This was the week of Triple H.
Sure, he lost to Brock Lesnar again, but that didn't matter. He didn't care, so we shouldn't either.
Because both times after Lesnar’s victory, the spotlight was on the loser of the match.
Hunter quickly dismissed his most recent loss by noting his win at WrestleMania (though he also forgot to bring up his loss at SummerSlam) and mentioned how Lesnar was the one who needed help leaving Extreme Rules.
The announcers talked up what a war their boss had been through the night before and how they were shocked that he could even show up. The problem was that Triple H didn't look in rough shape at all.
He looked like he'd spent the day before at the office or maybe shopping for some new leather jackets, not in a cage match with a former UFC champion.
The guy couldn't even sell a slight limp. That would have been too much to ask.
This time, especially, it was time to give the spotlight to someone else—or at least share it. It was the night to introduce Curtis Axel (aka Michael McGillicutty, aka Joe Hennig).
Instead, Axel was a mere afterthought.
The new look, the new name, the new music (which was really well done) and all the effort put into making a McGillicutty a somebody fell flat.
The poor guy already has an uphill battle overcoming the terrible booking he’s endured the past few years. The last thing he needed was to be bigfooted the first night of his reintroduction.
First off, the man has never won a singles match on Raw or SmackDown. Heck, he just lost to Sin Cara on Superstars last week!
Curtis is now 33 years old. Sure, in wrestling that’s not bad, but it’s not exactly rookie age either. If he’s going to become a star, now wouldn’t be a bad time to actually present him as one. But, in typical fashion, Triple H talked down to his new opponent in a way that only he and John Cena are capable of doing, saying, "The adults are having a conversation."
Yes, a 43-year-old man told a 33-year-old man that the "adults" were having a conversation. Let's not forget that Hunter is the one with the humor of an eight-year-old.
Because of his lineage, the comparisons of Curtis to his father, Curt Hennig, are inevitable. But Curt was much farther along at this point in his career than his son is. Triple H and the WWE should have taken note of this.
Curt rejoined the WWF in 1988 as Mr. Perfect. During his first night as the new character, Curt wasn’t slapped in the face by his boss and then laid on the ground until his manager told him to get up. He didn’t then battle his boss, an extreme part-timer, to an apparent no-contest.
Mr. Perfect had weeks of vignettes hyping his debut, and they were filled with big-time athletes in awe of how amazing he was. He also went undefeated for over a year. That is how you make a star.
In short, it was about Mr. Perfect when he debuted, not about someone else.
But Raw wasn’t about Curtis Axel. It wasn’t about full-time talent Paul Heyman, either. It was about Triple H.
While Raw started off on an intriguing note by hyping who Heyman’s new client was, the night basically ended with Triple H having a concussion. You know, like the one that Dolph Ziggler has in real life right now.
How worried are we really supposed to be about Triple H? If he’s actually hurt, then he goes home, gets better and goes back to his COO job, where he casually threatens to fire company doctors who are just doing their jobs, for years to come.
If he’s not actually hurt, then he'll maybe come back for next year's WrestleMania against a big-name opponent.
But, worst of all, why did WWE not give Curtis the victory on Raw? Why wasn't Triple H counted out? Does the 10-count rule not apply to members of management?
It's not that Curtis Axel has no chance of getting over now. After all, Paul Heyman has a fantastic track record of helping young stars develop. But the way he was portrayed as being so clearly inferior to Triple H just makes it so much more difficult for him.
By the end of the night, we found out that Curtis’ re-debut may be more difficult to pull off than previously thought.