Paul “HHH” Levesque met with members of the wrestling media today to answer questions about NXT TakeOver next week. Here is a recap from pwinsider.com:
Paul talked about how busy they are this time of year and also how great it is to be in WWE’s backyard. He said that he is really excited for this show. He mentioned Tommaso Ciampa’s injury and how they had to recharge to this show. But thanks to the great talent they have, they can do it. He is disappointed that we didn’t get the Johnny vs. Tommaso main event to pay off their feud, but at least they have an epic match instead with Adam Cole in the spot. He said that he, HBK and Michael Hayes were really excited at the end of the last taping. After talking about how excited he is for the rest of the card, and I share his excitement, he took questions from reporters.
The first call came from Brian Fritz. Fritz asked about WWE having Ciampa debut on the main roster when they knew he was injured. H said that they knew Ciampa would need the surgery at some point but the decision was still made to give him some main roster exposure. Then he could take off and get the surgery. The injury escalated though so he needed to get the surgery asap.
Fritz asked if the plan was to get him through Takeover then get it done or did a doctor step in and say it needed to get done now. H said they knew he would need surgery. Ciampa was at a point where they thought it was manageable but the situation changed and Ciampa got progressively worse so they did what they had to do.
Mike Johnson was next. Mike asked about the ripple effect of Ciampa’s injury, with Gargano not being on WWE TV. Has his call up been rescinded. H said from the NXT standpoint it’s a full creative change. Once Ciampa got hurt, they needed to make a lot of decisions, including Gargano’s main roster spot. Options were discussed and they made decisions from there. Mike asked what the conversation is like with Vince, when H says we need Johnny and you can’t have him. H says he never says you can’t have him. H said none of this stuff happens unless Vince signs off on it. It’s all one team and about the overall product. It’s a creative synergy between both. He said when something like the injury happens, they sit down and discuss options and go with the best ones. He said sometimes the best storylines come out of chaos. It’s an internal conversation about what is best for everyone. Dominos fall and it affects everyone. They come up with a plan and Vince signs off.
The next caller was from the UK. He asked about the progress of the new UK Performance Center and how he can monitor it. He said so far it’s been really great and he can watch how things go on the show. He watches and notes improvement as it happens. He said that there are a lot of obvious and not so obvious payoffs that we are getting from that Center.
He was asked about his match with Batista and what will be different from their previous matches. He said that this time it’s more about doing the match just for the enjoyment of it, on a personal standpoint. He said it’s an opportunity for Dave to finish his career on his own terms. He has gone on to be a movie star but he also wants to end his career on his own terms. H is excited that Dave wanted to do it with him. He hopes they can go out and deliver a match that the fans will enjoy.
Jason Powell asked about Smackdown moving to Fridays in the fall. If H has his way would you rather have Takeover on Thursday or Saturday. He thinks that weekends are better for a show so Saturday is his gut reaction. He said they are working on the shift to Friday on FOX since it will change a lot of things for WWE. There is a lot of work to be done.
He asked about Sasha and Bayley defending the Titles against anyone, does that mean we won’t see NXT Tag Titles for women soon. Never say never but he is not sure at this point there is a need. It also comes down to the depth of the roster, and having enough teams to even have a division. They want to be able to deliver on all brands.
Jim V asked if the amount of signings have grown since NXT have grown. Yes, absolutely. He talked about all of the tryouts they have had and the pipeline continues to grow. He talked about the process of bring in and grooming talent.
He asked if there were any talks of doing more house shows or doing another brand. Those are things that they are constantly evaluating. Right now NXT does a bit under 200 events a year. Is there room for more? Yes, but they want them to be profitable too. Right now NXT is profitable and they want to keep it that way. They will always evaluate new opportunities.
Sean Sapp asked about Stokley Hathaway being brought in and does that mean more managers coming in? H said that as the business changes, with different talents coming in, he thinks managers are something that may come back. The business is cyclical. He said having characters that can do a lot of things brings value to the table.
He was asked about the move of Smackdown. One factor is that the dynamic of doing two nights of TV in one building since it’s so many days apart. It puts them in reassessment mode. He said that one thing people don’t give Vince enough credit for is his ability to morph and adapt the product. H talked about how Vince wasn’t afraid to walk away from PPV revenue and start the Network. He talked about Vince’s philosophy to always look at things with fresh eyes.
The next caller asked about WALTER vs. Pete Dunne and when the next NXT Takeover UK will be. Announcements will be coming shortly.
He was also asked if Mania would benefit with fewer matches with more time, like Takeover. It’s a constant battle of giving as many people as possible something to do. Leaving people off of Mania is hard thing to do because they don’t want talent left out. It’s different with Takeover and he loves leaving the fans wanting more when it’s over. WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year and it’s epic, so it needs to feel that way. They are always evaluating it.
Ryan Satin asked if Keith Lee is injured. H said that there are things that happen that cause them to change direction. They had to put a pause on Lee vs. Dijack. Was it due to the injury or creative. There was a situation that caused them to change creative.
Will Aleister Black and Ricochet be back in NXT after Takeover? To be determined. Nothing is written in stone at this point.
The last caller was Nick H. He asked for an update on Lars Sullivan. H said that is one of those situations where he will say you have to wait and see. There is much more to come.
He asked how Sean Waltman did as a guest trainer. H said that they are constantly bringing in talent as they grow. They want people with a wealth of knowledge and are constantly looking for that as they grow. Waltman did extremely well. The future will see where things go. A lot of factors go into being in the system. They want to stay true to that. They see what the person has to offer and what they want to offer, and they go from there. It was great to see him. It was like old home days.
H thanked us again. He said that a lot of the call was about Ciampa’s injury. He said he can’t say enough about Ciampa and his leadership. But he wants to also talk about the great level of talent on this show. It’s epic. And after Takeover he is excited to go to San Jose on June 8. That building was a springboard to getting NXT where it is today.