Former UFC fighter Seth Petruzelli, who has been working as a striking coach at the WWE Performance Center for six months, recently spoke with FOX Sports about the job. The full interview is at this link. Below are highlights:
Everyone asking why pro wrestlers need to learn how to strike:
“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’ 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.”
Working with various stars who are now on the main roster:
“So many people I’ve worked with. 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.
“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.”
Possibly starting a pro wrestling career:
“The only bad thing about it is it really makes me want to do it. Like really, really bad. I spend a lot of time in the ring with these guys, so it makes me really want to do it. I’m in better shape now than when I was fighting. I’m like 215 (pounds), I’m super lean, I’m strong, I’m lifting heavy and I’m actually more injury free now than when I was training for fights. It’s something I’ve been thinking about in the back of my head, so don’t be surprised if it happens.”
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