'Can ya fight?' Superstars dish on their unique training styles

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January 30, 2014

Jack Swagger

WHAT’S YOUR TRAINING? Since the age of five I’ve been doing some form of wrestling, whether it’s been collegiate style, freestyle or Greco-Roman.

TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE: You’re training your body specifically for seven to 10 minutes of constant push-and-pull on the body, and so you’re always doing everything to push your body to the limits. Technique and cardio is the name of the game. A guy could be better than you, but if you have the cardio, can push him over the edge to where he’s tired and can’t lift his arms, then you can really break him down [with technique] and take advantage of his weaknesses.

The first time I saw a WWE ring in person was when I went out for my tryout. I was very surprised at how similar a lot of the basic techniques are, so even though I’d never wrestled before in the sports-entertainment world, I felt like I had a foothold above everyone because I had that wrestling technique and background since the age of five. That really helped me advance and learn it faster as far as arm drags, hip tosses, and getting right back up after being taken down.  I was able to pick that up very fast because of the technique.

BORN INTO GREATNESS: I was very fortunate to grow up in Perry, Okla., which is considered the wrestling capital of the world. Perry has the most state championships, most individual state champions across the nation anywhere, so the whole town just kind of eats, sleeps, breathes wrestling. It’s funny; I wasn’t a very successful wrestler until I got into high school. In junior high I was mediocre, but I had a very good high school coach. He was more than a coach, he was also a friend. He cared about us. You could trust him. That was really important, to have a coach you could believe in. When he told you you were slacking, you could believe him. And on top of that, he was my friend, so I didn’t  mind hanging out with him as much as we did, which was a lot.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF FLAIR: One of the moves I wouldn’t have without my training is the double-leg takedown, where I pick an opponent up on my shoulder and put him down on his side. In the amateur wrestling world that’s called a flair. I just call it a double-leg here; no one else knows how to do it. The toughest part is to figure out what you did in the amateur world, in the fighting world, and incorporate that into sports-entertainment and make it just as impactful. There’s a lot of stuff you can’t do from amateur wrestling. The double-leg was always my takedown in high school and college, but it took a couple of years to make it as powerful as it should be in WWE.

WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO FIGHT ALONGSIDE YOU? The one guy I’d want on my side is R-Truth.

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