Austin Theory's professional wrestling journey saw him sign an EVOLVE contract at 19-years-old and two years later, he is 250 days and counting into a FIP World Heavyweight Championship reign. The twenty-one year old also received a WWE tryout in February 2018. He remains focused and looks toward the next stage of his career which seems to be right around the corner.
I recently spoke to Theory before a Black Gate Wrestling event where he became the first-ever Black Gate Champion in the main event of the evening. When WWE.com announced the atendees at Theory's Performance Center tryout, his picture was on the top of the article, which he found unbelievable.
"It took me a little bit when I got the email and I see, 'Hey, come down to the Performance Center for a tryout,' I was kinda blown away," Theory said. "I was like, 'Wow, this is what I've wanted my whole life. Being an eight-year-old kid watching John Cena. But yeah, it's crazy -- especially being on top of the article you know being the number one picture -- I don't know sometimes it's unreal. It doesn't seem like it's reality."
Theory started in professional wrestling at eighteen-years-old, so he did not have to lie about his age like Jeff Hardy so he could wrestle, although he does credit The Charismatic Egnima as one of his influences.
He received an opportunity to show how much he wanted to become a WWE Superstar during his Performance Center tryout. Thanks to EVOLVE's relationship with WWE, Theory said they are tied in with Vince McMahon and Company which could provide an easy transition.
"It was definitely hard testing," Theory recalled of his tryout. "Just to see how far you'd go and how bad you really wanted it. I even said this to myself even going into it and to friends who are close to me. I would say, 'Anybody can say they want something and that's the reason why we have to go through this for three or four days. Because we're gonna see who really wants this 'cause anybody can say those words but when it really comes down to it, who can really do the action.'
"I've gotten feedback, you know with EVOLVE and how big it has grown now we had Adam Cole recently defend the North American Championship that he used to have at our show. It's like we're really tied in and I feel like we're making a good relationship with WWE and stuff and obviously, guys in the past in the Cruiserweight Division have come from EVOLVE.
"We're tied in there and we have William Regal and Robbie Brookside come and do seminars and I get to talk to them and I see them at the tryout. We all just stay very close."
During his time in EVOLVE, Theory has been able to work with some wrestlers who are now in the WWE Performance Center, which is his goal as well. It was upsetting that he only got to work with Keith Lee one time at EVOLVE, but the 330-pound powerhouse was a fantastic opponent. Theory also loved working with Matt Riddle who is another wrestler who recently took his talents to NXT as well.
"The thing I hated with Keith is that I only got to wrestle him once, you know?" Theory explained. "I see him all the time and we're good friends and I loved our match together. I can just imagine if we could have another match which could happen, you know what I mean?
"Riddle -- I loved wrestling Riddle. I've actually gotten to wrestle Riddle a couple times -- again I only got to wrestle Riddle that one time at EVOLVE -- but I did get to wrestle him two other places. He's just another guy I love being in the ring with him."
Theory is confident he will be able to achieve his goal, and at his current age, it couldn't come at a better time for him because twenty-one was always his target to arrive in WWE.
"Absolutely, you know my goal has always been WWE," Theory continued. "I've never been somebody to say my sights are set somewhere else.
"You know I'm twenty-one right now and my goal has always been twenty-one -- it's crazy but I'm twenty-one now -- but twenty-one has always been my age to get in there and be there because that's what I've strived for. I've only known the indies for about two-and-a-half years and my trainer AR Fox was the one who introduced me to that and really opened my eyes to just how big the indie scene is and how I can make a living off of it."
Despite the fact that Theory could make his own schedule on the independent wrestling circuit, his dream of becoming a WWE Superstar is still his primary objective. Theory said he looks forward to the training the Performance Center, but until he gets another call from WWE, he is enjoying every moment he can on the independent wrestling scene to earn it.
"You know I feel like everybody has their own story and their own journey and how they develop," Theory concluded. "I just feel strongly in myself in my decisions and I feel like either way I wouldn't be too impacted of affected. I feel it would work out for the best because I know what I can bring [to WWE] and I know my work ethic.
"If there's a slow time or a fast time I'll be able to adapt. Because I like those uncomfortable situations and being out of my comfort zone.
"It's cool man, getting to meet different people and seeing where their mindsets are in wrestling. You know, just like the grind, I love the grind -- just the whole process of it -- you know I don't wanna just say, 'Hey I wanna be a wrestler' and wake up tomorrow and be in WWE or something. I love the struggle and the grind, knowing you earned it... you know? Just how many people you can Impact and how many fans you can really make at heart and you're not just there saying, 'Hey it's Austin Theory.'"