rs, Haas said. Not exactly a good idea at this

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To hear Paul Levesque talk about NXT is akin to hearing a father beam with pride about his firstborn son.By day, Levesque is the WWEs executive vice president of talent, live events and creative. By night -- though much more infrequently these days -- hes 14-time world heavyweight champion Triple H.But for all intents and purposes, Levesque is the heart and soul behind NXT, WWEs developmental territory, which has grown to become a legitimate third brand, providing in-house competition for Raw and SmackDown.Created in 2012, NXT was designed to develop new talent and, in Levesques words, bring in a new era of WWE. But even the father of NXT himself has been surprised at how quickly it has grown into something more.Its hard for me to imagine that just a few short years ago, NXT was kind of just a concept that we had, Levesque said. How quickly it has become something so much more than that.With an old-school feel to the way its booked and presented, the brand has created a cult following, offering hard-core wrestling fans a much different product from what WWE has traditionally aired on television in recent years. In fact, Levesque outright refers to NXT as the bedrock of the WWE Network, where it exclusively airs.In response to Thursdays announcement that 2K Sports is releasing a collectors NXT edition to their WWE 2K17 video game, limited to just 50,000 copies on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Levesque took time to answer questions on a number of topics, including NXTs growth.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 WWEs brand?Its 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 thats making a movie or television show or competing in the UFC, thats 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 its worth repeating. Hes a once-in-a-lifetime athlete that comes along and is just -- you can see it when you look at him. Guys dont 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 Lesnars name in the very beginning of him becoming a UFC star and showing his dominance in it. And now its the same thing, back and forth. They benefit from it, we benefit from it and it has been great. My hats off to Brock, hes an amazing, amazing athlete.In your eyes, what is the difference between the creative and booking in NXT compared with the main brands?I think for me that was part of the goal when we were creating NXT, to not just recreate Raw or SmackDown and kind of have some variety and give them something different. To me, our industry is kind of like music. There are all different kinds of genres in music and with Raw and SmackDown you are trying to hit the most mainstream level of enjoyment of the product that you can, sort of like in pop music. NXT is a bit more of a style of music. Its a bit more intimate; its a bit more designed to hit our hardest-core fans and give them something that they will enjoy.To me, at the end of the day, thats the core of what we do. But its still understanding that Raw and SmackDown are completely different where you are trying to hit the biggest audience possible. Im excited that people like NXT so much, obviously, but Im excited that we have that variety. If it was all the same, I dont know that the interest level would be the same, and thats part of the magic of what [NXT] is. Its different. One is not better; they are different.Considering you are no longer presenting NXT exclusively as a developmental brand, how will its future be affected by the upcoming brand split?Its funny that when people talk about it to me, some will say, Well, isnt that the downfall of NXT because when a superstar becomes big enough that hes immediately going to be taken away from you? I feel thats 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 thats the challenge and the beauty of it. Its always fresh, its 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 NXTs brand. Then, if youre following NXT, youre ahead of the curve when they come to Raw and SmackDown. You know everything about them and their backstories. Its 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 thats an exciting vibe that we have. I think thats why social media is so strong for us -- its people that want to be ahead of the curve.With NXT being your baby and brainchild, what does it mean to you personally to see these superstars get to the next level and see them included in WWE 2K17?Its huge for me. I feel sometimes like a dad with NXT, watching characters come through here and see stars come in with either no level of skill at what we do or an amazing level of skill and I watch them change from the time they walk through the door to become something more. WWE, no matter how you slice it, its just different. Its a different world, different product and a different environment. And its a different learning curve. You see it with talent coming in how some adapt and learn faster than others. Watching them adapt and grow, somebody like Finn Balor change and morph and become so much more, its an amazing experience. I look forward to the opportunity of getting to see them grow through the years.Look at Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose or Bray Wyatt over the years and watching all of it come out of here and blossom and grow into something more is an amazing opportunity. And its especially with the women. Watching Charlotte, Sasha [Banks] and Becky Lynch and the women who have come out of NXT sort of change the industry for themselves has been hugely rewarding.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. Im sorry, there was a report that somebody was upset that their video game ranking was lower than mine? I dont 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 wouldnt 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 youre just drawn to, and thats charisma and X factor and all those things. Shinsuke brings something to the table that I havent seen for a long time. He brings a level of charisma, a level of showmanship, that you dont see a lot of times with guys that have an aggressive style, with the striking and skill set, that he does. Hes an amazing athlete.I think hes somebody I had my eye on for a long time as far as being part of WWE as a whole because I think hes that different level of performer. Hes one of those guys that is harder to explain what he is because when you start to begin to say it, it doesnt 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. Hes that kind of performer.In this new era of WWE entering the brand split, what do you think Raw and SmackDown can learn from NXT and vice versa?Its hard to say that you learn something directly from a specific brand. I feel like the business constantly changes. What fans want constantly morphs and changes. Characters that worked 15 years ago wouldnt work today. Performers that were huge 10 years ago wouldnt work today. Its constantly morphing and constantly changing. I think they will all learn from each other.I think when you see things succeed in SmackDown, they will begin to morph into Raw, and vice versa with NXT and all of it. To me, thats the exciting part about the brand extension. It creates a lot more opportunity for a lot more talent and a lot more ideas to be put out on the table and performances to take place. That gives the NXT universe much greater variety to express what they like and dislike. I think the brand extension is going to be the ultimate opportunity for the fans to express themselves more than ever and morph and change [the product] to what they want. White Flames Jerseys . -- Sergey Tolchinksy scored his second goal of the game 3:56 into overtime as the Sault Ste. Theoren Fleury Jersey . Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, announced Wednesday that the team would assign Swedish forward Elias Lindholm to his nations team for the upcoming tournament. http://www.authenticflamesshopnhl.com/miikka-kiprusoff-jersey/ . After the whistle, Thornton skated the length of the ice, pulled Orpik to the ice from behind and punched him in the face several times. Michael Stone Jersey . The Redskins announced Monday that the quarterback who led the team to the Super Bowl championship in the 1987 season will serve as a personnel executive. Travis Hamonic Jersey . The Australian is competing in his final season in Formula One and still looking for his first win this year. He will look to end Vettels run of six straight race wins on Sunday. Webber, who is fifth in the championship, earned his second pole from the past three races and 13th of his career. AUSTIN, Texas -- Gene Haas heard the snickers, shook off the doubters and ignored the suggestion that he didnt know what he was doing.Looking up at his name in bold letters above the Haas F1 team tent in the paddock this week at the U.S. Grand Prix, its easy to allow him a few moments of self-congratulation heading into his teams home race this weekend.Everybody made it sound like we were clueless getting into Formula One, that wed be bumbling idiots. The Europeans were going to teach us a lesson, Haas said. I think when we showed up and were prepared with a competitive car that scored points, it set a very high bar ... People didnt think we could do it.The Formula One season has been dominated by Mercedes and the duel between teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. But the American rookie outfit has been one of the surprise stories from the rest of the grid.An industrialist with roots in NASCAR and North Carolina, Haas jumped into Formula One with a flourish. His team has 28 points in its maiden season, all of them scored by veteran French driver Romain Grosjean. While far from the top, its also well above the bottom with a chance to climb over the final four races of the season.Sundays race will be a chance for Haas F1 to wave the flag in front of American fans, too, during F1s only U.S. stop.There is some pride for having and American flag on this car, Grosjean said.Haas F1 is the first American-led team on the grid in 30 years and the road getting here wasnt easy. It actually crosses two continents, as the team is split between a design base in North Carolina and racing operations in England.Haas was first granted his F1 team license in April 2014. The initial goal was to be racing in 2015. That proved to be too ambitious, so Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner took aim at 2016. Powered by a Ferrari engine, Haas debuted with an impressive first testing session, then took a step back with engine problems that kept them off the track.A lot of people lost sleep over that. That was not easy having to sit off the track and watching the other teams go round and round, said Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez.We broke a lot of stuff,, Haas said.ddddddddddddThe problems were fixed by the first race when Grosjean finished sixth in Australia and took two more top-10 finishes over the next three races. The success proved hard to maintain and Haas has only one other top 10 finish all season, none since the British Grand Prix in July.Haas F1 got a boost two weeks ago when both cars qualified in the top 10 for the first time in Japan. But that came with a rookie mistake: teams that make stage three of qualifying have to start the race on their qualifying tires, forcing a change in pit strategy from one stop to two, and they finished out of the points.Still, the qualifying performance raised hopes for more points over the final four races.We finished seven times in 11th, Steiner said. Its about time we finish four times 10th.Grosjean left the former Lotus team to join the Americans, and Haas credits him with being a steady hand in the car all season.He didnt know what we had and we could have been a complete and utter disaster, Haas said. He took a big risk.Haas wont commit to a driver lineup for 2017. Gutierrez was a test driver for Ferrari when he signed with Haas, but he hasnt scored a point this season, finishing 11th five times. Haas understands American fans want an American driver but suggested thats not an option anytime soon.Some fans had hoped Haas would sign Alexander Rossi, who finished 2015 driving for Manor. Rossi instead landed in IndyCar and stunned nearly everyone by winning the Indianapolis 500 in May as a rookie. Haas does have an American development driver, 18-year-old Santino Ferruci.That sounds like simple equation: American team, American driver, American race track. Its all American. The reality is theres not that many American (Formula One) drivers, Haas said. Not exactly a good idea at this time. We really wanted experienced drivers.We dont need to have everything perfect this year or the year after, Haas said. American drivers or American sponsors, those events will happen. It will be up to us to put it together. 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