The Sporting News held a recent interview with Triple H and some of the topics discussed included the changes with NXT now airing live weekly on television, the decision to continue airing shows at Full Sail University, his thoughts on the upcoming Wednesday Night War, and if he was upset by the disparaging comments made by AEW’s Kenny Omega.
On the topic of the changes with NXT airing live weekly on the USA Network, Triple H stated that his main goal is to continue improving the brand while balancing the need to embrace changes and keeping the feel of the brand intact.
“It’s a funny thing. I haven’t had a day or a period go by in NXT over the last five years on Wednesday nights where it sat on the (WWE) Network that I haven’t thought about making it better. I always want it to be better. I want the product to be better. You do things for a while, maybe that gets stale. You want to switch to something else. That’s constantly about improving the product, but in this moment on USA, you continue down the same path of wanting it to be better but you also want to embrace the thing that it is that makes it different and makes fans engage with it on a different level.
There’s a reason why the NXT brand, while we already have a large key demo of 18-34-year-olds, there’s a reason why NXT resonates with that so heavily. You want to embrace that. And while the platform changes, I’m looking to run towards that difference, not away from that difference, and make it more of the same or more or something else. Any fears that it’s going to become something that it isn’t or shift or anything like that are unfounded because if anything, we’re going to make it more of that.”
On the topic of the decision to continue airing shows at Full Sail University, Triple H stated he favors having a more intimate crowd atmosphere for NXT shows than holding weekly shows at bigger venues solely for a better visual on television.
“I’m of the opinion that if you are tuning into a live event like what we do and you’re counting the people in the crowd, you’ve missed the plot. The entertainment aspect doesn’t change. The in-ring, bell-to-bell product is as good as anything else on the planet, bar none. The crowd there is crazy hot and they built this. And sometimes people say they do their own business, they do their own entertaining things.
I think that’s fun and I think that’s fun for people watching. But I think even if you looked at it and said it’s a little smaller than I would have thought, five seconds later, once that match starts, you forget all about that. It doesn’t matter. I almost feel like that is part of the magic of it. It feels more intimate. It feels grittier. It feels more in-your-face. It feels a bit more exclusive to me and I love that difference.
To me, I’m a fan from day one. That’s how I got into this and I look at it this way: If I’m a music fan, do I want to see Metallica in a stadium or does it really matter to me if they’re playing at the theater down the road? It’s the same. And that intensity … it’s almost crazier at the theater. I’d almost rather go to it there. It’s intimate and tight. I’d rather it be that.
There’s something that spreads it out and it loses that special, underground, sort of vibe, that a little more dangerous vibe. I’ve had people from outside our business come, even say WrestleMania weekends when we’ve been in slightly smaller venues with NXT, and say that they went to the stadium show for WrestleMania and it was crazy and epic and everything about it. It’s the Super Bowl. The grandeur and the spectacle is unbelievable. And they went to NXT and they came back to me and, not that one is better than the other, but NXT felt like you were sitting on the ground in a riot.
To me, there’s a couple of cool things that you can brag around. One is going to the Super Bowl and seeing that there was 100,000 people there. It was sold out. I couldn’t hear. Oh my god, the spectacle, the stadium, that’s grandiose and all those things. And then there’s also the feeling of being in that riot environment that puts your adrenaline through the roof. They’re both incredible, but they’re different. I want to embrace that difference. I’m not trying to be the 100,000 people spectacle; I’m trying to be that intense feeling of sitting on the ground in a riot.”
On the topic of his thoughts on the upcoming Wednesday Night War between NXT and All Elite Wrestling, Triple H stated he a lot more focused on making sure NXT produces quality shows than worrying about new competitors for WWE.
“It’s a funny thing. I don’t hear anybody going the Tuesday night sitcom wars are off the chart. It’s just a genre of entertainment in a way and to say there’s this war, first of all, for me, it comes down to putting on the best show and I’ve been saying this over and over. Since day one, we’ve been on Wednesdays on the network. Since day one, I have thought about trying to make each show better than the one before, trying to raise talent to another level, trying to make this product the best product it can be while embracing its difference from “RAW” and from “SmackDown” and everything else that’s out there.
We have the opportunity five years, in or whatever it is, to stay in our time slot, go to the No. 1 cable channel on television and expand it so there’s more opportunity for everybody, but the goal is the same. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s another show on that night. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s somebody else in the space. I’m not concerned with that, especially not yet given the fact that so far, they’ve held four, five shows. And they’ve been great. But they’re one-off shows.
Fifty-two weeks a year, two hours live every week is a different animal. Totally different animal. So, until that’s started happening and happened for a while, because an immediate splash … People have asked me right now, we had tremendous success last week (the Wednesday, Sept. 18 edition) with the rating for NXT, over a million people watching. The rating was great. A 200 percent increase in the 18-34 demo. On every level. I’m happy with that, but to me, this is a marathon. It’s not a sprint.
When we got this opportunity on USA, it was an opportunity to stand at the starting line of a marathon. I’m interested in the long haul. I’m interested in what this company has done for 50 years, with that they’ve done for 30 (years) with “RAW, what they’ve done for 20 (years) with “SmackDown” which is what this company does better than anybody else on the planet: week in, week out, live sports entertainment and doing what we do. And it doesn’t matter what’s out there.
There’s competition that we’ve dealt with for years. You can look back and say a brief period with WCW, but the competition we’ve dealt with for years is the NFL, is Major League Baseball. It’s large scale sporting events. It’s political debates. It’s everything that is out there and that’s what we deal with. So, my goal is to put on the best show possible every single week and we’ll see what the future brings because right now, it’s just a bunch of speculation over two-week programming that hasn’t even started yet and there’s no track record of success long-term of a two-hour, weekly live event in any way, shape, or form.”
On the topic of the recent comments made by AEW’s Kenny Omega, Triple H stated he was not upset by the comments made and just wants AEW to bring their best since he will make sure NXT does for Wednesdays.
“It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not sure if you’re aware of social media and that landscape. It’s a fairly negative place (laughs). If you’re going to get thin-skinned and read into stuff and get angry about stuff that people say, it’s gonna be a rough life.
There’s a statement about opinions over the years I’ve heard. Everybody it entitled to their opinion. Everybody is entitled to put an executive tag on the front of their name and think that’s a cool thing. Whatever. It’s all good. Bring your best show. If that’s how you want to look at it, bring your best show. I’ll bring my best show. We’re all good and the winners are the fans and they’ll choose what they want to watch and how. It doesn’t matter to me. It really doesn’t and it’s not my interest and my interest is the best show possible.
I’m going to take the talent roster that we have, I’m going to take the in-ring product that NXT has that I would put up against anything in the world, bar none, and I’m going to put on the best show possible every single week for two hours. My competition is everything else out, but the truth is for our fans, I just want to deliver the best product that I can to them. That’s as far as it goes.”