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Tuesday, January 22 Business

WWE opens London training facility

STAMFORD — WWE announced Friday the opening of a training center in London, its first such facility for performers outside the United States.

The new complex aims to support Stamford-based WWE’s goal of expanding worldwide its “NXT” series of competitions for up-and-coming talent. More than 30 prospects signed to the NXT UK brand are set to train there, in a venture that would complement the company’s main performance center in Orlando, Fla.

“We are incredibly proud to open the U.K. performance center and provide our NXT UK superstars the same world-class coaching and development programs that we deliver at WWE’s performance center in Orlando,” Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE’s executive vice president overseeing talent and live events, said in a statement.

WWE’s new center in the British capital covers 17,000 square feet, with two training rings. In addition to work in the ring, the programming would focus on “physical preparedness and character development,” the company said.

The new center is located in north London. A company spokesman declined to specify the address, citing security concerns.

Top British performers for WWE include England’s Paige, Jack Gallagher and Drake Maverick; Scotland’s Drew McIntyre and Noam Dar; and Northern Ireland’s Killian Dain.

“Fighting with My Family,” a film based on Paige’s life that also stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is scheduled to be released Feb. 14.

In addition to its flagship American events such as WrestleMania and Royal Rumble, WWE holds an increasing number of competitions outside the U.S.

Last November, WWE embarked on its latest “Live” tour of the U.K., with stops in cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

At the same time, the company continues to expand its live programming in other world regions.

Amid the furor over the suspected murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, WWE held its Crown Jewel competition on Nov. 2 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The decision received sharp criticism on social media and from TV pundits, but WWE officials have not indicated that they were rethinking their commitment to the company’s 10-year partnership with the Saudi government that was launched last year.

In an Oct. 26 statement, WWE officials condemned Khashoggi’s killing as a “heinous crime.” On the same day, WWE Co-President George Barrios said, on an earnings call, that proceeding with the event was “a difficult decision.”

Crown Jewel still sold out the approximately 25,000-capacity King Saud University Stadium, according to WWE.

The event would likely contribute significantly to WWE’s event earnings this year.

In the third quarter of last year, the company’s event business brought in $26.7 million, down about 15 percent from the same period in 2017. The decline reflected lower attendances at events around the world and reduced ticket prices at gatherings held outside the U.S.

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pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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