Five years ago this week, WWE wrestler and executive Triple H (Paul Levesque) commented on comparisons people make between WWE pro wrestling and UFC mixed martial arts. The following is the inflammatory quote and Jamie Penick’s pointed response.
“I don’t think we have to evolve. It’s two totally different things. I think now especially there’s this thing like, ‘oh it’s very similar.’ I don’t see us needing to evolve to what UFC does because quite frankly sometimes the fights are long and boring, guys lying around and sometimes the fights are fast and over in five seconds. I’ve always thought one of the things about us, if you look at us solely from a sports standpoint, is that we always give you a good show. We’re never going to give you a crap game. I think if anybody needs to evolve, it’s them. Give more of an entertainment standpoint. Give more form; they just have fighters who walk in in t-shirts and shorts and just stand there and then they fight and then they win and then they go ‘thanks, I’d like to thank my sponsors’ and then they leave. The whole world was up in arms when Brock was flipping people off and was cussing at the beer company because they didn’t give him any money and everyone thought, ‘oh my god, he’s disrespectful,’ — the whole world was talking about it. They couldn’t wait to see him get beat up. And then he did well, and he beat some guys and then people jump on his bandwagon going ‘Brock’s the greatest.’ I’m good friends with Floyd Mayweather and Floyd would be the first to tell ya, ‘I make the most money in boxing and I have the biggest buyers because I have the biggest mouth.’ He’d be the first guy to tell you that. That’s what it’s about. Sports is entertainment.”
-The WWE’s Triple H talks to Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com about the WWE and UFC’s evolutionary needs.
Penick’s Analysis: This might be one of the more patently ridiculous things Triple H has ever said, and that’s saying something. While all sports are inherently about entertainment for fans, there is a reason the UFC and MMA is a sporting event over an entertainment product and that’s because it’s a real competition. Yes that means there are occasionally boring fights and fights that end quickly, but to suggest that every wrestling match the WWE puts on is a “good show” is laughable. Professional wrestling has seen a decline over the years in viewership in many ways because of an at times less than entertaining product. There are things that could be improved in promoting fights and in getting more interest in some fighters in the UFC, but the sport itself is inherently entertaining, and as it gathers more fans and branches out onto Fox it’s going to have it’s own natural evolution. The lack of evolution in pro wrestling and the continued attempt at reviving the massive popularity boom of the mid 90s has seen it stagnate, and some of that is likely attributable to this type of attitude from those at the top.