You’ve been watching pro wrestling for years. Maybe you were sucked in by a Stone Cold rebel who went up against the corporate machine, or a group of outlaws who quit the largest company in the business to join the surging competitor, or perhaps you witnessed a third generation superstar cutting mesmerizing promos about pie.
How many times have you thought, “Imagine if I could do an in ring interview to make the crowd go wild…” or “What if I were face to face with The Rock?” What’s the next step? You do a Google search, only to find hundreds of wrestling schools, run by guys you’ve never heard of. Many may be reputable, but often, when you click on the website link, the head trainer is pictured with a replica WWE title, or their name is something like “The Ice Cold Rattlesnake” Stan Austin. The experience can be mind numbing.
But then there are training facilities like Steve Corino’s Carolina Wrestling Academy in Hubert, NC. In a business known for its sleazy swindlers and fast talking carnies, Corino breaks the stereotype. The man who refers to himself as one of pro wrestling’s greatest overachievers has been in pro wrestling for over twenty years. He is a former ECW, NWA, and AWA world champion, currently employed by ROH, and owner of the PWF.
The Academy’s website clearly states what is to be expected, “The Carolina Wrestling Academy is different than any ‘wrestling school’ in the world. The course is structured like college and runs in 9 week semesters. You start in the Academy as a ‘Freshman’ and work your way up to a ‘Senior’ in 36 weeks.”
This is not the “wrestling boot camp” where you are berated by an overbearing bitter veteran and pushed until you puke. If a student is not feeling well or has an injury, Corino insists that they communicate it to the coaching staff. The goal is similar to that of any other training school or college curriculum for other career paths.
Corino explains, “I want the Academy students to get out there and live their dreams. For some, it might be the WWE/TNA/ROH/Lucha Underground. For some, it might be international travel, and some might want to stick close to home. I want to give them as many tools as possible to assist them. I want them to work hard and be proud of coming from the Academy. I want other companies to look upon our trainees as people that know what they are doing, in any role available to them.”
The Academy staff consists of Jakob Hammermeier, Bobby Wohlfert, Jagger, and PWF’s President Bert Foxx. Each member of the staff provides their own unique perspective on the business with a humble attitude.
Steve feels each coach brings a unique individual perspective. “Every one of the Academy coaches has a different way of teaching, and different strengths. For example, Jakob Hammermeier is an amazing entertainer and can help them with character development, Bobby Wohlfert is a former Marine staff sergeant and successful amateur wrestler that can teach discipline and ground
Coach Jagger is a 15 plus year veteran of the North Carolina wrestling scene. He agrees with Steve’s non-bootcamp training style. “Some of these guys think it’s best to break someone down as much as possible and then rebuild them. I don’t agree with that philosophy, so I am happy to witness Steve’s methods.” He continues, “We, as coaches, are encouraged to put our own spin on lessons and show the trainees methods and actions that have worked for us in the ring. Trainees get a broad spectrum of support that will allow them to develop their own style out of the fundamentals.”
Coach Jakob Hammermeier currently tours with Chikara. His pro wrestling career began when he started training with Steve’s sister, Allison Danger, and her husband, Ares. “The Academy is a great place to learn everything there is to learn about pro wrestling. You have coaches who care about you and are going to keep you safe, and give you the best chance to be successful in pro wrestling,” says Jakob.
Coach Bobby Wohlfert is not only a veteran of the North Carolina and Florida independent scene, but also the USMC. He says, “I feel my military background and experience plays a huge factor in my ways as a trainer, because not everyone learns the same way. And as a Marine Corps instructor, you had to find different ways to teach every student, find what works for them.”
Corino believes that every student has an empty tool box, and that he and his coaching staff are here to fill it with the tools needed for the students to move forward with their careers. He also wants his students to be open minded. One example is how he teaches his students to count in Japanese while during warm up exercises.
“With close ties to Pro-Wrestling ZERO1 in Japan, I want my trainees to open their minds to different cultures. Learning different languages is not foreign to a professional wrestler because pro-wrestling has a language of its own. I, for one, love the Japanese dedication to their crafts and want that influence in our Academy. It is based on Sumo and Samurai spirit. Looking into your own soul and believing in yourself when you once doubted yourself.” Corino continues on about future networking with Japanese promotions, “In 2016, you will see some wrestlers from Pro-Wrestling ZERO1 and also from Seadddling come over and be a part of the Academy and also the PWF.”
Steve does have some advice for those who have always dreamed of going to a wrestling school. “Research, Research, Research. A training school is like college. Are you going to go to a cheaper one knowing you may only get part of the knowledge that you would get a more expensive and better taught school? What programs does the school have? Do they cater to what you are looking for? For every good school out there, there are 25 bad ones.”
Jagger reiterates, “Steve genuinely cares about each one of his trainees and wants to see them succeed at whatever level their talent, desire, and aptitude will take them to,”
Wohlfert insists, “The biggest aspect though, is respect. I instill what I consider my pillars: Respect, Honor, Effort, Integrity. You mess with any of those, the whole thing crumbles. They are all equally important.
Hammermeier paraphrases what he considers the most important lesson he’s learned from Corino, “Learn from everywhere and everyone. Not one person has it all figured out, ever. No matter how long you do it, never be afraid to learn and evolve.”
Although the Carolina Wrestling Academy is a business, it is not a money grab. It is not a ring in a warehouse where you can just pay to play. There are classes and structure. If you want to work hard and learn, then maybe this is the place for you. If you want to ‘play wrestler’, then this isn’t the place,” states Corino.
Not only will the Academy be providing classes, Steve has also promised several workshops with established veterans, the first of which will be with ECW, WWE, and HOH great Tommy Dreamer on Jauary 30. For more information, go to the PWF website.