You’ve had NXT on the WWE Network now for 3-4 years. Is there anything that’s really surprised you about its growth and what it is now?
Look, I’m always surprised. I don’t want to say surprised because it’s pleasantly surprising. You planning for it to be great and you hope that it is and then you’re pleasantly surprised that it is. You want to put on the best product possible. I think, for me, I look at the Performance Center and the talent there and I look at the talent that we have coming in and I just try to say what would I want to see if I’m a kid and if I put myself that way. At the end of the day, I’m just a fan, right? A fan of this industry and the business of what we do and I say I really like that talent. I’d love to see him face this talent. I there would be a really cool way to do it but doing this and that’s how we put it together. What’s been nice about it is even when we’ve had setbacks, I think the thing that’s been probably, if there’s been one thing that’s surprising is the ability to continue to just let it evolve organically on its own.
You can look at the short period of time that NXT’s existed in that four years or whatever and you can see distinct, almost little eras of the Finn Balor time and then Samoa Joe, then there was (Shinsuke) Nakamura, then Bobby Roode. Before that it was Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and Neville. You have these sections of time that almost become these eras of NXT. Whether talent gets called up or whatever the situation is, there’s kind of that next thing that begins to pocket in there and people latch onto. There are a lot of talented performers available. Yes, they’re all learning. Yes, they’re all getting better every day but there’s a lot of talented performers available. To me, the exciting part about it is if you build it, they will come. We just put it out there in a way that people seem to appreciate and they continue to watch so it’s exciting.
With everything you’ve done with NXT over the past few years and all of the different talents you’ve worked with, has changed your perspective when it comes to the way you put a show together or even how you work in the ring?
Absolutely. It’s funny; I think you would probably have to think that way at anything. If you’re a football player and then later you coach, you probably realize a lot of things that your coaches tried to get you to do that you couldn’t comprehend as a player and if you would have just known that, it would have been so much easier for you. You look at it differently. There’s so many aspects of this.
When you’re a performer, you just kind of look at things one-dimensionally. When you’re responsible for all of it — the overall show, the continuing storyline, everything else — you look at it in a completely different manner. Looking at it that way changes your perspective on everything. It’s definitely eye opening and it changes how you see the business overall. Every little thing that changes in this business, whether that be a talent, whether that be somebody getting injured, whether that be somebody getting called up or moved or whatever, it’s dominoes. One change changes everything.
You’ve obviously learned a lot of different things behind the scenes over the last five, ten years. Is there anything in particular that you’re looking at now that you want to learn or get more experience at?
This industry, what we do, is fluid. It’s constantly changing and I feel like you’re never going to stop learning. The generation that watches right now is different than a generation that watched five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It’s totally different. So, you’re constantly learning, you’re constantly having to put your finger on the pulse of what works today. It’s like music in a way and it’s the closest thing that I can relate what we do.
When you make music, when it’s really good, it stays classic forever. That song will stay classic forever. But a song that’s classic today from 30 years ago, if you wrote that song today, would die. It would be miserable. No one would like it. It’s changed. People’s tastes have changed. People’s acceptance of things has changed. Everything changes on a constant basis so you have to stay ahead of that and the people that are open to that and can continue to change and are willing to change stay consistently successful. The ones that aren’t are one-hit wonders or are successful for a period of time and then it goes away for them. It’s constantly learning and staying open to that because, I think, the moment that you start thinking I know what I’m doing, you just do this and it’s good; you’re done.