Unless you were living under a rock, you’d be aware of the fact that after Vince McMahon, it was Triple H’s turn to take the hot seat on Steve Austin’s podcast. The episode, which was aired live on WWE Network covered a wide range of topics, starting with the Royal Rumble fiasco and its fallout to Triple H’s issues with CM Punk, why the WWE haven’t pushed Bryan to win the Royal Rumble this year and more. Below is the transcript of the podcast, seeing that the audio version of it hasn’t been uploaded yet.
The business becoming more transparent
Steve Austin: It’s almost like kayfabe has died. Back in the day you would watch the product in the ring, and whatever happened in the ring that’s where you got your heat or your satisfaction from. Now if the story doesn’t go the way people want, they’re mad behind the scenes at the writers.
Triple H: Time’s changed. Just telling a story and people accepting that storyline for what it is, as a storyline, is gone. A large portion of your audience just buys into that. Another large portion of your audience – they know everything that goes on every five minutes of every day. They know more about what’s happening sometimes than we do. And I think you get to a point where they just want to go the opposite direction. They want to see a certain thing, or they think a certain type of thing is what works.
The Roman Reigns conundrum
Steve Austin: When Vince came to me and said, ‘Hey man in two weeks you’re going to go over in the King of the Ring’ and I said ‘OK cool’. I didn’t say, ‘hey man there’s been guys that have been here longer than me, and maybe they should do that.’ So when Roman Reigns gets the word that he’s going over in the Rumble, what’s he supposed to say?
Triple H: Thank you very much!
Steve Austin: Exactly. This is a business where sometimes you got to put your big-boy britches on and go to work. A portion of the crowd felt like he hadn’t earned that yet. So when the finish went down the way it did; he ended up getting the heat out of that, and the resentment from the fans because they were mad at the writing staff.
Triple H: There’s one guy calling the shots, and that’s Vince. That Royal Rumble was debated, and poured over, and gone through and there were a lot of suggestions. You’ve got one guy that takes all the suggestions, boils it up and that’s the direction you go in. That’s Vince. Is he perfect? No. Am I? No. Is the writing team? No. There’s a lot of ideas. We choose what we think will be best at the time, but he’d be the first guy to say he doesn’t always make the right call. But he’s got a pretty damn good track record.
Steve Austin: It’s supply and demand. It seemed like for a time, people really wanted Roman Reigns, and they were giving Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan comes back and they want Daniel Bryan. You’ve got a supply of each. They start demanding Bryan, and they kept giving Roman, and the people got a little hot.
Triple H’s take on the “Reality Era”
Triple H: People will say all the time that we don’t listen. There was such a large period of time where half the people were booing John Cena, and half the people were cheering him, but he was packing arenas. He was selling more merchandise, he was more popular than ever; everything that we did, John was so far ahead of everyone else it doesn’t matter that half the people hate him. It’s difficult now to find the one that every single person likes.
Triple H: When we don’t tell the story well – whether that’s bad writing, bad execution, whatever – people don’t buy it, especially when they know the reality of it. When you look at what we did from a storyline aspect: Daniel Bryan’s eliminated early, Roman Reigns goes to the end of the Rumble and he ends up winning. Years ago you just follow that storyline – he must be good, he won at the end. The ‘Reality Era’ says ‘no, they’re pushing Roman Reigns. I don’t want them to push him.’ We were holding back Daniel Bryan, because for whatever reason we’re holding back Daniel Bryan.
The CM Punk saga
Steve Austin: What is it with you guys?
Triple H: I remember hearing things about him when he was first coming in. I remember people saying, ‘Oh you hate this CM Punk kid, and you’re burying him.’ Honest to god, and this isn’t a knock to him, I didn’t know who he was. We didn’t have time to watch other components of the business. When he came here, maybe some of that got carried over. I don’t know. I’ve never had a beef with him.
The infamous ‘Pipebomb’ promo
Triple H: When he first dropped the pipebomb, we did this storyline and [Kevin] Nash was brought in. It was done for the right reasons; I think it was done to get him more over. The decisions that were made were Vince’s, and they didn’t work out. Nash couldn’t hang. But [Punk] held a grudge on that. He’s a weird cat. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t communicate well.
Steve Austin: Could he ever come back here?
Triple H: If the fans want it, if that’s what best for business. It’s my regret that we couldn’t get past all this stuff with him. But if he didn’t want to be here anymore – if this wasn’t his passion anymore – you can’t be here if you don’t love it.
The difference between the past and the present
Steve Austin: Back in the day we’d go out there, and somebody would say ‘you got a promo today.’ You’d listen to the guy cutting a promo against you, and respond accordingly. They’re so scripted now. I don’t feel like people have the flexibility to get into a groove and really find who they are, because they’re regurgitating rather than saying something they believe in. Do ya’ll not trust the talent?
Triple H: It’s a trust level. It’s live TV. It’s a different era and we have to be careful of what’s said for sponsors, and everybody else. Down in NXT I have tried to go the other route. They’re not always winners, but I try to let the guys come up with their own stuff, help them make it better, then guide them on what worked and what didn’t work.
Steve Austin: If you could change anything you wanted about Monday Night RAW what would it be?
Triple H: I’d love it to be two hours. The third hour of television is so exponentially harder to write I can’t even describe it to you.
Steve Austin: Could it ever go back to two hours?
Triple H: That’s Vince’s call. I try to avoid those meetings. I wish we could take more time for stories. I’m a slow burn guy. When you get the payoff it’s massive, and I like having that time to do it. It’s a bit of a short-attention span theater. I would like to see the women get more time and dedication. They have a lot to offer, and we have a large fanbase of women who watch and they’re inspirational. But again, it’s so difficult.
Steve Austin: When will we see you back in the ring?
Triple H: I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s coming. Otherwise I’m training twice a day for nothing.