That sound you heard was the state of Minnesota celebrating and the state of Iowa sobbing earlier Thursday as Minnesota Gophers NCAA and Olympic Champion Gable Steveson announced simultaneously that he was both signing with the WWE and would return for his senior season with the Gophers to defend his NCAA Championship. Steveson signed a first of it’s kind NIL deal with the WWE that will allow him to receive benefits and training from the WWE while remaining eligible to compete for the Gophers this season and defend his NCAA Heavyweight Championships next spring.
Steveson who is coming off of a summer where he shocked the top ranked wrestlers in the world to win the Olympic gold medal in the 125kg freestyle event had tons of potential options for his future. Steveson had been wooed by the WWE, by different MMA promoters, even was approached by NFL teams. Though Gable had discussed all along that he would keep his option open to return to the U and defend his NCAA title.
In a first of a kind NIL deal with the WWE he will be able to do two of the things on his list...prepare to be a WWE superstar, and try and defend his title with the Gophers. The deal Gable signed with the WWE allows him to remain in school, get his degree and wrestle for the Gophers this season. All the while Gable will have access to WWE training as the WWE will set up a remote training facility for Steveson near campus where he’ll learn the finer points of in-ring work with WWE coaches.
He’ll also have access to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, where his brother, Bobby currently trains. After he graduates in May, Gable will begin a multiyear talent contract with WWE. However, it is expected that Gable will also appear on WWE programming at times during the school year.
Steveson has worked with Brock Lesnar in the U’s training room getting ready for the toughest the NCAA and the world could throw him...now sooner rather than later we might see Steveson and Lesnar hook up again...though maybe as foes, not friends. Only time will tell what Gable’s WWE storyline will be, but at least Gophers fans can be happy they get to see him try and win one more NCAA title before he goes!