Gable Steveson - Putting the world in a headlock - Kill Cliff

Gable Steveson - Putting the world in a headlock

It must be great to be Gable Steveson. Big, strong, handsome, accomplished, and just 22-years-old.

When we last checked in with Kill Cliff brand ambassador Steveson earlier this summer, he had just been named the 2021-22 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year. The University of Minnesota grappler is just the fifth Golden Gopher to be name the Big Ten's top male athlete in the 41-year history of the award. He is also just the 13th wrestler to ever win the award. 

The Apple Valley, Minnesota, native—who stands 6’1 and weighs 275—closed out his college career as one of the more decorated wrestlers in the history of the sport—and is perhaps the greatest wrestler to even don the maroon and gold, not to mention the red, white, and blue. 

Steveson, a freestyle and folkstyle heavyweight, finished with an 85-2 record (.977), including a 52-match win streak, and holds the highest winning percentage in the history of the program—a record that may never be broken. He was the sixth multiple-time NCAA champion and the eighth three-time Big Ten champion in the history of the program.

But what we will remember first and foremost about Steveson is his final Olympics appearance, in 2020, when he faced off against reigning, three-time World Champion Geno Petriashvili of Georgia for the Gold Medal. With the points likely against him as the clock was running out, Steveson shocked the audience—not to mention Petriashvili—with a move so fast…well, just watch this. Do not blink. Yes, that is .03 seconds on the clock!

And then. That backflip.

“When I first got [the Gold Medal], I didn’t take it off. I even slept with it right by my pillow,” he said. “It didn’t come off for like three days, until I got home and my mom put it on…It’s a memory for a lifetime, and I’m going to work to make even more great moments after this.”

After winning the Olympic Gold, Steveson began publicly flirting with UFC chief Dana White about taking up MMA. He’d be great on The Ultimate Fighter but would more likely go straight to the Octagon after spending some time perhaps at Kill Cliff FC in Florida to learn how to give and take a punch and a kick, something wrestlers don’t always practice, because they are, you know, wrestlers.

“It would be cool to hold a UFC belt,” Steveson said at the time. "For me to go out there and to bring a UFC championship home, at the heavyweight division too, could cement me as the baddest man again.

"Who wouldn't want to put their best foot forward and be the baddest man in two different things at one time? I can do that myself, I know I can do it."

He also took a phone call from the Minnesota Vikings but he had little interest in gridiron football.

At the same time Steveson was also flirting with WWE chief (now former!) Vince McMahon about signing on with that popular promotion. They met backstage at WWE SummerSlam in August 2021 with Triple H, who is in charge of WWE talent and storylines, where they discussed Steveson’s future as a WWE star.

The WWE encouraged him to finish his college career—he still hadn’t graduated—win more accolades (see above), make a bunch of Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) money, and join the promotion when he was ready.

Apparently, he’s ready: He signed a multi-year deal and was drafted into WWE’s Raw brand, where, once he starts, he’ll compete each week, most likely on Monday Night Raw episodes.

In April’s WrestleMania 38 at AT&T Stadium—home of the Dallas Cowboys—Steveson made his in-ring debut. Fellow former Olympian Chad Gable (there’s a lot of Gables here), a Greco-Roman wrestler in the 2012 Olympics also named Chad Betts, knocked a cup out of Steveson’s hand and told the youngster to follow his rules: “When you’re in my presence, remember to do one thing,” followed by Betts’ trademark, extra-long “ssshhhhoooossssh.” After which Steveson rather stiffly suplexes Betts, to the delight of the fans.

“There will be no shooshing for Gable Steveson,” the announcer says. “A small preview of what the future will likely hold for Gable Steveson in WWE.”

You can see it here. No backflip, though.

“Dream come true,” Steveson said later backstage. “Hard to describe the emotions that you get, coming from amateur wrestling, collegiate wrestling, Olympic style, 70,000 people, you didn’t get that. You get that with WWE, though.”

So it looks like Steveson’s committed to rassling, although he seems to have slipped off the WWE fast track. He still does not have an announced appearance and his Instagram message from two weeks ago shows him working out in a ring. “Time will be here very soon,” he wrote.

And because of the pandemic, the NCAA has granted him another year of college eligibility, something his competitors probably didn’t want to hear but apparently it’s on the table.

(Interestingly, in July he posted a photo of him sitting in front of an Octagon with the message, “Practice.” Maybe…? And let’s not forget UFC title holder and fellow Golden Gopher, NCAA heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar, was a WWE action figure at one time. So he could start in WWE and come back to MMA—or vice versa. Everything’s up in the air with this kid!)

No matter where Steveson lands, he’ll take Kill Cliff with him.

“I’m proud to be associated [with Kill Cliff],” Steveson told Sports Illustrated about his Kill Cliff NIL. “We’re official partners with the Navy SEAL Foundation, and I’m locked in with them...You can’t beat the Navy SEALs. They’re the baddest people on the planet, and I’m so proud to be aligned with them to make something great.”

Get your limited edition Gable Steveson "Huge in Japan" tee shirt below and thank us later.