Today, The WWE has announced the NIL program, and no, it isn’t anything to do with signing super-intelligent, devilishly handsome wrestling writers called Neil to their creative team. What it is is a system that is designed to allow the WWE – via the NIL program – to seemingly cherry-pick the best athletes the American College system has to offer.
The statement reads;
WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced the launch of a groundbreaking NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) program that will provide a clear pathway from collegiate athletics to WWE.
Following a historic new policy by the NCAA effective July 1, 2021, which ushered in the NIL era allowing college athletes the ability to monetize their name, image and likeness, WWE has constructed a comprehensive program to recruit and develop potential future Superstars. Dubbed “Next In Line™,” the NIL program aims to enhance the talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds.
“The WWE NIL program has the potential to be transformational to our business,” said Paul Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy and Development. “By creating partnerships with elite athletes at all levels across a wide variety of college sports, we will dramatically expand our pool of talent and create a system that readies NCAA competitors for WWE once their collegiate careers come to a close.”
All athlete partnerships will feature access to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., in addition to resources across the organization including brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing and community relations. Upon completion of the NIL program, select athletes may earn an exclusive opportunity to be offered a WWE contract.
In September, WWE announced its first NIL deal with heavyweight freestyle wrestler Gable Steveson who captured a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The agreement allowed Steveson to return to the University of Minnesota for his senior season where he is defending his NCAA National Championship while beginning his Superstar training with WWE.
WWE will unveil the first class of NIL partnerships in the coming weeks.”
This could be seen in two ways. One: It gives the WWE the chance to use the NIL program to find the best of the best – the elite if you will – of college athletes and convince them to sign with the company in the way that they did with RAW Superstar and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, who was the recipient of the first NIL contract. This will allow them to then take these pieces of clay and teach them how to wrestle the WWE way from scratch, thus negating having to retrain any independent wrestlers like they’ve had to with every independent wrestler who has walked through their doors.
Two: The Nil program means that Vince McMahon has decided that the NXT experiment has run its course and to hell with it, it’s now my way or the highway, pal. Now bring me an army of big, sweaty men to mold in my image.