Tonight, on the WWE Network, NXT is back live on PPV. NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day is definitely another way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In the Capitol Wrestling Center, passion lives in the ring. No flowers, no gifts, just clotheslines and dives to say, We Are NXT. A few days ago, Triple H took part in a media call to promote the pay-per-view, talent bookings on The Road to WrestleMania, Edge, and also where NXT stand in the middle of a lot of TV changes.
On the PPV card
“I look forward to this Sunday. NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day should be spectacular. I think what would be considered almost a dream match sort of scenario between Kushida and Johnny Gargano for the North American Championship. Johnny coming into his own as a completely different performer and showing a totally different side of himself with his group, with Austin, Indi, and Candice, and just a whole different side of himself, showing how well-rounded a performer he really is. MSK are brand new but are making a really strong run and a hell of a statement so far. On their way, the Grizzled Young Veterans who have been together for a while, and if you’ve watched NXT UK, you know what they bring to the table. COVID certainly put a damper on them coming into the company and into NXT in the USA in the way that we wanted them to, but here they are now, and I think we’ll make a huge impact, and that match is going to turn a lot of people’s heads as far as what both teams can do.
“You have the Women’s Dusty Cup for the first year ever, boiling down to Shotzi and Ember, and Dakota and Raquel. The winners will not only become the first-ever Dusty Cup champions but also they will receive a future tag title shot. This match again speaks to the strength and the depth of the women’s division in NXT, knowing that you not only have these four, but you also later in the show have the NXT Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match, with Io, Toni, and Mercedes, three of the best in that whole group, you could say some of the best in-ring female performers in the world. Of course, that Triple Threat Match should be spectacular with all three of them, Mercedes Martinez coming back in, Toni Storm reinventing herself and really bringing up the side of her game, so to speak, that she has never really had the opportunity to show before. Of course, Io is Io, and I’ve stated that many times, to me, one of the best performers in the world, bar none.
“Almost half of this card in its entirety is made up of women, look at the depth behind them, the division’s incredible and only getting stronger, even the current class coming into the Performance Center, this rookie class coming in very soon, it’s the largest female class we’ve had in history. It really speaks to the commitment, where we’re going with our female performers, just seeing them as exactly that as performers, and really trying to strengthen that even further. Finn Balor and Pete Dunne for the NXT Championship. Finn is really coming into his own in NXT and just showing a whole another side of himself as he always had the ability to. Pete is coming back here to the USA, again a bit of a delay in the COVID world of where we wanted to go, but here we are. This one to me, I can’t wait to watch it, this is going to be something special. Those two will tear it up. Every match on the card has the ability to be a show-stealer.”
On possibly having more titles in NXT
“I think those conversations happen. I think you’re always looking to make it everything that it can be. You also wanna make sure that you don’t water things down. So I’m not a big believer in having, like, 38 titles in organisations that are just like – everybody’s just constantly, like, making their way to a different title at any given time. I don’t believe that it’s always about those championships. There’s a lot of different storytelling. But yeah, that’s definitely a thought that’s in mind, and we’ll see where it goes. I think, especially as the women’s division has increased in size. People were talking about that a few years ago, but I don’t believe that the depth and the size of it were there to warrant it. It’s getting to that point now certainly where it could handle it. So, yeah, those are conversations that I’ve had a lot.”
On Edge possibly challenging the NXT Champion
“I think that Edge’s return has been done really, really well. He really is in a place in his mind where he wants to build young and just get them rolling in different directions. He has been talking to me prior to coming back the first time at the Royal Rumble over a year ago of coming to NXT and not only stepping in the ring and talking but stepping in the ring and performing. Prior to him even coming to the Rumble, he sort of gave me, ‘Man, here’s my list. I’d like to work with this guy. I’d like to work with him. I would love to come here and work with this person’. It’s just where he’s at. That youth is exciting. Their enthusiasm, their passion for this, their drive, their desire, and I think that when he came to NXT, seems like months ago now, but it was two weeks ago, just knowing him so well, I could see the smile on his face all day as he went around just talking to these guys and girls. It’s awesome to see, so I don’t think any of it is beyond the realm of possibility. You saw it last year with Charlotte. I think you see it this year with him playing things across the board, whether that be Drew McIntyre or Roman Reigns and/or Finn Balor, Pete Dunne, whoever it is. I think that all those things are on the table, but one way or the other, depending on where WrestleMania goes beyond that, I think there’s the ability for him to come to NXT and sort of use his star power to one, help them and kind of elevate, but also for him to have sort of that final few chapters of his career the way he wants to have them and with the people he wants to have them with. So I’m excited for that, and luckily, he’s got something he’s not only willing to do but really pushing hard to do.”
On Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley’s performances at “Royal Rumble”
“I’ve been vocal about her in the past. To me, I don’t know that everybody has brought skill sets to the table at her age, 24. I think still her maturity, where she is now to where she was a year ago, she’s just a different level of confident performer. She brings so much to the table from a work ethic and attitude, an ability, she is a sponge for learning, she’s humble to it, she wants to learn, she wants to work with everybody. I can’t say enough good stuff about her, to me, if you were to say, ‘name me a breakout star right now’, and I would stick Bianca Belair in that same category, but she’s sort of there already doing it, but if I was to say who was that next person to step into those roles and really just (be a) game-changer, over the next year or two, it’s Rhea. She just has it written all over her, as does Bianca. There are certain talent you just see it, and it’s just a matter of how it unfolds, so the sky’s the limit.”
On how NXT talents are chosen to take part in the Royal Rumble match
“As far as the booking of the Women’s Royal Rumble Match and going into it in the lead-in, as far as the actual match itself, I was there day of. A lot of conversations happened on the production of it and everything else the day of. Prior to that, I really was not involved, but when it comes down to NXT, as they begin to put the Rumble together creatively, there’s just an ask. ‘Hey, here’s what we think is the right fit for what we could use for women. Here’s the right fit for guys.’ The Rumble is, to me, one of my favourite matches because you’re looking at an opportunity all through that match to bring in different things, and so at some point, you want ‘the holy crap’ moment where talent is coming in that, you didn’t expect, or the right talent comes in at the right time to pay off a storyline that happens to be happening in that ring, or you want the surprise, or you want the comedy moment, or you want the celebrity moment, or you just want different things that can lead you in a multitude of directions.
“It’s never as simple as, well, we’re going to do X woman from RAW, X number of women from Smackdown, X number women from NXT and/or guys. It’s never that simple. It’s not a cookie-cutter. And as you morph through the creation of it, it takes a thousand different directions, and then, of course, in today’s world, you have to be ready for anything. So you need to have alternates and backups ready to go and know what’s going on and what’s happening, and where they might have to fit the bill if they’re needed. So you want to have people there and ready, and again, you’re looking at the full match dynamics. You’re talking about over an hour of content. Who is the right fit? If I was talking about NXT women coming in, and I said, ‘Okay, you want to bring in Kacy Catanzaro, or you want to bring in Raquel Gonzalez?’ Two totally different women that bring in two totally different dynamics the moment they step out of that curtain. It’s got to be the right fit at the right time in the right moment and go the right place.”
On how NXT can find a more consistent place in the “WrestleMania” weekend
“My thoughts on it are that it’s great. You come into the place with WrestleMania where, with so many brands, a big roster of RAW, a big roster of SmackDown,, [and] a large roster of NXT, that you get to just a certain place where how big and how long do you want these shows to be? Everybody is sort of putting their chips on the table, so to speak, for their spot in Mania, as always. That’s the big spot of the year. Not everybody can be in those spots, obviously, and I think everybody understands that, but that’s the battle, and it’s a balance, in my opinion. I just think that you have to balance that out, but I love having them be a part of it. If you tell me that NXT gets to be a part of the biggest stage in the game and the biggest spectacle, it’s phenomenal. It just helps the brand, and it helps continue to drive it forward. It’s just a matter of how much can you fit into WrestleMania, now a weekend. What is the benefit of having its own platform of an NXT Takeover that week? It’s a balance, but I love it if we can do it.”
NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day is airing live on WWE Network this Sunday at 7 PM EST (midnight GMT). The kickoff show will start at 6.30 PM (11.30 PM GMT) live on WWE Network, YouTube channel and WWE social media.
Here is the PPV card:
- Women’s Dusty Cup Finals Match: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai – Winners also receive a future WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
- Dusty Cup Finals Match: MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) vs Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) – Winners also receive a future NXT Tag Team Championship match.
- Triple Threat Match for the NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs Toni Storm vs Mercedes Martinez
- NXT North American Championship Match: Johnny Gargano (c) vs Kushida
- NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor (c) vs Pete Dunne
Special thanks to Alex Sutton – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE