Triple H Is Changing the Game at WWE for the Better
It’s a new day, yes it is, at WWE.
One without longtime visionary Vince McMahon. For decades as chairman and CEO, he had a stronghold on the creative direction of the sports entertainment juggernaut. This made news of the 77-year-old stepping aside amid scandal in summer 2022 and relinquishing control of shows including Raw and SmackDown even more surreal.
With controversy surrounding McMahon, Paul “Triple H” Levesque was given the reins of creative and then promoted to chief content officer. The pro wrestling legend turned exec didn’t waste any time making his mark. Among his subtle changes: Giving performers like Austin Theory and Tommaso Ciampa their first names back.
In programming, a lot of the fluff and filler has been trimmed or eliminated in favor of longer, more competitive matches. Promos have begun to feel less scripted and forced. Championship titles have a new shine as Intercontinental and United States gold are enjoying renewed prominence. (The previous regime would often present them as secondary.)
Defenses were even left off major shows. Bobby Lashley and Gunther have been strong torchbearers for this pivot. In particular, Gunther’s IC title battle against Sheamus at Clash at the Castle was dubbed a match-of-the-year candidate by many and among the most physical collisions in the promotion’s history. The women’s tag-team championship was brought back into the fold. Michael Cole, the voice of WWE, is doing some of his best commentating.
Existing talent including Ricochet have experienced a career resurrection. Names like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are doing some of their best work alongside other reliable top superstars in Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Storylines leading into premium live events feel more important with stakes to get the audience invested rather than just A vs. B throwaways.
Triple H gives a sense there is some well-thought-out planning these days rather than week-to-week booking. The matches advertised in advance take place instead of being changed without explanation. Fans not only know the matches for Extreme Rules on October 8, but they can look even further ahead: A press conference has set up Logan Paul facing “Tribal Chief” Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal championship in a big attraction at Crown Jewel on November 8, not to mention the fact that Survivor Series on November 26 has added WarGames!
Since COVID, there had been innumerable releases. You might envision Thanos snapping his fingers and a performer/employee would be gone! Levesque has since brought back a number of those who were let go behind the scenes and in front of the camera, such as Braun Strowman, Dakota Kai, Dexter Lumis, Hit Row (B-Fab, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, Top Dolla), Karrion Kross, and Scarlett. The idea of Triple H at the helm was also enough to lure hot free agents Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae.
There is no denying McMahon did so much to take WWE and pro wrestling to new heights. By the same token, Triple H’s fresh approach brings a welcome change, and if the first few months are any indication, this is a change for the better.
WWE Raw, Mondays, 8/7c, USA
WWE NXT, Tuesdays, 8/7c, USA
WWE SmackDown, Fridays, 8/7c, Fox