When WWE is in South Florida or Tampa, it elicits fond memories for WWE Superstar Big E of the SmackDown tag team champion The New Day.
This weekend, it’s the best of both worlds for him as the SmackDown brand visits Tampa on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Miami on Sunday, Aug. 13.
Big E, 31, was born and raised in Tampa, living in Carrollwood and New Tampa. He accomplished quite a bit in Tampa as well as South Florida, so to speak.
He first excelled on the wrestling mat for Tampa Preparatory School, winning a state title as a junior at 215 pounds in Class A of the 2003 FHSAA State Wrestling Tournament. He reached state by winning districts and regionals. Then, he went 4-0 at state, edging David Spanich of team state champ Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale) 4-3 in the finals.
Big E spoke very respectfully of his South Florida opponent.
Spanich was a two-time state finalist in high school wrestling, and he competed collegiately in football at NCAA Division I Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y.
Cardinal Gibbons High School wrestling coach Frank Pettineo, a Broward County Sports Hall of Famer, remembered that state finals match between his wrestler Spanich and Big E.
Spanich, a talented 6-foot-4 football player and wrestler, had to cut weight to make the post-season run. He was cruising through the district, regional and state competition, leading into the state finals against the smaller 5-10 Big E.
“[Big E] was a very smart, intelligent wrestler who outmanuevered somebody who was bigger,” Pettineo recalled. “[Big E] stood up to him. He escaped quickly and kept it on his feet.”
Big E went 45-2 that season. One of his two losses was to Rashard Goff of national powerhouse Brandon High School in Hillsborough County, Florida. Goff, 31, who also won state in 2003 at 215 pounds but in Class 2A, is an FCW alum. WWE signed Goff to a developmental deal in 2009, after he wrestled for Cleveland State University. He remained with FCW through 2010 as Dino Carter and Rashard Goff.
Dino Carter (Rashard Goff) at 3:30 of this video
After winning a state title in wrestling, Big E transferred his senior year to Tampa’s Wharton High School where he played his only season of high school football. He excelled on offense and on defense and in the weight room, earning several accolades.
Most high-profile NCAA Division I programs recruit talent their junior year. Big E didn’t play football his junior season or prior. Amazingly, he caught the eye of a prominent Hawkeye, and NCAA Division I University of Iowa offered him a scholarship. He took it. Injuries stymied his college football career, but he did obtain a college degree in Health & Sports Studies, before embarking on a pro wrestling journey.
That’s when powerlifting entered the picture, too. His primary focus centered on FCW, the then developmental wing of WWE in Tampa, but through standout strength coach Rob MacIntyre, Big E tested his mettle in powerlifting. For the record, the connection is MacIntrye is best friends with WWE Superstar and Tampa resident John Cena.
Now, instead of competing against someone from South Florida, Big E traveled to South Florida in 2010 for the United States Open Powerlifting Championships at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, near Fort Lauderdale. What a performance for Big E in just his first foray. He became the top heavyweight lifter, breaking all four Florida state raw powerlifting records in the 275-pound class and besting raw national records in the deadlift and total. His lifts included a 611-pound squat, a 490-pound bench press and a 749-pound deadlift for a 1,850 pound raw total.
Because it didn’t offer his type of lifting, the Olympics was not an option. He did consider competing internationally, but business started to pick up in FCW and then NXT, leading to a main roster call.
Big E is strong physically, but he is also a nice, down to earth, humble man who is not big on talking smack away from the ring.
As a youngster, he and his father watched pro wrestling on television every week. Bonding through wrestling, they enjoyed it.
The characters he witnessed on TV were quite different than he. An introvert, he gradually came out of his shell in a big way while working with the agents, coaches, trainers and talent in FCW, NXT and WWE.
Alongside friends and fellow WWE superstars Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, Big E truly blossomed as a personality in the entertaining ensemble The New Day. Watching the big man gyrate and wiggle and deliver those facials...humor is now part of his game.
You’ll see that at the Amalie Arena on Saturday, Aug. 12 in Tampa and the AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday, Aug. 13 in Miami.
Audio Interview with Big E
Big E discussed winning a state title in high school wrestling while at Tampa Prep and playing just one season of high school football (in his senior year at Wharton High School) and still getting signed to an NCAA Division I football scholarship. He also talked about obtaining his college degree, powerlifting, signing with WWE, comps for the hometown crowd and more.
About Big E via WWE.com
The word “Big” almost feels like an understatement when talking about Big E, but how else do you describe a 290-pound tank of a man who can deadlift a Fiat? “Superhuman” comes to mind, as does “Herculean.” “Big,” though, leaves no question about the type of carnage this beast will bring to WWE.
How did Big E become one of the most physically intimidating men on the planet? Leaving an ocean of sweat in the weight room helped, but the sobering fact is that some people are just born special. He was always the strongest kid in class — an advantage he used to win state championships in high school wrestling and punish quarterbacks on the defensive line for the University of Iowa.
By the time he was 24, Big E was already shattering state and national powerlifting records as he threw around numbers not witnessed since the days when Mark Henry was active in the sport — 806-pound deadlifts; 575 pounds on the bench. Had squats been a national pastime, there’s a chance the WWE Universe would never have witnessed the phenomenon that is Big E.
- WWE in Miami
WWE is returning to South Florida with a WWE house show (no TV) as part of its SummerSlam Heatwave Tour, featuring SmackDown superstars on Sunday, Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the three-time NBA champion Miami Heat.
See WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, United States Champion AJ Styles, SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi, SmackDown Tag Team Champs The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Big E), Mr. Money in the Bank Baron Corbin, Charlotte Flair, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Natalya, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Usos, Dolph Ziggler, Becky Lynch, Sami Zayn, The Ascension (Viktor and South Florida’s Konnor), Carmella and more. Talent subject to change.
Special VIP Packages available.
NOTE: Now until 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, there will be a special ticket price for WWE Fans.
Use the code "WWEHEAT" to access the special ticket price. Click here to find tickets.
- WWE in Tampa
WWE will also be in Tampa on Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Amalie Arena.
Bell time is 7:30 p.m.
Ticke info ClickHere
- WWE SummerSlam
A week after the SmackDown house show in Miami, WWE invades Barclays Center in Brooklyn for SummerSlam, one of the company’s biggest shows of the year, on Sunday, Aug. 20 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view.
Special start time 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.
- About WWE
WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience.
WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 25 languages.
WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 180 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo.
Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com.
For information on its global activities, go to
- Pro Wrestling On The Web
YouTube jim varsallone (jimmyv3 channel)
My Top 15 Bigs
15. The Big Dipper
14. Big Bad John
13. Big Boy
12. Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G.)
11. Big Time
10. The Big Unit
9. Big D
8. Deuce Bigalow
7. Bam Bam Bigelow
6. Big Ben
5. Big John Studd
4. The Big Apple
3. The Big Show
2. Big (starring Tom Hanks)
1. Big E (of course)