Hollywood star and former WWE writer Freddie Prinze Jr. was the latest guest on the Ariel Helwani Show to discuss a wide variety of subjects. During the interview, Prinze told a story that detailed what caused a falling out between himself and Triple H over putting the WWE Championship on Jeff Hardy:
“Yeah. But the value that he put on that belt, and the value that I had on it were very different. And so it was one of those things where, for Paul [Triple H], it’s protect the brand at all costs. And for me, I was handed an assignment from Michael Hayes, who brought Jeff Hardy into the WWF and had just hit wall after wall after wall trying to get him a push. And he saw that I was getting some love from the boss. And he said, ‘Freddie, make Jeff champion.’ That’s what I was tasked with. And so I wrote the whole thing out, weeks before it ever got approved, every single promo. And I presented it to Vince the way you would pitch a film at a studio in the 90s when you had more than 10 minutes. And Vince said yes. And we were moving forward.
“Very few people were against it. Kevin Dunn wasn’t nuts about it. Bruce was on board, and about 90% of the agents were on board and the day of the production meeting of Armageddon. Hunter brought it up, and everybody else was cool. And nobody had said anything, and I’m sitting in there nervous. And he says, ‘Are we really going to trust the championship with this guy?’ And I knew that was a sniper bullet, man. Whether it was meant for me or not, it hit me, and I’m down on the ground, and I got to figure out a way up. The only other Ace in the sleeve that I kept that I didn’t use in the pitch because it was good enough to get over with Vince was Jeff’s merchandise sales and those armbands that looked like Spider-Man [webbing] and his t-shirts. At least the week that I presented them with was outselling everyone.
“So I came out of the dark with that, and I said, ‘Listen, this guy’s merchandise is already the top-selling,’ and I showed them the numbers on that. And I said, ‘It’s outselling everyone it’s even outselling you, man,’ I said, ‘We got to take a chance now while we can strike now while everything is ready and perfect or they’re gonna stop believing.’ And that was what got it over; Vince was like, ‘Alright, everybody get out of here,’ which meant me, and everyone else stayed with me. Like the agents and stuff, right? And so we all go out, and I’m not going back to the writer’s room. I’m waiting to find out. I’m sitting there with Michael Hayes. And he’s like, ‘Freddie; I don’t know. I just think maybe you pushed too hard. And I just I don’t know,’ and he’s nervous. And I’m like, ‘Come on, man. It’s gonna work out the story’s worth it,’ like the young, passionate WWE writer.
“Then, all of a sudden, the door swings open. Hunter goes by doesn’t even throw me a glance, which meant two things. One, he wasn’t feeling me, and two, Jeff was going to be champion. So I looked at Michael, and I went in before Michael did back into the production meeting. I said, ‘Are we good?’ And he [Vince McMahon] just grunts his gruntly grunt, and I ran back out, and I was like, I won’t swear on your podcast, but I said, ‘We’re freaking good, man. We’re freaking good!’ And I watched it from a side entrance, the end of the match, and you can see Hunter removed himself from the end of the match because he didn’t want to be a part of that. He kind of rolls out of the ring, and Jeff has the moment with Edge.
“Then it was just weird after that like there was another wrestler in developmental that I wanted to work on and I had some ideas with, and he [Triple H] was like, ‘Hey, I’m working with him. Don’t talk to him.’ And I was like, ‘Ah, that’s it. Alright, cool. I get it.’ So I just stayed away from his guys. And I stayed away from him after that, because he just, you know — but again, he was right. Jeff wasn’t trustworthy as champ, and it was a feel-good moment. But it wasn’t a sustainable one. Hunter’s about sustainable championship runs because that’s bankable, reliable money for the company. And his philosophy was sound then, and it’s still sound now, and I just know I pushed hard on that one because I thought it was worth it.”
Freddie Prinze Jr. also spoke about his respective relationships with JBL, Bruce Prichard and Vince McMahon and the old school mentality he approached his job in WWE with. Read his comments on winning over JBL, who used to refer to him as “Scooby” at this link.
Are you surprised by Freddie Prinze Jr.’s story? Do you believe Triple H was right? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off in the comments section below.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit The Ariel Helwani Show with a link back to this article for the transcription.