• WWE style opening
Instead of a ribbon cutting to end the affair and open the facility, Scott and Thompson participated in a bell ringing along with Levesque, Goldstone, McMahon and WWE Senior Vice President of Special Events John Saboor.
Levesque, whose vision for the WWE Performance Center was inspired by the Timex Performance Center, the main headquarters and practice facility of the New York Giants at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where WWE held WrestleMania 29. The WWE Performance Center is above and beyond most, if not all, pro sports teams’ centers.
Levesque asked McMahon, his associate and wife, to ring the bell, the historic original Madison Square Garden bell, and she obliged in an emotional bell ringing. MSG was the company’s home staple, before it grew national and international.
During that growth spurt, Florida’s fan base and community leaders have been good to WWE and vice-versa.
Florida hosted two WrestleManias including WrestleMania 28 (Rock vs. Cena) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
WrestleMania 24 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando was the first WrestleMania in Florida.
At the Citrus Bowl, it was the second WrestleMania outdoors. Miami was the third.
• WWE tag teams with Orlando
Furthermore, WrestleMania 24 also marked a career springboard for Orlando’s John Saboor, then president of the Central Florida Sports Commission.
WWE was so impressed with Saboor’s efforts to lure WrestleMania to Orlando and the organization for the WrestleMania Week activities, the company hired him to spearhead the search of potential host cities for WrestleMania and work with those fortunate enough to land the very lucrative sports entertainment spectacular.
“John Saboor in our company — sorry Shawn Michaels — is known as Mr. WrestleMania,” McMahon said, “because John Saboor has really been able to create this comprehensive package for WrestleMania, working with the sports visitation bureaus, the local governments, working with all the different pieces to bring it all together. John’s been incredible, and he’s an incredible asset to our team.”
Not forgetting his business roots, Saboor also saw the potential Orlando presented to be a major player in other areas within WWE’s evolution.
WrestleMania is a tourist destination —a national and international attraction —as is Orlando.
Enter Full Sail University.
In May 2012, WWE and Full Sail University forged an innovative partnership that moved the NXT tapings to Full Sail Live, the university’s state-of-the-art performance venue. Full Sail students gained practical experience working with the WWE production team in various areas. WWE created a student scholarship fund.
During the grand opening of the WWE Performance Center, Levesque presented a $10,000 check, the giant kind, to recent Full Sail University graduate Felipe Giannazzo, who worked with the WWE production team during NXT broadcasts.
Officially, Full Sail University is in Winter Park, near Downtown Orlando, within Orange County’s boundaries.
NXT, formerly FCW, is the moniker for WWE’s developmental program, training future WWE superstars and divas.
WWE’s NXT series at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University is a weekly one-hour show that broadcasts on Hulu Plus and in more than 100 countries.