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Triple H talks AEW ratings, Lesnar/Riddle, no NXT ‘Women’s’ title, and more

TakeOver: Portland is coming up on Sun., Feb. 16, and that means Paul “Triple H” Levesque made himself available to the media on a conference call on Wednesday morning.

Here’s the answers that caught our attention...

On Dynamite beating NXT on Wednesday nights, specifically with the younger demographics:

“It’s about the long game, and what we have to do is get to the people in the younger demos. When you’re promoted in younger demos and you are viewed in those younger demos promotionally, then those are the people that you attract when you’re promoted in different demos. When you look at NXT on USA and you break down the numbers, it’s very similar to a Raw number, it’s very similar to a USA number, because that’s where we’re promoted and that’s where we’re seen and that’s where everything else goes. But the long game is building up the brand that you’ve built. I think that - and people can make this argument - but I think that we have come in and proven the in-ring product from a hardcore, not a hardcore in the old sense but in a passionate fan base of bell-to-bell action standpoint - that it is bell-to-bell better than anybody. Now you start to do different things, you start to add in a bit more entertainment, you start to add in a bit more variety, you start to add in some other things. You have to establish it first. I view it as no different than establishing a character within an individual show. So again, when I say it’s for the long game, that’s what it’s for. Now as you establish that brand now you begin to promote it outside now you begin to move outside those things . We’ll get those numbers and the demos where they need to be. I’m happy with where the show is, I’m happy with it’s trajectory right now, and the plans are in place to continue to move it in the direction that we want it to go.”

On the decision to drop “Women’s” from the name of the belt Rhea Ripley holds, as opposed to adding “Men’s” to the one Adam Cole has in his possession:

“Believe it or not, the internet giantly going into business on something that was a moment in time. There were conversations that were had. It was basically about not having to beat it into the ground when you say it, but it just got run with and once - when you have that many people working on a product and something gets taken the wrong way, everybody in trying to do their job just spreads it. There was never an edict, there was never anything. It really was what it was of just trying not to - if you’re showing a graphic, you don’t have to say - the title belt says ‘Women’s’, the graphic says ‘Women’s’, the announcers say ‘Women’s’, so everybody.. but you get it. There’s pictures of women there, you get what it is. You don’t have to beat it into the ground. It was more that, it just got run with and speculated on.”

On if Shayna Baszler is officially a Raw Superstar now:

“I’m scared to see her here, I don’t want to get bit. She’s got sharp teeth apparently. That’s a scary thing. I’m wearing a big collar today just in case. I think that’ll play out. There’s a fascinating thing for me with that. It was a ton of buzz I think going into Survivor Series and building up people for Becky Lynch and - her rise to where she is is been insane and I’m so happy for her. But you have to have that base of opponents and all those things so hopefully that turns into something massive for both of them and we see where that goes. At this point I’m not 100% sure as far as right now goes? I sort of look at this like sports teams in a way of where do things net out and you’ve got to make deals to get people to go different places. As far as I’m concerned right now, Shayna Baszler’s still an NXT talent until we make a deal for her to go someplace else, so does that mean there’s a moment where a Becky Lynch comes hunting for a Shayna Baszler or vice versa? I don’t know yet.”

On what’s going on between Matt Riddle and Brock Lesnar, and rumors of heat on Riddle:

“Look, I don’t know to be honest. I have not asked anybody about it, no one has expressed their - certainly Vince didn’t express his disapproval of anything that was said. And I’m sure if there would have been an issue he would have called me directly. I don’t know if you’ve ever met him, he’s not shy about that. So I didn’t see that. I’ve heard what you’ve heard. There was a conversation between the two or whatever and Matt’s Matt, Brock’s Brock. If they had a conversation that’s between them. They’re men, and I don’t mean that to be disparaging to anybody but they’re grown adults, let’s say that. So they had a conversation if they did, whatever they decided amongst themselves - you know, to be honest sometimes I read something and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if that’s a work or legit, I don’t know,’ but I don’t care either way. From that standpoint, I’m entertained by it, and if somebody has a problem with it, they come to me then I’ll help deal with the problem. But right now, it is what it is. You’re right, Matt is an incredibly talented performer, he’s very vocal, he has his own personality and his own viewpoints and that’s a great thing. Matt also is a guy who - I think Brock is of the opinion if you’re gonna write checks you better be willing to cash them, and I think Matt writes checks that he can cash in his mind. So, who knows?”

Other items of note:

- Asked about whether the NXT title (Men’s, presumably) will be defended at WrestleMania 36, he talked about the length of that card as a major factor in decisions like that. He also discussed all the events of that week, put over TakeOver: Tampa as a Mania-like event, and said they had a “special” NXT episode coming out of WrestleMania this year.

- There were several instances discussing this Sunday being a standalone event and a bigger card than normal. Nothing definitive, but Trips said it could have been bigger. He also made it sound like it will stick at the currently announced six matches.

- He fielded the usual questions about roster movement, and was asked specifically about Keith Lee being in demand. Basically, conversations about those kinds of things are ongoing, and are something he discusses with Paul Heyman & Bruce Prichard’s teams whenever a star gets noticed.

- Simone Johnson’s signing was mentioned, and he put over her talent, work ethic, and attitude. Like Charlotte Flair, she’ll also have to deal with nepotism allegations, but she’s training just like anyone else at the Performance Center, including tearing down & putting up rings. “The spot is hers to lose or keep.”

- They didn’t do Halftime Heat this year because of their partnership with Fox (who broadcast the Super Bowl and halftime show).

- He’s excited about the signings of Killer Kross & Timothy Thatcher, and surprised they stayed under wraps for as long as they did. They’ll phenomenal talents who just need to learn the WWE way on the TV side of things.

- Answering a question about moving NXT out of Full Sail Live, Haitch talked about the many ways Full Sail is a strategic partnership for them. It’s more than a venue they rent once a week. That said, there is a date conflict coming up and NXT will be on the road for at least one Wednesday in the near future.

The full call is available several places (Fightful has it on YouTube here; Wrestling Observer as a downloadable audio file here).

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