Olympians, NFL players and more try out for WWE
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CrossFit athletes, All-Americans, fighters and footballers attend WWE tryout
Forty aspiring Superstars — including a top-ranked CrossFit athlete, a horseshoe-bending strongman, NFL and college football players, and multiple All-American grapplers — attended a tryout this week at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla.
The three-day camp, led by Head Coach Matt Bloom and his coaching staff, featured prospects from the United States, American Samoa, Canada, New Zealand and Germany. Lacey Evans, Dan Matha, Bianca Blair and Adrian Jaoude were among the Performance Center recruits assisting with the drills.
In addition to crossover athletes from MMA, taekwondo, bodybuilding, powerlifting, swimming and volleyball, the tryout included wrestlers from the independent scene.
Prospects at this week’s camp included:
- CrossFit competitor Lindsey Kelly (pictured above), a former swimmer at the University of Arizona who has deadlifted 410 pounds and squatted 315 pounds, according to her CrossFit profile
- Obstacle course racer Hunter McIntyre, the reigning champion of Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge competition series and a decorated Spartan Race runner
- Amarlo Herrera, a 250-pound linebacker from the University of Georgia who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft
- Noke Tago, a 300-pound defensive tackle from American Samoa who played at Oregon State
- Denzel DeJournette, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound All-American wrestler from Appalachian State University who finished eighth in the NCAA heavyweight wrestling championships
- 6-foot-1, 205-pound Nicolai Salchow, a Brazilian-born, German-raised kickboxer and grappler who is 6-1 in professional MMA fights
- Raynor Whitcombe, a New Zealand-born football player-turned-bodybuilder who was the first-place winner of the 2015 BodySpace Spokesmodel Search
- Reginald Gibbs, a 275-pound, Georgia-based independent wrestler and protege of WWE Superstar Mr. Hughes who competes as “Odinson” in the southeast region
- Brothers Arthur and Josh Haug. Arthur Haug was a four-sport athlete in high school and a former bodybuilding champion who has trained with Impact Pro Wrestling. Josh Haug was a three-time letter winner as a wrestler at the University of Iowa, a 2016 national qualifier and an Academic All-American.
- Minnesota powerlifter Nick Brewer, a 295-pounder who has been known to bend horseshoes and roll up steel frying pans with his bare hands. At the 2009 London Strongest Man competition, he pulled a firetruck.
- Vernon Willis, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound California state wrestling champion
- Andrew Cavanna, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound Connecticut weightlifting champion and five-time wrestling champion
- Briana Brandy, a hip-hop artist who has performed with the likes of Soulja Boy and Ying Yang Twins, and trains in MMA and CrossFit
- Wrestling veteran Cody Deaner, a multi-time heavyweight champion in Canada who once faced Kurt Angle on SmackDown in 2004
- “Crazzy Steve” Steve Scott, a 14-year veteran from Ontario who received training under NXT’s Eric Young
- 6-foot-9 Paul “PB Smooth” Bilbo, of Erie, Pa., a former college basketball player who has wrestled for Cleveland-based Absolute Intense Wrestling and CWF Mid-Atlantic in North Carolina
- 23-year-old Matt King, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound model and independent wrestler from Atlanta who competes as “Raphael King”
- 6-foot-6 Troy Russell, a graduate of Lance Storm’s wrestling academy who trains at the famous DeFranco’s Gym
- Tehuti Miles, a 210-pound U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and played for the University of Maryland football team
- Twenty-year-old Quelton Toliver, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound wrestler from Missouri
- Brothers Morgan and Christopher Hill, football players-turned-fitness models from Las Vegas
- Elena Pogosyan, a 24-year-old journalist-turned-wrestler who trained under WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz and has wrestled for almost two years
- Jeslen Mishelle, a three-year wrestling veteran and blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu who competes on the West Coast under the alias “Desi Derata”
- Nikii Duke, a 24-year old bodybuilder, International Federation of Physique Athletes pro, and World Beauty Fitness and Fashion bikini competitor
- Twenty-five-year-old Mike Taverna of New York City, who has wrestled in Chaotic Wrestling, Chikara and New York Wrestling Connection, among other groups
- Marquis Carter, a U.S. Army veteran who was deployed once to Afghanistan and twice to Korea, and has officiated in several Florida wrestling organizations
- Haley Kate Yellin, a fitness model with a background in dance, track and taekwondo
- Will Cuevas, a California-based independent wrestler, former referee and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is a former All Pro Wrestling Worldwide Internet Champion
- Blake Dees, a 240-pound former college football player who played linebacker at Texas Tech and South Alabama
- Micas Harris, a 28-year-old independent wrestler from Indiana who played semi-pro football
- Marshall “Solo” Williams, a Maryland-based, 260-pound powerhouse wrestler who has trained under former WWE Superstar Gillberg and was an aviation ordinanceman in the U.S. Navy
- 6-foot-5, 240-pound Zach Johnson, an independent wrestler from North Carolina for whom this was a second WWE tryout
- Michael Richards, of New Zealand, a 6-foot-2 independent wrestler who has trained in the Ring of Honor Dojo
- 6-foot-3, 285-pound former college football player Joe Maples. He made appearances in three Bowl Games as a member of the University of Missouri football team
- Haley Tipton, a 24-year-old model and former Junior Olympics beach volleyball player
- Rawle Chichester, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound wrestler with six years’ experience
- Abigail Burgdorf, a college track athlete who is also an active powerlifter
Was this week the first step toward a WWE contract for one or more of these athletes? Only time will tell, but keep an eye out for more tryout coverage in the coming weeks, including exclusive videos.