It’s a known fact that Triple H has been a student of the game for several years now, even as a main event star for the WWE. It seems like his investment towards his career after in-ring competition has paid off. Vince McMahon might be running the WWE as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, but it’s only a matter of time before his son-in-law takes full control of the WWE.
The process is slowly taking place with Triple H essentially being the Vince McMahon of the NXT development system. While still considered like a farm system for WWE’s sports-entertainment product, NXT has become a very popular brand of WWE. The talent and match quality can arguably rival both the RAW and SmackDown brands.
Triple H has become the man behind the success of NXT and the new generation of WWE Superstars. That doesn’t mean that Triple H has a perfect track record. In fact, it can be quite difficult to find people who will be an absolute guarantee to succeed in WWE’s world of professional wrestling. The fact that Triple H has built NXT the way it is now is impressive enough, but there have been some bumps in the road.
While this list will highlight the best eight signings for which Triple H is responsible, we also want to note some of the memorable misses he’s had. Some of the “worst signings” might have had potential when they first walked in, but have fallen flat over time.
8. Best – Hideo Itami
One would have assumed that the man formerly known as KENTA would have been higher on the list. While he is arguably one of the best strikers from his time at Pro Wrestling Noah, Hideo Itami has had a bit of a roller coaster experience since coming to NXT in 2014. It started out as him fulfilling a dream to participate in a WWE workout and resulted in a contract offer.
It looked like he was going to be a top contender for the NXT Championship and even made an appearance at WrestleMania 31 for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. However, Itami suffered an unfortunate shoulder injury that kept him off of television for more than a year. Itami has since returned and could make an impact soon, but the NXT roster has become a lot deeper since before his 2015 injury. However, there’s nothing to stop WWE from including Itami in the new Cruiserweight Division.
While he might not have been officially signed to a long-term contract with WWE, James Storm did turn a lot of heads when he made a surprise debut in NXT last October. While one can argue that Storm had been a tag team specialist with one short run as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, he certainly had quite the presence on the microphone to warrant being brought into NXT.
Unlike his former partner in Chris Harris, Storm actually looked to be in decent shape with wins over Danny Burch and Adam Rose. However, Storm decided to go back to TNA. The main problem that makes this very brief stint one of Triple H’s worst signings is that it should have led to a longer run with the company. Honestly, they shouldn’t have brought him on television if he hadn’t signed on the dotted line. Consider him a brief “Storm,” hitting NXT only enough to dampen the arena instead of blowing the roof off the building.
Women’s wrestling has improved over the last few years in the WWE with the additions of Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. Add the recent call-up of Bayley and the future is looking pretty good for the WWE women’s division. However, the brightest star in the future of women’s wrestling in WWE still remains the NXT Women’s Champion – Asuka.
Triple H received a lot of praise when he posted on social media the signing of the woman known as Kana in October 2015. Fans have enjoyed what she has brought to women’s wrestling with her very unique persona and a strong technical style that has allowed her to claim the NXT Women’s Championship. One has to believe she will be making her main roster debut at some point in the next year. By then, the NXT brand should have an influx of new talent that can step up to fill the void Asuka will leave behind.
Triple H has been the head of talent for about five years now and as with any important position like that, he had some misses before striking gold. One of his earliest signings for the women’s division (Divas at the time) was Kharma, known to TNA fans as Awesome Kong. The division was seeking a monster heel and Kong had done some fantastic work in TNA, so expectations were high for her WWE run.
She made her debut as Kharma and began attacking divas, without saying much, leaving many to question whether she’d be a heel, face or tweener. Eventually Kharma announced that she’d be taking a sabbatical because she was pregnant. She was built up for weeks, but never even wrestled a match. She would eventually make a one-time appearance for the 2012 Royal Rumble match. She parted ways later that year with WWE, saying she was not ready to return in the time WWE allotted for her.
Triple H can’t really be faulted for this, but any time you sign someone and they only wrestle one match for you, it’s a failed signing.
6. Best – Sami Zayn
Triple H’s decision for the WWE to bring in someone known as El Generico of Ring of Honor not only benefited the company, but also the man who would be re-branded as Sami Zayn. Since being signed by the WWE in early 2013, he had been transformed as an unmasked Underdog from the Underground. We’ve seen a different persona for the former Canadian luchador with ska music for his entrance theme.
For three years in NXT, Zayn had been a part of several five-star matches that led to what was supposed to be his main roster debut against John Cena for the United States Championship in May 2015. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury put a damper on that and led to him making a brief stop in NXT before returning at the Royal Rumble earlier this year. Zayn could be higher on the list, but there’s also a lot of competition with a new era of WWE.