Duquesne student athlete Roman Macek earns deal from WWE

Courtesy of Roman Macek | During the third day of the WWE WrestleMania tryout in Frisco, Texas, Roman Macek and many of the other college athletes at the event showed off their skills in front of fans outside of the Dallas Cowboys Training Facility.

by Brentaro Yamane | layout editor

April 21, 2022

When the caller ID on Roman Macek’s phone read “World Wrestling Entertainment,” he thought it was fake. It wasn’t until he saw a message from the official WWE Instagram account pop up as well that he realized it was all real.

When Macek picked up the phone, they asked if he’d like to try out this spring for a new program targeting college athletes, and he answered, “Absolutely.”

The phone call guaranteed Macek a spot at the Texas training camp for potential WWE trainers and competitors. It offered the potential for a wrestling career afterward, depending on the candidate’s tryout.

For Macek, a Duquesne football player and School of Law student, this invitation was a dream come true. The student athlete has followed WWE from an early age. In high school at Montour, Macek wrestled varsity for four years, and was a captain for three.

Last December, Macek saw on the WWE Recruit Instagram page (@wwerecruit) that they were giving out Name Image Likeness deals to college athletes. The program allows young athletes to monetize their name through their own brand.

After interacting with the profile for several months, Macek was invited by the WWE to participate in its WrestleMania tryout in Frisco, Texas, from March 30 to April 1.

After the initial excitement of receiving the call about the tryouts, Macek had to decide if the opportunity was really worth the cost.

On one hand, Macek felt he would regret not going to Dallas.

“I don’t want to grow old and tell my kids, ‘Oh I wish I did this, I wish I would have said that.’ I’m jumping on these opportunities now so I can tell them I [got] the chance to do this,” Macek said.  

On the other hand, the wrestling tryouts came right in the middle of the spring semester, and football practice was scheduled to start soon. There was the possibility of injury at WWE tryouts, which would make it difficult entering football season.

“I talked to the other captains, and my roommate Spencer DeMedal, and they all said, ‘Go do this,” Macek said. His coaches were just as enthusiastic. With support from his teammates, Macek decided to accept the WWE’s invitation.

Macek began his journey with WWE on March 28 with a visit to the Monday Night Raw wrestling show in Pittsburgh. Right after the show was over, Macek got on a flight with WWE legends Randy Orton and Seth Rollins to Texas. Macek was also able to meet Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Shawn Michaels. It was a cool experience working with celebrities, Macek said.

The first day of training consisted of physical, agility and basic training courses, Macek said. The first and second day, Macek got to learn in-ring form, something he has not always trained with during his athletic career.

“As an offensive lineman, I don’t want to be on the ground at all. So, it was different learning how to do stuff like that: falling properly without getting hurt, learning the proper ways and taking the coaching was something really cool to be a part of.”

The third day of the tryout covered everything the athletes performing in the ring have to consider on- and off-screen, according to Macek.

The lessons he learned from the experience will last a lifetime, Macek said. Working out with the other recruits is also something he will never forget.

“I’m messaging all of them constantly,” Macek said.  “We’re that close to each other. It’s crazy. The WWE brought in the best of the best to compete. I feel like every single one of the people they brought in would fit in well with my friend group back here.”

Four days after the camp ended, on April 5, Macek was sitting in his apartment, unwinding from a day of classes at Duquesne, when he received another phone call. This one was from the WWE Vice President of Talent.

After a brief conversation where Macek self-assessed his experience at the tryouts, the VP broke the news: Macek was being offered a three-year deal with WWE’s Orlando training center.

“Immediately, I just threw my hands up. Sitting right here in my room, [I] threw my hands and started crying.”

Macek said everyone he told about the offer was happy and supportive. Seeing his friends, teammates, family, coaches and professors congratulate him meant so much to him, that there are not enough words to describe his feelings, he said.

Duquesne quarterback Joe Mischler was one of the teammates that was happy to see Macek get the offer.

“This is something that Roman has always wanted to do,” Mischler said. “Seeing your friend and teammate accomplish their dreams is always very exciting. We’re all very happy for him.”

Even with the outpouring of support, it is ultimately up to Macek to make this future-altering decision himself.

“There will be bigger decisions to come that I’m going to have to make in the future, whether that be with football, with law school, with wrestling, with life. There is always going to be a bigger decision. Always.”

At the end of the day, whether or not Macek decides to pursue a career in the WWE, he will find another dream that he’ll look to accomplish as he knows the world is full of opportunities.

“I don’t think it could be any more important to chase your dreams,” Macek said. “I like to say that if people don’t laugh at your goals, they’re not big enough. You should shoot for the stars, and no matter what you do, go try to be the best version of yourself.”