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Triple H defends WWE booking: ‘Oh, I'm sorry, how's your territory coming?’

WWE SummerSlam Press Conference Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

As if to answer a question I and many others had when ESPN announced their new WWE/pro wrestling “vertical” on their website, they’ve rolled out interviews with Stephanie McMahon focused on the branding & promotion of the women’s wrestlers and another with Triple H focusing on character development and booking decisions.

So, while they may report on storyline developments within their coverage of Raw and SmackDown Live, ESPN is very much in the business of covering the art and, well, business of WWE.

Haitch, or Paul "Triple H" Levesque, as he’s introduced in the piece, covers a few of the standard bases in his chat with KC Joyner - how characters are often the performers personalities with the volume turned up (except when they’re not), how the presentation has to be believeable & meaning to get over and the value of tag wrestling & squash matches.

The Executive Vice-President also defends the company’s decisions when it comes to wins & losses for wrestlers and their tendency toward so-called “50/50 booking”, where two men or women in a feud will trade decisions over the course of a program. Critics say it prohibits either wrestler from really breaking out.

Levesque says it’s working just fine for them... while getting in a little dig about the internet community which sounds like something from an in-character promo:

When somebody goes, 'Well, you just can't get people over with 50/50 booking,' [I'll always say] 'Oh, I'm sorry, how's your territory coming? Because this one seems to be doing pretty good over here.' We just had the largest WrestleMania in history. People talk a lot of smack about ratings and things, but they don't understand all of the dynamics of everything we do. They don't. They sit on the internet and they read one thing and they give their point of view.

I suppose there's a stone somewhere that it's written on that says, 'Thou shalt not book 50/50 because it won't lead to success for your promotion.' We'll stand on that stone while we're selling out Brooklyn three days in a row.

He also addresses something folks within WWE, recently Brian “Road Dogg” James, will sometimes say about wins and losses not mattering:

People don't understand it when Vince [McMahon] will say it's not about wins and losses or those things. Do they matter? Sure. Are they the be all, end all? Absolutely not.

Do I keep track of the exact wins and losses of talent? No. To me, all of this stuff is a feel. All of it is a feel.

Interestingly enough, The Game goes on to describe a circumstance where he’d write to get a wrestler over by losing which sounds a lot like how NXT presented the stories of top babyfaces like Sami Zayn or Bayley. It doesn’t exactly fit in an argument in favor of “50/50 booking” since you rarely see those kind of back-and-forth programs on that show (in fairness, by virtue of the relatively few hours the brand needs to fill), which makes the kind of losses he’s talking about mean much more:

Sometimes you're beating a talent because you want to beat them and that's the sympathetic reaction you're trying to elicit. There are some talents that, when you beat them, they get more popular, but as soon as they start on a winning path, their popularity begins to wane. ... People want that underdog to strive to succeed and then get a little bit of success and then get knocked back off that perch and be the underdog again.

Overall, it’s an argument which will never be settled, mostly because - for the foreseeable future - Trips & the McMahons won’t have any real competition.

Some will say they’re millionaires who should be billionaires; that their ratings would be higher if the booked differently to create new stars. WWE will point to their being more successful than anyone else. And the debate will continue.

It’s the kind of topic which made ESPN get in the internet wrestling business.

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