WWE NXT: Looking at What Each Trainer Brings to the Table
Over the past year, the WWE's developmental territory has undergone a drastic transformation, transitioning from Florida Championship Wrestling to NXT Wrestling. They were once separate entities, but Triple H made the decision to combine them in an effort to place more emphasis on developing new talent.
NXT Wrestling features all of the up-and-coming wrestlers who were formerly in FCW, but the NXT label has given them more exposure. Most WWE fans can only watch NXT on YouTube, but the tapings now take place at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., which proves that the WWE is committed to building something substantial.
While the wrestlers are ultimately responsible for themselves in terms of reaching the next level, there is a very experienced and knowledgeable group of trainers helping them along the way. Trainers rarely get the credit that they deserve when it comes to cultivating new superstars, but they have an extremely important job with NXT Wrestling.
Here is an in-depth look at each of the six trainers currently assigned to NXT Wrestling, as well as an analysis of what they bring to the table and what they can teach the stars of tomorrow.
As head trainer for NXT Wrestling, Bill DeMott essentially oversees the development of all wrestlers as well as the work of the other trainers. It would be fair to say that DeMott played the jobber role for the vast majority of his wrestling career, but he certainly has a lot to offer younger wrestlers who are coming up through the system.
DeMott is best known for his Hugh Morrus gimmick in WCW.
Many didn't take him seriously since his persona was essentially a low-card guy who would laugh maniacally, but he clearly had talent. That was most apparent when he would execute his finishing move, No Laughing Matter.
Despite his 300-lb. frame, Morrus would scale the ropes and unleash a shockingly agile moonsault on a grounded opponent.
That wasn't enough to make DeMott a household name, but he held a job with WCW for six years before jumping ship to WWE upon the dissolution of WCW in 2001. DeMott worked as an enhancement talent until 2004, when he retired and took a position as a trainer.
Most notably, DeMott worked as a trainer on the most-recent edition of Tough Enough, and he was known as a no-nonsense guy who was extremely hard on the contestants.
Ultimately, DeMott just wants to see young wrestlers succeed, though, so he is the perfect guy to be at the forefront of the NXT Wrestling operation.
There is no question that the most successful former wrestler on the NXT Wrestling training staff is Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
Many consider him to be among the best in-ring workers of all time, so he is obviously an invaluable asset to the team. Steamboat is a WWE Hall of Famer and he clearly knows what it takes to reach the pinnacle of professional wrestling.
Steamboat boasts a laundry list of accomplishments in addition to his Hall of Fame induction, including being a former NWA Heavyweight Champion, as well as an Intercontinental Champion. Steamboat battled some of the biggest names in wrestling during his NWA days, including Ric Flair, but his shining moment in the business likely came at WrestleMania III.
That particular WrestleMania was headlined by a match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, but many wrestling fans believed that Steamboat and Randy "Macho Man" Savage stole the show. Steamboat and Savage put on an incredible match that featured technical skills, aerial maneuvers, brawling, psychology and essentially anything you could possibly hope to see in a bout.
If any of the rising stars with NXT Wrestling become half the wrestler that Steamboat was, then they will have had an excellent career.
When Steamboat speaks, I'm sure his pupils will listen.
Sara Del Rey
Widely thought of as the best female wrestler in the world, Sara Del Rey is a new addition to the NXT Wrestling training team.
When it was announced that Del Rey had signed a contract with WWE most believed that she would be debuting as a wrestler, but Del Rey will instead put her superior talent and vast experience to use as the lead divas trainer.
Del Rey has yet to step foot in a WWE ring, but there are few better-traveled female wrestlers who have ever practiced the craft. Del Rey has competed for SHIMMER, Chikara and Ring of Honor as well as in numerous promotions in Japan and Mexico.
She has held almost every women's title imaginable and is universally respected for her accomplishments.
The divas division in NXT Wrestling has taken some major hits recently, as Shaul Guerrero asked for and was granted her release, while Ivelisse Velez was let go as well. That leaves the depth in Florida razor-thin, but there is some talent that still needs to be cultivated.
Paige appears to be the star of the bunch, and she could really benefit from Del Rey's expertise, as could the rest of the divas.
Del Rey is only 31 years old and still in the prime of her wrestling career, so I have to believe that she will compete in the WWE at some point in the future. But until that day comes, the company couldn't have a more qualified woman grooming the young divas.
Most fans probably remember Terry Taylor best for his Red Rooster gimmick in the WWE from 1988 through 1990.
He was managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, but the character was a loser from the beginning, as he was essentially just a guy with a red mohawk who moved his head around in a manner that resembled a rooster. I'm not sure who thought that such a ridiculous persona would get over with the fans, but it didn't.
Red Rooster aside, Taylor had a ton of talent as a wrestler, and he hung around in both WWE and WCW for many years. It's unfortunate that the most notoriety he gained was as Red Rooster, but he was very valuable as a stepping stone for future stars.
Taylor stepped into the ring with many of the best wrestlers the business had to offer, so he knows what qualities are needed in order to be a star.
Taylor is a renaissance man in the wrestling business because even after he retired from in-ring competition, he still had plenty left to offer. Taylor worked as a backstage interviewer, an announcer and was even head of talent relations for TNA.
He has truly done it all, and that gives him a perspective that few others have.
Taylor knows as well as anyone that not every wrestler in the business can be a superstar, but he has seen enough of them to know what they possess.
One of the best things that a wrestling trainer can have is versatility, and Joey Mercury certainly provides that.
Most fans know Mercury from his 2004 through 2007 stint with WWE, but he competed in countless independent promotions before he got his big break. Hard work and persistence ultimately paid off for Mercury in his wrestling journey, and that is something that he can impart on the younger wrestlers trying to make that leap.
Another thing that sets Mercury apart from the other trainers is his history as a tag-team wrestler.
Mercury has done plenty of singles work as well, but he found his most success as Johnny Nitro's tag-team partner. He and Nitro, who later went on to become John Morrison, won the Tag Team Championships on three occasions and feuded with some of the best teams in the business.
Obviously not every young wrestler with NXT Wrestling is going to go on and become a singles star in WWE, but there is always a need for tag-team wrestlers, and Mercury is an expert in that area.
Mercury is also an expert when it comes to facing adversity, as his promising WWE career was cut short in 2007 when a botched spot in a match with the Hardy Boyz caused a ladder to severely injure his face.
Mercury went through some hard times, but he made it back to WWE in 2010 for a brief time as a member of CM Punk's Straight Edge Society before settling into his trainer role.
Those ups and downs figure to make him a very positive voice for the young, future stars.
While all of the NXT Wrestling trainers had impressive in-ring skills in their day, most of them were admittedly lacking in the charisma department.
One guy who wasn't, however, was Norman Smiley.
Although Smiley wasn't exactly a technical marvel in the ring, he carved out a great niche for himself as a hilarious comedic character in WCW from 1997 through 2001.
Smiley would dance around and perform wild antics that actually helped him gain a sizable fan following. His most successful run came as WCW's first Hardcore Champion, as he would dress in padding and scream prior to getting hit with weapons.
There wasn't much working for WCW in its dying days, but Smiley was a bright spot.
There are plenty of trainers on hand to teach the wrestling aspects, but Smiley is valuable because he can tell the talent that even if you aren't the best in the ring, you can still make something of yourself in the wrestling business.
Some guys are at a disadvantage from a physical perspective, but there are always ways to become relevant.
Smiley's experiences and career arc are very different from the other trainers, but he is definitely someone who the NXT wrestlers should take advice from.