The typical pre-Takeover media call took place yesterday with Triple H. Here are the notes on what we heard and learned during the call.

  • Call begins with Adam Hopkins confirming the news broken by Philly.com that the 2108 Royal Rumble is being held in Philadelphia.
  • Triple H takes over the call. “This has been a little bit of a unique build on the way to this.” The holidays as well as the changes to the schedule shifting to place the Takeover specials around the big 4 have changed how he would have built the show and promoted it.
  • Almas v. Strong should be a hard-hitting match. Roddy is “just getting his feet on the ground for us.” Almas is “finding his wheelhouse of where he is as a performer with NXT.”
  • Hunter runs the rest of the card and talks up all of the matches. Roode is “hellbent on…proving at this point in his career that he is the star he is always said he has been.”
  • NXT Year-End award winners will be announced during the pre-show. Voting is still open on Twitter.
  • He talks up the UK talent and the success of the tournament. “They are very polished.” They are working on getting things lined up for the weekly show.
  • Q&A begins…
  • Question about UK talent getting pulled from engagements after the outside¬†understanding that the talents would be able to work outside WWE properties. “There’s a lot of confusion around that,” Triple H says. Talent knew what restrictions were when they signed. The only restriction is for content created for distribution. The confusion is on the promoter side where Triple H is insinuating that they have made changes to their deals, and that’s outside of what WWE and the Talent had agreed to.
  • There’s a lot of factors in play for the weekly UK product that they are working through. They have the ability to do it now, but they are waiting until everything is in place to make it beneficial.
  • The question is about what format of tournament (multi-week v 2-day) they may be looking at for the future. Hunter says that it just depends on the goal of the tournament. Both have their place and they both work. Going forward, it will depend on what they try to accomplish.
  • The cruiserweight division is “a work-in-progess.” There is a “growth curve” that needs to take place when integrating the talent into existing content for both the talent and creative. 205 Live is a more effective showcase for them now, but the exposure from RAW is a hug piece. Hunter still has faith in 205 Live.
  • Question about keeping Nakamura in NXT for so long, especially given his age. “We are a TV product.” Hunter talks about Shinsuke needing the time to get ready for being on a TV show rather than just wrestling with no awareness of the TV aspect. “There was still a curve coming in the door. He needed to have that experience to be successful on the main event roster.” Now the matter is when he will fit into the picture.
  • NXT, UK product, and 205 Live could see the migration of talent to polish them. They see the three brands as more places to work and succeed. It provides a clearer path to the main roster. It seems as if all three of these will work together to be the talent pipeline for RAW & Smackdown.
  • The UK could see live event tours of the talent in that brand. Hunter wants people to work and get better. This could be through live events or working with their partners to build and cultivate talent. He only wants to work with people that cultivate talent and not promotions that book people for one-offs. He thinks it has a better, more-professional feel because the fans care when people grow in front of them, and the companies care more about their talent when they are working with them to grow them. He wants the talents to be able to wrestle full-time for their employment and give them a professional environment either through them or with a partner.
  • They think the smart way for the business to go is to make sure that characters and heel or face alignment across promotions is consistent.
  • Matt Riddle is brought up. He has had a try-out and they recognized his talent. They know his baggage as well. They felt like he had promise and Hunter says he “nudged along the process” to get him cultivated on the indies. He’s not sure what the future holds and they’ll see where it goes.
  • There’s always discussion on where any content sits in the ecosystem between TV and the network. Hunter likes the exclusive feel is has on the network, but they are always having discussions at where things need to be.
  • “I’m not happy with where it is right now,” Hunter says about NXT after the brand split and given where they are rebuilding right now.
  • Hunter says AJ Styles told him he wish he had been in NXT for at least a while to adjust to the WWE product and production. The gap is too big now for people to just enter straight on to the main roster.

The biggest thing to take away from this call is that the fans need to hold tight. WWE has so many moving parts right now that things are changing rapidly. I would assume that by the time WrestleMania rolls around, that we will see a lot of this tidied up. The UK situation along with the NXT rebuild should be completed by then. 2017 has a lot in store, and that’s only in the things we know.