René Martinez, co-host of Wrestle Talk Podcast with Joe & René, recently visited the Xtreme Wrestling Center and wrote about his experience meeting President Smiley, trainer David Cattin, and some of the wrestlers-in-training.
Part 1: A Unique But Classic Underdog Story
The scene in Rocky 3 known by many as “So you wanna be a boxer” is playing in my mind. If you don’t know it, it’s worth looking up on Youtube, and the song is catchy too.
“Why this scene of all the great scenes in this movie,” you might ask? Well, for one thing, the eye of the tiger, the hunger for success and the humble beginnings is what makes this all connect to me. You see, as you step into the Xtreme Wrestling Center, much like in Rocky 3 there is a certain nostalgia to the place (and it’s not just the ring) that you can tell has a dual purpose. That is to break new guys in to the wrestling business and help vets get that feeling they need when they are getting ready for a show. Like an old baseball glove of sorts, which as we all know is the best kind.
In addition to the feeling of nostalgia that its appearance will give you, there is an atmosphere that is hard to put your finger on. It’s like when you walk in there, there something important going on. And you don’t want to interrupt, but you can’t help but ask. The look on head trainer David Cattin’s face is an intense one, but with care and affection for each guy he is in the ring with.
Likewise with GM Jordan Smiley. You won’t find him in the ring most of time, but you will find him with sweat on his brow as he works on getting what he affectionately calls “his baby” in position to be the best wresting center in the Midwest. A man who is well-traveled from his time in the military, also has a humility about him that is hard to find in most business men. Maybe it’s because after his time in the military, he has been humbled by life’s many twists and turns. Very few know this, but he suffers from PTSD. He admittedly states it has been one of the biggest obstacles in his life – not only living with it, but also helping other veterans who suffer from it.
The background of these two men has led to a creation now known as XWC. David is the wrestling fanatic that has been at it for over 10 years, and has had his share of ups and downs – in wrestling and in his personal life. After years of getting doors shut in his face he perseveres along with his two children, and rarely looks back. Along with Adam Houck and Atom Lee Cox, he has brought the dream to life with this 7-day-a-week training center. They have already produced some of the most well-known wrestlers currently working in the Midwest – not to mention a few guys that, barring injury, are destined to get the call from NXT down in Orlando, FL sooner rather than later.
With KC Anthem studios working alongside XWC, students get the full treatment, from in-ring work to shooting promos. At their onsite studio, they train and film all their guys and girls how to be true pros in the professional wrestling business, both in the ring and in front of the camera. It is truly an awesome experience from your initial tryout to the moment you receive the honor of graduating from Kansas City’s first-ever wrestling training center.
Part 2: So You Wanna Be A Pro Wrestler?
So you wanna be a wrestler, huh? You’ve been watching wrestling since you were a kid and you think you know everything there is to know about the business. You feel like you’re ready to step inside the ropes and leave your mark on wrestling all the way up to WWE. Not so fast, grasshopper. You better find a place to master the craft before you go out and hurt yourself. If you’re not afraid of hard work, dedicating yourself, and learning the ropes (pun intended) the old fashion way of old-school hard-nose wrestling, I have just the place for you.
Xtreme Wrestling Center is the nostalgic home of wrestling at its best, as I described in part one of this article. See, if you’re ready to pursue your dream, the best thing to do is surround yourself with people who are going in the same direction. Starting with head trainer David Cattin, these guys have a passion for this business that is immeasurable. There’s no doubt that even after the first day you will know for sure if you have what it takes. I say that because from the very first day you get a tryout – or in better words an evaluation of your physical condition and experience level. The guys at XWC customize a training regimen no matter your physical condition or experience level. As a matter fact, even if you have some physical or mental limitations they will customize a plan for you, if you truly have the passion and the drive to be in this crazy business of professional wrestling.
In addition to the tryout, once you are cleared to commence training you will be in the ring from the very first day! I am not sure how it works anywhere else, but the idea of being able to step in the ring from day one is something that this writer found very appealing. Equally as important is the fact that the center is open seven days a week, meaning that no matter what your schedule is you can train to become a pro wrestler. No, this isn’t one of those places where you sign the paperwork with the head trainer and you see him from time to time sitting in the office doing paperwork. At least three times a week, David personally conducts training sessions. As if that weren’t enough, you get almost 24 hour access to him. It’s as easy as picking up the phone and giving him a call or shooting him a message. Did some crazy idea about a wrestling move pop in your mind at 10 o’clock in the morning? Shoot him a message! Are you concerned that your progression is slower than you hoped it would be, give him a call! That, folks, is dedication. If you’re not quite that needy, every 30 days you get to sit down and go over your performance with David. Any necessary adjustments are coordinated through a comprehensive game plan tailored to each trainee. This is not a one-size-fits-all training center. It’s a place to come and learn how to be a pro wrestler in 7 to 9 months and be ready to work the independent wrestling scene. You don’t have to take it for me either. Feel free to ask some of recognizable professionals who frequent the center, guys like Mike Sydal, Darrien Sanders, Angel Medina, Tommy Snow and Scott Vajda! Interestingly enough, these guys don’t just visit the center to work out – a couple of them actually will lead sessions with trainees, which to a fan of wrestling is nothing short of priceless.
So, when you’re ready to lace up those boots and stop watching other guys at independent wrestling shows or in the WWE live your dream, I can only suggest that you swing by and go through the tryout at the Xtreme Wrestling Center. At the very least, you will have the opportunity to spend the afternoon with the group of guys who have put blood, sweat, years and tears into their passion. There is no replacing the genuine feeling that you get from a group of people who eat, sleep, wrestle, and repeat! So again, do you really want to be a wrestler? Do you have the same passion and love for the sport as Rocky did for boxing back in Rocky 3? If so, be sure to add these guys to your short list of places to visit when you’re looking for a place to learn the ins and outs of pro wrestling here in the Midwest. Just see what some of the current students have to say about their personal experiences at XWC:
“I feel that the benefits that XWC have given me are, fine tuning how to interact with others in the business, and how to better assist my clients. Since joining XWC I have a new found confidence to communicate with promoters, and it’s taught me how to network within the wresting business.” – Brian O., Manager Trainee
“I’ve always wanted to be a wrestler. Other promotions wouldn’t even respond to me about training and when they did, they wanted $5 G’s. XWC was what the doctor ordered. I’m no wrestling snob like some guys today. I’m an Attitude Era-type of guy you know, balls to the wall let’s have a good time and enjoy it. My highlights since I started training have been meeting the group of guys who have become family to me, and I’ve already gotten to work a couple of shows even before graduation! I have had an opportunity opened to me that I would have otherwise not had. The experience as a whole is a highlight in my life.” – Johnny R., Wrestling Trainee
Author: René Martinez (@ElRenegade84)
Wrestle Talk Podcast with Joe & René
Editor: Nathan W. Gearhart (@nategearhart)