Meet the WWE Performance Center coaches

Meet the WWE Performance Center coaches

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” — American poet Mark Van Doren

As anyone who has ever been there can attest, the WWE Performance Center, which celebrated its five-year anniversary this week, is an impressive facility. Its weight room brims with top-of-the-line equipment, the production suites are almost futuristic, and the ring room — which contains six regulation WWE rings, plus a padded ring meant for high-flying experimentation — is unlike anything else in sports-entertainment training.

Yet, that would all mean nothing if not for the coaching minds at work in Orlando, Fla. Comprising a diverse team of wrestling veterans, the WWE PC coaching staff is unparalleled in terms of sports-entertainment experience, and it’s the NXT roster that stands to benefit from their collective wisdom.

From battle-tested journeymen to arguably the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history, here are the men and women responsible for shaping the Superstars of tomorrow.

Matt Bloom


TITLE: Head Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1998-2014

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Played offensive tackle at the University of Pittsburgh before learning the ropes under WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski … Made a lasting impression on WWE talent scouts when he was invited to train at Dory Funk Jr.’s “Funkin’ Dojo” in Stamford, Conn., one of WWE’s earliest attempts at centralized recruiting, alongside Edge, Christian, Kurt Angle, The Hardys and others … Debuted during WWE’s Attitude Era and went on to form winning units with everyone from Test & Trish Stratus and X-Pac & Justin Credible, to Scotty 2 Hotty and Big Show … Holds the distinction of facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania … A former WWE Intercontinental Champion, as well as a multi-time champion in Japan, where he was long considered the top non-native wrestler on the New Japan Pro Wrestling roster … While there, teamed with and mentored future WWE Superstars Finn Bálor and Karl Anderson … Joined the WWE PC coaching staff in 2014 and was named Head Coach in May 2015. As Head Coach, Bloom oversees not just the entire WWE PC coaching staff and a roster of 70-plus athletes, but also leads tryout camps, among countless other responsibilities …

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “I am always trying to create an environment and a culture where the talent know my expectation for learning, growth and self-reflection. I am looking for constant improvement, while aiming for perfection.”

NO. 1 RULE: “Punctuality. Be on time.”

BEST PART ABOUT BEING A WWE PC COACH: “Watching talent reach milestones throughout their careers, from walking into the WWE PC and having their first match at a PC Live Event, to progressing through NXT Live Events, NXT TV and, eventually, Raw or SmackDown LIVE.”

TINO SABBATELLI ON MATT BLOOM: “He encourages us to always continue to grow, learn and work on our craft. Be openminded to everyone’s coaching points. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse — there’s no such thing as staying the same — so every day, try to get better.” 

Sara Amato


TITLE: Assistant Head Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 2000-2012

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: While attending wrestling school in California, Amato was exposed to different wrestling styles from around the world by head trainer Daniel Bryan. Before long, she traveled abroad to learn those techniques firsthand ... “She lived in Japan for nine months and slept on dojo floors. She went and lived in Mexico in some scary places to go live by yourself if you’re a woman. She was going places that most guys wouldn’t to become a better wrestler,” Bryan said … Under the name Sara Del Rey, Amato became one of the top wrestlers outside of WWE, not only touring in Japan and Mexico, but also becoming a backbone of women’s wrestling in the American independent scene … During her in-ring career, she crossed paths with the likes of Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Kassius Ohno and defeated one of her idols, Japanese legend Aja Kong … Broke new ground by becoming the first female trainer in the history of WWE’s developmental system in 2012. With Amato at the helm, the NXT Women’s division underwent a transformation that helped set WWE’s Women’s Evolution in motion … 

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “I try to teach and empower each individual to think for themselves, figure out what they are good at and highlight it.”

PROUDEST PROTÉGÉS: “I am proud of what Alexa Bliss and Carmella have done since leaving NXT. For those two ladies to have worked from the ground up to the top of their respective divisions is awesome.”

BEST PART ABOUT BEING A WWE PC COACH: “The environment we’ve created here as a coaching staff is out of pure passion, and I believe we spread that pure passion.”

LACEY EVANS ON SARA AMATO: “She taught me how to not be afraid to get out of my comfort zone.”

Shawn Michaels


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1985-2010

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Originally trained by the legendary Jose Lothario, Michaels cut his teeth in the dying days of sports-entertainment’s territory system, competing in his home state of Texas, Mid-South Wrestling and the Midwest’s American Wrestling Association … Came to fame in WWE as one-half of tag team innovators The Rockers, alongside teammate Marty Jannetty … Once established as a singles competitor, HBK quickly skyrocketed to the top of WWE, becoming the first “Grand Slam Champion” (i.e., the first Superstar to have won every active title in WWE) … With a career that spanned multiple periods in WWE history, Michaels led the New Generation as a member of The Kliq, helped usher in the Attitude Era with D-Generation X and won numerous titles during the Ruthless Aggression Era … Took a hiatus from the ring in the late ’90s/early 2000s, during which time he opened his own wrestling school, which produced the likes of Daniel Bryan and The Brian Kendrick … Stole the show at WrestleMania so many times that he was anointed “Mr. WrestleMania” … Retired from competition in 2010 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the following year … Joined the WWE PC full time in 2017, where he works hands-on with some of the PC’s most advanced recruits …

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “Balancing the desire to be the very best and expecting the best out of your performance, while not causing yourself too much stress and anxiety, which can result in the worst possible outcome for one’s career — not enjoying this unbelievably awesome job!”

NO. 1 RULE: “Fight Club rule.” (i.e., “You do not talk about Fight Club.”)

SUPERSTAR WHO SURPRISED ME THE MOST: “All and none. There’s so much talent that it seems elementary that it should happen. Even though you expect it, it always exceeds even your expectations.”

NXT CHAMPION ALEISTER BLACK ON SHAWN MICHAELS: “I don’t think commenting on Coach Michaels will do any justice to how much it means or how crazy it is to have someone like Shawn Michaels as your coach and mentor. Shawn changed wrestling and helped shape a new generation of wrestling because of it, and now to have him directly involved in NXT is nothing short of incredible.”

Norman Smiley


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1986-2008

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: British-born and Florida-raised, Smiley excelled in powerlifting and amateur wrestling while attending high school in Miami … Having seen the best that sports-entertainment had to offer on both sides of the Atlantic and finding inspiration in everyone from U.K. great Steve Grey to WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, he decided to join the pro ranks … Was originally trained by Boris Malenko and received additional instruction from Karl Gotch, who is widely regarded as one of the toughest men in wrestling history … As he traveled the globe, Smiley turned into a master of all trades, learning not just the hard-hitting and submission-based style of Japan, but also the dazzling art of Mexican lucha libre … Delighted WCW audiences during the Monday Night War as “Screamin’ Norman,” an eccentric and reluctant hardcore wrestler who wore helmets and hockey pads during chaotic brawls … Joined the WWE developmental system as a trainer at Florida Championship Wrestling (the precursor to NXT) and has remained a pivotal member of the coaching staff ever since …

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “Keep it simple and have patience! It takes years to master the art of sports-entertainment. Dedication and sacrifice is a must, in addition to utilizing all that the WWE PC has to offer.”

SUPERSTAR WHO I KNEW WOULD MAKE IT: “Baron Corbin entered NXT with no experience, but I felt that he had all the intangibles to become a Superstar. He had a strong presence and was driven.”

PROUDEST PROTÉGÉS: “I spent a lot of time working with Sasha Banks, and she still comes to the PC to learn. Sasha will always talk to me about some of the basics I taught her. As much as she has achieved, she is still open to learning! Same thing for Charlotte Flair. I’m very proud of both ladies.”

BARON CORBIN ON NORMAN SMILEY: “Norman’s passion for wrestling and teaching future Superstars goes beyond words. He is beyond creative in the ring and is always trying to learn and expand his mind, just so he can pass the info on. He never gets frustrated coaching, even with me, which was near impossible. Not only is Norman an amazing coach, he is a truly special human who always puts others first.”

Terry Taylor


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1979-1995

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: One of the most experienced veterans at the WWE PC, Taylor began his career during the rough-and-tumble days of territory wrestling … Whether a bright-eyed fan favorite or an arrogant black hat, Taylor captivated fans wherever he went, and that covers a lot of ground … Was a mainstay in Mid-South Wrestling, capturing the region’s top title, the North American Heavyweight Championship, from future WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase in 1985 … Famously challenged Ric Flair for the NWA World Title inside New Orleans’ historic Superdome later that year … Also collected titles in the Mid-Atlantic, Georgia and Central States territories, as well as WCW, during his career … Became engrossed in a rivalry with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan shortly after joining WWE in the late 1980s … Also wrestled in the main event of the second-ever Survivor Series in 1988 and competed at WrestleMania V … Once retired from active competition, became a top decisionmaker behind the scenes in WCW … Took on a coaching role in WWE’s developmental system in 2012 and was part of the team that joined the WWE PC upon its unveiling in 2013 … 

SUPERSTAR WHO SURPRISED ME MOST:Kevin Owens, because he didn’t fit the stereotypical mold for a top WWE Superstar. Kudos to him for breaking that barrier.”

NO. 1 RULE: “Practice like you play.”

BEST PART ABOUT BEING A WWE PC COACH: “Seeing the moment the lightbulb comes on for an NXT Superstar.”

ADAM COLE ON TERRY TAYLOR: “Terry has taught me the importance of commitment in the ring. No matter what is done, believing in what you are doing with every ounce of energy and every fiber in your being is just as important as execution.”

Robbie Brookside


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1981-2013

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Despite the wishes of his father (a former goalkeeper for Preston North End) and the headmaster at his school, Brookside forewent a promising future in soccer to follow his dream of becoming a wrestler … His entrée wasn’t glamorous, coming by way of hard-nosed British veteran Carl McGrath smothering a teenage Brookside into the mat for months on end … Endured the harsh treatment and grew into one of the most successful British wrestlers of the 1980s and 1990s … Formed a tag team and lasting friendship with William Regal. Together, they grappled as The Golden Boys … Captured countless titles throughout the United Kingdom, but his footprint included faraway places like Africa, Japan and the Middle East, too … As the British scene stalled in comparison to North American juggernauts WWE and WCW in the ’90s, Brookside remained an advocate for the traditions of his region. “Brookside was the finest ambassador British wrestling could hope for,” author Simon Garfield wrote in 1996’s “The Wrestling” … Before coming to the WWE PC, was one of the U.K.’s most prolific trainers, having had a hand in coaching the likes of Sheamus, Nigel McGuinness and former WWE Superstar Wade Barrett …

SUPERSTARS WHO SURPRISED ME MOST: “I have been surprised by the talent from overseas who have never wrestled before and work incredibly hard at learning all the aspects and requirements that the job demands.”

NO. 1 RULE: “Eyes and ears open. Respect everything in the ring.”

PROUDEST PROTÉGÉS: “Braun Strowman, Nia Jax, Elias and Mojo Rawley”

ONEY LORCAN ON ROBBIE BROOKSIDE: “Robbie has helped me both professional and personally probably more that anyone. He has added so much to my style, and it’s something I will never forget.”

Steve Corino


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1994-2016

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Broke into the U.S. independent scene in the 1990s and made cameos on WWE TV as early as 1996 … Rose to fame in the original incarnation of Extreme Championship Wrestling, winning the ECW Championship in 2000 … Nicknamed “The King of the Old School,” Corino engaged in a rivalry with his boyhood hero, WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, and even faced The American Dream in Rhodes’ specialty bout, a Bull Rope Match … Often described as “the ultimate journeyman,” Corino became one of the most well-traveled grapplers after ECW closed its doors in 2001 and was a noted rival of everyone from Shinya Hashimoto to Kevin Owens … In addition to making 86 tours of Japan, held the prestigious NWA Heavyweight Championship … After guest-coaching at the WWE PC in 2016, formally joined as a full-time trainer in 2017 … 

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “I believe in recognizing our weaknesses and fixing them one at a time. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Practice as you would perform on TV.”


NO. 1 RULE: “Always believe in yourself, because I believe in you.”

KONA REEVES ON STEVE CORINO: “Coach Corino has taught me how to be more aggressive in and out of the ring. He has boosted my confidence to a point where I can finally be myself.”

Serena Deeb


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 2005-2015

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Inspired by Attitude Era icons like D-Generation X and especially Chyna, Deeb enrolled at the Ohio Valley Wrestling school at age 18 and began learning her craft under prolific trainer Rip Rogers … Went on to become one of OVW’s most decorated wrestlers, holding the women’s title a record six times … Competed in independent organizations around the world, including leagues in Canada, Europe, Australia, Mexico and Japan … Joined former WWE developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling in 2009, became a member of the SmackDown roster in 2010 … Famously had her head shaved upon her initiation into the Straight Edge Society in her TV debut … After leaving WWE, continued to be one of the top female competitors on the indie scene … Stepped away from the ring in 2015 to study yoga and meditation … Returned in 2017, taking part in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, where she advanced to the Second Round … Guest-coached at the WWE PC months later and became a full-time trainer in 2018 …

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “My intention is to build a supportive community where everyone feels empowered to find the answers for themselves through safe experimentation. My values are empathy, compassion, patience and awareness, and I aim to impart all of these onto my students as they learn.”

BEST PART ABOUT BEING A WWE PC COACH: “Every day is completely different and full of new challenges. It requires teamwork to move through these challenges, and the collective is always bettered when there is a collaborative effort.”

KACY CATANZARO ON SERENA DEEB: “Serena has a lot of experience and knowledge to share, but above all, she has so much heart. She has a way of making everyone feel welcomed and excited to learn. She has made such an impact on me and my career in just the few short months I’ve known her. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with her every day.”

Scott Garland


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1989-2016

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: A lifelong wrestling fan, Garland broke into sports-entertainment while still a teenager and even competed in his first WWE match while still in high school … Wrestled throughout the New England independent scene while simultaneously appearing on WWE TV throughout the 1990s … Reinvented himself as the rambunctious Scotty 2 Hotty at the outset of the Attitude Era … Along with WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi and Too Cool tag team partner Grandmaster Sexay, became one of WWE’s most popular Superstars at the time … Though a skilled technician between the ropes, Garland won the hearts of the WWE Universe with his crowd-pleasing antics — including his signature move, the “Worm” … Also found success as a singles competitor, trading the WWE Light Heavyweight Title with Dean Malenko in a breathtaking series of matches … Continued wrestling throughout the 2000s, including several cameos on NXT, before joining the WWE PC coaching staff in September 2016 …

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “I believe what makes each individual stand out is their personality. I always ask them to think about how a 12-year-old boy who comes to an NXT show for the very first time, with no previous exposure to NXT, is going to describe to their friends what they saw.”

SUPERSTAR WHO I KNEW WOULD MAKE IT:Velveteen Dream. The perfect example of having ‘It.’ I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.”

PROUDEST PROTÉGÉ: “Elias. I can remember working with him for the very first time when I came in as a guest coach. I feel like he is one of the guys that I gravitated to, who gets exactly what we do. To see him go from our Florida shows, with 400-500 people, to WrestleMania 34 with John Cena, was a very proud moment for me.”

OTIS DOZOVIC ON SCOTT GARLAND: “Scotty 2 Hotty is the man. He inspired me as a kid ever since I started watching wrestling. He taught Heavy Machinery how to let our personalities shine during matches. He also helps us a lot with our entrances, as far as what to do to make the audience love us."

Johnny Moss


TITLE: Coach

IN-RING CAREER: 1997-2017

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Began training for the ring in 1997 in his home country of England after seeing a magazine advertisement for a wrestling camp … A dynamic powerhouse inside the ropes, it didn’t take Moss long to wow fans in U.K. with his combination of speed, technique and brute force … Held countless regional titles during his two decades in the ring and has claimed championships victories over the likes of WWE Hall of Famer Jake Roberts and UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn … Has fought in more than 20 countries, including Qatar, Dubai, the U.S., Canada, Germany, Italy and Belgium … While still an active competitor, began training the U.K.’s next generation of wrestlers at Hammerlock Wrestling School … Was instrumental in helping current WWE Superstars Finn Bálor and Noam Dar early in their careers … Eventually opened his own training ground, the Johnny Moss School of Pro Wrestling in Cumbria, England … After two guest-coaching stints at the WWE PC, formally joined the coaching staff in 2017 …

COACHING PHILOSOPHY: “Keep it simple. A solid understanding of fundamentals and balance are the keys to becoming a great wrestler.”

NO. 1 RULE: “Repetition is key. I firmly believe in Billy Robinson’s trademark phrase, ‘Do it again.’”

BEST PART ABOUT BEING A WWE PC COACH: “Being part of one big family. It gives me and all the other coaches a real sense of pride watching these athletes develop into Superstars.”

DANNY BURCH ON JOHNNY MOSS: “I’ve known Johnny Moss for the better part of 10 years. My first time meeting him was stepping inside the ring with him, and it was a pure master-class in technique and aggression. Over the years, I’ve always tried to get Johnny to watch my matches and provide feedback if we were on the same card.”

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