WWE is scheduled to hold a two-day tryout at a top athletic prep school this week.
The tryouts will be held this Wednesday and Thursday frorm the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, according to Sports Illustrated.
The tryout is part of WWE’s new recruitment strategy as they aim to attract and elevate their profile among elite former college athletes. There will be 30-35 athletes at the tryouts.
“There are countless examples of top talent that came into the business via college sports, but there hasn’t always been a system built out,” said WWE’s Head of Talent Operations & Strategy James Kimball. “That’s what we’re trying to create here, a true talent development pathway into WWE for college athletes.”
WWE Chief Content Officer Triple H tweeted on the tryouts and wrote, “As WWE continues to invest in recruiting college athletes, @IMGAcademy is an ideal venue for this week’s tryout. The next great Superstar just may be in attendance…”
The venue is important as IMG Academy prides itself as an elite training ground. The 600-acre state-of-the-art campus also serves as a training and competition venue for amateur and pro teams.
This is WWE’s third large-scale tryout in 2022 so far, and there is talk of making them an annual rotation. WWE offered 18 developmental deals after the WrestleMania 38 tryout, and 15 more after the SummerSlam tryout. After the IMG Academy tryouts, the next are scheduled for Lagos, Nigeria in February, as a part of “The Search for Africa’s Next WWE Superstar” campaign. The next tryout in the United States will take place in late March ahead of WrestleMania 39.
“We want a clear calendar,” Kimball said. “Moving forward, we’re going to emulate what we’ve done in 2022. It’s really important there is a clear schedule, as college athletes have so many options. For wrestlers on the independents, that system is in place and that pathway to WWE is well known, so our resources are allocated to building a new pathway to collegiate sports. We’re just scratching the surface. We’ve been working on this for a year, and it’s going to take years, but we’re growing. We’re adding quality and depth, and the work is just starting with college athletes nationwide.”
Kimball and his recruitment & development team will be joined by WWE Superstar Big E, as well as several WWE NXT Superstars.
“E is such a critical part of what we’re doing,” Kimball said. “This recruitment strategy is really hitting home for him, and it’s something we should have had when he was a collegiate student-athlete at Iowa. He’s such a great ambassador, and he can relate to these athletes. He’s presenting with shared experience—that goes a long way.”
The tryout will include in-ring assessments, which consist of monitoring how athletes take direction, and evaluating the manner in which they perform in traditional pro wrestling scenarios. The tryout process also includes NFL Combine-like activations to measure athletic ability, and promo sessions to gauge ability and personality on the microphone.
The second day of the tryout this week will mark the one year anniversary of WWE announcing its NIL (Next In Line) program. Gable Steveson is among the standout NIL talents.
“NIL is such an opportunity,” Kimball said. “Our first NIL signing was Gable, and since then, we’ve built around the program. We’re making waves, and there are ripple effects to what we’re doing. It’s helping raise the profile and awareness of WWE among the athletes, as well as among fans.”
Kimball added, “We’re building. This a long-term investment strategy, and we’re all really excited about the potential.”
As WWE continues to invest in recruiting college athletes, @IMGAcademy is an ideal venue for this week’s tryout.
The next great Superstar just may be in attendance… https://t.co/pivt4JKupd
— Triple H (@TripleH) November 28, 2022
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