WWE revived the In Your House pay-per-view theme for the first time in over 20 years with NXT TakeOver: In Your House, this past Sunday. During a post-show media call regarding the event, Wrestling Inc. asked Triple H about the theme's future, and if Michael Hayes was ever asked to revive his Doc Hendrix look.
"You have no idea how hard I tried to get Michael Hayes to show up and cut his hair like Doc Hendrix. His refusal was loud and very intense," joked Triple H.
"I think those nostalgic moments – especially right now – of things like In Your House and the set design… From Regal doing his best Lord Alfred Hayes 'Promotional consideration paid for by the following' to the ice cream sandwiches – it was a lot of fun. It paid back the nostalgic thing in a great way for fans. Could this come back again? Absolutely. I think people enjoyed it."
"You try to do things and get outside of the box," Triple H continued. "Some things work and some things don't, but the stuff that does, you want to bring it back. You want to have fun and enjoy it, and that's what I loved about this show. It was every bit of today's excitement and energy but had that nostalgic feel. It was a lot of fun, but it delivered on today's level."
Triple H took part in the early In Your House pay-per-views in the 90s, including a legendary Arkansas Hog Pen Match versus Henry Godwinn. Wrestling Inc.'s Nick Hausman asked him about his memories of the match that took place at In Your House 5, in December 1995.
"That whole scenario with me and Henry Godwinn came based off of somebody else. Henry was a heel and would put slop on people, and guys didn't wanna take it," recalled Triple H. "I went to Vince and said, 'If you turn him babyface, I'll take that slop all day long.' Nobody would not want to get that slop more than me, as my character was a snob. I wouldn't even want to get in the ring with this guy. So, Vince said, 'Oh, that's great.'"
Triple H continued, "He turned Henry babyface, and we did that slop match all over the country, every night. It was awesome and I loved it. When they threw the pig pen match at me, I thought it was phenomenal. As a snob heel, what better thing than to be thrown in a pen with pig poop and all that stuff? I could have done without quite as much poop in the pen, as those pigs were big and they had been in there all day. It was quite a significant amount, and also right before we went in there, the farmer told me, 'Keep you fingers tucked underneath, because the pigs sometimes get antsy, and they'll bite and take your finger off!'"
Triple H said that match was one of his earliest and most memorable as a performer in WWE.
"People still talk about that match, to this day. It was '95 or '96, so if you're still talking about it to this day, it's pretty awesome," said Triple H. "I joke about it character-wise, but it was awesome. Henry Godwinn was one of my favorite opponents in that timeframe. I had more fun with him doing that slop match all over the country. Not the hog pen match, but the slop match. We did that match on the whole loop, including Europe and all over the U.S. People started bringing plastic sheets with them on the front row, because they knew they were gonna get the slop all over them. We had a blast."
Later in the call, Triple H addressed the pandemic, which put a halt to WWE house shows, and created worries about talent in development. Triple H tried to ease those concerns.
"That's the next step of what we're able to do. This has all been step-by-step of us working with officials, and what we can and can't do," stated Triple H. "Even when we could create shows on a closed set, we still weren't allowed in a training environment. That was still an issue. Now, we're being allowed back into the training environments."
He added that there has been lots of video research amongst the talent including Shawn Michaels and other trainers holding Zoom sessions to go over wrestling footage. Triple H updated listeners on what they are giving talent to keep them busy.
"It's been a constant of trying to get that evolution going. Some of our performers have been doing acting classes online," revealed Triple H. "So, we've tried to do everything possible to keep their education moving forward under difficult circumstances. When we can finally get into an arena and have crowds there, we're gonna be all over it. We're gonna do everything we can to keep it going and to do it in a way that's the healthiest for our talent. Their health and well being is first and foremost."
With the pandemic, there's also concerns about the lack of NXT talent leaving for the main rosters, as well. Triple H discussed finding and spotlighting new talent to carry the NXT brand, replacing the wrestlers who move up.
"You have to continue to move forward and you have to continue to build new, fresh blood. That doesn't mean everyone has to move on, but in the beginning of NXT – and I had these conversations all the time in these calls – everyone would say, 'How do you expect to continue this when talent gets called up?' I would say that I believe that's a strength and not a weakness," stated Triple H.
"I would sometimes be in my office and see a poster from Brooklyn, and see the next Brooklyn one, and there wouldn't be one talent on there that was the same," Triple H stated. "But it was amazing on how we were able to continue to groom and grow. Some were stalwarts that we were bringing in from other places, and others were homegrown."
He then pointed out that people like Braun Strowman and Charlotte Flair were home grown in NXT and had zero wrestling experience beforehand. He discussed the differences between talent who come in and out of NXT.
"It doesn't mean that everyone has to move on, as you do have those stalwarts like Gargano and Ciampa that can be the anchors of your brand while still building new stars. People will come in and come out, and then you get a Finn Balor or Charlotte Flair that comes back. That's the beauty of having a brand that is as strong as it is," said Triple H. "To me, the future has never been brighter...There's constant growth, and that's really what this is all about, and that's what I'm most proud of."
WWE NXT can be seen every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST, live on the USA Network. The full audio from the post-show media call aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released, Monday through Friday afternoon, by clicking here.
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