On Tuesday morning, we had the opportunity to speak with Paul “Triple H” Levesque regarding the WWE’s third brand NXT. For fans of the WWE, Triple H is known for being one of the best sports entertainers ever to step in a wrestling ring. Aside from being one of the best known characters in the WWE, Paul Levesque wears many hats in the WWE. Paul is responsible for not only bringing NXT to fruition but helping the evolution of a brand from preparing future superstars for the main roster to now being a main roster themselves.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque is WWE’s Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative. In this role, he oversees the company’s Talent Relations, Talent Development and Live Events departments. Additionally, Levesque plays an integral role in the company’s creative process, helping shape the creative direction and storylines of WWE’s programming. Levesque is revolutionizing the business with his global recruiting strategy and developmental training processes. In order to create a platform for future success, he established the company’s state of the art training facility, the WWE Performance Center, which paved the way for the WWE’s third global touring brand, NXT.
Levesque debuted as a WWE Superstar, “Triple H,” in 1995 and has held the WWE Heavyweight Championship title 14 times. He has captured every major championship, headlined thousands of WWE events and entertained millions around the world. Levesque is married to Stephanie McMahon, and, together in 2014, they established Connor’s Cure, a fund dedicated to furthering pediatric cancer research. He serves on both the WWE’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors since 2015.
FoF – Thank you for your time today. Congratulations on the success and growth of NXT.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – Thank you for your time! It has been a long journey, five years it’s not a long length of time but we have had an incredible amount of success and I am very proud of the brand.
FoF – From where NXT began until now, is it safe to say it has met your expectations thus far?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – And then some. The original intent was to create a product that could develop stars of the future and give them a place to apply their craft and if the fans enjoyed it at the same time then it’s a bonus.
It very quickly exploded into something so much more. We knew we had something special on our hands. As time went by and as different stars would come in and different stars would move on and it continued to grow and as you look at it yearly or seasonally the rosters are totally different. The rosters continued to grow and evolve and gotten better as time went on to the point, we are now two hours live every Wednesday night on the USA Network at 8pm EST. It’s just incredible, the growth and the excitement the fans have all over the brand.
FoF – Bringing NXT to where it is now, what has been the biggest challenge and the biggest reward in seeing it evolve the way it has?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – I think in some ways a lot of fans thought NXT was sort of developmental talent and honing their skills to get to something more. There are people who are just getting started and that is part of the charm of it. There are some of the most skilled people on the planet in NXT.
It has quickly evolved from a brand that you wanted to come into to get your foot in the door and move onto bigger and better things and it quickly became a brand that people wanted to be in. Not only if you were trying to get into the WWE but if you were on Raw or you were on Smackdown that you have seen recently is talent coming over into NXT like Finn Balor. Finn Balor who is and has been one of the biggest stars on both Raw and Smackdown coming back to NXT and really changing that landscape. It’s been equated to Raw and Smackdown being more like Hollywood blockbuster movies and NXT being more like Broadway, where you want to go to prove yourself in the art form of what we do in sports entertainment world.
FoF – How important is it to have NXT being the featured third brand for the WWE on the USA Network weekly?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – It’s awesome, the expansion of time to two hours gives us more platform to showcase talent, it’s been one of the biggest issues for me over the last couple of years just not having the time to showcase as many athletes as I would want to. USA Network having two hours live every week on Wednesday gives us that platform it allows breakthrough talent like Rhea Ripley, Cameron Grimes, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle just to have that time to expand and grow and put their mark on the world.
Over the last weeks as you’ve seen NXT grow this opportunity at Survivor Series (on the WWE Network) at the end of November where it will be Raw vs. Smackdown vs. NXT. NXT as the newcomer has something to prove. We (NXT) have gone to Raw, we (NXT) have gone to Smackdown and we have proven we can hang with just about anybody in the world and we are going to prove that again every week on the USA Network.
FoF – Is it safe to say that the fans as passionate as they are for the WWE product are more about to be even more passionate for NXT because they have been following along on this journey from the beginning?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – Yes, I think for the fans of NXT that have been with NXT since the beginning it’s a pride point for them. They created this brand. We put out this brand but the fans created it. They were the ones that came every single week, they were the ones that watched on the network. They were the ones that cheered and elevated the performers that were in NXT so Seth Rollins was the first NXT Heavyweight Champion, they were the ones that elevated him to Raw to Smackdown to main eventing Wrestlemania. Same Roman Reins, same as Becky Lynch, same as Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, you know that success has been theirs. To see it now where it is is a pride in that.
Of the three brands when you look at this way, NXT is the one the fans chant the brand. Every week when that show is on the air, you will hear the fans chant NXT. The fans wear that black and gold like a badge of honor and they are a part of that brand and when we say We Are NXT, we are including them. They have been along for this ride and it’s the brand they created and it’s the same pride I have when putting it out there and allowing these athletes to showcase in the way that they do.
FoF – As 2019 starts winding down going into 2020, will NXT continue to air live from Full Sail University?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – It will, I think it’s part of the strength of what we are. You never say never to what happens in the future to NXT but for right now yea it’s our home, it’s our arena there’s something that magic that happens at Full Sail, the NXT arena it’s hard to express but when talent like Finn Balor come in there, I have not seen Finn that nervous for Wrestlemania as he was to walk back through those doors at Full Sail. It’s an amazing place and has amazing energy and the people that come there are so passionate when they are there. Capturing that magic on television if you are watching sports entertainment and you are counting the numbers then you have missed the point. I am not focused on them, I am focused on the squared circle bell to bell that is the focus. Giving them (the fans) the best action across the board anywhere on this planet and we do that, week after week. That is what is going to make this grow long term. We don’t have all the flashy bells and whistles as Raw and Smackdown do, but I think that is the strength. I said it before Raw and Smackdown are like Hollywood blockbuster epic films where CGI and the epic nature of it can carry the content and NXT is like Broadway you have to get up there and perform on that stage and you’re exposed to the world. The performers of NXT do that better than anyone else on the planet.
FoF – We enjoy seeing these talented superstars doing what they do and keep evolving. Do you have any message that you want to share with our FoF audience?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – I appreciate the support remember every Wednesday night at 8pm EST on the USA Network for NXT. If you are an engaged fan, if you are a deep fan, if this what you live and breathe for sports entertainment then NXT is the brand for you. If you haven’t seen it, take a shot, watch it, I guarantee you will come back.
FoF – Thank you for your time today and we wish you and everyone continued success at NXT.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque – Thank you Charles, I appreciate it.
Special thank you to Paul Levesque and the WWE for making time out of their schedule to chat with the FoF. Also, special thanks to the USA Network for facilitating this.
Be sure to tune in every Wednesday night on the USA Network to see NXT Live at 8pm EST.
Be sure to follow Paul “Triple H” Levesque – here
Be sure to follow NXT – here