Vince McMahon Comments on John Cena Missing Wrestlemania 32, HHH, Performance Center, Wrestlemania 33, Much More

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Vince McMahon did a rare interview with Brian Fritz of the Orlando Sentinel following the press conference announcing WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. Check out the highlights:

On John Cena missing WrestleMania 32: “John Cena has been on the sidelines for a while. It’s so difficult for him. Obviously, he’s one of our premier performers. Watching on the sidelines, it’s brutal. When your passion is to be in the ring and performing, it’s killing him that he’s not going to be in one of the main events this year. It’s really killing him. I felt so badly for him…John is Babe Ruth, he’s everything to us. And a real warrior. I don’t know how long he’s going to pursue this … I don’t know if it’s going to be 70 like me, but he’ll try. It’s just in him and he loves it so much, even when he was a little kid. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the videos where he’d have a mini-championship belt made out of cardboard and all that kind of stuff. And on top of it, he’s a hell of a guy.”

On why they picked Orlando for WrestleMania 33: “I must say that we’re welcome here and that’s part of the reason and it’s the first time we’re repeating [the same arena]. There have been a lot of improvements. We would not have come back had there not been a lot of improvements to the Citrus Bowl. We just can’t now. And playing at these stadium shows is, for us, our big deal. We try not to play stadium shows during the year; we’re trying to keep this just for WrestleMania. Orlando is special. When you think about family-friendly events and attractions, here in Orlando there’s no brand that fits that better than we do on a global basis. Maybe some of the brands are here in America but in Orlando, ours dwarfs all of that in terms of everything with YouTube. We had eight billion views last year on YouTube alone and a lot of that is international. Again, just that stat alone and social media one day might be our primary vehicle for Raw and SmackDown as we know it. Now, in terms of distribution, it’s growing so fast, it’s a land grab. We have our share of the land, maybe a little more than some people would like. But we’ll continue to grab that land. You have to do that. The amount of impressions that we do make every day, and [we will] make even more by the time we come back here, is really hard for someone to really wrap their arms around. Orlando is going to be really, really good for us and we’re going to be really, really good for Orlando.”

On the possibility of WrestleMania coming back every five years or so: “It could be. It’s so competitive for WrestleMania to come to cities. It’s second to the Super Bowl and it’s basically a weeklong series of events. It’s a huge attraction so whether or not we come back here, I would hope that we do. It requires cities, states to sharpen their pencil and go win the Super Bowl. Thus far, all of that’s been done here and again, with a big smile.”

On cities lobbying to host the event: “It’s been some time now when they started reaching out to us, actually. It’s been good. They come up and do the presentation and it’s very competitive. And you have to match it as well which is difficult for some cities. You have to match not just the stadium, but then you combine that same week that the arena has to be available for the Hall of Fame and, hopefully the same one, for NXT in terms of their presentation. And then, of course, you have Raw and you’ve got SmackDown. In addition to all of that, you’ve got a convention center hopefully or something close by where you can have fan Axxess. It’s all of these other attractions that we create. It’s important to have all of that coordinated and that’s a very difficult thing. As much as a city would want that … for instance, Boston and Providence. We couldn’t quite get there with all of that, because it’s two locations, yet one big media center. It’s difficult to have all of those things aligned for a city. The farther out you go, naturally, the easier it is to line all that up. But that’s part of it as well. It’s the logistics, not just the money, so to speak.”

On always thinking ahead: “You have to. I never look back except to learn from my mistakes. Obviously, I’ve made a number of those but cover them up pretty quick or everybody else covers them up for me. I’m not good at all at looking back. I’m not good at that at all. I just don’t do that. It’s what’s tomorrow, what’s next year. How am I going to leave this to the next generation, although I don’t plan to die. It may take a while for that. I don’t know. I could have a heart attack right here.”

On the growth of the Performance Center: “That, quite frankly, was pretty much my son-in-law Paul [Levesque], his vision. He’s done an unbelievable job. Years ago, there were all these fiefdoms, these territories and what-have-you throughout the United States. It was easy for us then to reach out and grab some of those seasoned talents and introduce them to WWE. That was a golden era as far as talent acquisition is concerned. That was then. So where do you get your talent today? There is none of that now so you start, in essence, a farm league so to speak and you grow that. It takes a while. You can’t just walk in, an athlete, no matter how good they really are, you can’t walk in and do what we do. There are a lot of athletes from a pro standpoint that come in and they just can’t do it. it takes a special person. And it’s not just the athleticism; it’s the personality projection, it’s the charisma, and that you either have or you don’t. You can create an aura somewhat but you can’t create charisma.”

On Triple H’s work with the PC: “What Paul has done, he’s done an extraordinary job and because of the welcome here in Florida, because of the Performance Center, its world-class qualities, we are able to attract so many more athletes now. You saw the NXT talent that was here. I was talking to John Cena who was there [at the Performance Center] this week giving a pep talk and he said these talents are really, really good. And he says, ‘I’ve got to tell you, watching the new talents in there, the looks that they certainly have, you can see that they’re very different and they’re gifted athletically.’ He said this is going to be a huge crop of new talent coming up. Again, it’s the concept of the big wheel keeps on turning. In our world, that’s because of NXT, that’s what happens in that big wheel with all of the distribution and all of our developers now, it just gets bigger and bigger and the momentum continues on.”

On the competitive nature of the new talent at the Performance Center: “It’s different. You have to adapt. It’s not like the talent is going to adapt to you. It’s an environment and when kids grow up in a certain environment that’s who they are, the values and the goals that their parents teach them, that’s who they are and it’s different with every generation. I don’t know if it’s better or worse; it’s just different. When I grew up, it was almost literally cutthroat competition. It’s not that now, they compete in a different way. It’s not one in which individually they want to grab that brass ring necessarily. It’s collectively they want to do it. So you have to look at talent and be able to reach them. In another expression, the first law of communication is know your audience. If you know your audience, you know the way they receive information. You have to talk to these guys and gals in a different way than you did 10 years ago, even five years ago. You have to reach them. If you use the same spiel, they’re not going to grab that one.”