The new man in charge of WWE Triple H says he wants to find the “next Conor McGregor” with the company’s Next In Line recruitment program.
In 2021 it was reported that the days of WWE looking for the best independent wrestling talent had been put on the back burner, with a renewed focus on finding elite college athletes and turning them into WWE Superstars.
While that may or may not still be the case with Triple H in charge, the Next In Line program has taken advantage of college athletes’ ability to now sign NIL (name, image, likeness) deals while they still compete in their chosen sport and finish their education. Olympic gold medallist Gable Steveson was the first star to sign this deal and while he was drafted to the Raw brand, he is still yet to make his in-ring debut for the company.
Speaking to Logan Paul on his Impaulsive podcast, Triple H explained how the NIL program came to be and went right back to the formation of NXT and the WWE Performance Center as a way to find stars of the future:
“Vince and I sat down, this was years ago. Obviously, I’ve worn Steph out talking about it before that. We talked about it. There was a moment in time where Vince was so successful at creating one brand but it, in turn, shut down all of these territories and all of the places that these guys had to go to learn this craft over time.”
“We started talking about it in a manner of saying like in 10 years, 20 years from now, we’re screwed. Where are these guys coming from? Somebody’s gotta teach them but the guys were out there learning but it was not good. Somebody had to teach them properly and correctly and teach them how to do it right.”
“So how do you do that? How do you get better quality athletes, humans, all that stuff. You build a Performance Center. You make it, at the time, super cutting edge where a professional athlete that is thinking about doing this can walk in and go like ‘Even if the money is not great up front, I get to be an athlete in a place like this? I’ll do this for a while and see if I can do this.’ That’s the kind of stuff that cuts it.”
“Then you need a brand for them to learn on, so we created NXT, we rolled with that. The difficulty for us has been on the recruiting side, finding people with the passion to do this, with the athletic skill to do this, with the charisma to do it, which is king. [You also have to find] the right human beings.”
Logan Paul, who himself, is a relatively new WWE Superstar, mentioned that the program could create that next big star in WWE, something which Triple H says every sport is looking for:
“We can have the attempt at least to create the [next] Connor McGregor and we do. You’re right, we have generationally right from Bruno Sammartino all the way through to Roman Reigns right now and everything in between.”
“You can even throw Brock Lesnar into that list because where did he learn to do the personality, the charisma, all of those other things that he had right? Athletically, yes, but the rest of it [is from] us. His level of promotion and all of that stuff was next level when he went to UFC and that’s what he jumped off on.”
“Yeah, but what boxing and all of those sports do is they’re just waiting for the next generational talent. They’re waiting for somebody to come along that captivates you and we’re different. We can control that environment and we can control that narrative long term.”