Paul “Triple H” Levesque has envisioned bringing back the iconic WarGames for some time. And come Saturday the vision becomes reality as the “The Match Beyond” makes its big return at NXT TakeOver live on WWE Network. The event kicks off four events in Houston at the Toyota Center with Survivor Series following up Sunday, and Raw and SmackDown broadcasting Monday and Tuesday.
“Coming off a massive hurricane, flooding, just natural disaster of epic proportions. We made the decision to stay in the market and continue forward as that was kind of all happening,” Levesque said during a media conference call.
“Houston is such a great market for us. Always has been. Our fanbase is huge, very passionate. I’m very excited. It’s great to see the turnout that is happening and the amount of people who are still invested and coming to WWE programming across the four days…It’s just great to be able for us to come in there, coming off the World Series victory and all their celebration, hopefully they are on the uptick. We look forward to coming there and making it that much better. Putting smiles on people’s faces is what we do.”
Of course, the major topic of conversation in the coming days is the return of two-ring cage match, created by the late Dusty Rhodes. A popular staple of the now defunct NWA and WCW, this is the first time the WarGames takes place in WWE. Levesque, executive vice president of talent, live events and creative, fought through some pushback and hesitation from the company to get the match approved. In his eyes, the timing was right.
“WarGames is an opportunity for us, a match that hasn’t been around in some 20 years to turn a whole new generation on to what WarGames is, what it means,” Levesque.
“It gives NXT its own unique identity. I’m really excited about that with SAnitY versus Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong and the Undisputed Era, all going at it inside the WarGames. Two rings, one cage. That is going to be amazing. I’m really excited about that.”
Social media has been abuzz about classic concept reemerging. However, there has been some criticism about the changes made when it comes to the match rules and look of the cage.
“I think any time you’ve had 20 years between something, you have the opportunity to do it, but do it in a slightly modified way,” Levesque said.
“Whether it’s making it better, well, I’m not saying anything needed to be fixed. But there were some things that there were big concerns about. We wanted to change them and tweak them a bit. It worked for us in this three-team scenario because of the storyline that was written. When the opportunity came to do WarGames, the storyline actually fit with the three groups being in there. Does that change the initial concept of it? In some way yeah, but to me, it’s about WarGames. It’s about teams going to war. So, that’s really what this storyline entailed.
“We didn’t have groups of five or anything like that. You would have to mix it up to do it and hodgepodge things. As far as, some of the components of the match as far as putting the roof on it. We’re not going to have a roof. I think it’s a little bit limiting. I think the style has changed. Not saying anyone is going to do it in this match, but think going forward with WarGames. I try to think about the future. Arn Anderson wasn’t doing moonsaults off the top of the cage. I think there is a difference in how the business is done. This allows for a little bit of an opportunity to do some things.
“I don’t feel, personally, that we have changed the concept of what it is. It’s still going to be the same scenario. The match itself doesn’t really get going and start until everybody is in the ring. There is advantages during those timeframes as other teams come in. The concept is the same. There are some small tweaks, but I think they work better in today’s generation with some of those tweaks than they did it did in the format that it was originally used.”
Ultimately, Levesque’s goal is to do the match justice in memory of the “American Dream.” He wants to stay true to the concept while also bringing it into 2017. The idea of growing and evolving is what helped NXT go from a developmental system to essentially a developmental third brand for WWE. And NXT’s biggest fan is always looking to what the future holds. When it comes to the women’s division, a new era begins at TakeOver after one of four takes ownership of the championship vacated by the undefeated Asuka.
“When I look at just that match with Kairi Sane, Ember Moon, Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross. Then you start going down the rest with even the ones who aren’t’ in there like Ruby Riot, Billie Kay, Sonya Deville, Lacey Evans, Bianca Belair, Liv Morgan. You got a pretty deep talent roster, and I haven’t even gotten into the Shayna Baszler’s and Abbey Laith’s and the people who came out of the Mae Young Classic. It’s pretty thick and deep. Now it’s imperative on us to creatively tell storylines and make that be all meaningful. The talent is there. The rebuilding phase comes down to the creative.
“The men’s division the talent is there, the tag division the talent is there, the talent is there with the women. You just have to tell the right stories. Hopefully, that is what we are doing in that people continue to be interested into it. It’s one of those things that is cool for me is the NXT fans are very invested in that brand. We say it all the time that we are NXT, but I truly mean it. I think there is a feeling that you are at least partially invested and responsible for people making it and moving up and getting up to the main roster and becoming something more and watching that process go down. It’s cool to see that level of investment. I think for a lot of our NXT fans, they are really invested in these people as human beings, characters and everything else. That is a cool thing to see. It’s meaningful to the future of the industry. I love it.”
Watch NXT TakeOver: WarGames Saturday, November 18 at 8/7c live on WWE Network
Watch WWE Survivor Series Sunday, November 19 at 7/6c live on WWE Network and Pay-Per-View