The WWE NXT brand has a big show tonight with the second “Great American Bash” themed show that will be headlined by NXT Champion Adam Cole facing NXT North American Champion Keith Lee in a Winner Take All match for both titles. The man in charge of the NXT brand in WWE is Paul Levesque aka Hunter Hearst Helmsley aka Triple H.
Hunter took some time out of his busy day to talk to Sports Illustrated to talk about tonight’s NXT Great American Bash event. It should be noted that tonight’s NXT Great American Bash show was taped last Wednesday.
Triple H was asked if WWE was doing the Great American Bash as counter-programming to the AEW Fyter Fest two night event and he admitted it was just competition:
“It absolutely is part of healthy competition. Anyone that thinks it isn’t, to a degree, is being naive to the situation. You saw that back in the day when Clash of Champions was counter-programming [to WWE’s WrestleMania IV in 1988]. At the same point, it can’t drive your booking decisions.”
“Obviously there are counter-programming decisions, but I can tell you exactly how this came about. Almost all of these storylines were headed where they are now. There was a gap, timing wise, between In Your House and what will become the SummerSlam TakeOver, and you need a halfway point and a build. This is that halfway point. So it doesn’t change our decision-making process. I don’t counter-book, I book what’s right for NXT.”
That’s a fine answer, but the thing is that AEW was promoting Fyter Fest for several weeks leading up to July 1 and July 8. Meanwhile, WWE didn’t even mention Great American Bash on the June 24 edition of NXT – they only announced it after the show on social media. If Great American Bash was played well in advance then you would think WWE would have promoted it on their NXT TV show a week before it happened. I’m not picking sides here. I like both shows. It’s just a case of pointing out what actually happened.
Triple H also had a lot of praise for current NXT Champion Adam Cole, who has held that title for over 400 days heading into tonight’s show:
“You see it on camera, but Adam Cole is so good, so consistently good, that it is easy to look past him as our cornerstone. He never seems to have a down moment, even backstage. He’s just consistently a professional, and there is never is doubt in my mind who he is and the level of performance he’s going to give. He makes it look so easy and so smooth.”
“He’s also a locker room leader, but he’s not the guy saying, ‘I want to be a locker room leader.’ He leads without even trying to assume the role. People look at him for his consistency.”
Hunter gave his thoughts on Cole’s opponent as well, Keith Lee:
“Keith brings a big presence, and he carries such enormous respect with him. He is a moment-maker and a reason to watch, and he knows that, but he’s also super open to a different manner of doing things.”
“When he first came in, there were some frustrating points. He wanted more, but I saw that ability. There were little gaps in his game, and the goal was for us to help him to be even more huge. He has limitless, pun intended, talent, with all the tools and ability, but we wanted to sharpen him up first before we let him loose. The second you let him go, as you see now, no one can take their eyes off him, everyone is watching.”
Lastly, Triple H let us know what we can expect out of the NXT Great American Bash event airing later tonight:
“I thought we had an epic show last week, and this week’s show is something special. I know there is a little bit of controversy around it, and this won’t be the first time I’ve taken it upon myself to manipulate that process, but what I can tell you is that this main event delivers. Adam Cole and Keith Lee, I think it’s a dream match between our two top performers from 2019, and they deliver here.”
“People are going to be very entertained. When you look back in a year, a match like this is going to make the demand even greater for the Great American Bash next year.”
The Sports Illustrated interview with Triple H also featured comments on the women’s division in NXT, what it’s like for wrestlers in this era with no real fans in the crowd and more.