Triple H On NXT’s Viewership ‘Long Game’, Simone Johnson Signing, Brock vs. Riddle, A-Kid, More

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Photo credit: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

Triple H took part in a media call ahead of NXT TakeOver Portland this morning; highlights are below:

HHH is excited for tonight’s episode of NXT, having Velveteen Dream back. Puts over the Portland card and calls it a ‘Mania type card’ for them. HHH goes over the card, noting the Women’s title match and how Rhea might be overlooking Bianca for Charlotte. Puts over Belair as coming into her own, one of the most dominant women’s performances in the 2020 Rumble. HHH says you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and calls Bianca a special talent.

HHH on NXT not doing as well as AEW in key demographics, what can they do better?

It’s all about the “long game” and they need to reach a younger demo. They need to promote to different demos, and they establish one audience and build out from there. HHH says he’s happy with where they are at and they’ll get the numbers they need in time.

HHH on removing ‘Women’s’ from the NXT Championship… He says the internet got carried away. There was never an edict to remove it. They feel that it doesn’t need to be beaten into the ground on graphics, etc. “It is what it is”

HHH is asked about potential of seeing A-Kid on international (Spain) tour. He says it’s a long time from now but it’s always possible. HHH again puts over A-Kid and says if not this tour (int’l) it’ll be sooner than later.

With what happened at Survivor Series, is there any possibility that they do a NXT title match at WrestleMania?

HHH says TakeOver Tampa is going to be epic, and WrestleMania is already a huge event so it’s hard to put it in there. Calls Mania a week-long event. Following up on the Mania idea, he says you already have a long stadium show and putting too much into that will diminish your return. You need to put things in different places, otherwise Mania would start at 6 am and go to the next day.

HHH on time and production for Portland — it’s a packed lineup, but it feels like they always say that. That’s a good thing, this show was debated heavily. He says this one could have been even bigger but he didn’t want to overload it. HHH says the card is really one more match bigger than usual, but he’s not expecting a dramatic difference. The goal is to outdo the shows in the past, and that’s the goal for Tampa as well.

HHH asked about diminishing NXT with roster moves…

It’s a great thing to be able to do on occasion. NXT is stacked, that’s the point of the PC, notes Finn Balor coming back ‘over’, not down. NXT has a deep bench and it’s a strength, not a weakness.

HHH asked about Charlotte Flair / NXT… She’s a special talent and no matter where she goes, it’s a huge deal. He says that’s the beauty of having people in a spot like that.

As far as where that goes? Wait and see.

HHH asked about Simone Johnson signing.

He doesn’t have any advice for her that probably isn’t already coming from her parents. He doesn’t envy being in that spot. When she tries this, the spotlight is so big that you need to be a strong person

HHH points out the comparison between Simone and Charlotte, and how people criticize Charlotte for nepotism.

He says it’s not true and Charlotte earned everything. Simone is not there because she’s The Rock’s daughter, she’s passionate and earned her spot. She’s [Simone] treated like everyone else, and “the spot is hers to lose or keep”

HHH on Keith Lee’s rise, if there’s a fight to not lose him to RAW / SD: There’s always chatter about that when any talent gets some success. He says they want people to come from the PC and set them up for long-term success.

Why didn’t we get another Halftime Heat broadcast this year?

HHH: It’s hard to ask FOX to do that, it’s different than a year ago. The timing was right last year. This year they had a spectacular halftime show (J.Lo, Shakira) and he saw it first-hand.

Is Shayna Baszler officially on the RAW roster?

HHH jokes about getting bit by her. He says this will play out and there was a ton of buzz before Survivor Series about building opponents for Becky. You need a base of opponents and he hopes it’s massive. He’s unsure where it goes now but as far as he’s concerned, Shayna is still NXT until they make a deal otherwise. Compares it to a sports team’s transaction.

HHH on Killer Kross, Timothy Thatcher: If you’ve seen their work, you know why WWE signed them. He says it’s nice that their signings didn’t get leaked out. Both of them have incredible upsides and he’s excited to get started.

Another caller asks about A-Kid, HHH puts him over as a great talent. He says when you have Shawn Michaels signing your praises, it doesn’t get much better than that.

HHH asked about taking NXT on the road more: Full Sail is one of the most valued partners in WWE. He says he’s not sure if they even have a contractual agreement. They want to be there, everything that happens there benefits WWE. HHH says they have directors working on WrestleMania level shows that cut their teeth at Full Sail. The relationship is so much more than just renting studio space, it’s like family. HHH says to that point, they’ll always look at what’s best for business. They will announce it soon, but there’s a week that they won’t be able to tape at Full Sail due to a school commitment. They’re running a successful school and they work with their needs.

HHH asked about potential for Brock vs. Riddle to happen…

He’s never asked anyone about it, Vince never said he disapproved of it. If he did, HHH would’ve gotten a call. HHH heard what we heard, but the conversation is between Brock and Matt. HHH says it is what it is. Riddle is incredibly talented and very vocal, but that’s a great thing. HHH says Matt writes checks he can cash in his own mind, and the sky is the limit for Riddle, but we’ll see where it goes.

HHH closes the call by putting over TakeOver, calls Poppy a great partner. He’ll talk to us after Portland for the post-show media call.