Sunday at WWE Battleground, WWE went out of its way to inform its universe that Triple H and Stephanie were too busy to watch their own product. On this night, the anti-art form of counterintuitive booking may have peaked.
Following the Rhodes family victory that stole the show Sunday night, WWE cut to Raw general manager Brad Maddox, who was acting as a personal spoiler for Stephanie and Triple H.
The unnecessary segment featured Maddox breaking the news of the Rhodes victory to the executive pair. Per storyline, it was made crystal clear that neither Triple H nor Stephanie had been watching the pay-per-view.
The absence of WWE's power couple was later explained, rather lazily, as the two being away at an emergency meeting.
Legendary antihero Stone Cold Steve Austin once rolled into the Pepsi Arena armed with a beer hose. Vince was there, drenched in Coors Light. At one point, McMahon helplessly swam in place to further illustrate a now immortal depiction of anti-establishment.
D-Generation X reformed in 2006 to take on the machine, and that machine (Vince McMahon) was there. Upon seeing the Hall of Fame tandem join forces yet again, he twisted his face in disgust in a way only he could. All the while, Triple H and Shawn Michaels dished out enough crotch chops to satiate two Attitude Eras.
As brilliant as Jim Ross was on commentary that night, the memorable segment spoke for itself. The message was loud and clear. DX was back, sticking it to the man.
When CM Punk won the WWE championship, on what was believed to be his final night in the WWE, Vince was there.
McMahon sold as if he were about to break down in tears. His fruitless desperation even saw him demand that Alberto Del Rio cash in his Money in the Bank contract.
CM Punk eventually escaped through his hometown crowd as McMahon watched in horror. This wasn't a picture of rebellion, it was a masterpiece.
On the contrary, WWE's ongoing angle tells a story of unlikable authority figures ruling the promotion with an iron fist. Unfortunately, when a babyface entity, in this case the Rhodes Dynasty, finally stuck it to the establishment, the establishment was nowhere to be found.
Knowing the McMahon family's notorious 24/7 involvement with the WWE product, both Triple H and Stephanie were probably backstage in reality.
That's what's especially maddening about their storyline absence.
WWE creative appeared to go out of its way to explain that Triple H and Stephanie missed the payoff to an angle that commanded their attention as recently as the go-home show.
Instead of preparing their troops for war to further an engaging conflict, Triple H and Stephanie simply went into "Regis and Kelly" mode, laughing off a moment that could have proved pivotal to the storyline. Everything just went back to normal, except of course the TV ratings.
For the sake of discussion, say Triple H and Stephanie were legitimately unable to attend WWE Battleground. Who knows, maybe an emergency childbirth, the NSA, the Government Shutdown or a combination of all three kept them off the show.
Where's the value in telling WWE's paying customers that the authority figures had more important business to tend to than watching a bottom-line pay-per-view?
Why not just air a storyline-driven Tweet sent from the accounts of Triple H and/or Stephanie saying they saw the main event and will deal with the matter at hand on Raw?
Like the McMahon family, UFC president Dana White attends every UFC bout, from a sequestered Ultimate Fighter contest on Wednesday night to the biggest pay-per-view of the year.
How unsubstantial would a fight feel if White Tweeted, post-fight, "Hey fight fans! In a meeting. Did I miss anything important?"
Triple H was a recent guest on the JBL and Cole Show, which aired footage of The Game in-character during a live event for WWE developmental territory NXT. Yet somehow he's too busy to at least watch a WWE pay-per-view?
It's just another example of the single-biggest pitfall of a top angle that has bottomed out. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon must begin taking their entire product seriously. It's the only way viewers will do the same.