Paul Pogba’s frosty relationship with Jose Mourinho has been one of the major talking points of the Premier League season, and Triple H has revealed how he would handle the Manchester United duo.
The behind-the-scenes row between World Cup winner Pogba and United manager Mourinho is a storyline of WWE proportions and has led to speculation that one, or both, will leave the club by the time next season rolls around.
Triple H, or Paul Levesque, is best known for being 14-time world champion, though he has now entered the world of management as WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative since 2013.
The long-time wrestler now spends more time behind the scenes, running the WWE’s ever-expanding developmental brand, NXT, which features some of the most promising wrestling talent from across the globe.
He gave his take on Pogba’s strained relationship with Mourinho, after the club’s poor start to the Premier League season, and how he would deal with different personalities.
“You hope to start with a talent that you don’t have those problems down the line,” Triple H told Goal . “That you manage that process right from the get-go. Part of hiring that human being is hiring the right person that is thankful for the opportunities, that always wants to work harder and wants to work together with you.
“It is not about them or you. It is about working together. If you are doing what’s best for them and you, then there’s usually a place where you can come to an amicable agreement. It is usually when one side is working for their own benefit that things don’t get along.
“It is about recruiting but also it is what you do with them when you find them. It is easy to create your own monster.”
There may not be a Wrestlemania showdown between Pogba and Mourinho but that did not stop many of the world’s top executives coming to listen to Triple H on the headline stage at the Leaders Sport Business Summit at Stamford Bridge last Thursday.
During his visit to London, he also announced the launch of NXT UK. NXT is the WWE’s sub-brand for developing young new talent and Triple H is keen to see his brain-child soak up the best of Britain.
Indeed, many members of the ‘WWE Universe’ believe that NXT routinely outstrips the main brands of RAW and SmackDown, which will celebrate its 1,000th episode on Tuesday.
Representatives from the Premier League, NFL and NBA were at Stamford Bridge to listen to Triple H speak and he says he is happy to see many aspects of his brand’s shows being imitated in other sports.
Fireworks, walk-on music, behind-the-scenes footage and hyped-up video previews of matches have been an increasing presence on our screens in football, and he believes the WWE’s influence is underrated.
“Absolutely not,” replied Triple H when asked if WWE’s influence is recognised. “I have seen our cultural impact. I have seen U.S. presidents take a walk out of the locker room just to go to the podium, after they have seen them do it at our shows.
“I have seen us from our lighting, to our shooting to our character expressions, to the way we format it. I have seen it resonate to other genres and businesses. I think it is wonderful and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but I don’t know that it always gets the credit.
“I don’t think people want to say where it came from all the time, they want to make it look like it was theirs. That’s okay, we know. The truth is we are all out there and everything is entertainment. The truth is that with sports, people watch it to be entertained.
“Giving people their money’s worth at every level is what this is all about. When you see them copying things that we have been doing for a long time, or you see them copying mannerisms of our talent, who in many ways are encouraged to be larger-than-life characters, whereas they are encouraged not to be larger-than-life characters, is great to see.
“I think in some ways many sports athletes, where it is more about the team and the team’s longevity, they are encouraged to be less about the individual.
“I think that many of those sports stars and athletes live vicariously through our athletes where they get to be larger than life at all times.”
WWE’s launch of NXT UK will be a boost to a burgeoning independent wrestling scene in Britain. Indeed, PROGRESS Wrestling recently ran the biggest independent show in the UK in over 30 years, playing Wembley Arena, and utilising the current WWE UK champion Pete Dunne.
This launch is set to be replicated in other markets, with Triple H mentioning the likes of India and Australia as future potential locations. As an iconic villain in the WWE, Triple H gave an insight into what UK wrestlers need to become a superstar.
“I think like anybody that makes it, you bring something to the table and you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is,” he added. “For me, I know I didn’t get into the business to be famous. I didn’t get in the business to become rich. I got into the business because I loved it.
“I wanted to be great at it and I wanted to succeed at it. If somebody was willing to work harder [than me], I was willing to work even harder than them. I was never afraid to go the extra mile, to put in the extra work and time to make it. I think that’s one of the factors.
“When I look across the board at the people who have been the most successful in this business, it is always the ones who are willing to put in that extra work. The Rock and John Cena are prime examples of that. They are the guys who go the extra mile. They say I am going to put in that extra hard work to make sure of my success.
“One of the things from a performance standpoint, and one of the biggest things we look for, is charisma. It is the intangible, unteachable factor that you just can’t manufacture in somebody. They have a certain type of charisma. When they walk in the room they are the type of person that people take notice of.
“We are looking for things like that. We are obviously looking for the best athletes. First and foremost, we are looking for the right human being. We are looking for someone that’s willing to go that extra mile, not because, if you are just doing it for the money or the fame and then there’s a certain point in time where you reach that success level, but you have to want to do it for a bigger reason, for the right reasons.
“To be something more. To resonate with kids and be an example. To want to give back to the company and the business around you. So, being willing to put that effort in, with that extra work and hard work becomes very important to us. So, it is the person that is doing it for the right reasons and who is willing to go that extra mile.”