Anytime Full Sail University President Garry Jones walks around his campus, people take notice — especially when giving a tour to WWE Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events Paul Levesque.
You know him better as Triple H, and so do the students and staff at Full Sail.
“The first time I toured Triple H across the campus, I was shocked to see the students saying, ‘Oh my God. It’s Triple H,’” Jones said. “They flocked to him. Our employees did, too. There were assistants, vice presidents coming out of their offices saying, ‘Could I get a picture with Triple H? I can’t believe he’s on our campus.’
“It’s been amazing to watch how embracing and how thrilled, not just the students but our faculty and staff are, too, about this whole relationship.”
WWE NXT, featuring the future superstars and divas of WWE, is taped at the state-of-the-art Full Sail Live studios inside Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando. The accredited college is an entertainment media institution, developing students for movie, music and television industries as well as working with giants like ESPN and now WWE.
“From the very onset of WWE approaching us and saying we’ve got an idea that we think is going to be amazing,” Jones said. “From that first conversation all the way though to today — we’re about seven months into the relationship — I’ve been impressed with how this organization to the person follows through, follows up.
“They do what they say they’re going to do. They move with integrity, and it’s just been such a refreshing and great partnership between Full Sail University and WWE.”
Students are mentored by WWE staff, gaining experience and knowledge of how to professionally produce (in all facets) a professional television type show. Also, up-n-coming WWE talent learns how to work in a professional television setting.
Shows are run monthly with several being taped in one evening. Tickets are inexpensive and go quickly. Every seat is a good seat, close to the action, and the money from admission is designated toward a scholarship fund for a Full Sail student.
Levesque said: “We did some events here. We turned them into TV. We got the idea to do the show here. The show took off. We didn’t want to have no value for tickets, so we started charging a little for tickets. Then it was like, ‘You know what. Let’s take that money and give it back to the school. Let’s make a scholarship fund and give it to the students.’”
WWE not only provides a hands-on learning experience for Full Sail students when they host WWE NXT but also in their classroom setting.
“We have our exec team coming down here and lecturing their students quarterly,” Levesque said. “Our marketing people come down to talk about marketing. Our digital people come down and discuss digital strategies and social media initiatives. We give them real world corporate vision and experience they can’t get anywhere else.
“It’s a really great working opportunity, and this place is like a huge think tank for WWE in a way. So it’s a win-win for everybody.”
The relationship between Full Sail and WWE began with John Saboor, senior vice president of special events for WWE.