WWE creative & talent relations head Triple H sat down with Ariel Helwani for a wide-ranging interview ahead of this weekend’s Clash at the Castle and Worlds Collide events.
There’s a lot in their 75 minute conversation, but one soundbite that’s grabbed wrestling fans attention comes when Helwani asks The Game about the Wednesday Night War with AEW, and the impact that had on his career.
Helwani: There was that story... NXT went head-to-head with AEW, it couldn’t beat ‘em, we’re gonna punish it. Was that a real thing?
Triple H: No. No, look — people put so much pressure on this, ‘Oh, this competitive war.’ It never was that. Look, first of all they beat our developmental system. Good for them, right? [laughs]
No, it was never that. There was never even a pressure of like, ‘You have to beat that...’ It was never that. It was ‘Put on the best product we could.’
Haitch transitions into talking about how the pandemic caused WWE to return the developmental system to its roots, and how proud he is of what Shawn Michaels & team have done and how much he still believes in the overall NXT brand (including how the upcoming NXT Europe could see a return to his vision of global WWE territories, and how they’ll “build World Cup scenarios” using the regional branches of NXT).
There’s a lot to talk about regarding those 18 months when NXT and Dynamite went head-to-head on cable. But regardless of which company or show had which advantages or disadvantages, WWE was not presenting NXT as their developmental system at the time. Triple H himself had been correcting people who referred to it that way even before Tony Khan hit the scene, insisting it was a “third brand”.
NXT didn’t feature ex-college athletes learning the business from Nov. 2019-April 2021. This was a time when the black-and-gold brand “won” Survivor Series, former Universal champion Finn Bálor was working Tuesday nights for WWE, and Charlotte Flair used her Royal Rumble victory to take the NXT Women’s title at WrestleMania.
While it wasn’t their A or even B show, Triple H and WWE thought his show would beat AEW. They couldn’t. Whatever happened behind the scenes happened. Of course, Hunter has to explain away that defeat — it’s what promoters do. Just like they gassed up NXT to try and convince people it was the same as Raw or SmackDown, they’ll now pretend they always knew it wasn’t a fair fight with Dynamite.
Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be called out when they do it, though.
What’s your take on The Game’s revisionist spin on the Wednesday Night War?
For more from Helwani & Triple H’s conversation, head here.