Triple H joined Corey Graves on After The Bell this week where they discussed the activities that Triple H has been doing while in quarantine. Triple H talked about how his meetings have become a lot more efficient from home since there are no outside distractions. He also talked about how things won't be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic and how people and businesses will drastically change.
"In some ways, I think for us with WWE and everything else going on with everything happening, it's been almost busier I think," Triple H said. "Just trying to stay ahead of all this and every time you think that you have it like, 'alright, I think that works, and I think we have this figured out now,' and then all of a sudden, it's like the whole thing flipped over and one edict comes out. Then you're like OK, we have to start everything over. I think it's been busier in that sense, but the understanding that you can do that from home in a way and still be just as effective. I think people are learning a lot about how they can do through technology. You can all be together doing meetings. I've done every meeting that I would have done if I was at the office for 10-12 hours a day just doing them from here, and they're probably more efficient because you're not waiting for people and you're not having all the set-up time and everything else. So it's been a learning experience, but it's been good.
"I think the truth is on the flip side of this Corey, nothing's going to be the same ever. Nothing. Businesses are going to change. Some businesses are going to go out of business. Some people are going to learn how to do business better. You're going to learn what worked, what didn't [and] how people consume. It's going to change. The way they go out. It's going to be a long time maybe before people decide they want to go out in large gatherings and and all get together in groups and go to arenas. It changes fundamentally. It changes a lot of the world. So it's going to be interesting to see the other side of this, and you don't know where the end of it is. At this point in time, they talk about having second waves and third waves of this. Nobody knows. Everybody's criticizing every move made, but the truth is, no one knows if those moves are right, wrong or indifferent."
Triple H went through the timeline of when the pandemic seriously hit the U.S. and affected the NBA, other sports leagues and the WWE. He talked about how quickly things moved as they were trying to find a different venue as Full Sail University's schedule interfered with NXT's live show.
"It's a funny thing, and there are these moments in time that are happening where it's like somehow maybe fortuitous if that's the right word. So we're getting ready for a NXT taping or NXT live show. In March every year Full Sail University, our partners, they have their Hall of Fame where they honor all their students.
"There's this one period of time in March where we have trouble with the facility, with Full Sail live, and this year because we were live every week, they were like, 'look, we're going to do everything we can to make this available for you.' There was one week where we just could not get in there. So we had been working on a secondary location, and everything just kept kind of falling apart. This wasn't the right place. That wouldn't work for us. As it came closer, we're going to go from the Performance Center. We're going to do much like what we did for the Super Bowl halftime show. That place is set up, as you know, it's set up with a full-production ring and a stage set and lighting and everything.
"And so you can go in there and put up some seating in there and turn it into an arena. So that's what we decided to do. So we're in the process of doing this, and we're going to do the Wednesday, which is March 11th I believe. That date sticks in my head," Triple H recalls. "It's the 11th of March which is a Wednesday. We're going to go live from the Performance Center. So they're doing the set up from there, and as I'm headed down there on the Tuesday, I'm flying down there, but man the news is now picking up fast and furious left and right."
As many states and arenas were shutting down, WWE were forced to move Smackdown to the Performance Center and have been running shows there for over a month. Triple H recalled the conversation he was having with Vince at the time and how things quickly changed to the point of running shows at the Performance Center.
"I get done that weekend," Triple H said. "I go home. I'm flying out now to the Performance Center for this show on the 11th. As I'm flying down there in the morning, I called Vince, and I said, 'hey, I haven't seen the Performance Center yet, but I'm going to go out, you don't really do anything halfway, so I'm gonna go on a limb say it looks pretty spectacular. Maybe when I get done doing this live show tonight, or tomorrow night, maybe we should just leave the set up. Like I know it's costly and all that, but maybe just in case something cancels over the next couple of weeks where we can't go into a town. We can at least get everybody to Florida.' At that point, I wasn't even thinking about no fans.
"I said, 'we can pick up the phone and call the local fans here and fill this place up pretty easily and still at least put on a show. And Vince was like, 'yeah, that's probably smart. You know what run the numbers, give me the numbers back today, and I'll let you know. By the time we get to Tuesday night and we do the production meeting at all that stuff and I get done that, I'm calling Vince up and I'm like, 'I don't know the numbers yet, but it's getting worse.' He's like, 'yeah, it's getting a lot worse. Let's talk in the morning.' By the morning, It's like yeah, more than likely we're going to be coming there and doesn't matter what the numbers are at this point in time. We leave everything up. By the time we do that live show and that shows over, Vince is not only saying yeah, look the trucks on the way to Detroit on the side of the road, but they're turning around. They're headed your way. We're going to do Smackdown from there tomorrow. Everything is shutting down. For the first time, he goes, 'we might be doing WrestleMania from there,' and I was like, 'holy cow.'"
Triple H talked about running shows safely at the Performance Center. While WWE considered cancelling or postponing WrestleMania 36, Triple H said that it was important to continue running to give fans an escape and entertainment. He reiterates that point to Graves and how they are putting the safety of their staff and performers at the forefront.
"Everything was changing at that point so rapidly that we were just kind of trying to hang on to the tail end of it and do the best we could," Triple H stated. "Not only be able to continue to put on a show but to do it medically safe between all our medical teams at the highest levels. It had bumps in the road, but we were able to get to a place where we were able to continue, and you know contrary to how people look at it, I truly do think that it's how Vince looks at it and I know the WWE looks at it as people need some entertainment.
"I know even the response we got in those those first few episodes that we did of people being like geez, thank you guys for for doing this. You see some of the negativity around it, but I think for the most part, anybody that hasn't wanted to be a part of it, isn't. No heat. No issues, but for a lot of people, I think if they get to feel like they're being a part of the [solution] and do their part of helping other people by performing and being a part of it still and giving people something to do and look forward to. There's nothing new happening right now. Even the shows that are pre-taped, series and things like that, they're running out of new episodes now. Being one of the only things that's out there still producing, I think is important. I think for people's mental well-being, and we're doing everything we can to try to continue to be able to do that and do it in the safest way possible not only for our staff and our performers which is first and foremost, but for everybody involved."
WWE is set to celebrate 25 years of Triple H tonight on Smackdown. Triple H reveals that he had forgotten about the event after being told about it and that he thought it was a rib until he saw the commercial for the event.
"Yeah, this is funny. This is one of those things like somebody had mentioned to me like two or three months ago, 'hey, it's your 25th anniversary.' I'm like, really? I don't pay attention to that kind of stuff. So somebody mentioned it. I was like wow, and they said, 'hey, we should do something in the show.' I was like whatever, and I never really thought about it again. Then like two weeks ago, we were getting ready to go shoot. NXT was shooting on Saturday and Sunday recording content. One of the writers from Smackdown calls me, and he goes, 'hey, so Sunday, you gonna be able to make it to the show for your 25th anniversary show?' I'm like, 'wait, what? He goes, 'the 25th anniversary show. We're doing this big show for you,' and I'm like, 'no, we're not. You're kidding me, right?' He was like, 'no, can you be there Sunday?' I'm like, 'no, I can't be there Sunday. I'm shooting NXT all day. You're gonna have to do it without me, and he was like, 'OK, alright.'
"Anyways, everything changed from then. Now, we ended up not even doing those shows then. They end up moving to now, but I totally completely in every single way shape or form forgotten about it until this period of time when he asked me that like I didn't even know it was still happening. I still thought it was a rib a little bit like clearly I can't do this thing on Sunday. I'm shooting TV, like somebody was ribbing. They have Vince calling me up to ask me that. Then at that night, I saw the commercial for it. I was like, 'oh for the love of God. I can't believe they're doing this,' but here we are."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.