Five years ago, NXT was transformed from a reality-based game show—and not a brilliant one at that—into a fully-fledged developmental territory to the WWE main roster. It also became the unofficial baby of Triple H, who was essentially given free rein to test his hand in the driver’s seat and run the brand as its own promotion.
Since taking on that role, we’ve seen Triple H (with some helping hands along the way) scout and sign a ton of new talent from all around the world. And on top of that, he’s also played a fairly prominent role in bringing certain guys straight up to the main roster, while his diplomacy has, on occasion, helped mend bridges with the odd exiled name here and there.
Long story short; a number of guys are currently in the company thanks in some capacity to this new, spandex-less, suit-wearing Triple H.
Here, we take a look at five such instances and the stories behind how their signings with WWE, as well as the role played by Triple H along the way.
#5 Kevin Owens
Back in August of 2016, Kevin Owens won the Universal Championship when he defeated Big Cass, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a Fatal 4-Way elimination match for the recently-vacated title. Except, he didn’t quite do it alone.
The win came courtesy of a massive assist from Triple H, which is kind of fitting given the way that Owens ended up signing with the company in the first place.
Months before that Universal title win, Owens spoke to Candiens.com, where he revealed that Triple H had cast the deciding vote that ultimately led to him being offered a WWE contract. In Owens’ own words:
“When I got my chance to be called up to the pros, the story I heard was that four or five people had a say in the decision. The vote was tied at two, and Triple H cast the deciding ballot. He gave me my chance.”
One week after Owens’ title win, Seth Rollins said that Owens had been Triple H’s chosen one from day one. Turns out that claim was even truer than he might’ve realized.
#4 Mike Kanellis
Mike Kanellis’ signing with WWE wasn’t necessarily the sole doing of Triple H, but again he seemingly played a key role in bringing Kanellis into the company.
Kanellis, better known by his real name of Mike Bennett, had spent a number of years with Ring of Honor, as well as 14 months with TNA prior to becoming a free agent in March of 2017. That freedom put Bennett at something of a crossroads and, with his future up in the air, ultimately led to him reaching out to Paul Heyman for some pointers on what his next move should be.
Heyman advised Bennett to get in touch with Triple H, so that’s exactly what the former TNA star did. Bennett dropped Triple H an email, and although his response wasn’t one of a concrete offer, Triple H did promise to have someone get in touch with Bennett.
Low and behold, a week or two later, Bennett got a call from a certain William Regal with news of a WWE contract offer—a call that may never have taken place had it not been for Triple H.
#3 Kurt Angle
Earlier this year, after over a decade away from the company, Kurt Angle made his long-awaited WWE return when it was announced that he’d be headlining the 2017 Hall of Fame ceremony.
Since then, as well as being inducted during that ceremony, he’s gone on to be named the General Manager of Raw, with speculation mounting that he’ll soon be making a full-time return to the ring at some stage.
But to continue the underlying trend of this piece, it seems none of this would have been possible without one of those trusty phone calls courtesy of Triple H.
On more than one occasion, Angle has recounted the story of how Triple H was the one to call him back in January of this year and break the news that the company wanted to invite him into its Hall of Fame.
Granted, you could argue that if it hadn’t been Triple H who made the call, someone else would’ve done it for him. But given the pair’s history together—not to mention the whole point of this article—that wouldn’t have been quite as glamorous, would it?
#2 Samoa Joe
Much like Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe is another who’s had a storyline association with Triple H since graduating to the main roster. Joe was brought up from NXT as a Triple H loyalist, and again it seems like that angle was something of a case of art imitating life, as Samoa Joe cites Triple H as being instrumental in bringing him into the company in the first place.
Earlier this year, in a radio interview with Drew Garabo, Joe revealed that surprise, surprise, Triple H had been the one to make the call and act as a contact point between Joe and the company.
Although, Joe does go on to mention a number of other names, including Paul Heyman, Road Dogg, and Joey Mercury, as well as a “laundry list” of people within the company who’d worked with Joe throughout his career.
Still, Triple H’s name was once again in the mix, and again it's turned out to be a very worthwhile signing.
#1 AJ Styles
Clearly, Triple H has no prejudice against TNA, because as well as helping bring in the likes of Mike Bennett and Samoa Joe, he was apparently a key figure in the marquee signing of AJ Styles back in January of 2016.
During an appearance on the Stone Cold podcast on the WWE Network back in June of last year, Styles shared the details of his signing with the company and the pivotal role that Triple H once again played.
Having got in touch with a friend who knew the WWE exec, Styles eventually found himself enjoying a 30-minute talk with Triple H, which was apparently enough to convince Styles that WWE was the place where he belonged.
Fast-forward to today, and Styles is currently enjoying his secnd reign as United States Champion, having already held the WWE title within nine months of making his debut with the company. All in all, you’d probably have to agree that he was right about the whole belonging in WWE thing.
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