WWE announced its latest class that is reporting to the Performance Center, and it is very heavy on wrestlers with experience from the EVOLVE promotion, which closed its doors on July 2, sold to WWE.
In fact, Sal Hamaoui, the man behind EVOLVE, posted, “I’m really proud of all these incredibly talented people. Everything happens for a reason! Hopefully a few more EVOLVE alumni will be getting their opportunities soon.”
Seven men and one woman were announced.
EVOLVE alumni include:
- Former EVOLVE champion Josh Briggs (Joshua Bruns), who is a big boy, at 6-foot-8 and weighing 268 pounds. He comes from a football background originally, but has been wrestling for a few years now, and picked up quickly, a dislocated hip setting him back. As he told SlamWrestling’s Bertrand Hebert in February 2019, “Talent always rises to the top. As long as you make good of your opportunities everything good is going to happen.”
- At the other end of the size spectrum is Leon Ruff (Dartanyon Ruffin), who was a former EVOLVE tag team champion with AR Fox, and in a faction called The Skulk. When he talked to SlamWrestling’s Matt McFarlin in September 2019, EVOLVE had just had its special on the WWE Network, and Ruff said that he hoped he had proven himself. “I wanted them to look at me and just see that a kid from Detroit who set out to achieve a dream is living his dream.”
- Brandi Lauren (Brandi Pawelek) who has both wrestled, served as a second, and done announcing. She has a big social media following, and tweeted simply, “Cloud 9.” The 24-year-old grappler is originally from Buffalo, NY.
- Curt Stallion (Camron Rogers) is from Texas, and was in the 2017 ROH Top Prospect tourney. He talked to SlamWrestling in November 2017, and has big goals. “The goal is Japan, but the dream is Wrestlemania,” Stallion told writer Kari Williams. “I don’t want to shoot for the dream until I get the goal.”
- Anthony Greene was one of the last names signed to EVOLVE, and brought a colourful style to the promotion. He’s from Massachusetts. “The future starts NOW!” he tweeted.
- Joe Gacy (Joe Ruby) is a charismatic big man, roly-poly at 249 pounds on his 6-foot frame. He was a veteran in the CZW wars before catching on with EVOLVE, where he was in The Unwanted with Sean Maluta.
- The referee in the class, Jake Clemons, has experience already in EVOLVE and on WWE TV. he’s from Ohio.
Finally, the outlier in this class is, who comes in to the Performance Center with an amateur wrestling background. The is a 25-year-old is from Lexington, Ohio, but excelled at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He originally fought at 184 pounds, entering the NCAA Championships as a sophomore. However, he made the choice to sit out the 2015-16 season to put on weight, and he moved into the heavyweight division. It paid off, as he took the ACC title, was fourth at the NCAA Championships, and Kasper won the Southern Scuffle title in both 2017 and 2018, the only Duke wrestler to ever do so. He was also captain of the Duke wrestling team, and later an assistant coach.