Vince McMahon on Shane Being Back In WWE, John Cena Missing WrestleMania 32, Talent Adapting, More

Mr. McMahon

– Vince McMahon spoke with Bryan Fritz of The Orlando Sentinel after today’s WWE WrestleMania 33 press conference. The full Q&A can be found at this link. Below are highlights:

Q: Over the last five years, there have been so many changes when it comes to the business of WWE, now having the WWE Network and how you get out your product. What’s that been like to make those changes from not just TV but integrating all of the different ways media is growing?

A: “It’s a risk. In most cases from a technological standpoint, you want to be slightly ahead of the curve. That’s right where you want to be, on the cusp. Not too far. If you’re too far ahead, then what happens is you make the mistakes and everyone else is looking at you going, ‘I won’t make that mistake.’

“The network was a little ahead of its time and after that, the floodgates opened. I know a lot of people followed us. It’s been challenging but I love challenges. I love change, not for change’s sake, but I love to be able to have fingers on everything that’s going on. And if you can do that and have quality executives, you can have a vision and then the execution and their vision and it makes it all work. I want to impress upon you one thing: from a standard standpoint, you hear Vince a lot. Vince, Vince, Vince. Vince’s vision. Vince’s this. Vince’s that.

“The organization that we built and the depth and talent from a corporate standpoint, I’ll put us up against Disney. I’ll put us up against anybody. And you have to have that. You can’t grow from within if you don’t have certain skills. I wouldn’t say that my corporate acumen is my greatest skill, but when you bring people together that can take a vision and execute it and add to it and be creative … It doesn’t come out of one person’s head. This is not one person’s business anymore. It started out that way, and there’s a legacy kind of thing where it’s Vince, Vince, Vince. That’s not what’s happening. We talk about Paul and Steph and you can see the evolution of our talent and the whole evolution of our business. One guy started it, yeah, but it’s mammoth now in terms of corporate atmosphere. It’s not one man’s vision. It’s not a guy. If you can take away anything there, it can’t be one guy.”

Q: You see this big crop of talent that’s coming up. How do you feel about the competition they have with one another to push each other? You have talked about guys grabbing the brass ring and making sure they are competitive with one another. How do you feel about that with this new crop?

A: “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.”

Q: What’s it like for you to see John Cena miss WrestleMania for the first time since 2003?

A: 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.

Q: Now, your son Shane McMahon is back. (He left WWE in 2010 to start his own business ventures after disagreements with Vince about his role in the company.) What’s it been like having him back performing?

A: “It’s been awesome. I was hoping that one day we might get back together. It’s difficult. Fathers and sons sometimes, in the same business at a certain stage, it can be very difficult. You love each other just as much but you see things a little differently. You have the old bull and the young bull and the old bull is not ready to give it up, his horns are still sharp. It’s great that Shane is back. Whether or not there’s a corporate place, we’ll wait and see. From a performer standpoint, I so enjoy performing with him. And when the three of us are out there, Stephanie and Shane and me, and throw in Paul because that has happened in the past, oh my God! We could stay out there and entertain each other, much less the audience, for an hour. It would be easy. It’s just so much fun because we can ad-lib and entertain ourselves. I think if you are entertaining yourselves and you’re having fun, that projects and the audience is having fun with you.”

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