In Fall 2021, former Temple defensive lineman Kevin Robertson felt lost.
After three seasons, the then-senior defensive tackle left the football program before his Senior Day, and he felt his dreams of following in the footsteps of legendary Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis fading.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Robertson said. “The goal was to take care of my family, so I just tried to stay focused on that.”
Robertson knew he wouldn’t make the NFL because his Temple career ended so abruptly and he didn’t know what his next steps would be. Then, his friend told him how they turned down a tryout for World Wrestling Entertainment, the largest and most well-known professional wrestling company in the world. That gave him an idea: become the next WWE Superstar.
Robertson didn’t grow up a wrestling fan, but he fell in love with WWE as soon as he started learning about it. He felt that his background in football, especially his speed and strength, translated from the gridiron to the ring. After filling out an application, he earned a tryout in April 2022 during the week of Wrestlemania 38 in Dallas, WWE’s biggest live event of the year.
“It’s all I watch now,” Robertson said. “It’s all I think about. I’m trying to learn, trying to pick things up to make me better in the ring. I fell in love with it.”
On May 31, Robertson made his television debut on NXT, WWE’s show that highlights rising talent. He was announced as a member of the 2023 NXT Rookie class and is pursuing his newest dream of becoming the greatest wrestler of all time.
Earning a spot in NXT was a culmination of years of hard work for Robertson, starting with his junior year at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Springs, Maryland. He joined the football team to pursue his dream, but rather than playing linebacker like Lewis, he was put on the defensive line.
“I wasn’t very good,” Robertson said. “But, I started grinding that offseason. When I came back for my senior year, I started.”
Robertson anchored the Blazers’ defensive front. His team finished 8-3 on the year, and though he knew he wouldn’t get opportunities at Division I schools right away, Robertson continued to chase his NFL dreams by enrolling at Fullerton College, a junior college in Fullerton, California.
At Fullerton, Robertson balanced his football career, class work and employment as a security guard at Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen to earn a D-I scholarship. After redshirting his first year, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound lineman finished with 19 total tackles in two seasons, and the Hornets went a combined 22-1 in 2017 and 2018.
“His work ethic is just ridiculous,” said Temple football defensive lineman and Robertson’s former teammate Demerick Morris. “When he puts his mind to something, that’s all he focuses on.”
Robertson’s play at Fullerton earned him four offers from Division I programs, including the University of Buffalo and Temple. After talking to Temple’s staff, especially former defensive line coach Walter Stewart, Robertson loved the defense’s personality and committed on June 7, 2019.
Robertson became a key rotational piece for the Owls. During his senior year in 2021, he finished with 10 tackles and a sack in seven games, bringing his total to 15 tackles in three seasons for the Cherry and White.
After the 2021 season, though, Robertson wasn’t sure what was in store. After years of challenges to make it to Temple, he was faced with even more obstacles beyond college.
“I was in a weird space,” Robertson said. “I was done with football. I knew it was over, but I didn’t know what to do now.”
That feeling made Robertson even more eager to try out for WWE. He flew to Wrestlemania 38 with one goal in mind: get a job.
“I’m just going to bet on myself,” Robertson said about his mindset before the tryout. “I was going to make it work.”
His bet paid off. Three days after the tryout, Robertson received a call from WWE’s management team informing him that he was hired. He’d then have to move to Orlando, Florida, near the WWE Performance Center, where trainees learn to be WWE Superstars.
However, two weeks before he started training, Robertson tore his pectoral muscle while bench pressing. The injury sidelined him for nearly six months and WWE pushed his debut back a year.
Robertson worked through his rehabilitation. He trained in the performance center, learning how to succeed in the ring and on the microphone. Robertson was announced as one of nine members of the 2023 NXT Rookie Class. As a rookie, Robertson will continue to train in the performance center and, eventually, work his way onto the show.
“Playing football with someone you know, you pick up on their tendencies, their personality,” said former Temple defensive lineman and Robertson’s good friend Xach Gill. “When Kev told me he was going to try for WWE, it all kinda clicked for me. I was like, ‘You’re gonna kill that!’”
Though his original dream of joining the NFL didn’t come true, Robertson’s new WWE dream is alive. Now, he wants to show the wrestling world how hard he can work.
“The goal is to be the greatest ever,” Robertson said. “That’s the goal, for sure. The sky isn’t even the limit; my goal is to be the best.”