SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Ahead of NXT Takeover XXXI, Paul “Triple H” Levesque took questions from pro wrestling media, including me. Here are some notes from the call…
-A couple of questions were asked regarding COVID-19, regarding changes to creative, wrestlers being cleared, and whether any punishments were in store for any wrestlers. Levesque of course did not outline any specific punishments, but was seemingly frustrated with those who weren’t taking this seriously who believed it to be over despite it clearly not being the case.
-NXT: UK Takeover Dublin, originally set to happen last summer, was recently rescheduled for next June. A caller asked if there would be any other Takeover shows for the UK product between now and then. Levesque was noncommittal while acknowledging that the audience was hungry for a major show there.
-I asked Levesque was about Kyle O’Reilly and whether a plan has been in place for a singles push, and how the situations with Keith Lee’s move and Karrion Kross’s injury changed things. Levesque said that O’Reilly had been earmarked for a singles run for some time. He acknowledged that the timetable was changed and that they would have liked to have more time to flesh all of it out, so now the story will be doled out differently.
-He was asked about NXT’s involvement in the upcoming draft. Normally he’s coy about this kind of thing, but he came off as not being completely in-the-know yet. Somewhat related, he was also asked about Retribution and what say he has in where they end up and how they’re presented. He said he has no control over presentation once they leave him, and the process is as simple as him getting word that one of the shows is interested in a talent, and he gives them a timetable for how soon they can be written out of NXT.
-Levesque said that Wade Barrett has been an addition to NXT that he really likes, not just for his insights but also for the character work he brings to the booth. He said he’s always liked Barrett as a talent and not using him before this was largely a matter of timing, where there was no need when Barrett was free, and when Triple H did have need, Barrett was tied up.
-Levesque was asked about the strong ratings for the two Tuesday shows and whether a move to a new night was possible. He stated that it’s not quite that simple, as they can’t just tell the network where they’re going to go. The network has plans for each of its nights and it would be more complicated than a simple choice on WWE’s part.
-Levesque closed by acknowledging that Tegan Nox had torn an ACL, and required surgery (which has already been performed). He felt for her because it seems like every time her stock rises and she seems poised to take off, injury strikes. He says he still looks forward to her return and hopes it’s as strong as it can be.
(Wells’s Analysis: These can be a little on the fluff side sometimes, but there was a little more meat on the bone with the COVID-19 questions and the Wednesday ratings question. Even with my question about O’Reilly, Levesque wasn’t quite as coy with his answer, and was forthcoming about it being something of an audible due to a variety of circumstances. With a card that had no matches on it two weeks ago, it’ll be interesting to see how effectively NXT can tell their stories at Takeover, many of which normally pack more of an emotional punch thanks to long-form booking. There will be another conference call shortly after the event, and I’ll report on that as well)