Learning the ropes

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) launches training base in Enfield – its first outside the United States

NXT UK champion Pete Dunne
NXT UK champion Pete Dunne, also known as ‘The Bruiserweight’, speaking at the launch of the new WWE UK Performance Center in Enfield

An industrial estate off the A10 has become the new British home of professional wrestling.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has for decades been the leading promoter of theatrical grappling and the UK is said to have its largest fanbase outside of North America. Tens of thousands regularly flock to WWE shows in London and elsewhere around the country, inspiring several other smaller wrestling promotions to gain a cult following of their own. But WWE has never had a permanent presence in the UK – until now.

Inside a warehouse on the Great Cambridge Industrial Estate in Enfield has been created a 17,000-square-feet performance centre where WWE’s young recruits can hone their skills in one of two training rings and under the guidance of seasoned pros and former superstars such as Shawn Michaels (‘The Heartbreak Kid’) and Matt Bloom (‘A Train’, ‘Prince Albert’, ‘Tensai’).

Professional wrestling is non-competitive, with outcomes pre-determined and fights dramatised for entertainment, but to become a WWE superstar requires just as much determination, dedication, talent and physical athleticism as other professional sports.

At the launch of WWE’s new UK Performance Center (don’t blame us for the American spelling), trainer Robbie Brookside said: “This is a dream come true. Going back to 1988, when ITV unplugged their World of Sport wrestling show, ever since then we’ve wanted to get British wrestling back on TV.

“I came back here two years ago with WWE, trying to build the British brand – and this place is now our home.”

One of WWE’s weekly television shows, NXT, last year launched a British version, NXT UK, featuring homegrown wrestling stars such as Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, and Trent Seven. They are not the first British wrestlers to make it big in WWE, of course, with legends such as British Bulldog and William Regal paving the way before them – while the story of former women’s champion Paige is about to be told in a Hollywood film – but the new training centre in Enfield now means there is a dedicated space for wrestlers to hone their craft.

Finn Balor (centre) is joined by Tyler Bate (left) and Trent Seven (right)
First-ever WWE Universal champion Finn Balor (centre) is joined by Tyler Bate (left) and Trent Seven (right) – who together form the tag team ‘Moustache Mountain’ – at the launch of the WWE UK Performance Center in Enfield

Tyler Bate and Trent Seven currently wrestle as a tag team called Moustache Mountain. Asked by Enfield Dispatch what advice they’d give to fans who dream of one day joining them in WWE, Tyler said: “Watch as much wrestling as you can. I spent a lot of time travelling around and meeting people and being nice to them. Being a nice person can go a long way.”

Pete Dunne, the current NXT UK champion, helped introduce the new training centre last month. He said: “With this amazing facility, we have a chance to train together and develop together, and that only increases the feeling of being part of a winning team.”

Last month’s launch was also attended by Shawn Michaels, a four-time WWE world champion who is now a trainer, and Triple H (‘The Game’), a 14-time world champion who is now the company’s executive vice president of talent. Both will make regular visits to the new UK Performance Center, with Shawn helping to develop upcoming talent. “If you think it’s cool to be in the ring with me, you’re right, because I’m a pretty cool dude,” explained Shawn.