Triple H hosted a conference call with reporters this morning to talk about tomorrow's NXT ArRIVAL special.
The call opened with Adam Hopkins Director, Public Relations/Corporate Communications. They are live at the WWE Performance Center. He turned the call over Triple H.
He made a great line about the horrible music that we listen to before the calls. Cracked me up.
He said it's a great time to be a wrestling fan. He talked about flying on a plane with Hulk Hogan a few days talking about 30 years of WrestleMania and here they are again rolling the dice with the WWE Network. He talked about the Network and all it offers. He talked about NXT and it being the future. He said it will be evolving in front of our eyes.
He talked about tomorrow live Arrival special. He is obviously proud of the Center and the talent that is down there. He said that Arrival will be an amazing opportunity for the future Superstars of WWE to show their craft in a way that they never have before. He said that the way WWE and Vince are trusting the NXT talent to be the first live product that they put on the WWE Network shows how much the company and Vince have pride in the Center.
He said that Cesaro, who he thinks will explode in WWE over the next few years, will take on Sami Zayn. He said that they have had match of the year candidates already and he thinks it will be the same tomorrow.
Bo Dallas vs. Adrian Neville in a ladder match will be exciting. The pre-show starts at 7:30 and has Bret Hart, Paul Heyman and Kevin Nash on it. H said he tried to create a situation where opinionated guys can give their honest views on the business.
Then it was time for questions.
The first question came from Mike Johnson, of course.
H was asked why it was decided to go forward with NXT as the first live event instead of say WrestleMania. H said that it was the future. They have the past in the vault. The present in the content. They wanted people to see the future in the NXT talent. People have been able to see it Hulu, but they want to open it up to the masses. They found in the research for the Network that people really wanted to see more NXT. Vince is behind it too.
He was asked about the NXT brand and whether it will change, like become more WWE like.
H said that he loves that it's at Full Sail and the fan base there is rabid, it's their show. He said it has something like an ECW show. He said those fans own the show. Oldtimers come over and say they love it too. It's reinvigorating. He said it does open up more options for touring and that is the life blood of what they do. He said in the end though he doesn't want to lose sight that this is a learning experience and that has to be remembered. He said the ultimate goal is to prepare them for the big roster and this helps prepare them for that. He wants to keep perspective for it is and what it's for.
Scott Fishman asked what the atmosphere and feeling is like down at NXT vs. a regular show.
H said it's like WrestleMania for them. They are grasping that this is huge for them. They are going without a net and they know it. They are getting a chance to be the first live show.
He was asked who he sees being the next WWE stars, and who is ready.
He said that they have a great group, they are in the on-deck circle. It depends on what the roster needs. He says he knows who they will be, he just can't tell you and laughed. He said he hates giving things away. He said it's hard to keep anything a surprise any more and he wants to make it more fun.
Brian Fritz was next. He was asked about where the talent system was before and where it is now.
He said he never really looked at it as being in bad shape, he said people come from anywhere. He said he realized that it needed to grow. He said he realized that WWE evolved while the system stayed what it was. So they took it and ramped it up.
He was asked what he thinks it the next step.
H said that probably touring it a little bit. He doesn't want it to go global, but more touring would help the folks in the system. He wants to get the reach out for the brand and to get more people globally into the company. Great potential wrestlers are everywhere and they are looking all over the globe for wrestlers. They want to let people/athletes know that WWE is an option.
Mike wrote the next part, where I asked questions.
Dave then got on the call and thanked HHH for the muzak comment. HHH joked it was to sooth everyone for "softball questions."
Dave asked HHH what his reaction was when Vince asked him to take a bigger role in the company. HHH said it was a conversation that took place over a long period of time. He joked that Vince is a great salesman and said it probably started in 1998 or so. He joked that it happened way before he got involved with Stephanie. HHH said Vince talked about him doing it when he got out of the ring and said he was aware of what Pat Patterson's role was. He said he enjoys the process of the behind the scenes not for his own stuff but others. He said watching The Shield and The Wyatt Family, he was "Giddy Dad" on Sunday. He said it's not an easy process but the kids are taking to it and to seeing them succeed is something special.
Dave mentioned the "This is awesome" chant before they even locked up and HHH said it was the first time he's ever seen it. He said that it's a testament to the creative. He said that you can bring in a character but they have to come up with the nuances, like The Shield and The Wyatts' entrances. He said all the table dressings and ambiance and environments that is worked on is just as important as anything else. He said that they are about spectacle as much as the in-ring stuff. He said you want everything to always work and you do the best you can with it. He said it's an awesome process to put it together. He said after the match, Vince McMahon had a huge smile on his face and said, "Wow!" HHH pointed out to Vince that it was great, especially since they weren't on the main roster a year ago.
Dave asked him about taking over creative and asked if it was done to streamline the process. HHH said that is part of it because you want everything to match up. You don't want to have a great character or talent down "here" and then they have to start over when they come up. He said that Stephanie did a great job but she was running the operations of the department. It grew from Vince working with one guy to an entire team pitching ideas to Vince. He said that one guy drives the ship. He said that doesn't mean when the time comes, someone else can turn the wheel, but at the end of the day, someone has to be the authority and say, "This is where we are going" and that's Vince. He said it's been proven that committees don't work. HHH said that having developmental in the same "line of thought" as the main roster is extremely important. He said you have to know who's on the bench when you need to add someone to the field. You have to know every player in order to utilize them.
OK, I am back.
The next question was asked about how the promo classes are preparing people.
He said that it's working well. A lot of guys never really got a chance to do it so it prepares them for it. It is allowing guys that couldn't do promos before learn how to do them.
He was asked about the coaches and what he looks for in them.
H said there is a difference between being able to do it and be able to coach it. He and Pat Patterson were on a plane and Ray Stevens came up. He said Pat said Ray just did it, he can't teach. Pat is a guy that can teach. They are interested in a lot of trainers so they bring them in to see how they will do. Some guys were great workers, but can't teach. Some never "made it" but they are great trainers. He talked about how great of a teacher Norman Smiley is with beginners. Then he has guys for the next levels. Terry Taylor is the finishing touch guy. They want all kinds of trainers to create the best finished product possible.
He was asked what guys from the indies need to learn most.
He said that the moves are great but the biggest thing they need to learn is telling stories. He said slowing down and letting people digest stuff is important. He talked about using killers moves as transition spots as being an issue and damn he is right. Learning the art of storytelling is the most important thing.
They allowed one more question. Jason Powell asked about doing more live shows.
H said it's awesome that they have a spot on the Network. He is glad they have a TV slot for the young guys. He hopes a year from now people are watching NXT and can't wait for the talents there to get to the main roster. He is hoping that it will be successful that they can do a few big shows a year or quarterly but right now he is just concerned with knocking it out of the park tomorrow while keeping in sight that this is development. There goals should not be to get to NXT but to get to the big leagues.
He was asked that since he likes to keep it simple in NXT, if he ever takes over WWE creative, is that how he would do it?
He said that Vince is going to live forever, joking. He said hopefully it's a long time before that becomes a factor. He will deal with it when it comes. H says he has been a fan since he was five years old. It's his passion and life's work. He wants to deliver a great product. It's about what he thinks his fan base wants, not what he or Vince want.
He was asked how involved he is with the creative process.
He said he is kind of like the Vince there, steering the overall product. They don't train just wrestlers, but also announce teams, referees, etc. He is trying to create the future, including young writers.
That ended the call. It was very informative. As I said in my question, Triple H really is passionate and proud about NXT.
He said they have talked about it. He said this year they had too much else going on but it's an option going forward.
He was asked about doing a live NXT show during WrestleMania weekend. He is hoping that next year the Network and NXT are a success and they have that ability to run NXT shows around Mania, The Rumble and SummerSlam. They want to make sure that when they do it, they do it well.
H then thanked us for calling in. He said he wished he could have gotten everyone and reiterated that we are invited to come down and tour the Center. I have to do it. He added that he would like to have an open relationship on the subject.
NXT Arrival is available on the WWE Network tomorrow.