WWE Hired A Former MMA Star To Teach Wrestlers One Specific Skill And It’s Finally Paying Off

Wrestling storylines often border on the absurd. A soap opera for men is what people will call the sport. Fans will suspend belief in the name of entertainment.

The same isn’t true of the actual wrestling. While most fans watching know a match is more or less scripted, the fight between opponents has to give off the appearance of being real — without accidentally knocking a guy’s face in.



Last October, mixed martial artist Seth Petruzelli was hired by the head of NXT, Triple H, specifically to work as a striking coach. Petruzelli wasn’t brought on to teach guys how to actually throw MMA-style haymakers, more to make it appear they were.

In an interview with Fox Sports, Petruzelli explained why this was so important to Triple H and the NXT brand.

“A lot of guys asked about that, too, and that was one of my main concerns. Like, these guys are going to hate me because ‘We don’t need to learn this crap if we’re not doing the same stuff; we’re not really trying to hit the person’,” Petruzelli explained. “But Triple H really wanted them to get a real look at it — MMA is so huge now and people know like, ‘Oh, he dropped his hands’ or ‘Oh, he got caught with a punch’, so they are catching on to the phony stuff. So they really wanted me to teach them the proper footwork, the way to turn your hand over (for a punch), the proper hand and foot combinations, the timing, speed, and about how to keep your hands up to block, how to slip, how to bob and weave. They really wanted the wrestlers to look like they knew what they were doing.”

In the past year, Petruzelli has worked with all of the NXT roster, and many of the guys who took to the training the quickest are now on the main WWE roster.

“Two people who just got brought up recently, Baron Corbin, he was one of the great athletes and he actually knew a little bit about jiu-jitsu and boxing, but the more and more he worked and started doing it again, he really enjoyed it. He really stepped it up. Also Apollo Crews, he adapted really well, too. He was a superior athlete but the striking was different for him, so he’s come leaps and bounds from when he first started. He adapted really well,” Petruzelli said. “Another one is Simon Gotch — he actually started training at my gym about a month after I started teaching there and he got way into it. He started doing jiu-jitsu and kickboxing and he got really good at everything. Becky Lynch is another one. She joined the gym and signed up and started doing jiu-jitsu like crazy. She’s really into it as well.”

Now, about those unbelievable storylines…let’s get working on those.

[via Fox Sports]

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Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about running, parenting, and professional wrestling.