WWE inked Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson to the company’s first NIL (name, image, likeness) deal last week. Now, the amateur wrestling standout is doing some media to talk about his future - in college, sports entertainment, and beyond.
During an interview with The MMA Hour’s Ariel Helwani, Steveson confirmed several of the details from WWE’s announcement. Namely that he can compete for the University of Minnesota and finish his degree while performing professionally for Vince McMahon’s company.
“A part of my deal is I can go on stage during my school year times, so that’s kind of cool too... I think that [getting the University of Minnesota to agree to allow him to appear on WWE television while he’s finishing his degree and competing on their wrestling team] was a fairly easy task. Minnesota signed off really quickly on it, and since it’s sports entertainment it’s not like I’m going out there doing NFL with college football, you can’t do the both of that. The way the NCAA rule worked I was able to work it that I can make an on-stage appearance against whoever and then wrestle a dual the next day if I got back in time.”
Helwani and Steveson also spoke about the training facility in Minnesota WWE will be setting up specifically for their future Superstar. Gable says coaches from the Performance Center will fly up to work with him, along with “a couple other bigger names.”
The two also seemed to substantiate reports going around that the 21 year old heavyweight will bypass NXT and be rolled out on either Raw or SmackDown. Steveson said:
“There’s a very big chance that I might go straight to the main roster and not be in NXT. I was open for anything, but with the way things are going I think I’m going to jump straight to the main roster. I know there’s a lot to learn, and I’m ready to soak everything in like a sponge and just be ready to go out there and put on a good show for the crowd.”
That caveat about “the way things are going” is interesting. It’s entirely possible that a name like Steveson never would have spent much time in developmental. But, as with Samoa Joe vacating the title he just won, it’s easy to read more into Gable’s statement given the anticipation surrounding the revamp of NXT that’s currently underway.
And after that quote, when Helwani suggested we could see the Olympian “in the mix” on the main roster at this time next year, Steveson only nodded his head.
Think we’ll see Gable Steveson on Raw or SmackDown while he’s still chasing a national championship for the Golden Gophers?