Seeing what he did for some of pro wrestling’s biggest names over the years, there is no doubt Paul Heyman knows a little something about developing the “Next Big Thing.”
So it was no surprise to see the legendary figure in attendance at the opening of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
The manager of Brock Lesnar and Intercontinental champ Curtis Axel, as well as “best friend” of CM Punk, got a chance to tour the 26,000 square-foot facility. Heyman has pretty much seen it all in sports entertainment/wrestling through his roles as a performer, announcer, creative team member and the visionary behind ECW. With that in mind, he was impressed with the WWE Performance Center.
“If you look toward the future, you dream of places like this,” Heyman said. “It’s a matter of who is going to recruit the next generation of top athletes who are able to perform. Is it going to be the NFL? Is it going to be UFC? Is it going to be WWE? So I would stack this facility up to any NFL facility. I would stack this up to any UFC facility. Now if we are going out to actively pursue top athletes, this is a very powerful selling point saying, ‘Hey, we are ahead of the rest.’”
The tools for talent to succeed are all there. Features include seven rings, sports medicine/rehabilitation area, a strength and conditioning room, promo room and edit and production suites. For Heyman, it’s a one-stop shop.
“What blows me away is how complete a facility that it is,” Heyman said. “It doesn’t just focus on training, and oh yeah there is medical. There is teaching you how to speak and et cetera, et cetera. Every facet of this industry is brought all the way to the top with the most top notch level of grooming and education and understanding.
“If you look at any great boxing facility or MMA facility, they focus on one thing, and then the rest is ancillary. Here, everything has the intense focus of being the best available out there today.”
When you look at ECW, there were countless members of the emerging roster who were also gaining experience in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Even veterans learned something new about the business. With that in mind, Heyman never considered ECW a training facility like the WWE Performance Center.
“This is a soup-to-nuts, A-to-Z training facility,” Heyman said. “So it’s not just where someone can just come down to hone their craft. This is where people come in from college wrestling or college football or an MMA career and learn from the get-go how this industry operates.”
Always scouting new talent, Heyman is looking forward to seeing the NXT’s best and grow his already impressive client list.
“I see myself trying to get a head start on everybody else,” Heyman said. “We need another ‘Heyman Guy’ or ‘Heyman Girl’. We still have to see a ‘Heyman Announcer.’ My God, there are just so many different avenues of opportunity down here. I’m going to want to beat everybody for the pitches for these young talents.
“I’ve had a revitalization of my own career because I worked early in the careers of Brock Lesnar and CM Punk. So why wouldn’t I want to get my tentacles in the next generation of superstars.”
Does the “evil genius” already have anyone in mind?
“I’m not going to tell you,” Heyman said. “I’m going to let someone else come down and tip their ear before I do? Absolutely, not a shot.
• Follow Paul Heyman on Twitter @HeymanHustle.
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