If you’re a pro wrestling fan and have gone to the theater the last few months, you may have seen a familiar face in the Snake Eyes: G.I.Joe Origins. Yes, that is Mojo Rawley getting physical with star Henry Golding in the trailer. The former WWE superstar, real name Dean Muhtadi, joins Sgt. Slaughter and The Rock as the latest in the G.I. Joe world.

In an interview today’s The Wrestling Inc. Daily, Muhtadi recalled receiving a voicemail from WWE saying the people at Paramount were interested in having him appear in the film. He had just gotten off a four-day loop and was unwinding after a redeye flight.

“Talk about a surprise,” Muhtadi said of the news. “I was so hyped up it was such an amazing opportunity, I jumped all over it. No questions.”

The football player turned pro wrestler didn’t have much time to prepare. The call came in about a week or two before flying out to set.

“There weren’t many wrestlers on the roster at the time that had the movie experience. It was also supposed to be confidential, initially,” Muhtadi said. “They wanted to keep it as a surprise to the wrestling universe until the last minute. Everyone didn’t find out until that second trailer aired so I really couldn’t ask anybody [for advice]… there wasn’t much time so I kind of came into this cold.”

Muhtadi took his almost a decade of experience into the acting gig. Much like others who made the transition, he felt more prepared coming from his unique entertainment background.

“I think life in wrestling helped me out and gave me a solid foundation,” he said. “We’re in front of the cameras in the wrestling world, especially WWE. You know how many HD cameras are pointed at us in every single direction while you’re doing your matches.

“Getting a match 15 minutes before you perform and getting a script two minutes before you go live on air and be expected to memorize every word. On-the-fly thinking gave me a big leg up. I remember when the stunt director handed me my scene. I only had to watch it one time before I had the whole thing memorized and ran with it. They were blown away. You get one shot and sometimes one read before you go out there and do your thing. So I was pretty ready.”

Even though the former seven-time 24/7 champ got the spot while working for WWE the company released him in April, months before the film’s release. It is what could have been a good potential crossover promotional opportunity.

“I don’t know how much promotion WWE did for Sasha Banks when The Mandalorian came out. I think they kind of kept that separate,” Muthadi said. “Sometimes they are all over it. Sometimes they don’t do anything with it. There were a lot of things happening behind the scenes too over this past year, then the release came.”

The now WWE alum looks back at his time fondly. At the same time, he is more hyped than ever for the next chapter with Snake Eyes being just the beginning.

“I was just so excited to be able to leave the company and do anything I wanted to do and revamp myself,” Muthadi said. “For a long time, I was kind of stuck in the same spot. No matter how hard I tried and no matter what content I put on TV. No matter how happy they were with it, I was always kind of pigeonholed.

“So it’s time to grow and diversify and learn a few things. I just turned 35, so the clock is kind of ticking on starting a new industry. I’m just happy. The timing couldn’t have been better.  A month after getting released from WWE it gets announced that I’m in the new G.I. Joe movie. To me, that’s the best time ever. Now I can take advantage of all this promotion and buzz and enjoy it and be part of it where if I was wrestling, I would be locked down 24/7 unable to really do anything to promote the film on my own accord.”

Get hyped for Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins in theaters on July 23.

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