-- The following is a recap of Paul "HHH" Levesque's conference call with the media following NXT TakeOver: WarGames last night. Credit to Mike Johnson of pwinsider.com:
He welcomed everyone and said he was really happy with how things turned down. He said it was quite the journey to get to tonight, even getting the structure into the venue. He said there were a few injuries tonight but bragged they were the best in-ring brand in the business. He praised Ariel Helwani for his work on the pre-show. He praised his crew and said it was going to be an exciting few months as they head into 2021, getting on a roll and heading to New Year's Evil.
HHH said Karrion Kross and Finn Balor were back.
HHH said it's hard to perform in this time frame and environment but to do that level of performance, that's where "its at." Wargames as a show was something that featured a lot intent and physicality and story. The Men's Wargames featured a lot of interaction with different performers. The women had an unbelievable night. Everyone else delivered. Thatcher vs. Ciampa was a clinic. They had a different type of strap match. The North American title bout told an amazing story. Leon Ruff was made. Everyone got over.
He was asked about injuries, specifically with Candice LeRae. He said there were a lot of bumps and bruises on everyone. LeRae is getting X-rays so he doesn't have a status update. It's possible she has a broken arm. Bobby Fish lacerated his elbow and is getting checked out.
He was asked about Undertaker potentially helping the brand. He said Taker has earned the right to head into the next chapter of his life but they recently had talks about him coming in to help in 2021 with the PC and said it's something to be excited for.
HHH was asked about creating Plan B's in case someone gets COVID-19. He said this year has taught them not to take anything for granted and that things can always change and they will need to come up with other ideas, both with COVID and with injuries, pointing out Kross and Finn.
HHH was asked about building the brands. He said they are always working on building the brands and building the future. The future is the biggest thing they can build for. There were a lot of new, fresh faces moving forward and getting chances tonight. He said that even when talent has been around awhile grinding every day and then see them find success, like Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, you can't help but be happy for them. The brand is built on youth and enthusiasm and he hopes 2021 is a smoother ride for everyone in the world.
HHH was asked about Pat McAfee's ascension and whether his success makes them tailor their system differently given his path. HHH said it's funny what Pat does and says and what he doesn't. He said there are people who are just naturals at this, like Pat, Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey. HHH said the people he's been put in with and has been around all put their heart and soul into it to make it happen. He said the other seven don't have to do that but they are pros and that's part of the success. He said that McAfee is phenomenal. He said that there are lots of people who step into their system who have zero background and become stars and the system works. Others who had success elsewhere are assisted by the system. No one knows everything and everyone works together and grows together. It's a personalized system for you and your brand but you can't do it alone without people across the ring for you. It takes a lot of people to become a star. His hat is off to Pat as he doesn't know anyone who's had a beginning two-match run and the character and promo skills at that level. He's a natural at it. One of the hardest things in the business was to be yourself and he just showed up and was himself. He has wanted to do this his whole life but he walked in as an outsider with the confidence to be himself and then some.
HHH was asked most improved this year. He named Shotzi Blackheart, Raquel Gonzales, Leon Ruff, Pat McAfee but said the list is so long. He praised Ruff, saying he walked in nervous and scared and then seeing his understanding of psychology. Seeing Burch and Oney who had all the pieces together in the ring but now find themselves on promos and vignettes and he doesn't know they were there two years ago. There's stuff that you see on camera but there are lots of things that happen day to day as they find their comfort level, pointing out Damian Priest as an example. This was a growth year and the talent roster is deep and getting deeper.
HHH was asked why Trey Miguel wasn't signed with the rest of the Rascalz. He said that he didn't want to talk about why certain people don't come to them but said he wanted to put over those who do come in. He said it's a passion business and sometimes passion isn't there. You may like it but it's not everything for them. He said that every time he sees people at the PC, they are all smiles as if its the greatest day of their lives just being there. He said they are here because of their passion. He said the future is bright and there are a "lot more" coming in after the talents who were just announced. He wants to give the opportunity to everyone who wants to live their dream.
He was asked about the specials and whether we might see that model adopted by NXT UK. He said having tent pole opportunities and big events is very important. Every show is a different chapter. Sometimes, it's a set up and sometimes, it's a big delivery chapter. Wargames has a specific flavor to it. Then you get to New Year's Evil and there will be a Takeover coming after that. He said that it's something they'd like to do in the UK brand. They wanted to get it started again and get everyone engaged again as it was just getting rolling when they had to pause. He's a big fan of the brand. He put over Ilya, Tyler, Kay Lee Ray, Piper Niven, The Coffeys, WALTER and said there are so many. They want to get going but it's a little difficult in this time frame but down the road, they will get there.
HHH was asked there has been any consideration in doing a NXT-branded Royal Rumble and when he has any consideration into who from NXT goes to the Rumble matches. He said he's a big fan of having separation between the brands with different big events and feels. He said that as you build NXT up, having that is great. Having everyone involved in big moments for the Rumble is even cooler. As they get closer, they will discuss who they want to give that opportunity for.
HHH was asked about the logistics of getting the Wargames structure into the Capitol Wrestling Center tonight, how it went, whether he would do anything different. He said it was a little like putting a ship in a bottle. He didn't know how they did it but it's cool to see it. As they set up the CWC, one of the considerations was how they handle Wargames. One of the thoughts was how they could the Wargames in there and how they do it. He said one of the things that make the company special is the production team. He said they are second-to-none in the world, between Kevin Dunn's team and those who work on digital and production in Orlando. He said you combine them with the set design. It's the team that created the Thunderdome. When he saw the CWC design, he was like, "Oh My God." Then, you wonder about the logistical challenge for Wargames and then someone figured it out. He said you get here today. The difficult thing is that he feels like he's bought a new car but doesn't know what all the buttons do yet. They are still trying to figure out how to use the walls and the video and the lights. It's really cool. They put the Wargames in there tonight and production wise, he thought the team did a great job. Will they do better? Yes. Are there things he would have done differently? Yes, but you that's what happens when you are live. But, you have to drive the car to figure it all out. He was really proud of everyone and can't say enough about the production team - they are the best in the world.
HHH was asked about elevating talent and whether there was anyone who was so good at elevating that talent this year. He said that for him, it's the entire team. He said he himself is just a cog in the wheel. From Matt Bloom to every Coach there. Sarah D'Amoto is the glue who holds the women's division together and is a rock star. Every time they hear the women's division is depleted, then it's the strongest division they have. He name checked Shawn Michaels, Terry Taylor, Road Dogg and said hopefully Undertaker will be there more and more next year. He said that it honestly comes down to the talent. They harbor a culture there that HHH said is "second to none." Internally, you want to succeed and you want people that want to succeed. When he sees people who didn't or aren't succeeding, there is a mirror somewhere to look at themselves. It's a tough thing to open your eyes but that's what you have to do. 90% of Raw and Smackdown came through NXT and more to come.
HHH finished up saying that he wanted to thank the media for their support. He knows it's been a hard year for everyone and it's been tough for them on a performance standpoint. He said everyone is doing what they can to get through it. He hopes everyone does everything they can to stay safe so everyone can get things going and prosper in 2021. He said he's excited for the new year for NXT as they head into New Year's Evil.
He said that the one thing he missed tonight was not seeing Pat Patterson at Gorilla and it was a tough night from that standpoint. He would have loved the product and what the kids did tonight and he thanked Patterson and said he missed him. He thanked everyone for taking part in the call.