Triple H recently took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with media outlets via a media conference call. He talked the challenges of a 3 hour Raw, his thoughts of bringing Finn Balor up to the main roster, the prospect of cutting Raw down to 2 hours and bringing an hour of NXT to cable TV and more! Here are the highlights of the 38-minute call.
You can follow along to the call in its entirety below via Wrestlezone Radio!
Triple H starts off the call by promoting next Wednesday’s London NXT TakeOver event, breaking down the card match by match. He can’t begin to tell us how excited they are to be in London.
Says once we get beyond the holidays and into the new year, there will be a lot of announcements coming that people are going to be very excited about. In the coming year, he has huge expectations for NXT.
The above quote, “For NXT, I control the product and I don’t on the main roster” is a response to a question asked around the 8:10 mark. Triple H’s responds from 9:00.
The challenges of a 3 hour Raw and the potential of giving the first hour of Raw to NXT. (10min mark)
“I’ll be the first one to admit, when I’m going to a movie and it runs over two hours, I’m looking at my watch. I don’t care how good it is.”
Thoughts on calling Finn Balor up to the main roster and when we should expect to see him in WWE. (12:40 mark)
“Finn has expressed no desire to be called up, he wants to ground himself in NXT.”
Triple H doesn’t want to rush him up due to injuries on the main roster as there will be too many guys and not many places to fill once everyone gets healthy again.
“I hate taking a guy like Finn Balor and saying, ‘Hey look, you’re the band-aid to hold us over until these other guys come back and then we’ll see from there.’ If we don’t have that game plan in place when we call these guys up, especially a guy like Finn Balor, then it’s not the right time. You need to have something in your mind and hopefully a long-term plan in place that gets them to where you want them to be. Or at least that would be the goal.”
The thoughts on cutting Raw down to two hours and adding an additional hour of WWE programming to television with NXT on Wednesdays on a channel like USA or Sci Fi. (From 15:10)
“As successful as the WWE Network is as this time, when you compare it to cable television, the viewership is much lower. One of the cool things about having it on the network is that it’s special and it’s episodic programming that makes you want to stay on the Network and stay a part of the Network. Look, the Sopranos were on a pay channel and it certainly didn’t hurt them long term. It was the biggest show in television. Now if someone internally here is in a different mindset, our financial people or marketing people, decides that this was the right move, I would support it 100%.”
What are NXT’s and WWE’s relationship like with independent promotions such as Evolve and utilizing some deals with their talent? Props also given to UK promotions Progress Wrestling(good shout!), ICW andRev Pro. (From 15:30)
“I am wide open to finding talent wherever talent are. By talent, I mean the guys who have been doing it for years or finding the guy that fans look down on for not having found their way here [to WWE] right away. I am wide open to finding this talent to make their way to WWE and NXT.”
He then goes on:
“90% of my conversations [with William Regal] is about those promotions you mentioned. We’re looking at tapes, we’re pointing out guys he’s seen. To me, I’ve used the term before, “the independent undercurrent of the business,” is vital to me. It’s vital to everyone. We can’t expect every wrestler in the world that wants to be in this industry to learn what we do solely through the Performance Center. It would be ridiculous for me to think that. I want to take the best guys that I think have the best chance of success in some way, teach them our system and what we do. There’s so much more to it than stepping in the ring and learning holds and maneuvers and the basics of the business. That’s where I think having those talent, like you mentioned, go out to promotions such as Progress, Rev Pro and ICW or to New Japan or to Evolve here in the States and getting that experience and learning their craft. This business takes a long time to learn and get right. You may think you know what you’re doing after five years in and all of a sudden realize you have a long way to go.
It takes a lot of learning to get yourself over, to draw and to get fans interested in you as a performer for long term and not just something that they see as shiny and flashy where they go, ‘Oh wow!’ In order to keep that interest is difficult. All of those places to me are essential. I hope to have relationships with the ones that do business in the right way and in a similar mindset to what I would consider to be the correct way and the right mindset for the business. And if they do? I’m open to having working relationships with them and having conversations with them. To me, it’s a very exciting time in the business. It is a very exciting time for men and women to get involved in wrestling as there are promotions everywhere and there’s a lot of opportunities for you to get your foot in the door. And trust me, we are looking. We have a very good team between Canyon Ceman and William Regal and a few other people we have out there, there are very few people we don’t know about.”
Are there any elements of NXT that Triple H would like to see on the main roster that is effective there that might be beneficial in WWE if they maybe utilized it on Raw or Smackdown? (from 24:15)
“Sure, obviously, if I’m utilizing them, I think they’re right. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be utilizing them. There is a stark difference of what works in NXT from what works in the larger arenas in front of the world. In some ways, and I’ve used this analogy before, it’s different musical styles. If the WWE is more pop music, then [NXT] is a bit more alternative rock, or something like that, where there’s a bit more niche to it. But yeah, there are definitely some things that I see that could move up and be utilized. I think you see them happening, slowly but surely. Over time, I think you see things that we started in NXT or little bits and pieces of the way that we’ve handled certain things boiling up. But like I say, it’s chocolate and vanilla. You don’t want to change the chocolate over to vanilla! It’s a fine line, let’s just put it that way. But there are a few things that could boil up.”
Is there anything in particular?
“I think in some ways, the way we handled the women. Sometimes the disconnect in the way that they are handled or, you know, it’s tough to make that shift. It’s tough to oversee every component of the show for anybody. And so even if you want to change things, there are certain things that fall back to the old way we used to do things and there are certain pieces that change. Even with talent, their mindsets change. ‘Okay, I did this here, but now I’m on the main roster so I have to do this differently.’ They perform differently. They’re intimidated sometimes. It takes times to change. Even back in the day when talent came from WCW and they would make the jump over, or vice versa, and you’re thinking ‘Wow, it’s the same guy, but something about them seems different.’ Over time, they went back to their normal self. But even those changes affect talent.
The stuff with the women, yeah, the ability to sometimes slow down and the way we tell our stories and to be able to promote things better, that’s just difficult to do when you have three hours. It’s very easy to promote something that’s coming out in two weeks and not have to give it away, but if I had six hours to write in between there, it’s tough to put that aside and say ‘I’m not going to do it. I’m just going to promote it for a bit.’ So, it’s easy to say, ‘Yeah there are things to change, but it’s a whole lot easier to say than to do.”
On developing the next breakout star and if booking is influenced by how fans react to different stars in different markets, such as in the UK. (From 28:30)
“Whether it be in Florida or overseas, every place has a different crowd and a different reaction. Obviously, the further you go, going to the UK, presents a different set of parameters. Not only is it a chance to see how the fans react to [the NXT talent] but an opportunity for them to grow, to work in front of crowds that like different styles than the ones they like over here. You have to be able to evolve and learn on the fly. For me, this ability to a global brand, NXT, to be able to go to these different markets all over the US and all over the UK and hopefully expanding beyond that this year coming up, that experience is so invaluable to talent. They’re going to become such well-rounded performers.
The UK has some of our most passionate and energetic and loud that we have any place in the globe. The UK has always been that way to us. I’m very jealous I cannot be in Newcastle right now.”
The chances of NXT ever making a debut at a UK music festival or something similar: (From 32:30)
“Coming to the UK opens us up to the possibility of getting involved in the music festivals there, which would be huge. We are definitely having conversations about getting involved in that in 2016. We’re talking about going to the UK music festivals, we’re talking about coming to the UK period, we’re talking about going to other places around the globe. Hopefully they will all pan out.”
Triple H then goes on to talk about how the Performance Center is something they are still very proud of. They’re hoping to do another all access event around the Royal Rumble which will be a good opportunity for people to be able to come into the Performance Center and have an up-close, intimate experience with the business.
NXT will also be running a special TV event out of the University of Central Florida campus on Jan 22nd which will have an awesome card as well.