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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Giving the Devil His Due
Changing the "Game" for Triple H

February 3, 2006 by Rob Zarp


For years now, Triple H has been a top player for Vince McMahon’s WWE promotion, headlining several Pay-Per-View events over the last five years. Known for a large portion of his career as being capable of solid chain wrestling technique, as well as utilizing sheer strength at times to cement his legacy. Even his worst critics agree he has some of the best verbal skills of anyone on the current WWE roster. Whether it be Chris Benoit, Dave Batista, The Big Show, or any other wrestler, chances are that Triple H will have a pretty decent match, if not a great one. Being a consummate heel that he is, he always holds the ire of the fans in the palm of his hand, able to manipulate a crowd to instantly hating him by merely emerging from behind that black stage curtain. The man on paper has been great, definitely earning in the ring a reputation as one of the most solid workers the industry has ever seen. However, behind the scenes, he certainly has earned a less noteworthy and much less desirable reputation as one of the most guilty wrestlers to play the proverbial game of politics backstage.

No doubting it, that Triple H did marry Stephanie McMahon, and not only that, they are now expecting a child, so he definitely has been embedded into the McMahon family for many, many years to come. Regardless of his actions in the ring, this is his life outside the ropes, a life that some would claim he has used to propel himself to the top of the food chain as it were of the WWE. The theory does make sense somewhat, as being married to the boss’ daughter would certainly raise eyebrows, no pun or reference intended. How guilty though is Triple H of playing that game of politics, and how much of his success inside the ring should be attributed to his life outside the ring?

Only those that work for the WWE on a day to day basis would know more than most speculators, and even those employees of WWE do not know every decision made by Vince, so honestly the two that know the most would be Triple H and Vince McMahon. Some former employees of WWE have said that Triple H is guilty of holding them back, that he is a reason they never achieved success in the company. Also consider the phrasing "former employee." Not to discredit their strife, but there is certainly a personal bias present that would logically dictate that one’s own misfortune was caused by the man whose marriage provided that golden spoon.

Many, whether or not they feel that Triple H uses his marriage to push his own career forward, would agree that in the past few years, Triple H did not do as much as he could to put over many other wrestlers. Chris Jericho is a prime example of this, as his humiliating fall to HHH at WrestleMania 18 was one of the more lackluster main events in the history of WrestleMania, with bad booking leading up to the event, and just a storyline that seemed to trivialize then champ Jericho. Many storylines such as this one as well as disappointing Pay-Per-View main events did little to help Triple H’s case.

Fans should remember that Triple H is not on the writing staff and that he is not the head booker for the WWE. Many wrestlers agree, when working with Vince, when he says "jump" that wrestler better ask "how high and for how long and how many times?" What Vince says goes, and that is ultimately the way it is in WWE. This is not Triple H’s fault, he is not the one to blame for it. As any other wrestler does, he simply follows orders.

On more current events, take a look at 2005 and it would seem Triple H is listening to what the fans seemingly want from him. At WrestleMania 21, he loses the World’s Heavyweight Championship to one Dave Batista. Triple H even went on to have not one but two re-matches for that title against Batista, ultimately putting Dave over as a legit champ. Perhaps the most crediting action he ever took for Batista was losing to him in the Hell in a Cell match. This was the only time Triple H had ever lost to anyone in that match type, thus putting over then champ Batista even more so than he had already done.

Upon his return from a short hiatus, Triple H was set for a feud with the Intercontinental Champion, and "former" friend, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Although Triple H did beat down Flair at times in this feud, this was merely a way to separate the two, as Flair is certainly no longer needed to be put over by anyone, and Triple H needed to be on his own again. The two had some brutal matches, wherein Flair even managed to win a Steel Cage match after a downright nasty beating, and then at the Survivor Series of 2005, the two had a brutal Last Man Standing match. He even had a Boot Camp match with Shawn Michaels, another friend/rival, losing to him at the Christmas special.

Add to that, in his latest feud with The Big Show, Triple H barely escaped with victory. Despite using a sledgehammer to "break" the hand of Big Show, as well as using many shortcuts and dirty tactics to try to gain the advantage, he was not dominating Big Show. At New Year’s Revolution, Triple H did walk away with the victory, but he barely was able to walk away. Even though he won the feud for the time, Big Show is still seen as a nearly unstoppable giant.

And finally, in the latest of recent events, Triple H entered the 2006 Royal Rumble as entrant number one. He managed to even make it to the final four, only to be eliminated by Rey Mysterio when it seemed Rey was out of the match for sure. So unless he somehow gains a title shot for WrestleMania, he won’t be in the main event this year. Even if he does get a WWE Title shot, it has been a very long time since he had any shots at any championship.

By this course of action, it is obvious that Triple H is not using backstage politics. For nearly a year now, he has not been on the top of the mountain as it were, rather, he has been slowly sliding down the ladder rung by rung. Is he sliding to the mid card? Certainly not. Much like his compadre Shawn Michaels, this is seeming to be Triple H’s time to slow down. After so many accomplishments, there is nothing left to prove to one’s self in this business. So what is left for Triple H?

So far, it seems the man that was labeled as a backstage politician is doing more to build the WWE back up so that there will still be a WWE to carry his dynasty. By building up and putting over more wrestlers, much like Shawn Michaels has done in the past few years, he can remain at the top of his game, pun intended, and still help to mold the next generation of WWE wrestlers. Has Triple H’s fall from the top of the mountain spelled the beginning of his end? This writer thinks that it is only the beginning of a new era for the man called "The Game."

by Rob Zarp ..


J Spade wrote:
Overall a good article I agree HHH is a solid wrestler whos legacy will live throughout the ages but I strongly disagree with the comments about the wresltemania match with Chris Jericho. I thought it a had a good build up with an added personal touch with Stephanie in Jericho's corner. HHH profile now has taken a dive for the moment and that is no doubt to the fan reaction and you are therefore correct in saying that he listens to the fans but I hear he may be getting a shot at wrestlemania for the title against John Cena and I have no doubt in my mind that he is going to walk away with the strap...........and so will begin the era of HHH'S title reign..................again.
Billy Bob wrote:
Hey man great column and I totally agree with you on everything. Triple H has already gone through so many eras of the WWE on top and I definetley see it happening again in the future. Triple H has proven time and time again that he's one of the smartest wrestlers alive, going back to Wrestlemania 11 when he introduced himself to HBK and Kevin Nash saying he wanted to travel with them because he heard they where the best.Theres alot of Triphaters out there, but noone can deny he's one of the best the business has ever seen. Keep up the good work!
Shaun Walford wrote: "The King of Kings Goes Back to His Thron", not a moment to soon.
Some people credit his success because of his relationship with Stephanie McMahon getting him where hes at...and as that might be true but he has also worked day in and day out for more than 11yrs to make it to were he is.... You know people come and go in that business and for him to not go says alot about his charcter and dedication. His injuries have come and gone and he still comes back like he was never gone and thats the kind of dedication that deserves him some creditablility. Lets face it, the HHH fans come few and far between, but theres not one person who can say he has not earned his success.
Samson wrote:
When the author listed Triple H's actions in the past few months, he says this is proof that he is no longer using backstage powers to get himself over. Well, let's get one thing straight.

#1 Ric Flair - Of course he was going to lose to Flair once dude. Two losses would be a downright burial for either man. This is not a valid case.

#2 Shawn Michaels - He lost to him in a Bootcamp match. Big deal. It was for the troops dude. No heels won. Except maybe Snitsky, but that's because WWE hates Shelton or something.

#3 Big Show - He doesn't need to use backstage powers to win matches against this guy. The crowd during the match was more for HHH than they were him. WWE knows it too. There'd be no reason for Show to win since he's not exactly in any major plans.

#4 Royal Rumble - Hunter lost the match because he's winning the Raw tournament. Simple as that. Why win it again anyway when he's already won it once? Don't bring up Stone Cold to me either, his consecutive wins was before the whole tournament thing.

And finally, no backstage powers? Perhaps you didn't hear what happened last week. Edge was going to win and the writers were greatly behind the idea because he had been bringing in the ratings. Hunter and Stephanie however, rejected this. Stating Cena needed the belt and he was only booed because Angle couldn't play heel. So what's happened? Edge got screwed, and Hunter's gonna play ball with Cena at Wrestlemania. This isn't going to be a 'long time' since he's had a championship match either my friend. His last one before taking time off was a championship match, and he hadn't participated in any these past few months because they're saving him for Wrestlemania. Why in the hell would you waste Cena vs Hunter before that?

We'll see come this next year exactly how much Hunter 'puts guys over' Because from what I think, he's gonna beat Cena come Wrestlemania and then the King of Kings will go back on his throne as the gravedigger. But we'll see.
Curt Rosler wrote:
You have to wonder if Vince has any real doing in the slowing down of Triple H's career. I think it certainly does. Triple H returned to WWE TV when Raw returned to USA. I believe that Vince told Triple H that he has to be that man and that he is the man to put the WWE back on top. So what better way to put WWE back on top? Easy. Use wrestlers like Triple H, Kurt Angle and Undertaker to propel the new stars to become the new Stone Cold, the new Rock and so on and so fourth. Its a great idea. Its what Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were used for. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels gave the IC title credibility in the 90's so when The Rock, Stone Cold and Triple H started battling over it the fans took notice because HBK and the Hitman had proven that it was just as important to win as the WWE Title. Then as Rock and Austin elevated they had fan backing and then they got what they needed when HBK and Bret Hart put over Austin and then in turn Austin put over The Rock then The Rock put over Mick Foley and then the Game was put over. It is a great chain reaction that makes for great Superstars, storylines and business. Its 2006, it has been almost 10 years since Stone Cold won the title and the nWo took over WCW, wrestling's time has come again and Triple H is going to be the man that Vince gives the building blocks of John Cena, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and deffinitely Carlito to.

P.S. I see Carlito becoming one of the most dominant superstars of all time especially if Triple H teaches him the ropes of being an entertaining heel.
ChiChi Cardiel wrote:
Well, I think you make some good points...i also think Triple H will come out with a diffrent version of himself instead of putting wrestlers over, and call it quits on furthering his career.As it seems Triple H had some backstage pull to get Cena to lose his belt..so again Triple H can probably retain the WWE title and possible switch to SmackDown!(hopefully). But thats not without saying Triple H is pretty Much the Best in this Business..his matches are always involved and everyone who steps in the ring with Hunter is bound to have a great match. In conclusion to my opinion i just wish Triple H would tone down his pull backstage so he could maybe hold the same respect backstage as Undertaker does...Triple H needs to be a backstage leader...hes an WWE icon..face it.
Suzie wrote: AWESOME column! Very well written!

Joe Poulton wrote:
Totally agree Triple H and the WWE seems to have listened to us good old Internet Fans and HHH is not as successful as he once was. If only Hulk Hogan could have had the same attitude.
Chris Pugsley wrote:
Great article, as a Triple H fan I am releived to have some one else go to bat for him. He has buried wrestlers but he certainly isnt the only one guilty of that, anyone that has been on top this long is doing something right IN THE RING. Great article...
ChiChi cardiel wrote:
Woops! i made a mistake on what i said on my coment back up there..when i said triple h had some backstage pull to make cena lose his belt. i meant, for cena to get the belt back! apologies! XD
James McBride wrote:
my opinion on hhh is that he is going to win the wwe championship at wrestlemania 22 because cena has mixed reactions with the fans because his character had gotten weak and he need to start putting over people because cena might become heel when it's all over and then hhh would face edge and he going to become face again and have the same fall feud like cena and angle had and then edge becomes champion for a 2nd time and hhh would feud with other people like cena and Shawn Michaels and others to prove that he don't have to have a belt around his wriste that he is that damn good and he is a legend in the making. so I agree with you rob your right and we will see what will happen in the next coming weeks
james mcbride wrote:
I totally agree with this column and I think that trips would beat the tournament and go fight cena at wrestlemania and then he is going to beat cena and have a three month feud with cena and that would end at vengeance and then trips would lose the belt at that event and then he is going to feud with edge over the 1 contender because the both have issues with the egos and edge is going to turn face for the feud. that’s my opinion on trips. my name is James McBride by the way
Jim Rush wrote:
I do have to admit that I have gained some respect for Triple-H for how he put over Batista last year. Dave had one of the biggest runs of momentum leading up to wrestlemania in a long time, certainly more momentum than anyone will have this year. And I was doubtful because lets not forget Trips was the first heel in the history of WrestleMania (WM 2000) to leave the event as champion. And while I agree with a previous comment that it would have been devastating for either Flair or Trips to win both matches i gained a little more respect for him for putting Flair over once. ANd off the subject, please tell me that "Big Time" as the tag for WrestleMania doesn't mean that The Big Show may be in the main event somehow. Him and Kane really need to defend their World Tag Titles.
Richard wrote:
Someone has got to rescue the WWE title from that half wit, Cena. Who better than to undertake and succeed in this important mission than Triple H, Hunter Hearst, Helmsley!!?

The Game was born to be WWE Champion, much like Ric Flair during his title reigns. A fatal Fourway match that we will never see of course would pit the following contestants against each other for the World Wrestling Entertainment Championship at WW XXII:

Triple H vs. Bret Hart vs. Kurt Angle vs. Randy Savage
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