The first thing I saw when I pulled up to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando was a huge, professional-looking sign on the side of the building, signaling your welcome. "What a departure from typical wrestling schools," I thought, thinking back to schools that are often found in cheap rent commercial districts and almost always hard to find because no signs exist. This was obvious. There it was, in huge letters: "WWE Performance Center." I knew I was in for something special.
When I walked in the front door, I saw something that I believe has never existed in the pro wrestling industry: an enormous facility dedicated to the development of stars. There were seven rings scattered around the floor in the main area. I was told one of them would have crash mats for high-risk move practice, while another has full HD TV lighting for match recording. Speaking of HD TV, cameras are found across the facility and executives in Stamford can watch practice/matches at any time.
Media got a tour before the festivities began. We saw a huge board room with a 5,000-pound metal table, promo rooms where you can practice your talking, a large workout area with weights, crossfit training tools, and a medical area where a doctor will have office hours. Upstairs (which wasn't part of the tour) is a talent lounge, kitchen and kiosks where talent can watch matches and study tape.
This really is a wrestler's dream.
We sat down for a presentation, hosted by Michael Cole, with words from Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Xavier Woods, Sheamus and Florida Governor Rick Scott. After, media was invited to conduct interviews, where I got to speak 1-on-1 with Triple H and get his thoughts on WWE's recruitment philosophy.
All in all, this was a thoroughly impressive building. Being biased, my favorite part was the announcers' area, with full sound studio and production area. I asked if I could bring a mattress and sleep there. I was denied.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun