Gable Stevenson showed again on Monday why WWE coveted the Gophers heavyweight to join their stable of pro wrestlers.
Last week, Stevenson signed a name image and likeness deal with World Wrestling Entertainment, and the former Apple Valley High School star will be back this winter for one final collegiate wrestling season. On Monday, Stevenson offered charisma and soulful soundbites — elements WWE would love to have after joining the organization full time next spring.
When asked at a news conference if he was entertaining any stage names after turning pro, he spoke softly and said into the microphone: “Gable. Stevenson.”
The Summer Olympics wrestling gold medalist was offered a suggestion of a moniker incorporating his trademark backflip, which he won in August in Tokyo in the 125-kilogram division after a last-second takedown of Georgian Geno Petrishvili to win it all. was unheard of.
“Right now, I’m Gable Stevenson,” he said. “I hope to keep that name forever.”
While watching his upcoming swan song in NCAA wrestling, Stevenson was asked if he wanted to rekindle any “rivalry” with Mason Parris of Michigan. He paused, then said: “Yes, I think so. … Is this a rivalry?”
Zing. Stevenson was undefeated in NCAA matches last season and plans to drive it back with a second consecutive national championship. For WWE, Stevenson will also train locally and appear on TV elsewhere over the next few months, but his comments about where his priorities are this winter weren’t nearly as spicy. U wrestling fans will love this.
“Gopher responsibilities are No. 1; that’s what we talked about first with WWE,” said Stevenson. “Being able to compete with my final tour here. I’m not indebted to Minnesota myself, but I feel like I’m indebted to all the fans who want to show me off and sell to the crowd. That’s what makes me feel I owe people.”
The showman decided to return to Minnesota “a long time ago,” but admits he’s succumbed to the will that the story won’t do. “I had to build anticipation, I had to create a draw of people thinking I was going to leave,” Stevenson said with a smile. (The Pioneer Press reported last spring that Stevenson was returning for the 2021-22 season.)
But on the drama being broadcast about the rift between him and the UFC’s Dana White? Well, Stevenson quickly nailed it down.
“There was no conflict with me and Dana White,” said Stevenson. “People came out in articles saying I cheated on them in Vegas when I actually went to (Las) Vegas to see WWE. You can’t see two big corporations in one day. I landed in Vegas and I had obligations.” What I had to do with them, so Dana and I were never on a bad foot. I hope we cross paths soon, and that time will come.”
ESPN reported last week that the UFC wanted Stevenson to join a regional MMA training venue first, before it brought him to White’s Contenders Series, where Steven could compete for a contract. But Stevenson said in the ESPN story, “We never talked about that, so I have no clue.”
Stevenson said on Monday that the offer to play football for the Gophers was not an attention-grabbing move. “100 percent,” said Stevenson whether it was a real possibility. “I actually went to football practice twice. I was watching the (defensive) line because that was my position that I was going to play. I learned all the techniques and things.”
But Stevenson said he was being pulled in too many directions to build a side project on the football field.
Stevenson said that some business aspects of his new life, such as how it took weeks (instead of one day) to complete a WWE deal, and how he had to learn dollar figures on his zero deal, was not what he was. were going to take home due to taxes. “I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’ “Stevens said.
While the lack of understanding is nave, it seems no coincidence that Stevenson wore a T-shirt on Monday reiterating another of his NIL deals, Kill Cliff Energy Drinks, in front of the cameras.
The biggest showmanship bit that Stevenson had in his 15-minute media session was about his relationship with former Gophers heavyweight and current WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter stated that Lesnar wrestled Stevenson with discussions “like a moving torch”.
When asked about getting into the ring with Lesnar, Stevenson’s eyes widened as he slowly looked around the journalists’ room on the U campus.
Stevenson himself has praised Lesnar, a former NCAA champion, for many years. During Sevson’s senior year of high school, Lesnar invited a really wide-eyed kid to Target Center to watch WWE.
“Since then, he’s just someone I can talk to,” Stevenson said. “A person who points me in the right direction.”