Daniel Vidot encourages rugby league players to become WWE superstars after Smackdown debut

Daniel Vidot believes rugby league players could take professional wrestling by storm after making his WWE Smackdown debut last month.

The former Salford winger swapped the rugby field for the squared circle under two years ago and found himself taking on former World Champion Sheamus on the hit show, which attracts over two million viewers every week.

His rise up the wrestling ranks has been remarkable, with many spending their whole life clawing for a shot at the big time.

The 30-year-old moved to Orlando in 2018 to pursue his dream, which he had already set his sights on by the time he joined the Red Devils in 2017.

He is one of two former Super League stars working for the entertainment giants, with another former Salford player, Luke Menzies, also with the company performing on their UK NXT brand.

WWE opened a performance centre in the UK last year, making the opportunity more realistic than ever for athletes in this country who dream of becoming the next big thing.

And Vidot believes rugby league players have the qualities required to make it big in the ring.

“I think it’s an awesome transition,” he told Total Rugby League.

“Rugby league is one of the strongest sports in the world, I am telling you right now. I just feel like we are so coachable, we are coachable talent, we can do things on the fly which is a very handy talent to have in the professional wrestling world.

“Hopefully I’m the first of many. With no disrespect to rugby league; it has done so much for me, but it sometimes can’t be the only thing in your life. If one of the boys is tempted to have a crack at this, definitely hit me up.”

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic putting many industries into lockdown, WWE have managed to keep the cameras rolling by using their base in Orlando as their own place to continue taping.

However, it meant Vidot’s debut was in front of an empty arena, rather than in front of several thousand.

“It’s really cool that the WWE as a business has continued to entertain people stuck at home during these hard times.

“The message we’re trying to portray there is we’ll try to entertain people and do what we do week in, week out. Certain things are very different with the situation at hand but it played out well.

“Just having the camera crew is very personalised. Having team-mates alongside you to share that load compared to just being one on one, it’s pretty astonishing.”

Vidot’s debut ended in defeat to the Celtic Warrior, who has defeated the likes of Triple H, Chris Jericho and John Cena throughout his career.

However, he hopes the experience will help him grow as a performer, and compete for Championships in the future.

“To be in the ring with the Celtic Warrior was an awesome experience and I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.

“I love doing what I do, I’ve always been an entertainer in my rugby career and to bring this side of me into this world now in WWE, it’s crazy. I’m loving every single second of this journey and to do it with a legend in front of millions is a dream come true.

“It’s a pinch in the face type of feeling. These things I’m accomplishing were dreams only a few years ago. I got the opportunity to wrestle at Wrestlemania in the Axxess matches. I’ve done about 60 live matches now, to be on Smackdown Live was also awesome, now to be on TV on FOX was another step.

“To be honest I’m getting hungrier every time I get on stage. I’m loving what the WWE is all about and every challenge that has come my way. What’s surprised me has been that transition from rugby league into the ring. It’s not as rough as I thought, it was quite smooth. All the athleticism from rugby definitely helps to become a pro wrestler.

“Family is number one to me, and leaving them on the other side of the world was crazy. I guess you could say I had a bit of practice moving to England. But it’s hard; sometimes when you’re chasing dreams it’s not going to be in the backyard. It’s also a very strong thing I use as a fuel that inspires me to go each day.

“I’ve some time on my side. My goal is to get up that ladder as fast as I can. I’m actually using this whole pandemic to get my head down and get all my training right, learn, watch matches and whatnot. My goal is to get more time on TV and learn everything about the whole craft. Hopefully, one day, I’m holding that Championship belt.”