When WWE granted Orlando the hosting rights for WrestleMania 24 in 2008, it is one of the smartest and most significant moves made by the company.
Its success financially pleasing to the company and city, but no one could have envisioned the impact of that wisdom, which continues to benefit both entities — five years later — as Orlando is now home to the new WWE Performance Center where WWE is prepared to embark on a new beginning, recruiting top athletes behind the strength of this state-of-the-art center with its many offerings.
WWE and Orlando (and Orange County) celebrated the grand opening of the WWE Performance Center on Thursday, July 11. WWE is all about putting smiles on faces via shows, merchandise and community service. What better place for happiness than the Sunshine State.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott led a host of public officials at the grand opening. Executive Vice President Talent and Live Events Paul (Triple H) Levesque led a host of WWE officials. Chief Operating Officer Ken Goldstone led a host of Full Sail University officials, and Referee Jason Ayers led the officiating officials.
To see the muscular force of the WWE and NXT superstars coupled with the leadership power of WWE, NXT, Full Sail University and Florida government in one setting exemplified the magnitude of the special occasion to usher in WWE’s new journey, dubbed “A New Beginning.”
“WWE could have chosen anywhere in the world to house this new global performance center, and they chose the Sunshine State,” Scott said. “WWE is a big name in sports entertainment, so it’s fitting that they have chosen to take a one-way ticket to Florida to grow their business.”
Levesque said: “Florida is such a great location for WWE with the business initiatives that the Governor has made in making it such a business friendly state. We have so many fans here in the state. We’ve been here for WrestleManias. We’d love to be here for more WrestleManias. We’d love to be here for more programming.
“It’s a great opportunity for us, and for our fans globally to come here for events like WrestleMania. Orlando and the Florida region are already a massive attraction to the world. Adding WWE to that makes it that much bigger of an attraction.”
With more staffing — including a hands-on medical team — the WWE Performance Center creates jobs, and creating jobs is a top priority in the Florida political landscape. Scott and Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson proudly spoke during the grand opening. Preceding that was a tour of the lavish facility, led by Levesque.
Following the tour, NXT superstars and divas stood behind the main ring as guest speakers including Scott, Levesque, Thompson, Goldstone, WWE Executive Vice President Creative Stephanie McMahon, Dr. Joseph Maroon, WWE superstar Sheamus and highly-educated NXT superstar Xavier Woods said a few impactful words.
Legends Billy Gunn, Michael Hayes, Steve Keirn, Dusty Rhodes, Jim Ross, Sgt. Slaughter, Norman Smiley, Terry Taylor and Larry Zbyszko attended as did current WWE superstars Antonio Cesaro, Mark Henry, Paul Heyman, Big Show, Brodus Clay, Tensai, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and divas Natalya Neidhart, the Bella Twins, AJ Lee and the Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi). WWE announcer Michael Cole hosted the festivities.