What does it take to become a WWE superstar? While nobody who has never been signed by the WWE will ever fully know…I think we all have somewhat of an idea. It is a process…some may take longer than others…but it is indeed a process depending on the individual involved.
There was a time when Vince McMahon would sign a wrestler from another territory and bring him or her to his office in Stamford, Connecticut and simply talk to the wrestler. McMahon asked about their likes and dislikes…their past…what are they are good at besides pro wrestling.
For instance, when the WWE signed Bill Irwin from the territories…he had a sort of cowboy/outlaw type gimmick. He was known as “Wild” Bill Irwin. According to Irwin, Vince didn’t think it made sense that a cowboy would come from Minnesota. ( Where Bill Irwin is legitimately from) He started asking Irwin about his likes and hobbies away from the squared circle. It was there that Irwin talked about his love of professional hockey and actually played the sport.
Hence, “The Goon” a wrestling hockey player was born. It is still done that way to a point…but more people are involved now.
Whether signed from the independents or from other professional sports…they all come down to Central Florida and the WWE Performance Center. It is there where they are broken down and rebuilt to the WWE’s standards. No matter what skill level the wrestler may be at….they all must learn the WWE’s style of wrestling.
The females will go and train with Sara Amato. She wrestled in the independents as Sara Del Rey and could easily be a successful WWE Diva herself.
The men are trained by the controversial Bill DeMott aka Hugh Morrus. He is controversial because a few former trainees criticized his style as more like hazing and humiliation.
Once the trainers and WWE staff feel they are ready…they are sent to Dusty Rhodes who helps them come up with gimmicks and promos. Then they are sent out to wrestle in front of the NXT fans at Full Sail University….
If they are lucky enough to get the call up to the main roster…their gimmick…look and even name might very well change to suit what Vince McMahon feels will “get over.” A team of creative writers are available 24/7 to pitch ideas to. All in all, it is extremely rare that a wrestler who made a name for himself on the independent scene or other promotions will get to keep his own name. The WWE likes to copyright names and own them to make money off of it down the road.
Once a name and gimmick are established…it is presented to a man named Jim Johnston…who will then watch tape of that wrestler and compose an entrance theme just for them.
They will be assigned a road agent who will make sure they get to their positions on the show on time as well as talk strategy and how the match will go and end.
They will evaluate the talent and report back to Vince McMahon and upper management any flaws in their style…crowd reactions during non televised events and any other useful information.
Ultimately though, most of the success and or failure of a WWE superstar relies on the fans aka the WWE Universe. They will sink or swim depending on crowd reactions or lack thereof. Vince McMahon will often lean on his right hand man…Vice President of Production Kevin Dunn to see if a superstar is working or not…
Kevin Dunn has the power to make a superstar look really good on television or really, really bad.
Whether it’s in the independents where the WWE cultivates its talent….
…and molds a wrestler into a future superstar…
…or takes someone off the grid iron and into the squared circle…
…it becomes a long process to become what the WWE expects one to be…
…until ultimately becoming a bonafide “superstar….”
…to one day headline a Wrestlemania and beyond.