Longtime Wrestling Inc. reader Travis Akers, who has served 6 tours overseas, recently took part in an all access tour at the WWE Performance Center. We have a photo gallery of his trip on our Facebook page here, he sent us this great report of his experience:
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After having previous experiences with the WWE such as being featured on this past year's Tribute to Troops and backstage access at Live Events, I knew I had to visit the Performance Center. The day began around 9:30am when security screened me through to the reception desk. At the desk I was issued an all-access pass to the Performance Center. With no hesitation, the day immediately began…
Once I was ushered through the doors from reception to the training facility, I was instantly greeted by Matt Bloom, Sara Del Rey, and Mike Rome. We had a contract signing, which was an official WWE contract for one-day, it would later be returned to me after the day's events completed signed by WWE officials and a WWE hologram sticker placed next to my signature.
Following the contract signing, I enjoyed breakfast with several WWE/NXT stars including Carmella, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, and Hideo Itami. We had in depth conversations about their futures with WWE, the draft, and their legacy in NXT. Having met each of them previously, I can attest, there is not a single ounce of arrogance in their soul. Each of the performers is extremely humble, passionate, and… human. For the record, either Jason Jordan or Chad Gable has really horrible protein farts.
Following breakfast, I was then escorted into the ring center, where five rings are positioned and each ring hosts separate levels of performers based on their levels of skill ranging from "rookie" to "ready for call-up." Not to fuel speculation, but the "ready for call up" ring had several notable names rolling in the ring and warming-up: Tye Dillinger, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sawyer Fulton, and others. Of note, Chinese talent Bin Wang was warming up in the rookie ring with several former Tough Enough talents. There was also a separate ring for the female talents.
Coach Bloom called all of the talent together and we began a "promo class" in which several stars gave improvised promos and tips to addressing the audience. During the promo class, there were several interruptions by other NXT stars that would eventually go on to set up matches for a private NXT live event later that afternoon. The promos at match set-ups included No Way Jose, Steve Cutler, Ember Moon, Liv Morgan, and others.
Following promo class, I was allowed to perform an entrance down the NXT ramp with theme music, lights, and a ring announcement from Dasha Fuentes. I entered using Daniel Bryan's theme song, gave some "YES" chants down the ramp, entered the ring, ran the ropes a few times, and then led the NXT group in some more "YES" chants from the 2nd rope. This was the 3rd time I've been in a ring, and am still impressed by the feeling of the ropes and mat. I've said it once before and I'll say it again, the beating the performers take in the ring is NO JOKE following the feeling of the mat and ropes. I have upmost respect for what they do.
I was led into the gym area, where the NXT women were warming up with trainer, Adam Pearce. We discussed the daily workout routines, injuries, and dietary regiments for the superstars. The girls work hard and are some of the most athletic females in the sports entertainment industry. Following the training session, I was taken back to commentary practice and promo recording.
Commentary was fun as I called a match with Mike Rome. I fulfilled the duties of play-by-play, while Mike added some color commentary during the match. There is a lot of pressure to present a compelling story to the television audience while also maintain perfect timing and recalling names for specific maneuvers and sequences. Then I was allowed to cut a recorded promo in the green room. I played on the theme of being a warrior trained by the US military and felt my promo flowed well. I look forward to seeing the edited version in a couple of weeks.
Lunch time arrived and when I entered the catering area was greeted by The Revival (Dash & Dawson), Tye Dillinger, Liv Morgan and Shinsuke Nakamura. Lunch was amazing; the food in the PC is no joke. I had some great conversations with the stars and enjoyed their candidness and willingness to respond to industry rumors, speculation, and their personal lives as well. As I have experienced in the past backstage at WWE Live Events and during my feature on Tribute to Troops, each of the stars presented themselves professionally, humbly, and excited to be in their position with the opportunity they themselves are experiencing.
After lunch I once again returned to the in-ring center as we set up for a private NXT live event. Right before the card kicked off, Dasha announced "you never know who's going to show up around here" and the lights in the PC went down and Bayley's theme music kicked off… and boom, there she is on the same ramp I had just entered on earlier. Very cool moment.
Then we went into the private live event. The event lasted almost an hour and a half with 9 matches on the "card". During the event I "managed" Noah Potjes against Patrick Clark. My role was to be his manager but not want to be. So while I would play up to his offense, I would let Patrick and the audience know that I was actually on Clark's side and wanted nothing to do with Noah. Fun, comedy segment that I look forward to watching on film and seeing what an idiot I am sure that I looked like around the ring. Several other matches occurred including Liv Morgan vs. Ember Moon and the main event of No Way Jose vs. Steve Cutler. Each of the performers put their all into the private event as if it was televised and I truly appreciate that. It was fun listening to the other NXT stars cheering each other on in their matches and also heckling each other as well. Some of the chants they began towards their peers were post-Mania Raw quality.
Following the private live event, I was given the opportunity to once again interact with the roster and all of the stars of NXT. Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode were not present, but every other NXT star was there. After having further conversations with Matt Bloom, Scotty 2 Hotty, Norman Smiley, and the rest of the coaching staff, I took an opportunity to snap some pictures with the NXT roster and captured a video from Tye and Bayley sending greetings to my sons, who are too young for the PC.
All in all the entire PC All Access is well worth the trip and I highly recommend it to fans who want a behind the scenes glimpse into the workings of NXT and WWE.
Notes: Triple H interacted with some of the attendees, the food is great, Bin Wang doesn't smile, Dawson and Dash pee together while holding hands (I made that one up), Elias Sampson is ready to get back in the ring, and the women of NXT are not only beautiful, but are THE BEST group of female athletes in the wrestling business. For pictures of the event and updates, please follow @travisakers on Twitter. You can check out more photos from the trip on the Wrestling Inc. Facebook page by clicking here.