WWE’s Senior Vice President of Global Talent Development James Kimball was recently interviewed by ESPN, where he explained the company’s strategy when it comes to signing young athletes.
Kimball said that the ideal age is closer to 25 than 30-35: “We would like that [age] number to come down, especially on the developmental standpoint. The second you enter our developmental program and then potentially end up on NXT TV and then onto Smackdown or Raw, you want that number to be 25, not 30 or 35. We’re able to develop them in an accelerated manner. Get them to WrestleMania or Raw, do media training, do community events. All those initial exposures to the business, those have been done while you’re still in school. And then you come down to Orlando and off you go.”
He then talked about the NIL program: “Ideally, you’d like to find a nice blend. It’s understanding how to transfer true athleticism from a given sport to a 20-by-20 ring, understanding spatial awareness and timing. And then it’s the ability to express themselves on a microphone. That becomes a requirement over time, whether you’re a heel or a face, or you’re heavy on promo or even light, at some point you need to be able to tell a story. Even if you come to WWE when you’re 23, 24, 25, that’s a significant improvement over what has historically been the case with some of our developmental talent. We fully support every athlete pursuing their dreams in their given sport. The idea is that we have that opportunity in college to evaluate them as a potential talent, and for them to evaluate us.”