Triple H praises the value of NIL deals.
The world of sports changed forever in July 2021 when the National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled that student athletes were allowed to begin profiting on their name, image, and likeness. WWE quickly followed up on that move, as they launched a NIL program only five months after the new rule went into place.
When appearing on a recent episode of Impaulsive, Triple H spoke in length about creating the WWE Performance Center and how NIL changed the company's approach to recruiting new talent.
"Vince and I sat down, this was years ago. Obviously I’ve worn Steph out talking about it before that. We talked about it. There was a moment in time where Vince was so successful at creating one brand but it in turn shut down all of these territories and all of the places that these guys had to go to learn this craft over time. We started talking about it in a manner of saying like in 10 years, 20 years from now, we’re screwed. Where are these guys coming from? Somebody’s gotta teach them but the guys were out there learning but it was not good. Somebody had to teach them properly and correctly and teach them how to do it right. So how do you do that? How do you get better quality athletes, humans, all that stuff. You build a performance center. You make it, at the time, super cutting edge where a professional athlete that is thinking about doing this can walk in and go like ‘Even if the money is not great up front, I get to be an athlete in a place like this? I’ll do this for a while and see if I can do this.’ That’s the kind of stuff that cuts it. Then you need a brand for them to learn on, so we created NXT, we rolled with that. The difficulty for us has been on the recruiting side, finding people with the passion to do this, with the athletic skill to do this, with the charisma to do it, which is king. [You also have to find] the right human beings. The biggest pool of people to do that is collegiate athletes. It’s why the NFL can let go of 500 players a year, because they have this ocean of talent coming into them at any point in time. For any person in college football that’s waiting to get in the NFL, there’s hundreds in other sports that no one looks at and there’s no professional avenue for them. When you get done being a hammer thrower, [they] either coach or get a gig doing something else that they got their degree in. But, we couldn’t engage with those collegiate athletes because of the NCAA rules and all of that. Even though we’re an entertainment company, we risked their eligibility."
Triple H went on and discussed the win-win situation that NIL deals can present.
"Once NIL hit, it was a game changer because I could immediately talk to all of these athletes and offer them this opportunity, which for a vast majority of them are like ‘Oh my god, I grew up watching this like this is the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m 21 years old. Man, I’m gonna take this shot for a couple of years and be an athlete’. To now have that opportunity for these kids to go like wait a minute, I’m not going to go to the Olympics or whatever and I’m not gonna be a pro hammer thrower and I’m not gonna do all of these other things. What can I do? WWE throws an opportunity at you, which many of them probably had thought about. Now we’re getting right out to them and saying come with us. We have some college athletes on NIL deals where they’re…Ours is different, we’re not looking for a transactional thing where a chicken company [throws a] few grand and [tells them] to say that you love our chicken. We’re working with athletes that want to be a part of WWE, we’re looking for long term recruiting opportunities with these people and how we can make them long term bigger. They promote us. Every contest they go to, every game they go to, everything they go to they’re representing WWE like a walking billboard. When they get to the end of their college career, we’ve worked with them on their finances, we’ve worked with them on social media, we’ve worked with them on how to make yourself a brand so they’re getting bigger and bigger. If they don’t come with us at the end of it, okay, they’ve been a walking billboard for us for two years. If they do come with us, we’re already way ahead of the game in who they are as human beings and athletes. It’s the perfect mix for us."
When Logan Paul mentioned the notion that these deals can create the next big superstar, Triple H couldn't have agreed more.
"We can have the attempt at least to create the [next] Connor McGregor and we do. You’re right, we have generationally right from Bruno Sammartino all the way through to Roman Reigns right now and everything in between. You can even throw Brock Lesnar into that list because where did he learn to do the personality, the charisma, all of those other things that he had right. Athletically, yes, but the rest of it [is from] us. His level of promotion and all of that stuff was next level when he went to UFC and that’s what he jumped off on. Yeah, but what boxing and all of those sports do is they’re just waiting for the next generational talent. They’re waiting for somebody to come along that captivates you and we’re different. We can control that environment and we can control that narrative long term."
Back on June 13, WWE announced the latest class of NIL recruits. To see information about that class, click here.
Elsewhere in the interview, Triple H discussed the task of filling Vince McMahon's shoes. To learn more, click here.
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