I always expected that if I was writing about a former Pitt football player joining the WWE, it would be former defensive lineman Ty Ezell. Ezell always had WWE aspirations if the NFL didn’t work out and to date, it hasn’t.
But another former Panthers player looks like he’s not only in the WWE, but potentially on a track to becoming a key guy.
Offensive lineman Dan Matha.
Matha, you might recall, was a pretty solid recruit that came to Pitt over Michigan State and West Virginia, among others. Unfortunately with shoulder injuries eating into his career, he never played at Pitt despite being here for three years as a tackle. Matha eventually went to nearby IUP and starred at the D-II level. He got a look in the NFL, but never worked out there.
Seemingly, he dropped off the face of the earth. But Matha was already planning his next career in pro wrestling.
Matha is set to make his television debut in WWE’s NXT circuit in less than two weeks after a promo was run for him during this past Wednesday’s show. He’s been in some NXT matches at events but none televised that I’m aware of.
All of that might sound like nothing if you’ve not heard of it, but NXT is the company’s premier minor league system, if you will. It’s not found on cable TV but despite being only on the WWE Network, has a massive following. In other words, Matha will have many eyes on him in a very short amount of time.
Wrestling fans don’t know what to make of him, either. Many wrestlers toil for years before getting recognition from the WWE. Apparently after a short stint in the Ohio Valley Wrestling training school, he landed a WWE tryout and was quickly signed last fall.
In pro wrestling, that sort of thing doesn’t happen all the time. Wrestlers can be on the independent circuits for years and years without drawing any attention at all, let alone being signed. The WWE does have a penchant for taking athletes from football and giving them a shot, but as a whole, Matha has shot up the ladder much faster than is the norm.
Pittsburgh is known for producing some WWE talent, as this article cites. And not on their list was Matt Bloom, who played football at Pitt in the 1990s. Bloom (aka Tensai, A-Train, etc.) was also 6’7” like Matha and an offensive tackle for the Panthers before going on to a long career in pro wrestling.
Physically, the dude is jacked. Here’s Matha in action lifting, um, a lot of weight quite a few times. We’ll see how much he’s learned in the short time he’s been on the wrestling circuit pretty soon.