Days after appearing in the front row at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory has landed in Orlando, Fla., as an official recruit of the WWE Performance Center. He joined eight other signees who reported for training this week. The new class of athletes also features a former Mae Young Classic favourite, a Jiu-Jitsu world champion and competitors from the worlds of football and combat sports.
At age 22, Austin White, aka Austin Theory, is one of sports entertainment’s fastest-rising young prospects. Hailing from McDonough, Ga., White already has experience facing top NXT Superstars as part of the black-and-gold brand’s relationship with EVOLVE Wrestling. He won the EVOLVE Title from Fabian Aichner last December in a Triple Threat Match that also featured Roderick Strong and has since battled the likes of Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano at EVOLVE events. He also made his WWE Network debut in July, defeating JD Drake to win the WWN Title at the EVOLVE 10th Anniversary Celebration.
The American professional wrestler and bodybuilder made his debut in 2016 in WWA4 where he won his first title, defeating his trainer AR Fox to win the WWA4 Heavyweight Championship. After working for many indie promotions in the USA, he signed with EVOLVE in 2017. He’s a former 2-time WWN Champion and former The Crash Lucha Libre Heavyweight Champion.
Santana Garrett was a competitor in the inaugural ‘Mae Young Classic’ and has also been featured on NXT TV. Since making her in-ring debut, Garrett has accumulated many titles and accolades, including winning the Cauliflower Alley Club’s Future Legend Award in 2014, a distinction once bestowed upon Kurt Angle. She was inspired to pursue sports-entertainment by her father, former wrestler “TNT” Keny G, and has been mentored by WWE Hall of Famers like Scott Hall and Larry Zbyszko. Garrett has also wrestled internationally, competing in Japan and Chile, among other locales.
Garrett is one of the most decorated female wrestlers in North America, having won the NWA World Women’s Championship, Shine Championship, Shine Tag Team Championship, WOW Championship, WOW Tag Team Championship, Wonder of Stardom Championship, and many more titles in her career. She has also won the 2016 STARDOM international Grand Prix tournament.
Santana is a former IMPACT Wrestling Knockout having signed with the company back in 2014 where she was known as Brittany. She had feuds with Gail Kim, Madison Rayne, and The Beautiful People as well as aligning herself with Sam Shaw for a brief run before she left the company. She is no stranger to WWE, having made several appearances within the company between 2013 and 2018.
U.S. Army veteran and former Division I football player Tehuti Miles attended WWE tryouts in 2017 and 2018. The 210-pounder from Silver Spring, Md., played multiple positions for the University of Maryland Terrapins after serving in the military, which included a tour of duty in Afghanistan. More recently, Miles has gained wrestling experience competing on Maryland’s independent circuit.
Miles participated in Future of Honor tournament. He’s also a karate fighter. Miles has been very vocal about his pursuit of a WWE deal in recent years.
Six-foot-six, 265-pounder EJ Nduka brings a diverse athletic background to the Performance Center. He played professional football for four years, including stints in the CFL, IFL and AFL, and later became a champion bodybuilder. Nduka has also trained in mixed martial arts and boxing. He attended tryouts at the WWE Performance Center in December 2018 and April 2019.
Twenty-four-year-old Aleksandar Jaksic played semi-pro basketball in Germany before setting his sights on the ring. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder initially trained under former WWE Intercontinental Champion Santino Marella at the Battle Arts Academy in Canada and has also received coaching from former WCW star Alex Wright. He has spent the past several years wrestling in Germany under the alias “LX Ken,” and he took part in WWE’s tryout in Cologne last November.
His New European Championship Wrestling biography says, “When the sounds of a harmonica sound in the NEW HotSpot, everyone knows it’s time for the “Struggler” LX Ken. The almost two-meter-tall model athlete shows the fans on every occasion quite clearly that he himself is extremely convinced not only of his musical, but also of his wrestling abilities. LX Ken has travelled halfway across the world, and when it comes down to him, this journey has no end, for the “Struggler” is still seeking his true destiny.
Briana Brandy has one of the most unique paths to the Performance Center. An aspiring hip-hop artist who toured alongside the likes of Soulja Boy and Jadakiss, the 5-foot-9 Brandy has years of ninjutsu and “extreme CrossFit” training under her belt. She also played basketball and was a competitive swimmer in high school. Brandy previously attended a WWE tryout in June 2017.
Her Instagram page shows that she’s been undergoing vigorous MMA training at the Fight Ready MMA & Fitness gym in Scottsdale, Arizona. This gym is home to reigning UFC Bantamweight & Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo. Many of her Instagram posts talk about training for her dream job as a WWE Superstar. More recently, she’s written about embarking on a new journey and a new chapter in her life.
The new class also includes several athletes recruited from last December’s tryout in Santiago, Chile, WWE’s first camp in the country, which drew dozens of attendees from throughout Latin America.
Brazil’s Rita Reis, 24, is a Jiu-Jitsu world champion and a multi-time medalist in both Jiu-Jitsu and judo. She’s won titles in not only her native country but throughout Europe as well. Reis also took home the gold in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 2017.
She started in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 7, at age 14 she migrated to Judo. At age 19, she became the first female athlete to win the Bronze medal in a World Championship in Judo. In 2016 she started to train Olympic wrestling. On April 19, 2017, Rita Reis became Jiu-Jitsu World Champion in Abu Dhabi.
Marcos Gomes, also of Brazil, joins the WWE Performance Center from the world of combat sports. The 260-pounder specializes in Jiu-Jitsu but also trains in boxing and wrestling, and is an instructor in Muay Thai.
The Brazilian has a background in martial arts having trained in both muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, where he is a purple belt. It’s a well-rounded background that shows he knows how to throw a kick and latch on a submission.
Catalina Garcia, from Chile, goes by the professional alias “La Diva del Ring” Jessy on the independent wrestling circuit. Garcia has competed in Chilean promotions 5 Luchas – Clandestino and MAX Lucha Libre, as well as the Santiago-based Revolución Lucha Libre, where she is a two-time women’s champion.
Jessy’s career started when she began training at the age of 13 at the Lucha Libre Revolution academy and then joined “Yeyos Dojo”, of the Chilean wrestler recognized abroad as Guanchulo. At 19, she has already made a name for herself in the world of wrestling.
All pics courtesy of WWE