Speaking to the media ahead of NXT TakeOver: 36 on August 22nd, Triple H has attempted to squash speculation that NXT have changed their policy when it comes to recruitment.
After the latest round of talent cuts to hit NXT in early August, numerous reports emerged suggesting that there were huge changes coming to the black and gold brand. Including in their philosophy when it comes to signing new talent. The new plan, it was suggested, was for NXT to hire bigger, younger athletes, and “no more midgets.”
However, while speaking to the media following NXT’s latest open try-outs in Las Vegas, the black and gold brand’s figure head said the hiring process hasn’t changed.
Answering a question to put to him about the issue from Nick Hausman of Wrestling Inc, Triple H said the process of hiring new talent remains the same.
“It’s a funny thing, people talk about the shifting if what it is. It never really shifted,”
“So if you go back and look at the hiring process, not the hiring process of a television show, the hiring process of who we’re looking to train and make WWE Superstars. Long term. If you go back and look at it, it hasn’t shifted. It’s been the same process. I don’t negate anybody. From a standpoint of ‘I wrestled some independent stuff. ”Well all right, you’re out!’ That’s not a factor to me, but it’s also not the factor that makes me go ‘okay, you’re in.’ When they get in here today, if somebody goes in and hits the ropes perfectly every time, has every roll perfect, does all the stuff, (makes) it look easy because they’ve been training, that’s not really showing me anything. You should be able to, if you’ve been training, if you’ve been working indies you should be able to do all of that.”
“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. Vince used to always say ‘we’re a variety show.’ We are. In some manner, you need a little bit of everything. That’s the key to all of this. But people hear one statement and then make one (assumption). ‘Now it’s that. No, now it’s this.’ It always has been.”
The NXT boss was later asked how many athletes had been signed from the Vegas try-outs. Triple H added that the key is finding the diamond in the rough. The talent who can be a Superstar, rather than just a professional wrestler.
“We had thirty eight talent here today, we had one drop out from yesterday to today. We had an injury and then we had another, not dropout, but we cut training short today. And I’d say somewhere, in the ballpark, of thirteen and sixteen I’d say. There’s a lot passion here in the last couple of days and a lot of drive. And clearly we’re looking for something different. You’ll hear Vince say it a lot. It’ll sound wrong to a lot of people, but it’s right. We’re not looking for professional wrestlers, we’re looking for superstars. We’re looking for somebody that can break through that. The rest of it takes care of itself.
“You’re looking for the diamond in the rough, you’re looking for the one in a million, you’re looking for those things. That’s the difficult part. The rest of it takes care of itself and it happens. And you go about that process. So to me, right now it’s about giving opportunities. And there was a lot of people here that have the tools to break through, that stood out when they walked through the room. You’re like ‘alright, who’s that?’ They had that some type of it factor, and then proved it to us here how much they wanted it. And I think, in this moment in time, to be able to go a little bit beyond and bring in these people give them that shot. Are they going to make it? No. It’s a long hard journey. But if everybody made it it wouldn’t be that special when you got there, right?”
The discussion then turned to whether there is any difference in the way talent is identified in men and women. The multiple time World Champion explained that while looks may get a potential performer a second glance, personality is far more important.
“People use that term it factor, x factor, charisma. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is,” Triple H said. “Sometimes I feel like, for women, there’s this emphasis on ‘oh man she looked like a million bucks when she walked in here.’ They’re dressed a certain way, make up is a certain way, hair’s a certain way, doing all those things. It’s important. At the end of the day though, it’s more personality to me. I don’t care, if somebody doesn’t have the money and they don’t wear make up? I mean present yourself well, but you don’t have to have high dollar hair extensions and a bunch of make up on and do all these other things in high dollar clothes to come in here and go ‘oh yeah, they’ve got it.’ To me it almost has nothing to do with it.”
“It’s personality, it’s how they engage with you, it’s how they connect with you. Do they make you feel something when you them when they’re working? What’s that connection point that you have with these people? Do you feel something from them? Do they engage you in some manner? Some people you don’t see that when they’re here. Sometimes the red light goes on and they got it ‘boom.’ I’m sure you’ve heard people say ‘the camera loves them.’ Yeah they take great pictures. I’ve seen that a lot too. When you get to a try-out you’re like ‘this person looks great.’ Then they get there and you’re like ‘when do they get in?’ It’s not the same person. In person it doesn’t resonate. On camera it does. There’s factors that but it’s not an image thing. That’ll fade. I feel like that’s part of the process of the two day journey or the three day journey or the four day journey, depending on the try-out style that we’re doing.”
Triple H then talked through some of his thought process during the try-outs. He detailed how if someone repeatedly catches his eye, that can be very important. Even if that person is terrible.
“Yes somebody walks in the room, those things might catch your eye for a minute,” Triple H said. “And then very quickly, that persons not really doing anything else, and this person is. And they don’t have any makeup on, they don’t have their hair done. So it’s never those other things. You can look past those. What’s really in here, that’s what it factor, charisma, all those things. Part of that is a passion and a connection to the person, and if you feel that, that person has charisma, that person has an it factor. It’s funny because I look at these try-outs sometimes totally differently. I find myself, catching myself, looking back at the same person in the first half of the first day.
“I find myself constantly looking back at that same person for some reason, or the same ten, fifteen whatever people. Like constantly find myself, catching myself interested in what they’re doing. And if I mentally see that, I put a check there. I check that person out ten times, I keep seeing that person do this. They might be terrible. But I keep going back to it. There’s a reason, they’re drawing my eye for whatever reason. I don’t have to figure that out, I don’t have to tell you what that reason is, I just have to know that it’s there. So I don’t know, I just look at it a little differently. But that’s a factor. Is it different for men and women? It’s different for every single person. It doesn’t matter, man, woman, it doesn’t matter. It’s different for everybody. You just got to open to it.”
Away from the try-outs, all eyes will be on the black and gold brand for NXT TakeOver: 36 on Sunday August 22nd. The show is set to be headlined by Samoa Joe taking on NXT Champion Karrion Kross in his first singles match in WWE since 2019.
Also on the card, NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez will meet Dakota Kai, while Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly clash in a ‘2 Out Of 3’ Falls Match. A bout which may turn out to be Cole’s last inside an NXT ring.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.