- Wrestling for WWE first requires learning the fundamentals of working the ring.
- Students at the New York Wrestling Connection in Deer Park, NY get one-on-one instruction from seasoned performer, Bull James.
- James spent three years working for WWE as “Bull Dempsey” in the company’s NXT promotion.
- Watch the video above to see what it’s like to take an intense practice session at the wrestling school.
Before making it as a WWE superstar, aspiring professional wrestlers first have to learn the fundamentals of working in the ring. The New York Wrestling Connection in Deer Park, NY offers the chance to get one-on-one instruction from a seasoned performer. Bull James spent three years working for WWE as “Bull Dempsey” in the company’s NXT promotion. After being released by WWE in 2016, Dempsey became the head trainer at NYWC, which counts as alumni current WWE superstars like Tony Nese, Curt Hawkins, and Zack Ryder. We attended an intense practice session at NYWC and talked to Dempsey about what it takes to take the first step towards becoming a WWE superstar.
Following is a transcript of the video. Bull James: OK, stop. So…Narrator: If you want to make it as a professional wrestler…James: Boom.Narrator: You’ve got to learn the basics of working in the ring.James: Schoolboy. Wait for me to take you.Narrator: Many WWE superstars start out at schools like this one: The New York Wrestling Connection in Deer Park, New York on Long Island. Some of the school’s alumni are current WWE superstars like Tony Nese, Zack Ryder, and Curt Hawkins.James: No choking!Narrator: At NYWC, students get one-on-one instruction from former WWE superstar Bull James.WWE Announcer: Going to the top rope, maybe trying to put away Baron Corbin! Diving headbutt!Narrator: James spent three years in WWE’s NXT promotion where he was known as “Bull Dempsey.”Announcer: Dempsey grabbing hold of a steel chair!James: Best three years of my life, hands down. Just travelling the world with a great group of people. Learning from some of the best minds in the history of our industry.Narrator: After being released by WWE in 2016, James became the head coach at NYWC. The school charges students $US200 for their first month of training. And $US150 for each subsequent month, which comes out to around $US1800 for a full year.James: Here, you are paying us to train, so it really just comes down to how bad that person wants it. If they want to put their all into it and be here every day and make the sacrifices and take the bumps and bruises, cool. And if they don’t, then they don’t. This right here is where the magic happens.Narrator: The students get to train in a real 18×18 foot ring.Graham Flanagan: How would you describe the surface of the ring?James: Hard! Everybody thinks there’s like a spring underneath. Not true. It’s wood and steel, padding maybe is that thick, so. Your body builds up a callus. If you can handle it, then you know, you got a shot.Narrator: The students learn the fundamentals of the sport.James: Give him a receipt.Narrator: The basic rolls, holds, and throws.James: Everything is based around having good footwork. I won’t let them get in the ring unless their feet are right. Nope, do it again. It’s all repetition. So, you’re gonna do it over and over again the right way and then it just becomes muscle memory.Narrator: To make the in-ring battles look real students have to learn the art of “selling” or making it look like they’re actually in pain.James: Reacting with your face and body in a way to make people emotionally invest in what you’re doing. I don’t think anybody can really ever teach selling. You either develop it or you don’t. Every hold that you see is a real hold. If you are going to treat the hold properly during a match, you need to know what it feels like. Nobody’s gonna get stretched to where they’re hurt. You’ll just feel a little bit and go, “OK, yeah I don’t want that on.”Narrator: Advanced students get the chance to showcase what they have learned in real matches. Along with being a school, NYWC is an independent wrestling promotion that puts on shows in the Long Island area. One of the school’s up-and-coming students is Jaden Valo. At only 18-years-old, Valo is already showing huge potential.Jaden Valo: Ever since the first time I watched it something drew me into it, you know? Wanting to entertain people, wanting to be a part of something like, something huge like this.Narrator: Jaden is a senior in high school and uses the money he earns from a part-time job as a lifeguard to pay to train at NYWC.James: Turn it up, Jaden!Valo: Being able to work with someone so often, especially, you know, three days a week, being able to spend these hours with him. He has so much knowledge. He has so much stuff to share with everybody else, every one of the new students. Having him as, like, a coach is kind of like one of the main things that is gonna help me in the future for sure.Narrator: NYWC offers the students the tools they need to get started in the business, but after that it’s up to them to see it through.James: If you’re coachable and you’re willing to learn you’re gonna go so much farther than somebody that shuts off and thinks they know everything. Why do I have this?Student: So you can control.James: When I have head-control you’re going anywhere I put you. I don’t let people fail. They can fail themselves but I won’t fail them as a coach. Before you roll backwards grab his ankles and pull him over. You build confidence and trust from other people in you by just, simply just not quitting.