WWE COO Triple H recently sat down for an interview with USA Today’s “For The Win” blog where he promoted the upcoming WWE Raw 25th anniversary episode. Below are highlights from that interview
How did that show [early days of WWE RAW] start to transform the business as a whole?
"I think because of that, I think people started to see that the live-event [feel] – there's something magical about our business live when you're watching it happen, and the crowd is such a big component. It's the secret sauce of WWE, right? The secret to our success is them, their participation. We're kind of like the first…. I don't want to say 'reality show,' but we encourage fans to participate within the show.
"If fans complain about a television show, it's not going to change the way they write the show. They're writing the story they want to tell. With us, it affects the show, it affects the feel right in that moment. A passionate crowd can make a good match incredible, and a dead crowd can make an incredible match not great. They control it, and that's the magic, that's the special sauce, and I think [Raw] was the beginning of that realization that 'wow, when this stuff is live, when this stuff has that raw element, the energy is palpable.'"
When Raw was launched, all of a sudden the whole roster is performing on live TV. Compared to the kind of well-oiled machine WWE is now, what was it like in the early days of wrestling on live television?
"It was 'hang on by the seat of your pants.' It still is now, when you think about the amount of live content WWE puts out on a weekly basis – it's a lot.
"…. I think for talent, it was a completely different feeling. And I can tell you this, when you go back in time in the last few years to when SmackDown was a recorded show – with Raw live and SmackDown recorded the next day – the energy level at the actual show backstage from the talent was completely different. There's a safety net in not being live. There's less urgency to it. When you're live and there's no safety net and it's there in front of the world, that adrenaline rush is completely different. And I think, also, our fans feel that. Their energy level kind of reflects that as well. The live component changed everything, especially from a talent standpoint because it just put an urgency and a excitement level that hadn't been there before."
On Monday it was announced that Steve Austin will be returning to WWE for Raw 25. In your words, what did Austin mean to Raw?
"Oh man. In that timeframe, everything. I said earlier those first episodes of Raw almost had this feel of the start of the Attitude Era, but then the Austin timeframe and DX and all that…. It wasn't the longest run on the planet because of injuries for Steve, but there was no bigger star ever in the business, probably. Just in that moment in time, it was huge. And anytime Steve is around, he just has a personality and an intensity that's just hard to beat."