Introducing ‘The Mo Show’: William and Mary’s first WWE star

COURTESY IMAGE // ASH WARFIELD Junior defensive tackle Momen Zahid recently became partners with the WWE's "Next In Line" program.

The College of William and Mary has a rich history of producing professional athletes and worldwide entertainers. Tribe alumni have made their marks in multiple professional sports leagues, including the Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Football League, and earned recognition for excellence on screen and stage.

However, the Green and Gold has never produced someone who’s combined sport and stage at the same time, especially in a ring. 

That is, until now.

Momen Zahid is a junior defensive lineman on the William and Mary football team. In 25 career games, Zahid recorded 14 tackles and four and a half sacks. Off the field, the Virginia native is completing a biology degree while minoring in data science.

Dec. 7, 2023, Zahid announced on his Instagram that he would be partnering with the World Wrestling Entertainment as part of their “Next in Line” program. The program, which recently selected its fourth class of recruits, partners with 14 collegiate athletes from around the country to create the foundation for the future of the WWE. 

Going into his junior year, Zahid admitted this unusual partnership was not on his radar.

“Somebody had reached out to me on Instagram, and I thought it was a fake account,” Zahid said. “Then I checked, and they had like half a million followers.”

The WWE has a roster of all collegiate athletes, and they spend months screening individual teams for players they think could fit their physical and personal standards. As a six feet five inch tall football player, Zahid believes he met the criteria. 

“I think obviously [they] look for the physique, because they need big guys,” Zahid said.  

More importantly, however, the recruiting process was centered on an athlete’s character.

“I think it was mostly they were trying to get an idea of who we are and if we align with their vision,” Zahid said. “Now, we’re representing their brand.”

As an avid WWE fan in his youth, Zahid originally thought the possibility of working with the organization was too good to be true. After rounds of interviews over Zoom and on the phone, Zahid thinks his past connections to the WWE as a kid were what really made him stick out among the thousands of other potential athletes.

One of Zahid’s favorite WWE memories occurred when he was in Pakistan visiting his cousin.

“I remember I was in the mountains in Pakistan,” Zahid said. “They were playing WWE in the mountains, and I was like, ‘It is so crazy… like, they have that here!’”

The program, which formed in response to the National Collegiate Athletic Association allowing players to sign name, image and likeness deals, is primarily focused on developing the future talent of the WWE. 

“They like who they’ve recruited, and they want to teach us about the business and the ins and outs,” Zahid said. 

Partners also gain access to the WWE’s facilities, highlighted by its primary training center in Orlando, Fla. Athletes also fly out to some of the organization’s biggest events throughout the year. 

Due to a shoulder injury, Zahid has not yet seen the facilities.

“After I recover, they’re planning on having me go over, but I plan on checking out the training facility and stuff sometime in the summer,” Zahid said.

The training included in the program is extensive, covering both the business side of the organization and the physical act of wrestling. 

“They teach you about the ins and outs of the business, like how it works,” Zahid said. “They’ll show you acting classes — it’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.” 

Ultimately, the “Next in Line” program aims to promote its collegiate athletes to full-time partners with the WWE.

Zahid explained the benefits of becoming a partner. 

“If I’m still interested and they’re still interested, you have a much easier avenue to sign a contract,” Zahid said. “There’s not as many impediments to actually joining and signing a contract down the road because they know who you are and have developed you.” 

Despite already partnering with the WWE, Zahid still has three years of NCAA eligibility and is primarily focused on finishing his degree. Regardless, he remains optimistic and excited about his future with wrestling.

“The way I’m looking at it right now is it’s a crazy opportunity,” Zahid said. “So finish through my undergrad, get my degree, and then I’m going to take this WWE thing wherever I can and see how far I can get with the opportunities there.”

Zahid also acknowledged that a great deal can happen between now and when he graduates. Football is an injury-filled sport, and long-term plans can change at a moment’s notice. Regardless of how his life changes from now until then, he feels extremely grateful and fortunate to be in the situation he is in. 

“It’s just a crazy blessing, and I’m going to take advantage of it if I can,” Zahid said. “I think even if it doesn’t pan out, even though I really hope it does, I get to be like, ‘Hey, I used to be in the WWE.’”

Whether he’s on the field, in a biology lab or in the ring, William and Mary is witnessing just the beginning of what the Mo Show will offer.


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