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Triple H on NXT changes, WWE training philosophies, welcoming competition

The WWE EVP talked about subjects he has been quiet on since a 2021 health scare.

In a rare interview, Paul "Triple H" Levesque spoke about the transition the black and gold version of NXT made to 2.0, why they made the move to training wrestlers from scratch vs. recruiting from the indies, and why competition is good for WWE as a whole.

Speaking with The Athletic, Levesque said after transitioning NXT to USA from WWE Network, the pandemic changed their focus in working in front of no fans and hurt both the recruitment and training of talent for nearly two years.

"Then we said, 'OK, let’s reboot it and go back to what we originally were.' Some of these people won’t be ready for television, but we’re gonna put them on television, and we believe the audience is invested enough that the numbers might come down, but a core group of them will stay, and now you’re creating fresh stars all the time. That’s where we are now. The numbers have stabilized," he said.

He said the shift toward 2.0 and more churn on the roster was something they were already talking about, but that it happened to take place "at a period of time where I had to leave for a bit." 

Build your own vs. recruit from the indies

Levesque said that over time, he realized that the NFL parts ways with up to 500 players a year which helps contribute to a larger pool of athletes from which they can recruit vs. a smaller pool of indie talent where "you’ve almost got to be someone with nothing else going on or can’t take no for an answer and dig and dig and dig."

"If you take that (athlete) pool and ten or five percent have big personalities that would be good for your business, you’re talking about a talent pool that’s 1000 times bigger than right now," he said.

He admitted that there are going to be some cases where they will miss and realize they were wrong in not signing certain talent, but "at some point, they’ll want to be part of the biggest promotion in the world and come back here.”

Levesque said their numbers of trainees force them to be more regimented into whether they have a future in WWE. In the past, he said they would give new talent more time to figure things out, but in the current day, they will have a better gauge after six months on whether recruits will have an aptitude for pro wrestling.

Former NXT stars making it elsewhere

Levesque said he likes that former NXT talent that have made it big elsewhere and are happy for them, equating it to when players leave football teams and move to other teams.

"I like to think they came into us here, we taught them a lot, got them to (a higher level) where they learned how to do television, how to be professionals and all that to be successful there. At some point, they might come back with us, or they might never because they don’t fit our brand as well, but that’s ok."

Competition is good for everyone

Levesque said he welcomes competition, saying it's great and makes everybody sharper. 

”You get lazy if you’re all there is and everybody goes about their business. The end of the day, it’ll make us better, and we’ll all be better for it. All those things have forced us to be in a better place right now. Not that we wouldn’t have gotten there anyway, but we had to do it quicker in some manner. That’s an important piece of it, right?”

Levesque did make an interesting comparison to WWE and other groups like AEW without mentioning them directly.

"There’s room for everybody to do it. It’s like saying the USFL or XFL is starting up and the NFL is panicking about market share. It’s just going to increase people’s love for football. If you love football that much, you’ll watch all of the football, and it’s great. But the NFL is not sweating that.”