Vince McMahon’s promotion is looking for the next top WWE Superstars. In order to find those who have the potential for it, the company launched its NIL program, giving college athletes a direct road to WWE.

The “Next In Line” program was launched in December to focus on recruiting talent, especially those on the younger side. Chiming in on the topic, James Kimball, WWE’s senior vice president for global talent strategy, explained why prioritizing younger talent is essential. Kimball told ESPN that WWE has some big plans and he also cemented the idea that they are looking for younger stars.

“We would like that [age] number to come down, especially on the developmental standpoint. The second you enter our developmental program and then potentially end up on NXT TV and then onto Smackdown or Raw, you want that number to be 25, not 30 or 35,” Kimball told ESPN. “We’re able to develop them in an accelerated manner. Get them to WrestleMania or Raw, do media training, do community events. All those initial exposures to the business, those have been done while you’re still in school. And then you come down to Orlando and off you go.”

Kimball also discussed about how athletes transform into the WWE world. He talked about how crucial the combination of in-ring skills, being able to express oneself on the microphone, is to convey a story.


“Ideally, you’d like to find a nice blend. It’s understanding how to transfer true athleticism from a given sport to a 20-by-20 ring, understanding spatial awareness and timing. And then it’s the ability to express themselves on a microphone. That becomes a requirement over time, whether you’re a heel or a face, or you’re heavy on promo or even light, at some point you need to be able to tell a story. Even if you come to WWE when you’re 23, 24, 25, that’s a significant improvement over what has historically been the case with some of our developmental talent. We fully support every athlete pursuing their dreams in their given sport. The idea is that we have that opportunity in college to evaluate them as a potential talent, and for them to evaluate us.”

Gable Steveson was the first athlete signee to WWE’s NIL program. He recently won the second consecutive NCAA Heavyweight Championship and looks forward to his career in pro wrestling.

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Bhupen Dange

Bhupen is a freelance writer for Ringside News and Thirsty For News; he is pursuing further studies in Computer Science. Since high school, he has actively participated in athletic activities, and when he is not playing video games, he spends his time in the gym training, watching movies, and walking his dog outside.

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