Triple H and Shawn Michaels have opened up about why only a select few performers have the ability to portray “theatrical” characters in WWE, and if there was any hesitance of bringing the ‘Tian Sha’ storyline to NXT.
Speaking on the NXT TakeOver: In Your House media call, Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy asked Triple H and Shawn Michaels about the Tian Sha storyline which saw the reputedly thousands-of-years-old Mei Ying brutalise Mercedes Martinez after the latter’s encounter with Xia Li, and if there was hesitance to bring a supernatural storyline to such a typically pure wrestling show.
Triple H said he’s a fan of variety – noting the subtlety of “Johnny Wrestling” and how Gargano can flip between being a “serious” wrestler and incredibly entertaining.
“So, I’m a big fan of a variety within the shows and having things that are different. You know, different characters, when you can get them, different characters, different personalities, different sides of performers, all of that, but also different characters in general. So you get an LA Knight, you can get a Johnny Gargano, who is as serious of a wrestler as you can be because your name becomes “Johnny Wrestling” and then you morph that character and he goes into The Way with all these other people and it’s one of the most entertaining things on the show yet. But at any point in time, you can pull that trigger and he’s right back into the wrestling mode.”
In response to the Alexa Bliss storyline featuring to a more mixed reaction despite being on an arguably more appropriate show, The Game says there’s a difference even between RAW & SmackDown, and that you need to make sure it fits.
“To have characters like Tian Sha, I think you have to handle them slightly differently so that you can make them sort of make sense in your world, right? There’s certain I guess parameters or rules to the universe that you’re in. Everybody’s is different, right? All the shows are slightly different. I feel like even there’s a slight difference between even just RAW and SmackDown as to what works on one show, what doesn’t on others. I feel the same way. So having that good mix is great, but also how you handle them and making sure that they fit within the sort of the universe that you’re existing in.”
Triple H went on to reference Marvel having serious and dramatic movies but also fitting in gods and robots where it works.
“I think the best example of that for me would be, like, Marvel does a really good job with it of having serious, almost dramatic movies and then having moments where, you know, this guy’s a god and the other guy’s a robot and this guy’s from outer space. Yet it all fits in and they do a good job of keeping it reasonably working within that world. I think that’s the trick. That’s the difficult part that we strive to try to do.”
Shawn Michaels adds that some characters just have the ability to look larger than life, noting how the Heartbreak Kid, himself, would never have had the same production levels as the Undertaker. Humbly adding that it’s down to whether each individual has the ability to be bigger and more dramatic.
“For me, I guess I always looked at it is there are some people and some characters, or some groups, that have the ability to look larger than life. I’d argue that about me. Taker was somebody who was a little bit more larger than life, so it was a much bigger production when he was coming out, as opposed to the Heartbreak Kid who was just music and silly dancing, you know what I mean?”
Michaels noted how the character of Undertaker was “stronger” than his and would be able to be scaled up easier without compromising believability.
“Because his was such a stronger character than mine. Mine was more again about the wrestler that eventually took all that, all the earrings off and stuff like that. So I think so much it has to do again with each individual character, their style, their persona, I think a lot of those things that would be my guess. You look at those and sort of determine, ‘Is this something that has the ability to make a little bit bigger, to make a bit more dramatic, and darker?'”
Triple H concluded by bluntly adding that some people just don’t have theatrical flair and would look uncomfortable in costume, while others make it work – but notes that Stone Cold Steve Austin simply had his black boots, and could just bob his head on his march to the ring and be effective.
“I can also tell you there are just certain people that don’t have that, whatever you want to look at, theatrical flair or something, where if you put them in a costume and you go, ‘Hey, go do this entrance with this cool costume and all that stuff,’ they’re going to look like the most uncomfortable thing in the world. And there are other people that can just make that stuff work. It just depends on the person. And I think that’s part of the variety of the show of, you know, Austin just walked out in black boots and the music playing, and wobbling his head, and flipping people off – and it worked, and it was one of the most spectacular entrances of all time. So it just depends on the character and I think a little bit of variety is what makes it all work.”
NXT TakeOver: In Your House is available to watch on demand now exclusively on Peacock in the United States and the WWE Network globally.