Good stories are all about character development
Every NXT taping at Full Sail University is a 500-person focus group on how well a character is resonating with fans. Social media chatter is the exclamation point.
“When you get that spotlight and you have six or 10 minutes to showcase yourself, they won’t take long to tell you what they think,” said Paul “Triple H” Levesque.
The talent and the WWE’s creative team develop ideas for characters and those gradually evolve over time. There’s no set timetable.
Sometimes the ideas involve just turning up the volume on who the person really is. Such was the case with Luis Martinez, a veteran in the ring who has long performed as Punishment Martinez. He’s now being rebranded as Damien Priest, an even darker character. That means new outfits, new entrance music and a new persona. Martinez thinks it’s a perfect fit.
“I’ve always been into the weird, the odd, the dark, so that’s the character I’ve always represented,” Martinez said.
There are plenty of misses. Bray Wyatt, for example, didn’t work as Husky Harris.
Then there are ideas snuffed out early.
Levesque chuckled as he recalled a talent from France who arrived one day wearing torn jeans, boots and cutoff sleeves. He told Levesque in his French accent, “That’s my new character, a bad ass.”
“He saw himself as ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. ‘I am kicking ass and taking names,’” Levesque said. “And everyone else was like, ‘No, you’re the guy wearing the sequin jacket and running away from people, not looking to get into a fight.’”