Triple H, WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative, recently sat down with Sports Illustrated to talk about how much WWE is changing and how the company is only scratching the surface.
The interview began with Triple H being asked about his projects such as the Performance Center and NXT, as well as projects he’s taken on within the last year, such as 205 Live, the Cruiserweight Classic and the United Kingdom Championship Tournament. Triple H replied with, “I do not see any of those projects as completed. This is the first version of this Performance Center. There may be others, and this is the first version.” He talked about NXT growing from a small developmental project to a brand with 200 live events and four pay-per-views a year. Triple H’s main point was that he want’s the WWE Network to be must-see television, and offering different styles of wrestling such as high-flying styles in 205 Live or a U.K. style is just another step in the right direction.
When Triple H was asked about how much WWE has changed over the past few years, he responded with the following.
“‘WWE Redefined’ has become my new catchphrase. Three years ago, we were a singular brand. If you asked, ‘What is WWE?’ three years ago, we had Raw and Smackdown with the same rosters, we had 300 live events, and we had the same pay per view schedule we’d run for years. We’re only scratching the surface of what that can be. Look at the U.K. tournament. Can you imagine us—five years ago even—running an event based on U.K. indie talent, and mentioning indie groups on the air? This is ‘WWE Redefined’. We’re so much bigger than just the company that produces Raw. We’re redefining what WWE is to the world, and we’re doing that every day.”
In keeping with the topic of how much WWE has changed within the last few years, Triple H brought up WWE’s female wrestlers and how the company has re-positioned it’s women into being taken more seriously. WWE’s women use to be bra and panty matches and bikini contest, now you can see WWE’s women in the main event of a pay-per-view or a Raw, or battling it out inside a steel cage.
When Vince McMahon, Triple H’s father-in-law and WWE Chairman, bought the company from his father, he knew he had to put it all on the line and risk a lot if he wanted to change the business. Triple H acknowledges that he is not in the same position as McMahon was, and Triple H sounds appreciative of it. Unlike McMahon, if Triple H wants to change the business, he has the luxury of time and a well-oiled machine behind him.
“I have the luxury of being able to be patient because I have a machine behind me. I know where I want to go, and I can patiently wait to get there. Look at the cruiserweights. We did the Cruiserweight Classic, and then put in on Raw, and then we did the 205 show. We’re figuring out, with the resources allocated to that, the best possible way for it to work. It’s not working that way now, but will it get there? Absolutely, it just takes time.”
Triple H went on to talk about the concept of NXT, why it was needed at the time and how he wanted the show to be more interested in the hardcore fan base.
“When I had the concept for NXT, it was partially [because] there was the need. I could see a gap in how we were creating new talent. They weren’t coming, and the indies had dried up. I thought, in five or ten years, there would be nothing. We weren’t recruiting, we were just waiting for people to call us. So I created a carrot for athletes to want to come to, and that was the Performance Center, and I needed to create a place to give the athletes reps so they could learn what we do. When I started to look at that, I asked myself, ‘What should that show look like?’ I wasn’t looking to create new fans, I was looking to build a show for our most ardent fans. I wanted the most passionate fan to say, ‘I want to consume more of this’ and really build the show that way.”
Triple H also talked about the difference between Raw/Smackdown and NXT, 205 Live and the U.K. wrestlers.
“Raw and Smackdown have to be pop music. They have to appeal to the masses most. There is always a subset of people who’d rather listen to Metallica or Jay-Z, so we give those people NXT and 205. I give them the cruiserweights. Go to the U.K., it’s a different style with different talent. Now you can follow a local talent work his way from the U.K. all the way to NXT and to the main roster. Now you feel like you’re a part of helping that kid succeed.”
Triple H concluded the interview with the following statement about WWE’s future in ten to 20 years.
“We’re only scratching the surface as to what all of it can be. This company will look pretty cool in ten years. If I could go 20 years in the future, we’re Disney, which is a lot more than Mickey Mouse. We’re Marvel, and we’re not just a comic book any more. We’ll keep true to our core as we continue to grow.”
This Triple H interview with Sports Illustrated contains much more information such as why Roman Reigns is not a failed experiment, how heel’s in wrestling today are portrayed differently, talking with John Cena early in his career after Cena was bothered with the fact the crowd was booing him, why he takes pictures with the current and former NXT talent when they win championships, and how the internet has changed the wrestling world. Triple H also tells a few stories about his backstage talks with Vince McMahon, how he’s always been fascinated with the behind-the-scenes element of wrestling, and the moment he had to tell McMahon that the business had changed.
If you’d like to read this interview in its entirety, you can click right here.
Picture used above is courtesy of WWE.com.