Triple H may have began his run as COO as this generation's Vince McMahon, but he has since become his own man, delivering his own version of tyranny.
In the past few months, Triple H has ventured away from McMahon's character in more ways than being a physically more dangerous evil executive. He has taken more jabs at fans and used defeating him as a way to launch careers more than his father-in-law could.
Yet, there's no escaping comparisons to Mr. McMahon.
The way Sherlock Holmes is so often the inspiration for onscreen detectives, McMahon has provided the template for the corrupt executive in wrestling. His ability to blur the lines between reality and kayfabe is something Triple H has adopted and expanded upon.
Infusing the Truth
After McMahon pulled the now-famous "Montreal Screwjob" on Bret Hart in 1997, he sat down for an interview with Jim Ross. He could have tried to move on without mentioning Hart or blamed his controversial exit on some convoluted storyline.
Instead, he famously said that Bret screwed Bret.
It was a real-life sentiment that some folks shared. Some fans and wrestlers alike saw Hart's hesitance to lose the WWE Championship as a refusal to do what was right for the company. McMahon played into that with his on-air interview.
That uncomfortable and captivating mix of the real and the scripted has been a hallmark of Triple H's run as WWE tyrant.
Much of the Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H rivalry has been built on that. The story has been Triple H doesn't believe Bryan is a big enough star or big enough physically to be WWE champ. This is what many fans perceived was the reason Bryan wasn't yet on top.
Often, when Triple H sat down for his weekly interview with Michael Cole, he seemed to be needling fans.
He scoffed at the idea of him facing Bryan at WrestleMania. In his mind, Bryan was not worth the effort. He was a B+ player at best.
This was how he described a man the audience was pulling for in an increasingly vocal and fervent way. His refusal to face Bryan was a dismissal of that fanbase, a way to anger them.
Triple H even took a not-so-veiled shot at CM Punk, an easy way to rile up his supporters.
McMahon didn't go this route as often. Hatred for him came primarily because of how unfairly he ruled the WWE and his bias against men like Steve Austin.
Triple H has created something that wouldn't have made much sense before the Internet became as prevalent as it is today—a heel who aims to irk the IWC.
Leader of Men
Like any king, McMahon didn't rule alone. He usually had a band of yes men at his side as both protection and a way to demonstrate his power.
The Corporation began as a group of executive stooges surrounding McMahon at all times. Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco were his non-intimidating deputies.
Later, he would align himself with a host of wrestlers including Big Bossman and The Rock.
Triple H has followed that same path. He began his reign flanked by The Authority and has since reformed Evolution in order to crush the insurgents known as The Shield.
McMahon was the mastermind of the groups he led. He wasn't going to do much of the gut-punching and chest-stomping. That was his goons' job.
Triple H has often asked Kane, The Shield or The New Age Outlaws to help him avoid getting involved in beating folks to the ground, but when he has gotten involved, it's far more threatening than when McMahon did.
Thanks to being younger, stronger and having a much longer resume of mauling Superstars, "The King of Kings" is a more terrifying presence. Compare his assault on a handcuffed Bryan to when McMahon took on Austin with one hand tied behind his back.
Triple H throttled Bryan.
His attack created a heart-wrenching visual. It was hard to not imagine the beating was legitimately injuring Bryan, tearing his shoulder from the socket.
McMahon didn't have that same destroyer aura. Even with one hand, Austin felt like the predator. McMahon was the fish held over the orca's mouth.
It was eventually Dude Love who handed out the beating, not McMahon. Triple H has certainly delegated assaults, but has also thrived when administering them himself.
The Power of Victory
Being a human wrecking ball has also helped Triple H's victims.
When Austin or McMahon's other enemies got their hands around his throat, it was certainly a cathartic experience. Few things in wrestling are as satisfying as the hero clobbering the heartless villain. McMahon's excellence in that role made those moments even bigger.
Defeating McMahon didn't have the same power that beating Triple H does, though.
It was fun to see Austin whip McMahon to the mat with a stunner. "Stone Cold", however, didn't face him in marquee bouts.
McMahon's hired hands did that for him.
Had Austin defeated McMahon at WrestleMania, it wouldn't have meant as much for his career as Bryan's win over Triple H did. Instead, he took on McMahon's proxy, The Rock.
Triple H has the ability to propel his opponents as the sinister executive who sometimes steps into the ring.
Bryan's WrestleMania 30 wouldn't have felt nearly as momentous had Triple H sent Kane or Road Dogg to take him down. Instead, Triple H stepped out of his suit to enter battle himself.
Now, Bryan has a clean victory over a man who has world champ etched 13 times on his resume.
That will affect his career trajectory far more than Austin beating McMahon would have done. The Shield are set to benefit from tangling with Triple H, eventually perhaps, leading to a showdown between him and Roman Reigns.
Where McMahon would have to send someone to the ring, as he did at WrestleMania 23 with Umaga, Triple H can always turn to himself.
The Game has clearly learned from McMahon's success. He has borrowed from his playback, but Triple H continues to reinvent the dastardly executive role adding brutality and star power that his inspiration didn't have at his disposal
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