WWE officially announced the signing of Donovan Dijak on Tuesday afternoon, who will be reporting to the Performance Center this month with an NXT debut likely soon to follow.
Dijak joins Bobby Fish, Kyle O'Reilly, Adam Cole and Lio Rush as the latest former Ring of Honor star to sign with WWE, and all of them belong there. I enjoyed each of their runs in ROH, but Dijak doesn't have the same name value that the other five do. If you weren't already familiar with him, you should be, because he could be a breakout star in NXT if his work on the independent scene was any indication.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you about every company he has worked for in his few years in the business (WWE's above article does a nice job of doing that), but I will tell you about my own experiences seeing him compete (and meeting him) that led to me believing that this is a major pick-up by WWE.
Since 2009, I have been attending independent shows ran by a company called Northeast Wrestling. While I haven't been able to attend all of their events in the area in recent years (they're running more and more shows each year and it's great to see), the name Dijak often appeared on the cards I briefly looked at, and it wasn't long before I saw him for the first time on ROH TV when I got back into product again in the summer of 2015.
At that time, he was a member of The House of Truth and mostly served as a lackey for Jay Lethal and Truth Martini, though he had won that year's Top Prospect Tournament. He immediately stood out to me not only because of his massive size but also because he was a hell of an athlete and was capable of more in the ring than you would think. He only improved in time and became one of my favorites to watch in the promotion.
By 2016, I didn't feel as though they were utilizing him to his full potential considering he wasn't involved in many meaningful programs. He did had a stellar showing against Lethal during his reign as ROH World Champion, as well as a hell of a match with Bobby Fish for the ROH World Television Championship in his hometown of Lowell, MA at All Star Extravaganza (I still say he should have won that), but for the most part, he was an afterthought on the roster.
Thus, it was for the better when he decided to part ways with the company when his contract came due earlier this year. Prior to that point, though, I had the chance to meet him in person for the first time at a Chaotic Wrestling show in April 2016. I was doing a school project on wrestling injuries and he was nice enough to stick around after the event ended for a few minutes to chat with me about injuries he's had, working as a male nurse when he wasn't wrestling, and so much more. The full interview is available up above if you want to check it out.
I was stunned when he said that he had only been in the business for a handful of years, making it apparent to me that he had his whole career ahead of him. Sure enough, I was wrong, and I had a feeling WWE would snatch him up as soon as he was a free agent. I mean, how could they not? It's well-documented Vince McMahon loves big guys, not to mention he can go in the ring and can also cut a decent promo. He was basically tailor-made for NXT.
I asked him what his status was with NXT when I saw him an indie event back in June. Perhaps he was genuine (it sure seemed like he was) when he said that there wasn't much of an update and that WWE had yet to reach out to him, but I knew it was only inevitable before he wound up there, especially once Cole, O'Reilly, Fish and Rush signed soon after. As of earlier this week, Dijak is now a member of the NXT roster and I couldn't be happier.
With the trio of Cole, O'Reilly and Fish currently "invading" NXT, it would be cool if they were joined by Dijak at some point to serve as their heavy. In addition to an awesome-looking finisher, which is essentially a reverse GTS, he has a number of other impressive moves in his arsenal that will allow him to quickly stand out in NXT. He has all the tools necessary to be successful on the black-and-yellow brand (and hopefully beyond), so prepare to feast your eyes on Donovan Dijak soon enough.