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By Dave Scherer on 2020-02-12 11:21:00

Paul Levesque met with reporters on a conference call this morning in advance of Sunday's Takeover Portland event.

Adam Hopkins welcomed us to the call, talked about yesterday’s WrestleMania announcement in Los Angeles and turned the call over to Paul.

Paul said it was an exciting time and talked about how it’s the first of the NXT shows that won’t be part of a WWE PPV weekend.  He said that Portland is a great wrestling city and they are happy to be going there.  He gave a quick preview of tonight’s show on USA and then talked about how this was a really loaded Takeover show.  He previewed the matches for the event.  He said it’s stacked and loaded, and he is correct about that.

The first question came from Jason Powell.  He asked about why NXT isn’t doing as well as AEW in the key demos on Wednesday nights.  He said he think it’s all about the long game.  What they have to do is get to the people in the younger demos.  He said when you are promoted and viewed in the younger demos, those are the people that you will attract.  He said that the NXT numbers are similar to a basic USA number.  The long game is building up the brand.  He said that they have proven the product in a hardcore, wrestling action sense.  Now they need to start add in different things, entertainment wise.  They have established that it’s great wrestling.  Now they can work on other aspects.  He said he is happy with the show and its trajectory and now they have to go in the direction they wanted to go.

He was asked about why they took “women” out of the Title and why didn’t they just add “men’s” to the other?

He said they just felt they didn’t need to pound “women” into people’s head but the internet took off and ran with it.  It wasn’t an edict.

Someone from Spain asked about a Spanish wrestler in NXT UK and his future.  I hate small interest questions like this on.

He also asked if there would be an NXT Title match at WrestleMania.  H said that the Takeover before Mania will be an epic event.  They have a lot planned.  He said Mania is a super long event and it’s hard to fit it all in.  He said that the show starts this year with NXT TV on Wednesday and it just rolls on from there.  There is a lot going on.  Things will be in different places or Mania will be an all day event.

Mike Johnson got in third.  He said the mighty have fallen.  Mike asked about the length of the event and the feel of the show.

H said it is a much more packed lineup.  He feels like every time we have these calls he says that.  He said that there were things he wanted to put in but he didn’t want to overload it.  He made a point of saying he likes a set time window and he doesn’t want to go over that.   This show is one match bigger, but he doesn’t expect a dramatic difference from past events.

Will more NXT talents infiltrate the main roster heading into WrestleMania?  Is there a concern of overexposure?

H said that they talk about it all the time.  Top to bottom, NXT is loaded and deep.  There are people waiting for their shot.  Plus, people can float over, like Finn Balor did.  They have opportunities to criss cross due to the rosters.  He thinks it’s great to be able to bring talents in from time to time, in the right situation.  He said that he isn’t worried about losing talents to Raw or Smackdown because their roster is so deep.  He sees that movement being a strength.

Jim Varsallone asked about Charlotte Flair.  H said she is a special level talent so wherever she goes, she brings that with her.  Wherever she goes, it’s a huge deal.  That is the beauty of having people in a spot like that.  As for where it goes, you have to wait and see.

He asked about Rock’s daughter signing and what advice he would give her.

H said what we all would have said, he can’t give her any advice that her dad, and mom, already have given her.  That was a pretty obvious question. H said she will be under a HUGE spotlight so she had better be ready for it.  One of the only people who can understand that position is Charlotte.  People still say she only got what she got because of her dad, which isn’t true.  You have to be able to look past that and know you earned it.  He said Simone has that quality.  She is doing everything to prove herself.  She is one of the hardest workers at the PC and is treated like everyone else there.  She’s like her dad, she stays humble.  Then he said now he feels bad because it’s not about her dad, it’s about her.  She has passion for the business and what they can help her with is help her stay strong due to her family lineage.  She can do it.  H turned it into a great answer.

He was asked if the main roster has come after Keith Lee.

H said that anyone that gets momentum will make it onto the radar.  They are discussions that happen with Heyman, Prichard and his teams.  He said that there is a difference between having a moment of success and a long period of it.  It’s up to them to weigh all of the factors.  But yeah, Keith Lee is in demand.  He thinks the same thing about watching Belair in the Rumble or her personality now.  Dream.  Ciampa.  He could go down the list.  They want to make sure that they are best set up to succeed and in the best place to succeed.  The brands are different.  Some talents resonate better on different shows.  That’s always been the case, even going back to WCW and WWF.  But anyone that is getting over is getting noticed.  That is a cool thing so you run with them as long as you can.  The final decision is Vince’s.

Why wasn’t there a Halftime Heat this year?  Did it sneak up on you?

He said they were aware of when the Super Bowl was. He said FOX is their partner now and you don’t do that.  Last year the timing was right.  This year it wasn’t.  He said he was glad they didn’t.  He was at the Halftime Show live and it was spectacular.  It was mind boggling how they did it.

Has Shayna Baszler officially moved to Raw?

That will play out.  He said that Becky’s rise has been insane but you still need great opponents.  He hopes it turns into something massive for both of them.  Right now, he looks at it like sports teams making deals.  He said right now he sees her as an NXT talent until they make a deal for her to go somewhere else.

Tells us about signing Killer Kross and Timothy Thatcher.

If you have seen them perform, who wouldn’t want them?  He was thrilled to have them and was surprised it didn’t get out sooner.  He said they kept it to themselves, which he appreciated it.  He said it’s not the be all end all to keep a secret, but it’s cool when you can do it.  He said that they are both phenomenal performers and with the staff they have, teaching them the TV/WWE side will take them to the next level (the call cut out for me then).

Mike Johnson will make the tag.

When asked about the signing of Simone Johnson and what advice he would give her, he said there is no advice he could give she's not going to get from her parents.  She wasn't signed because she's The Rock'd daughter.  She earned her spot, just like Charlotte Flair did when she was signed.  He said she's in an enviable position with all the spotlight on her signing but its something she will deal with.

HHH was asked about planning out the length of the matches on the show.  He said there’s a planning process for the length of the Takeover.  Sometimes talent need 30 minutes.  Sometimes they need more.  There’s a lot that goes into it and working with the talent, having conversations about the story they are trying to tell and how to tell that story.  You don’t decide you need three hours when you start to tell a story for a movie in Hollywood and that’s what will happen this weekend.  They will have the right mix and we’ll see this Sunday if they do.

HHH was asked again about A-Kid, specifically about his progress thus far.  HHH said he’s happy about his progress so far.  Coaching and producing and getting talents to the next level is what gets them to grow as performers and getting them to the next level.  They are cultivating talent.  They are taking talents who have all the potential in the world and help them maximize that talent.  They want to get him outside of his comfort zone so he can grow.  They want to make him the biggest star that he can be so one day he can be on and headline major events and be the biggest stars possible.

On the potential of taking NXT TV on the road, HHH said Full Sail is one of the most valuable partners they have in WWE.  He sees it as more of a family relationship more than a business relationship.  He said he couldn’t even comment on whether they have a contractual relationship.  Their partnership doesn’t just train talent but producers and directors doing Wrestlemania now who cut their teeth in Florida.  They have camera guys who are doing that now who started in Full Sail.  The amount of stuff that they do that we see and don’t see – and the people who are inside the gears of the machine are from inside in  Full Sail.  They aren’t just renting a facility every Wednesday.  Full Sail is family and part of that partnership.  They will always do what’s best for business if there’s an opportunity.

He noted that there’s a week coming up where they can’t run Full Sail that week because Full Sail had a prior commitment so NXT will be on the road that week.  He reiterated each side is super committed and will help each other.

On the Matt Riddle-Brock Lesnar story, Vince McMahon has never issued his disapproval of what was said by Riddle.  There was a conversation between Riddle and Lesnar and that’s between them.  They are grown adults and whatever they decided amongst themselves is what it is.  Sometimes he reads things and wonders if it’s a shoot or a work but he’s entertained by it.  He said that it is what it is.  Riddle is an incredibly talented performer.  He has his own viewpoints and that’s his own thing.  He said he thinks Brock probably thinks don’t write checks you can’t cash and he thinks Riddle, in his mind, is writing checks he can cash.

He said this weekend should be “spectacular” and plugged Poppi will be opening the show for NXT this Sunday.  He said she’s been a great partner and asset for WWE.

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