WWE: A Little Help from my Friend? How Triple H’s Influence is Showing (2014)

One of my lasting memories of the truly excellent Rivalries DVD/Blu-Ray, with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, was surrounding HBK winning the WWE title. Bret had an issue before he left WWE that Shawn was saying that after Bret dropped the title to him then he was working programmes with Sean Waltman, Diesel and Triple H. Shawn couldn’t quite confirm this during the feature but did admit to being arrogant enough at the time to dictate who he was to be working with.

So if Shawn had this limitation and prevention from generating success and therefore the most money for his closest friends then that balance came from the top, namely Vince McMahon. Although Vince seems invincible and will go on forever, he knows better than anyone that this isn’t the case. As such, his daughter Stephanie and his son-in-law Triple H have been taking more and more responsibility for the WWE Empire.

What I saw last night caused me great discomfort and unease for what the future may bring for us as fans and perhaps more importantly, wrestlers without a connection to Hunter. All of his friends saw a little bit too much rub for my liking and whether no longer able or willing, there was seemingly no balance provided by Vince.

This goes much deeper than refusing to put Daniel Bryan into the main event of WrestleMania. Let’s run through the events of last night that cause me a deeper concern than the gross misuse as this generation’s most popular and deserving wrestler.

The New Age Outlaws, like many other fans of the period, were one of my favourite parts of the attitude era. Hearing them run through their spiel brings back such positive and nostalgic feelings of my youth. That being said, the former stable-mates of Triple H, last night became WWE Tag-Team Champions for the sixth time.

If Road Dogg and Billy Gunn had not have been so closely aligned (despite some fallings out) with Triple H, would it have been them that began the split between the Rhodes’ brothers? One cannot say externally with any certainty but it could have been any classic tag-team, instead it was Triple H’s friends. Better yet, it could have been current roster members that could have had a run with the titles. The Usos, the Real Americans and even the Prime Time Playas would have benefitted greatly from even a short run with the titles.

Randy Orton, a former stable-mate of Triple H, retained the greatest prize available in the company right now, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Randy, along with John Cena, suffered a torrid time in front of the Philadelphia crowd last night. Orton was booed at every one of his trademark rest-holds. One may argue this is a good thing, as Orton is meant to be booed. This seemed different to me though. It was more that the crowd were indifferent to his actions and his character and were more booing the fact that WWE are rehashing a feud that had already been overdone a long time ago.

Randy came out of a feud with Daniel Bryan for the WWE title and then went on to unify what were built as being the two greatest prizes in professional wrestling. Fans have become increasingly more frustrated and indifferent toward their champion, best evidenced by last night’s chant of ‘we want Divas’. Is Orton filling any seats in order to see the heel eventually be overcome or are fans attending in spite of him? Having been to a WWE event recently myself, I can say that the latter applies for myself. Therefore, without the closeness to Hunter, would Orton be in this position?

Kevin Nash, one of those mentioned by Bret in relation to Shawn, was the only non-active ‘legend’ to enter the Rumble and either eliminate anyone or make any impact. JBL entering was nothing more than a comedy segment. Nash caused great controversy throughout his career and at this point, it is difficult to understanding the reasoning behind his being involved. I like Kevin but surely his relationship with Hunter had great influence here?

The returning Dave Batista was central to the most controversial aspect of the evening. After four years absence from WWE, during which he was critical of the current product, Batista won the Royal Rumble in his first match and set up a match against Randy Orton for the title in the Main Event of WrestleMania’s 30th anniversary. Quite the return then.

Batista is another former stable-mate of, you guessed it, Triple H. Granted Dave is due to headline a potentially huge upcoming Marvel movie that the WWE will look to capitalise on. That being said, Guardians of the Galaxy drops after WrestleMania XXX. It is not unreasonable then to assume that it is impossible for them to cash in on this success before it even happens.

As I argued with the tag-team titles, why not somebody from the current roster? The arguments about Daniel Bryan’s worthiness has already been greatly discussed, even though the event is less than 24 hours ago. CM Punk, like Bryan, has been questionably used in recent times and it vexes me to see one of the best of his generation built toward meeting another non-active ‘legend’, Triple H himself, instead of having such opportunities to gain the accolades he deserves. CM Punk finishing his career without winning the Rumble and/or headlining WrestleMania is deeply troubling.

Roman Reigns was in the illustrious final-two and broke Kane’s long-standing elimination record. Reigns had a great Survivor Series, 2013 and is undoubtedly a future star. Winning the Rumble would have been surprising but it would have built for the long-term and been one hell of a reward for a member of one of the hardest working groups in recent times.

Instead, the Triple H-aligned Batista got the glory and unsurprisingly, the wrath of the frustrated fans in attendance.  Once again, I ask whether Batista would have been brought back under the same circumstances and brought about the same sequence of events if not for a positive past with Hunter?

You may have noticed that I have not conclusively stated with Triple H is directly benefitting the men that I perceive to be his friends. That is because I am not conclusively able to.

Triple H has done great things in WWE already, best evidenced by the Performance Centre and my beloved NXT. As such, I want to like Hunter, I really do. When I see things like last night though, it becomes exceedingly difficult.

I’m not saying that a friendship with Triple H is the only means to succeed in WWE going forward but as I believe last night evidenced, it certainly seems to help.

– By Richard Thompson 

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