Triple H on NXT, Heyman Talks AJ Styles Heat, Khan Hypes 'New Era' of AEW at Rampage

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 20, 2021

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

Triple H Says NXT Vision Hasn't Changed

Triple H was asked Thursday whether the NXT philosophy has shifted following several releases from the roster in recent months and speculation WWE chairman Vince McMahon was taking on a bigger role in the brand.

The nine-time WWE champion, who works as company's executive vice president of global talent strategy and development, told reporters (via Ringside News) the same goal of finding people to help create the next generation of WWE Superstars remains in place:

"People talk about the shifting of what it is. It never really shifted. So, if you go back and look at the hiring process, not hiring process of the television show, but the hiring process of who we're looking to train to make WWE Superstars long term. If you go back and look at that it hasn't shifted. It's been the same process.
"I don't negate anybody from a standpoint of 'I wrestled some independent stuff—you're out.' That's not a factor to me."

It's a well-crafted response from Triple H, who's always been careful in his comments about McMahon while operating in his official executive capacity. He makes it clear NXT is still about long-term development without directly addressing the talent cuts or McMahon's possible involvement.

Although Raw and SmackDown generate more mainstream attention, NXT had done a terrific job of building out extended storylines in recent years to differentiate itself from the red and blue brands, so its not a surprise wrestling purists were concerned about its future following the changes.

For now, Triple H is trying to calm those concerns but only time will tell whether NXT remains the same product in the months ahead.

Paul Heyman Downplays Past Heat From AJ Styles

In July 2020, Styles called Heyman a "liar" during a conversation about his move from Raw to SmackDown along with the departure of his longtime friends Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson from WWE last year.

Heyman addressed those comments during an interview with Inside The Ropes' Kenny McIntosh, saying he didn't believe Styles raised any concerns about their working relationship on Raw:

"AJ Styles has not said that we weren't on the same page or that we clashed. AJ Styles has been quoted as blaming me for the departure from WWE of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. That is what AJ Styles has been quoted as saying. He has never made a statement regarding whether or not our collaboration on Monday Night RAW was to his liking or not—and if he wishes to, I'd be happy to accept whatever assessment he had on our time together behind the scenes."

As for the exits of Gallows and Anderson, Heyman called that a "privileged conversation" and said he wouldn't discuss any behind-the-scenes details:

"Whatever you think of sports entertainment, I'm not here to expose the wires, so whatever happened between Gallows and Anderson happened behind the scenes, behind closed doors in a meeting that I'm not going to expose to the public because it was an inner-sanctum meeting with the chairman of the board, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. And unless Vince wants to talk about it publicly, I'm not going to be the one to expose what happened, why, and what the other conversations were in that meeting."

Heyman is known because of his on-screen character as one of the best managers and promo creators in wrestling history, but his past as a management figure with numerous wrestling promotions was accurately described by The Ringer's Thomas Golianopoulos in 2017 as "a turbulent career — 31 years filled with fines and suspensions, bankruptcy and pink slips, explosive arguments and endless grudges."

His passion for professional wrestling is unquestioned, but how he's enacted that over the past three-plus decades has rubbed some people the wrong way over the years, and Styles clearly joined the list in 2020.

Tony Khan Confirms Major AEW Rampage Announcement

Khan, the founder and president of AEW, teased the "most anticipated announcement in AEW history" for Friday's episode of Rampage:

Tony Khan @TonyKhan

I’m betting that excitement from the most anticipated announcement in <a href="https://twitter.com/AEW?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AEW</a> history at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AEWRampage?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AEWRampage</a> The First Dance will build up through All Out on PPV. We’ll make new fans + we’ll welcome dormant wrestling households worldwide back into the fold; a new era in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AEW?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AEW</a> begins tomorrow

Rumors have been flying about the potential arrival of CM Punk and/or Bryan Danielson (fka Daniel Bryan in WWE) as AEW continues to make a push as a legitimate alternative to WWE.

CM Punk, who's equally as good an Internet troll as he is a wrestler, did nothing to dissuade the speculation with a post on his Instagram story early Friday, though it's always possible he's just messing with the fans:

WrestlePurists @WrestlePurists

CM Punk posted the cover art from the Batman The Dark Knight Returns comic book on his IG Story with the music “Dont Stop Me Now” by Queen: <a href="https://t.co/pHAkGMy2BH">pic.twitter.com/pHAkGMy2BH</a>

Adding to the hype is the fact this week's edition of Rampage is taking place from the United Center in Chicago, Punk's hometown. The roof might blow off the building if his entrance music, "Cult of Personality," starts playing Friday night.

The 42-year-old fan favorite last wrestled in WWE at the 2014 Royal Rumble in January of that year. He's made some appearances at independent shows over the past seven years along with a stint in the UFC and working on WWE Backstage, a now-defunct show that aired on Fox Sports 1.

Meanwhile, Danielson's last WWE appearance came on the April 30 edition of SmackDown when he lost to Roman Reigns in a title vs. career match. His contract subsequently ran out.

Either one would represent a massive addition for AEW, while bringing in both would be a coup for the growing promotion. It's always possible a swerve could be in play where neither former WWE star debuts Friday night, though.

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