Evidence Njoku shows new path toward Superstar dreams at WWE tryout
By Arash Markazi
FRISCO, Texas – Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku couldn’t stop smiling as he watched his brother, Evidence, in the ring during the final day of the WWE’s three-day talent tryout during WrestleMania Week in Dallas. He was living a dream they both had but one he never really knew how to pursue.
It was the first tryout exclusive to current and recently graduated college athletes and the first to take place at a professional sports training facility – The Star, which is the 91-acre campus of the Dallas Cowboys.
Evidence, who was a tight end at UCLA and Miami (FL), was among 50 male and female participants with collegiate athletic backgrounds who took part in the tryout. Like many of the other athletes at the tryout, Evidence, 23, grew up as a WWE fan and dreamed of one day getting in the ring but never really knew how to become a WWE Superstar.
At 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, Evidence was encouraged to follow in the footsteps of his older brother David, who is 25 and was taken in the first round by the Browns after playing tight end at Miami (FL). There is a clear path to stardom in the NFL. Excel at high school football, get recruited by a big-time college program, excel on the college level, showcase your ability during the NFL Combine and get drafted by an NFL team. That was the path David took but it wasn’t the path for Evidence.
Evidence transferred to Nevada last August around the time the WWE announced it would be holding a tryout before SummerSlam at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and encouraged athletes to register at WWERecruit.com. While Evidence didn’t participate in the Las Vegas tryout, a simplified pathway had been created for him and other athletes who dreamed of becoming a WWE Superstar but never knew how to go about trying out for the company.
“If they had this when I was younger, I would have definitely been intrigued,” said David, who has recorded 148 receptions, 1,754 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Browns. “I would have definitely wanted to do something like this. I’m so happy to see them progressing and doing something like this and finding new ways to bring in great talent and great athletes. This is an incredible way to do that.”
While Evidence was in the back working on a promo he would deliver to a panel that included WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development Paul “Triple H” Levesque, David got into the ring and touched the mat, the turnbuckle and the ropes in amazement like a kid in a candy store.
Levesque saw this from afar and walked to the ring and began giving David some in-ring pointers.
“It was surreal,” David said later. “When I was a little kid, I never thought I would be in a ring talking with Triple H about what the ropes feel like and what the mat feels like. It was a very surreal experience.
After the tryouts were over, Evidence and David embraced and talked about their childhood dream being fulfilled, not on the football field but in a WWE ring.
“I felt like I was dreaming,” Evidence said. “I have always been a big WWE fan and a Triple H fan. I modeled my football skills off his tenacity and his creativity. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”
The hope of Levesque in his role overseeing the WWE’s Talent Development department is to hold these tryouts around signature WWE events such as WrestleMania and SummerSlam. The next tryout is currently scheduled for July before SummerSlam in Nashville. Athletes can not only register online but know when and were tryouts will be held around the country moving forward.
“We’re trying to create a pathway for everyone but especially that kid in the middle of nowhere that really doesn’t have contact with anyone but they’re playing in a big school and proving themselves athletically, we want them to know this is how they can get in in the WWE,” Levesque said. “We want them to know that every year at the NCAA Championships, the WWE is going to have people there. We want to be at the combine and everywhere there’s talent. We want the pathway to become clear.”
After the tryouts were over, the Njoku brothers took a picture with Levesque, Stephanie McMahon and other WWE Superstars and talked about realizing a childhood dream.
“We were huge fans as kids,” David said. “We were huge fans of Batista, John Cena, The Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, you name it. Me just being here alone has been so surreal and then seeing my brother tryout and performing is a true blessing.”