On August 6, 2021, Gable Steveson made US Olympic history in winning the freestyle wrestling Olympic gold medal in the super heavyweight division. Steveson, 21 years of age and weighing in at 120 kg (260 lbs), has long been courted by the WWE. So much so, in fact, that he is already a “Paul Heyman Guy”, per both Gable and Heyman, himself. He touts Brock Lesnar as both an influence and mentor; with both men having wrestled for the University of Minnesota. His size; his freakish levels of talent and athleticism and WWE’s long-term interest in his development all prime Gable Steveson for a long and successful career in the WWE, should he choose to pursue that path.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 6, 2021
Profile of an NCAA Champion
— Minnesota Wrestling (@GopherWrestling) January 16, 2019
Though most synonymous with Minnesota, Gable was born in Portage, Indiana and as the youngest of three brothers, he very quickly began learning how to wrestle. Named after legendary freestyle and folklore wrestling, Dan Gable – who Chad Gable also got his name from – Steveson was always destined to become a wrestler. With two older brothers also actively competing, wrestling prodigies in their own right, it is fair to say the odds of becoming an accountant were slim to none. Gable would not move to Minnesota until the age of 13; with the family taking up residency in Apple Valley. The family moved there so that Gable and older brother, Bobby, could compete for Apple Valley High School – raising prospects of one day meeting his dream of Olympic gold. Of course, he would excel like no other and soon find himself off to join the University of Minnesota as a top recruit.
In his first year, he came third in the NCAA Division I National Championships and became an All American. Though initially going 14-0, he would lose to Penn State’s Anthony Cassar – who holds two victories over Gable, acting as something of an unlucky opponent for the Apple Valley wrestler. His second year saw controversy, as he was suspended for six months over unproven sexual misconduct, which he was cleared of any wrongdoing due to “inadequate evidence”. Upon his return from suspension, he claimed the conference title. The NCAA Championships were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic but, as a result of his fine performance throughout the wrestling season, he was granted the honor of NCAA Division I All-American. In his third season, he would finally win the NCAA National Championship – overcoming Penn State’s Mason Parris in the final – and was granted the Dan Hodge Trophy; awarded to him for being the stand out fighter of the tournament.
Profile of an Olympic Gold Medalist
To become an NCAA Champion is one thing, but to become an Olympic gold medalist is a whole other level of difficulty. Whereas the United States is the most successful Olympic nation of the modern games, freestyle wrestling is not a sport North Americans dominate in at the Olympics. There are notable exceptions, of course. Kurt Angle, a decorated WWE pro wrestler but also a celebrated Olympic gold medalist as a freestyle wrestler, is the most famous. This year, of course, there was Gable Steveson and also Tamyrah Mensah, who took gold in the women’s light heavyweight (-69 kg) division. Because of how difficult it is for an American to take gold in this particular sport – which is traditionally dominated by the Asian continent – Americans who take gold always receive national acclaim, and rightfully so.
Gable’s path to winning gold at the Tokyo Olympic games in the super heavyweight division was challenging, to say the least. On his road to gold, he had to overcome 2015 Asian Champion, Aiaal Lazarev (Kyrgyzstan); reigning Olympic and multi-time World Champion, Taha Akgül (Turkey) and 2019 u23 World Medalist, Mönkhtöriin Lkhagvagerel (Mongolia). Whereas these esteemed, accomplished wrestlers would be deemed formidable foes for anyone, Gable dominated them on his path to final. In the final, he met reigning World Champion from Georgia, Geno Petriashvili – who Gable just about managed to overcome with half a second remaining, to win with a 10-8 score. Now the reigning Olympic gold medalist of his division, Gable Steveson has the enjoyable, enviable choice of: continuing as a freestyle wrestler for Team U.S.A.; becoming an MMA fighter, likely in the UFC, or becoming a WWE superstar, where he is almost guaranteed to become a star.
A Long-Time WWE Prospect
As you know, kind sir, I have been a believer in @GableSteveson since he was an undefeated high school wrestler from Apple Valley, Minnesota!
— Paul Heyman (@HeymanHustle) August 6, 2021
Paul Heyman has been a fan of Gable Steveson since his days as “an undefeated high school wrestler from Apple Valley, Minnesota”. The “Beast” himself, Brock Lesnar, has been coaching Gable for a few years now. Kurt Angle has said:“
“I think he’s gonna be a big star. Look at his look. If he adapts to pro-wrestling and picks it up like Brock Lesnar, he’s gonna be exactly like Brock Lesnar. So, I think he needs to take the chance. Whether he goes to MMA or WWE, one or the other but he’s gotta do one of them. I think that he is a future star regardless of what he does. He’s got a great look to him, a great athlete.”
High praise indeed. Upon capturing Olympic gold, a whole flurry of WWE superstars commented on his victory; with everyone from Triple H, to former Olympian Chad Gable, to WWE‘s official Twitter account commenting on the victory.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 9, 2021
He has appeared at NXT before, as a guest of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. In all likelihood, he will end up competing in the WWE – he is a lifelong fan who has spoken on his love for pro wrestling on many occasions. Whereas he was already a hot WWE prospect before the win, with his NCAA Championship win already being enough to certify a career, his medal victory has only further ignited the flame and it is likely only a matter of time before we see him appear in a WWE ring. For decades, Kurt Angle boasted of being the only Olympic gold medalist in the WWE and that might now change. For now, though, Gable Steveson can kick back; relax and enjoy the offers which come his way. There will be many.
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