Triple H Talks About NXT TakeOver, Velveteen Investigation, NXT Ratings & more

— Triple H held a conference call with reporters before this weekend’s NXT TakeOver. Here’s a recap from

HHH welcomed us and said he was excited for all of the international callers. He said that tonight’s NXT will be very good and lead to the show on Saturday. It’s hard to believe the first show was May of 2014 from Full Sail and ironically they are back there this weekend, after being at many big buildings in between. He is happy that six year later, here they are. He talked about Pat McAfee coming in from the outside. He said when you do that there’s a lot of press involved, which is an opportunity of bringing in fresh eyeballs. He said that a lot of purists ask WHY? He said he is sure Pat McAfee will show you why, intimating Pat will be ready to go. He said it’s a big sleeper match for him. After talking about the rest of the matches on the XXX show, he took questions.

The first question is why is NXT not going to be in Thunderdome. HHH said with moving Smackdown, Raw and SummerSlam to Amway, he said as awesome as the Dome will be, it’s important for him to stay at Full Sail due to their great relationship. Never say never, but he’s happy right now. He said Friday will be debut Thunderdome and he misses the fans, they are the secret sauce. He can’t wait to get them back. They are everything to WWE. He said for the immediate future they are at Full Sail and they are still figuring everything out.

HHH was asked about Velveteen Dream’s investigation. He said there is an online accuser who has not been contacted by WWE. He mentioned Nia Jax not being happy with how this has gone. HHH said they take it seriously, have looked into it and found nothing there. He said that they will always listen when new evidence is brought up but he already talked about it and he wanted to move on to other topics.

Next question asked what kind of research they have done in advance of touring again. He said that they are always researching it. He said that when the world gets to a place where they can return to running shows safely for everyone, they will do it. He was asked about possibly bringing things like UV lights on the road with him. HHH said they are looking into everything. He said that things that are legitimately scientific and as soon as they can tour safely, they will.

Next question asked about Renee Young and what she has meant to NXT and the company for 8 years. He said he won’t comment on her status but having her in WWE has been awesome. She has been a large part of what they do and he has loved working with her.

The next question was if running SummerSlam on a boat was an option. HHH said every option was looked into. He said most options didn’t have much of a chance. It’s all about doing it safely and things on a boat aren’t easy. He said when you see Thunderdome, you will get why they went that way.

Triple H was asked about Lars Sullivan’s status. He said he didn’t even know that Lars was putting workout videos online. He said he has no update on Lars. He was asked about bringing Randy Orton in to work with NXT talents. There are always conversations. When you are doing 7 hours of TV, especially in this environment, there’s a domino effect. He said changing things is a lot more challenging than people think. He said things are always discussed but making them happen is harder. He said Randy is vocal about it on social media and he gets calls from people all the time about wanting to work with people in NXT, and that’s what Randy is doing.

He was asked what the biggest lesson they have learned about producing shows in the pandemic and will there be a new head writer for NXT. He said they shift things around writing the show. He said it’s a group that include Shawn Michaels, Brian James and himself. He said everything goes through them. He said that there are lessons to be learned everywhere. He said that the biggest difficulty has been in the shifting of everything. COVID has made it all exponentially harder. He said you could have great stuff written and then you wait to see if it can be used. He said that people can also get pulled to different brands. He said dealing with that and not having fans to bring the noise and energy makes it hard. They do everything to get reactions and with no one reacting, it changes the game entirely. He talked about how they train young talent to work to the crowd and now they are not able to do it. With that said, he is very happy with where they are, both with the job they have done and the engagement of the talent. He also said it’s nice to be able to train talent again. They haven’t been able to do it due to using the PC as the home for TV. He said that they now have a secondary facility to help talent improve. They had been doing it virtually now they can get back to being hands on.

Next caller asked about talent being poached from NXT now that they have a USA slot too. He said that due to USA, they have made changes to the process of the talent being poached and you will see that in the draft when it returns later this year. He added that people can go brand to brand now and try different things. He said when he came into WWE and he would talk to Taker about people being in the company for 5 or 6 years, it was unreal to him that they could stay in one place that long. Now you have people in the company 10 years or more. He said with that, people now can go to other places in the company and change things up. All brands need to be supported now.

He was asked what Karrion Kross brings to the table. He also asked if they rush matches in fear of losing the talents to Raw or Smackdown. H said he has had his eye on Kross for a long time and he could see serious talent there. He could sense the X Factor in him, and that is king for any talent. He said that the learning curve is steep when one comes to the company, including the TV aspect. He said Kross is a sponge for the business. He is always learning. His improvement and growth rate has been huge since walking through the door, just like Keith Lee. He said it’s not about getting to things faster, but about doing it when it makes sense for the talent and the fans, and booking for the long term. You also take into account when a talent is leaving, such as what they did with Matt Riddle in the Fight Pit. They also don’t want to rush talents and put them in positions to succeed in the best way possible.

Next question asked about the ratings for the Wednesday shows. What is important, demos, viewers, etc. What does he focus on? He said he’s focused on NXT. He said thank God people care about that stuff to the degree they do. At the end of the day it’s about his product and his fans. You put out the best product you can, hope fans want to watch and that’s it. He looks at numbers but not the way people do online. He said people can argue all they want, he doesn’t worry about that. He worries about NXT. He said he can’t wait for the fans to come back because they are the true barometer of what the fans love. The digital stuff has a lot of factors and negativity, so he likes the true reactions in the arenas. He can’t wait to get fans back to tell them what they want.

They took some questions from the international audience next.

The first guy they went to wasn’t paying attention. When he came on he asked about NXT guys on Raw Underground and what the process is for talent to go there. He said it makes sense for some talents to show what they can do, like Arturo Ruas. He said it’s a cool opportunity. He said just because they are on Underground doesn’t mean they are a Raw talent. It’s a great opportunity to expose talent to a large audience. He said he likes it and it’s a unique opportunity.’

Rahul from India asked how it is for everyone to perform mentally without crowds. H said it’s difficult. As a performer there is no bigger adrenaline rush that the reaction that crowd gives you. It’s why they do what they do. You can’t put into words what that means. You just can’t create it yourself. He said you gear what you do to the crowd and without them there, it makes it harder. He said his hat is off to every performer because they are bringing their own energy every time out. They are all knocking it all out of the park. Everything they do is for their fans, giving them a product that they can enjoy. He wants people to sit back and just enjoy the greatest form of entertainment in the world.

A British caller asked if this match could lead to more matches for Pat McAfee. He said we will see. He said Pat is an amazing athlete. He said he was an all around athlete but could monetize being a kicker so he did. He said Pat was always a WWE fan and HHH didn’t realize that when he first met him. He gets it now. He said Pat was not looking for a niche role, he wants to be a wrestler. H said he has watched Pat train and he is a natural and very gifted. H said that the reason that he is putting him in an NXT match, where it will be scrutinized, is that he has the ability to do it. He is also working with one of the most gifted guys on their roster in Adam Cole. He thinks it will be spectacular on both of their ends. Where that goes, it depends on Pat because he has a lot of irons in the fire.

An Australian caller asked about homeboy Bronson Reed. What does he think about Reed, given he isn’t a prototypical Superstar. H loves that Reed isn’t a clone of the other guys. He likes people that are different. He said that there was a process to get him to this point, and he is “there” now and he’s ready. He said that he was talking to Keith Lee the other day and he Lee said that he was proud of Reed coming into his own (which is kind of what Keith did too). He said that it comes down to making the most of the opportunity when you get it and Bronson has been knocking it out of the park every week. He said him in a ladder match will be wild since he is such a big guy and when he goes up that ladder, anything can happen when he comes down. H said he loves Australia and the talent there.

HHH closed the call by thanking us for coming. He said that he would like to mention the new indy promotions that will be on the WWE Network. He said you see it now and he is excited for that. He wants people to be able to see the different talents and styles. He said he hopes to make the Network a hub for all of those things. It’s a very exciting time for him. Thanks for your participation. Enjoy tonight and Saturday.

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