(Triple H and Stephanie join the show right after the 68 minute mark; transcription credit to Wrestlezone.com)
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon on Evolution and its idea:
Stephanie – “Our women went from being secondary, if not more often tertiary type characters. It was about three years ago that our fans actually started a hashtag called #GiveDivasAChance. And it trended worldwide for three days, specifically calling for more athleticism, better character development and better storylines for our women. And their voices were so loud that at WrestleMania—strategically on our part, on our biggest stage [since] Wrestlemania is like our Super Bowl—in front of over 100,000 people at AT&T Stadium we had Hall of Famer Lita go out and announce the re-branding of the Divas division to the Women’s division. She unveiled a new championship belt that was more akin to the men’s, but still very feminine, and announced that now our women would now be called Superstars, same as the men.
Since that time, our women have been more regularly headlining and main eventing our pay-per-views and main events. We signed ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey, one of the world’s greatest athletes, male or female, and this past December in Abu Dhabi, for the first time ever, our women were allowed to compete. During their match—it was a women’s championship match between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss—a chant broke out in the arena, men and women, chanting “This is hope”. There were tears in the eyes of the little girls in the front row, and this is what this women’s Evolution is all about. That’s how meaningful it is for us to now have this event this Sunday at Nassau Coliseum; it is a true evolution in our business, and hopefully a change in the world.
Triple H – “The [male superstars] love it. As times were changing, just prior to the hashtag coming out with #GiveDivasAChance, we’d kind of seen the shift coming and we had already started training the women differently down in Florida in the [WWE] Performance Center. Different levels of athletes were coming in. ”
Stephanie – “Paul was the one that really pushed for this change. He started recruiting elite athletes all over the world, male and female. He started training our women the same as the men and giving them the same opportunities. ”
HHH – “I think for the guys, as that opportunity—if they hadn’t seen it already—as that opportunity presented itself to the women they kept knocking it out of the park every single time. You started to see guys—to me the true shift was when men started watching women’s matches and went ‘oh man, I’ve got to step up my game’. You clearly started to see that shift happen. I’ve watched main event guys sit at NXT Takeover—which are pay-per-views, at the time, for our NXT brand—sit and watch a women’s match in the main event knowing they had to work the next night at Summerslam and come in the back like ‘oh, I’m going to be up all night trying to figure this out’.”
Stephanie comments on the new WWE partnership “Girl Up”
Stephanie – “Girl Up is all about empowering and teaching teen girls all around the world leadership skills. It’s about building confidence, giving them the skills and the tools that they need to be successful in life, no matter where they’re from, no matter what walk of life they come from.
WWE is incredibly proud to partner with Girl Up, and we’re creating and developing a program called ‘Sports For A Purpose’ because sports and athletics does so much to build confidence, to build team building. When you look at strategy, what worked in sports, what didn’t work, setting goals, pushing yourself physically and mentally; all of these skills that are important to leadership and in life. It also just builds community, and that community is what gets us through. WWE is incredibly proud to be partnering with Girl Up and really developing this partnership and seeing what we can do to help affect change.”
Triple H and Stephanie comment on Roman Reigns’ leukemia announcement:
HHH – “It takes a remarkable amount of strength as a person to say that. Roman has been dealing with this for a long time. Roman [had announced on RAW] that he’s been battling leukemia for eleven years.
Stephanie: on Monday Night RAW, Roman came out of character and went out to the ring and said look, I’ve been playing this character, but I haven’t been genuine and authentic with you. My real name is Joe, and I’ve been battling with this for eleven years, and he then talked about having leukemia.
Triple H: This is something that—very few people know about this—he and I have spoken about this; this is something he did not want to put out there until he had reached a certain point it time in his career because he didn’t want people to feel like he was being pitied or given things for a certain reason. He wanted to be able to come out at the end and be like ‘Look, I dealt with this the whole time, you can do anything. This is not an end sentence.’
As we talked about it on Monday—he and I—life’s what happens when you’re busy making plans. The rest of the stuff happens, and it didn’t work out the way he thought it would, here it is back, but he realized now was the time to spread that message and tell people. He’s going to fight this, and he’s going to win. He’ll be back stronger than ever, and I think it’s just a matter of time. He’s an incredibly strong human being, and I have so much respect for him for just—that’s a very private thing, to be able to come out when your image and what you do and everything about you is tough and everything else—to come out and go look I’m flawed, I’m fragile and I have this problem. It’s a really difficult thing, and to be able to stand up, not for yourself, but for others.
Stephanie – As [Elvis] you know, pediatric cancer research is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. As it relates to Roman, one of the things we did as a part of September, which is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, we had this whole campaign for Superstars Of Tomorrow where we visited children’s hospitals and these kids dressed up in their favorite Superstars’ persona or their own original Superstar persona. Our [WWE] Superstars actually come and we introduce them and it’s awesome, and we did integrations in Monday Night RAW. In Dallas in particular, we had this incredible group of kids that we really bonded with, and they created a video for Roman that I just watched, and it’s so powerful. It’s these little kids saying ‘we believe in you, Roman’ and keep fighting. It’s just that’s what life should really be about, it’s supporting one another and loving one another because we all have enough crap to deal with in our regular lives. It’s just a privilege to be a part of.