March 12, 2013
If you who follow me on Twitter (@LanceStorm) you should already know that I spent last week in Tampa Florida as a guest training for WWE's developmental system NXT. I talked briefly of the trip on Twitter but many of you asked if I would write a more extensive account of my trip here so...here we go.
Many people have asked how the guest training gig came about and there really isn't that much too it. I keep in touch with many people within WWE, and maintain a good relationship with the company. I was once the head trainer for their developmental program when it was based in OVW, I have a few SWA grads in their developmental program, so it just seemed like a natural fit, so when the opportunity came I jumped at it. It was a chance for me to pass on a bit of my knowledge to the newest batch of developmental talent as well as keep abreast of how WWE is doing things and what they are looking for in future talent. It is a win win situation if there ever was one.
With the how and the why worked out, let's get on with the trip itself. After my NJ trip fiasco, a few weeks earlier, I have to admit I was dreading this trip somewhat. If you missed my Twitter rants covering my NJ trip to wrestle Jerry Lynn, it was a Saturday night show that I left early Friday morning for and due to disastrous weather conditions only made the building 5 minutes before show time, and almost didn't make it home. My trip down to Tampa ended up being quite uneventful, but a heavy snow storm did hit Calgary less than an hour after I took off. My flight home had a delayed connection in Dallas but all in all a pretty uneventful trip and nothing a lengthy Twitter Q and A and a good book couldn't handle.
The training itself kept me extremely busy; NXT is a big operation with a lot of bodies, so I was doing 8am to 5pm training days. Talent doesn't train that many hours a day but with rotating classes trainers log a lot of hours. NXT has several trainers but unfortunately not all of them were there for my week. I missed out on catching up with Norman Smiley, Sara Del Rey, and Terry Taylor, but did spend a lot of time with Bill DeMott, Joey Mercury, and Ricky Steamboat. Bill and I have been friends since our WCW days (2000) and the relationship we formed during our time together there will no doubt last forever. Joey and I go back to my time teaching in OVW (2004), where he was but a pupil and seeing him now as the teacher and continuing to pass on the art of our business to the next generation was very rewarding. I didn't really know Mr. Steamboat that well at the start of the week, having only met him on 2 brief occasions, but working alongside him was certainly a highlight of the trip. I thought we complimented each other well, with his experience and knowledge and my in ring hands on approach, talent no doubt picked up a lot, I know I did. If you spend a week with a HOF'er like Ricky Steamboat and don't learn something you're really not paying attention.
Please don't ask me who I was impressed with and who I think will be the next star brought up to the main roaster. I will never do that because to me it's just a roundabout way of singling out those who you weren't impressed with. There is a diverse group of talent in NXT and all of them have different strengths and weaknesses and all have something to offer, if they didn't they wouldn't be there. I did have my favourites but again that is something I think it best kept between me and the other trainers. That said it was cool catching up with those I knew already and worked with before. Kassius Ohno I worked with in ROH; Mike Dalton, Emma, and Sylvester LeFort are all SWA graduates; Rick Victor is a former Calgary guy who I sadly can't take credit for training, but he has stopped by SWA and logged some hours in the ring with me.
My one regret from the trip was not logging much ring time with the NXT Divas. If you've frequent my site at all you should know I have a soft spot in my heart for women in this industry who really work hard and want it. I feel they seldom get the respect they deserve so I try to help out whenever possible. I've worked with, Trish Stratus, Jazz, Molly Holy, Victoria, Lita, Gail Kim etc. during my time on the road with WWE; Mickey James, Jillian Hall, Melina, Angel Williams (Angelina Love), Michelle McCool, Maria Kanellis, Beth Phoenix, etc. during my time in OVW; and Emma, Taya Valkerie (AAA), etc. in SWA, so I was looking forward to some time with the NXT Divas. I spent a fair bit of time talking with the Divas and hope I offered them some insight, but if I go back for another guest training session I hope to work with them a lot more. I did manage to at least tie up and trade holds with Charlotte, making her the 3rd Flair I've wrestled with. I worked in the ring with David Flair in WCW and with Ric in WWE.
If all that wasn't great enough, I spend a half day working beside Dusty Rhodes as he worked on talents speaking abilities, which was so much fun. Steve Kern was there briefly, Billy Gunn stopped by, X Pac made a cameo. The Shield made a brief appearance; I had never met Reigns or Ambrose before but know Rollins from my time with ROH. And then the icing on the cake was catching up with my old tag partner and friend Christian who lives in Tampa.
It was a great trip and I can't thank everyone in NXT/WWE enough for once again welcoming me into their house, it was as if I never left; I hope we can do it again sometime down the road. Now it's back to SWA and working with my own students and with a little luck and a ton of hard work hopefully some of them will end up in NXT alongside the SWA grads that are there already.
If you are interested in following NXT it airs on The Score here in Canada, and is available on Hulu+ in the US.
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