Triple H spoke about the shift in philosophy to NXT hiring college athletes and training them rather than searching the independent wrestling scene for talent.
While the black and gold era of NXT was largely built on the star power and wrestling talent of wrestlers with experience prior to WWE, the shift to NXT 2.0 means the company is returning to its previous strategy of hiring athletes and training them to be wrestlers from the ground up.
In a recent view with The Athletic, Triple H explained that the talent pool of college and professional athletes is an incredible resource and gives them a bigger chance of finding stars than if they focus solely on the independent wrestling scene.
“It always bothered me, like, (to get into wrestling in the past) you’ve almost got to be someone with nothing else going on or can’t take no for an answer and dig and dig and dig. But that pool is so small, people trying to get into this business. As I met more people, and you become savvy to the world of athletes, you realize the NFL is letting go 500 players a year. … You look at that massive pool of incredible athletes (from all sports). If you take that pool and 10 or 5 percent have big personalities that would be good for your business, you’re talking about a talent pool that’s 1,000 times bigger than right now.”
Triple H also made it clear that while they may initially miss out on someone who could become a big star, the company always has the option of signing them later if they prove they have star potential.
“Are there going to be some we miss where they say they’ll stay in the business, go find somebody else to train them? Yeah. Good for them. Probably sooner or later, we’re going to see them and realize we were wrong and should hire them. And at some point, they’ll want to be part of the biggest promotion in the world and come back here.”
When it comes to training people to WWE Superstars, Triple H says that some independent wrestlers have habits that need to be broken, and that in some ways it’s easier to start with a blank slate.
“The tryouts we did before, where there were a lot of athletes and experienced indie guys, I don’t think there’s any less of a ‘That’s a rock star. The indie stuff, half of it is, ‘He’s a good in-ring performer, but the rest is a mystery. He’s got bad habits I have to get him out of.’ This is almost cleaner. It’s a blank slate.”
Triple H also says that having a larger pool of talent to train makes decision making easier, as it becomes clear within six months whether someone has what they are looking for or not.
“The numbers force us to be more regimented,” Levesque said. “We used to be like, ‘Well, he’s only been here a year, let’s give him more time, see if he picks it up.’ Now we know there’s a six-month coming in the door of adapt, get rolling and then we’re looking at your aptitude for this. We know in that six months — and some won’t make it that long.”
It’s Triple H’s hope that many of the young stars currently featured on NXT 2.0 become stars and leave NXT sooner rather than later, as he believes the constant turnover and getting performers ready for the main roster is a good thing.
“People like Bron Breakker, he’s been training for a year. Half the women, they’ve been here a year maybe. There’s a lot that’s just so fresh and new. People used to say the constant churn of NXT was a negative. The churn is what’s great about it. The people here now, hopefully a year and a half from now, none of them are even in NXT anymore, and the ones that make it will be on to “Raw” and “SmackDown. That’s the magic.
“It truly is the developmental league, the college football, Triple-A baseball. Yeah, they’re not all quite ready to be in that major-league role yet, but you’re discovering them before they become household names.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Triple H shut down the idea that WWE doesn’t make new stars.