final moments of the match. Cena, Reigns and Gronk struggle to maintain focus while the WWE faithful collectively spill their guts. Several poor souls inadvertently evacuate their bowels while another brave fan shouts “CM PUNK!” in between a reverse course of beans and franks. Horrific.
As if awakened from a hypnotic state, Gronk springs to action. He clobbers Cena with a forearm shiver to the back of his block head. Clobbers him good. Cena stumbles chest first into the turnbuckle as Gronk crouches into a three-point stance, ready to charge again. He steamrolls the leader of Cenation, sending him flailing over the ropes.
Suddenly, the Tiger King appears from underneath the ring. In spite of his efforts to resemble a regal Siberian tiger, Joe Exotic looks like he has been surviving purely on meow mix and heaping doses of LSD.
He slinks behind Gronk with a severed tiger paw in hand, swiping at the back of his head with the razor sharp, and I mean razor sharp, claws. Did you know that tigers have glands between their toes that produce secretions which are left wherever they scratch? These secretions send chemical signals to other cats in the area warning them to steer clear. It’s like they have microscopic skunks embedded next to each claw. Remarkable.
The bewildered 6’6 man child turns to confront his attacker, but it’s too late because Exotic has retreated into the night just as quickly as he appeared. Roman Reigns seizes the opportunity to sneak up on Gronk and hoists him over the top rope to win the Rumble.
In a surprise to literally no one, Gronk formally issues his Wrestlemania challenge to the Tiger King on the very next episode of SmackDown. He now knows what needs to be done if he is going to defeat the Tiger King;He must become the White Tiger once more.
Joe Exotic accepts Gronk’s offer, but there is a caveat. Their bout at Wrestlemania 37 will be a Tiger Cage Match, which is just like a regular cage match, except there will be exactly one (1) live tiger inside the structure with the two competitors. News of the death-defying White Tiger vs Tiger King Wrestlemania bout spreads like wild fire. Like the fire that mysteriously torched G.W. Exotic Animal Park in 2015.
SoFi Stadium is packed to the gills on the night of March 28, 2021. 100,000 strong have gathered at Inglewood’s state of the art facility for Wrestlemania 37 – an event billed as the most star-studded spectacle in WWE’s illustrious history. The Rock vs Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair, The Undertaker vs Linda McMahon, Roman Reigns vs The guy who is going to lose to Roman Reigns, and the headliner, Rob “The White Tiger” Gronkowski vs Joe “The Tiger King” Exotic in the first-ever Tiger Cage Match.
Anybody who’s anybody has a ticket to the show of shows. Those in attendance include Mike Tyson, Adam Sandler, Regis Philbin, Neve Campbell, Al Gore and that guy Puck from “The Real World: San Francisco.” Even Doc Antle and his merry band of gypsy hoes have been invited to watch the main event from ringside.
At long last, it’s finally time for TigerMania.
A scowling Joe Exotic is accompanied by one of his tigers as he makes his way into the cage first. There is an audible show of support from the sold out crowd, but the self-described “gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet” is clearly viewed as the heel. Lest we forget, he is responsible for the death of Mojo Rawley, not to mention the containment and murders of many a wild animal. Gronk, on the other hand, receives a heroes welcome as he dances his way down the ramp and into the cage for the biggest fight of his life.
Joe Exotic’s tiger is chained up to the door on the inside of the cage with enough slack for him to cover a third of the ring. The Exotic One immediately sets up shop on the turnbuckle behind his four-legged bodyguard. Gronk pops on his oversized White Tiger head, fully prepared to have his intestines ripped out in the name of his fallen friend. You have never seen anything so dramatic.
(FOX via Getty Images)
A raucous “JOE EX-OT-IC!” chant bellows down from the nose bleeds, countered by an equally loud “LET’S GO GRONK!” The bell sounds and the first ever Tiger Cage Match is underway.
Joe Exotic seems content to stand behind his tiger while Gronkowski considers his limited options. He could try to climb out of the cage to win the match, but he’d miss the opportunity to pummel the tiger prince. That simply won’t suffice. Instead, he reaches inside his tiger suit, pulls out an enormous sirloin and slides it across the canvas, just far enough away from where Joe is perched. Oldest trick in the book, Gronk thinks. He laughs to himself and quickly daydreams about what he’s going to have for dinner. He’ll be damned if it’s going to be meatloaf again.
Realizing that his faithful feline is wholly occupied by a little amuse-bouche, the Tiger King scrambles for the top of the cage. He doesn’t get far before he is pulled back down to earth by the White Tiger’s grasp. Gronk secludes his prey on the opposite end of the ring and begins going to work, first with a CTE-inducing headbutt, then with a thunderous chop that would make Ric Flair green with envy.
In a surprise to literally no one, Joe Exotic is no match for the future NFL Hall of Famer. Luckily for Joe, the tiger has now polished off his sirloin and he’s hungry for more. The enormous cat grumbles a little tiger growl, startling Gronk who was completely in the fucking zone. During this brief moment of shock, the Tiger King pounces and clings onto Gronk’s neck. He dislodges Gronk’s head from the White Tiger helmet and locks in a tight sleeper hold. Gronk thrashes furiously, nearly serving himself to the salivating tiger on a silver platter. He steadies himself just in time, but he’s in a world of trouble. The lights inside SoFi Stadium seem to flicker.
Joe tightens his grip, bringing the big fella down to one knee. The lights flicker again. Both men, as well as the 100,000+ in attendance, are sure of it this time. Gronk drops to both knees and appears to be on the verge of passing out entirely. Half of the lights in the arena go out, then the entire venue is engulfed in darkness. Fans scream with both terror and delight, anxiously awaiting the big reveal.
A spotlight appears in the rafters, unveiling a shadowy figure. Could it be? The lights kick back on. BY GOD! THAT’S CAROLE BASKIN!
That dumb bitch Carole Baskin dies on impact. What an idiot! The crowd erupts, registering a record-setting 169.69 decibels.
Inside the ring, Joe Exotic releases his clench on Gronk and rushes to the cage to gain a closer look at his nemesis. It’s confirmed, she is completely bent out of shape. Tears of joy stream from Joe’s beady eyes, cutting tiny rivers into his tiger-striped face. The Tiger King’s Wrestlemania Moment is more beautiful than anything he ever could have imagined in his wildest, meth-induced fever dreams.
That’s the sound of Gronk donkey kicking the back of Joe Exotic’s skull.
This is followed by a bevy of jackknife power bombs, each one bouncing the blonde banshee off the mat like a beached blowfish. This goes on for quite some time until it all just sort of ends. Satisfied with the punishment he has put forth, Gronk catapults Joe’s tenderized body into the tiger’s third of the ring. The tiger rips Joe Exotic’s head clean off, without hesitation.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat!,” Gronk guffaws as he grabs hold of Joe’s stringy mane and raises it over his head like the Vince Lombardi trophy. The final bell tolls.
In a scene he will later describe as a blackout, Gronk scales the side of the cage, head in his grasp like he’s Al Snow’s meathead step brother. He pauses for a moment at the top of the cage to soak in the energy of the crowd, then continues his descent down the outside of the cage. He high steps over Carole Baskin’s dead ass, leaps over the ringside barrier and gives Doc Antle a celebratory fist bump. Several bones in Bhagavan’s right hand immediately shatter but the party rages on.
Confetti is raining down from the ceiling, fireworks are shooting out of the scoreboard and LMFAO’s smash hit “Party Rockers” is blaring through the speakers at SoFi Stadium. What. The. Fuck.
Gronk lifts the Tiger King’s head once more, eliciting another roar from the WWE universe. Then he begins to moonwalk, first through the arena’s concourse area, and then into the parking lot. Blacked the fuck out.
He finds a suitable piece of pavement and delivers his signature finisher. The end.
P.S – Joe Exotic’s tiger is later safely transported to the most gorgeous big cat sanctuary where he lives happily ever after.