How was your day today?
For a lot of people, at least on most days, the answer to that question is fairly monotonous. Wake up, go to work, eat a few times in between, catch up with the family and then it's back to bed. Rinse and repeat, work for the weekend.
For Paul Levesque, the answer to that question depends entirely on who he is in that moment. The businessman Levesque is the executive vice president of Talent, Live Events & Creative for WWE. His more well-known persona, Triple H, is one of the most iconic figures in sports entertainment.
In both capacities, the tasks that he is faced with on a daily basis would be a lot for one person to handle; most of the time, Levesque has two or three different hats to wear on a daily basis, and even more so when he's making regular appearances on WWE TV.
From working behind a desk at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, to behind the scenes on weekly television productions to building the WWE's developmental brand NXT to finding his way back into the center of the ring for the biggest show of the year, a day for Levesque during this time of the year features unique challenges at every turn.
And that's before you consider that Levesque also has three young girls at home, ages six, eight and 10.
"I don't know," Levesque replied with a laugh when asked about how he multitasks in such a way. "It's a busy schedule. You do what you have to do.
"Balancing this time of year is difficult. Balancing trying to be an athlete trying to get ready for WrestleMania, training twice a day, to everything you do at the office to remembering that you have a wife and kids and everything else. It's challenging, but you just make it happen. In some ways, it's no different than anyone else's life."
Sure. We all know many people who hold business meetings during the day, then become an internationally recognized entertainer performing for millions on any given night.
The recruiter and developer
"You never know where you are going to get a talent from and what from them," Levesque said.
"You're just looking for these places where there are amazing athletes with big personalities that will translate globally."
When it comes to Levesque's passion project, the WWE's developmental system, he's always on the lookout for the next big star. While the WWE does offer tryouts in developing markets in order to solidify the interest of the brand in the region, many prospective wrestlers come in the form of former athletes from a variety of sports. The WWE also attends career fairs in an effort to find those who are intrigued by the possibility but never really understood the process.
"Ninety percent of the time, what we hear is, 'I always wanted to do this, but I just didn't know how,'" Levesque said. "We vet through them, and they come to Orlando and they see the Performance Center. They are in this facility. ... [For some professional football players] it's everything they had in the NFL, and then some.
"They come in and they say, 'I'll take a couple-year gamble on making a living at this.'"
Once the athletes are at the WWE Performance Center, there's a realization that in order to actually succeed in this line of work, there's much more to it than extraordinary physical ability. Levesque admits that for many of the former team athletes, the biggest challenge is breaking out of the personality that was actively suppressed in their previous line of work.
"We can find athletes. The biggest challenge is personality. It's finding charisma," Levesque said. "In most sports, they tell you to turn down the personality. Look like everyone else on the team. It's the team, it's not you. In this, it's the opposite. It's you, not the team. We want you to become the big star."
The other reality is that these aspiring wrestlers don't just become a superstar overnight. At this stage, there are 100 talents -- men and women -- currently at the WWE Performance Center, each vying for their time in the spotlight.
The problem is that the exponential growth of the developmental system that has turned it into the WWE's third brand has resulted in too many talents for too little airtime. From an initial roster of 60, this group needs the same kind of opportunities the previous generation of NXT stars received. Levesque hopes that in the near future the WWE will be able to utilize different methods to get these potential stars reps; whether that's developing new programming overseas, simply finding more time to get wrestlers in the ring in front of fans or opening satellite training centers, it's a challenge that is constantly on his mind.
It's not just a matter of finding the money and the location that's a problem. There's also the issue of finding the right environment to foster the talent the right way.
"It's hard to find trainers to train, coaches to coach," Levesque said. "Just because someone was great in the business doesn't mean they can teach someone else how to be great in the business; and just because someone wasn't great in the business, doesn't mean they can't teach somebody. I used to be a firm believer in the other.
"Some of the guys that can teach you the best never really made it just because they couldn't execute it themselves, but they can tell everybody else the reasons why everybody else made it and show you how. It's just hard to find those people."
Daily training is different for each talent at the WWE Performance Center, depending on individual needs, and each is assessed in a formal review every six months. Some will be cut at that point; others, even if they aren't shining at the time, will get a respite if there's faith that they'll eventually have a valuable asset to tap into.
"There's been guys that have made it that over the course of a couple of years that were constantly on the cut list," Levesque said. "Enzo Amore, when I brought him in, everyone at the tryout was saying, 'Get rid of this kid!' I was like, 'He's got a huge personality. If he can annoy us all this bad here, imagine what he can do on TV.' ... Every time he'd get his review, they'd be like, 'I'd cut him.' Dusty [Rhodes] and I would be like, 'Keep him.' Look at him now. ... Is he ever going to make you money from an in-ring performer standpoint? Probably not. But he's money on the mic.
"That's what we're looking for, and it's finding that in a guy or girl that can do what we do. The Rock was the same guy that they were chanting "Die Rocky Die!" until he got a personality, and then all of a sudden, he was The Rock."
Levesque stepped away from the spotlight for the better part of a year, with the aim of giving the talent he is developing his full attention and others a chance to shine. But even at this stage in his career, WrestleMania is one show that he's still not ready to miss. His last televised match was at WrestleMania 32 last April, and while the bulk of his focus remains on the business side of things, it's clear that getting back into the ring for WrestleMania was an itch that needed to be scratched.
"Eighty-thousand people make it worthwhile," Levesque said about his excitement for his upcoming match against Seth Rollins.
His road to WrestleMania began with a surprise appearance during the WWE Universal championship match on Aug. 29. During a Fatal 4-Way match for the title between Rollins, Big Cass, Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns, Triple H ran in from the crowd and essentially handed Owens the title by taking out Reigns and Rollins with pedigrees.
But then Levesque disappeared back into his other life as executive vice president, and his direct presence wasn't felt until his music hit during the Jan. 23 edition of Monday Night Raw and cost Rollins his shot at the Royal Rumble. After Rollins crossed battle lines and called out Triple H during NXT TakeOver: San Antonio, Levesque made his first appearance on Raw in nearly five months as the build to a WrestleMania clash began in earnest.
Getting back into the swing of things isn't as easy as you might think for someone who has been wrestling professionally since 1992.
"It's probably the hardest thing I think I've done in my career -- do the deal where you're not in the ring for a year," he said. "You can do all the cardio you want. You can look as great as you want. You can diet. You can do all those things, but then getting in there -- when you do it every day, it's automatic. There's no thinking. You just do. When you haven't done it in a year, you just think, and that's what makes it tough."
Levesque knows better than to just hop into the ring at WrestleMania cold. He has been involved in a handful of live events over the past couple of months, but Levesque, at 47 years old, knows that the task ahead of him in Orlando is a far greater challenge.
It's also not the kind of opportunity that is going to be available to Levesque forever. There are still a few other stars from the Attitude Era appearing in the WWE, but that number dwindles by the year. Since his efforts working in creative with Vince McMahon began during the late 1990s, it's clear his work there will carry on far longer than his ability to work in the ring.
As the company enters a period where international growth and star development are big priorities, one of the biggest faces of the brand knows he's going to take a further step back away from the cameras -- and one day step out of the ring for good.
But while he has his chance, he's going to give it all he has -- and being a part-timer isn't as easy as it's cracked up to be.
"I've talked to Taker and Shawn [Michaels] about it," Levesque said. "We've all brought it up. Everyone thinks, 'Oh, you part-timers are coming in once a year and do all this stuff.'
"Yeah, it's not that easy. It's a really, really difficult process. You're human."