Big E's journey to the WWE Championship began in 2009 when he signed with WWE and reported to Florida Championship Wrestling.
Big E was a wrestler in high school, played football at the University of Iowa, and competed in powerlifting before breaking into wrestling.
Mike Doughty of Washington, Iowa, the director of development for the Dan Gable Wrestling Hall of Fame helped lead Big E to WWE when he met Jim Ross by chance on a plane.
“He goes ‘Hey, if you’re ever at an NCAA tournament, here’s what we’re looking for: A good look, charismatic — he named all these attributes that he was looking for. He said ‘You ever see anybody like that, here’s my card, give me a call,'" Doughty recalled to The Gazette. “So I’m at the next NCAA tournament in St. Louis in 2009. Mike Humpal and I are good friends, and Mike and I are down there watching together. He and his friends wanted to go have beers. Humpal says ‘Hey, Mike, you coming with us?’ I said ‘I’m going to stick around and watch the heavyweights.’ He asked what for, and I said ‘Well, I’m kind of a WWE scout now.’ He said ‘Well, I’ll stick around with you.’ We watched the heavyweight wrestle-backs together.”
Humpal is a former Former Hawkeye linebacker who is good friends with Big E through their playing time together.
“I went to the NCAA tournament, and Doughty tells me he was watching the heavyweights looking for (pro) wrestling talent. I asked him if they had to be wrestlers, because this guy I work out with. I don’t know if he has the personality for it, but he’s certainly got the appearance," Humpal said.
Humpal is the one who asked Big E if he wanted to meet with Doughty about pursing a career in WWE.
Doughty got a finder's fee from WWE for leading the company to sign Big E.
“I’m 1-0,” he said.
Big E won the WWE Championship on Monday's WWE Raw, cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to defeat Bobby Lashley.
You can find Big E's comments on his title victory by clicking here.