WWE's New Performance Center and the History of the Developmental System

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WWE's New Performance Center and the History of the Developmental System
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images
Triple H, the architect of the new developmental system.

Today is the dawn of a new era in WWE.

For years, the developmental program (or "farm system") for new talent was farmed out to third parties who were paid a consulting fee by WWE.  The WWE creative team didn't always watch the TV shows, and sometimes weird things would happen when guys got called up to the main roster.  Most infamously, Doug Basham and the Damaja were called up to WWE as The Basham Brothers while in the middle of feuding with each other on Ohio Valley Wrestling TV.

Slowly but surely, things have changed.  A year ago, Florida Championship Wrestling's shows were rebranded as the new NXT when the NXT brand was dropped from WWE's touring TV tapings.  In this form, NXT was syndicated internationally by WWE and made available to American viewers on Hulu Plus.  The home office in Connecticut was working much closer with the developmental crew, watching the shows as part of their jobs and only calling up wrestlers who they had plans for.

Now, with the opening of the WWE Performance Center, the developmental program is wholly owned by WWE for the first time.  A pet project of Paul "Triple H" Levesque, the WWE executive vice president of talent and live events, the new home of NXT talent is inspired by elite sports training centers like the U.S. Olympic Team's training center in Colorado.  Recruitment of elite athletic prospects is being ramped up for the first time in years and WWE has finally addressed the criticism that not enough money went into the program.

It was a long road, though, with a bunch of different developmental groups and many wrestlers passing through (and if their name has a link, it's to a YouTube video of them in action from that period).  Let's take a look at the route they took going back to the program's early stages in the mid to late '90s.

David Bixenspan has been Bleacher Report's WWE Team Leader and a contracted columnist since 2011.  You can follow him on Twitter @davidbix and check out his wrestling podcasts at LLTPod.com.
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