Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Why is Triple H Getting Credit for WWE NXT?
By Mr. Tito
Sep 23, 2014 - 10:38:08 PM

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The Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) is funny yet wildly inconsistent. One minute, they're bashing the WWE Creative Team for terribly booked RAW/Smackdown or Pay Per Views, but the next moment they are praising how "great" WWE NXT is as an alternative. Maybe it's just desperation to find a substitute for the current WWE product, especially since TNA Wrestling cannot fill that void despite their prime time television slot on Spike TV.

But what troubles me on NXT is the IWC's praise of current WWE Executive Vice President of Talents, Live Events, and Creative, Triple H. The IWC is even going so far as saying that their OK with Triple H running the overall WWE product because of NXT. Huh?

That's why I call them the "Drive-By IWC". For years on end, the internet fans including myself have ripped Triple H for his backstage influence and his membership of the WWE Creative Team. Once Vince Russo left during 1999 and his back-up Chris Kreski stepped down through late 2000, the creative team has been dominated by Stephanie McMahon and her real life husband, Triple H. We're pushing 14 years of either one being the official leader of the WWE Creative Team. The result since late 2000? RAW/Smackdown viewership has been nearly cut in half, live attendance is down, and Pay Per View buys dwindled so much that the WWE was convinced that a live streaming service would "save" that industry.

But yet, WWE NXT is claimed to be "Triple H's Baby" and "WWE is in good hands if Triple H runs NXT like he will for WWE". Huh?

What exactly says that Triple H runs NXT? Last time I checked, he was fully on the road with RAW on Monday Nights, Smackdown tapings on Tuesday Nights, and flying back to Stamford, CT to work the rest of the week. His appearances to the Florida developmental facility are reportedly few and far between. Now granted, this is 2014 where conference calls and technology can provide HHH a presence. However, it's not easy to teach a developmental wrestler how to perform from a computer screen. Hands on teaching is what's needed and WWE has hired MANY former wrestlers to train and run NXT. That's right, former wrestlers are in charge of NXT, lots of them.

I know this is a Wikipedia site, but the list checks out. NXT has Dusty Rhodes as its main Creative guy and that's a wealth of experience right there that Triple H can lean on. Many, many years of WCW booking and he knows how to get babyfaces over based on his own booking and other wrestlers. As much as he loved the very inexperienced Lex Luger during 1988, Dusty worked hard to get him over... Then, you have Terry Taylor listed as a trainer. He's had various backstage roles throughout both WWE and WCW throughout the years and I believe he was a key creative guy for ideas when the New World Order (NWO) angle was developed and initiated. Very smart and experienced guy. Meanwhile, you have other wrestlers acting as trainers and no doubt have some creative input like Bill DeMott, Billy Gunn, Nick Dinsmore, Norman Smiley, Steve Keirn, and others who act as trainers at NXT.

If you want to give Triple H credit for NXT, it's that he has delegated authority to experienced personnel to handle a smaller unit of the company.

And the above NXT personnel is why NXT appears to be a better show than RAW or Smackdown, in the minds of Internet Wrestling Community members. NXT is booked and prepared by FORMER WRESTLERS while RAW/Smackdown is prepared by FORMER HOLLYWOOD WRITERS. See the difference? Guys who know the wrestling business and guys who failed to succeed in the television/movie business. Funny how Triple H is (a) EVP of Creative which oversees WWE's Creative Team and (b) EVP of Talent which oversees NXT. If Triple H is so good at NXT, why is he so bad at WWE's main roster storylines?

Oh, that's Vince McMahon's fault, right?

The stubborn, senile old man named Vince McMahon... Yeah, he never made it in the wrestling business. Oh, wait, he did? You mean to tell me that after he bought the WWF from his dad in 1982, he took the WWF national and became the outright #1 wrestling promotion in the nation by 1985? Oh, and isn't Vince McMahon the guy who ran the WWE who modernized its product and overcame the powerful World Championship Wrestling (WCW)?

Oh, but that was Vince Russo's doing, not Vince McMahon. You're telling me that the WWE Creative Team gets credit for the Attitude Era over Vince McMahon but the WWE Creative Team doesn't deserve the criticism for the weaker WWE now? Ok, inconsistent IWC!

As I've said repeatedly in my columns now... Vince McMahon is only as good as his supporting cast, wrestlers included. For the "Attitude Era", he did 2 specific personnel changes that caused significant changes in his company. For one, he promoted Jim Ross to become his Vice President of Talent. Jim Ross not only signed WCW castaways Steve Austin and Mick Foley, but he gave the WWE a legitimate developmental system that was stocked full of talent. Jim Ross not only fixed the WWE during the late 1990's, but he gave it longevity. His 2002 developmental class just had John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Batista, Randy Orton, just to name a few... The second was promoting Vince Russo to the WWE Creative Team for new ideas. Russo, before he later became burned out in 1999, brought innovative storylines and character development that previous bookers like Jim Cornette and Bruce Pritchard couldn't provide Vince McMahon.

And Jim Ross and Vince Russo are just in addition to the many wrestling veterans that Vince McMahon had backstage. You saw them as stooges on-screen during the Attitude Era, but Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco were essential voices in Vince McMahon's ear that he couldn't live without. Pat Patterson was known as the "finish guy" and greatly assisted the Creative Team tell a story with how a match finished. Vince had a lot of his dad's former wrestlers backstage that acted as road agents from time to time, along with a few wrestlers who were just retiring. Vince always seemed to take comfort in surrounding himself with experienced wrestling minds to lean on as needed and make a logical wrestling show. When Vince needed to shake things up, he brought in Jim Ross and Vince Russo who had no fear in disagreeing with Vince McMahon from time to time.

Then, Stephanie McMahon took over as Lead Writer for Creative during late 2000, 1 year after Vince Russo left the WWE for WCW. Jim Ross stepped down as VP of Talent during 2004 and handed the reigns off to former WCW backstage personnel, John Laurinaitis who was training with Ross since 2002. Meanwhile, Stephanie began dating Triple H during 2000 and became married to him during 2003. It is well documented that HHH was attending Creative Team meetings during 2002 which was a source of aggravation for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during that timeframe. And if Triple H wasn't attending a Creative Team meeting, there is no doubt that "pillow talk" occurred between HHH, the top RAW wrestler, and Stephanie McMahon during 2002-2003. As you watch the Paul Heyman DVD or Blu-Ray documentary, you keep hearing Stephanie say that Paul "wasn't a team player". Smackdown outrated RAW during 2002-2003. Don't you think some sabotage efforts were underway with HHH as the top RAW brand star?

Fact is that Triple H and Stephanie were married since 2003. Therefore, you can at least suggest that for 11 years, they've been #1 and #2 top backstage personnel to Vince McMahon. HHH has had Vince's ear for at least 11 years, but for about the past 5 years, Triple H has been listed as Vince's #1 adviser. To suggest that Vince McMahon shoots down many Triple H ideas would be asinine. Someone has to write the storylines, right? He needs to fill 3 hours of RAW and 2 hours of Smackdown every week. He can't shred those scripts every week.

Where Triple H/Stephanie have gone wrong is who they've surrounded themselves with... As noted from the past, Vince McMahon surrounded himself former wrestlers or wrestling minds. Stephanie McMahon, in particular, has hired many writers from Hollywood. She has probably taken the WWE Executive Producer Kevin Dunn suggestion to morph the WWE into more of a television drama than a pro wrestling show. Since late 2000, the WWE has thickened up on Hollywood writers. Hell, they even gave a creative team job to Freddie Prinze Jr. at various points. Making matters worse, as WWE thickens up as a Corporation, they're adding lots of middle management suits who have NO wrestling experience to make key WWE decisions over talent and booking. Then, of course, you have the E! Network influence that now forces the Bella Twins down our throats for this God awful Brie vs. Nikki feud.

POINT BEING... Vince McMahon used to surround himself with great wrestling minds including a few "wildcards" like Jim Ross and Vince Russo who challenged him. NOW, however, Vince McMahon has nepotism in the form of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H who have surrounded themselves with former Hollywood writers. The brainpower backstage for 2014 is considerably much less than it was 15 years ago. Fewer wrestling minds...

Which brings me back to NXT... Staff full of former pro wrestlers... Gee, why does appear to be a better show? Especially if Dusty Rhodes is still the booker there, which all indications that I see is that he remains so... That's an experienced guy with legitimate success at various points during the 1980's and 1990's. It's much easier for Triple H to work with Dusty Rhodes who KNOWS the business rather than a bunch of former Hollywood writers who weren't even pro wrestling fans before they took the WWE job. Remember, Triple H is "EVP of Creative" in addition to his live event and talent titles. He should be in charge of the creative direction and the tone of the scripts to be provided to Vince McMahon for approval.

And everyone acts as though Vince McMahon has no creative input over NXT. Oh please... Is NXT televised? Yes it is... That means that you'll need Kevin Dunn's production over that show and that's Vince's boy. Again, the difference is in who has been hired as Creative Team staff members. Ex-Hollywood guys for RAW/Smackdown and former wrestlers for NXT. Vince probably allows former wrestlers to run NXT as a cost-cutting measure, as they can train wrestlers by the day and write storylines on the side.

That, and NXT is a very low cost and low revenue generating operation. It's the developmental territory, after all. Vince isn't as intense on his opinion as he is with RAW and then Smackdown. That's why Dusty Rhodes has trust to run the operations there while Triple H/Vince/Stephanie can handle the larger WWE main roster duties.

But if you want to talk "success" of NXT, I would argue that its regular Thursday show has been unable to crack the Top 5 top viewed list for WWE Network. While many in the IWC may enjoy it, it's not succeeding in being a drawing item for wrestling fans to buy the WWE Network. If NXT is truly Triple H's baby, then he should own the fact that it's not generating buys for WWE Network. Remember, WWE Network was marketing the fact that NXT would be a WWE Network exclusive along with Pay Per Views and WWE Main Event. But as the formerly posted Top 10 lists showed, more wrestling fans were interested in WWE Legends House. Ouch!

And let's not give Triple H credit yet on the talent... He only took over the job during 2012 from John Laurinaitis. See Michigan University right now. There are whispers that head coach Brady Hoke is on the hotseat in his 4th year as Michigan coach. In Brady Hoke's 1st year, he went 11-2... What has happened since? In Hoke's second year, he went 8-5 and last year, he went 7-6. Michigan is already 2-2 for 2014. Point being, Brady Hoke's first year was with many of the previous head coach's players. Rich Rodriguez was head coach before him and Hoke had 3 grades of Rich's players on the field for his first 11-2 season.

Triple H just became EVP of Talent during 2012. It was about June 2012 when word was officially given that John Laurinaitis was removed. Thus, many of the recent call-ups in the WWE now are John Laurinaitis guys unless Triple H specifically recruited them. If you look at the latest NXT Takeover Pay Per View between Adrian Neville, Tyson Kidd, Tyler Breeze, and Sami Zayn, 2 out of 4 are John Laurinaitis signed guys. Tyler Breeze joined WWE develomental during 2010 with a December 2010 debut. Tyson Kidd was a developmental signing dating back to 2006 and has been retained by the WWE ever since. To HHH's credit, Adrian Neville was an early signing during HHH's EVP of Talent tenure during July 2012 and Sami Zayn signed during January 2013.

Triple H just has 2 years as the official talent guy of the WWE... Let's see how he does with 2 more years under his belt. For every KENTA and Prince Devitt, HHH has brought in many non-wrestlers to train to become wrestlers. HHH, like his father-in-law before him, has snubbed his nose towards Independent talent. Whereas John Laurinaitis was beginning to embrace indy wrestlers (Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose), HHH is hoping to morph athletes with a great look into WWE wrestlers. Time will tell if HHH's way officially works especially once all of the John Laurinaitis signings are out of the NXT system. We're getting closer...

My main point of criticism over both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon is that both have NEVER succeeded without WWE Corporation money backing their ideas and endeavors. Before you suggest that HHH is an improvement over Vince McMahon, realize that Vince managed his company to topple the wrestling industry TWICE and he remains the CEO/Chairman of the Board who keeps the company at #1. Vince McMahon has more than proven himself on his own... Ditto for Paul Heyman who was successful on his own with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) as a legit third option during the late 1990's. I would be extremely curious to see how HHH/Stephanie would do on their own without the WWE Corporate power and assets behind them.

WWE Corporate Money built that Developmental Facility in Florida, remember...

While I cannot deny Triple H's passion, he's getting tons of help through the many wrestling veterans operating NXT and also the WWE Corporate money funding any venture he does. The fact is that he's second in command of the current WWE product and RAW's viewership has been dipping under 4 million viewers lately... Not good. WWE Network subscribers in the United States, not there as anticipated. He's EVP of Creative and directly in charge of how RAW, Smackdown, and Pay Per Views are booked. You cannot blame Vince McMahon because he's responsible for building the WWE and wrestling business for what it is today. If anything, blame him for blind nepotism. Whereas he'd argue with Jim Ross and Vince Russo during the late 1990's, he probably allows many bad angles from HHH/Stephanie now.

If anyone deserves credit for NXT, it's John Laurinaitis. His tenue as WWE developmental guy started off rough, but eventually, he restocked the WWE into many great wrestlers that you see today. He found talent in the independents and internationals that has given the WWE a nice variety of talent. The Shield, the Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk (before he left), Paige, AJ Lee, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, and many others on the roster, even if some resulted as midcarders (Axel, Ryback, Slater, etc.). Unless Triple H had an influence over Laurinaitis, credit for building the developmental system and creating the NXT brand must be given to Laurinaitis.

The Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) should get excited for NXT's success but only for the FACT that wrestling veterans are the minds behind it, not ex-Hollywood talent. The real excitement is that the old business model of wrestling guys putting on wrestling shows still works and can produce quality wrestling entertainment. Giving Triple H too much credit for NXT would be completely ignoring his obvious WWE Creative or Talent assessment failures (he was pushing HARD for Sin Cara, remember?). Seriously, his led WWE Creative Staff has come up with the awesome Bella Twins storyline that we're suffering through right now. Don't forget the messy Daniel Bryan storylines since SummerSlam 2013.

Give HHH 2 more years as the developmental guy and we'll see how good his talent is... Or is he the Brady Hoke of professional wrestling?

Go Buckeyes!


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