When American Ninja Warrior Kacy Catanzaro was spotted at a WWE training session, questions abounded.
Was the “Mighty Kacy” heading into the ring? Was she trading in the pursuit of the buzzer for the pursuit of the belt?
Because we generally make the Jesse Labreck face when asked about non-Ninja related sports...
We reached out to Sean Rueter, editor and author at Cageside Seats for some perspective on the matter.
Does the WWE usually try to bring in well-known names from other sports/entertainment areas?
SR: WWE (and pro wrestling in general) is usually willing to latch onto whatever mainstream sports or pop culture appeal they can. Most of the people who get serious tryouts for a full-time role are either performers with a background in pro wrestling (there are independent promotions around the world which serve as WWE's minor leagues) or former athletes, stunt men & women, etc.
The company will publicize these tryouts, sometimes with just a story on their website, other times more aggressively (they had the guy who plays The Mountain on Game of Thrones in and hyped that one a lot, for instance).
They'll also bring in better known celebrities for one-off appearances, as they've done in the past with names ranging from Donald Trump to Hugh Jackman. These involve less training, but more mainstream publicity.
With Kacy, she'd probably be tagged for their own Developmental program and a full-time role. They'd make a little noise about her background on American Ninja Warrior, but eventually re-brand her with a name and character they can copyright.
How likely is it that one training session indicates that she's being considered for a contract?
SR: That they brought her in at all probably means they're interested. Getting a contract also doesn't mean we'll see her on WWE soon, or ever. Signing would be the start of a process where she'd train and work smaller non-televised shows for a year or more before even debuting on the "Developmental" brand, NXT.
Without crunching numbers, I'd estimate that something like a third of the folks they sign ever make it to television, and probably less for people coming from a non-wrestling background.
A lot of people’s immediate first reaction to this idea is that Kacy is too small for the WWE. Are there any other female wrestlers that might dispel that idea? Or would Kacy be an anomaly entering the WWE at her height and weight?
SR: One of the company's current Women's Champions goes about 5' tall and 100 pounds, so there's precedent for someone's Kacy's size succeeding. I doubt they're actively looking for performers that small (most women on the roster run from 5' 6" to 6'), but the good news is they probably see something in her to be considering her regardless.
Alexa Bliss is 5’ 1” and is defending her SmackDown Live women’s title on January 17.
This article discusses how Alexa Bliss’ talent and personality have more than made up for her perceived lack of size. Seriously, check out her ability to dominate a conversation with just her expressions.
Can you see any skills from American Ninja Warrior that would translate well to the WWE?
SR: Athleticism. She'd need to learn the "choreography" of telling a story with another person in a ring, but her stamina, strength and agility would give her a head start. The fact that she's already experienced being and talking on camera are other skills which would serve her well.
Are there skills you think Kacy would be lacking? That she would really have to train hard on to get up to speed?
SR: All the stuff that's unique to pro wrestling, like making it look like you're hurting someone else when you're actually not. Also, developing a character and projecting it.
Often times that's described as the performer's "real personality with the volume turned up", and they'd likely start with something she's comfortable with - but eventually would want to see her play hero and villain in multiple scenarios, and if she doesn't have acting/improv training, that could be a steep learning curve.
The bottom line: We might see Kacy Catanzaro joining the WWE, but it’s going to be awhile before it comes to light.
What do you think? Do you want to see Kacy in the ring, or should she focus on Mt. Midoriyama? Tell us in the comments.