A recount of the WWE tryout over WrestleMania week.
Over 40 athletes were brought into Los Angeles, California during WrestleMania 39 week to participate in a WWE tryout. One of the participants in the multi-day tryout was Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and former amateur wrestler Nick Rodriguez a.k.a. Nicky Rod.
He opened up about the experience on The Simple Man Podcast. Rodriguez shared that a film crew documented the entire multi-day tryout. He said cameras were not in his hotel room, but producers were in the hallways of the hotel filming content and capturing conversations between the tryout participants for a show.
Rodriguez said it was mentally tasking to navigate because he was trying to fulfill what the producers/film crew wanted and what the WWE coaches wanted.
A new WWE series is scheduled to premiere on The Roku Channel titled ‘WWE: Recruits’ and John Cena is the producer and he’ll be appearing in the eight-episode series.
Previously, like two, three years ago, I went to a WWE tryout and recently, I had another WWE tryout and no, it was pretty sick. I pretty much had to act. I had to act a little bit, right? Obviously we know the world of professional wrestling isn’t a real fight. It’s totally choreographed, you know? I don’t know if you’ve heard. So obviously, these guys are taking damage when they’re falling and stuff but yeah, I went to tryout, I had to do some promos. I had three total promos so it’s like a three or four day tryout and each day, we had to give a different promo, and we were filming from like 9 AM to 10, 10:30, 11:30 at night and it wasn’t even just — the previous tryout was strictly a tryout but here, it was more like — we had a film crew documenting it. I can’t say where it’s gonna be released at but it’s gonna be on some substantial network/TV channel. I believe it’s gonna be very huge. Shall get multi-million views.
So, it wasn’t as much reps, like acting. For us, it was pretty much a reality series. So we were mic’d up the whole time so it was a bit like, wherever we’re talking, we had to be conscious of is people listening?… So I was staying in a hotel but the whole hotel was — there was no mics or cameras in my room. Cameras everywhere. Every time you go into the hallway, there was producers and cameras in there. The whole time (they’re filming). I’m having a conversation with a couple of the guys and they’re like, ‘Woah! Hold on.’ They bring a camera, they’re like, ‘Alright, continue your conversation’ and they’ll be asking questions like, ‘Oh, how was your day?’ And I’ll respond. They’ll be like, ‘No, no, no, no. Ask him how was your day? Start the conversation.’ It was a bit offsetting. Definitely took some getting used to but it was like mentally overwhelming. I’m not doing physical activity but I have to talk to people all day long. I have to put that persona — we had a battle between trying to satisfy the producers that wanted us to be one thing and then try to satisfy the WWE coaches which wanted us to portray another thing. So to be myself is easy but then to be myself and then some, being extra is not my thing.
Rodriguez confirmed that the tryout he was a part of took place in Los Angeles and he was contacted by WWE via Direct Message about it.
They (WWE) DM’d me a few weeks ago like, ‘Listen, come to L.A. to do the tryout because it’s WrestleMania week. We’re gonna do this whole thing.’ That’s where I was, in Los Angeles. Yeah, secret’s out. So I do the tryout but bro, honestly, the athletic stuff was pretty easy but they put so much emphasis on the promo so you had these, pretty much athletes, are not used to talking in a microphone and we had to portray these characters and some people f*cking killed it and others did not kill it.
He made it to the final day of the tryout. Rodriguez stated that 10 people out of the crop of participants were chosen to move forward in the process. He was one of those 10.
They were brought to Crypto.com Arena and placed in a waiting room. Rodriguez was first to be called out of the room and he was brought to another room that had Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque, Shawn Michaels and Matt Bloom in it. Rodriguez claims that they heaped praise on him and then invited him to spend a month in Orlando, Florida and see where things go from there.
I think they chose about 10 of us (from the tryout), 10 out of 70… I found out already (if I made the cut). Well, I wonder how much I can say but I’ll just say it all… But pretty much, yeah, I make it to the final day. WWE, we go to the building of WrestleMania, pull up. Okay, so it’s in Crypto Arena in LA. It’s like Crypto.com, used to be whatever. But we go down through the bottom, total athlete entrance. Similar to A.D.C.C. Live, and they put us in this small room and they’re like, ‘Alright, just talk amongst yourselves. We’ll come get you’ and this is the last day, day four so we’re like — I don’t know if we have to do promos again. I’m thinking, I’m like f*ck. I only got a few… So in my mind, I’m prepping to do another promo. They call me in as the first athlete. I open the door and it’s coach (Matt) Bloom, Triple H and then Heartbreak Kid, Mr. Shawn Michaels. So I open the door, it’s them three sitting there and just one table across the room from them. I’m like, f*ck, alright, let’s go. So I sit down, they pretty much tell me, ‘Listen, you’re tall, handsome, strong… Super coachable, extremely fast and we’ve never seen anything like you.’ So they’re like, ‘Alright, listen, we want you to come spend a month in Orlando and we’ll help build this persona a little bit more and then, you know, we’ll get going from there…’ Triple H, Shawn Michaels and the Head of Athletics there, coach Bloom. Pretty sick. So they accepted me, accepted a few other guys. A couple guys are staying back and they’re gonna be part of the WrestleMania. They’re just gonna be around and maybe accept their contract on live air because obviously, their contract is gonna look different than somebody like me.
He would go on to state that he’s going to talk numbers and logistics with WWE. Rodriguez has no intentions of discontinuing his jiu-jitsu training and said his number one goal is to be part of The B Team jiu-jitsu academy in Austin, Texas.
He feels if WWE invests in him, it’ll be worth it in the long run and he could be a big star under their umbrella.
No (I don’t have to go to Orlando for a month). That was their offer so that they could say, listen, we want you to be a part of WWE because again, it’s a production thing. But yeah, they’re gonna call me. We’re gonna talk about numbers and logistics of it and you know, we’ll figure it out but I’m not gonna not train jiu-jitsu. Being in Austin (Texas) with The B Team, that’s my number one goal. I don’t know if I would do a month in Florida but I think I have enough ability — not ‘ability’. I have enough something so that they’re gonna be like, alright, I think we can invest in this guy. They invest a few hundred thousand in a trainer and training me in a ring or whatever, it’s gonna be worth it in the future. Bro, I think I have something that most of these guys don’t have and I could be a f*cking superstar on their platform and I know they understand that so, we’ll see how it goes.
Later in the conversation, Rodriguez recounted the promos he gave as a part of the tryout. He was told that he’s good at portraying the cocky character who is better than everyone but wanted to switch things up because the company values being dynamic.
This is my worst promo. They forced me to — so I had two pretty decent promos. Obviously, I’m not a f*cking actor, you know what I mean? So I just had to whip it up. But before this promo, they’re like, ‘Listen, you’re doing great being this guy that’s supposedly better than everybody,’ whatever. Portraying that because it’s easy because that’s my real life. I’m better than — no (he laughed). That’s how I treated it, you know? But they were like, ‘Listen, you have to portray something else.’ They value being dynamic so I’m like, ‘Alright, no problem.’ So I’m gonna try to be like a little player or something. So I’ll just reiterate what I said… ‘They call me NickyRod, the Black Belt slayer. When I get up in that ring, I’m the number one player. If I catch your girlfriend without ya, best believe I’m gonna slay her. There’s only two things I care about in this world. That’s getting paid and getting laid and I’ve been doing both since about the 8th grade.’ I’m a rapper now. I got two more (he laughed). Then I was like, because it rhymes, I was like, ‘I’m trying to make so much money, all my cars are wrapped in suede.’ You ever seen a car wrapped in suede? ‘For all the haters out there throwing shade, this thing is a game and the boss NickyRod already played. Rod-Man out.’ So that was my worst one.
The first one was just an introduction. The first one was pretty much normal. That was just me, right? Intro goes something like this, ‘What’s up guys? My name is Nick Rodriguez a.k.a. NickyRod a.k.a. The Black Belt Slayer. I’m a professional grappler. I travel the world, teaching, competing, defending my throne as the number one pound-for-pound grappler in the world. One of the most –’ I’m f*cking this up — ‘one of the hardest things about what I do is managing the ego. Understanding how to shut the ego off when it’s time for learning and implementing new techniques and knowing when to turn it on when it’s time to compete.’ I had something else. ‘When it’s time to compete –’ I’m literally drawing blanks right now… The second one is my personality but just a little more flare. A little meaner. So I was like, ‘Listen here, what sets me apart from all these other athletes is that they are merely pretending to be good and/or great. They are acting and trying to fool the audience into believing they are better than they really are. I, on the other hand, am not pretending. I’m not acting or trying to portray this man, this being that is better or greater than all. I simply am. I was born on top, I live on top, I shall remain on top. NickyRod, out.’ So that’s what I had to do and I never did it before so, get it, got it, good.
Some people did that really, really well (put a lot of base in their voice and emphasis on their words)… I need to practice getting my voice deep or something. Some guys would have like a yell. It’s weird because they were saying to me and this totally makes sense that like, ‘It’s not about what you say. It’s about how you say it’ because you could be like, I like cookies or you could be like, I like cookies!!! I definitely learned a little something about myself for sure.
Two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair was brought in to speak to the tryout participants about promos. To read his recount of that experience, click here.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit The Simple Man Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.