Pro wrestling fans haven’t seen Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson since the Cedar Park, Texas crowd jeered him during his debut match at NXT Great American Bash on July 30.
There’s obviously been speculation the audience rejection played a role in his absence from WWE programming, but it did seem to be part of Steveson’s plans to return to the amateur ranks. Last month, the two-time NCAA heavyweight champ was listed among the competitors for Sept. 16-24’s 2023 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. He qualified for the event by beating Mason Parris earlier this summer.
But it’s now been announced that Parris will replace him at Worlds:
Parris will compete in Belgrade on September 16-17, and will be wrestling in his first Senior World Championships. #WrestleBelgrade— USA Wrestling (@USAWrestling) September 6, 2023
Why? It’s unlikely due to concerns about how Steveson would fare in his return to international competition. After leaving his boots on the mat to signal the end of his college career in May of last year, he came back to go 4-0 and outscore his opponents 44-1 at this April’s U.S. Open Wrestling Championships. But there were questions about whether WWE wanted him chasing another Olympic gold in Paris next summer, and talk that Steveson would be returning to the University of Minnesota for his final year of NCAA eligibility.
We’ll see what this news means for any or all of those pursuits.