Derek Foore was getting good reviews for his work in World Wrestling Entertainment’s developmental system, where he was known as the ultra-confident Chad Baxter.
The Wadsworth High graduate also had just made his international television debut on WWE’s NXT, beginning a program with fellow prospect Big E Langston.
Things couldn’t have been going better for Foore — until he received an unexpected call from company officials. He was one of five young wrestlers who were being released by WWE from its Florida territory, making him a free agent.
“To get that call one day after being told my tag team partner and I were being pushed toward making our debut on (The CW’s) Saturday Morning Slam, it shocked me,” Foore said. “They didn’t give me a reason for it or tell me anything — and they still haven’t.
They just wished me good luck with my future endeavors.”
Foore and tag team partner Drew Donaldson, a New England bodybuilder, both were among the cuts. As per WWE policy, no public reason was stated for the move, beyond its standard “future endeavors” statement.
Current WWE megastars Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson) and Ryback (Ryan Reeves) suffered the same fate early in their careers, along with a number of other roster members, so it is hardly the end of Foore’s professional wrestling dreams.
In fact, the muscular 6-foot, 230-pounder says he plans on using it as an opportunity to perfect his skills.
“There are a couple of promotions that I plan on pursuing, including AAA in Mexico and others in Japan and Canada,” said Foore, who was initially trained in Calgary by Bruce and Smith Hart of the legendary wrestling family.
“The Hart Family is helping me out now, trying to set up some opportunities, which I really appreciate. I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and regret not giving it my all to become the best wrestler I can be.”
Fortunately for Foore, fans and promotions in overseas markets have already seen what he can do in the ring as a result of his two appearances on NXT.
The developmental TV show airs around the world as part of WWE’s extensive programming package, but is only available via subscription in the United States on Hulu Plus (in order to preserve the “newness” of wrestlers for their debuts on Monday Night Raw, Friday Night Smackdown, Main Event or Saturday Morning Slam).
“Making my TV debut was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been,” said Foore, who wrestled Langston at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla. “I felt a lot more comfortable in my second match and really enjoyed myself, even though Big E got the best of me in the end.”
Foore’s second on-camera appearance came in an angle with WWE diva Vickie Guerrero, showing just how high the company was on his potential. He attempted to claim a bounty put up by Guerrero to take out Langston, but was unsuccessful.
“I loved every minute of it,” Foore said. “Training in the ring all week and taking acting classes every Wednesday with (Hall of Famer) Dusty Rhodes was an incredible experience.”
Foore, who was recruited by WWE executive Gerald Brisco, also said he enjoyed creating the character of Baxter. Though he majored in political science at Notre Dame College, the 2010 NAIA national champion and 2011 national runner-up quickly learned he had a knack for the performing side of the business.
“I came up with the (pink and black wrestling) gear and the character, but the hair bleaching, that was straight from WWE,” he said, laughing. “A little bit of Chad was the real me, but I built on that to come up with who he is and who he wants to be.”
Foore’s look has often been compared to a young Kurt Angle by the business’ most influential publication, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which can only help him going forward.
So can his incredible physique, which Foore insists is still a work in progress.
“My main goal has always been to get up to 250 pounds with less than 9 percent body fat,” he said flatly. “I’m happy with where I am now, but I know I can get even stronger.”
In the meantime, Foore said he plans on remaining in Tampa, where most wrestlers train and live year-round, until he finalizes his next wrestling stop.
“I still bleed blue and yellow (for Notre Dame) and red and black (for Wadsworth), and I talk to people from both places every day,” he said. “No matter what happens, I will be back because I am going to complete the 18 credits I need for my degree (in criminal justice).”
First, Foore intends to prove WWE made a mistake by letting him go just one year into his contract.
“This is not the end of D-4,” he said. “I want everyone to know that the best is yet to come. Just keep watching.”
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.