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Shawn Michaels talks leading NXT in Triple H’s absence

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It’s been a time of change for WWE NXT, and they’ve largely faced it without the man who’s led the brand since its inception.

Triple H was sidelined with a heart issue in early September, just days before the 2.0 makeover debuted. We heard reports about Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard and their team guiding the revamp from company headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, and assurances the production team on the ground in Orlando was the same group its always been.

Now, heading into Halloween Havoc tonight (Oct. 26), Haitch’s right-hand man Shawn Michaels has gone on record confirming he’s been in charge while The Game recovers from the procedure he underwent last month. Here’s what HBK told SI’s Justin Barrasso:

“Trying to step in and fill his role is impossible to do. Everybody here misses him unbelievably, especially me. But I always go back to this—everything in real life takes precedence over everything else. This was a situation where my best friend needed my help and needed me to step in, so I look at this as an opportunity, in a small way, to thank him for everything he did for me earlier in my career.

“Taking over the responsibilities here is a drop in the bucket compared to what he did for me all those years back. I’m honored to at least have the opportunity to pay him back a little bit and be there for him. That’s what this whole company does—this whole relaunch has been everyone pulling together, and I’m energized and inspired to keep this NXT territory going strong during his absence.”

Michaels, whose official title is vice president of talent development, also offered his (unsurprisingly positive) take on the changes that have occurred on his watch. He compares them to what he experienced as a member of the WWE roster during the late 90s wrestling boom period:

“Doing this now for 35 years, I’ve seen constant change. And change is certainly not new to us in WWE. It’s constantly evolving and changing. I’ve heard people call this a refresh, but it’s still the same crew, which is great because they’re so damn talented. It reminds me of he Attitude Era. We had the same roster the day before he Attitude Era started, and I still remember Vince coming into the locker room and making that speech, inspiring us and making us hungry for the future. That’s what this is—turning over a new leaf, restructuring a few things and putting a brand-new coat of paint on a dominant and incredible brand. It’s chummed the waters, so to speak, and that’s fun to be around.”

We’ll see how Shawn and his team deliver with tonight’s big show. Join us in our live blog for that, and in sending continued well wishes to Hunter as he recovers.