Paul Levesque took part in a conference call with the media ahead of Saturday's NXT TakeOver show in Toronto and here is a recap by Dave Scherer of pwinsider.com:
Paul Levesque met with reporters today on a conference call to talk about Saturday’s NXT Takeover Toronto show.
Mark Vasquez greeted us and he turned the call over to Paul, who talked about how stacked the NXT roster is. He said that when you look at the recent shows and the depth of the roster, it’s clear that there are lot of studs there and it’s an exciting time. He can’t wait to get them all rolling, some of whom have been waiting a while for their chance and are champing at the bit to show what they have. He then went over the the matches set for the show. Personally, I am psyched. It should be a great show.
The first question asked about how they came to the matches that they decided on for the Title match. H said that they wanted to make it unique. He referred to the three stages of hell that he talked about in his opening comments. He wants to create drama around what they third fall would be, if it takes place (come on, we know it will!). He said that the two announced stips make sense given the guys involved. He said that as talented as Cole and Gargano are it doesn’t matter what they picked.
HHH was asked about Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff being hired. Was he interested in either position? He said that you have to look at what they are doing. Their jobs are show specific. Due to his schedule he can’t be at every show. The scope of his job encompasses a lot of things and in essence, his plate is full. As they continue to grow, there’s only so many hours in a day for him. He knows that Vince is trying to add hours to days, but there is only so much time. He said that he says he already sees changes in the hires (as do I). He said that he is really excited to work with both guys.
The next question asked what it was like to talk to people like Kushida and Bel Air when they don’t make a Takeover card. H said everyone wants to be on everything but missing a show makes people work harder. He added that it’s a good thing that talent doesn’t get overexposed, it keeps things fresh and moving in the right direction. He said that having so many good talents is a good problem to have. It’s clear HHH loves his roster, and rightfully so. He added that what is coming around the corner is even bigger.
He mentioned that Drew McIntyre was on their show saying he wants to appear in NXT UK. How often do the talents do that? All the time H said. He said that the talents follow the other promotions and they want to be a part of it. He said talents are always coming to him about working in the UK. He said that a lot of the roster will be at NXT on Saturday while others will be watching the show and texting him. The support is great and the competitive nature raises the bar. It’s great to have them all wanting to be part of it.
H added that NXT UK in Cardiff is coming soon too. He said the brand is white hot. He is right, the show has been really strong.
The next person asked what H thinks will steal the show. He said, in a nutshell, that everything can steal the show. He talked about the facts that they all have great stories leading up to matches with great talents so they should all deliver. He talked a lot about his view of booking, which is exactly what Mike Eps and I talk about on the Mailbag every Saturday.
He was asked about Shayna Baszler saying she would love to have the MMA Four Horsewomen take on the WWE Horsewomen. Will it happen? Well people are doing things on their own right now but down the road? Sure, why not. He would love to see it when the time is right.
The next question asked HHH if he was the heir apparent to take over Raw and Smackdown after Vince and who would take over his role? H said you have to have succession plans and future plans. He said that there is no heir apparent. Vince will probably outlive all of us and isn’t stepping away any time soon. There are succession plans but they change all the time. There are a lot of factors involved. Everyone is constantly looking at if things shift, who does what. They are always looking for good people.
What’s up with the Mae Young Classic for 2019? They are in the process of working on things now. He said timing is part of it, since they have FOX coming soon. When one piece shifts it’s like dominos. When they go to FOX it changes everything about Smackdown and affects Raw as well. That led to some things getting pushed back this year. But there will be announcements coming soon.
The next person asked why Johnny Gargano hasn’t been working house shows. Injuries perhaps? H said he is fine. Without getting into medical details that he can’t talk about but he had this lingering thing that wasn’t a big deal but could have been one had they not reined him in. H chose to not let it get worse and he’s fine now. Smart move. It’s better to take a little time now than a lot of time later. They were mostly just being precautionary.
He was asked about the internal feedback to EVOLVE and how often would he like to see outside companies get broadcast on the Network.
He said that they planned to put EVOLVE on for a long time. He expects more shows from brands they have alliances with being on the Network. He thought the show was spectacular and great. It was a great platform for strong talents that want to step to the next level. If you want to get WWE, EVOLVE, WXW, ICW and Progress are places you should try to get to. The Network allows them to give them exposure. It was a grand slam and we will see more of it. He said that Gabe and Sal should be really proud of what the put together. They are exciting next steps for the Network. As they get in more markets you will see more of it. They want to be the one stop shop for whatever you need in the industry.
HHH was then asked if there were two NXT shows coming. I think he was alluding to AEW. H said there already are two shows but there is always a changing landscape. They are always talking about where content goes. They look at the many platforms that they have to deliver product and they decide what they want to put there. He said that the reason he is cryptic is that there are a lot of great ideas but they are always debating the next moves to make. They want to make sure that they put the right things in the right places to get the most out of them. With NXT, there are a lot of options on the table. He then mentioned the FS1 rumors and how people have talked about counter programming well guess what? NXT has been on Wednesdays forever. When someone else (AEW) announces a show on Wednesday there is no talk about counter programming, but with WWE there is. He basically said we do our thing, we don’t worry about what another company does.
He asked how he will survive the crazy schedule once FOX starts. He said he wished that Star Trek could have come up with beam me up. He will do the best he can and go where he needs to go. He said he will go to the place he needs to be. He mentioned NXT UK and how at first he went to every TV but then he built up a team and doesn’t go any more. The intent is to build teams and hand things off to them to run it as he wants it run. He mentioned that there are times that Vince isn’t at TV. You trust your teams.
The next question asked how he eases the nerves of performers before shows. He doesn’t. He think nerves are a good thing because it shows they care. He wants them to feel it and embrace it. They can use it to inspire them to do great things. Have faith in what they have learned and put it to use. They have trained for it and they are ready.
He was asked about if they went to FOX with NXT. If you are ready, you’re ready. He said that the talent doesn’t approach it as if the show is live or not. They just approach it like it’s live. Takeovers are live and they approach TV the same way. That is how they are trained. The coaches are there to prepare them.
The next question was about Simone Johnson and what it’s like to work with Rock’s daughter. He said she shared her family’s passion for the business. She shares her dad’s work ethic as well. The nut didn’t fall far from the tree. He said if she wants it, much like her dad nothing will stop her.
He was asked about Sami Zayn mentioning Rock was at the Center. Any details? His daughter is there so sometimes he comes in to see his daughter. He lends his advice. He’s a proud papa. He said the thing he loves about the PC is that it’s like the Fountain Of Youth. The atmosphere there is infectious. It’s hard not to be inspired when you are there. He said legends all say it expires.
The last caller mentioned we would get two women’s Titles and with the four Title matches, have they thought about adding a match so that they could have a male and female grudge match. He said he doesn’t want to say there is a formula but what they do is look at the ebb and flow and what needs to be on the show. He said he never wants to just add a match to add it. He wants to put out the best show that he can and it’s a constant when they go over everything before deciding what will be on the card. He basically said that maybe they would add more shows but seemed to love the length of Takeovers the way they are now (as do I).
He was asked about the potential of a Women’s War Games. H said everything is possible. If the right thing surfaces he would be willing to look at and do it.
H then thanked us for coming. He hopes to see a bunch of us in Toronto. He will also be talking to us before UK Cardiff. He thinks that show will take the brand to another level.
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