Professional Bodybuilder Describes Grueling Tryouts Experience at WWE Performance Center
Mar 31, 2014 - by Marc Middleton
– As noted, WWE held tryouts at the Performance Center in Orlando earlier this month. The tryouts were led by Bill DeMott, Norman Smiley, Matt “Tensai” Bloom, Billy Gunn, Dean Malenko and William Regal. Bodybuilder Matt Dawson, who measured in at 6′ 2 3/4″ and 282lbs, wrote the following on JTStrong.com about the grueling experience:
“Incredible experience, but the most difficult thing I have EVER done, as far as athletics go.
I arrived in Orlando on Wednesday evening. Met my roommate and several others who were attending the camp at the car rental place inside the airport. We got our car and headed back to the hotel to unpack. Several of us then went out to eat, and turned in pretty early, as we knew we were about to go through hell.
Hell just might be an understatement. We arrived to the WWE Performance Center at 7:30am, as we did not want to be late for the 8am start time. We checked in and immediately had full physicals to ensure we were all healthy enough for the camp. I measured in at 6′ 2 3/4″ and 282lbs. I was the second largest athlete there. There was somebody they brought in from Russia who was at least 6’4″ and 320lbs.
There was 30 of us in total. 20 of the guys were experienced “professional” style wrestlers, who have been doing this type of wrestling for years and years (some as long as 10 years). They were professional wrestlers from Japan, and various countries around Europe, as well as the US. These are the people who have worked their entire lives and are 100% dedicated for the sole purpose of making it into the WWE. Almost all of them have impressive amateur athletic backgrounds, from All State and All American amateur wrestlers, football, track and field and other athletic endeavors. Several of them even majored in theater while in college for the sole purpose of trying to make it into the WWE.
The other 10 of us were referred to as “athletes.” We have no “professional” style wrestling experience at all, but all have extremely various athletic backgrounds ranging from former NFL football players, All American amateur wrestlers, bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic bobsledders, All American college football players and even All American gymnasts.
I was extremely impressed with the coaches, as they knew ALL of us right when we walked in. They definitely did their homework as they knew our entire athletic backgrounds and all of our previous experiences. For all you wrestling fans, the coaches were Bill Demott, William Regal, Billy Gunn, Dean Malenko, Normal Smiley, Matt Bloom (Prince Albert) and several others.
Anyways, day 1 and 2 were broken down into two, 3 hour training sessions, with a 90 minute lunch break or so. After all the physicals were complete they immediately began our training which consisted of 3 hours of pure, 100% conditioning. This certainly isn’t my forte, as all my training for the past 15 years has been geared towards lifting maximal weights, and no conditioning work longer than 30 second bursts. There were 3 wrestling rings set up and we went nonstop from one ring to the other to the other doing various wrestling style conditioning drills. Let me emphasize that this was 3 hours of practically non stop conditioning with various rolls, jumps, flips, slams, updowns etc… I thought I was going to die at least 5 times, but I never quit or gave up. I couldn’t believe the extent that they pushed us, as this was by far the hardest thing I have ever done athletically. I would rather go through 2 months of college football 2-a-days then experience another 3 days of this. Brutal is an extreme understatement.
After each and every training session I honestly didn’t know if i was going to survive. Every single muscle, joint, tendon, and ligament was screaming.
Day 3 was a bit easier as it was the final day, and we only had one session, half of it consisting of doing our “promos” and photoshoots. I did my promo as a crazy school teacher who was fed up with children who were spoiled, parents who don’t discipline their children, and kids running the show while the parents sit back, hopeless and afraid to set rules and guidelines for their kids. Apparently it went extremely well, as everybody was super impressed with the promo I gave….little did they know it wasn’t that far off of what I truly believe anyways!
At the end of the camp, the coaches gave us a great speech. Basically they all said that this was one of the best camps they have ever had (they hold 3 camps per year). Nobody quit, and we all powered through the training. They knew all of our backgrounds and knew many of us were not designed for that crazy level of conditioning. They simply wanted to weed us out, see who was tough enough, and who wouldn’t quit. The WWE is a great company, and they took very good care of us while we were down there. I was totally impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the WWE. They said they will let us know, one way or another, if they want to offer us a contract or not within 6-8 weeks.
All in all it was an amazing experience, but an experience I never want to repeat. I have an entire new respect for all the WWE superstars, and the brutal training they put their bodies through day in and day out.”