Interviews

Why 'Triple H' Joined WWE—and Why He Thinks 'Raw' Will Last Another 25 Years

The 'King of Kings' talks about the past, present, and future of 'Raw'.

Triple H
Foc Kan / Contributor / Getty

WWE Raw has seen its fair share of superstar talent over the years, from Bret Hart to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. But few superstars are as integral to Raw as Paul "Triple H" Levesque.

One of the biggest stars of the "Attitude" and "Ruthless Aggression" eras, Levesque now serves as WWE's VP of Talent, Live Events and Creative.

When Levesque first started in sports entertainment, he worked a few indie circuits and had a brief stint in WCW before ultimately being recruited by WWE. While chatting with Muscle & Fitness, Levesque explained that the live format of Raw was immensely appealing to him. "At that point in time, all of our industry was kind of the same. It was kind of mixtape format, in a way—they recorded matches in a TV studio or a very small arena, then put them together. [Raw] was different.

"If I had to compare it to something else, it was kind of like the first live album that came out where you were capturing the energy of the crowd. Whereas, the other shows, it was great to watch, but nothing like being there in person. With [Raw] you just had that energy and excitement of that crowd and it was at a whole different level."

Levesque started on Raw all the way back in 1996, as a haughty "Connecticut Blue Blood" who wore garish outfits and referred to his "full name" of "Hunter Hearst Hemsley"—which, if you've only known Levesque as the rowdy troublemaker from "D-Generation X" or the ruthless "King of Kings," sounds almost unfathomable.

Part of Raw's strength as a brand, Levesque says, is its adaptability. And as the show has evolved to fit the times, so has Levesque.

"The only way to stay relevant for that long of a period of time is to shift and morph and reinvent yourself and become something new constantly. We did that as performers and characters. The show did that. If it had stayed the same, to me, it would have ended a long time ago. For me as a character, if I hadn't shifted, it wouldn't have worked. You had to change and evolve."

Of course, given the fragmentation of the media landscape, cable TV isn't as popular as it used to be 25 years ago, so some critics have openly wondered if Raw can continue to survive. Levesque, however, is confident that Raw will survive the same way it always has: by staying modern.

"The secret to our success is our ability to morph and change, to go with the time. We're positioned to do that. Our ears are open to do that. We're listening everyday. And when those changes happen, we'll move accordingly. Monday Night Raw has been on the air for 25 years. I know that we're just getting started. I know that 25 years from now, no matter what format it's in, where it lives and where it exists and whether the new chip that's directly in our head, or whatever that is, we'll be there. And we'll still be doing what we do."

The 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw will be broadcast from Barclays Center and Manhattan Center in New York City on Monday, January 22, and air live on USA Network at 8/7C. Tickets are available for each event through all Ticketmaster outlets.

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