WWE just added a top Olympic star to the roster. On Thursday, WWE announced it has signed wrestling gold medalist and reigning NCAA champion Gable Stevenson, making it the company's first NIL deal. Stevenson will be on the WWE roster while competing on the NCAA level for the University of Minnesota. Stevenson told ESPN that he signed a multi-year deal with WWE.
"I've been on WWE since I was really young," Stevenson said to ESPN. "I was on guys like Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman for a very long time. So growing up watching them, me being an entertainer on the wrestling mat, it just felt like it was the right choice." UFC also expressed interest in Stevenson. But ESPN reported that UFC wanted Stevenson to gain experience on the regional MMA scene before signing him to a deal.
As first reported by @ESPN, WWE has announced the signing of Olympic gold medalist and reigning NCAA wrestling champion @GableSteveson to an exclusive agreement! https://t.co/KWRnei182f pic.twitter.com/4gowLEhzIT— WWE (@WWE) September 9, 2021
"We all saw his physical ability prior to and at the Olympics," Nick Khan, WWE president and chief revenue officer, said when talking about Stevenson. "What we also saw was that Gable has as much charisma as he does ability. Marketability and ability are both of great importance to us.
"This is just the starting line and nowhere close to the finish line. So our investment is based on how much we think of Gable now and how much bigger we think he can become." This is not the first time WWE has signed an Olympic gold medalist. After Kurt Angle won gold for wrestling in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he joined WWE and is now a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Stevenson also has ties to Lesnar as he also won a national championship while attending Minnesota.
"Being able to learn how to take bumps and with the wrestling background I have right now, I think I can adapt to all of it really quick," Steveson said. "I think with the charisma and the confidence and the attitude that I bring to the wrestling mat, it will translate over to the WWE really fast, and I feel that I can ... go on screen and have a good role and know what to do perfectly." Stevenson won the Olympic gold medal for freestyle wrestling (125kg). He also won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships earlier this year. In his college career, Stevenson has posted a 67-2 record with his last loss being against Anthony Cassar at the 2019 NCAA Championships.