The debut episode of “Can Chris Hero Save Wrestling?” is up now at AdFreeShows.com. Former WWE NXT star Chris Hero talks about tiering within the Performance Center, the notion of being a “player-coach,” his thoughts on NXT UK, his release from WWE, wrestling burnout, and much more.
Here are a couple of highlights from the show:
Chris Hero was asked if NXT has overcomplicated the process of training wrestlers:
“Once they went live week to week, they started losing focus of what they wanted from the talent. The initial purpose of NXT was to have a television show to get talent ready for the main roster so they would get those reps. When I started with FCW, we would do our monthly tapings for FCW on the Sunshine Network. Then they worked out this deal with Full Sail. They ran a pilot episode right before I started. Then they, I don’t want to say stumble, but they ended up with this lucrative deal with Full Sail. Then they ended up on Hulu. Then the Network came. Now they capitalized on that niche fan as opposed to the casual fan that loves the main WWE Superstars. I think it was 2015 when NXT really started gaining steam. They got Kenta. They got Finn Balor. They got Kevin Owens. Obviously, Sami Zayn was on his way up. Neville was on his way up. Cesaro would come back and do matches here and again. TJ Wilson or Tyson Kidd would come in and do matches. It really exploded. I think it was Mania weekend in San Jose where they had that massive show that sold out quickly and they were like, ‘Oh my God, we have something on our hands.’ So, the success of that muddies the water, I think, at the Performance Center because when you have people learning how to wrestle, are they trying to learn how to wrestle so that they can be WWE Superstars or that they can wrestle for NXT? While people say they are the same, they are absolutely not because they are run by different people who want different things. I think one of the reasons that independent wrestlers who have the background in independent wrestling are so successful is because they are able to adapt to that. When all you know is what you’ve been taught in the Performance Center, it’s really hard to throw somebody a curveball and go, ‘You’ve been doing it this way for two years of your three year career, now we need to do it this way.’ It’s difficult for a lot of the guys and girls there to make certain adjustments because we can banter back and forth about what’s good pro wrestling and what’s not good pro wrestling, but what it boils down to is what the boss wants. Who is the boss and what does he want? If he loves it, then you’re doing a good job.”
Chris Hero on why he turned down a coaching job for NXT in 2012:
“I got a call from Canyon Cemen, who is our talent relations guy with NXT. He had expressed to me that there was a future for me in the company as a coach or producer. That has been expressed to me for years, to the point where sometimes it’s like a backhanded compliment where it’s like, ‘one day you’re going to be a great coach’ as opposed to ‘Right now, you’re an awesome talent and one day you will be an even better coach.’ It’s how people perceive you. I had a meeting in the FCW office with Canyon Cemen in 2012 and he told me, ‘Hey, I think you may be suited to be a coach.’ That was nine years ago he told me that. I got fired up when he told me that then. I was like, ‘Yes, I know I’m going to be a good coach, but I’m busy right now. I want to work.’
At NXT, they don’t have a situation where you can be a coach and have the benefits of being a coach and also have matches. That’s just not a thing they do. For instance, Chris Sabin came down to the PC and was a guest coach for a week and he was awesome. But, being there put that fire under him and he was like, ‘‘I can kill it with him and I can kill it with him.’ He’s envisioning that whereas they are envisioning that he can come in and help all our guys get better, but there is no chance for him to have matches. That’s a weird part of their system that I think needs some work. He mentioned to me there’s a future for me. Hunter said that to me before. Bloom said that to me several times, but listen, I appreciate that and that’s awesome, but not until I am done in the ring because I don’t want to be coaching talent and resenting them when they don’t live up to my standards, whether it’s their attitude or their abilities because I can’t also go and wrestle. If I can wrestle and coach, I could be that much better because there is no animosity built up. If I was forced to quit wrestling, that’s where the animosity would come from. But that’s not a situation I wanted to put myself into. I could have kept a paycheck this whole 10 months. It wasn’t quite, ‘hey let’s switch you over to being a coach right now’ but rather it was basically, ‘let us know when you want to be a coach.’ I could have said, ‘Ok, let’s get the ball rolling for that’, which I’m sure I could do at any point, but I have decided not to because I want to wrestle. I’ve got so much more that I want to do and so much more that I can do. I’m just not ready to move past that part of my career.”
If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit “Can Chris Hero Save Wrestling? on AdFreeShows.com” with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.
Can Chris Hero Save Wrestling? That's the plan! Excited to sit down w/ @HeyHeyItsConrad each week to remind everyone just how fascinating & fulfilling pro wrestling can be. This podcast is for anyone who LOVES pro wrestling! Debuts Tuesday for FREE only at https://t.co/eK7Ws1N8JP pic.twitter.com/VW4n9ZEquO
— Chris Hero (Is Back) (@ChrisHero) January 26, 2021