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7-foot boxer Taishan Dong, football pro Weslye Saunders among attendees at WWE tryout
More than 30 athletes, including independent wrestlers, undefeated professional boxers, former NFL players and collegiate grapplers, attended a talent tryout this week at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla.
The three-day camp, led by WWE Head Coach Matt Bloom, featured competitors from the United States, Canada, China, Russia, Australia, Mexico, India and Brazil.
Prospects at this week’s camp included:
- Taishan Dong, a 7-foot-tall boxer from China who is 6-0 in professional fights. Once dubbed “the most intimidating boxer on this earth” by Sporting News, Dong was formerly signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. He also goes by the nickname, “The Great Wall.”
- Trish McNair, a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran who trained for wrestling under Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley at the Team 3D Academy. The 5-foot-7 McNair also played college rugby.
- 6-foot-6, 255-pound NFL free agent Weslye Saunders. Saunders played tight end at the University of South Carolina before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He also played for the Indianapolis Colts.
- 24-year-old footballer Mandel Dixon, who played H-back and tight end at the University of Tulsa and has participated in NFL camps with numerous teams.
- Barrel-chested giant Edward Ard, a 6-foot-8 semi-pro football player from North Carolina who tips the scales at more than 300 pounds.
- Second-generation wrestler Munraj Sahota, a 12-year veteran. Sahota is the son of The Great Gama Singh, one of the most feared competitors in the history of Stampede Wrestling.
- MMA fighter and karate champion Andrews Nakahara. The Brazilian national, of Japanese descent, trained with the Blackzillians fighting camp and specializes in Kyokushin, a full-contact style of karate.
- Harpreet Singh, aka “The Punjabi Lion” Robo, a muscular prospect from the New England independent circuit. A product of the Massachusetts-based New England Pro Wrestling Academy, the powerful Singh has competed in Chaotic Wrestling, among other organizations, and has a background in track and field.
- Ashley Lomberger, a sports-entertainment veteran of more than a decade who competed nationally under the ring alias of Madison Rayne.
- 27-year-old wrestler Victor Ortiz of Puerto Rico. Ortiz is the grandson of El Vikingo, a longtime wrestler on the island, and is a former medalist in amateur grappling.
- Ontario’s Jeremy LaTour, a former Canadian national wrestling champion in the 130kg and 98kg weight classes. The 6-foot-5 LaTour took part in the 2015 Pan American Championships and has wrestled internationally under freestyle rules.
- 6-foot-4, 315-pound former offensive lineman Jesse Somsel. The 26-year-old Somsel played football at Saginaw Valley State University and had stints with the Minnesota Vikings and the Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators.
- 220-pound powerhouse Alex Rohde, who wrestles on the West Coast as Alexander Hammerstone for outfits including California’s Pacific Coast Wrestling and Las Vegas’ Future Stars of Wrestling.
- 24-year-old grappler Johnathan Hatch. The 6-foot-4, 225-poud Hatch was an NJCAA All-American at Southwestern Oregon and is a former Greco-Roman State Champion.
- Bill Vavau, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound footballer from Utah. Vavau played on the offensive line with the Utah State Aggies.
- 23-year-old CrossFit athlete Shykeera Booker of Omaha, Neb.
- 6-foot-5, 240-pound Jeremiah Mullinax, a football player from Lincoln Park, Mich. He played tight end at Western Michigan University, earning a full scholarship as a walk-on.
- 26-year-old undefeated boxer Logan Holler. The 5-foot-7 Holler is 8-0 as a pro fighter, and she was also on a Division I equestrian team at South Carolina University.
- Independent wrestler John Washington, also known as Owen Travers. A veteran of six years, Washington learned the ropes at the House of Truth Wrestling School in Michigan and has a background in the martial art of capoeira.
- Wrestler and pro stuntwoman Karleena Ailie of Seattle. Ailie has competed on the indies for the past year under the name Karleena Gore.
- Daniel Vidot, a 27-year old pro rugby player from Brisbane, Australia. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder played wing in Australia’s National Rugby League.
- Russian wrestler and fitness model Natalia Markova, who has fought in Shine Wrestling, among other organizations.
- Darley Desamot, a 240-pound independent wrestler from Boston trained at the New England Pro Wrestling Academy.
- Bodybuilder William Bradley, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound veteran of the U.S. Navy.
- 280-pound Jeremiah Jones, who played college football at University of Northern Michigan before stints in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League.
- U.S. Marine veteran John Hartley, who served as a machine gunner while in the service. Attending his second WWE tryout, Hartley has also received ring training at The Brian Kendrick’s wrestling school.
- Karen Yu, a 26-year-old independent wrestler from New York who competes under the name Karen Q in organizations like Ring of Honor and Beyond Wrestling. She has 12 years of experience in gymnastics and received a Division II scholarship for volleyball and diving.
- Multisport athlete Sean Dawkins of Toronto. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder played rugby, was a member of Canada’s national development bobsleigh team and is a two-time provincial wrestling champion in Ontario.
- 280-pound Matt Knotts, a 24-year-old student of The Dudley Boyz who played football at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and has experience in powerlifting.
- Detroit’s Jarrell McKinney, who played linebacker and defensive end at Western Michigan University. McKinney, 25, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 250 pounds, participated in a Houston Texans camp and played football with the Aarhus Tigers in Denmark.
- 24-year-old fitness and bikini model Federica Pezzulla, who has experience in soccer, volleyball, swimming, and track and field.
- 6-foot-1, 225-pound Matt Hannan, better known to independent wrestling fans as Matthew Justice. Mentored by the late JT Lightning, Justice has claimed titles in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
- 27-year-old police officer-turned-wrestler Leroy Gordon from Boston. The self-proclaimed “Fastest Wrestler Alive,” Gordon has competed in indies including IWA Mid-South. He attended a previous WWE tryout at the Arnold Classic.
- 6-foot-3, 230-pound Haleem Ramdoum, an independent wrestler based out of the Midwest who goes by the name GT Vega.
- Marilyn “Mikki” Bailey, a 26-year-old model from Dallas who competed in basketball, volleyball and track and field, among other sports.
- Three-year wrestling veteran Raquel Dyer. Also known by her ring alias Lea Nox, Dyer has held independent titles in Florida.
- 21-year-old Ryan Meehan, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound bodybuilder from New York City.
- National Physique Committee bikini competitor Alexis Halcomb, who has also trained at a wrestling academy in California.
- The 6-foot-1 Hijo del Medico Asesino from Tijuana, Mexico is a third generation luchador with three generations of experience.
It remains to be seen whether any WWE contracts will be offered coming out of this week’s tryout, though the packed camp indicates that competition to become the next top Superstar is greater than ever. Stay tuned for more tryout coverage, including exclusive videos, in the coming weeks on WWE.com.