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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Triple H: An Attempt At A Balanced View
September 5, 2005 by Mike Fitzgerald


This is my first attempt at an article. The reason for this submission is due to the amount of I've read both attacking and defending the man known to wrestling fans as Triple H. It is my belief that, as with most things, the truth of HHH's impact on the WWE is somewhere in between the polar opposite views most people appear to possess.

I think that one massively overlooked factor in the way fans view the man Paul Michael LeVesque is on account of the HHH character we see on television. Not so much in terms of his heel status - I live in the U.K where we see superstars so rarely we tend to cheer those whose work we appreciate rather than those we are supposed to love as it is such a rare chance for us to express our appreciation. Look at Kurt Angle's reactions both at shows and on the internet despite his character. What I'm talking about is staleness. I loved to hate the snobby Hunter Hearst Helmsley, I loved to love the obnoxious HHH of Degeneration X and the Triple H of the beginning of the McMahon/Helmsley era made excellent television. The trouble is that aside for a brief face turn following his return from injury, HHH as a character has not really changed for the past 5 years or so. Really, if the character was as compelling as it once was, would anyone care about anything that may or may not be going on backstage" The WWE has always lived and died by what it puts in front of its fans' eyes on its broadcasts. The same powerful, manipulative heel character can only have a limited shelf life. Lets be honest, a face turn or a character revamp wouldn't have me getting up to go to the kitchen during another 20 minute promo that I've seen from him a hundred times before but with the name "Rock" or "Austin" in it instead of "Batista" or "Cena".

But where does the blame lay for this" HHH has clearly found a character he enjoys playing and has spent a lot of time establishing it. Vince obviously thinks it works and perhaps creative are afraid to make these kinds of suggestions for fear of experiencing a Pat Patterson. At the end of the day, however, it's down to Vince to realize something is wrong with the character. There is also the problem that we are in a different era now from the HHH hay day. The violence has been toned down, a problem I think that effects all heels. Smashing up a casket with a sledge hammer with a helpless Rock locked inside or Pedigreeing Mankind through a cell is always going to evoke much more of a reaction than pulling Batista out of the way of a carefully arranged speeding vehicle will. In many ways anyone's top heel's hands are tied when they can only be so evil.

While I feel the problems with HHH's character don't help matters, it is obviously the backstage politics that come out through internet sources that really generates the true venom in criticism against Triple H. While it is totally naive to take all of these reports as fact, there is never smoke without fire. I believe it to be totally unfair to level criticism at HHH marriage to Stephanie McMahon based on assumption that it was purely for political gain. As a wrestling storyline that would be far fetched, let alone as a concept true to life. I have no doubt, however, that they must talk business and his ability to influence the McMahons to keep himself at the top of the pile is without question. But, as I mentioned earlier, the final decision on all and anything WWE related lays with Vince. Triple H can influence as much as he likes, I strongly doubt that Vince is anyone's puppet.

However, again, if the quality of the show hit the mark as regularly as it once did, would anyone care" Triple H had as much influence as he ever did in the early 2000s but his feud with Angle over Steph was a joy. If the quality of the writing was as good as it could and should be then he could have all the creative input he wanted for all I care. The problem is HHH hasn't had a decent feud in a long time, which leads me to address another point of HHH's politic-ing that frequently comes up.

HHH is so often accused of 'burying' other wrestling in an attempt to keep himself as top dog. Again, it would be stupid to say this was anything other than speculation but there seems to be an element of truth to it, though not to the degree some would argue. I, like many others, believe that over the last few years while HHH was headlining against the likes of Scott Steiner, Goldberg, Batista and others, people such as Benoit, Jericho and R.V.D really should have been having their moments in the sun. How much choice does HHH have over who he wrestles and the way it will go" A damn sight more than anyone else on the roster. Is it total" No. The WWE is a business that needs to generate money. The way it does this is to put on the best matches it can. People have been overlooked, I think the vast majority of fans will agree with this, but it was down to management to understand that they were missing out on giving the fans what they wanted to see. Triple H was at his best when he had Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle to play off. Watching his reactions to The Rock telling him to lick a llama's anus was far more entertaining than watching him being told by Batista that he'd get his ass kicked at WrestleMania. Everyone made more money then and put on a better show.

During the Benoit/Orton title reigns, Triple H did put over Shelton Benjamin and Eugene. Jobbing to relatively new faces is not something top carders regularly do and this should not be overlooked. On the other hand though, had it been Jericho, Kane, Edge, Benoit or Christian, it would have given any one of those on that tier a push up to legitimate title challengers. Benjamin and Eugene would likely be in the exact same position now had they not had those wins. HHH has also jobbed three times to Batista to make him look like a true juggernaught. Did he know Batista would be gone from Raw in the draft" Did he put the idea forward to transfer him" We don't honestly know, your view will depend on which side of the argument you come down on.

So, what will become of the man when he returns to our screens" We all know that it appears the plan is for him to feud with Ric Flair. This suggests HHH will return as a heel and continue doing the same things he's been doing for a long time now. As soon as he ends up in a world title programme there will be a lot said; either how boring and predictable that is or how much more a deserving champion HHH may be than John Cena. Perhaps though, the recent direction of the WWE may help give the HHH character a bit of a face lift. WWE.com has become a much larger part of the WWE media output and recent feuds between the Blue Meanie and JBL as well as Hardy/Edge have centered around internet fan speculation. Perhaps the HHH we see on television will be closer to the HHH we think we know backstage. Whatever we see though, Stone Cold Steve Austin used to get deer hunting season off, took his ball and went home when he didn't like Creative's ideas for him and complained bitterly about not being a top guy at WCW. Do you hate him for it"

by Mike Fitzgerald ..


Dev Hassan wrote:
Nice coluimn, It was cool to read something for once that made sense and didnt have like my friend told me just now "John Cena doesnt deserve the WWE title"

I'm from the U.K as well and when I went RAW Live in Bimingham, Eng. We cheered for Trips and basically cheered everyone apart from Lita and Edge. Your right that we respect talent, I think that is why the fans over here are still mad at stuff like the Montreal Screwjob shouting "You Screwed Bret" at HBK and he did get a mixed reaction that night!
thomas covenant wrote:
I think in terms of HHH's gimmick, its near impossible for him to change it, to the point that even a stylistic change is impossible. HHH is one of those guys like Austin, Rock, Brody, Hansen, etc, that will forever be associated with particular mannerisms and characteristics. I think the time of the original "HHH" character, as in, when he beat up the Rock in a casket with a sledge was the best time for HHH, and I think the current work hes doing is great as well. I HATED the "Machmahon/Helmsley era", all it did was pussify an otherwise cool dark character. The only problem *I* have with the current HHH, is that while he DOES put people over, such as Benjamin/Orton, he ALWAYS wins the title match, or wins the feud. I mean, the recent Batista example is an exception, but for the months leading UP to that, EVERY time HHH put the title on the line, he won. I like strong heels, but it got to the point I think that it wasn't worth BUYING the PPV, because you KNEW there was NO chance of a title switch. I think HHH will go down in history as one of the greats, up there with Flair, Dynamite Kid, Harley Race, etc, as a great force in wrestling, but UNLIKE any of those, I think HHH will go down as the most versatile, and the most reliable. It will be interesting to see what HHH can do to keep his career going once he starts balding, as his trademark watered-down hair is such a big part of his whole act.
Craig Wilson wrote:
Not taking anything away from John Cena, but there are a lot more deserving people in the company than him right now that can hold the title, not just Trip. I understand what you are saying about the situation, but first off, you cant blame Triple-H. Think about how many great talents have come to the WWE within the last 7 or 8 years; most of them have either been injured or have left for bigger and supposedly better things. Triple H is one of my favorite wrestlers now, as is HBK, but back in the DX days, I was more a fan of HBK than I was of HHH. Then when HBK got injured after losing his belt to Austin, I definitely didnt like the idea of Trip leading DX. But he pulled it off and has busted his ass for the company ever since. I wont even get started on people like the Rock and Brock who ditched us for greener pastures. But what I will say is that if Trip had those talents in the company still maybe he wouldnt have to dominate the way he does. Trip may not be the best in ring talent, similar to the Nature Boy, but just like Ric, he's an excellent heel. When you watch a HHH match, you wanna see Trip finally get what's coming to him, the same way we wanted that to happen to Ric and the 4 Horsemen back in those days. And you're right, he hasnt had a good fued in a while, but once again, not his fault. In my opinion, Batista is a bum and Trip had to carry that entire fued, and before his recent departure, there wasnt anyone on RAW that could put on a good program w/ Trip and keep up w/ him in the ring. I am really looking foward to Trip going @ it w/ Angle once he gets back.

My dad always told me there are three sides to a story, my side, your side and the truth, so until I see Triple H employing his tactics backstage, I'll believe it. Until then, I'll say this, say what you want but Trip can only do so much. You talk about Benoit, Trip jobbed to Benoit @ Wrestle Mania before he jobbed to Batista @ the past one. And he did it by tapping to the crossface, you cant really put someone over better than that. Then he had to listen to the "You Tapped Out" chants. Trip cant run around and do Benoit job for him, you have the title, get busy and handle your business. Once you get put over, you have to stay over, simple. Much of the problem w/ today's wrestling isnt the wrestlers but the all mighty creative people. Blame them.
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