Beginning this Sunday at TakeOver 31, NXT returns to the Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., for its weekly shows, and there will an entirely different look to the venue.
The newly remodeled television set inside the Performance Center is now known as the Capitol Wrestling Center, and it will be unveiled at TakeOver.
The Capitol Wrestling Center name is a tribute to the Capitol Wrestling Corporation that was founded by Jess McMahon in 1953 and run by Vincent J. McMahon, serving as the precursor to WWE. Paul “Triple H” Levesque oversees the NXT brand, and he was adamant that the new set pay respect to the history of WWE.
“It’s a historic callback to where this all began,” said Levesque. “We gutted the Performance Center and it’s now rebuilt, so it feels like we’re going back to the beginning. To me, it feels like we’re going back to 1953. Just like then, we’re doing something different and new, taking the business to a whole new level.
“The Capitol Wrestling Center captures the feel and the vibe of NXT. We will have all the bells and whistles of the ThunderDome, but we’ll keep that NXT feel. It’s edgier, darker and raw—you’re walking into the ultimate heavy metal soundstage.”
In addition to video walls surrounding the ring with virtual fans, similar to the ThunderDome, the venue also will welcome back live fans in a limited capacity. Levesque said the crowd is likely to be around 100 people at Sunday’s TakeOver.
“There will be a contingent of fans in attendance, some of which will be talent, others will be friends and family and some will be fans,” said Levesque. “We will take every safety precaution that there is. All of this was signed off by our medical staff. Everybody that walks in the building will be PCR tested, take a questionnaire and be medically screened. There will be plexiglass pods with fans that are in groups, and the groups will vary in size. Everyone will wear masks, and each group will never be near anyone else.”
Levesque said there were many steps taken to ensure people enter and exit the building safely, as well as safety procedures to follow once inside, but he is eager to inject the product with the irreplaceable passion of a crowd.
“We’re taking every single precaution we can, which needs to be done safely, and it’s important to us because fans are the lifeblood of what we do,” said Levesque. “The real core of this is the fans in those seats reacting to what we do. That gives us our energy and our drive. They dictate the story, and having them there makes all the difference in the world.”
The Capitol Wrestling Center will carry a different feel from the WWE ThunderDome, but stay authentic to the NXT brand.
“Since we have a permanent residence at the Amway Center, there was talk of NXT running there, but I was very resistant to that,” Levesque said. “Don’t get me wrong, the spectacle of it is awesome. But one of my goals is to make sure NXT has its own feel and vibe. Now we’re ready to make our splash, and when people see what we have created, people will understand why this is the best environment for us.”
Levesque extended his gratitude to Full Sail University, which had been serving as the home base for NXT, stressing that he is eager to continue their partnership.
“We are not severing our relationship with Full Sail,” Levesque said. “I’m very proud of all we’ve done there. This move is the right decision for us from a tech standpoint, but I look forward to returning there soon and the partnership remains strong.”
The first show inside the Capitol Wrestling Center takes place with Sunday’s TakeOver 31. Headlined by title matches of Finn Balor-Kyle O’Reilly and Io Shirai-Candice LeRae, this show marks an opportunity for NXT to stand out on the WWE Network as a premiere destination in pro wrestling.
“This is all about embracing our past while moving forward into the future,” said Levesque. “People are going to be very surprised with what they see from Kyle O’Reilly, and it’s also a big opportunity for Candice LeRae. Santos Escobar, Swerve, these are stars in the making. We’re honoring our past with breakout stars and breakout moments.
“The building is a throwback to Capitol Wrestling, a business that caused a shift in wrestling. That is exactly what we’re planning on doing again, starting today in NXT.”