2/2 Stone Cold Podcast: Triple H on Chyna, Punk, Reality Era

“Stone Cold Podcast” Live
Special Guest: Triple H
February 2, 2015
Recap by: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com

The following aired live on the WWE Network following RAW on 2/2.

We go live to Denver where “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is joined by Triple H. Austin puts over how the month of February is completely free for the WWE Network. Triple H plugs the next live NXT special and some of the other content on the WWE Network.

Austin talks about everyone being upset with what went down at the Royal Rumble PPV. He mentions how a large part of the audience was behind Daniel Bryan and how Bryan was eliminated early. Austin said it is almost like kayfabe has died. He said now if the story doesn’t go the way people want, they get mad at the writers and asks how you can book in a non-kayfabe business. Triple H says it is tough and talks about the different component of the internet. He said the days of people just accepting a storyline for what it is, is gone. Triple H said a large portion of the audience will accept it, but another portion wants something completely different. He talks about some crowds giving Roman Reigns a hard time and other crowds completely embracing him on the road.

They transition to the 1996 King of the Ring and how Triple H was originally scheduled to win that. Austin brings up how he won the event and how Triple H was a victim of the Madison Square Garden incident with the exit of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. He talks about how Reigns ended up getting the heat for the decision that was made backstage. Triple H talks about how one guy is still calling the shots right now: Vince McMahon. He talks about how the finish to the Royal Rumble was heavily discussed and how Vince took all scenarios under consideration. “Is he perfect? Nope. Am I perfect? Nope.” Triple H said Vince would always be the first guy to say he didn’t make the right call. Austin asks if tonight was a result of the Royal Rumble maybe being the wrong call with booking Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns at Fast Lane with the winner moving on to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Triple H said the business has not changed and that a smart booker reacts. He talks about calling audibles in the ring with Austin back in the day.

Austin discusses how the crowd at one point was really behind Roman Reigns and how the demand for Daniel Bryan showed up again when he returned to WWE. Triple H calls it a tough environment right now. He talks about reading where people ask if they are aware that the a large portion of the crowd doesn’t like John Cena. Triple H said despite the disagreement among the audience, Cena was packing arenas across the country and how the Attitude Era was a bit easier having a “tight demographic.” Austin asks how it is different today. Triple H says at one point you have a 10 year old in the audience and then a 22 year old sitting with all of his buddies. He talks about how it almost splits the audience right down the middle.

The talk transitions to Triple H referring to WWE now as the Reality Era. Triple H said the Attitude Era is dead. He talks about the old days of the “dirtsheets” with actual physical sheets. Triple H talks about how Grantland, The Miami Herald and other major newspapers are giving you a look at inside the business. “The reality is the business now.” He said you just can’t deny the behind the scenes aspect. Triple H adds that if they don’t tell a story well, the audience doesn’t buy and Austin said that means people are critical of the writing. Triple H adds that now you have a lot of people second guessing some stories being presented with an almost “…come on” reaction. He talks about how the Reality Era is “they” want to push Roman Reigns, “they” are holding back Daniel Bryan and that it is a funny point in time. Triple H talks about things changing along the way with the build last year to WrestleMania. “It’s working the work of the reality.”

Austin puts over the work of Roman Reigns. Triple H said the business is like a puzzle. He talks about hearing how people think Roman is ready and how the reality is no one is really ready for that top spot. Triple H talks about how you put a whole world of pressure on yourself when you are put into a position like that. He adds how people start to get in your ear as they see you gaining momentum as a talent. Austin brings up the 1996 King of the Ring decision and Triple H openly admits he wasn’t ready. “I would have dropped the ball bad in ’96.” He adds he may not have been completely ready in 1999, but he felt better prepared. Triple H said the book really never ends when it comes to storytelling in WWE. He mentions how the story continues on even past WrestleMania and how they weren’t able to see Daniel Bryan getting injured last year. “The story never ends. You can constantly keep revisiting it.”

Discussion about Triple H’s new documentary is brought up. Austin said he learned a lot about Triple H from that documentary and how he feel in love with the industry at a young age. He asks if Triple H ever had an exit strategy, even factoring in his marriage to Stephanie McMahon. Triple H said the knock against him for getting married to Stephanie bothered him at first and how people were acting as if he didn’t earn where he was. “I got past that.” He talked about how The Undertaker said the people that matter knew the truth. Triple H feels he would still be working behind the scenes regardless of his marriage to Stephanie. He talks about falling in love with the behind the scenes nature of the industry. Triple H said Vince McMahon most likely saw that in him, even before he got together with Stephanie. He said nothing compares to being in the ring including his time with Austin. “But now for me and I can say this with all honesty, the jazz of me going down to Florida with these kids in NXT and that system and seeing the light bulb go off” has been so great for him. Triple H adds exit plan wise, Austin thinks he is roped in for life and Triple H agrees. He talks about how Vince doesn’t treat this like work and he can see it now.

A question is asked if a wrestler gets more experience out of working the indies or going right to the Performance Center. Triple H said it depends on the talent. He brings up how quickly Kurt Angle picked it up. Triple H said at times it is harder to knock the bad habits out of them that worked a certain way on the independent scene. “Some indies come in and they are a sponge. Other guys come in and say this is what I do.” Triple H makes a comparison how if you are brought in by the Patriots in the NFL, you run the plays the Patriots want you to run and that is how it just works. He talks about how WWE is the most successful company in the world and they do things a certain way because it works.

Austin talks about the presentation of NXT and how he loves the wrestling. He asks how they come up with the template. Triple H said in some ways he presents what he would like to watch and tries to gear it towards the fan base. He talks about how he understands the demographic that is watching NXT on the WWE Network. Triple H quickly mentions how he doesn’t get that same option with WWE television. “It can be looser and a little more fun.” He talks about how the setup at the Performance Center and at Full Sail University is the same setup you would see when arriving at a big WWE television taping. Austin asks if NXT is still a developmental territory. Triple H says yes it is, but also thinks they have been able to create an alternative brand. He brings up NXT going on the road in Ohio this March. Triple H brings up talent like Finn Balor down in developmental and how he was a bit overwhelmed before his NXT debut. He mentions how when Balor was wrestling in Japan, Balor said they didn’t give him any direction and just told him to walk down to the ring to do his thing.

Austin asks if talent in NXT have the ability to pitch ideas. Triple H says absolutely and how they are also training people in the production aspect. He brings up Dusty Rhodes working with talent on promo works. Triple H talks about how he has a video feed directly to the Performance Center so he can give very quick feedback on the development of the talent in Orlando. “I don’t want anyone playing wrestler.” He said that talent has to believe in what they are doing.

A question asks if Triple H sees anyone who can be the next big talent like Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and John Cena on the current roster. “You can’t just be a promo guy. You can’t just be an in-ring guy.” Triple H said a talent today has to be a little bit of everything. Austin said it is all pieces of the puzzle to make the picture clear. Triple H said you can only lead a talent so far. He brings up the creation of The Undertaker character by Vince and how Undertaker was able to take that character incredibly far. Triple H mentions the “brass ring” comment by Vince and how at the end of the day it is on the talent.

Austin brings up the “brass ring” comment and how the feedback he got was that they were handing it over to Roman Reigns. Triple H brings up how he hears comments critizing them for not pushing a certain talent and how that talent worked so hard. “Everyone here works hard. This business is not about deserve. Work hard (has) got nothing to do with it.”

Austin talks about working with Triple H and Chyna overseas and how a fan started attacking him. He asks if Chyna will ever go into the Hall of Fame. Triple H thinks she deserves it. He said it isn’t as easy as just deserving it. Triple H said she did what no woman did before her in the business. He said what happened, happened. Triple H said from a career standpoint she deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He adds it is a bit difficult when a young kid may go on Google to search Chyna if they didn’t grow up with her. Triple H said he isn’t criticizing her career choice. He said it can be easy to say this guy deserves to go in and other factors are in play when making that decision.

Austin asks who was tougher to get into the Hall of Fame: Bruno Sammartino or Ultimate Warrior. Triple H said both were tough. He said Vince was fine with him reaching out to Bruno. Triple H talked about having to get past certain issues with Warrior including himself and Vince. Austin called it a lack of communication.

Austin asks if the nWo or DX was more influential in the business. Triple H said at first the nWo was massively influential. “But the massive impact that they had quickly dissipated.” He feels DX was able to accomplish more from a storytelling standpoint.

Triple H said if he could go back and have a match with anyone he would pick Buddy Rogers. He said Rogers was able to provide a presentation unlike talent before and at his time. Triple H talked about how Rogers had that larger than life presentation.

Austin asks about comments made recently about CM Punk and his current relationship with Punk. Triple H said he first heard critics say he was already hating and “burying” Punk while he was in OVW. He said, not as a knock, he didn’t even really know who he was at that time. Triple H talked about pairing Punk with Kevin Nash to help him and how they didn’t always worked out. “He held a grudge on that. He is a weird cat. I don’t mean that as a knock. He’s hard to get to know. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t communicate well.” He mentioned always heard about Punk being upset backstage and he would confront him with Punk saying nothing was wrong. Austin asks if he could ever come back here. Triple H said never say never. He said if Punk didn’t want to be here then it was a good decision to leave.

Word association time.

Shawn Michaels: “Greatest in-ring performer ever.”

Ric Flair: “Greatest all around performer, character and everything.”

Kevin Nash: “Very underrated mind for the business.”

Scott Hall: “The guy I learned more from than anybody. The most underrated performs in-ring and almost psychologist.”

Eddie Guerrero: “Awesome. I miss him. Was so fun.”

Goldberg: “A guy that I would credit a lot in some ways of changing the intensity of the business.”

Brock Lesnar: “Freak.” (Triple H says in a good way)

Paul Heyman: “A fine line between crazy and genius.”

Owen Hart: “One of the nicest guys I knew.”

Bret Hart: “Unbelivable technician. Maybe takes himself too seriously. In the ring, unbelivable.”

The Undertaker: “Respect.”

Kane: “Underrated. The constant.”

Pat Patterson: “Genius for the business. I respect Pat so much.”

Michael Hayes: “So underrated for his contributions to the business.”

Austin asks about the wording of pro wrestling vs. sports entertainment with Austin considering himself a pro wrestler. Triple H said he loves wrestling, but understands how just pro wrestling can be limiting. He said very few guys in the world get to say they are a WWE Superstar and that the sports entertainer is just an extension.

Austin asks about Brock Lesnar’s contract expiring. Triple H said they are constantly talking to Brock. “It all comes down to Brock on what Brock Lesnar wants to do. I think somewhere in his mind he maybe isn’t sure if he has unfinished business or not.” Austin said he would like to see him more, but agreed with Vince’s point where seeing him less can mean more presentation wise.

The Streak is brought up and if it should have remained. Triple H said he can look at it both ways regarding the decision.

Austin asks about the last play of the Super Bowl. Triple H thinks the Seahawks over thought it and we saw the end result live.

Austin tries to wrap it up and Triple H wants five more minutes. Austin brings up promos today and how they are so scripted. “I think that is just a product of time,” adds Triple H. Austin asks if they don’t trust the talent. “I think some guys want to be scripted fully and I think some guys like to work on bullet points.” Triple H said it is a trust level. It is live TV. He describes it as an evolution of time. Triple H said he has tried a different path in NXT and not everyone is comfortable with it.

Austin asks if he could change anything about Monday Night RAW. “I would love it to be two hours. Third hour of television is so exponentially hard to write I can’t even being to explain it to you.” Austin asks if they are married to three hours. “That is a Vince call. Anything can happen. It’s a difficult show to write.” Triple H adds that giving more television time to the women would be a plus.

Austin asks if you will see Triple H back in the ring. Triple H smiles and adds, “Yeah, it is coming.” Austin asks how is training is going. Triple H said he doesn’t have any sort of lingering pain and is still able to play with his kids.

They close with Triple H wanting to do this again.