As Triple H, WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Levesque has seen more than his fair share of pro wrestling crowds all over the world. He’s also been in the Royal Rumble numerous times, and he knows when the circumstances for a memorable one are coming together.
Fortunately for fans and his fellow WWE execs, he thinks this weekend is one of those times.
Levesque hopped on a conference call with the media earlier this week, mainly to discuss NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia and the current status of the WWE Performance Center, which was boosted by the recent signings of talent like Ricochet and War Machine. But one topic he led with and came back to later in the call was how he felt the ingredients are there for an exceptionally enthusiastic crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, beginning with TakeOver and running through Smackdown on Tuesday night.
The reason for that is pretty simple, and it’s set to the tune of “Fly, Eagles Fly.”
“I’m excited about this weekend’s four days in Philadelphia,” Levesque said. “It should be an exciting weekend given the fact that Philly is going to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots, which my wife is very excited about as a massive Patriots fan. But Philly should be quite the excited, rawkus crowd, even more so than usual given the circumstances. Saturday night with NXT: TakeOver, hopefully we can kick off the weekend in the right fashion and raise the bar for everything.”
The TakeOver card is a strong one, as it almost always is when the WWE’s biggest pay-per-view events rolls around. Levesque put over the solid stories his brand has going into Philly, including the NXT Championship between the resilient Andrade “Cien” Almas and Johnny Gargano, who he called “the most pure babyface right now, possibly out there” as well as the collision between Aleister Black and Adam Cole. He’s confident that his show will get the weekend off to an exciting start and knows history backs up that assessment.
However, that same history suggests that WWE can’t just roll into Philadelphia, present whatever it has planned and expect the fans to eat it all up. One only needs to go back three short years to find an example of a Royal Rumble weekend gone awry, as the 2015 event gave those fans a Rumble match with Daniel Bryan eliminated early and Roman Reigns, already teetering as a face, triumphant. They didn’t much like it, leading to the bizarre spectacle of The Rock getting booed to end the night when he was going for cheers.
With Philly in the grips of football fever and the big game only a week away, WWE can’t afford a miscalculation of similar proportions, and Levesque would certainly know if one is coming. The fact that he’s so confident should make people waiting for this Royal Rumble weekend feel that way too.
He also knows there’s a potential ace up the company’s sleeve in the form of a match that people have asked for over the years and are finally getting.
“I look at this, as exciting as the Rumble is itself, as historic as it’s going to be with the first ever Women’s Rumble and just everything that’s going to happen this weekend and the card at TakeOver just kicking it off, it’s going to be an epic weekend,” Levesque said. “I’m really, really looking forward to it.”
If he’s right and the fans stay in a frenzy for four straight night — and WWE does it part and delivers — we could all be in for quite the treat.
“I don’t know why, but it feels a little special going into it all put together,” Levesque said. “Like I said before, if you’re not planning to be there, I really feel like this Philly and the Super Bowl, Eagles, the whole thing, this is going to be a crazy weekend.”