-- Paul "HHH" Levesque held a post-TakeOver conference call with members of the media yesterday evening. Here is a recap of the question and answer, with credit to the report going to Mike Johnson of pwinsider.com:
Triple H praised the show. He mentioned the retro aspects of the show adding for a great nostalgic, fun show that mixed with all the energy and attitude of today’s NXT with some great action. They showcased the depth of the women’s division, had epic storytelling with the women’s division, a star-making performance in Damian Priest, a great showing from Karrion Kross, Charlotte continued to make stars and the Backlot Brawl delivered. He knows there will be speculation and opinions on that and he welcomes it. They created a special, spectacular event under not so great circumstances.
He told the talent after the show that everyone all over the world, all different walks of life that they came together as a team to create and perform.
First caller asked about Charlotte’s status going forward with the brand. Triple H said we will see. In essence, she’s been working for all three brands. At this moment, we’ll see where this goes but he’s excited now for Io Shirai. She’s one of the greatest in-ring performers anywhere and this is her moment. You look at the women’s division right now, both in the main event and the six woman tag and it’s an incredible stacked and talents division. He looks forward to great things from all of them.
He was asked about Todd Pettingill being brought back and the old In Your House set. Triple H said you have no idea how hard he tried to get Michael Hayes to cut his hair and appear as Dok Hendricks tonight. He said those nostalgic moments, especially right now, whether you are old enough to remember them or not, it’s so right there to enjoy. William Regal did the Lord Alfred Hayes promotional consideration voiceovers. All the nostalgia meant something. You think outside the box and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. This show worked. It was today’s WWE with throwbacks to nostalgia that was fun but it worked on today’s level of wrestling.
Next, Triple H was asked about what the company was doing to help continue to groom talents during the pandemic, perhaps private shows in the PC or Full Sail. Triple H said that’s the next step of what they are able to do. They are working with officials to see what they can do. Even with the closed sets, they could not have the training environments and now they are starting to get back to that training environment. They are spending extensive time doing skull sessions and going through matches together via Zoom with Shawn Michaels and Sara Del Rey. Some have been doing acting classes online. They were doing everything possible to keep their education moving forward under difficult circumstances. When they can all get back in the ring in front of small audiences, they will be going for it but the health and well being of the talents are first and foremost.
The next question asked about the new wave of talents who have been seen of late in NXT, naming Timothy Thatcher, Karrion Kross and Dexter Lumis specifically and spotlighting them. HHH said you have to move forward and move new, fresh blood in and continue to elevate on the platform. That doesn’t mean people have to move on. In the beginning, he would be asked about talents leaving and he’d feel that wasn’t a weakness but a strength. He would see posters for Brooklyn and the next year, it was all new talents. People forget the homegrown talents like Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin and Charlotte Flair never stepped into the ring before WWE because they do bring in talents from other places as well. Talents can be cornerstones while you build new talents from scratch and then have talents like Finn Balor and Charlotte return to help. The future has never been brighter. There are talents who are getting bits and pieces of exposure in advance of taking those next steps - Cameron Grimes and Bronson Reed. He praised Aliyah’s last two performances and said, “Man, this is a player.” He’s proud of the team aspect of the veterans who want to help bring people up to their level and bring people up with them.
The next caller said that there’s been a lot made of his change in title and was asked about his new responsibilities. He said other people made a lot of noise about it, but it was just something done because of NXT moving to live weekly but expanding the brand more internationally. He still has the same duties of before. He just doesn’t have to have the same day to day responsibilities of the travel, talent relations, live events areas he was overseeing. They were taken off his plate to have more time to continue to expand NXT internationally going forward.
Triple H was asked about the possibility of Velveteen Dream or anyone else going to Raw or Smackdown. He said that there’s always a chance of people shifting. You can only be in the same place for so long doing the same thing, pointing out to Finn Balor returning. As far as Dream, you will have to wait and see. He thinks it’s great that anytime someone loses a match, it’s a clue someone is leaving. There is a good level of predictable but the surprise and shock of not seeing something coming is when the business is fun.
He was asked about Keith Lee. He put over Lee bigtime and said if you think future world champion, he agrees. He also put over Adam Cole’s work for the brand.
The next caller asked HHH about potential injuries from the show due to the stiff style up and down the card. He said the only thing he was aware of is that Johnny Gargano’s lower back and hips are feeling tight. He didn't think it was serious but Gargano was obviously battered. Everyone else seemed to be great and healthy but there was a lot of adrenaline, Very celebratory effort after the show and everyone was happy. It was a very physical night. It felt different tonight. There was a palpable buzz in the air and you could see it in the workrate tonight. It was like they were taking out the last few months of frustration tonight. So far, it was a very successful night and they are gonna hope nothing is wrong as people cool down.
Triple H was asked about the Hog Pen match being referenced and whether that was punishment for the Curtain Call. He said he’s the worst person with dates but believes that was before the Curtain Call. Triple H said he thought that as a snob heel, what better way could happen then to be tossed into the pen with pig poop. He could have done without so much poop given they were big and in the pen all day. He was told to watch his fingers so they couldn’t bite them off. He did get a big cut on his back from the fence and then went in the poop which was a downside, but it was one of the first things he got to do in WWE that was memorable. If you can still talk about something from 1995/1996, that’s great. They took the slop bucket match around the loop and did an entire loop around the United States and Europe and fans started bringing plastic sheets to the front row to keep themselves from getting the slop all over you. He joked he might bring the match back down the line.
The final question asked about Io Shirai winning but not pinning Charlotte. Triple H said it wasn’t to protect Flair but do something for their long-term storylines. The difference between this and Game of Thrones is you can write GOT and it happens. Things changed based on the physicality and the reaction to it. They have a long-term vision and the finish happened due to where they envision going down the line. He praised Flair and said she deserves everything she’s ever seen and it wasn’t to protect her or because she couldn’t be pinned. Hopefully in 3-4 months, you look back and see where they were going.
Triple H was asked about Damian Priest’s excellent performance. He said that Finn Balor is so consistently good, you sort of forget how good he is. Priest has been handed the ball more than he’s been handed it anywhere else before and sometimes, perhaps it was overwhelming for him. Knowing him and watching him perform was like watching two different people. Tonight, he performed, felt it and was in the moment. He was in the moment and not over-thinking. It was him and it was real. It was the night Triple H felt Damian Priest arrived and that’s the Priest he wanted and can move forward with. He had that starmaking moment and can keep giving them that.
Triple H thanked everyone for participating. His hat is off to everyone behind the scenes that works on the show, from the crew that builds the set to the graphic designers, to Code Orange to the behind the scenes staff. It was a true team effort. Without them, we can’t do this. He hopes fans of everything and everyone looking for those who perform to entertain them realize how it’s not easy right now. He thanks everyone and looks forward to talking to us down the line.
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