Credit: John Canton of thejohnreport.net
On the Bloomberg TV show Enterprise at 9pmET on Wednesday June 29th they interviewed various WWE executives including Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque & Paul Levesque (Triple H). The interviews were conducted by Melissa Long.
The first person she talked to was WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
- McMahon stressed the importance of live events. He talked about the sights & sounds being mind-blowing if you've never been before. He says he always puts himself in the shoes of the consumer. When Melissa asked about direct competitors he said there are no direct competitors. He mentioned that Ted Turner and Time Warner couldn't compete with them even with all of their vast resources.
- Vince McMahon: "We don't consider ourselves a wrestling company. We're an entertainment company."
- Vince McMahon: "I like to say that WWE is America's greatest export."
- He said UFC isn't competition because they're sport and "we are entertainment."
- He talked about the TV network and how that's something they need to get into to give their fans what they want.
- He said they just completed their first successful reality show. They mentioned on the show that it was likely there would be a season two. No references to previous Tough Enough seasons.
- He said that like a good Broadway play or movie you want to be able to feel what you're watching. He says that's what you get from a WWE live event.
The next person interviewed was George Barrios, Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
- Mr. Barrios said TV is the epicenter of everything else. It's how they build superstars and gain fans.
- He claimed that within 12-18 months they can launch the TV Network and they believe that it can be a successful venture. He stressed that network launches take a while. He talked about how there's complexity with external stakeholders, but that they are getting there.
They returned to the show talking to Vince McMahon.
- He said it's not really a family business. He said his daughter and son in law are climbing up, but if they're not good at contributing to the business you won't be there. There was no mention of Shane McMahon.
- When his daughter Stephanie was a junior in college he sat her down to ask what she wanted to do in her life. She told him she wanted to be in the business.
They talked to Stephanie McMahon, the Executive VP, Creative Development & Operations.
- The host walked with Stephanie McMahon in WWE offices. Stephanie put on the headpiece that her husband HHH wore at WrestleMania a few years ago and how it was called the Skull King. She talked about looking at expanding the Skull King character for Triple H potentially by selling it, going into comic books, video games, etc. She says it would cater to 8-16 year old males most likely. It's available at WWEShop.com.
- Stephanie says that she works with talent and produces talent. She talked about John Cena , Kofi Kingston (then the US Champion) and Triple H as they showed photos of them in the hallways of WWE Headquarters.
The host spoke with Triple H (Paul Levesque) and his wife Stephanie together.
- Melissa asked Triple H of his role in WWE: "What are you?" "A little bit of everything," says HHH. He says he can be a superstar, a corporate executive (even though it's awkward for him to say that) or backstage helping create new talent. He can also be directing, producing, helping write. Stephanie helped him say all those things. He said that it's part of the business and company to be involved in a lot of different things.
- It was mentioned that since April he's been leading the talent development team. He said he looks for charisma & personality. He says the business is like a puzzle where you have to be a wrestler, performer, talker, ad-liber and then ha that charisma, larger than life character. He thinks charisma is that biggest x-factor. You can't always teach somebody that.
- Melissa talked about WWE's global appeal by specifically mentioning Sin Cara. Hunter says Sin Cara is an amazing talent. He wears a facemask with no eyes, but he can see through it. That's a secret, he says. It's part of talent development - the group he's heading up - to create stars globally.
Triple H: "In every corner of the world people know what we do."
As they returned from break, they focused on Vince McMahon again.
- Back from break they mentioned the Chris Benoit double murder suicide. What lessons have been learned? Vince says you're going to have individuals that are outside the norm and you have no idea they're outside the norm. He says it can happen with any company in any business. There's behavior that's outside of your control.
Vince McMahon: "We control their characters; we don't control their individual life."
- What type of a leader are you? Are you easy to work with? He said "you don't work for me, you work with me." He puts smiles on people's faces all over the world and that starts with people that work with him. Everybody works hard, but you hear laughter and it's an environment that people enjoy working in. He says that because he's so driven, some people may take things the wrong way.
- He says that WWE is successful worldwide because it's pop culture.
- Back to HHH & Stephanie, Hunter says it's a simple story because it's good versus evil in a ring. It's not necessarily cultural because everybody understands what they do and they love it. Stephanie says it's like gladiators fighting in the Roman times. Stephanie mentions that Abe Lincoln was a professional wrestler and not many people knew that. "Actually Vince wrestled him one time," says Triple H with a laugh.
- The host mentioned Vince's answer about it being easy to work with him. Hunter jokes that you could probably see steam coming from his head as he said that, intimating that it's not always true. Hunter pointed out that he beat Vince up many times and that "it's on DVD if you want to watch it."
- Hunter said when he first got there he always felt that that the company was working for the talent.
Back from break they mentioned that WWE has a half billion dollar revenue.
- Barrios mentioned that the real driver of the business model is the various aspects that they use to generate money (live shows, DVDs, books, etc.). "It's like a mini Disney."
- He says that 2010 was the most profitable year in the history of the company.
- A stock expert said the upside is that their money from television and films is going to rise. He said the TV Network is a smart move because they'll get subscribers and networks backing them due to fans subscribing to their channel.
To close out the show they talked to Vince one more time.
- When the host asked if he would like to retire on a beach somewhere in Belize, Vince said he doesn't see himself ever retiring. He said that hopefully there will be people one day to tell him to step aside, but that he doesn't know when that would be. "Maybe they'll discover that I am senile." He laughed. The show ended with Vince saying he'll likely "die in the chair, as they say."
The 30 minute show ended there.
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