Special Report: WWE Performance Center Combine report including Trevor Lee, Strickland, Catanzaro, Riddle, Sam Shaw, Road Dogg, Cole

By Tom Stoup, PWTorch contributor



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The third annual WWE Performance Center Combine aired on the WWE Network at 2 p.m. EST, Sunday May 26. It was filmed over a period of two days and presented in full for the first time since its inception.

Competitors were divided in to three groups of women, men, and “rookie” men. D.A. Brewer, Jessika Carr, Stokely Hathaway, Robert Strauss, and Drake Wuertz were not asked to participate as they are signed as managers and referees, respectively, but volunteered their participation anyway.

Prior Combine champions Bianca Belair and Riddick Moss, as well as Wesley Blake, were also noted as competitors whose participation was optional, so one can infer that other longer-tenured wrestlers were also participating of their own volition. Wrestlers such as Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel, Angelo Dawkins, Velveteen Dream, Keith Lee, Kassius Ohno, Rhea Ripley, and Jaxson Ryker, as well as recruiter Canyon Ceman and other staffers, could be seen looking on during certain groups.

If any of these wrestlers competed, it was not shown, though Velveteen Dream is depicted doing a trap deadlift in the Network thumbnail. Xia Li notably remained on site for all events in all groups, enthusiastically cheering on her fellow competitors the whole way on top of competing in her own right. Competitors elected in what order they would attempt the given events, in some cases such as Bianca Belair waiting until last so to know the numbers to beat. The vertical and broad jumps were run simultaneously, as were the med ball tosses and ring agility drills.

Head Coach Matt Bloom, Tegan Nox, and 2018 Combine champion Tino Sabbatelli handled commentary with guests such as Bianca Belair, Jessie Elaban, and several coaches including new coach Road Dogg popping in and out. Coaches including Sara Amato, Robbie Brookside, Serena Deeb, Scotty 2 Hotty, Sean Hayes, Shawn Michaels, Norman Smiley, and Terry Taylor delivered pep talks and oversaw the events. Hayes pointed out that the competitors do not train specifically for these events on a daily basis.

Note: Most competitors were shown competing in all events, though many results were either unannounced, inaudible, or cut. What follows is a fully comprehensive look at all discernible results as well as official winners.

Women, Day 1

Women’s Vertical Jump (3 attempts)

No results announced

Women’s Broad Jump (3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Bianca Belair – 8’ 8”
2. Jessie Elaban – 8’ 7”
3. Aliyah – 8’ 0”
4. Taynara Conti – 7’ 9”
5. Kavita Devi – 7’ 7”

Further Announced Results
Kacy Catanzaro – 7’ 5”
Mia Yim – 7’ 6”

Women’s Med Ball Toss (10-pound ball, 3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Reina Gonzalez – 38’ 4”
2. Bianca Belair – 38’ 0”
3. Mia Yim – 37’ 5”
4. Kavita Devi – 34’ 11”
5. Jessie Elaban – 33’ 0’

Women’s Ring Agility (3 ring lengths, starting from face-up lateral recumbency, 2 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Bianca Belair – 4.27s
2. Rachael Ellering – 4.66s
3. Taynara Conti – 4.67s
4. Io Shirai – 4.69s
5. Xia Li 4.73s (illegal start)

Further Announced Results
Kacy Catanzaro – 4.64s
Jessie Elaban – 4.83s
Marina Shafir – 5.23s
Shayna Baszler – 5.43s

Women’s 1,000-Meter Row

Official Top 5
1. Reina Gonzalez – 3:32
2. Bianca Belair – 3:33
3. Jessie Elaban – 3:44
3. Marina Shafir – 3:44
5. Xia Li – 3:45

Further Announced Results
Rachael Ellering – 3:46
Jessika Carr – 3:47
Kavita Devi – 3:48
Mia Yim – 4:12

Women, Day 2

Women’s Dynamic Bench Press (weight of choice, 3 reps measured by average velocity)

Official Top 5
1. Kacy Catanzaro – 0.75
2. Aliyah – 0.70
3. Bianca Belair – 0.64
4. Lacey Lane – 0.61
5. Marina Shafir – 0.60

Further Announced Results
Reina Gonzalez – 0.55
Xia Li – 0.52

Women’s Trap Bar Deadlift (single rep, attempts voluntary)

Official Top 5
1. Bianca Belair – 400lbs
1. Reina Gonzalez – 400lbs
3. Xia Li – 390lbs
4. Marina Shafir – 370lbs
5. Aliyah – 360lbs

Further Announced Results
MJ Jenkins – 350lbs
Io Shirai – 310lbs
Mia Yim 310lbs

Women’s 90-Yard Strong Relay (180lb Sled push, 60-pound kettle bells farmer walk, 60-pound dummy shoulder carry, return sprints, 5-second penalty for errors)

Official Top 5
1. Bianca Belair – 29.97s
2. Marina Shafir – 31.60s
3. Reina Gonzalez – 31.67s
4. Shayna Baszler – 32.22s
5. Xia Li – 33.23s

Further Announced Results
MJ Jenkins – 33.35s
Jessie Elaban – 34.60s
Kavita Devi – 36.90s (includes penalty)
Mia Yim – 38.09s
Jessamyn Duke – 40.02s

Women’s Overall Top 5

1. Bianca Belair – 15
2. Jessie Elaban – 61
3. Xia Li – 64
4. Marina Shafir – 70
5. Reina Gonzalez – 75

Women’s competitors with no announced results: Vanessa Borne, Karen Q

Men, Day 1

Men’s Vertical Jump (3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Montez Ford – 37.3” (illegal knee lift)
2. Riddick Moss – 34.8”
3. Shane Thorne – 34.0”
4. Denzel Dejournette – 32.4”
5. Adam Cole 32.3”

Further Announced Results
Wesley Blake – 31.3”
Babatunde – 30.5”
Dan Matha – 30.0”
Adrian Jaoude – 28.3”
Matt Riddle – 28.3”
Cezar Bononi – 28.0”

Men’s Broad Jump (3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Montez Ford – 10’ 10”
2. Denzel Dejournette – 10’ 6”
3. Riddick Moss – 10’ 3”
4. Shane Thorne – 10’ 0”
5. Dan Matha – 9’ 9”

Further Announced Results
Babatunde – 9’ 8”
Wesley Blake – 9’ 3”
Luke Menzies – 8’ 6”

Men’s Med Ball Toss (20-pound ball, 3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Dan Matha – 51’ 1” (unofficial 4th attempt)
2. Riddick Moss – 50’ 0”
3. Denzel Dejournette – 47’ 2”
4. Cezar Bononi – 44’ 9”
5. Babatunde 44’ 6”

Further Announced Results
Wesley Blake – 38’ 0”
Montez Ford 34’ 1”

Men’s Ring Agility (3 ring lengths, starting from face-up lateral recumbency, 2 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Riddick Moss – 4.10s
2. Cezar Bononi – 4.21s
3. Montez Ford – 4.28s
4. Wesley Blake – 4.44s
5. Shane Thorne – 4.46s

Further Announced Results
Babatunde – 4.69s
Dan Matha – 4.98s
Matt Riddle – 5.31s

Men’s 1,000-Meter Row

Official Top 5
1. Luke Menzies – 3:01
1. Riddick Moss – 3:01
3. Dan Matha – 3:03
4. Eric Bugenhagen – 3:06
5. Kona Reeves – 3:07

Further Announced Results
Cezar Bononi – 3:08
Babatunde: 3:10
Denzel Dejournette – 3:12
Matt Riddle – 3:15
Drake Wuertz – 3:23

Men, Day 2

Men’s Dynamic Bench Press (body weight, 3 reps measured by average velocity)

Official Top 5
1. Riddick Moss – 0.99
2. Adrian Jaoude – 0.94
3. Wesley Blake – 0.92
4. Steve Cutler – 0.77
5. Luke Menzies – 0.71

Further Announced Results
Jermaine Haley – 0.73
Mansoor – 0.62
Matt Riddle – 0.61
Kushida – 0.35

Men’s Trap Bar Deadlift (single rep, attempts voluntary)

Official Top 5
1. Eric Bugenhagen – 760lbs
2. Denzel Dejournette – 740lbs
3. Cezar Bononi – 650lbs
3. Riddick Moss – 650lbs
5. Steve Cutler – 600lbs

Further Announced Results

Dan Matha – 600lbs
Adrian Jaoude – Missed at 690lbs
Luke Menzies – Missed at 640lbs

Men’s 90-Yard Strong Relay (~240lb Sled push, 100-pound kettle bells farmer walk, 110-pound dummy shoulder carry, return sprints, 5-second penalty for errors)

Official Top 5
1. Riddick Moss – 25.03s
2. Babatunde – 26.78s
3. Dan Matha – 27.14s
4. Denzel Dejournette – 27.36s
5. Eric Bugenhagen – 27.59s

Further Announced Results
Cezar Bononi – 29.07s
Wesley Blake – 29.17s
Luke Menzies – 28.50s
Adrian Jaoude – 28.82s
Kona Reeves – 32.35s
Jermaine Haley – 35.58s
Matt Riddle – 38.31s

Men’s Overall Top 5 scored in combination with Rookie Men’s group (below).

Men’s competitors with no announced results: Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Saurav Gurjar, Punishment Martinez, Rinku Singh, Roderick Strong

Rookie Men, Day 1

Rookie Men’s Vertical Jump (3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. ACH – 35.2”
2. Brendan Vink – 35.0”
3. Sam Shaw – 33.6”
4. Daniel Vidot – 33.2”
5. Boa – 32.1”

Further Announced Results
Shane Strickland – 31.9”
Omari Palmer – 27.0”

Rookie Men’s Broad Jump (3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. ACH – 10’ 0”
1. Boa – 10’ 0”
3. Shane Strickland – 9’ 8”
4. Sam Shaw – 9’ 6”
4. Daniel Vidot – 9’ 6”

Further Announced Results
Cal Bloom – 9’ 5”
Omari Palmer – 8’ 4”
Jordan Omogbehin – 6’ 6”

Rookie Men’s Med Ball Toss (20-pound ball, 3 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. Brendan Vink – 49’ 1”
2. Cal Bloom – 43’ 6”
3. Sam Shaw – 43’ 0”
4. Jordan Omogbehin – 40’ 10”
5. Daniel Vidot – 40’ 8”

Further Announced Results
Nick Comoroto – 33’ 0”

Rookie Men’s Ring Agility (3 ring lengths, starting from face-up lateral recumbency, 2 attempts)

Official Top 5
1. ACH – 4.28s
2. Daniel Vidot – 4.42s
3. Robert Strauss – 4.52s
4. Cal Bloom – 4.58s
5. Boa – 4.65s

Further Announced Results
Sam Shaw – 4.68s
Brendan Vink – 4.80s
Shane Strickland – 4.86s
Jeff Parker – 4.98s
Omari Palmer – 5.11s
Matt Lee – 5.14s
Jordan Omogbehin – 6.01s

Rookie Men’s 1,000-Meter Row

Official Top 5
1. Daniel Vidot – 2:58
2. Sam Shaw – 3:02
3. Jeet Rama – 3:06
4. Cal Bloom – 3:07
4. Nick Comoroto – 3:07

Further Announced Results
Brendan Vink – 3:09
Boa – 3:12
Jeff Parker – 3:24
ACH – 3:26
Jordan Omogbehin – 3:28
Matt Lee – 3:30
Shane Strickland – 3:36

Rookie Men, Day 2

Rookie Men’s Velocity Bench Press (body weight, 3 reps measured by average velocity)

Official Top 5

1. Nick Comoroto – 0.94
2. Sam Shaw – 0.77
2. Robert Strauss – 0.77
4. Cal Bloom – 0.74
5. Matt Lee – 0.72

Further Announced Results
Jordan Omogbehin – 0.65
Omari Palmer – 0.62
Humberto Garza – 0.54

Rookie Men’s Trap Bar Deadlift (single rep, attempts voluntary)

Official Top 5

1. Omari Palmer – 800lbs
2. ACH – 690lbs
2. Brendan Vink – 690lbs
4. Cal Bloom – 650lbs
5. Nick Comoroto – 600lbs

Further Announced Results
Trevor Lee – 600
Jeet Rama – 600
Boa – 510
Humberto Garza – 510
Sam Shaw – 510
Shane Strickland – 510
Daniel Vidot – 510
Jordan Omogbehin – Missed at 600

Rookie Men’s 90-Yard Strong Relay (180lb Sled push, 60-pound kettle bells farmer walk, 110-pound dummy shoulder carry, return sprints, 5-second penalty for errors)

Official Top 5
1. Daniel Vidot – 25.53s
2. Brendan Vink – 25.78s
3. Cal Bloom – 28.34s
4. Nick Comoroto – 28.46s
5. ACH – 28.83s

Further Announced Results
Omari Palmer – 29.90s
Jeet Rama – 30.21s
Trevor Lee – 30.34s
Sam Shaw – 30.45s (includes penalty)
Humberto Garza – 30.93s
Shane Strickland – 31.58s
Jordan Omogbehin – 34.14s

Men’s/Rookie Men’s Overall Top 5

1. Riddick Moss – 27
2. Denzel Dejournette – 81
3. Cal Bloom – 82
4. ACH – 84
5. Daniel Vidot – 86

Rookie Men’s competitors with no announced results: D.A. Brewer, Stokely Hathaway

Stoup’s Analysis

Regardless of the impressive speed and strength scores, which as Road Dogg pointed out are not the be-all nor end-all in professional wrestling, this Network special is a fascinating glimpse inside WWE’s state-of-the-art Performance Center. As one may imagine, it is a very different presentation and characterization of the facility and its athletes from what we see on NXT TV, as well as a look at several newcomers who had yet been seen on a significant level. Though unwieldy at 5 hours and 46 minutes, it is fast-paced and well worth the watch to see the endearing camaraderie and competitive rivalries that develop among WWE’s developmental talents, and to hear perspectives on those talents from the coaches and colleagues who work with them daily. I watched the whole special twice in two days and enjoyed every minute. It feels like NXT’s own version of the Olympics. If WWE sees value in continuing with this special moving forward, I would only hope for improved organization so more – if not all – scores can be known and understood by the viewer rather than talked over, inaudibly muddled, or lost completely.

Highlights

  • Xia Li’s enthusiasm throughout the entire program, for her own performances and those of others even outside her own group
  • Stokely Hathaway voluntarily working himself to the bone despite being in NXT as a non-wrestler
  • Reina Gonzalez proving herself as one of the athletic elite in NXT’s women’s division
  • Shayna Baszler’s worked kick to Bianca Belair after Belair’s relay run
  • The running personal competition between Babatunde and Dan Matha
  • Adam Cole laughing in knowing disbelief at Montez Ford’s superhuman ability
  • Omari Palmer crushing Otis Dozovic’s 775lb trap deadlift record and making it look like nothing
  • Commentary’s analysis, including Coach Bloom’s suggestion of a Disney songs event for next year
  • Road Dogg saying, “If we just cleared the place and had a shoot fight, [Adrian Jaoude] would definitely win that one.”

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