Dan Matha, a former football player from Erie, Pennsylvania, joined WWE in September 2015 as part of a class of 19 recruits that included Tough Enough winners Josh Bredl and Sara Lee, as well as independent wrestling standouts Rich Swann and Christopher Girard.
A former offensive lineman at the University of Pittsburgh, Matha received his initial wrestling training under Tough Enough III co-winner Matt Cappotelli at Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, Kentucky. Head trainer Rip Rogers broke news of his signing in September, stating on Twitter, “Former ovw trainee big dan Matha will starting in nxt in Orlando for wwe !!! We wish him the best!!!”
Matha was on the University of Pittsburgh football roster from 2007 to 2009, but never saw action due to injury struggles with his shoulders. In 2010, he transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and was named to the second team of the Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America team as an offensive tackle in 2012. The Cincinnati Bengals invited Matha to work out at a rookie mini-camp in 2013, but did not offer him a contract. In 2014, he signed a contract to play with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
Matha made his NXT live event debut on January 30, 2016, in Venice, Florida. He was interviewed by NXT host and ring announcer Alex Reyes, where he cut a heel promo. He then said on Twitter, “All these peasants at #NXTVenice haven’t seen anything as pretty as me.”
Various live accounts indicate Matha didn’t draw much of a reaction from the crowd but showed promise on the mic.