WWE has confirmed its newest class of signees for the Performance Center with nine new athletes joining the company’s training facility in Orlando, Florida.
In a video released on their official YouTube page NXT ring announcer, Alicia Taylor introduced the latest additions to the WWE Performance Center as part of the company’s rookie/NIL programme that sees them attempt to convert high-level collegiate athletes into WWE Superstars.
The names confirmed are:
- Ezekiel Balogun – a 24-year-old 6.6″ 247lb Nigerian-born multi-sport athlete, ASUN Conference Champion basketball player from the University of North Florida.
- Vlad Pavelnko – a 26-year-old three-time All American with a Masters in Engineering at Iowa State known for his Hammer throw as a finalist in the 2021 US Olympic trials.
- Hunter Smallback – a 23-year-old former Division One defensive end for Stetson University.
- Coy Wanner – a 24-year-old 6.4″ 235lb former Division One tight end for the Wisconsin Badgers.
- Andrezej Hughes-Murray – a 2-year-old State champion wrestler, and three-time team captain as a linebacker for Oregon State before with Los Angeles Rams.
- Kevin Robertson – a former Division One defensive lineman for the Temple Owls.
- Melanie Brzezinski – a 22-year-old singer, actress, boxer, bodybuilder, and CrossFit athlete with a black belt in karate from the University of Tampa.
- Tylynn Register – a professional rodeo champion and division one track and field athlete from Jacksonville State.
- Alexis Gray – a 25-year-old sprinter who represented the Bahamas National Team from Texas Southern University
WWE Launched The Next In Line Programme In 2021
On February 12th 2021 WWE officially announced the programme that provides a clear pathway from collegiate athletics to WWE by recruiting college athletes and developing them into potential future Superstars.
Former WWE Champion Big E previously commented on working with the NIL program. Speaking to These Urban Times about the programme he said:
“It’s been fun for me because I resonate with it because I was a football player at Iowa with a bunch of injuries, my career was over, and I’m thinking now, ‘what do I do with my life?’ I was going to grad school, but I didn’t really feel fulfilled. For me, I love being able to…I feel I can go back in time to 13 years ago and look at young men and women in a very similar position as me who are seeing the end of their college career. You spend so much of your time invested in your sport.
So many of us, we play our sport since four, five, six years old. It’s all we know. You’re in school and working hard at that, but it’s something you love, and then it’s gone. For me, being in the ring wasn’t the same as playing football and having my hand in the dirt, but it still filled that athletic void. The ability to go out there and hit people and run and jump, I felt like a kid again, I felt free. For me, I love doing it because it’s an opportunity to reach out to college athletes and let them know, ‘WWE might not have been something on your radar or you might not have considered it, but I’m telling you, it changed my life dramatically.’
I’ve been able to travel the world, entertain people all across the globe, it’s an incredible experience. I love it because I love college sports and I resonate with college athletes. Being able to present this to them is something that connects with me.”
In recent news, WWE has signed Josh Black to it’s N.I.L program.