The center is training the next generation of professional wrestlers. Founded in 2014 by Marine Corps combat veteran Jordan 'Smiley' Rogers and professional wrestlers 'Smooth as Satin' David Cattin and Adam Houck, it's not your typical sports training center.
Rogers, general manager of XWC, describes professional wrestling as "theater, meets athleticism, meets gymnastics." The center accepts candidates 16 years or older, but only after passing an initial physical evaluation. Then the real work begins.
Name.Kitchen spoke with Rogers about what students can expect and why he's so passionate about XWC's domain name: 'prowrestling.training.' Disclaimer: Rogers has a degree in computer science, so geeking out over domains comes as naturally to him as critiquing a body slam.
Explain your nickname, 'Smiley.'
Back in 2007, I started an Internet TV show and didn't want to use my real name. I wanted something easy to remember. The very first thing that popped in my head was 'Smiley. Since I can use the smiley face as part of my persona, it made sense to me. No one ever forgets 'Smiley.'
Oh, and here I thought it might have been a wrestling name. What about the XWC students? Any clever wrestler names in the bunch?
Purple Phoenix, The Marksman, Lady Pride, Double D and The Riegel Twins ... just to name a few.
Why open a professional wrestling training facility in Kansas City?
I'd be crazy to open this business in a lot of other places, but Kansas City has over 100 years of history in professional wrestling. Kansas City really has been a stronghold for pro wrestling for a long time. Somewhere in the 80’s when Vince McMahon, with WWE, was consolidating everything, Kansas City sort of shut down and really has never been the same. We are confident that there’s a fan base around here, which we have found to be true. We're setting out to prove that and make Kansas City a pro wrestling stronghold again.
For those with dreams of becoming the next WWE superstar, is professional training really necessary?
Absolutely. Because there are so many intricacies as to how moves are actually done quote-unquote the "correct way," as opposed to just how you think it's done because you saw it on TV. In professional wrestling, the reality is that you don't want to injure your opponent. The goal is for you to both make it out of the match, with as little harm done as possible, but where the audience has been entertained as much as possible.
What can people expect by training at Xtreme Wrestling Center?
We are going to train for at least four months. It's a slow steady progression. We're not going to throw you right into a match. You're going to do just basic body slams, learn in-ring confidence and how to lead the match – things like that. We're also going to test your mic skills.
What do you mean by "mic skills"?
Can you pitch yourself as a wrestler? Can you speak? I mean, you have to have some charisma!
Sounds like comprehensive training.
Some people think that it's going to be a club and that they can come in and just talk about pro wrestling and not really work hard. We let them know pretty quick that's not the case. This is a school. We want to help these wrestlers get a career in professional wrestling.
It's a male dominated industry. Any women among your students?
We have gotten some women. We've got one lady wrestler, Lady Pride, on our roster for our promotion. She's up at the school often and helps us train. But we want to see more girls involved, and we're trying to train girls to be professional wrestlers more in the same vein as men, as opposed to what WWE does, which is basically train as what they call "divas" -- which is really just a word for eye candy.
Let's talk about your business name -- how'd you choose it?
We knew that we probably wanted to have the word “Xtreme” in there. We all appreciate ECW, or Xtreme Championship Wrestling, one of the organizations in the late '90s that we all watched. So in a way, we're paying homage to that.
And also mirroring its use of that “X”?
The honest and simple answer is [the acronym] ‘EWC’ doesn't sound cool as ‘XWC.’ [laughter] But I don't think the name of the company has necessarily been critical in our initial success. It wouldn't matter, as long as you have a good product, people can find it and you know how to market it. That’s where the name of the website has been very helpful.
How has the name of the website been helpful?
People are finding us nationally and, of course, locally because of the SEO [search engine optimization] benefits of having keywords in our URL – and not having the extra nonsense ‘dot-com’ [.com], which tells you nothing extra about what you're going to see.
You’re talking about your domain, ‘prowrestling.training.’
Yes. But we actually started out as the ‘xtremeprowrestlingcenter. com,’ which was this ridiculously long URL that no one was going to be able to spell right since we spell our name with an “X” instead of starting with an “E.” Plus, no one in the world is going to search that randomly. Whereas, people are searching “pro wrestling training,” and that nails our demographic.
How did you learn that ‘dot-training’ [.training] was an option for your URL?
In 2009, or maybe even '08, I had read that they were going to release new domains and in the next several years. As soon as I started seeing them getting released, I started digging around online to see what cool ones I could reserve.
The ‘dot-training’ [.training] caught my eye. I was playing around ‘wrestling.training,’ which was already taken, but ‘prowrestling.training’ was not. When I thought about the SEO benefits, it became a no brainer and basically was proven right on that pretty quickly.
How were you proven right?
Because of traffic coming to the website. Google “pro wrestling training,” and we're actually ranked on the front page. Although on some days, for some reason, Google algorithms are doing weird stuff, and it'll drop down like several pages. But we got to the front page for “pro wrestling training” within two or three months after we released the website. That's pretty awesome.
That's a great online victory amidst the ups and downs of launching a new business.
There are no good books on how you start a pro wrestling company. I pretty much had to figure it all out myself, and there have been a lot of leaps of faith and a lot of uncertainty. I never really thought of myself as a businessman before, but I've definitely become one during the course of all this, and things have progressively gone in a really good direction.
Learn more about this business by visiting the website www.prowrestling.training.