The Stomping Ground: Why I Couldn’t Care Less About Triple H’s Speech

Greetings all! By the time you read this, the first day of school will have begun and I will be dealing with my little miscreants full-time. Yeesh.

Last week I casually mentioned Triple H’s “I’m at a crossroads” promo before going right into my old school WCW Nitro recap, but in the comments Flaming Wombat requested that I explain why I believed no one cared about Triple H’s possible retirement speech when the ratings seemed to prove otherwise.

Challenge accepted!

Obviously I spoke in generalizations when I said that no one cared (ah, hyperbole), but let’s think about this honestly: how many of us so-called smarks actually did care? Show of hands? No? No one? Let’s look at the numbers. The Triple H promo was a higher-rated segment than the main event between CM Punk and Jerry Lawler in a cage. Why? I think it’s simply the fact that more eyes were drawn to a possible legit retirement angle than an obvious drubbing delivered to Lawler later in the night. The character of Triple H has been built up for the past 15 years as a guy on the level of Austin or The Rock, so when the rumor of his retirement is looming, obviously you’ll get more viewers.

Regardless of the ratings, by the end of the segment the majority of commenters who viewed the promo spoke up about their disdain for the waste of time they were subjected to. There’s no way a bad ass character like Triple H would go out to a loss like that and we know that retirements rarely (if ever) stick in this business. There was no build to any idea of retirement, as opposed to Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Remember those angles? The build for both was tremendous and as a result we were more emotionally invested. Not so with this out-of-nowhere speech…and it certainly didn’t help that Triple H never directly stated whether or not he’d retire.

More importantly, despite all our claims to the contrary, we are still marks at heart. Sure, we’ve wizened up to some of the inner workings of the business in the last ten years, but every one of us who has a knee-jerk reaction to something that happens is showing our inner mark (and I’m not speaking in generalizations here). If we react in a way that the company intends, then we’ve essentially been worked by the WWE. In any case, a lot of us still harbor some hatred for Triple H’s past as a ruthless heel and his rumored backstage involvement in the first half of the last decade. Here’s a list of Triple H moments that pissed me off as a mark to no end:

1. Constantly being put over Mick Foley
2. Handed the European Championship by Shawn Michaels
3. Winning the main event of Wrestlemania 2000 (at the time, heels had never won or retained at ‘Mania)
4. Reversing the decision of Earl Hebner on Chris Jericho
5. Handed the World Heavyweight Championship by Eric Bischoff
6. The Reign of Terror from 2002-2003 (in which I boycotted Raw)
7. Burying Randy Orton
8. Never putting over Chris Jericho (to the best of my memory, Jericho ALWAYS lost to Triple H)
9. Hot-shotting the title to earn 13 reigns
10. The obnoxious walk out angle

I admit in retrospect that this appears to be a petty and personal dislike of the man, but you have to understand that many others will look at that list and say he came across as quite a dick. And yes, I am aware that the vast majority of points I listed involved the booking of other people and not necessarily his own preference (and ultimately the decision of Vince McMahon). The rumors of backstage politics involving the Kliq notwithstanding, I always saw Triple H as an incredibly overrated wrestler who got a ridiculous push.

So when the WWE brings up the possibility of Triple H’s retirement speech, I know I’m not alone when I roll my eyes at this self-serving masturbation of Levesque’s ego. I have never praised him for any of his matches; in actuality, I’ve praised the work of his opponents. Cactus Jack, Stone Cold, HBK, Undertaker, John Cena, Chris Benoit, Batista. These names are synonymous with The Game’s best bouts, and each one of THEM is the reason those matches are so memorable.

Is he a terrible grappler? No. He knows ring psychology and has the latent charisma to pull off a great promo and make you hate his guts (the proof of THAT is in this very column). He’s an old school fan of the business and appears to want to change things, like putting more emphasis on the Tag Team Championship. He successfully put over guys like Benoit, Cena, and Batista at crucial points in their respective careers. However, ultimately the stigma of his relationship within the McMahon family is what continues to factor into whether or not his work is appreciated. There is no solid proof that he had a significant amount of backstage pull…..but then again, there’s no absolute proof that the opposite is true either.

And that, dear friends, is why a lot of people just didn’t give a shit about whether he’d retire a couple of weeks ago: too many bad memories.

Enjoy the can of worms I’ve just opened.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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