Wrestling & MMA

From Australia to Orlando, Peyton Royce evolving in WWE NXT

With a new look and a new attitude, Peyton Royce is coming into her own as the Venus Flytrap of NXT. The Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce welcomes the return of NXT on Saturday, June 4. Then on Wednesday, June 8, an NXT TakeOver live special is 8 p.m. EST on WWE Network from Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando.
With a new look and a new attitude, Peyton Royce is coming into her own as the Venus Flytrap of NXT. The Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce welcomes the return of NXT on Saturday, June 4. Then on Wednesday, June 8, an NXT TakeOver live special is 8 p.m. EST on WWE Network from Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando. Courtesy WWE

Peyton Royce has come a long way (literally and figuratively) since her in-ring debut in 2009.

About 9,300 miles long.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to live in the [United] States,” said the rising WWE NXT superstar, who is from Sydney, Australia. “So moving here was really easy for me because it was always something I wanted to do.”

Peyton moved to the ‘States’ in 2015.

“I used to say to my mom and dad all the time, ‘I’m going to move to America.’ They always knew that I would, but they didn’t know how I would do it.”

Pro wrestling is how she did it, and surprisingly she has her mom, Kerrie, to first thank for that.

“My mom actually introduced me to it,” Peyton recalled. “She watched Australian wrestling when she was a teenager, and then when we got Foxtel, which is like pay TV here, that was the first thing she showed me, and I absolutely fell in love with it from the very first episode that I watched.”

Just so happens it was WWE programming -- SmackDown -- and Eddy Guerrero became her instant favorite.

Now she is part of WWE programming, working her way up the ladder on NXT. It’s been some journey, so far.

This Aussie talent is based in Orlando, home of the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center. With WWE style training, she is making a name for herself on the NXT circuit, competing on various shows throughout Florida.

Peyton misses her family, especially her mom -- and the food -- but she is living her dream.

The 23-year-old inked a developmental deal with WWE in 2015.

She is coming into her own with a new Venus Flytrap, poison ivy type persona -- quite different from the happy, joyful, hand slapping character she previously portrayed.

“I would describe her as this sultry, mysterious character that nobody really knows about just yet,” she explained. “It’s really different, but for me, it feels so natural. Coming from a dancing background, I’m used to doing things kind of outside of my comfort zone, and doing things outside of my comfort zone are actually more comforting to me; so I’m really enjoying what I’m doing.”

Fashioned in green and purple while carrying, smelling a yellow rose to the ring, Peyton is creating some mystique.

“The flower is my idea,” she said. “It came about because when I first started with NXT, I used to wear flowers in my hair everyday. Every show, people started calling me flower, and it just stuck with me.

“On a personal level, it represents my family, but I brought it into my wrestling character. I haven’t introduced it as I’d like to just yet. I’m waiting for the perfect opportunity as it’s going to be my calling card in the ring.”

As for her ring attire, it’s organic as she describes it.

“We have two costume designers, Kevin and Ron, who work really closely with a few of the NXT superstars,” she said. “I’d given them a description of who I am, who I am in the ring, my direction of where I want to go, and they really helped me come up with something, a look, that puts all the puzzle pieces together.”

Name creation is as important as look, entrance music, skill set, talk.

She loved the name Peyton after seeing it in the credits of a movie.

“Royce came about as I was trying to find a different last name for one of the names that they came back to me with, which was Ruby,” she said. “I was trying to find a name that would match Ruby, and I found Royce, and they came back to me with Peyton Royce which I loved 10 times more.”

Before becoming NXT superstar Peyton Royce, her long road to WWE began on the Australian wrestling scene.

“Wrestling in Australia is big, but it’s kind of underground,” she said. “So it’s not well known, but as soon as you know about it, you see it everywhere.”

When Peyton turned 16 in Australia, her life changed.

“On my 16th birthday, I had a birthday dinner with my mom and some of my really close friends,” she said, “and on the door of this restaurant was a poster for an intense summer boot camp with PWA, which is Pro Wrestling Alliance [Australia]. On the poster was a girl I went to school with.”

That girl is current NXT Superstar Billie Kay.

“I thought, ‘This is perfect. It’s right down the road. I know this girl. It’s wrestling, which is something I always wanted to do,’ and I literally signed up a few weeks later and started.”

Her mom expressed excitement that Peyton decided to delve into pro wrestling in 2009.

“She was a little scared, too, because I was 16 at the time,” Peyton said. “I had a match where I came home with a black eye, and any mom would be so scared to see that. But I continued to pursue it throughout and after high school. I literally never stopped, and then getting my WWE contract was more than a dream come true.

“Everyone in my family knows this is all I ever wanted. They were so happy for me.”

Receiving a contract offer six years later from WWE, was mom the first one ‘you’ contacted?

“Absolutely,” Peyton chuckled. “She’s my best friend. She knows everything first.”

Peyton focused on dance prior to wrestling. The two genres do share some patterns. Pro wrestling like dance is performance art. Precision, skill and timing are key.

“I did a lot of dancing,” she said. “That took up most of my time as a kid. I did some sports in school, but dancing had a really big place in my heart. Because of it, I found the transition to pro wrestling quite easy. Dancing really teaches you to be aware of your body, and that transitioned well into wrestling. The footwork came easy to me. The rolls came easy to me. The basics made sense quicker to me than maybe someone without that type of background.”

But her wrestling goal centered on resembling an athlete not a dancer.

“I was a ballerina, and everything I did in dance was delicate, pretty,” she said. “In this I want to look vicious, mean...but dancing has been a big help to me in my wrestling career.”

An even bigger help was the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Run by former ECW, WCW and WWE talent Lance Storm, Peyton took the next step in her wrestling evolution, traveling from Australia to Canada.

“A lot of people from Australia trained there,” she said. “Actually my ex-boyfriend went there, and he encouraged me to go there.”

The Storm Wrestling Academy boasts a very good reputation, making its talent attractive to promotions throughout the world including WWE.

“It was ‘the’ best thing I could have ever done,” she expressed. “At that point I had been wrestling three years. Once I got to the Storm Wrestling Academy, that’s when everything started to click for me. I started to understand things better. My in-ring skills. Everything was cleaner and crisp, and things just made sense.”

Storm said: “Peyton was here for the 2012 May session...I remember her being a hard worker who I liked and respected right away. She stood out in what I would describe as a very strong class.”

Storm added: “In my 11 years of running SWA, I’ve had approximately 500 students go through my door. Some you never hear from again. Some you hear from every once in a while, and there are those you keep in touch with fairly regularly. There is even a smaller group of even rarer students that you form genuine friendships with. Peyton is in that last group.

“I couldn’t be happier for her success. She deserves it not just because she has the talent and worked so hard for it, but because she is a great person who deserves great things.”

Storm not only helped Peyton reach the next level in her development, but he knew how much she longed to become a WWE superstar.

“He put my name forward to WWE, when he knew they were looking, scouting for people,” she said. “[WWE Superstar] Emma from back home [Australia] also put my name forward when WWE was having a tryout camp in Australia in 2014.”

Emma, who also hails from Australia, is another WWE talent who trained at the Storm Wrestling Academy.

“So I had a couple of people who put my name forward,” Peyton said, “and I can’t thank them enough.”

Peyton worked a couple of matches for Shimmer and Shine, two prominent women’s wrestling companies in the United States, before setting foot inside the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

“[The WWE Performance Center] is the best,” she said. “You can’t pay for what we get. We have the best wrestling coaches in the world. We have acting coaches. It has everything you could possibly need to succeed.”

Peyton, part of a talented NXT roster, is working hard, honing her skills, in order to succeed. Thus, she looks to progress, noting she would love to one day wrestle for NXT in Australia. With how NXT is growing globally via the WWE Network, never say never.

“When I had my tryout [with WWE in Australia in 2014], we watched a WWE live show, and Emma was performing,” Peyton said. “I just sat there in awe watching her. I can’t fathom what that was like being able to wrestle [for WWE] in her home city. Ever since then, that’s been a goal for me.”

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- NXT in Fort Pierce

WWE NXT returns to the Havert L. Fenn Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4 in Fort Pierce.

See first some of the newer faces on the NXT roster as well as progressing talent who are continuing to build a hot NXT brand and working toward joining the ranks of the main roster in WWE.

There will be a meet-n-greet included in the price of admission for the first 100 fans.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Bell time is 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: General Admission $10; Gold Circle (Ringside) $20.

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- NXT TakeOver: The End at Full Sail

NXT TakeOver: The End special is 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando. The event will be broadcast live on WWE Network.

NXT champ Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor in a steel cage

NXT women’s champ Asuka vs. Nia Jax

NXT tag champs American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson)

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries

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- NXT on WWE Network

WWE NXT is 8 p.m. Wednesdays on WWE Network.

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- NXT abroad

To see NXT in a city near you, check

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- NXT/WrestleMania 33 Orlando

WWE WrestleMania 33 is Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Camping World Stadium, formerly Citrus Bowl Stadium, in Orlando. During WrestleMania Week, WWE NXT is Friday, March 31 at the Amway Center, home of the NBA Orlando Magic.

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- Pro Wrestling On The Web

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