WWE’s New Performance Center Class Includes Standout Independent Wrestlers

WWE just officially announced that six new recruits to the Performance Center, and it’s a diverse group of professional athletes and standouts from the independent circuit.

Mercedes Martinez was reported to have signed with WWE, and today makes it official. About two decades into her career, this is the first time Martinez has signed with a major company. She previously wrestled for WWE as enhancement talent on NXT and as a competitor in the Mae Young Classic.

In regards to her personal life, Martinez has been open about being married and having a child, but in such a way that not everyone who knew this realized that she is married to a woman. That rainbow flag emoji in her tweet about reporting to the Performance Center makes it clear that she is now one of the growing number of openly queer wrestlers in WWE.

Jake Atlas started wrestling in 2016 and broke out after he started appearing on PWG and GCW shows in 2018. Atlas, a former college cheerleader, is also openly gay and tweeted at Martinez, “I’m so proud we get to do this together.”

Coming from non-wrestling backgrounds, the class includes Sydney Bateman, an acrobat who used to perform for Cirque de Soleil, and Emily Andzulis, a martial artist who competed on The Rock’s Titan Games TV show. (You can see her fight here and on the Titan Games here.) Two hosses will join them in the PC: Anthony Francis, 6’5″ and 330 pounds, a former NFL defensive tackle (mostly on practice squads) and Zechariah Smith (aka Zech Smith) a seven-foot-tall former college basketball player.

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