Rob Gronkowski enjoyed a short but sweet tenure as 24/7 Champion in his WWE career before opting to return to the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 31-year-old made fleeting appearances due to his friendship with Mojo Rawley.
However, he appeared to make a huge commitment by signing a deal to join Friday Night Smackdown in March. Gronkowski then took possession of his first title belt when he pinned his friend Rawley following a backwards dive that wiped out the former champion and others at Wrestlemania 36.
Following his announcement that he would be returning to the NFL, and subsequent trade from the New England Patriots to join Tom Brady at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was expected that Gronk would relinquish his title. In true fashion for the 31-year-old, he launched a quirky video with his friend Goon that resulted in the end of his tenure as 24/7 Champion.
R-Truth emerged from the shadows of Gronkowski’s backyard to sneak up with the roll-up pin, with Goon performing the three count before the former made a quick getaway. Gronk’s time in the WWE appears to be at an end – at least for now.
His contract with the Buccaneers will prevent him from stepping into the ring, although his stint with Bruce Arians’ men ends at the completion of the 2020 campaign. The tight end has taken a beating over the course of his NFL career, which prompted his initial retirement in 2019. Tampa Bay will be keen to keep him on the roster for the long term, but his future will be tied with Brady, who is only expected to play out the two years of his deal signed in March.
Success will be the deciding factor over whether Gronkowski remains in the NFL. The Buccaneers are one of the leading contenders in the NFL betting odds to win the Super Bowl at +1200. Should Tampa Bay triumph – it might convince Gronk to walk off into the sunset with a fourth Super Bowl ring, further enhancing his claim as one of the greatest players at his position of all time.
Without sustaining an injury during the 2020 season, he could seamlessly return to the WWE after only one year out of the wrestling world. Fans would have greater recognition of his status off the back off a Super Bowl win, while at the age of 32 he would still be relatively young enough to enjoy a long career on the canvas. It would make sense for Gronk and the WWE to capitalize on the publicity.
On the other hand, Gronk’s powers were on the decline in his final year with the Patriots before he retired. Injuries had taken their toll on his body, although he was still capable of producing in clutch moments – notably in Super Bowl LIII. His style of play encourages opposing defenders to hit him hard and low around the legs. He suffered a broken arm in 2012 that required multiple surgeries to amend before tearing his ACL the following season. Gronk has also been battling a back problem that has troubled him since his college days.
If the Buccaneers are unsuccessful in their first season with Brady and Gronk – there will be a temptation for both players to continue in 2021. Whether Gronk’s body will hold up is another matter – and what will that mean for his career after football? He has more than enough money and he may decide that putting himself through further rigours in the WWE might not be a good idea. Time will tell if we ever see Gronk in the ring again.
By Kate Walker