WrestleMania XXVIII is out today on DVD and Blu-ray, and there’s no doubt that one of the matches people will be re-watching repeatedly is the End of an Era match between Triple H and the Undertaker. As Matt Hankins points out in his review of that match, the outcome definitely gives WWE‘s next generation a chance to usher in a new era in wrestling. And Triple H couldn’t agree more, not only as one of the guys passing the proverbial torch, but also as WWE’s Executive Vice President, Talent. Here he talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about eras past, present and future, all of which are represented on the WrestleMania three-disc DVD set.
This year’s WrestleMania was anchored by veterans of the industry. The End of an Era match in particular encapsulated that idea more than any of the others. What do you think that means moving forward after WrestleMania, especially for some of the younger guys that are now getting some exposure?
I think it’s a good time for them. Right now the business in primed for young guys to make an impact. That’s kind of what I do in my day job is try to find new guys and help them get to that position where hopefully they’re the guys in the big key matches at WrestleMania. Sometimes things just end up the way they do and that’s kind of where it ended up this year. But if I was a young guy looking at the business right now, I would be saying, “End of an era? Well, that means beginning of an era.” So jump on and make a name for yourself, guys. Don’t wait for anybody to do it for you. Everybody sits around thinking, “Oh, I’m going to wait for the office to get me there.” We don’t get anybody there. They get themselves there and we just follow for the ride.
The champions going into WrestleMania this year – CM Punk and Daniel Bryan – are perfect examples of that. They both developed personas for themselves after years in the indies and have made it to the top of WWE.
Right. And you look at Daniel Bryan, who was in the warmup match last year for WrestleMania, and a year later he was going in as the World Heavyweight Champion. Anybody that says there’s a glass ceiling in the business or there’s a cog in the system is ridiculous. The opportunity is there for everybody that wants to take that opportunity and run with it. It takes time for everybody. I think time creates stars. The overnight sensation ends up being the one that’s done pretty fast, too. Time, earned respect and all the things that come with that make big stars and that’s what these guys have to look forward to. Just spending the time and making it happen.
Are there any guys currently in developmental that you think have the potential to be the next stars?
We have a lot of guys right now. I’m asked all the time how I feel about the future. When I look at our developmental system I’m very happy. We have a very bright future coming and I think, to my point earlier, the end of an era means the beginning of an era. I would tune in going forward because I think you’re going to see a lot of new faces with a lot of new impact.
There was recently a rumor that Florida Championship Wrestling was closing…
Yeah, it was a rumor. I heard about it in the morning and by mid-afternoon there was full-blown panic escalating amongst our developmental talent. But we assured them that not only was that untrue, but the exact opposite is happening. In the next few months you’ll see some major changes to our developmental. The quality of the product and the quality of the training they’re receiving will be second to none. We’re getting bigger and better every day.
The Four Horsemen, who were a big influence on you and who were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania XXVIII, came up during an entirely different era where people like Lex Luger and Sting became stars because of their association with the more experienced members of that stable. Speaking of an end of an era, how do you think that era of wrestling compares to how WWE is developing new talent now?
I have this theory that the wrestling business is kind of like music; what you grow up with and what hits you as a teenager will always be your favorite, no matter what music is good today. For a lot of people that grew up in that time frame – I grew up with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen – there will never be another era like it. You step out of that and you go to the Attitude Era, there will never be another Attitude Era. But we’ll come up with something better. Without the Four Horsemen there would have never been a DX, there would have never been an Evolution, there would have never been an NWO, there would never have been all those things. So it was a very important time. But it’s nothing we want to recreate. We want to create something that’s brand new and no one’s seen before and for the people watching today, create something they’ll never forget.
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