UPDATE: Chris Jericho has since responded to these comments. More at this link.
Triple H has shared his honest thoughts on AEW and NXT going head to head during the ‘Wednesday Night Wars’.
Prior to NXT moving to Tuesday nights in April 2021, the WWE developmental show would clash with AEW Dynamite in what fans dubbed the ‘Wednesday Night Wars’.
In September 2021, NXT received a reboot, with the weekly show rebranded as ‘NXT 2.0’, showcasing homegrown talent rather than former independent stars.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani, Triple H shot down rumors that NXT conceding the Wednesday Night Wars was a catalyst for the reboot:
“No, no. People put so much pressure on this ‘competitive war.’ It never was that. First of all, they beat our developmental system. Good for them. It was never that. There was never pressure of, ‘You have to beat them.’ It was never that. It was ‘put on the best product we could.’ It shifted over time.
“During the pandemic, all of that shifted. The opportunity for us to change it back to what it truly was. When you look at a lot of the stars that have come through that system that had either started from zero or had very little exposure anywhere and then became massive stars with us, it’s so many people.
“We had lost the ability to take those people and groom them from the ground up. We really had. It’s the biggest change that’s out there. I’m proud of where Shawn and that team have taken that, even under circumstances where the change happened and was massive and all at once and they had this jumble thrown at them and had to go out there and take that and run with it.
“The job they’ve done is amazing and now you’re starting to see people begin to…they have a clean slate and all these athletes you’ve never heard of and never seen and they’re green and they’re not there’ doing this, you’re seeing it now pick up tempo again and start to become what it is again.”
Commenting on the ‘hiatus’ of NXT UK, and the 2023 launch of NXT Europe, Triple H said:
“I truly believe in that brand still. The decision to pull NXT UK back, it’s the right decision for us. We had plans to do what we’re going to do now, then, right before the pandemic hit and it took it all away. We weren’t able to do that.
“Our partnership with BT allowed it to stay on the air the whole, but the truth is, it was totally different from where we wanted it go. We’re pulling it off the air now so that we can get to NXT Europe because it’s tough to both at the same time; continue to operate a product but build a new product around it.
“We’re going to pull it off a little bit, bring NXT Europe back in a bigger way than it ever was before and the intent is, hopefully, if we’re successful, to replicate that so it’s NXT Europe, NXT India, NXT South Africa, NXT Mexico, take those products, put them around everywhere, and eventually build brands in those markets locally and build World Cup scenarios around that to where they are competing on that level all over the globe and that tide feeds into Raw and SmackDown.
“If Raw and SmackDown are the NFL, NXT is collegiate football. It’s all a feeder system to the overall picture.”
When asked if WWE truly views AEW as competition, Triple H noted:
“It’s not a cop-out answer. Everything is competition to us. We pay attention to everything. You have to. Do we pay attention to AEW? Do I watch it on a week-to-week basis? No. Am I aware of what’s happening there? To a degree. I’m not following everything they do.
“There are sometimes, I’ll see somebody say, ‘Oh that’ very similar to what they are doing.’ I had no idea. At the end of the day, you have to focus on what you’re doing. you have to focus on your product and it doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing.
“If people want to watch that product, there is nothing I can do about it. There is nothing to prevent me from doing that. Focus on my product, make my product the best product it can possibly be. I have confidence in that ability.
“From this team, the talent we have, I’ll put our talent against anybody. That is how you are successful. Monday Night Football is a massive thing for us. We pay attention to that. We pay attention to all sports on television.
“We’re very strategic about where we put our events and how…not because we think, ‘Oh, we’ll try to block that.’ We put them in places where we think we will do the best business. That’s all it is and there is nothing more to it than that. That’s where people get lost in the small thinking of what happens on a day-to-day basis. It’s the much bigger, overall picture, that needs to stay in front of you and where you’re trying to get to.”
Triple H is currently the WWE EVP of Talent Relations and the Head of Creative. He took over creative following Vince McMahon’s retirement announcement in July.
Transcription via Fightful.
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