Professional wrestling as we know it today has been entertaining people for more than half a century, and despite the fact that millions of people all around the world truly enjoy it, there are many who view it as a stupid waste of time. The main issue for those critics is the fact that wrestling is not "real," which is, whether we like it or not, a valid point considering the outcomes are all predetermined, and the wrestlers do not actually punch each other in the head, but the product is far from fake. Whether they acknowledge it or not, wrestlers are real athletes, and only a small handful of people are capable of performing in a ring at a level high enough to make a real living.
The WWE is the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, which by default means that it is home to most of the best wrestlers in the world, but like sports franchises, the company is always looking for new talent to replace aging and unpopular athletes. Sure, the WWE can go out and sign wrestlers from other promotions, but they like to develop their own talent, which is why the company opened what is known as the Performance Center down in Florida in 2013, to properly train the next generation of wrestlers. All WWE fans know that NXT wrestlers are trained there, but they do not know everything there is to know about the building itself, and this list will identify 15 things that the fans may have not known about the Performance Center.
17 15. It has Green Screen Rooms To Help Develop Personas
In order to become a truly successful WWE superstar, a person needs two things: they need to be a good performer in the ring with a decent move set, and they need to have a good enough gimmick and/or persona. Some wrestlers have become successful despite being fairly boring in the ring, and the reason for that is because their gimmick/persona saved them, which is why the WWE invested in building specific rooms in the Performance Center to help people work on their personas. The Center has several green screen rooms equipped with cameras showing multiple angles, where trainees work on their promos, and they can stop the cameras at any time to study the footage in order to either improve or alter their performance in some way. There are also special "mirror" rooms in the Center, where the trainees can speak directly into a recording mirror that simulates speaking in front of a live crowd. This allows them to make quick changes to their delivery if needed.
16 14. The Ring Bell From The 1st WrestleMania Hangs On The Wall
The WWE and the entire professional wrestling industry as a whole, is steeped in history and tradition, and in the WWE's case, the company has always done a great job of paying homage to its past. Ever since 1985, WrestleMania has been the biggest event produced by the WWE, as it is basically wrestling's equivalent of the Super Bowl, and like the NFL's grandest stage, WrestleMania is known for providing some of the best moments in history. Considering that WrestleMania has been around for over 30 years, the event has produced quite a few pieces of memorabilia, none more valuable than the ring bell used at the inaugural event, which currently hangs above the door of the Performance Center's locker room. The location of the bell is significant, because it is generally the last thing the trainees see before they go to train, and its goal is to provide the trainees with inspiration, to drive them to become talent worthy of appearing in WrestleMania.
15 13. The Coaching Staff Has A LOT Of Experience
Whether it is phenomenal athletes like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams, or athletes who find themselves at the bottom of their respective sports, each and every one of them had to work with a coach or trainer throughout their career. When it comes to wrestling, people need to learn how to stay fit, and how to properly execute and take moves, which is why the WWE has made sure that the Performance Center has the best coaching staff available. The staff is led by Matt Bloom, otherwise known as Albert or Tensai, and is comprised of technical wrestling specialists like Terry Taylor, Norman Smiley, and Robbie Brookside. They also have some Hall of Fame trainers like Shawn Michaels. All together, the coaching staff has more than 160 years of wrestling experience, which means that future superstars are in some pretty good hands.
14 12. High-Flyers Have Their Own Specialized Rings
In wrestling, a high-flyer is a wrestler who is known for performing somewhat complicated aerial maneuvers in the ring, and when executed properly, such moves generate good reactions from the crowd. These high-flyers have to train very hard in order to perfect such moves, in order to minimize major injuries, and in order to help those types of wrestlers train, the WWE built a specialized ring in the Performance Center which is designed to allow high-flyers to practice moves without getting hurt. This ring is different from standard rings, as it has an extra absorbent landing cushion underneath that allows trainees to perform high-risk moves with much lower risk; and it happens to literally be one of a kind. By now, we all know who Kofi Kingston and Neville are. Both are high-flying experts, and both have raved about how great this specialized ring is.
13 11. There Are A Lot Of Trainees
Although professional wrestling is considered by detractors to be entirely "fake", very few people have what it takes to actually become a wrestler, which is something that every single trainee at the Performance Center can agree on. Ironically, even though very few people go on to become wrestlers, the Performance Center is almost constantly filled with dozens of trainees every single day, as the Center usually trains groups consisting of roughly 65-70 people at once. Those numbers might seem a bit high, but they genuinely drop fairly quickly, because people cannot deal with the strain placed on their bodies, because every single day the trainees have to spend hours either exercising, lifting weights, and/or running various drills over and over again until they are utterly exhausted. In short, such vigorous activities are not for everybody.
12 10. Not Everyone There Gets Paid
Seeing as the Performance Center is there to train future WWE superstars, it means that everyone who appears on NXT trains there, and since they are on TV, it means that they have been signed to some kind of contract with the WWE. This, of course, means that they get paid, usually between $2,000 and $10,000 a week, but seeing as not every trainee at the Center is signed to a contract, it means that not everyone training there is getting paid by the company. In truth, many of the trainees at the Center are paying out of there own pockets to train at the facility, and will not get paid until the WWE deems them good enough to offer them a deal, which is why those trainees have to usually find a part-time job in order to support themselves, and to fund their dream of becoming a Superstar.
11 9. There Are iPads Everywhere
We now live in a world filled with technology, to the point that almost all of us now have a mini computer in the palm of our hand, and the biggest provider of new, high-end technology is Apple. Aside from the iPhone, one of Apple's biggest products is the iPad, a tablet which is essentially a huge smartphone that cannot make phone calls, and as it turns out, the walls of the Performance Center are filled with iPads for the trainees to better themselves with. With everything in the facility being recorded (more on that later), the purpose of the iPads is for the trainees to review their work, whether it be their move sets, conditioning, one on one coach time, or their promos, which allows them to better evaluate themselves with the coaches. This in turn allows them to better improve their skills.
10 8. There Have Been Controversial Firings
Earlier on this list, it was mentioned that the Performance Center is home to a very experienced training staff, but like all workplace environments, some of those coaches had to be let go for various reasons. At one point, former wrestlers like Bill DeMott and Billy Gunn were coaches at the Center, but both have since been fired, with Gunn's termination coming as a result of him testing positive for steroids at a power lifting event, which made him a bad example for all the trainees. In DeMott's case, WWE had very little choice in the matter, as he was accused of making trainees perform dangerous drills. But what really got him fired were the allegations which stated that he used derogatory language with the trainees, which sometimes included racial and homophobic slurs.
9 7. All Kinds Of Athletes Train There
For a long time, the WWE, as well as other promotions, have turned athletes from other sports into wrestlers, with some of those individuals becoming incredibly popular and successful, which is why it is not all that surprising that the Performance Center also trains other athletes too. The Center has helped to train several former Olympians, football players, models, bodybuilders, professional cheerleaders, and former MMA fighters, and the main reason for this is because the WWE believes that those types of athletes have a lot of potential to become elite level talent. Not all of these individuals make it to the main roster, but some do, like the members of American Alpha, who were amateur wrestlers, Baron Corbin, who played in the NFL, and Alexa Bliss, who was a cheerleader and bodybuilder. This goes to show that the coaching staff can turn anyone into a wrestler if those individuals work hard enough.
8 6. It Produces More Than Wrestling Talent
To non-wrestling fans, professional wrestling may seem to focus primarily on the wrestlers, which it does, but they are not the only individuals who appear onscreen and in front of crowds who need to be properly trained to adequately do their job. The Performance Center does indeed focus mainly on training actual wrestlers, but it also trains individuals to perform the far less physically demanding jobs, such as commentators, backstage interviewers, and ring announcers, which for the most part works out well, but we still get terrible things like David Otunga on commentary. The Center also trains upcoming referees, because it actually takes a lot of training to properly time and emote everything that a referee does in the ring, plus they need to know how to properly take a hit whenever the situation calls for it.
7 5. It Has A Huge Space For Strength & Conditioning
The basics of the wrestling industry have for the most part stayed the same, but when it comes to the WWE, the company has had to drastically change its view on superstar appearances in order to produce a better product. Before, the WWE was focused more on producing wrestlers who looked like bodybuilders, but now the company has focused more on improving the structural strength of its next Superstars, which is why they built a massive strength and conditioning space filled with state of the art equipment. The space measures about 5,500 square feet, and allows all of the trainees to perform a variety of different wrestling styles at once. That is something that Triple H believes to be of the utmost importance, as a well-conditioned wrestler will perform much better in the ring.
6 4. The Center Has Premier Medical Facilities
If you play in any of the four major North American sports leagues, then you definitely have access to your team's training facility. For a while now, it has been mandatory for these types of facilities to have spaces dedicated to medical care. These spaces are meant to help prevent injuries and to help rehabilitate athletes, and WWE's Performance Center has its own world-class medical facilities with a renowned medical staff who are constantly on hand. The trainees and NXT performers have access to onsite physical therapy, as well as spinal decompression and traction tables, and they also have access to a "pre-hab" room equipped with a paraffin wax hand therapy machine, Whirlpool machines, and ultrasound machines, which are all meant to help treat injuries before they even happen. Trainees are also provided with the anti-fungal disinfectant sports spray, Clear Gear, which helps to keep them free of infections.
4 3. There Are Live Cameras Sending Feedback To WWE Headquarters
Any fan of the WWE knows full well how hands-on Vince McMahon is when it comes to the wrestlers he signs and puts on the main roster, and although his decisions have been questionable over the last few years, he still makes good decisions. Considering that the Performance Center is where most of the WWE's future superstars train, it only makes sense that Vince and other company executives want constant progress updates on the trainees, which is why the Center is equipped with cameras that send live feeds to WWE headquarters in Connecticut. Everyone in the facility knows about these cameras, and that Vince and the other higher ups monitor everyone's performances, including that of the coaches and trainers, and it is because of these cameras that everyone behaves professionally, and chooses to work, train, and learn as hard as they can to satisfy and impress the boss.
3 2. The Women Train With Female Coaches
For about a decade, the WWE's Women's Division was filled with former models who had absolutely no wrestling background, and who were only on the main roster because of how attractive they were. Thankfully, the company decided to change things up, and brought in women who actually wanted to be wrestlers, and based on how good Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Alexa Bliss, and Bayley have become, it means that the Performance Center is doing a spectacular job of developing female wrestlers. The success of the main roster and NXT Women's Divisions is mainly due to Sara Amato and Sarah Stock, women who never appeared on WWE's main roster, but who have tons of experience on the independent circuit. As it turns out, not only are Amato and Stock the most important female coaches at the Center, but they were also the first female wrestling coaches that the WWE has hired in its history.
1 1. There Was A Shooting There In 2015
Whether you are for gun control or completely against it, we can all agree that the United States suffers from a lot of gun related violence, and in 2015, the WWE had to deal with a shooting incident of their own at the Performance Center. In August of that year, a man named Armando Montalvo trespassed on the Center's property in search of a female trainee with whom he had developed an unhealthy obsession with, and he did so while carrying a loaded gun. When officials at the Center realized what was going on, they immediately called the police, who arrived at the scene and exchanged brief gunfire with the stalker, who was luckily arrested without any casualties. WWE tried to not make a big deal about the incident, but it made news anyway, and Montalvo was eventually convicted of trespassing, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault.
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