WADSWORTH — Derek Foore thought it was a joke. He listened to the voicemail, shook his head and then laughed at the shenanigans.
Surely one of his college buddies was putting him on and it really wasn’t Jerry Brisco of World Wrestling Entertainment calling him to inquire about possibly joining the organization.
Then a text message and e-mail from Brisco came.
Yes, that Jerry Brisco. The one who discovered Hulk Hogan in the late 1970s and the one enshrined in the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Hall of Fame.
“I was speechless,” said Foore, a 2007 Wadsworth graduate and NAIA national champion at Notre Dame College. “I was like, ‘OK, who is messing with me?’ When he left a voicemail, texted me and then e-mailed me, I said, ‘OK, this is legit.’
“After I came back down to earth, I was trying to figure out what I could say. I was nervous. I was writing notes down, trying to think of what I was going to do when I called him. Then I was like, ‘I’m just going to wing it.’ When I called him, all the butterflies went away.”
As it turns out, Brisco was in attendance in early March to see Foore — Medina County’s winningest prep wrestler — finish second at nationals.
While Foore didn’t come home from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with the medal he was looking for — he won a national title as a junior — he gained the interest of the biggest recruiter from the largest professional wrestling organization in the world.
Pleased with how Foore carried himself after a tough 2-1 loss in the finals at 197 pounds, Brisco did the legwork and went through the proper channels to obtain the phone number of the Notre Dame Falcon.
“He told me what he liked about me and my character,” Foore said of Brisco, who stays in contact with him at least two times a week. “He liked the way I handled myself, win or lose. He said character will carry me a long way.
“Honestly, I was just excited to talk to him. It doesn’t happen to a lot of people, and to be noticed in Iowa, it was like, ‘Wow, is this real?’”
What came next was even more unreal. While most would-be WWE stars pay their dues — as well as exorbitant amounts of money on acting classes and wrestling camps — Foore is different.
He’ll travel to Tampa Bay, Fla., the site of the WWE’s training facility, on the company’s dime. Foore will be there for two weeks, all expenses paid. He’ll learn the ins and outs, get a physical and go through some skits. He’ll stand up to vigorous workouts to see if he has what it takes, all while being recorded.
There will be lifting, wrestling and promos as well, and at the end of the camp the WWE will tell him what he did well, what he needs to work on and see if there’s a future for him.
Foore said being “fished out by the company” already puts him in good standing. The fact the organization is willing to wait until the middle of May so he can finish the school year — Foore is a junior academically, but is out of athletic eligibility — is a positive as well.
“It’s great because I didn’t even try pursuing it,” Foore said. “There are people who take so much time and spend so much money trying, for them to call me out of nowhere and tell me to come to Florida, it was like, ‘Really?’
“Of course I’m going to jump on the opportunity. When I get down to Tampa, though, it’s business, straight business. I’m going there to get a contract. I’ll do whatever it takes to sign on the dotted line.”
Until then, Foore intends to continue his vigorous workout schedule while trying his hand at yoga and tumbling.
As for his future, he’s ready to take the steps necessary to enter the squared circle.
“I’m willing to learn,” he said. “In order to walk, you have to crawl. I think the chances are really good, but I won’t count my eggs before they hatch. I’ll take nothing for granted. I’ll expect the worse, but I’ll be confident I can work toward what I want.
“They’re not allowing me to ride my bike with training wheels. I’ll take my bumps and bruises along the way. I never thought it would happen. Words can’t describe what I’m thinking.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.