Examining the Validity of Complaints over Triple H's Backstage Influence
Scorn accompanies being king, as Triple H has found out.
The man who has called himself the "King of Kings" is a WWE Superstar as well as the heir apparent to Vince McMahon and an executive with the company. That multi-pronged role has led to fans complaining of nepotism and of the former WWE champ being driven by ego.
Like with many of the things fans bark on the Internet, much of the criticism against Triple H is irrational and built on exaggerations.
Still, the negative perception of Triple H doesn't materialize out of nowhere. Some of the rants about him from his detractors have some truth to them. That includes complaints about Triple H's history of placing himself on center stage.
Triple H has a decision: "Do what's good for business or put himself over." If you don't know what he'll pick, welcome to #RAWTonight— WWE Creative Humor (@WWECreative_ish) October 11, 2011
Hogging the Spotlight
When an actor stars in the movie he wrote and directed, we call it ingenuity. When a wrestling booker inserts himself into the main event, it's received far less warmly.
Triple H has influence about who claims an event's top spot as both the son-in-law of WWE's head man and as a member of the backstage team. As much as ego might drive him to name himself the star of the show, it's also business-driven.
The Game remains one of the most recognizable faces in the business.
WWE has to balance bringing up new stars while depending on the old ones. Triple H's star power makes him a reliable way to draw fans. One could argue however that he has overstated and overused that star power.
Since Brock Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012, three of his five matches have been against Triple H.
With as limited a schedule as Lesnar has, it does feel a bit much to have spent 60 percent of his battles against a semi-retired star. Lesnar could have instead been used to highlight up-and-comers and help make new stars.
Triple H vs. Lesnar though was a far safer bet in terms of pay-per-view buys than Lesnar taking on someone like Ryback, Roman Reigns or Sheamus. It's understandable then that Triple H thought it better for him to take on the beast, but at least one of those showdowns could have gone to someone else.
This was certainly not the first time that Triple H gave himself a prominent spot on the card.
Before CM Punk had a go at him, Undertaker defended his undefeated streak against Triple H at two consecutive WrestleManias. He refereed the main event of both SummerSlam 2011 and 2013 and fought Lesnar in the last match of SummerSlam 2012.
While one could certainly argue that another Superstar would have benefited greatly from facing Undertaker in the glow of the WrestleMania spotlight, both those matches were great. It is results like those that make the decision understandable.
There was surely griping when Triple H was the one to knock out Daniel Bryan and allow Randy Orton to take the WWE title off him, but again, ego-driven or not, it was a smart move.
Thanks to his role as an executive on- and off-screen and how well the audience knows him, Triple H was the perfect choice to play the Mr. McMahon role in this rebel versus authority rivalry.
If someone as universally beloved as Steve Austin or Chris Jericho had done what Triple H has done over the years, would fans have cared as much? They might instead have been joyful every time that Austin or Jericho inserted themselves into the main event as either the main attraction or as the guest referee.
It's not just that Triple H puts himself at the forefront of WWE's biggest shows. There's also a perception that he rarely loses once he's there.
A number of fans think of Triple H and can't help but see images of him taking out a shovel and burying a talent as soon as he gets hot. Were one to build a case against Triple H over this, there would be significant evidence to present.
When the Summer of Punk was the hottest thing WWE had going, it was Triple H who stepped in and beat him.
Punk's shoot promo, his battles with John Cena and the interesting nature of the angle had people buzzing. Triple H soon became Punk's primary rival, a move that irked some, including Bill Simmons of ESPN. Simmons said on his podcast, "Wrestling's comeback has also gone down the tubes it looks like because Triple H had to insert himself into the whole thing."
What about when Paul Heyman introduced Curtis Axel as his newest client?
For Axel to go from the bench to wrestling Triple H to end WWE Raw was a huge step upward. The criticism was that the story became more about Triple H suffering from concussion symptoms and butting heads with Vince McMahon than it was about Axel.
"Curtis Axel is, quite frankly, beneath Triple H." Good to know Hunter and Stephanie have a joint burying account.— ThreeManBooth (@3ManBooth) June 4, 2013
Two instances don't equate to an epidemic though.
Triple H's critics say he too often goes up against rising talents and beats them. Jericho's reputation is the opposite in that through losing he has helped elevate newer Superstars. Does Triple H's pay-per-view win-loss record bear out this theory of burials?
|Unforgiven 2008||Jeff Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Brian Kendrick, Montel Vontavious Porter|
|No Mercy 2008||Jeff Hardy|
|Cyber Sunday 2008||Jeff Hardy|
|SummerSlam 2009 (with Shawn Michaels)||Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase Jr (Legacy)|
|Hell in a Cell 2009 (with Shawn Michaels)||Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase Jr (Legacy)|
|Night of Champions 2011||CM Punk|
This certainly looks like the basis of the burial argument, but he’s had some losses against these same guys as well.
After beating Sheamus at WrestleMania, he lost to him at Extreme Rules that year. He and Shawn Michaels lost to Legacy at Breaking Point 2009 and Backlash 2009, making that series less one-sided than how it may be remembered. Jeff Hardy, who was no newbie, was on the way to becoming an upper-echelon Superstar when he compiled a number of losses against Triple H.
Hardy did win the WWE Championship at Armageddon 2008 in a Triple Threat match involving Edge as well, but Triple H won it back at No Way Out 2009.
In the cases of Sheamus and Legacy, his wins came at the more high-profile events in SummerSlam and WrestleMania while his losses happened at lesser-watched events. Still, it wasn't as if he went undefeated against these guys.
Triple H wins often, but there are enough losses to weaken the burial argument some.
As John Cena, Barack Obama and LeBron James can attest, being on top brings a flood of criticism. For Triple H, much of it is warranted although blown out of proportion. He enters this feud with Bryan with a chance to remind people that he "is that damn good" as an infuriating heel and why it makes sense for him to be in the limelight.
If he beats Bryan in the ring a few times though, he'll essentially be handing out ammunition to his critics.
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