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Utah State Basketball Starters Transform Into Professional Wrestlers

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. The food is great. My family is great, extended and immediate- and pumpkin pie ranks right up there with indoor plumbing and The Simpsons as man’s greatest achievements.

However, the most underrated part of this time of year? It’s Survivor Series season.

Professional wrestling is one of my vices. I bought it hook, line, and sinker from the age of 4. I’ve crafted my own finishing moves and in-ring personas through every stage of my life and spent more than I’m willing to admit on pay-per-views over the years.

Outside of Wrestlemania, Survivor Series is my absolute favorite. Random wrestlers put together teams of four to go head-to-head with another team, eliminating each wrestler through pinfall or submission, until every member of one team is gone.

So, you can imagine that when Utah State head coach Craig Smith compared Justin Bean to The Ultimate Warrior following Aggies’ win over Weber State, I was elated. I nearly squealed with delight in the most nonprofessional way imaginable.

It also got my mind racing.

Who is the wrestling comparison for each of the Utah State starters?

With the help of the supremely talented KSL sports producer Hema Heimuli, let’s take a look.

Sam Merrill- Bret the Hitman Hart

He is the excellence of execution. Not one person exemplifies the self-proclaimed “best technical wrestler” like Merrill. They’re both extremely skilled, students of their sports, and dominant type A personalities. If they catch you in the slightest misstep, they will exploit it immediately with a quick drive to the hoop or elbow from the second turnbuckle.

Photo: Hema Heimuli

It’s also no coincidence that Bret Hart’s finisher is called the ‘’Sharpshooter’’ and Merrill is arguably the sharpest shooter on the team, a career 45 percent 3 point percentage and a ridiculous 51.5 through seven games this season.

When it’s all said and done, Merrill might be the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be at Utah State.

Abel Porter- The 1-2-3 Kid

You might know him better as X-Pac but when he first entered the ring, he was the 1-2-3 Kid. The scrappy underdog always trying to prove himself and always getting better. Abel Porter is a classic underdog story going from walk-on to scholarship athlete and solidifying himself as the point guard of this Aggie team.

Photo: Hema Heimuli

Both with iconic moments; Porter’s game-winner vs New Mexico and The Kid’s upset of Razor Ramon on Monday Night Raw; both moments causing me to scream so loud, people near me were convinced I was possessed by some sort of demon.

Brock Miller-The Undertaker

Miller is the ultimate hot/cold shooter, just when you think his game dead because it’s been 12 minutes since he hit a 3, he’ll rise from the grave and bury Aggie opponents with 9 straight points or a game-clinching shot.

Photo: Hema Heimuli

Neemias Queta-The Rock

A few different directions I could have gone with this. Ric Flair because nobody does what Queta does with the style he does it. Hulk Hogan because he is the fan-favorite. Ultimately I picked The Rock because of the sheer talent and charisma Queta embodies much like Dwayne Johnson.

Photo: Hema Heimuli

He owns the court whenever he is out there and it’s almost always obvious he’s the most talented athlete out there. So if Queta ever asks you, “do you like pie?” Don’t answer. He’s setting you up.

Justin Bean- The Ultimate Warrior

I agree with Craig Smith, Bean is the Ultimate Warrior. The energy, the passion, the sheer unpredictability of what is going to happen when he goes up with the ball. Also, much like the Warrior, as entertaining as it gets.

Photo: Hema Heimuli

Side note: Warrior was my favorite as a kid and nearly squealed with joy when Smith said this in the postgame press conference.