Gable Steveson certainly left his mark on the wrestling world. He is only 23 years old, and he has already won a pair of NCAA titles, two Hodge trophies and an Olympic gold medal. Despite all the success, Steveson was more than ready to move on to the more theatrical version of the sport known as professional wrestling. He famously signed with WWE while still in college and left his shoes on the mat following his second title win.
At the time, it seemed like a storybook ending of one career and the beginning of a prodigious new one. However, things have not exactly turned out that way. Despite being signed with the professional wrestling company, Steveson returned to freestyle this year and looked perhaps even more dominant as he won both the U.S. Open and Final X. There is talk that he might make a run at the 2024 Olympics or even use his final season of eligibility and return for one more college season.
On top of all that, Steveson finally had his first professional wrestling match last weekend at the NXT-branded Great American Bash show. There are a variety of questions swirling around the Minnesota wrestler. Will he stick with professional wrestling? Will he return to college? Will he make another run at the Olympics? Will he switch to MMA?
To truly appreciate where we are, and where we might be headed, let’s start again. The following is a timeline of Steveson’s involvement with professional wrestling and how that impacts his future choices.
1/16/2019 - Steveson trains with former Gopher wrestler Brock Lesnar in the Minnesota room. During his collegiate career, Steveson would regularly appear with Lesnar and his storyline manager Paul Heyman.
5/17/2020 – Steveson tweets “I will rule the WWE soon” and then deletes the post. He would eventually post the same a week later.
10/27/2020 - Minnesota posts an article about both Steveson brothers and how their dream is to be in WWE.
8/30/2021 - The WWE announces Bobby Steveson has signed and will be part of the Performance Center’s latest class.
4/8/2021 – Steveson is shown in the crowd with WWE executives Canyon Ceman and Stephanie McMahon at an NXT live show. NXT is WWE’s developmental brand. Wrestlers usually spend a few years there before moving up to the so-called main roster.
8/6/2021 – Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer reports, “There is a lot of speculation [Steveson] will start with WWE after the Olympics and not return to college for his senior year.”
8/12/2021 – During an appearance on the Pat McAfee podcast, Steveson, now an Olympic gold medalist, alludes to potentially signing with the UFC, WWE, or even an NFL team.
8/21/2021 – Steveson along with fellow Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock were honored during WWE’s SummerSlam show at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
9/9/2021 – ESPN reported that Steveson had signed a multi-year deal with WWE. The deal was an NIL deal that would allow him to return to Minnesota for another year of college wrestling and train for professional wrestling at a “remote training facility.”
9/13/2021 – During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Steveson said, “There's a very good chance that I go straight to the main roster and not go to NXT. I'm open for anything. With the way things are going, I think I'm going to jump straight to the main roster.”
10/4/2021 – Steveson was drafted by the Raw brand. Wikipedia describes the WWE Draft as “a process used by American professional wrestling promotion WWE while in a brand extension, or brand split, is in effect…the company divides its roster into brands where the wrestlers exclusively perform for each brand’s respective television show. To date, Steveson has not wrestled for the Raw brand.
12/13/2021 - During an episode of Raw, Steveson is shown ringside and fist-bumped fellow former collegiate wrestler Bobby Lashley.
12/22/2021 - Bobby Steveson makes his WWE debut under the name of Damon Kemp. His match against Andre Chase was taped for WWE’s 205 Live show.
3/19/2022 - Steveson leaves his shoes on the mat after winning his second NCAA title for Minnesota and plans to move on to WWE full-time.
4/3/2022 – At WWE’s pinnacle event, Wrestlemania, Steveson entered the ring to celebrate with a victorious tag team. He was then accosted by 2012 Olympian Chas Betts who performs under the name Chad Gable. After some back and forth, Steveson suplexed the other Gable and celebrated.
9/5/2022 - Meltzer reported in his newsletter, “Everything is cold on Gable Steveson. His brother is doing great and they wanted to debut him some time ago, but it hasn’t happened because reviews on his training progress haven’t been good. They were going to fast-track him after he finished his last season in March, but he hasn’t even been around or talked about.”
10/6/2022 - ESPN reported that Steveson is now training full-time at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. after receiving treatment for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
12/9/2022 – Steveson appeared on an episode of WWE’s SmackDown show. He joined fellow Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle and sprayed milk on former Greco wrestlers Chad Gable (Chas Betts) and Otis (Nikola Bogojevic).
3/9/2023 – In an interview with MMA Fighting, Steveson expressed a desire to return for the 2024 Olympics without leaving WWE.
“I would love a second run,” he said. “I feel I have a lot more left in the tank to showcase. I want to prove USA right and keep moving forward overall and become one of the best American amateur wrestlers ever, and I hope I can achieve the Bruce Baumgartner status of having a bunch of medals and having the accolades to show and be a part of WWE and be an entertainer, too.”
4/29/2023 – After announcing his return to freestyle wrestling only a few weeks before the U.S. Open, Steveson dominated the field and qualified for Final X. In the Open finals, he dominated rival Nick Gwiazdowski with a 10-0 match termination victory.
6/10/2023 – Steveson scored a pair of one-sided wins over Mason Parris at Final X to earn a spot on the 2023 World Team. He is expected to compete in Serbia in September.
6/12/2023 – In an article posted by Sports Illustrated, Steveson explained that he would like to return to the Olympics and 2024, but still spoke about his pending debut with WWE.
"I am still doing my thing," Steveson said. "I have changed my diet, my body appearance. I wanted to be the best thing ever so when I did go on TV, it was going to be a sight that nobody has seen before. My time is coming and it's coming sooner than a lot of people think."
7/4/2023 – Steveson appeared on the NXT television show as a cornerman for wrestler Eddy Thorpe. Following the match, Steveson suplexed a bunch of folks and celebrated. One of the wrestlers he threw was world bronze medalist G’Angelo Hancock who is also a developmental wrestler with WWE.
7/25/2023 – Steveson announces on NXT television that he will have his first professional wrestling match against veteran Baron Corbin on NXT’s Great American Bash show on July 30.
7/30/2023 – After years of build-up, Steveson finally has his first professional wrestling match against Corbin on the Great American Bash show. The bout ended in a “count out” after both wrestlers failed to re-enter the ring. They continued to brawl and were eventually separated by security.
InterMat spoke with Mike Sempervive of Wrestling Observer radio following Steveson’s debut match. The review was rather blunt.
“If that’s as good as he is, at this point, there was no reason to do it,” Sempervive said. “Joe Ariola [former Buffalo wrestler also signed to WWE] and his brother (Damon Kemp) are naturals. He’s not. And I get he’s been doing whatever pro training he’s been doing, but he’s obviously not going to be able to split time and be successful at this.”
It is still early in his professional wrestling career, but with all the hype, it is natural for fans to feel some disappointment. However, it is interesting to note that his freestyle wrestling does not appear to be suffering due to his time in both sports. In some ways, he looked more dominant than ever. Is it realistic to continue to pursue both simultaneously? Will he ultimately choose to turn his back on professional wrestling and return to college? There have been so many surrounding Steveson’s future for so long, and in many ways, we are not any closer to an answer.