Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque went from being sidelined with a cardiac event to Head of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Creative and Executive Vice President of Talent Relations in less than a year. After officially retiring from in-ring competition in an interview with ESPN’s Steven A. Smith March 25, 2022, Triple H now looks to change “The Game” (get it?) in a different way.
While he has worked behind the scenes for WWE for over a decade, Triple H now has more power than ever. More so than ever before, he has the chance to turn WWE back into the most exciting wrestling promotion in the world.
Let’s get this out of the way. Levesque was promoted to these two positions as a result of the enormous scandal that has rocked not only the wrestling world but the news world in general, the Vince McMahon allegations. McMahon has recently been accused of paying a total of $12 million in “hush money” to cover up sexual misconduct allegations.
A little over a month after the initial allegations were made public, at age 77, in the same year he defeated former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro punter and current SmackDown announcer Pat McAfee in a match at WrestleMania, McMahon finally retired from his role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the WWE. McMahon was WWE’s head honcho for 40 years, helping make it a billion dollar publicly-traded company, but now, it’s time to play The Game.
Although Vince’s daughter and Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon, along with Nick Khan, have been promoted to Co-CEOs of WWE, Triple H is now largely the man responsible for what WWE fans see on their televisions every week. Whether that be Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown or monthly Premium Live Events, Triple H is in charge of producing engaging storylines that fans can sink their teeth into, something WWE has been inconsistent in doing for many years.
Three episodes of Raw, two episodes of SmackDown and one SummerSlam later, I’d say he’s off to a great start.
In his short period of time as Head of Creative, Triple H has already injected new life into a product that seemed to be criticized week after week for being too repetitive. He’s made noticeable changes to the way shows are formatted, reportedly made promos much less scripted and has given wrestlers that were previously underutilized a chance to shine.
Hey, anytime Kevin Owens is featured prominently, Kyle Smedley is happy.
Talents like Ciampa and Shayna Baszler won number one contenders matches for the United States and Women’s Championships, respectively, in the same week. These two, for example, had previously been significantly watered down and made to look less than since their days of dominance in NXT.
Speaking of NXT, at SummerSlam, Triple H showed he could debut new talent just as well as All Elite Wrestling (AEW) can by bringing back released NXT star Dakota Kai, calling up IYO SKY and having Bayley make her return after an injury had her sidelined for over a year. The three formed a faction and made their goals crystal clear the next night on Raw, actually giving the three a reason to return and team up.
Not stopping there, former NXT Champion Karrion Kross and his manager Scarlett made their triumphant returns to WWE on the August 5 edition of Friday Night SmackDown after being released late last year. Kross has been immediately positioned as a top star, attacking Drew McIntyre, Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns’ opponent at the upcoming Clash at the Castle, in the closing segment of the show.
Finally, the most recent variation of Raw was built around a show-long storyline that ran until the final minute of the show, harkening back to the routinely great plot-driven episodes of Raw during the peak of the Attitude Era in the late 90s. On Raw, backstage segments saw a car mysteriously crashed and police running around the arena, leading up to the return of recently released (you guessed it) NXT star Dexter Lumis in an angle that was meant to look like a fan tried to invade the show and got arrested in the process.
During his time in NXT, Lumis was prominently featured alongside Johnny Gargano and wife Candice LeRae, two talents who also left the company in late 2021. Numerous hints at Gargano returning to the company were dropped on Raw, leading many to believe another Triple H favorite will soon make his return to WWE.
If Triple H’s booking patterns continue to feature many former NXT stars, don’t be surprised. Levesque ran WWE’s developmental territory for almost a decade leading up to his 2021 “cardiac event”. During that time, NXT quickly became perhaps the most engaging and physically impressive wrestling promotion in the world, consistently putting on the best show every week, that is, until 2019 when AEW changed the game.
As a fan of professional wrestling as a whole, not just WWE or AEW, I have thoroughly enjoyed the new direction Triple H has taken WWE. For many months, AEW had the better program every single week; now, WWE is making it a competition, putting on the best show possible.
WWE’s new Head of Creative has already made a statement with how WWE and its talent has been presented in the few weeks Triple H has been in control. However, with three massive free agents still on the market, The Game could create even more intrigue.
Sasha Banks, Naomi and Bray Wyatt have all been a part of controversial exits from the company over the course of the last year or so. If Levesque is able to bring them back to WWE, he will make his biggest statement yet.
Bringing these stars back will highlight the difference in WWE under Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan compared to under Vince McMahon clear as day. It’ll show that talents desire to work for the WWE and that Triple H is able to offer them the most appealing direction for their characters.
While Kai, Kross, Scarlett, Lumis and potentially Gargano and LeRae are massive additions to WWE’s roster, Banks, Naomi and Wyatt are all stars that WWE’s casual (and biggest) audience are largely familiar with. While it’s not a certainty WWE will bring any of them back, it is rumored, and if they do, Triple H will win over even more fans than he already has.
The groundswell of support for Triple H’s new direction for WWE has been massive since he took over, the key will be maintaining it. For me, I can’t get enough.
Right now, it seems like The Game is just getting started, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. That’s a way I haven’t felt in professional wrestling for a long time.
Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @smedley1932.