Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque Has Big Plans in Store for the WWE. What Happens Now That Vince McMahon Is Back?
It’s Jan. 4, just one day before Vince McMahon would come crashing back into the WWE, but if new creative head Paul “Triple H” Levesque knew something was afoot, he hid it well. “F–k if I know,” Levesque told Variety, when asked how McMahon was biding his time since leaving the WWE back in July. “I didn’t know what he was up to every day when he was here! I’ll be honest, I don’t know what he’s doing. I think he’s keeping himself busy.”
A day later, the world would know exactly what McMahon was up to. On Jan. 5, it was reported that McMahon was using his power as WWE’s majority shareholder to return as the executive chairman of the board of directors to help negotiate new media rights deals and to explore a sale of the company.
By Jan. 6 he was officially back on the board, along with allies and former WWE co-presidents Michelle Wilson and George Barrios. McMahon stated he had no intention of affecting the current management structure, which included Levesque as well as co-CEOs Nick Khan and Stephanie McMahon, his own daughter. Just days later, though, Stephanie announced her resignation.
But when Variety spoke with Levesque at the WWE’s Stamford, Conn., headquarters on Jan. 4, it was all about a future without McMahon but with plenty of changes in store.
The interview with Levesque included discussions about plans to recruit new talent and a shift in creative direction. Much of that is now in question should WWE in fact get sold. Levesque reportedly held a meeting with WWE talent recently to assure them that McMahon will not be returning in a creative role, but given the previous blindside, nothing can be ruled out.
Since Levesque took over creative at WWE, his changes to the product have been met with great enthusiasm by wrestling fans. Audiences have thrilled to the returns of stars like Bray Wyatt, Dakota Kai, Braun Stroman, and Johnny Gargano, and have praised what they see as a return to long-term storytelling.
Despite those raves, Levesque said he didn’t necessarily see it that way. “[Vince was] always thinking long term,” he said. “Whether it gets executed that way or whether it wasn’t, I don’t know. But for me, it’s how I think because it’s how I was taught by him. I’m always trying to think about the long-term storyline. I was at SummerSlam and one of the first things I talked to the team about is ‘Okay, where do we want to go for Wrestlemania? What’s that goal?’ Obviously it’s going to change, but what’s the target goal?
“It’s like a GPS,” he continued. “As long as you put in the destination, the GPS will keep rerouting you if it needs to. If there’s an accident, it’s going to move you this way. If you miss a turn, it’s going to take you another way, but you’re gonna get to your destination. And as long as we are aware of where we want to get to, then we can get there. We’ll adjust along the way. And the destination might change we might decide halfway that we want to go in a different direction. But at least you constantly are aware of your of your target. And I think without that, you’re just floating around in the ocean.”
Levesque particularly lit up when asked about NXT Europe. Levesque created NXT, WWE’s developmental promotion, and the company announced in August 2022 that they would be shutting down the developmental brand NXT UK — which featured wrestlers specifically from the United Kingdom — with plans to relaunch in 2023 as NXT Europe, which would feature wrestlers from all over the continent.
He still did not have a specific launch date for NXT Europe, but said WWE expects to have more to share this summer. “There’s been a lot of progress on it,” Levesque said. “We are very excited about the prospect of taking NXT in a larger global direction.
“I would like to be able to find the best athletes and the largest personalities and the most entertaining people from every place in the world, and bring them into what we do,” he added. “Because when you begin to create those characters and those stars from every region, those regions become more engaged in what we do. If you can begin to go to all these places, and begin to find athletes there that can resonate on a global stage, some will make it big, some will make it small, some won’t make it at all. But that Indian talent, let’s say, that you have that main events WrestleMania and is a native of that country, that wholesale changes how [that country] views the product.”
Levesque has also been spearheading WWE’s efforts to recruit NCAA athletes through the company’s NIL program, which launched in December 2021. The program is meant to give US college athletes a direct path to becoming the next generation of WWE talent. Levesque said they are now undertaking similar efforts in Europe.
“NXT UK was based mostly on independent wrestling workers, guys that worked their way up and found their way to us,” Levesque said. “We’re starting the process there doing the same thing we’re doing here. There isn’t an NCAA collegiate level of athletics in Europe, but there’s a lot of athletes that are training in a lot of places like Loughborough or whatever, for specific sports. We’re beginning to engage with them now and finding the same interest level that we’re finding in NCAA athletes here.”
Now, with Vince McMahon back on the board and a potential sale looming, it’s unclear whether any of Levesque’s lofty plans will reach fruition. The best he can do is answer the bell — and hope that he’s not left lying on the canvas.
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