WWE opens train­ing cen­ter in London

Wrestling cen­ter to sup­port com­pany’s grow­ing over­seas in­ter­est, ex­pan­sion

Stamford Advocate - - Front Page - By Paul Schott [email protected]; 203-964-2236; twit­ter: @paulschott

STAM­FORD — WWE an­nounced Fri­day the open­ing of a train­ing cen­ter in London, its first such fa­cil­ity for per­form­ers out­side the United States.

The new com­plex aims to sup­port Stam­ford-based WWE’s goal of ex­pand­ing world­wide its “NXT” se­ries of com­pe­ti­tions for up-and-com­ing tal­ent. More than 30 prospects signed to the NXT UK brand are set to train there, in a ven­ture that would com­ple­ment the com­pany’s main performance cen­ter in Or­lando, Fla.

“We are in­cred­i­bly proud to open the U.K. performance cen­ter and pro­vide our NXT UK su­per­stars the same world-class coach­ing and de­vel­op­ment pro­grams that we de­liver at WWE’s performance cen­ter in Or­lando,” Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent over­see­ing tal­ent and live events, said in a state­ment.

WWE’s new cen­ter in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal cov­ers 17,000 square feet, with two train­ing rings. In ad­di­tion to work in the ring, the pro­gram­ming will fo­cus on “phys­i­cal pre­pared­ness and char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment,” the com­pany said.

The new cen­ter is in north London. A com­pany spokesman de­clined to spec­ify the ad­dress, cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Top Bri­tish per­form­ers for WWE in­clude Eng­land’s Paige, Jack Gal­lagher and Drake Mav­er­ick; Scot­land’s Drew McIn­tyre and Noam Dar; and North­ern Ire­land’s Kil­lian Dain.

“Fight­ing with My Fam­ily,” a film based on Paige’s life that also stars Dwayne “The Rock” John­son, is sched­uled to be re­leased Feb. 14.

In ad­di­tion to its flag­ship Amer­i­can events such as Wres­tle- Ma­nia and Royal Rum­ble, WWE holds an in­creas­ing num­ber of com­pe­ti­tions out­side the U.S.

Last Novem­ber, WWE em­barked on its lat­est “Live” tour of the U.K., with stops in cities in­clud­ing London, Birm­ing­ham, Manch­ester and Glas­gow.

At the same time, the com­pany con­tin­ues to ex­pand its live pro­gram­ming in other world re­gions.

Amid the furor over the sus­pected mur­der of Saudi dis­si­dent jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, WWE held its Crown Jewel com­pe­ti­tion on Nov. 2 in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia.

The decision re­ceived sharp crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia and from TV pun­dits, but WWE of­fi­cials have not in­di­cated that they were re­think­ing their com­mit­ment to the com­pany’s 10-year part­ner­ship with the Saudi gov­ern­ment that was launched last year.

In an Oct. 26 state­ment, WWE of­fi­cials con­demned Khashoggi’s killing as a “heinous crime.” On the same day, WWE Co-Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bar­rios said, on an earn­ings call, that pro­ceed­ing with the event was “a dif­fi­cult decision.”

Crown Jewel still sold out the ap­prox­i­mately 25,000-ca­pac­ity King Saud Uni­ver­sity Sta­dium, ac­cord­ing to WWE.

The event would likely con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to WWE’s event earn­ings this year.

In the third quar­ter of last year, the com­pany’s event busi­ness brought in $26.7 mil­lion, down about 15 per­cent from the same pe­riod in 2017. The de­cline re­flected lower at­ten­dances at events around the world and re­duced ticket prices at gath­er­ings held out­side the U.S.

Con­trib­uted photo

WWE has opened a 17,000-square-foot train­ing cen­ter in London.

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