It has been a busy start to 2019 for the WWE as the first major event of their global localisation strategy has seen a UK Performance Centre unveiled in London.
Previously the WWE only had one Performance Centre, based in Florida in the United States, but this new venue is part of the company's grand plans for establishing their UK brand and identity.
The facility, made up of 17,000 square feet, two training rings and high quality conditioning equipment and other infrastructure is designed to help train and support their UK-based superstars on the NXT UK brand, which was launched in 2018 and has a weekly show on the WWE Network.
The UK Performance Centre was unveiled on the same weekend in January that NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, the brand's first network special, took place in the north of England, delighting a sell-out crowd as superstars including United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley.
While overseeing the action in the UK, Triple H, WWE's executive vice president of talent, live events and creative, spoke to international media about why the WWE was expanding outside the United States, why the Middle East and India are important markets, and why he still has happy memories of the historic Alexa Bliss v Sasha Banks match in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
On the importance of establishing a Performance Centre in London
"This is the first step of us getting the performance centres and that group outside of the US, as we talked about with the localisation, but it's just that, it's the first step. Why we chose here is we followed the, the talent that are here, their passion, their drive, their desire is what led us to be here.
"We want to reward that hard work and passion. We want to give them a path to something more, so they're doing something more."
On the next steps WWE have for their global strategy
"Replicating this, at various places around the globe now, is going to reward the passion of the people in those regions that want to do this for a living and are willing to work harder than anybody else to make it happen. So, this is step one and it's happening over, and over, and over again around the world."
On how try outs in new areas work with the WWE
"We will scour, we will go through those people, we will talk to them, we will whittle that down to the best of the best. We'll bring them in to try out for us. They'll come in for a few days, we'll put them through some really hard stuff. But we're not just looking to wear them out physically because what we're looking for is, they wear down physically, we're looking for how they handle that, mentally. What becomes of them? Are they leaders? When they get tired, do they help the person next to them? Or do they push the person next to them down, to try to succeed, themselves? It's all part of the process.
"We'll then find talent, that we believe have the skill set and the right mentality to become WWE superstars. We've become very successful at that whittling down process. We'll begin to look at them. Whether we bring them here, whether we bring them at first to the UK, when we feel like we're beginning to see enough of that passion process and enough boiling up to the top, that we're ready and we're already looking at the process, I don't want to say it's like we're waiting, we will have all the steps in place to then begin to execute a performance centre."
On where WWE have in mind for future performance centres
"I can tell you there will be a performance centre in India. There will be a performance centre in the Middle East. There will, more than likely, be a performance centre in Latin America. We will be replicating this process around the globe, all over."
On the importance of the Middle East to the WWE
"I see the same thing. I see that being a performance centre there. I see that, as you said, the product is very big there, very successful there, there's a lot of people that have a very strong interest in it.
"If we go in the Middle East and we start to recruit there and we see that all of a sudden there's this massive interest, there's massive depth of people that we feel have the ability to succeed, then we would go there first, or quicker."
On being in Abu Dhabi in 2017 to see Alexa Bliss v Sasha Banks fight for the first WWE women's match in the UAE
"I was there. I was there when Alexa and Sasha wrestled. I was there while there were people in the crowd, young boys, young girls, the entire crowd chanting, "This is hope." That is massive. It doesn't happen over night. But you can't change if you're not there."