Triple H has as many names as he does roles within World Wrestling Entertainment.
When “The Game” isn’t wrestling part-time, you can find Triple H leading the charge of NXT, the company’s newest and buzziest brand based out of Florida, or back at WWE headquarters in Connecticut where Paul Levesque is the executive vice president of talent, live events and creative.
The most important role and title, however, might be the one of Dad.
A father to three daughters with his wife, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H recently lent his voice in the animated sequel “Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania” alongside John Cena, The Undertaker, and his father-in-law, Vince McMahon.
“For them it’s very cool. Extra cool that I’m in it. Extra cool that their grandfather, that they call Pop, is in it,” Triple H said. “It’s a cool experience for them and these are movies that they love anyways, so to have us in them is just a super bonus.”
Yahoo Sports spoke with Triple H this week to discuss Ronda Rousey’s marketability, his biggest fan in the NBA and the challenges he faces running NXT.
You play the role of Hunter the penguin in “Surf’s Up 2.” In a 30-animal Royal Rumble, which animal walks away the winner?
Triple H: Probably not the penguin. Penguins aren’t the most agile. They do have a little known fact: Penguins can projectile poop about 6 feet, which I’ve seen in person. I saw the penguin fire one off and hit the woman that was behind it. It was quite entertaining. So that could be a solid weapon in a battle royal that a penguin can use, but other than that, it’s not doing too well.
When were you first made aware that 76ers rookie Joel Embiid was such a Triple H fan?
Triple H: When he started talking about me on Twitter. It’s funny … because of my schedule and being so busy, I don’t always get to read everything that’s going on on Twitter. But all of a sudden I kept seeing a little bit of that and then someone kept pointing it out to me that this guy keeps mentioning you. So I saw it and responded to him.
— Triple H (@TripleH) January 14, 2017
It’s a cool thing. I’m aware of who he is and what he does and he’s not only a talented player, but a very entertaining player, which I admire. I think too many sports figures right now are taking themselves too seriously and caught up in something … I don’t know what it is. They get to play the damn game for a living and they take themselves too seriously. He seems to enjoy it and have a good time and I like that. So he’s a cool dude and if I get to support him, I will.
What are the odds that Joel is familiar with Terror Risin’ considering he wasn’t born yet when you made your WCW debut in early 1994?
Triple H: He seems like the kind of guy that’s pretty into it, and if he has the WWE Network, he can watch all of it, right?
You mentioned the WWE Network. If you had to give the first three years a letter grade, what would it be and what’s the one new thing fans can looking forward to in 2017?
Triple H: I would give it a solid B, B-plus. Are there things that we would fix? Absolutely. Are there things we would change? Yes. When you talk about subscription businesses, we were kind of first in in a lot of ways. Especially when you start to consider the fact that we had the live, linear feed and all of that. It’s amazing the amount of content we have on there historically, the amount of pay-per-views that are on there now. And then when you start to add in content that you can’t see anywhere else like NXT, which has become the WWE’s third brand with 200 touring dates a year and is selling out globally.
It really is WWE redefined to me where you can look at what WWE was just maybe two, three years ago before the network took place. Without the network, none of those things are possible. With the network, the WWE as a whole, its existence is completely different than what it was just three years ago. The goal in the coming years is if you’re a sports entertainment fan on any level, the WWE Network almost becomes must have and must see. I think that’s the coolest part of it.
As the executive vice president of talent, is Ronda Rousey losing in 48 seconds a positive or a negative in the eyes of a future relationship with the WWE?
Triple H: I don’t think that it makes a difference. I think what made Ronda great is not just the fact that she was a dominant fighter. It was the fact that she was a personality. How she handled herself. How she carried herself as a competitor. A lot of people win a lot. Do I think it hurts her? No. Brock Lesnar lost before he came back to us. Mike Tyson lost. Everybody loses. It’s how you handle it on the other side. She’s had a couple of devastating loses. People love to see people fall. People also love to see people pick themselves up and make that comeback. We’re entertainment. I don’t think losing hurts her in Hollywood. People want to be entertained. It wouldn’t make a difference.
I know NXT is your baby, your passion project. It’s now turned into the de facto third brand of the company. What challenges do you face in deciding when a talent is ready to get called up to “Raw” or “SmackDown?”
Triple H: I think the challenges that take place are the spot being ready for them to be called up to. Look, you can make the roster for “Raw” 100 people deep if you want to. It doesn’t mean you have room to use all of them. When you’re talent, you want to be used in the best way possible. When you’re performing, you want to be used the best way possible. Is what they do on NXT? … Does it always match what they do on the main roster? No. But for them to be used in the best way possible, for them to be ready to have a storyline or something setup for them going on the main roster, that to me is the challenge.
I’ve spent the last six months trying to regroup based on the draft. The draft pulled 16 talents out of NXT. That’s a huge hit and we are still regrouping off that and kind of getting back to what the central line of that brand is, which is building characters. That’s kind of the difficulty of it. It’s also what makes it great. NXT a year ago is different from what NXT is today. That’s what also keeps it exciting I think.