10 things you didn’t know about the WWE Performance Center
When Triple H cut the ribbon on WWE’s Performance Center, it was clear that sports-entertainment was about to enter a brave new world. Just how brave and new this world would be didn’t become apparent to the WWE.com staff until we had an opportunity to actually experience the state-of-the-art complex firsthand.
From a ring designed specifically for practicing high-flying maneuvers to the surveillance cameras that hang above the facility’s seven rings, we stumbled upon 10 awesome bits of trivia that the WWE Universe needs to know about the WWE Performance Center, presented by Clear Gear.
The WWE Performance Center coaching staff has more than 160 years of experience
The Superstars of NXT have a daily opportunity to learn from one of the most knowledgeable coaching teams ever assembled.
Head Coach Matt Bloom — a former Intercontinental Champion — captains a diverse staff of mat veterans, including independent scene standouts like Adam Pearce, British grappling masters Norman Smiley and Robbie Brookside, and ring veteran Terry Taylor. Where current Superstars may have trained with one teacher at a wrestling school, the trainees at the WWE Performance Center are working with a think-tank of the best that sports-entertainment has to offer on a daily basis.
There’s a custom-built aerial ring for NXT’s highfliers to safely practice
The aerial ring, which was installed in the WWE Performance Center in the fall, gives rookies the opportunity to attempt high-risk maneuvers without fear of injury.
“It’s built with a crash pad about a foot in thickness that helps absorb impact as talent are learning to do more high-flying action,” said the complex’s General Manager, David Bailey, noting its similarities to the pads that can be found on an action movie set.
One of WWE’s resident daredevils, Kofi Kingston, tried out the aerial ring for the first time during WWE.com’s visit to the WWE Performance Center.
“I can’t lie: This is a highflier’s dream right here,” an exhilarated Kingston said after testing it out. “I did a Boom Drop off the top rope and I’m still here. I’m walking. If I did that in a regular ring, my tailbone probably would have shot up right through my head, and I definitely wouldn’t be doing this interview. This is just incredible!”
Sorry, WWE Universe, you won’t get a peek underneath the apron of the crash pad ring — its construction is top-secret!
Live cameras in the facility give real-time feedback to The Chairman and other executives at WWE HQ
If the athletes training in the WWE Performance Center sometimes get the feeling that they’re being watched, they’re probably right.
Of the many technological advancements at the state-of-the-art facility, the most unique may be the live cameras throughout the complex. These eyes in the sky give executives at WWE HQ in Stamford, Conn., the opportunity to remotely see what’s going on inside the seven rings of the 12,000-square-foot training room.
“Talent knows that at any point Mr. McMahon, Stephanie McMahon or Triple H can actually log into these cameras and see what’s going on in the facility around us,” Bailey revealed.
WWE NXT talents can record and review all of their work on the facility’s many iPads
The tablets that line the walls of the WWE Performance Center may give the facility the look of a futuristic spaceship, but they are there for practical use.
“Talent can log in and view what they’ve done throughout their careers here at NXT,” Bailey explained. “If there’s a coach working with them on specific move sets, they’re able to pull that up and get a coach’s feedback.”
Like the stars in a reality show, the Superstars and Divas of WWE NXT have their entire ring lives documented on these iPads.
“Whether it’s a year or four years apart, it’s all recorded and tracked,” Bailey said. “They can see everything from the moment they walked in.”
The ring bell from the inaugural WrestleMania hangs in the facility
There’s plenty of WWE memorabilia at the WWE Performance Center. From one of Trish Stratus’ signature cowboy hats to Jimmy Hart’s megaphone, sports-entertainment artifacts are displayed across the complex to inspire WWE’s stars of tomorrow. Perhaps the most impressive piece of WWE history, though, is the ring bell from the very first WrestleMania.
“The point of that is to resemble what football players would do at Notre Dame,” said Bailey, referring to the Fighting Irish tradition of slapping a “Play Like A Champion Today” sign in the locker room before taking the field.
“It gives them a little bit of a touch before going out and doing their practice,” he explained. “You’re not only touching a piece of history, you’re building your own within WWE.”
Talents develop their personas in special “mirror” and green screen rooms
The Superstars and Divas of WWE NXT aren’t only learning how to properly execute hammerlocks at the WWE Performance Center. They are also learning how to project their personas to the thousands of WWE fans seeing them live, and the millions watching from their living room couches.
Trainees have access to a “mirror” room, where they can rant into a camera and immediately play back the footage, as well as a green screen room, where they can get even more creative.
“They can start recording and stop recording, work on whatever they feel comfortable with, work on their persona, pushing it to different angles in different ways,” Bailey said.
WWE NXT talents train for strength and conditioning in a 5,500-square foot gym
Physical conditioning has always been an integral part of any WWE Superstar’s presentation, which is why Triple H saw to it that the WWE Performance Center came equipped with a 5,500-square-foot gym. Working closely with Strength and Conditioning Coach Matt Wichlinski, the athletes of WWE NXT follow a program created by The Game’s personal trainer, Joe DeFranco, which emphasizes functional strength. When the trainees show up at the gym, they show up to work.
“Don’t be average,” Wichlinski told WWE.com. “Nobody wants to be average. Be an exceptional person. Always be the guy that you want other people to look up to — that’s the main thing I’m trying to get these guys to understand.”
The WWE Performance Center has also hosted special guest fitness instructors, including Eve and Diamond Dallas Page, who have shared their own training techniques with WWE NXT’s Superstars and Divas.
The women train under two female coaches for the first time in developmental history
From NXT Women’s Champion Bayley to Billie Kay, there is a record number of women training at the WWE Performance Center. Now, for the first time ever, they have their own female trainers in Assistant Head Coach Sara Amato and Sarah Stock.
Although she never competed in WWE, Amato earned her reputation on the independent circuit, where she was often the sole female presence among gruff competitors like Cesaro and Seth Rollins. She is one of the few females in the world who can boast the same indie credibility as Superstars like Daniel Bryan, with stints in organizations like Ring of Honor and Chikara, just to name a few.
Stock paved a different path for herself, moving from Canada to Mexico to perfect the art of lucha libre. She spent more than a decade competing for CMLL, while traveling to do battle in Japan and the American independent scene. Stock even crossed paths with Amato in the squared circle on several occasions.
Though they were rivals at one point, they’re united today in ensuring that the future of the NXT Women’s Division stays bright.
A cutting edge physical therapy and “pre-hab” room helps prevent injuries before they happen
The WWE Performance Center’s world-class medical staff — led by Head Athletic Trainer Brian Duncan, Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer Tara Hallaby and other medical staff — is always available in case anything goes wrong in the ring. But there is a tremendous focus on preventing injuries before they actually happen.
The NXT Superstars and Divas have access to onsite medical care, training and physical therapy. In addition to spinal decompression and traction tables, there’s a “pre-hab” room with ultrasound machines, exercise balls, hot and cold whirlpools, and even a paraffin wax hand therapy machine. The gym is also equipped with Clear Gear to help keep tomorrow’s Superstars and Divas safe while they’re training.
“Clear Gear is an anti-fungal disinfectant sports spray. It’s what we use for a lot of our sandbags,” said Wichlinski. “They can train hard. You can’t stop them from sweating, but we can stop them from getting sick or getting infections.”
Former Olympians, NBA cheerleaders and NFL players all train at the WWE Performance Center
Sports-entertainment has always been populated by athletes from diverse backgrounds, but that is especially true of the WWE Performance Center.
At any given time, the facility’s seven rings are filled with former NFL players, Olympians, MMA fighters, bodybuilders, several IFBB models and an NFL and NBA cheerleader.
Can you guess their identities? We’ll give you a hint. One of the former NFL players’ mottos is well-known around the NXT locker room: “I don’t get hyped, I stay hyped!”