With the Raw/Smackdown brand split in full swing (not to mention a steady stream of NXT shows), the WWE roster has been criticized lately for being a little on the thin side. So the fact that the company has signed new indie wrestlers to contracts will be welcome news for wrestling fan.
Tommy End, Big Damo, and “Crazy” Mary Dobson have all signed contracts and reported to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando to begin training. Of course, all three are already “trained” wrestlers. The stint in the Performance Center will just get them up to speed on the “WWE way” of doing business, before they transition over to NXT or one of the two main brands. However, the safe money is on them showing up in NXT so that stars like Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe can move to one of the main rosters.
Here is the full WWE press release on the signings, including a summary of their professional resumes to date:
Three internationally acclaimed Superstars have arrived at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., to begin training.
Tom Budgen, Damian Mackle and Sarah Bridges — known around the world as Tommy End, Big Damo and “Crazy” Mary Dobson, respectively — are among the newest signees to WWE developmental contracts. Their official start in Orlando comes after months of speculation that all three were on their way to WWE and NXT.
Tom Budgen is a 14-year veteran from Amsterdam who boasts an extensive background in kickboxing and pencak silat, a class of Indonesian martial arts that involves grappling, striking and weapon fighting. Trained by the likes of Chris Hero, Nigel McGuinness and MMA pioneer Bob Schrijber, “The Anti-Hero” has emerged as one of wrestling’s most prolific and dangerous strikers, a tatted, black-metal mutilator whose kicks, elbows and knees threaten to cave in skulls. Budgen competed across Europe, Japan and the U.S., including with EVOLVE Wrestling, London’s PROGRESS Wrestling, Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling and California’s Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
Damian Mackle comes to the Performance Center from Northern Ireland, where the barrel-chested brute is called “The Beast of Belfast.” Inspired by local hero and legendary tough man Fit Finlay, Mackle made his ring debut in 2005, and has studied under former WWE Universal and NXT Champion Finn Bálor and current NXT coach Robbie Brookside. At 6-foot-3 and more than 300 pounds, Mackle was a premier super-heavyweight on the independent scene, having wrestled under the banners of U.K.-based Insane Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling and New England-based Beyond Wrestling, among other organizations. He has also locked horns with Samoa Joe and NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura in the past.
Indiana native Sarah Bridges, meanwhile, brings nearly brings nearly five years’ experience to the WWE Performance Center. Only 23 years old, Bridges has toured throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe, as well as Japan, where she also lived and trained under former WWE Superstar Taka Michinoku. Initially carving her niche in the hardcore-wrestling circuit, Bridges has competed in Shimmer Women Athletes, Shine Wrestling and Ring of Honor. She is often recognized for her war paint and for entering the ring in an eerie hockey mask straight out of “Friday the 13th.” Outside of wrestling, Bridges trains in Olympic weightlifting and has won several competitions.