Triple H was this week’s guest on Corey Graves’ After the Bell podcast, and he offered his thoughts on the WrestleMania 36 card.
It’s clear that The Game prefers a two night format for WrestleMania, while acknowledging that it’s easier said than done:
“I think it was much more enjoyable than the eight hour extravaganza. I think at some point that’s probably what it should be. It’s just become so big...it started out as a concert that ended up being a festival, and it’s this week-long thing. Thursday would have been Hall of Fame. Friday was SmackDown. Saturday was going to be TakeOver. Sunday would’ve been WrestleMania. Monday would’ve been Raw. It’s a week-long festival, and I think that big main stage attraction needs to be those two nights...that’s a major shift and that doesn’t come easy.”
You might infer from his comments that he truly believes WrestleMania is too big for one night, and not just a slogan used for one year.
WrestleMania 36 will go down as the most bizarre iteration of all-time thanks to the empty venue setting. Triple H didn’t wrestle on the card, and he joked that it was “a very good year to pick not to go to WrestleMania.”
He went into great detail on how the Boneyard match between Undertaker and AJ Styles was put together, including all the cameras and drones involved. It was Triple H’s idea to use Jeremy Borash and the digital team from NXT to shoot the fight. Triple H said that Undertaker was trying to do his best Clint Eastwood impression with all of his trash talk. As for the idea that this match type can extend Undertaker’s career longevity, Triple H isn’t so sure about that:
“I saw a lot of people afterwards saying ‘God, Taker could go forever in these kinds of format because there’s no physicality’. I’m like, dude, AJ was flying around on the dirt, on the hard ground with rocks. They were beating the tar out of each other, and it was a long shoot.”
I get what he’s saying, but the argument isn’t that no physicality is required to do this type of match. The main idea is that the Undertaker’s body and mobility are compromised, and a cinematic shoot like this can be used to maximize his strengths while editing around his weaknesses.
Triple H wasn’t involved in putting together the Firefly Fun House match, and he didn’t know what to make of it upon first viewing:
“Most of the people that shot it were like ‘I have no idea what we shot’...it was like a crazy acid trip, right?”
“Honestly when it was over I was like, did I like that or did I hate that? I’m not 100% sure.”
“It shifts your perception and you almost have to sit back for a little bit and go, wait a minute, hey that was really good. But you don’t get it right away. That’s how I felt about that, it really took me a minute.”
His reaction mirrors my own experience with that match. I wasn’t sure what the hell I was watching live during WrestleMania 36 when it aired. I enjoyed parts of it, was confused by other parts of it, and overall didn’t know what to make of it. But I enjoyed it a lot more on the second and third viewing and appreciated the story told by Bray Wyatt and John Cena.
Triple H also explained why he thinks it’s important for WWE to continue running shows in the middle of a global pandemic, when most people are stuck at home:
“People need some entertainment, and I know even the response we got in those first few episodes that we did of people being like ‘Geez, thank you guys for doing this.’ You know, you see some of the negativity around but I think for the most part anybody that [doesn’t] want to be part of it isn’t, no heat, no issues. But for a lot of people I think they get to feel like they’re being a part of the [solution] and part of helping other people by performing.”
“It’s important, I think for people’s mental well-being, and we’re doing everything we can to try to continue to be able to do that and do it in the safest way possible.”
It’s easy for someone in Triple H’s position to claim that there is “no heat, no issues” for anybody who chooses to stay safe at home rather than work on these empty venue shows. But from so many stories we’ve heard about how Vince McMahon and WWE operate, there’s of course going to be an implicit pressure felt by many people to keep coming to work, even if it puts their health at risk.
He also touches on some past moments from his career, including how he felt about being squashed by Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 12, and how he wasn’t ready to win King of the Ring that year even though it was the original plan.
Overall, it’s an interview worth checking out if you are curious about how WWE made the shift to running empty venue shows, including the decision to go forward with WrestleMania 36 in that setting.
You can listen to the full interview on Corey Graves After the Bell podcast here.