Brock Lesnar appears on the cover of "WWE 2K17," and you recently praised his performance at UFC 200. What does his ability to cross over do for WWE's brand?
It's huge. I think any time that you can have a WWE performer that can cross over into something else and have that kind of a night or a performance, whether that's making a movie or television show or competing in the UFC, that's huge. To me, it speaks to the amazing athlete that Brock Lesnar is. To be able to come back at such an elite level after a fairly long period of time doing something different and be that dominant is just amazing to me.
We have said it a million times about Brock but I think it's worth repeating. He's a once-in-a-lifetime athlete that comes along and is just -- you can see it when you look at him. Guys don't come along that quick, that big, that fast, that aggressive and with that mentality. He is a once-in-a-lifetime combat athlete. Certainly he helps UFC, banking on Brock Lesnar's name in the very beginning of him becoming a UFC star and showing his dominance in it. And now it's the same thing, back and forth. They benefit from it, we benefit from it and it has been great. My hat's off to Brock, he's an amazing, amazing athlete.
Considering you are no longer presenting NXT exclusively as a developmental brand, how will its future be affected by the upcoming brand split?
It's funny that when people talk about it to me, some will say, 'Well, isn't that the downfall of NXT because when a superstar becomes big enough that he's immediately going to be taken away from you?' I feel that's the strength of the brand. If you look at the growth of NXT in the last couple years, there are points in time when people said, 'Oh no, these characters are getting called up and [NXT] is doomed.' We made somebody else the lead characters of the show and that's the challenge and the beauty of it. It's always fresh, it's always different, it always feels like there is something new going on to me.
With NXT being different, it complements Raw and SmackDown. You have the opportunity to see these guys come in and make a name for themselves on a bigger platform. They can grow themselves while helping to create NXT's brand. Then, if you're following NXT, you're ahead of the curve when they come to Raw and SmackDown. You know everything about them and their backstories. It's like being a fan of the band before they hit it big. You have that claim to fame. And to our most passionate fan base that's an exciting vibe that we have. I think that's why social media is so strong for us -- it's people that want to be ahead of the curve.
Bret Hart recently took offense that your rating in "WWE 2K17" was higher than his. How aware are you about any rivalries in the locker room between superstars regarding the video game?
[Laughs]. I have not heard that. I'm sorry, there was a report that somebody was upset that their video game ranking was lower than mine? I don't even know how that works to be honest but I suppose there is.
I see guys arguing about stuff all the time in the locker room and video game rankings would probably be part of that. I know that they are very competitive with each other in a lot of ways so it wouldn't surprise me. Trust me, the locker room can make anything a competition.
You have competed against top superstars around the world. How rare of an athlete and performer is NXT star Shinsuke Nakamura in your eyes?
I have watched a lot of guys over the years and there are certain talent that you're just drawn to, and that's charisma and X factor and all those things. Shinsuke brings something to the table that I haven't seen for a long time. He brings a level of charisma, a level of showmanship, that you don't see a lot of times with guys that have an aggressive style, with the striking and skill set, that he does. He's an amazing athlete.
I think he's somebody I had my eye on for a long time as far as being part of WWE as a whole because I think he's that different level of performer. He's one of those guys that is harder to explain what he is because when you start to begin to say it, it doesn't do it justice. You kind of just have to say, 'You just have to see him.' Once you see him, you want to watch him again. He's that kind of performer.
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