The recent opening of the new WWE Performance Center in Orlando wasn’t just another milestone in the history of the McMahon family business.
It was a huge moment for Paul (Triple H) Levesque, whose plan for an all-inclusive training facility for up-and-coming superstars became a reality. The WWE grappler has traded in his DX chop for a business suit these days as the WWE Executive Vice President Talent and Live Events. He has transitioned smoothly in the role, with this project being a prime example.
The Game remembered doing the walkthrough for WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium and wanting to take a tour of the New York Giants’ Timex Performance Center at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The wheels in Levesque’s creative mind began to turn. An idea was born.
“When I saw it, I went, ‘This is it,’” Levesque said. “This is the field, and this is the rest of it. I just took what they had created and thought about how I could take all the components they had and turn that into what we do. That’s how we got here. The Timex Center is nicest center in the NFL. When I saw it, I didn’t need to see any other ones because this is what I wanted to do.”
Levesque’s vision continued to meld, including where this potential state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center would be housed. Full Sail University helped make the decision an easy one.
“As we started thinking about this whole process, where is what I thought about first,” Levesque said. “All the pieces in my head, but the first piece that came to me was Full Sail. [WWE senior vice president of live events and Orlando resident] John Saboor was like, ‘There are these guys that run this media school in Orlando. I don’t know if there is anything there that you guys could do, but it just seemed like a behind the scenes of everything you guys do.’
“They gave me the information, and I went there not thinking anything else about Performance Center or developmental. Then to see it with my own eyes walking into Full Sail Live thinking, ‘We can definitely run a show in here. I can make an arena for television.’”
WWE NXT, featuring future WWE superstars and divas, is broadcast on Hulu Plus and seen in 100 countries from Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Downtown Orlando.
Levesque continued: “We started with the pilot there [Full Sail Live], and then we had gone three months to see how it worked for them. Then when we signed on for a few years, it was locked and sold in Orlando. Next step is this [Performance Center] and scouring for buildings.”
The groundbreaking for the facility was April, making a quick turnaround time. Levesque’s wife, Stephanie McMahon, Executive Vice President Creative, couldn’t help getting emotional at the grand opening of the WWE Performance Center after seeing what her husband and everyone involved accomplished there.
“I just think the word that sums it up is pride,” McMahon said. “I’m just so incredibly proud of him, and I’m really proud of the team. I’m really proud of all the superstars and divas, but it takes a leader and a visionary. My husband is that man, and this is his vision. I couldn’t be more proud… They executed it all amazingly fast and on budget. Its high quality, and they delivered on everything. We have an incredible team. There were lots of great people behind this.”
McMahon said her dad and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon hasn’t been to the building, yet, as he will be making a visit “at a later date.”
She said: “He is fully apprised of everything. His exact quote was what Paul said in his [grand opening] speech. The opening of this Performance Center is akin to the day we went public, and when WWE went public, it was a huge milestone in our history. It really gave our fans a chance to own a piece of our company. That is what we are. This grand opening is on par with that.”
She has received nothing but positive feedback from the up-and-coming WWE superstars and staff.
“They are just really blown away,” McMahon said. “Never before have we had an all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-in-one center. That’s been the real difference. There has been physical training and rehab over here and a promo class over there, but never before has it been under one roof with this degree of integration.
“There is the ability to get the feedback from all the professionals and experts that are here. You have Dusty Rhodes giving quick real-time feedback on a promo no matter where he is. It’s amazing.”
• Video links of grand opening of WWE Performance Center in Orlando with Paul (Triple H) Levesque and Stephanie McMahon on YouTube Jim Varsallone (jimmyv3 channel)
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.