Pre-TakeOver media calls have been a staple of Triple H’s schedule for years now, but it doesn’t look like we’re getting one for Aug. 22’s TakeOver 36.
The official word is The Game is just too busy this week, jetting back and forth across the country for a SummerSlam week WWE Tryout in Las Vegas and the Biggest Party of the Summer, then back to Orlando for NXT’s Sunday night show. But a lot of folks view that answer skeptically, instead assuming the company just wants to avoid a barrage of questions about the talents released on Aug. 6, and the reports that followed about a change of direction for the black-and-gold brand after it failed to snuff out out AEW on Wednesday nights.
We’ll likely never know the truth, but we do know Hunter fielded a few questions yesterday (Aug. 19) after the Vegas tryouts wrapped up. One of those was about “the talent NXT is bringing in possibly shifting a bit.”
The rumors that Vince McMahon wants WWE’s developmental program to emphasis larger wrestlers over the type of independent stars NXT’s relied on the last couple of years wasn’t explicitly brought up, but it was definitely the subtext. It’s a notion the WWE’s Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy Development dismissed:
“So it’s a funny thing, people talk about the shifting of what it is. It never really shifted. If you go back and you look at the hiring process - not hiring process of a television show. Hiring process of who we’re looking to train and make WWE Superstars, long-term. If you go back and look at that, that hasn’t shifted. It’s been the same process.
“I don’t negate anybody, and from a standpoint of like, ‘I wrestled some independent stuff,’ well alright, you’re out. That’s not a factor to me, but it’s also not the factor that makes me go, ‘Ok you’re in.’ When they get here today, if somebody hits the ropes perfectly every time, does every roll perfect, does all the stuff, looks easy because they’ve been training? [shrugs] Doesn’t really show me anything, you know what I mean? You should be able to if you’ve been training, you’ve been working indies, you should be able to do all that. It’s, to me, what is the potential, long-term. What is that potential. And are they willing to do the work to live up to that potential.
“And again, not saying we haven’t hired people differently along the way. Vince used to always say, ‘We’re a variety show.’ Right, we are in some manner. You need a little bit of everything. And I think that’s the key to all of this. But people hear statements and they think, ‘Now it’s that, now it’s that.’ It’s all of that. It always has been.”
It’s a skillful answer from a seasoned politician, and it’s important to recognize the context. Trips is speaking at a scouting event, not hyping NXT specifically.
But it’s interesting he clarifies he’s not talking about the process of hiring for a TV show, and emphasizing the lengthy process of creating a “WWE Superstar”. For years every Triple H interview has included talk of NXT as a stand-alone third brand that had outgrown the developmental label, and as a possible destination for any level of talent currently on the company’s payroll. The lack of any of those talking points (you can check out the entire video of his post-Tryout presser on Denise Salcedo’s YouTube page here) is worth considering in light of everything we’ve heard over the past few weeks.
Let us know what you make of it, Cagesiders.