A former University of Iowa wrestler signs a deal with WWE? Two of our favorite passions colliding in one story? You'd better believe that your friends at BHGP are all over that story, folks. Of course, the Iowa wrestler in question is probably not one that most folks remember -- heavyweight Terrance Jean-Jacques.
If you're scratching your head, don't fret -- Jean-Jacques' time at Iowa was brief. Jean-Jacques, a two-time state champion in Pennsylvania (who went 62-0 (!) in 2011), originally signed to attend Rutgers, but found it to be a bad fit and transferred to Iowa. As a redshirt freshman, Jean-Jacques went 22-6 at Iowa in 2013-14. There was another notable heavyweight on Iowa's roster at the time (Bobby Telford), so Jean-Jacques was primarily a back-up and saw action mostly at open tournaments. His best finish was a first-place finish at the Pat "Flash" Flanagan Open; he also finished second at the DuHawk Open, third at the William Penn and Jim Fox Opens, and fourth at the Luther Open. He did see a bit of real action in the Iowa lineup, though, and was able to wrestle in front of the fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. An early season injury sidelined Telford for a few weeks and Jean-Jacques took his place in the starting lineup, going 3-1 in four dual meets. He won three matches at the Iowa City Duals, but fell 6-4 in sudden victory against Iowa State heavyweight Quean Smith in his final match in the lineup.
Alas, that single season was the extent of Jean-Jacques' time in Iowa City. Opportunities at Iowa were always going to be limited with Telford (a future three-time All-American) entrenched, but there were reasons beyond a lack of mat opportunities that led to Jean-Jacques' decision to transfer to Rhode Island, according to an article from The Eagle-Tribune:
"It was a late decision and a hard one," said Jean-Jacques."There were some issues at home, I was rehabbing a broken vertabrae in my back and, financially, it was becoming too tough (at Iowa).
Jean-Jacques thrived at Rhode Island, a Division III school, going 34-2 and finishing as runner-up at the DIII NCAA Championships. His excellent efforts saw him named Co-Wrestler of the Year by the New England Wrestling Association.
He wasn't on the Rhode Island roster this year, though, and I was unable to discover where he went or what he did this past season. But I know where he is now: training to become a professional wrestler at the WWE Performance Center as one of WWE's 10 new signees. Jean-Jacques was only briefly at Iowa, but he did commemorate his time in Iowa City with some nice ink:
Photo credit: Geoffery Riccio
Jean-Jacques isn't the only professional wrestler with WWE that has some University of Iowa ties. Former Iowa football player Ettore Ewen, more known for his incredible weight room exploits (there's a reason he went into powerlifting after college) than his play on the football field (injuries kept him off the field for much of his time at Iowa), now goes by Big E and is a fixture in WWE as a member of The New Day, the current WWE World Tag Team Champions and one of the most entertaining acts in the entire company:
Perhaps Big E and Jean-Jacques will share the ring some day and bring even more GO IOWA AWESOME flavor to the WWE. In the meantime, congratulations to Jean-Jacques and best of luck in his new endeavor.