WWE issued the following press release to Prowrestling.net on Tuesday to announce the latest developmental signees.
WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced that a new class of nine recruits, including a former NFL player, collegiate wrestler, U.S. Army veteran and talent from independent wrestling circuits, has begun training at the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
“WWE is constantly scouting the world for the most talented athletes and entertainers,” said Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative. “This new class will have every opportunity to fulfill their dreams of becoming a WWE Superstar, as they train out of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.”
The new training class includes:
· Alvin Abitz (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) – Standing 6 feet 6 inches and weighing 285 pounds, Abitz is an Army veteran with a rugby and kickboxing background.
· Theophilus Agbi (Brooklyn, New York) – At 6 feet 5 inches and 270 pounds, Agbi attended Amherst College where he wrestled and was named to the NCWA All-American team in 2013 and 2015. Agbi graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in French, as well as Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought (LJST).
· Sarah Bridges (Sellersburg, Indiana) – Also known as “Crazy Mary Dobson,” Bridges trained out of the Kaientai Dojo in Japan. With four years of wrestling experience, Bridges has worked for Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) in Scotland, HXC Wrestling in England, westside Extreme Wrestling (wXw) in Germany, and multiple companies in Japan. She was named to Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Top 50 Female Wrestlers list in 2014 and 2015.
· Demitrius Bronson (Gilbert, Arizona) – Standing 5 feet 11 inches and weighing 215 pounds, Bronson played running back for the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins. Prior to his NFL experience, he attended Eastern Washington University where he played football and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.
· Tom Budgen (Amsterdam, Holland) – Also known as “Tommy End,” Budgen has extensive experience wrestling in the UK, Japan and U.S for Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), Progress Wrestling, westside Xtreme wrestling (wXw), Evolve, Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) and Big Japan Pro Wrestling (BJW) where he has held multiple titles throughout his career.
· Taynara Melo de Carvalho (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – At 5 feet 6 inches and 125 pounds, Carvalho has a black belt in Judo and participated in the 2016 Olympic trials in Rio de Janeiro. She is fluent in Portuguese.
· Victoria Gonzalez (Harlingen, Texas) – Standing 6 feet and weighing 175 pounds, Gonzalez trained out of the Gulf Coast Wrestling Alliance (GCWA) in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her father, Ricky Gonzalez, worked with WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels at Texas Wrestling Academy (TWA) and made appearances for a variety of independent wrestling circuits. She is fluent in Spanish.
· Chris Lindsey (Tampa, Florida) – Also known as “Roderick Strong,” Lindsey has trained with WWE Legend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and has more than 13 years of experience on the independent wrestling circuits with Ring of Honor (ROH), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), TNA, Dragon Gate, Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) and Evolve. Strong has held multiple titles throughout his career including World Champion (ROH & PWG) and Tag Team Champion (ROH & PWG).
· Damian Mackle (Belfast, Ireland) – Also known as “Big Damo,” Mackle has trained with WWE Superstar Finn Bálor, WWE trainer Robbie Brookside, and Johnny Moss of National Wrestling Alliance UK Hammerlock (NWA). He has had stints at Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), Scottish Wrestling Alliance, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and TNA holding multiple titles throughout his career.
The new class will join a group of more than 65 men and women training out of the state-of-the-art, 26,000 square-foot WWE Performance Center. With seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program, and cutting-edge edit and production facilities, the Performance Center will allow the new class to hone their skills through a comprehensive program that includes in-ring training, physical preparedness and character development.
The venue offers a full training experience with real time feedback from WWE coaches, trainers and doctors, giving performers the resources they need to develop their talent both athletically and creatively. Additionally, recruits will be immersed in WWE’s Professional Development program that focuses on four key pillars of development – Life Skills, Education, Wellness and Career Success.
Powell’s POV: The most notable names are Strong, End, and Damo as far as an independent background is concerned. Bronson was cut by the Seahawks in 2015 due to a nagging hamstring injury. A Seattle radio website story notes that he was working at Costco shortly thereafter while waiting for another opportunity in the NFL.