When WWE announced its second class in its NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) program — “Next In Line” — that provides a clear pathway from collegiate athletics to WWE, I was excited to learn the signing of a local athlete.
That athlete was Zachary Knighton-Ward of Hofstra, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Uniondale, N.Y. He will start out in WWE’s Performance Center and train and learn the business for the company’s group of skilled trainers. Then, hopefully, head to WWE’s development arm, NXT
Knighton-Ward amassed an 8-5 overall record as the starter at 285 pounds for the Pride. Plus, he went 3-0 in dual meets against Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Assocation (EIWA) opponents and posted a 3-1 mark and finished third at the 2021 EIWA Championships.
So, it looks like WWE will have another skilled mat wrestler on its hands. Hopefully, Knighton-Ward can become accustomed to the in-ring style of professional wrestling while mastering the mic.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo: Hofstra Athletics.