In the past week, the increasing influence of Paul "Triple H" Levesque in his executive role has been in the news. Coming out of WrestleMania, the fact that he and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, were producing the show instead of her father Vince—as reported by Bryan Alvarez at F4WOnline.com (h/t WrestlingInc.com)—was seen as a sign of transition in the company. While Vince isn't going anywhere any time soon, Levesque is clearly taking on more responsibility in preparation for whenever he actually has to take over.
On Monday, PWInsider.com reported (h/t WrestlingInc.com) that Levesque is very open to directly referencing hardcore "Internet" fans and responding to them in booking. This is a 180 from Vince McMahon's attitude, as he ignores the Internet entirely. This would imply that a lot of the recent direction was Levesque's doing, culminating in him producing WrestleMania with his wife.
It's also not a surprise given his attitude about the wrestling media.
The week of the WWE Network launch and NXT Arrival special, he held an invite-only conference call for the wrestling media to talk about the state of the developmental system. The call included multiple invitations for any of the reporters on the call to arrange a visit to the WWE Performance Center and a NXT taping as well as Levesque explaining that he'd really like to keep an open dialogue about the developmental system in general.
On the creative side, while the Internet fanbase (or what is perceived as the Internet fanbase) isn't always representative, you definitely don't want to alienate it too much. Of course, as of late, it's become clear that more and more of the fans who go to Raw tapings and pay-per-view events at least get wrestling news and talk about wrestling online.
House shows and SmackDown tapings are more likely to draw casual fans, families with young children and so on since they have lower ticket prices, but the bigger an event is nowadays, the more hardcore a crowd it will have.
Look at the Royal Rumble: Pittsburgh is traditionally home to some of WWE's coldest crowds, but between fans who travelled because it's a major event and local fans who are changing with technology, it was an incredibly vocal crowd. Not only that, but they turned on Batista, Randy Orton and John Cena so badly that it got the ball rolling for Daniel Bryan's win at WrestleMania.
You can see other ways WWE has catered to Internet fans as of late. One of the big matches on NXT Arrival was Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn in a long showcase ("workrate") match that wouldn't be out of place on a high-level independent show from a promotion like Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate USA or Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. While it's not the type of thing that's on NXT every week, to say the least, it was still the first taste that most WWE Network subscribers got.
That Levesque is clearly listening is a very encouraging sign going forward. That he's so positive about new talent makes sense; after all, the developmental system in its current state is his baby.
As WrestleMania 30 and last week's Raw showed, WWE is on the cusp of a new era, with new talent in key spots and multiple new wrestlers debuting or about to debut.
One thing I noticed about the promos for Bo Dallas and Adam Rose on Raw last week is that the tone was different from the usual WWE "coming soon" vignette. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it felt more like NXT than WWE usually does.
NXT is a completely different show, and a large part of that is because it's produced by Levesque instead of Vince McMahon. During the conference call in February, he mentioned that "one of the things we're very cautious of in NXT is I like to keep things a little more pure and a little bit more to just the in-ring wrestling component of it."
This doesn't necessarily mean that as he takes over, Raw will start to look completely like NXT. NXT is a training/developmental environment. The goal is developing the talent above all else, not the usual goals of a wrestling show.
Paul Levesque has also been WWE's point man for getting legends like Bruno Sammartino and The Ultimate Warrior to return to the fold. He was the man who could communicate the changes in WWE to Sammartino and who could smooth over negotiations with Warrior. With the rocky relationships both have had with WWE, that's gigantic.
There's a lot to be positive about in WWE right now, and the man best known as Triple H is behind a lot of it.