For a decade, Caylen Croft earned his paycheck per body slam. Now, it's per brush stroke.
The former WWE star’s name is really Kris Pavone. He's traded in his office of sold-out arenas for one in schools.
"I'm an elementary school art teacher," Pavone said Wednesday.
That's right: a professional wrestler-turned-teacher. Pavone says he's not looking back.
"I got to live out a dream with WWE, but I feel almost more important was being done with it, and being okay with being done with it," he said.
While his Seminole Heights Elementary students don't weigh in like the guys in the ring, Pavone says his pint-sized crew is just as inspiring.
"I remember well what it was like to be a kid, and I hope I never lose that. I just love interacting with them," Pavone smiled.
That passion is now the driving force behind his latest challenge: writing a book.
"At first I thought it would be fun to illustrate one. And then as I thought about it more, I'd get these ideas in my head," Pavone said.
So, he put those thoughts to paper...writing and illustrating "No Beard,” a children's book based on a pirate's struggle for self-confidence.
The book is already been in print.
"His passion initially was wrestling,” said Seminole Heights Elementary Principal Dr. Jackie Masters. “He sought after that and was successful at it. His passion now is teaching and I think that's what took him into the whole framework of wanting to write a book.”
At just 34 years old, Pavone's got a lot to be proud of. He says the long hours and dedication come easy when you find joy in the job.
"When you really enjoy doing something, it doesn't really feel like hard work," he laughed.