Triple H Is Rebuilding Vince McMahon's Bridges One Burn at a Time

Justin LaBarFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Triple H attends a press conference to announce that MetLife Stadium will host WWE Wrestlemania 29 in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

After recent news that Bruno Sammartino is going into the WWE Hall of Fame, it seems Triple H is rebuilding bridges one burn at a time.

When Vincent Kennedy McMahon took over from his father, Vince Sr., this changed the business. McMahon Jr. had a vision to take the wrasslin' business to a national level and center it around entertainment.

McMahon Jr. had great vision and saw it through. As a wrestling fan for more than 20 years, I'll always have admiration for McMahon Jr. for the entertainment and spectacle he brought to me.

However, in doing this, while VKM took the business to levels that were once beyond imaginable, it hasn't come without its price.

Prices such as government investigation of steroids, tragic deaths of wrestlers and destroyed relationships.

Triple H doesn't have full control of the company and probably won't have FULL control until Vince McMahon is no longer with us. Still, the son-in-law has gained a lot of responsibility and we hear more about his influence on WWE decisions.

He's put great emphasis on and implemented changes in the NXT developmental. Tag team wrestling has become more relevant. Signing more traditional wrestlers from the independent level rather than those who walk out of a gym looking built is more common.

All of those points are things you can say Vince has let fall by the wayside in importance.

The greatest salvage mission is getting Bruno Sammartino to agree to go into the WWE Hall of Fame. It was announced on Monday that Sammartino and WWE have come to terms to work together. This had to be done.

There can't be a WWE Hall of Fame without Bruno Sammartino. I mean, really, there can't be.

Sammartino held the WWE title for more than 4,000 consecutive days. In total with Sammartino's title reigns, 22 percent of the WWE Championship title history has been occupied by Sammartino. That is astonishing.

Not having Sammartino in the WWE Hall of Fame is like not having Pete Rose in the Major League Base.....oh, never mind.

Sammartino and Vince McMahon have documented tension between the two. The '90s saw the two appear on national television in heated debates about how Vince McMahon was destroying wrestling with the nature of the content and the lack of care for his performers' health.

I was with Sammartino and others at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in May 2012. Sammartino spoke about the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame being legitimate and not having actors inducted into it. It should be noted that Drew Carey has been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the Celebrity Wing.

You can point fingers at many angles of logic or legitimacy in WWE's Hall of Fame with their lack of publicized criteria, who they have and haven't put in and of course, non-wrestlers being inducted. However, even in those points, the WWE Hall of Fame is still the WWE Hall of Fame. It's the top professional wrestling/sports entertainment company recognizing you.

The fact that Triple H got Sammartino to agree is a big moment to celebrate and applaud Sammartino, but let's not leave out applause for Triple H.

Sammartino tells KDKA, the CBS Pittsburgh station, that he likes how he can look at the wrestlers and see they're not on drugs anymore. Triple H wasn't the one who came up with the wellness policy, but he is the one who has been patient for seven months in defending WWE and presenting Sammartino with the proper facts.

Presentation, saying the right things and whatever nice-looking contract for Sammartino to sign to be part of other DVD projects and such―Triple H did it all for WWE while still being compassionate to Sammartino's feelings on these matters. That is good politics by the heir to the throne.

In irony, I've always gathered that some older guys in the business, while having to acknowledge Vince McMahon Jr. and his ability to build the empire he has, don't have the respect for him that they did for his father.

Now, it seems the cycle has come back around, at least in the case of Sammartino. Triple H is a wrestler. He understands wrestling and wrestlers in a different way than Vince McMahon Jr. ever could. That is going to sit well with some, especially someone with an old-school mentality like Sammartino.

So while Bret Hart might not think Triple H is in the top 1,000 of pro wrestlers, he is continuing to build his resume to be a top-ranked executive for a pro wrestling company.