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By Anthony Beningo

(Seth Rollins with Marek Brave)

Calling all potential Aerialists, Architects and Money in the Bank Ladder Match winners: Seth Rollins wants to recruit you. The former WWE Tag Team Champion and current Money in the Bank contract holder is starting his most ambitious venture yet: The Black & The Brave Wrestling Academy, which looks to train potential independent (and WWE) competitors in a wholly unexpected way. Just a few weeks ahead of the school’s first training session, Rollins sat down with to discuss his academy’s origins, its relationship with the WWE Performance Center and the one piece of advice any recruit must heed to succeed.
WWE.COM: Tell us a little bit about how The Black & The Brave Wrestling Academy came about.
SETH ROLLINS: It was an opportunity I had now that I’m back home in Iowa. My old tag-team partner, Marek Brave, and I were looking for a way to give back to the independent wrestling community in our area in the Midwest. If you look around the country, there are a lot of good places to train, but there are none, really, in the Midwest. We wanted to give an opportunity to young kids, grown half-adults, anybody with a dream, to come to the Iowa, Illinois area, get the best possible training, and hopefully have the best possible eyes on them if they want to succeed and make their way here to WWE.

WWE.COM: How long have you known Marek?
ROLLINS: I’ve known Marek for more than a decade. We grew up together as friends, teenagers, and we started training when we were 18. Like I said, when we started training there was no place around me, so we had to drive to Chicago and apprentice under a local independent wrestler named Danny Daniels. There was just no facility, and nobody to teach you how to break into the business, so to speak. So I’ve known him for 12 years and it’s crazy; we’re trying to just give back now, you know?

WWE.COM: Is there a specific reason you chose now to open the school?
ROLLINS: It just felt like the right time. I feel like I’m in a good position here at the company. I’ve got the Money in the Bank contract, I’ve been successful for a couple years, and I feel firmly implanted in the WWE family, I guess you would say. I feel like it’s a good opportunity. Marek is at a good place in his life where he’s ready to commit more time to something like this, and I just feel it’ll be good, especially moving forward, as something to do in the future as well.

WWE.COM: You are on the road full-time with WWE. Ideally, how much time do you want to spend with the class?
ROLLINS: Class meets three times a week as well as venturing to the independent shows that Marek wrestles at on weekends and stuff like that. When I’m home during the week, I’d like to stop by and build a rapport with the kids and the students, stuff like that, but Marek will be handling the bulk of the training. We’re also bringing on an assistant trainer; my friend Shane Hollister will be a big part of this as well. They’ll be doing the bulk of the in-ring stuff, but I’ll be around to supervise and make sure things run smoothly.

WWE.COM: You also have a partnership with CrossFit; can you talk about that a little?
ROLLINS: Yeah. The reason I wanted to do that is my local CrossFit gym, Quad City CrossFit. A lot of kids never learn – if you’re not an athlete in high school or collegiately, you don’t really learn how to work out. You don’t learn how to move growing up. CrossFit really teaches the basics and fundamentals of proper mechanical movement. It has translated very well for me as far as building the physique and cardiovascular output that I need to be a success in this industry, and I think starting the kids off on that foot, coupling the CrossFit training with the in-ring work, will give them a head start as far as the way it feels to be a WWE Superstar.

WWE.COM: The school offers a three-month program. Does it cover just basics, or does it get into specific styles like yours?
ROLLINS: You’ll get a complimentary membership to the Quad City CrossFit; all their classes, nutrition seminars, all that will be available to the students. At the same time, you’re going to get a 12-week, kind of balls-to-the-wall, all-out training to get you prepared for starting off in the wrestling world – or at least the way that I did it, starting off at a grassroots level and working the independent scene. This should give you all the tools you need to get started, and you’ll be able to progress from there.

WWE.COM: Is there going to be any relationship with the WWE Performance Center?
ROLLINS: There is no affiliation with WWE, [but] they are super-supportive of it. They have given me the go-ahead; I think they see it as good for all parties involved. I’ve got a good set of eyeballs on me, so I can spot talent. If there’s somebody that I need to recommend to the WWE Performance Center that the coaches down there can take a look at, I certainly can do that, and that’s an advantage of coming to my academy. At the same time, there’s no affiliation with WWE. I’m doing this on my own time, with my own backing. So there’s a partnership, but it’s very unofficial.

WWE.COM: Have you gotten your first class yet?
ROLLINS: We are rounding up applicants as we speak and are accepting them, I would say, based on qualifications. There’s a form on the website that you can go to and fill out. There’s a short essay, some photographs and a lot of follow-up emails and conversations to be had after that. We’ve accepted a few students already for the first class, which begins in August, and once we get a dozen lined up we’ll be able to get going and see what happens. You never really know what’s going on until you do it, right?

WWE.COM: Is there any specific thing you look for in potential applicants?
ROLLINS: Yeah, just a hunger for it, you know what I mean? I don’t want people coming to my school thinking this is gonna be easy or try to find a way to get famous. I guess I’m kind of looking for people who have a little bit of me in them, I suppose. A little bit of – I don’t know what the word is, but I want people who are gonna come in and work hard, just really love and appreciate what we do, and have a passion for it. I think that’ll come across fairly easily. When I read the essays I can tell the difference between the folks who want it and those who are just kind of pretending.

WWE.COM: Is there one piece of free advice you’d like to give the WWE Universe?
ROLLINS: Don’t be a jerk. That’s a good piece of advice. Come with hopes high, head low, open ears, open eyes and work hard, and that’ll get you where you want to be.

Published by Ash on July 26th, 2014
Filed in Interviews

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