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Xtreme Wrestling Center: Where Kansas City’s Best New Pro Wrestlers Are Made

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.

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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)

Happy Independence Day!

stock-footage-fireworks-seamless-loopMost Americans will be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers while watching large explosions or creating explosions of their own with friends and family today. But we must not forget why we are able to celebrate this wonderful holiday! In 1776, the United States of America declared this day to be their Independence Day, and it’s thanks to the men and women of our armed forces that we are still able to celebrate that to this day. And we especially want to thank the military personnel and veterans that we have in our lives, and here at the Xtreme Wrestling Center.

If you have read any interviews that XWC General Manager, Jordan “Smiley” Rogers has given, then you will know about his time in the Marine Corp, and being a life-long fan of pro wrestling, it’s not a surprise to see why he has become involved in the business, and taking a general manager approach to it. “The military gave me leadership training and confidence in myself that I was qualified to lead a group of athletes,” Mr. Smiley told me in an interview. He jokes that, “You’ll have to read a future book for all the details of how this transitioned to my position as General Manager of the Xtreme Wrestling Center.” The passion for the wrestling business and the XWC is apparent by the way Mr. Smiley talks, “As our company grows, then my role in it necessarily has, but my policy which is set for the company will continue to be based on discipline and respect, for everyone you work with and the business itself.  I think these principles are somewhat inherited from my time in the Marines and appropriate for this type of business.” On a personal note, I believe it’s that passion and respect for the wrestling business, and those involved in it that Mr. Smiley has, that will help the XWC succeed.

Along with Mr. Smiley, the XWC trains a few active military personnel as well. I was able to talk to Anthony “Aaron” Clayton (also known as A-Clay), who has been training with the XWC since September 2014 and JC Wallace, who is a newer trainee, and has been with the XWC since May 2015.

Anthony doesn’t shy away from his excitement of just being a part of the XWC, “My time at XWC has been nothing short of amazing, I’ve learned so much from David, Jude, and Jordan; Tommy and Kyle and all the other trainers!… it’s nice being able to do what you love to do and be around a group of people who accept you because of the interest.”

Everyone has their own reasons why they want to get into the wrestling business, “I joined XWC because I’ve always had the dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Ever since the days of watching it at home; pretending my bed was a ring, I’ve always felt like my purpose in life is to entertain and be an inspiration, inspire people, and I can’t think of any better way of doing it then wrestling,” Anthony says. He’s quick to acknowledge the help that training in the Army has given him, “My military experiences has helped me with this (by) giving me the motivation and the discipline of going through this kind of training physically, mentally, and emotionally. One thing I’ve learned throughout my training is that this is a tough business to get into, and it’s even harder to stay in without getting discouraged and quit. Something that the military taught me is that you don’t quit. Once you start something, you see you till the end.”

JC Wallace echoes the sentiments of A-Clay. “My military experience has helped me with my physical conditioning, discipline, and listening to instructions,” JC Wallace says, “My time at XWC has been one of the best times I’ve ever had. The reason I joined XWC is because I’ve always wanted to be a pro wrestler, and it’s a dream I’ve always wanted to follow.”

Mr. Smiley, Anthony Clayton, and JC Wallace all agree that their time in the military has definitely helped them in their pursuit of their dreams here at the XWC. And to many, becoming a pro wrestler is a dream, and the XWC is trying to help that dream come true.

We welcome anyone who has served (as well as those who have not served) to sign up for a tryout and see if you like it at the XWC. You can find the tryout form on our website and we hope to see you soon!

Xtreme Wrestling Center Graduate Review

My love for wrestling goes back as far as I can remember, providing some memories that still stick with me so vividly to this day.  I was my father’s “excuse” to start watching wrestling again and I was instantly hooked making sure he didn’t let us miss an episode.  Everything revolved around getting to watch that weekly show and my mother knew she could threaten me that I couldn’t watch if I didn’t behave, which always seemed to do the trick in keeping me in line.  As I was attracted to many of the new guard like Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels my dad still had the soft spot for established stars like Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man.  I would spend ample amount of time trying to convince him that Bret Hart was the best while he still stood by the all American Hogan.

Fast forward to present time, I had recently graduated and started my career.  I had really gotten into working out and getting in shape.  Through college I had drifted away from watching wrestling as passionately as my younger self had, I picked right back up where I had left watching weekly and even now consuming even more of the product as it was so readily available on the internet.  As I got in better and better shape thoughts started to creep in my mind that maybe I should give this whole pro wrestling thing a shot.  I had started amateur wrestling at a very young age and thought I’d have a good base to start off of and every month I was starting to look more and more the part of a pro wrestler.

So I started my search for pro wrestling training not sure how hard it’d be to get my foot in the door.  I knew there were schools out there but I didn’t know if we had any in Kansas City.  I found a little information on a couple of places, one was a school another seemed more of a promotion, but when I tried to contact them multiple times I never got any response.  I just thought well I can at least tell myself I tried maybe it just wasn’t meant to happen. But then I stumbled across an ad on Facebook for pro wrestling training in Kansas City, a place called Xtreme Wrestling Center.  So I headed over to the website, filled out my application, got a call and set up my try-out.

I was very nervous leading up to the try-out but I knew I wanted this and wasn’t going to let anything hold me back.  When I came in I was greeted by the GM, Jordan Rogers, and we had a short chat before the head trainer, David Cattin, who asked me about why I was doing this before we started the try-out.  After the try-out was done I waited by while they discussed if I would be able to begin my training.  When they came out and let me know I passed I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get in the ring to start training the following week.

I started the following Monday along with four others that were starting on their first day.  I made sure to introduce myself to everybody and show respect to everybody.  As I would soon find out this is one of the most important lessons that a pro wrestler needs to learn.  On that first day I was taught about how important it is to make sure you introduce yourself to everybody and show the upmost respect to everybody you come across because you never know who you might offend.  So right away I learned the importance of respect in the business that should never be taken for granted.  Nothing in the world of pro wrestling can work without respect no matter what you might initial think of a person.  The lesson of respect was that first lesson I could mark down on my journey.

As we begin training daily, I started to learn what is also one of the other most important lessons that young pro wrestlers need to learn, safety.  When you are getting in that ring and putting your body on the line, in the hands of your opponent you need to make safety one of the biggest priorities.  You must prove yourself as a safe wrestler so that your peers will trust you with their bodies so that you can put on the best match possible for the fans.  If you are not safe then nobody will trust you to work and your pro wrestler career will be over before it ever began.  So every day it was stressed with great importance how to be safe and respectful to your opponents.  These two lessons, respect and safety, were practiced every second of every training session, drilling this into our heads so that it just became second nature.  I am thankful to have these lessons engrained into me from the beginning because I believe these lessons are the key to success for any beginning professional wrestlers.

The last lesson that I learned that I believe is right up there with respect and safety is that of the comradery that is built among your brothers in professional wrestling.  The men that I trained with on a daily basis really became my brothers that I could trust with my body and we could all push each other to get better.  You really gain a new family when you begin pro wrestling and it is one that I am honored to be a part of.  These will be relationships that you will have for the rest of your life, they will be people that you can count on through thick and thin.  This was one aspect going into training that I never realized I would treasure so much and I will always have time and be there for all of my pro wrestling brothers.

So as I have been lucky enough to learn all of these lessons and countless more from my training I know they will do nothing but help me advance in my pro wrestling career.  I can now go out there with these core lessons and begin that exciting road that there is no seeing where it can take me.  I still have infinite lessons to learn to advance my career but that great foundation has been set with the amazing training I received at the Xtreme Wrestling Center.  They have equipped me with the tools and lessons to go out there and be a success.  I look forward to continuing my journey with my brothers and hopefully use these lessons to also teach new brothers as they pursue their dream just as I did.

-Derek Phillips


XWC Graduate Stories: The Riegel Twins Trip Into Hostile Territory

riegeltwinsWhen you first meet Logan and Sterling Riegel, it’s easy to get them confused. I mean, they are twins, after all. In a physical sense, their hair is only what differentiates the two; Logan with the golden blonde hair, and Sterling with light brown hair. After getting to know them, it gets easy to distinguish the two by the way they talk and their mannerisms. They have completely different personalities, but they still share the same enthusiasm and passion for pro wrestling, as well as both being easily approachable and willing to help out the new guys in training.

Logan and Sterling Riegel were the first trainees at the Xtreme Wrestling Center (XWC), led by head trainer, “Smooth as Satin” David Cattin, with the help of General Manager Jordan “Smiley” Rogers, and trainers Adam “Jude Vice” Houck, Atom “Enigma” Cox, Justin “Dekin Cane” Caughron, Kyle King, Tommy ‘Snow’ Randles, and many guest trainers. As of February 18, 2015, The Riegel Twins are also the first graduates of The XWC. Since then, they have been booked in four matches, three of them being title matches. They wasted no time in showing what they can do, and they are already catching the eyes and ears of many promotions and other wrestlers across the United States. One tag team that has captured their attention has been The Canadian Pitbulls; Arik Angel and Elias.

On the morning of Sunday, March 8, The Riegel Twins made the 9-hour trip alone to Denver, Colorado, to compete against The Canadian Pitbulls for a 3rd time, in a 3rd location. This time at Primos Hardcore Wrestling. Even though Logan and Sterling were being booked as babyfaces, they were still walking into hostile territory. They were warned by the promoter before the match, “This is a heel heavy crowd, just to you warn you guys,” The Riegels said as they were talking to me before training a few days following the show.

“When we got there, we just got booed. People were booing like crazy!” It’s something that they laugh about now, but they recounted some of the things that they heard the crowd yell to them. “People would say the meanest s***, like, ‘Get off the steroids! You guys don’t have any d****!’ But by the end of the night, the crowd popped for us. They were cheering for us. It was awesome!”

The Canadian Pitbulls even vouched for them by the time their night was over. “The Pitbulls got on the mic and hyped us up,” The Riegels said and recounted what The Canadian Pitbulls said after their match, “These guys are awesome, this is what tag team wrestling is all about!” Their (what some have described as “epic”) 25-minute match against The Canadian Pitbulls is still the talk of the wrestling community in Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri.

You can see The Riegel Twins in action in Kansas City soon enough. On Saturday, May 9, The Riegel Twins will be in action at Kansas City Xtreme Wrestling’s inaugural event, “Wrestling Reborn” at the Pierson Community Center in Kansas City, KS. They will be taking on ECW Original, Angel Medina, and a yet to be named, mystery tag team opponent. If you want to see future stars in professional wrestling, I wouldn’t want to miss Wrestling Reborn. I know I won’t.