Keep an eye on World Wrestling Entertainment’s NXT show on Wednesdays in the coming months. You might see a University of South Carolina alum and former Gamecock football player in the wrestling ring.
Matrick Belton is part of the latest class of wrestling recruits who will train at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
Belton starred locally at Keenan High School and was a wide receiver for the Gamecocks from 2014-16, playing under Steve Spurrier and Will Muschamp. He made five starts over 21 career games at USC, and caught 11 passes for 121 yards in the 2015 season.
He was signed by the WWE with the first goal to train and work his way onto the NXT brand’s TV show. Success with NXT can mean an eventually call-up to the main roster and the WWE’s “Raw” or “Smackdown” TV shows. Current WWE superstars Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Charlotte Flair are among the many NXT alums on the main roster.
Belton is also the football player featured in the tall banner on the Bluff Road side of Williams-Brice Stadium. He still has family in the Columbia area.
Belton took part in the Philadelphia Eagles rookie mini-camp in 2018 but was released. He tried out with the WWE in December 2018 and again in December 2020 before being signed.
His bio in the WWE announcement reads: “Matrick Belton played Division I football for the University of South Carolina and has attended training camps for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. He has prepared for the rigors of the ring by training at the Combat Zone Wrestling Academy in New Jersey.”
The Gamecocks and pro wrestling are no strangers. Del Wilkes, who starred for the Gamecocks under coach Joe Morrison in the 1980s, wrestled in the WWE and around the world as The Patriot.
NXT currently airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on the USA Network.