Former amateur wrestlers among prospects at WWE tryout

Juan Adams

What does it take to become a professional wrestler?

It's not as simple as showing up at a WWE event in trunks and "in character."

Nearly 40 individuals are seeing if they have the "right stuff" for the pro ring by participating in a three-day talent tryout at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. this weekend.

Among the individuals named in a WWE statement include at least three former amateur wrestlers: Juan Adams, Derrick Mehman and David Vieru.

Juan Adams wrestled heavyweight at the Virginia Military Institute, where he was ranked as high as No. 30 at 285 pounds by Prior to heading to VMI, Adams was a three-sport athlete at Strake Jesuit Preparatory School in Houston, competing in wrestling, football and track. Upon graduating from VMI in 2016, Adams entered mixed martial arts competition. The 6'5", 283-pound Adams -- who has now known as "The Kraken" -- is 4-0 in amateur MMA bouts and 3-0 in his young pro career.

Derrick Mehman, 32, also has an amateur mat career extending from high school into college. As a wrestler at Denver High School in northeast Iowa, where he was a two-time conference champ, and placed fourth in the state championships as a junior. After graduation, Melman enrolled at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa, where he became an NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American, placing fifth at the 2007 Nationals at 197 pounds. He then transferred to University of Iowa where he was listed on the roster at 197. Now the 6'4", 246-pound Mehman competes in MMA as "Caveman", sporting a 19-10 overall record having fought in Bellator, Strikeforce and World Series of Fighting.

David Vieru was a two-sport star at Centennial High in Gresham, Ore., bringing home a state title as a senior at heavyweight in the 2010 OSAA Class 6A Championship after placing twice before at the Oregon state tournament. He was named Oregon's outstanding senior at 285 his senior year. In college he focused on his other sport, football, at Oregon State. Vieru is an imposing figure, standing 6'4" and tipping the scales at 355 pounds, according to the WWE.

These three former matmen will be joining three dozen other athletes from various disciplines, including gymnastics, bodybuilding, strongman competitions and football. The camp also features individuals who have already worked as pro wrestlers in various organizations from the U.S. and abroad.

A number of recent-vintage pro wrestling stars were once amateur wrestlers, including WWE's Chad Gable (2012 London Olympics Greco-Roman wrestler Chas Betts), as well as Kurt Angle (1996 Olympic gold medalist and two-time NCAA heavyweight champ at Pennsylvania's Clarion University), Brock Lesnar (2000 NCAA heavyweight champ for University of Minnesota), and Jack Swagger (who, as Jake Hager, was an NCAA All-American at University of Oklahoma).

Over the past century, many collegiate wrestlers have entered the squared circle, including, in the 1930s, Earl McCready, three-time NCAA heavyweight champ for Oklahoma State ... Iowa's Joe Scarpello, Minnesota's Verne Gagne and Oklahoma State's Dick Hutton in the 1950s ... Oklahoma's Dan Hodge and Oklahoma State's Jack Brisco in the 1960s ... and Chris Taylor, Iowa State heavyweight, in the 1970s ... to name just a few NCAA champs who enjoyed successful careers as pro wrestlers.


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jgdew126 (2) about 1 year ago
Let's not forget former Ithaca Bomber great Bob "Tiny" Marella...more famously known as Gorilla Monsoon!
IdeaMark (1) about 1 year ago
No disrespect intended. There are dozens -- hundreds -- of amateur mat stars who got into the squared circle over the years. I merely named some of the most obvious individuals that I thought the largest number of readers might recognize.
Mark Palmer
Senior Writer, InterMat
MLJ (1) about 1 year ago
"It's not as simple as showing up at a WWE event in trunks and "in character."

- I could be wrong, but wouldn't the talent scouts at WWE not want someone showing up with their own 'character'? Rather, I would assume the employees of WWE would come up with the gimmick and see how well the prospect reacts.
IdeaMark (1) about 1 year ago
I am no expert on how the WWE works in terms of "character development" -- I am aware of situations where the WWE came up with a "character" for an amateur wrestler to portray. I grew up being aware of German Nazi bad guy Baron von Raschke, having no idea he was really Jim Raschke, U of Nebraska NCAA All-American hwt from Omaha.
Mark Palmer
Senior Writer, InterMat