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WWE's Triple H Talks Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon, Sasha Banks, AEW vs. NXT and More

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2022

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

WWE Hall of Famer and new head of creative Triple H addressed several notable topics during an hourlong sit-down interview with Ariel Helwani of BT Sport on Friday.

Ahead of Saturday's highly anticipated Clash at the Castle pay-per-view in Cardiff, Wales, Triple H discussed his ascent to the role that had been occupied by Vince McMahon since he purchased WWE in 1982, as well as other major developments that have occurred in WWE in recent months.

Triple H took over the positions of head of WWE creative and vice president of talent relations in July after Vince McMahon announced his retirement as head of creative, CEO and chairman in July.

The announcement came amid an investigation by the WWE board of directors into multiple allegations that McMahon paid millions of dollars in hush money to former WWE female employees in exchange for their silence about alleged sexual encounters and relationships with McMahon.

On the same day McMahon retired, reports surfaced that Brock Lesnar stormed out of the arena ahead of a scheduled appearance on SmackDown. Despite that, Lesnar ended up appearing on the show, and he went on to face Roman Reigns at SummerSlam in a losing effort.

In Friday's interview, Triple H confirmed that there was something to the reports, but noted that things got ironed out once he and Lesnar talked (h/t Andre Porter of Ringside News):

"There's some truth to it. Yeah. Look, you have to understand Brock's relationship with Vince and Brock's relationship with combat sports period. He has a relationship with [UFC president] Dana [White] that's a certain way, he has a relationship with Vince that's a certain way. But Vince is the devil he knows and Brock is inherently not a trusting person, it's just how he is.

"He doesn't like people [laughs]. But he's not a trusting person and I think in that moment, where you just hear Vince is out, [he thinks], 'Well now what's going to happen? I'm out of here.' You know what I mean? I think there was just a moment of that, nothing more, nothing less. It's not like he looked at it like, 'I don't like anybody else here, I don't trust anybody else here.' There was a moment of 'I'm going to walk on this,' and then we have conversations, he comes back."

Triple H added that there have been times during Lesnar's WWE tenure that he worked directly with him and times when Brock only worked directly with McMahon, but he made it clear that he and Lesnar have a "great relationship," and that Lesnar "liked what he heard" regarding the plans for him moving forward.

Another bit of controversy that occurred shortly before Triple H took over creative was the walkout of then-WWE women's tag team champions Sasha Banks and Naomi before an episode of Raw in May.

Banks and Naomi reportedly left due to unhappiness over how they were being utilized, and WWE later released a statement condemning their actions:

Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com @SeanRossSapp

WWE's statement on Sasha Banks and Naomi <a href="https://t.co/DrNS84QfxX">pic.twitter.com/DrNS84QfxX</a>

WWE also announced that Banks and Naomi had been suspended indefinitely and stripped of the tag titles.

Rumors swirled about Banks and Naomi leaving the company, and there had even been talk of Banks being granted her release, but the tide has turned on that conversation since Triple H took over.

Multiple reports suggest that Banks and Naomi returning to WWE is imminent, including Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Nitish Vashishtha of Ringside News) reporting last month that Banks and Naomi had reached an agreement with WWE to return.

Triple H was specifically asked about Banks by Helwani, and while he didn't confirm her return, he praised her effusively and suggested that he had been in contact with her (h/t Porter):

"Time will tell. Communication breakdowns are terrible. There was a communication breakdown there for whatever reason. Starting back up that communication, it's not a difficult process but it can be a process.

"She is an unbelievably talented young woman that can do just about anything she wants. At the end of the day, it comes down to what she wants to do with her life and her career. It has to be right for her and right for everybody. [She's an] unbelievable performer that I believe in with everything I have that is one of the biggest stars in our business."

Another hot-button issue in wrestling is the perceived battle between WWE and AEW for supremacy in the sports entertainment space, although the momentum has swung heavily in WWE's favor since Triple H's elevation with both Raw and SmackDown averaging well over 2 million viewers consistently.

Meanwhile, AEW Dynamite hovers around 1 million viewers, while AEW Rampage has averaged half that number or lower in most cases.

WWE and AEW went head-to-head on Wednesday nights for over a year, as Dynamite and NXT aired at the same time. The "Wednesday Night War" ended in April 2021 when NXT moved to Tuesday nights after rarely beating Dynamite in viewership for the 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

Not long after that, WWE changed the focus of NXT, renaming it NXT 2.0 and clearing out many of the veterans on the brand in exchange for younger, less-experienced wrestlers.

WWE also cut ties with many of those who worked closely with Triple H behind the scenes in NXT after Triple H took a leave of absence because of heart issues.

On Friday, Triple H denied that he and NXT were punished for not beating Dynamite in the ratings, and he downplayed the "Wednesday Night War" as well (h/t Subhojeet Mukherjee of Ringside News):

"People put so much pressure on all this competitive war, but it never was that. They beat our developmental system. Good for them. It was never that. There was never even a pressure of 'You have to beat that.' It was put on the best product we could. It shifted over time. During the pandemic, it shifted over time."

NXT is still NXT 2.0, and it can be argued that the endeavor has been successful because of the development of new stars like Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes, as well as the emergence of former WWE main roster member Mandy Rose into a top star.

Triple H has clearly gone back to his NXT roots in other respects, though, re-signing several former NXT talents who were either released or not re-signed under McMahon.

In just over a month since Triple H became head of creative, he has signed Dakota Kai, Karrion Kross, Scarlett, Dexter Lumis, Hit Row and Johnny Gargano, all of whom were key players in NXT.

He has also reportedly brought back executives with whom he worked closely in NXT, including WWE Hall of Famer and former D-Generation X member Road Dogg.

Triple H is putting his stamp on the WWE product and making it must-see television again, which is arguably something it hasn't been in years.

AEW has remained a quality alternative and figures to continue being so for a long time to come, but Dynamite beating NXT in the ratings battle hasn't done much to change the overall pecking order in the pro wrestling world.


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