WWE's Latest Performance Center Recruits Includes Former New Japan, Impact and Lucha Underground Stars

WWE announced their latest batch of Performance Center recruits on Wednesday afternoon, featuring former New Japan junior heavyweight star Kushida, former Impact Wrestling star Garza Jr. and former Lucha Underground star Shane Strickland.

Both the Kushida and Garza signings had been previously announced, with Triple H going so far as to have himself and William Regal appear on camera to show Kushida signing the contract. But the real surprise is Strickland, who was considered to be one of independent wrestling's hottest free agents.

"Originally from Tacoma, Wash., the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Strickland is a fleetfooted competitor with show-stealing potential," WWE.com's bio of Strickland read. "Known for his fluidity inside the squared circle, Strickland is a sudden striker who is also well versed in the submission game, having trained in hand-to-to hand combat during his time in the U.S. Army Reserves. Strickland won a trove of championships during his rise through the indie ranks, at one point serving as the top champion for three different promotions simultaneously. He counts the EVOLVE, Combat Zone Wrestling and Major League Wrestling championships among his past accolades."

Strickland's championship history includes the Evolve Championship, the Major League Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship, the CZW World Heavyweight Championship and the Lucha Underground Trios Championships (as the masked wrestler Killshot).

"I don't think they understand what they just let through their doors...," Strickland said.

But for as impressive as Strickland's resume is, he's not quite as decorated as Kushida. Once considered the "Ace" of New Japan's junior heavyweights, Kushida held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship six times, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships twice and won the Best of the Super Juniors tournament twice in his nine years in the company. His last match with New Japan came in January when he lost to Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Garza, real name Humberto Garza Solano, is a third-geneartion wrestler who worked for the Mexican Lucha Libre promotion AAA before signing with Impact Wrestling in 2017. According to Cagematch.com, he wrestled for the promotion 20 times before leaving the company in November of that year.



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