Last week, WWE announced an NIL program to take advantage of the NCAA’s new NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) policy that allows college athletes to get paid for things other than playing the sport they represent their school in. And to cleverly repurpose the acronym as “Next In Line”.
Jokes aside, it’s a smart way for WWE to cost-effectively get a look at talented athletes to determine if they have what it takes to succeed in their business. For the athletes, it’s a payday — and access to world class facilities at the Orlando Performance Center where they can see if pro wrestling/sports entertainment is something they’d be interested in doing in the not-unlikely event they don’t make a living in their primary sport.
It’s also a big step in WWE’s moving their developmental program away from signing wrestlers from the independents and towards building Superstars™ from the ground up.
Today (Dec. 8), they announced their first “Next In Line” class. These 15 young men and women will join Olympic gold-medal winning wrestler and University of Minnesota All-American Gable Steveson the WWE’s NIL Program:
- Carlos Aviles of Ventura, Calif., a 6-foot-6, 305-pound track & field athlete from Ohio State University
- Haley Cavinder of Gilbert, Ariz., a 5-foot-6 basketball player from Fresno State University
- Hanna Cavinder of Gilbert, Ariz., a 5-foot-6 basketball player from Fresno State University
- A.J. Ferrari of Dallas, Texas, a 6-foot, 200-pound wrestler from Oklahoma State University
- Lexi Gordon of Fort Worth, Texas, a 6-foot basketball player from Duke University
- Aleeya Hutchins of Toronto, Canada, a 5-foot-5 track & field athlete from Wake Forest University
- John Krahn of Riverside, Calif., a 7-foot, 400-pound football player from Portland State University
- Glen Logan of Kenner, La., a 6-foot-5, 305-pound football player from LSU
- Isaac Odugbesan of Lagos, Nigeria, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound football player from the University of Alabama
- Mason Parris of Lawrenceburg, Ind., a 6-foot-2, 275-pound wrestler from the University of Michigan
- Masai Russel of Potomac, Md., a 5-foot-5 track & field athlete from the University of Kentucky
- Jon Seaton of Hillsborough, N.J., a 6-foot-1, 285-pound football player from Elon University
- Joe Spivak of Lombard, Ill., a 6-foot, 300-pound football player from Northwestern University
- Dalton Wagner of Spring Grove, Ill., a 6-foot-9, 330-pound football player from the University of Arkansas
- Riley White of Hoover, Ala., a 5-foot-6 track & field athlete from the University of Alabama
Is the next Bianca Belair or Bron Breakker in this group? Stay tuned...