Making money: Sylvester Lefort’s lucrative path to NXT
“Who’s the French dude with the flashy clothes?” — A tweet from a member of the NXT Universe at an NXT Live Event in Cocoa, Fla.
Quite frankly, that’s the kind of reaction Sylvester Lefort has grown accustomed to.
“When you're a jet-setter, being rich is as important as showing it and most of the time, you do it by wearing the greatest Italian tailors and the newest lines of clothing,” Lefort told WWE.com.
Since arriving on the NXT scene, Lefort has used his gift of gab and financial exploits to build his professional clientele. But just how did Lefort develop the power play position that he now holds on NXT television? According to the French Superstar, the seed was planted long before he ever stepped foot inside the squared circle.
“I grew up near the French Riviera, where you quickly learn that the sun and sea are free, but everything else you have to pay for,” he said.
The French Riviera – otherwise known as Côte d'Azur – is a European hot spot boasting hundreds of beaches, countless resorts and various forms of entertainment along southeastern France’s Mediterranean coastline. One look at the vast array of wealth in the area may explain Lefort’s obsession with financial success.
“As a teenager I realized that the best way to build my wealth is to be a businessman and toinvest,” he said. “When I was 18, I started studying international commercial law at the Law University of Nice, France, and I eventually earned my Master’s Degree.”
While earning his degree, Lefort also began working for his grandfather’s Mediterranean-based oil company.
“My grandfather ran a company called Magellan Petroleum. I was helping him as a translator for his English-speaking clients and witnessing firsthand how he handled multi-millions of Euros, international negotiations and contact signings” he explained.
Despite earning highly valued real-world experience, Lefort chose to pursue another career path: professional wrestling.
“I loved wrestling since I was 14 years old,” Lefort reveals. “I saved some money, moved to Canada and trained with WWE alumnus Lance Storm in 2006.”
After training with Storm and returning to Europe to continue his career, Lefort earned a contract to join WWE’s Developmental System. Poised to pursue his dream, Lefort was sidetracked with an obstacle that threatened his new career path.
“On my very first day of training in WWE Developmental, I hurt my knee,” he recalled. “I completely tore my ACL off the bone, and also tore both meniscuses in the same knee.”
After doctors misdiagnosed his injury, Lefort learned he would be on the shelf for nearly a year.
“I had to figure out how to use my injury in my favor,” he said. “I listened and learned from the Developmental coaches in order to understand the WWE mentality and product. I added the business experience I gained in France and decided that I would take a different path and promote talents other than myself.”
The French Phenom’s gamble paid off, as NXT Superstars Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev have both subscribed to Lefort’s managerial acumen.
“Guys like Dawson and Rusev need exposure and opportunity, and that’s what I do. I advise them on their finances, I regularly keep the WWE talent scouts updated on what they are doing and I motivate them to keep getting better,” Lefort explained.
During his in-ring career, Lefort not only competed but even helped book the talent for various European shows. Perhaps that’s where he developed a unique philosophy on creating stars.
“WWE Superstars are products,” he said. “You invest in them so they become marketable for the audience in order to sell them at a higher price. That's how you make a profit, that's how you make monay!”
Future prospects for Sly?
Sylvester Lefort lists five WWE and NXT Superstars he’d like to mold for success.
“I already worked with Daniel in France before he worked for WWE so I know how talented he is. This man is monay! He just needs someone to work on the way he promotes his brand to the WWE Universe to finally become the face of our company.”
“This man speaks five languages! Are you kidding me? And he has one of the best physiques in WWE. If you can't make monay with Antonio, there is something wrong in the way you promote this guy.”
“Not only does she have the fighting skills — she's not the champion for nothing — but she has that uniqueness about her appearance that will make her stand out anywhere she goes. With Paige, if promoted properly, I know I could reach a whole new audience.”
“Bo’s got a very marketable smile. Put this face on a poster, and women will fall for this smile anywhere you go. And he's the NXT Champion.”
“I've had my eyes on Adrian for quite some time now. His finishing move should be the first thing you see in the NXT opening video! He is someone people will definitely shell out the cash to see.”
Follow Sylvester Lefort on Twitter @SylvesterWWE