Former NWA World Heavyweight Champion and WWE producer Adam Pearce was on a recent episode of the WWE After The Bell podcast where he caught up with his friend Corey Graves, and he discussed signing with WWE after his years in the the NWA and ROH. Pearce revealed that at his WWE tryout, Gerald Brisco had him wrestler longer than other talents to see why Pearce held the same NWA Championship as his brother Jack.
"When I had my WWE tryout in 2012, you went through the experience too, you have your your couple days of tryouts, and the last day, you're having matches," Pearce said. "Gerry Brisco, specifically for my story, was the one who was saying, 'Okay, you and you four minutes, you and you five minutes, you and you six minutes [and] Pearce you and him for 12 minutes,' and I go, '12 minutes?' And he goes, 'now we're going to find out why you wore the same championship as my brother.'"
Pearce also named some wrestlers that he got to face because he was NWA Champion like former WWE Superstar Carlito and former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy. Pearce noted that being hired to work in the Performance Center was a natural fit for him because many of the talents in the PC were people he had worked with during his time as a wrestler.
"The opportunities I had to travel and work with guys who I ordinarily may not have worked, just out of the top of my head [and] jumping forward, I worked one time in Brownsville, Texas, which is way down in the bottom corner of our country against Carlito," Pearce recalled. "I don't know when I would have never had a chance to work with him outside of that specific opportunity. We had a lot of fun that day. Just the international tours, I did lot in Australia probably from 2009 to 2012. I was in Australia every other month.
"That's where I met Buddy Murphy or Murphy, excuse me, who I think is going to really be a fixture in WWE programming going forward. I feel like he has every intangible, and it's just now starting to scratch the surface of what he could be capable of. I met him as NWA Champion down in Australia. I want to say that's maybe 2011. So we're talking nearly a decade ago now, but I ran across so many diamonds in the rough if you will. You know how it is too. You're in a locker room and you're doing what you're doing, but you kind of look across and you watch the matches that are on before.
"You kind of say, 'Wow! That guy's going to be good,' or, 'Hey, that guy's got something.' I've been pretty lucky to have kept in contact with a lot of those guys, which is why I thought it was a natural fit when WWE hired me in 2015 to be a coach at the Performance Center. That cast of characters that was there at that period of time were people that I had come across during that decade-plus beforehand that I had a natural rapport with and already had relationships, which made it easier for me to kind of teach and give them some of what I'd come across along road."
Pearce also revealed that before his tryout, he was told upfront that WWE was not interested in him as a talent but as a coach. He noted that he never had any formal coaching experience beforehand.
"So I had my tryout in 2012 in Los Angeles. Fun fact, same tryout Bayley came to the company out of," Pearce noted. "All credit to Gerry Briscoe, and Bill DeMott and Canyon Ceman, who works at our talent development department. I got a phone call that said, 'Hey, this guy's going to call you. He's going to offer you a tryout. We're not interested in you as a talent, know that up front but accept the tryout,' which I thought was a very auspicious phone call to get. Sure, you want me to tryout but not as a talent.
"Well, in the weeks leading up to it, it became evident what I was being considered for. They wanted to see what I might do if given the opportunity to be a coach. Keep in mind, I've never trained anybody outside of being a locker room veteran. It wasn't uncommon for promoters or talent to come to me. 'Hey, we're thinking about doing this tonight. What do you think?' So I'd done a lot of that for a long time but had never taught somebody how to do what we do.
Pearce called his period after his tryout "the longest job interview in the history of job interviews" since he was hired before the Performance Center was officially opened. Pearce worked backstage at many NXT shows, but he note that he was not officially hired until 2015.
"Had the tryout [and] it became evident that I was going to be married to a certain novice, and by novice, I mean zero experience talent and that well for three days," Pearce stated. "And then I sat on hold for however long it took to build the Performance Center because this was pre-NXT and Orlando, pre-Performance Center. And they didn't want me to come to Tampa because they knew what was happening in Orlando.
"So I traveled back and forth, I want to say, nine times, eight times maybe as a guest coach. It was the longest job interview in the history of job interviews. I'd come for a week and go home. Two months later, I'd come for a week and go home. 'Hey, you doing great. Let's come back again.' And then finally, I got the call and came down and started officially in May of 2015. It's crazy. It was a long journey."
Graves asked Pearce what it was like for Pearce to transition from being a wrestler to a behind-the-scenes role. Pearce said he saw it as an opportunity to add to his skillset noting the roles he held in ROH and on the indies outside of being a wrestler.
"Well, here's the thing, the other side of the coin is you're preparing to put other tools in your toolbox," Pearce noted. "I always tell this to talent all the time. You can do this really well. How many other tools do you have in your toolbox? Going back to Ring of Honor, that was the first time that I was exposed to running wrestling operations top to bottom, where I was in 2008, when I took over Ring of Honor, I had to hire the talent. I had to book the talent. I had to put the shows together. Then a year later, we got television. I have no idea how to do television. I need to learn how to do television.
"So I surrounded myself with people who had experience in that. Did that for a year and a half at Ring of Honor. On the heels of that, started with David Marquez in Los Angeles, Championship Wrestling From Hollywood, who's still on broadcast. Ring of Honor's still on broadcast. So I had done all these things. So I had a resume outside of 'Scrap Iron' Adam Pearce NWA Champion that I could kind of hang my hat on, and whether I was doing it right, wrong or indifferent, I was doing it.
"And I think that WWE saw value in 'Hey, there's this guy who has this kind of varied experience that maybe we don't need to teach everything to from ground zero so to speak.' It was a perfect fit at the perfect time. Me sliding into NXT in that capacity was like putting on a glove."
Graves later asked Pearce if there was anyone on the current roster he would like to wrestle. Pearce named WWE Champion Randy Orton fantasy booking a storyline where Orton pushes WWE official Adam Pearce too far to the point where the two would go one on one in the ring.
"I want Randy Orton to run his mouth just a little bit too much to WWE official Adam Pearce, so he can eat the same right hand that your nose did way back when," Pearce said. "Maybe the same WWE official Adam Pearce has to make a match, or maybe the chairman says, 'No, you put your foot in your mouth. Now, you have to have a match against The Viper,' and he RKO's me in 30 seconds. And we go to the bank. How's that sound?"
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.