Beginning today, the WWE is taking another giant step in its international expansion.
The new WWE Performance Center website officially launched this morning, and creates a direct route for anyone seriously contemplating a career with the global leader in sports entertainment. The site, which includes information about the application and tryout process, is the result of a conversation between WWE CEO Vince McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who is the Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative.
“The hardest part about this business is there is no pathway,” said Levesque. “We’re creating a pathway. Vince and I spoke about it, and he said, ‘Let’s go do it.’ We are going around the world to look for international stars.”
WWE’s new recruiting website provides nearly every detail for those interested in the company, providing information on how to apply, outlining the steps after a successful tryout, offers a look at the most up-to-date roster, and even shares first-hand insight from WWE talent, like Finn Balor and Charlotte Flair, who thrived at the Performance Center.
“If you want a career in the WWE, here is how to go about it,” said Levesque. “There is advice on what to expect at tryouts and testimonials from people who have careers in WWE. It’s all about creating the pathway, and this will really open the faucet and allow talent to flood in from a global level.”
WWE’s entertainment value, high-quality production and top-tier talent make it a global juggernaut atop the wrestling world. Maintaining the status quo would be perfectly acceptable, but the company—which is looking to break even more new ground with a reportedly lucrative network TV deal with Fox—is planning for an expanded audience with the pursuit of a path to universally streamline talent.
“Vince has it ingrained in this company that we never rest on our laurels,” said Levesque. “That mentality of ‘We’re the best and no one is going to touch us’ is the kind of arrogance that leads to your demise. There is always room to grow, always room to learn more and improve what you’re doing. That is necessary for us to be able to grow as a brand and as a company.”
From the beginning, the advocate for global streamlining of talent was Levesque. A conversation between Levesque and McMahon spurred the decision to create an advanced developmental system that coaches talent who are already established in pro wrestling while also providing fundamental training for beginners.
“I thought that we were a victim of our own success,” said Levesque. “The indies had dried up, and there was no system to find new talent. Shortly after that, Vince asked me to start that system.”
The system Levesque is referring to is the creation of NXT and the subsequent breaking ground of the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, which has replenished the WWE talent roster as well as produced an opportunity to mold the next generation of talent. Although the company has been devout in seeking talent from across the globe, Levesque and his team want the world to know that there is now a way to directly reach the WWE.
“We’re recruiting globally, finding stars around the world,” said Levesque. “WWE is this global product that is seen everywhere and has massive appeal, almost on a level where there is nothing quite like that. American football does not translate a lot overseas, cricket doesn’t translate everywhere in the world. Soccer is probably the closest to it, but we have this amazing product that is globally massive. Seventy percent of our viewership across all our platforms comes from outside of the US. We want to keep the world engaged.
“Our goal is to find local talent to try out with the WWE, train them locally, then see the talent eventually move to the US, become part of a global brand in NXT, go to Raw, go to SmackDown, and then be a part of WrestleMania,” said Levesque. “What is that engagement then to those fans in that area? That’s transformative to a global audience.
“We’re one of the biggest, most watched products in India. But if we can take local, homegrown talent from India and create stars, there will be an even deeper involvement. We are a truly global brand. We tour globally and the product exists globally. It’s the global localization of the world, and engaging with local markets in a grassroots manner leads to an even greater local presence.”
MLB has struggled to connect around the world, attempting to rectify that problem with a 2019 trip to London for the Red Sox and Yankees. The NFL has also tried to expand its global footprint with annual games in London. And while the UFC has had success in bringing its brand of combat sports around the globe, there is no denying that WWE has an advanced method in connecting and keeping people throughout the world engaged with their product.
Levesque is eager to lead the charge for worldwide talent. He has a genuine passion for cultivating raw talent. Although larger-than-life stars in wrestling often encounter difficulties coaching younger talent, either for an inability to look beyond their own passion or due to the frustration of not seeing their same unremitting work ethic in the ones they are training, Levesque has a remarkable ability to oversee the growth of young women and men serious about embarking on a life in WWE.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the behind-the-scenes aspects of this business and how it is all created,” said Levesque. “When Vince saw my interest in that, he helped cultivate that. He had me come to production meetings, asked me questions, and really got me engaged in the process.”
A seminal moment occurred nearly twenty years ago during a Raw when Levesque had only one segment for the night, which was an interview, and found himself with free time during WWE’s flagship show.
“Vince came to me and asked, ‘Would you mind being the agent for a match tonight?’” recalled Levesque. “I still remember how fun it was to help somebody else put something together and see it come to be. I became more and more involved in that, and I got excitement in being part of the behind-the-scenes aspects. It brought me a level of adrenaline and excitement to see it take place.
“Shawn Michaels and I talk about it all the time now. Shawn wasn’t a part of this business for a long time, and then he came to the Performance Center and it lit a fire under him to see all the young talent. The more he started being around, the more invigorated he became. That re-lit his passion for the business. It’s almost that same level of energy and excitement to help someone put it together and then see their success. There is something about going out in front of 80,000 people at WrestleMania, and you can never duplicate that kind of energy, but it’s not far off. I love what I’m doing right now. When you see someone who only has this glimmer of a dream, and you watch as that evolves to a debut match and then first appearance on TV, that is also a special feeling and hard to otherwise replicate.”
The internal assessment of the WWE’s global talent strategy will continue to evolve, Levesque explained, over time. For now, he is thrilled to announce the launch of the Performance Center website.
“We’re looking for larger-than-life personalities, for quality human beings and emerging leaders, as well as the person who can handle the grind of long days on the road but still smiles when seeing children waiting at the airport,” said Levesque. “Our stars are superheroes to most of the world, so we want the right people.
“This is the path to WWE. There are some markets that are much more mature and ready to begin the process, where there are other markets that are going to need more time to create a pipeline. Over time, this path will become clear. The process is now in place.”