If you’re trying to pitch professional wrestling to an outsider or casual viewer, show them a few minutes — or even just a few seconds — of a Ricochet match. In those brief moments, you are almost guaranteed to see some kind of jaw-dropping feat of athleticism that encapsulates the essence of the medium.
It’s why Ricochet is billed as “The One and Only.”
Before he became a high-flying, show-stealing professional wrestler, Trevor Mann was just another kid playing on a trampoline in his yard.
The same way children across the world envisioned themselves hitting a walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series or hitting the exact same shot Kawhi Leonard did this past week, Mann pictured a future for himself in a wrestling ring.
“I remember being maybe 5 or 6 and attempting to do things on the trampoline,” Mann told Yahoo Sports. “My brother would double bounce me on the trampoline to help me flip and teach me. I remember starting really young in my front yard trying to do the most crooked handspring in the world and slowly it got straighter and straighter and that’s all I did when I was younger.
“We all say and joke ‘I’m going to be WWE champion,’ but I personally didn’t really think it would happen.”
The truth of the matter is that Mann, 30, started wrestling at a time where your prototypical WWE star looked nothing like he did — then or now. While the muscle-bound behemoths of the 1980s and 90s weren’t entirely obsolete, size was still a major selling point for would-be stars.
“For me WWE was not always the goal,” Mann said. “I’ve always been a fan of it, but when I started I was 14, my first match was when I was 15, I was just a skinny kid back in 2003, 2004 … I never thought I was going to be in WWE. I was just doing it because it was fun and something that I liked to do. It wasn’t until later that I really realized that it was a possibility because everything started changing and then they changed even more and it was actually within grasp.”
With WWE seeming like a far-off dream, Mann took to wrestling on the independent circuit. It wasn’t until 2018 that he would eventually sign with NXT as a fully complete character, Ricochet.
“I watched guys like Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and The Rock obviously, those were my favorites. I didn’t use them as influences until later on when I got much more in depth in my craft and my profession. I was opened up to the world of independent wrestling and I saw guys like A.J. Styles, Matt Sydal, and Jack Evans and all of these different guys who were amazing and I tried to take bits and pieces and incorporate it within my character. In a way it helped me before I got here because it honed my actual in-ring abilities and allowed me to perfect my ways.”
In his first year with NXT, Ricochet captivated audiences and his fellow superstars alike. Moments like his double moonsault off of a steel cage endeared him to anyone who watched, and impressed WWE brass so much that he was asked to perform on “Halftime Heat” during Super Bowl LIII.
Soon after he was appearing on “Monday Night Raw,” “Smackdown Live” and NXT at the same time.
“I personally didn’t think it was going to launch me into WWE,” Mann said. “I knew a lot of people were going to watch that night and it would be a big match but I didn’t think it would propel everyone to where they are now and catch on like it did.”
Since “Halftime Heat” and joining the main roster, both Mann and Ricochet have shared emotional rides. Ricochet and Aleister Black competed for tag team titles across all three WWE brands, including a gripping farewell match in front of a sold-out crowd at Barclays Center on WrestleMania weekend.
“As far as saying goodbye, I had thought about it a lot that day,” Mann said. “Once we got to the arena and everything started going, I was so in the zone that all of my thoughts were going into the match and wanting to give everything I’ve got for my last match and let it shine. I kind of forgot about it being my last match and potentially never being at a TakeOver again. It all just hit me with the fans standing up and all of the emotions hit me. Everyone was so cool, so welcoming, you form a real friendship with those guys.”
That bond with fans and his real friendships with the NXT locker room was on full display last month when Mann’s family was hit with tragedy. Mann’s childhood home burned down, displacing his mother, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s two children.
Mann launched a GoFundMe shortly after the fire, but it was a move he struggled with making.
“I actually debated whether or not to do the GoFundMe because I wondered if it was a good idea,” Mann said. “I was going to do everything I could to help my mom on my end but maybe it would help them transition. I thought about what people would think. I had talked to my girlfriend [Fellow WWE star] Kacy [Catanzaro] and she said since it was coming from a place in my heart and that I just wanted to help them and do the best for my family, that everyone would understand that.”
As of this writing, Mann’s GoFundMe raised more that $14,000 and his fellow NXT stars launched a charity campaign to help as well.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, but the money that we gained from the GoFundMe was crazy and awesome.”
Mann was officially assigned to the “Raw” brand during the latest iteration of the WWE “Superstar Shakeup,” and will compete in his first “Money in the Bank” ladder match this Sunday — a stage essentially built for Mann’s Ricochet character.
“My whole career I have tried to make all of these big moments happen,” Mann said. “I like it when the stakes are higher and higher every time.”
After spending more than half of his life perfecting his craft, Mann has traded in his front-yard trampoline for a WWE ring and tens of thousands of adoring fans, but it all still boils down to one simple factor.
“It’s something that I always enjoyed to do.”
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