He’s a 14-time WWE Champion, a two-time Royal Rumble Winner, and the 1997 King of the Ring. He was also the leader of some of the most recognizable stables and has headlined major WWE events including WrestleMania. Heel or face, Triple H is name that has become synonymous with professional wrestling. Critics may claim that his marriage with Stephanie McMahon and his backstage politicking paved the way for his success, but truth is, he’s simply a talented individual who has paid his dues. His hard work and dedication are what made him the King of Kings.
In addition to his in-ring career, Triple H also made an impact backstage when he became the WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative. One of his crowning achievements is the creation of NXT, which started as a contest-type show and eventually became a developmental brand. Since its inception, NXT immediately gained a huge following thanks to its emphasis on quality in-ring action, logical storylines, and character development. It gave up and coming wrestlers a chance to shine in front of a wider audience. After a series of critically-acclaimed shows, fans have often referred to NXT as the superior brand compared to the main roster.
Of course, things are not always great when it comes to the yellow brand. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect wrestling promotion. NXT had its fair share of moments that made its loyal fan base cringe. Since Triple H has the final say on the brand’s overall direction, he will also get the blame for NXT’s downs. Let’s take a look at some of The Game’s biggest mistakes in his territory.
15 He Shows Up Too Much
There’s nothing wrong about being proud of your achievements, but sometimes, too much is enough. From the Takeover Specials to the signings of major talents, Triple H always makes sure that he’s the man behind them all. It leaves an impression to some NXT fans that The Game is there to steal the spotlight from the wrestlers, making it look more like a vanity project than a developmental brand. He definitely deserves credit for NXT’s success, but the main focus should still be on the athletes involved. It’s the only way for them to get over on the developmental brand and eventually on the main roster. In short, let the superstars be recognized without a huge name attached to them. Organic is the certainly the way to go.
14 Percy Watson On Commentary
NXT went through a few lineup changes in the commentary team, but the combination of Corey Graves and Tom Phillips is arguably the best of them all. Instead of constantly promoting the WWE Network and making fun of each other, Graves and Phillips call the matches like a legitimate sport. They provide a brief summary of the backgrounds of the wrestlers involved, and they focus on the in-ring aspect. The way they show excitement on notable spots is not exaggerated, which makes it more believable.
So, when NXT second-season contestant Percy Watson was announced as the third member of the commentary team, it raised a few questions. One of them was, “Will Watson be a good addition to the crew?” The answer is a resounding NO. As a commentator, he lacks personality, states obvious facts, and usually repeats what his colleagues say. There are even instances when he just sits there and does nothing, he is awkwardness personified. We’re still hoping that Percy Watson will improve his commentary skills, especially now with the addition of veteran Nigel McGuiness. If he continues to do a horrible job, then Triple H needs to find another role for him.
13 Turning Bull Dempsey Into A Comedic Character
The 300-pound Bull Dempsey was a monster in NXT. In mid 2014, he effortlessly destroyed any wrestler who dared to step foot in the ring with him, one of which is Mojo Rawley. His gimmick quickly got over with the crowd, leading to a rivalry with fellow big man Baron Corbin. He lost to the Lone Wolf on January 2015 and things went downhill for him there. Abandoning his monster gimmick, Bull Dempsey suddenly turned into a joke of a character. He started gassing out early in his matches and his backstage segments often featured him eating loads of junk food. It gave way to his “Bull-Fit” character, where his purpose was to lose weight and get back on track. From a beast to a man dealing with weight problems, what did Dempsey do to deserve this? He was released in February 2016, and is now working in the indie circuit. Indeed, it was one of NXT’s failures.
12 Wasting Sami Callihan’s Potential
Sami Callihan made a name for himself in various indie promotions, so when news broke out that he signed an NXT contract, hardcore wrestling fans got excited. He was known as Solomon Crowe on the yellow brand, and his gimmick is a computer hacker who wants to take control of the brand. He scored a few impressive victories against stars such as Bull Dempsey and CJ Parker, but unfortunately in late 2015, he was on a losing streak and his gimmick didn’t really click with the Full Sail audience. Sami left the company in November 2015; with one of the reasons being that he was not being used. As someone who has competed in the most memorable hardcore indie matches, Sami Callihan truly deserved better.
11 Product Is Slowly Becoming Predictable
We all mark out when we see the likes of Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura in one ring, but inevitable main roster call ups decrease the excitement of it. Since Nakamura is on his way to Raw or Smackdown soon, we already know that he will lose if he gets his rematch for the NXT Title against the Glorious One. Predictability has been ignored in the earlier stages of the brand by the fans, but as NXT continues to grow, it could certainly cause problems. Viewers may lose interest in the matches and just focus on the main roster debuts of the wrestlers. Hopefully, Triple H can do something to shake things up. Yes, awesome matches can overshadow the predictability, but pro wrestling is and will always be storyline-based.
10 Booking of Fatal Four-Way Women's Match At NXT TakeOver: San Antonio
The fatal-four-way match for the NXT Women’s Championship at TakeOver: San Antonio wasn’t bad at all; it just suffered from illogical booking. Two of the wrestlers involved, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, came to the match as BFFs. They claimed that they would share the belt, regardless of who scored the pinfall or submission between them. If that was the case, then why didn’t they just follow the Outlaw Rule, where one BFF would pin the other? It would’ve made much more sense and brought more heat on them as a team. Maybe the creative team forgot about this or they just preferred to push through with the lazy booking. Whatever the reason, it definitely prevented the match from becoming a classic. Hope it won’t again, Triple H!
9 Some Questionable Main Roster Call Ups
Tyler Breeze? Apollo Crews? Baron Corbin? Nia Jax? The last two years certainly gave us some questionable main roster call ups. Don’t get us wrong, these wrestlers are talented in the ring, but they still haven’t done much to be brought up to the “major leagues”. Corbin and Crews were still struggling on promos while Breeze deserved to have an NXT Title run. As for Nia Jax, she should’ve won the Women’s Championship at least once.
Luckily for Corbin and Jax, they managed to improve and put themselves over on their respective brands. However, it’s a different story for Crews and Breeze. Crews is involved in a lackluster feud with Dolph Ziggler while Breeze teamed up with Fandango to form Breezango, a jobber tag team.
8 American Alpha's Tag Title Reign
When Jason Jordan and Chad Gable won the NXT Tag Titles at Takeover: Dallas, it was a feel-good moment. American Alpha was NXT’s beloved babyface tag team, and beating the heel team The Revival further elevated their status. Everyone expected that they will get a decent run with the belts and dominate the tag team division. However, creative had different plans for them. After over two months, they faced The Revival in a rematch at TakeOver: The End and lost.
American Alpha was drafted to Smackdown on July 2016, and they are now the reigning Tag Team Champions. Despite of that achievement, Gable and Jordan didn’t really shock the world when they were called up to the main roster. Triple H and co. should’ve pushed American Alpha more while on NXT for them to be considered as a threat.
7 Separating Blake and Murphy
Blake and Murphy held the NXT Tag Titles once, and have beaten popular tag teams such as The Lucha Dragons and Enzo and Cass. Afterwards, they suffered from multiple losses, which led to a terribly booked feud. Blake and Murphy were supposed to settle their differences in a singles match once and for all, but instead of seeing a winner, we saw Samoa Joe obliterate them. So, where are they now? We have no idea. Blake and Murphy would’ve been as big as The Revival if only they didn’t disband too early. With no roles for them now, don’t be shocked if they’re released from the company soon. It wouldn’t be wise to let them go though because NXT’s tag team division is currently struggling.
6 TakeOver Specials Always Take The Spotlight
Of course, the TakeOver specials deserve the spotlight, but at least give some focus on the weekly shows too. With the exception of a few episodes, NXT’s weekly shows usually consist of filler content. The program only gets exciting when it’s TakeOver season. If the higher-ups want to bring more eyes on NXT, then they should make every show mean something. TakeOver specials only take place four or five times a year, which gives the creative team a lot of time to develop stories and characters. By giving the new signees a chance to shine, having title matches, and featuring the tops stars more, it will help NXT’s weekly programming become more watchable. If you ask a casual fan, they’ll usually say that they only watch the TakeOver specials. This should change right now.
5 The Booking of Andrade Cien Almas
Andrade Cien Almas went from being the most hated heel in CMLL to a nobody in NXT. Known in Mexico as La Sombra, the former leader of Los Ingobernables joined NXT in November 2015 and was one of the brand’s most promising new stars. He gained a few notable wins as a babyface, but he just couldn’t go over with the crowd. One possible reason for his failure to go over is the fact the he faced crowd favorite Tye Dillnger on his debut match and won. Almas turned heel on October 2016 by beating up his tag team partner, Cedric Alexander, after losing the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Unfortunately for Almas, the Full Sail crowd still didn’t care much about him. He could’ve made a much bigger impact if his vignettes highlighted his achievements as a villain and he debuted as a full-on bad guy.
4 Letting Go of Corey Graves
When Corey Graves announced his departure from the NXT Commentary Team, fans were heartbroken. They will miss his witty heelish one-liners and his intricate knowledge of pro wrestling. He’s like the modern day Jerry Lawler or Bobby Heenan. Now that Corey is on Raw, we still hear glimpses of his greatness, but he is slowly being consumed by the WWE’s strict style of commentating.
With Corey Graves being the voice of NXT for over three years, Triple H shouldn’t have let him go. His unique commentary skills were one of the reasons why NXT is awesome. However, the decision has already been made. We may have a new Corey Graves on the yellow brand soon, but it will take a while. One thing is for sure though; it’s not going to be Percy Watson.
3 Booby Roode’s Entrance Theme Is Too Glorious
Admit it you prefer to listen to Booby Roode’s entrance theme than watch his matches. When it comes to the match itself, you’re only looking forward to the theatrics accompanying the music. Booby Roode is, without a doubt, a gifted wrestler, but his entrance music is more of a curse than a gift. Despite his stellar matches with Tye Dillinger and Shinsuke Nakamura, Roode will always be remembered for “Gloooorious! No I won’t give in! I won’t give in ‘till I’m victooorious!” We’re not saying that Triple H should change his theme; he should just find a way to put Roode’s character over without the song burying him. Make vignettes of Roode living a glorious lifestyle holding the NXT Title or give him more time to do Ric Flair-style promos.
2 The Pre-taped Curse
The internet, though we couldn’t live without it, is arguably one of NXT’s biggest problems right now. With their weekly shows being pre-taped, the results are often leaked online leading to fans skipping a few episodes on the Network. Since they already know what’s going to happen, they will just see the segments and matches on YouTube or just follow the news stories. Switching to a live format is the only way to prevent this from happening. If Triple has full control of the yellow brand, then he can definitely do it. By having live shows every week, the surprises in store will leave a bigger impact to the viewers. Just imagine witnessing a potential five-star match without any knowledge of it happening. It’s much more fulfilling, right?
1 One Hour Is Not Enough
This could also be one of the problems of entry number 6. Since NXT’s weekly episodes are only an hour long, it’s hard to fit in every storyline and match. Triple H should consider extending the length, especially now with the influx of talent from all over the world. Two hours are enough to make NXT a much better show. They can learn a lot from Smackdown, which is often considered superior to the three-hour Raw. Adding an extra hour means more angles to develop, more wrestlers to introduce to the WWE Universe, and more hype for the TakeOver specials. It can also officially cement NXT as the third brand. If this happens soon, we’ll probably see Almas and Blake and Murphy have significant roles again.