Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson at all times had an concept that WWE could be his future dwelling.
Following his beautiful victory on the 2020 Olympic video games, the 21-year-old phenom rapidly grew to become a coveted free agent as he flirted with a possible transfer into skilled wrestling, blended martial arts or maybe even attempting his hand at soccer.
Ultimately, Steveson inked a three-year contract with WWE beneath an NIL (identify, picture, likeness rights) deal that can enable him to start out coaching for his profession in professional wrestling whereas nonetheless returning to the College of Minnesota the place he hopes to seize a second consecutive NCAA title.
In response to Steveson, he at all times supposed on returning to varsity wrestling for not less than one other 12 months however then it simply grew to become a course of to determine who was going to help that endeavor.
“The going again to highschool factor got here approach earlier than the Olympic video games,” Steveson revealed whereas showing on The MMA Hour. “I needed to return and win one other nationwide title. Together with WWE, it got here actually fast as a result of they allowed me to come back again and I used to be like why wouldn’t I wrestle another 12 months and go on stage with WWE? It was a win-win. I needed to take the chance.
“I instructed them that I needed to return and end college and their No. 1 precedence was like ‘you are able to do that.’ So I used to be like OK, let’s do a reputation, picture, likeness deal as a result of it got here out in July. So I instructed them I needed to return. Vince [McMahon], Nick Khan and Triple H all mentioned go forward and win one other nationwide title, regardless all the things will nonetheless be in place for you, we’ll do that, this and this for you and also you return, get your diploma and we’ll see you after that. Part of my deal is I can go on stage throughout my college 12 months time in order that’s form of cool, too.”
As a part of new guidelines ratified by the NCAA earlier this 12 months, scholar athletes can now begin to earn extra earnings from these NIL offers, which has all of a sudden change into a really profitable enterprise. So long as the offers are beneath the NIL pointers, athletes can earn cash whereas nonetheless taking part in school sports activities.
Steveson made a return to the College of Minnesota to win one other championship a high precedence for his profession however now with WWE on his aspect, he’ll be capable to begin working in direction of his future in professional wrestling on the similar time.
Add to that, Steveson may also be allowed to make TV appearances with WWE as a result of he’s not really graduating to an expert sport like athletes enjoying soccer or basketball.
“Minnesota signed off actually fast on it and because it’s sports activities leisure, it’s not like I’m going on the market and doing the NFL with school soccer,” Steveson defined. “You may’t try this.
“The way in which the NCAA rule works, I used to be in a position to work it that I could make an on stage look in opposition to whoever after which wrestle a duel the following day if I get again in time. My first obligation is to compete at Minnesota however I acquired two large obligations.”
Previous to the announcement that he was signing with WWE, Steveson had hinted at a attainable future in blended martial arts as nicely with plans to really sit down and converse with UFC president Dana White.
Sadly, Steveson by no means acquired to cross paths with White and whereas his major focus stays on WWE for now, he’s actually not closing the door on a future in preventing.
“It could be cool to carry a UFC belt,” Steveson mentioned. “I do know there’s lots of people on Twitter ‘oh he’s mushy, he didn’t need to go to the UFC proper approach’ however I need to pave my very own approach. I don’t need to comply with what nobody else does. I don’t even learn Twitter feedback anymore. They’re simply horrible. I’m simply getting quite a lot of hate.
“If that point got here, I’d like to struggle. I secured the Olympic gold in wrestling … why not go on the market and get the UFC belt?”
Simply after the cope with WWE was introduced, ESPN had reported that the UFC was eager about Steveson getting some struggle expertise on the regional circuit earlier than then maybe competing on The Contender Sequence for the possibility to earn a contract with the promotion.
Steveson refuted these rumors whereas including he by no means actually had a lot of a dialog with White or the UFC about presumably preventing for them.
“I’ve seen quite a lot of tweets that Dana needed me in Contender Sequence however I don’t even know as a result of me and Dana solely had a few textual content messages saying like ‘hey come to Vegas’ however I used to be at SummerSlam and I couldn’t make it to him,” Steveson mentioned. “I didn’t ditch him. We barely spoke. I do know he needed me to come back.
“I don’t know the place the Contender Sequence factor happened on the information and stuff. We barely spoke and Vince had the higher hand. I’ve been figuring out WWE longer than UFC so I needed to start out my path there. I had no clue about [the Contender Series].”
Now that the deal is completed, Steveson couldn’t be any happier with the trajectory his profession is taking with hopes to change into an enormous famous person with WWE following the success of previous wrestling standouts resembling Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle.
That mentioned, Steveson admits he hoped for an even bigger push from the UFC to really signal him for a transfer into MMA but it surely seems the promotion simply wasn’t eager about pursuing him.
“I hoped that Dana would have come quite a bit stronger,” Steveson mentioned. “I hoped that he would push the tempo a bit extra. I’d like to struggle. I’m not frightened of preventing. I’m not frightened of getting punched. I’m not frightened of going on the market and shedding in entrance of an enormous crowd or successful in entrance of an enormous crowd. It doesn’t matter to me. I am going on the market to entertain folks and for me, myself, to do one thing I really like. I imply I really like preventing and I really like WWE. I really like each.
“I want Dana got here a bit more durable. I want he would have had extra push on me to go that approach however that point is up for now. I’m 100% with Vince McMahon and that workforce. I’m excited to be the place I’m at.”