Triple H returned to the World Wrestling Federation in January of 2002. From his return in Madison Square Garden in the beginning of last year, all the way until now, The Game seems to have changed the wrestling world…
As WCW is slowly dying down, WWF is producing a much better wrestling product. The company is in the midst of a flow of ratings, as the years sees great numbers for them, alongside good storylines to back things up. Triple H is the man of the year without a doubt, although the beginning of the year was Rock’s peak of popularity in my opinion. Hunter carries Rock through a great program, as he jobs to The Rock at Backlash and Rock wins the belt thanks to an early “tease” return by Steve Austin, still recovering from his neck surgery. The Rock becomes huge, and peaks as a babyface while he fights the McMahon-Helmsley faction in a great program that ends at Judgment Day 2000 with the return of The Undertaker from injury. Triple H wins the belt back in an awesome Iron Man Match thanks to ‘Taker’s interference and with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee.
Ultimately, The Rock recaptures the belt to later drop it to Kurt Angle (for his first championship reign) at No Mercy 2000, allowing WWF to keep Hunter and Kurt aside of each other, and at the same time involved in what was probably WWF’s best ever soap-opera like storyline in the Angle/HHH/Stephanie love triange. However, for the second half of the year, Triple H is concentrated in working with Steve Austin in a feud that will go on into the year 2001 and will dominate the program, though it doesn’t have the belt attached to it. Both men who like to be at the top of the card, Steve Austin and Triple H make sure that their feud is the main point on the program, while The Rock moves on to fight Rikishi, and Kurt Angle, as champion, becomes the second main event on the program, fighting opponents such as The Undertaker.
The Rock recaptures the WWF Championship at No Way Out from Kurt Angle. Steve Austin has won the 2001 Royal Rumble match, and has a shot at the belt at WrestleMania. Triple H now finds himself in the secondary feud, as he takes on The Undertaker at WrestleMania and has no choice but to do the job since it’s ‘Mania and the Dead Man made sure his WrestleMania fame continued. H does the job in a match that sees ‘Taker give him the Last Ride from about a 10-feet-high booth to the floor, as the two fight in the audience. Austin turns heel in the main event and beats Rock with the help of McMahon.
The April 2, 2001 edition of WWF RAW is WAR is where the downfall of the WWF and wrestling as a whole began. The Rock demands a rematch against Steve Austin in what will be Rock’s last appearance on WWF TV for a while, as The Great One goes to Hollywood to shoot “The Scorpion King.” Rock gets his rematch against Austin in a Steel Cage match, which ends with a Triple H interference. The crowd goes nuts for H, thinking he’ll help Rock because his hatred for Austin is even greater after their “brutal” four-month feud, but The Game stays true to his heel status, and attacks Rock. The show ends with McMahon, Hunter, and Austin drinking beer and celebrating over a destroyed and bleeding Rock, as J.R. says “They might as well urinate on The Rock.” Well, they didn’t J.R., but they will go on to urinate all over WWF…
Austin and Triple H team up to form a stable alongside McMahon that would “dominate” WWF. They face the Hardy Boyz for the short-term, and in a huge surprise, Jeff Hardy pins Triple H for the Intercontinental Chamionship on RAW. One week later, Triple H gets his belt back. Steve Austin is still the WWF Champion at this point. The two go on to feud Undertaker and Kane for two months, and come out successful by winning the tag titles out of them.
Those same tag titles were later jobbed in what was probably the best storyline that duo was engaged in — against the unlikely team of Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. In the very same match, Triple H injures his quad, resulting in a horrible injury that will take him out of action for the rest of 2001.
That’s where we should stop, and make an important point. I don’t know if you noticed it from the recap or not, but Triple H of today isn’t much different from the Triple H of 2000 or 2001. He’s still in the top program on the show, and he’s still a major “force” in wrestling! So, then, what makes him different today? Where does this hatred come from? Let’s take a look. For the following, I won’t just recap things, but I’ll be now adding thoughts and comments to each bit…
January, 2002 — Triple H returns at Madison Square Garden to what some call “the biggest roar the Garden has ever heard!” Triple H is of course now a babyface, and the fans are cheering for him big time. Kurt Angle comes out and a feud between the two that will last for two months begins. I think that this is where Triple H’s character completely changed. Always a heel and always a “badass,” The Game was now in a position where he didn’t feel as comfortable, but still managed to go by with.
January, 2002 (2) — In the same months, Triple H wins the Royal Rumble match at the PPV and becomes the #1 contender for the “Undisputed WWF Championship” currently held by Chris Jericho. He eliminated Angle to set up a match for the two at the next PPV.
February, 2002 — No Way Out. The nWo debuts, but where Triple H is concerned, in an interesting twist, he jobs to Angle and loses his WrestleMania X-8 Title Shot, which he regained later. Angle went on to fight Kane at ‘Mania. Hunter’s buddies Scott Hall and Kevin Nash return, and at this point realizing that with Jericho main-eventing against Austin and with Rock still around, there’s no way Hunter can be in the top of the card until ‘Mania, he becomes the “good ol’ company guy” and jobs to Angle. Take a notice of this! Triple H knows very well when to lose matches! At the same time, he pushes for Vince to give him the one-on-one ‘Mania main event badly, as Hunter never got that, though he wanted it the previous year, when he fought ‘Taker. McMahon goes along with it.
March, 2002 — WrestleMania X-8. The Rock and Hulk Hogan main event the biggest PPV WWF has put up recently, and make history. The Hulkster turns face after the match, and the nWo pretty much breaks up. Triple H, still being the last match on the card, defeats Chris Jericho and wife Stephanie in Y2J’s corner, to capture the Undisputed Belt for the first time. WWF.com states “The Game completes his journey.” If they only knew…
April, 2002 — Backlash. Remember how I said Triple H knows when to lose matches? It was near WrestleMania and it was Undertaker time. With an interference by the Dead Man, Triple H jobs to Hulk Hogan for the Undisputed belt, only after a month from capturing it and “completing his journey.” With Vince McMahon as the only man not realizing that a Hogan vs. ‘Taker match should only happen if it’s a “Who’ll Pass Out First Match,” the two will go on to main event Judgment Day. Triple H, as everyone else, realizes that he can still be the top part of the program without the belt, as the current championship feud is nothing of interest… and he was at Judgment Day.
May, 2002 — Judgment Day. Hogan loses the belt to ‘Taker in an 18-minute match that today reminds me of Freddy vs. Jason. Of course, the highlight of the show, as posted on WWF.com following the PPV was the Hell In A Cell match between Chris Jericho and Triple H. Hunter, of course, wins. Ref Tim White takes HHH’s fury and gets injured in the match, causing him to undergo surgery and be out for months. Austin defeats the greatest tag team in wrestling history on the same show, as in the fourth match on the card he beats Big Show and Ric Flair. He’ll very soon leave the company.
June, 2002 — King of the Ring. Brock Lesnar is the main focus of WWE (we had just gotten the F out) now. He wins the tournament, while in the Title match Triple H jobs to Undertaker. We’d later find out that the plan is for Kevin Nash to reform nWo upon his return and for Triple H to feud with his buddy and his partners. Steve Austin has walked away, and Triple H gladly accepts to do the job to ‘Taker, since it’s the Dead Man, and because with Austin out, H is the only one in Vince’s ear. However, as far as nWo plans go, McMahon shows up on RAW and officially kills the nWo, who have just been joined by Shawn Michaels and had given an injured Triple H a chance to either “join them” or be “against them” at Vengeance. Vince introduces us to the Era of Ruthless Agression, as well as to the era of…
July, 2002 — Eric Bischoff becomes RAW’s General Manager, and promises that as his first act, he’ll get Triple H to sign with RAW. At Vengeance, Shawn Michaels makes it happen, and as loud chants of DX echo through the arena, The Game has signed with RAW. The next night, the DX music hits, and the crowd goes insane… only for H to turn on Shawn and Pedigree him. At the same time, The Rock returns to the WWE and wins the Championship at Vengeance in what was the best Triple Threat Match WWE has pulled in the past couple of years, as the Brahma Bull beats Angle and ‘Taker. The only purpose to this is to have Rock job to Lesnar at ‘Slam the next month, which will really put Brock over. Realizing that Lesnar is the focus of the show right now, Hunter gladly accepts to feud with Michaels, as he knows that it’ll be the true highlight of the show as a lot of people will tune in to see if Michaels still got it. The bout is made a Street Fight. Notice that if Triple H isn’t fighting for the belt at a PPV his match always has a gimmick. HIAC against Jericho, Street Fight against Michaels, or a dangerous crazy spot against ‘Taker at ‘Mania X-7.
August, 2002 — SummerSlam. The Rock does the job for Lesnar as hets booed by the New York crowd. Of course, the highlight of the night is Shawn Michaels’s come back. Hunter does the job for his buddy since it wasn’t sure at all if HBK will ever wrestle again (it’s good to retire victorious), plus it’s his buddy after all. After the match, H hits Shawn with the hammer, giving him some time to rest his back up. This was Triple H’s ONLY good match since 2001. I repeat… His ONLY good match since probably the bout he had with Ric Flair on RAW not too long ago. It was the Triple H of all for once. Hunter’s wrestling has really gone down. You guessed it… WWE.com has a picture with Lesnar in a little corner, but for the most part it’s about HBK and HHH’s match at the PPV. The following night on RAW, Stephanie McMahon “steals” Brock Lesnar for SmackDown. He becomes the last Undisputed Champion, as the next week on RAW, Eric Bischoff GIVES the old World Championship (Wrestling) Belt to Triple H. This is where it all began.
A very important point here. If you notice, for the better part of 2002, Triple H played as the “good company guy,” jobbing to Angle, Taker, and Hogan when needed to. He dropped the belt when asked to and wasn’t in the main event, though somehow always found a way to be at the top. It’s now time for Triple H to get his. The backstage games begin.
September, 2002 — Unforgiven. Triple H defeats Rob Van Dam thanks to Ric Flair who turns heel and joins The Game.
October, 2002 — No Mercy. Triple H defeats Kane after humping Katie Vick. Guess she had Steph’s bra size.
November, 2002 — Survivor Series. It’s a miracle! Benny Hinn has healed Shawn Michaels’s back and he’s re-born! The Clique is working and Hunter gives Shawn a taste of being a champion for a month. It’s also a good time to lose, as WWE presented the first Elimination Chamber match.
December, 2002 — Armageddon. Hunter continues to bump and bleed for his buddy, but gets what’s his at the end. “The End is Near,” Shawn Michaels said. I wish, Shawn… I wish.
January, 2003 — After a good program with Scott Steiner which was built great but the final result was horrible due to Steiner’s condition, H picks up the easy pin at the PPV. Steiner gets booed, and after being brought into the company to win the belt, fails to do so in the rematch. Benoit and Angle have the match of 2003 (so far) on the SmackDown side of things.
February, 2003 — No Way Out. Steve Austin, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan return to PPV. Triple H beats Scott Steiner and plays a company guy again, stepping down a bit, as he knows his title isn’t in jeopardy due to the fact that Steiner is now dead with the company.
March, 2003 — WrestleMania XIX. The one man that deserved to beat Triple H the most out of all his opponents since becoming RAW’s Champion was Booker T. The man who was at his peak with the fans and who was just ready to go over even more as a singles competitor was turned into a joke booking-wise as the angle became a mix of racial jokes and teases. Goldberg’s arrival is announced.
April, 2003 — Backlash. Big Daddy Cool is back and clique-ing. HBK, Nash, and Booker T team up to take on H, Flair, and Y2J in a Six-Man Tag. The attention is on Goldberg vs. Rock.
May, 2003 — Judgment Day. Kevin Nash has been booked poorly since returning, and nobody seems to care about his match with Triple H at the PPV. Michaels is added in his corner, and Flair in H’s. The PPV has the worst buy-rate in recent history. Nash is done… Or so we thought!
June, 2003 — Bad Blood. Triple H pins Kevin Nash in a HIAC match, which went over thanks to Mick Foley the special guest ref. Nothing to note here, besides the fact that Nash was now certainly done where the world title is concerned.
Which brings us to today. At SummerSlam, Triple H was supposed to go one-on-one with Goldberg and do the job. It was supposed to be the moment that so many fans have waited for one year. It was in August of 2002 that Eric Bischoff presented Triple H with the World Title. He’s lost it only once, to Shawn Michaels, since then to regain it a month later. It was supposed to be the moment where WWE enters a new phase, gets into a new sphere of interest. It’s not going to happen, folks.
Bill Goldberg isn’t good enough. Bill Goldberg is still rusty. Bill Goldberg doesn’t do house shows. Bill Goldberg is NOT champinoship material, some people want us to believe. There’s peole I know who’d give everything just to see the belt off of Triple H, no matter who wins it. Whether your like Goldberg or not, you know very well, that he’s the man who should win the belt and that he’s the one who’s credible enough to get over Hunter and hold the title.
Let’s face it…
RVD — Great guy. Over with the crowd. Awesome moves. I’m sorry to say it, but he’s not Championship material. He’s known to work stiff at times, and his style is very specific. Paul Heyman knew very well what he was doing when he put the ECW TV Belt on him and not the ECW Championship.
Kane — They had a great opportunity with Kane. He had just returned and was getting over with the fans. The Katie Vick storyline killed it all. Really sad to see it go down this way. After Katie Vick, there was no reason to put the belt on Kane. It would have been a wasted shot.
Shawn Michales — His time has passed. Nice seeing him as the champ again, but I think he’s had enough.
Scott Steiner — They had a great thing going on storyline-wise when he debuted. They really built his program with Hunter well enough to put him over, but he was in poor shape. His condition wasn’t good, and I couldn’t see him last too long as a champion. They did a good job of hiding that until the Rumble.
Booker T — I think he should have won the Championship. It would have been a perfect timing for him to do that, but yet again, mysteriously when there’s a risk for Hunter to lose his belt, the writing and booking gets bad. After the racial jokes and King’s two-year-old comments about Booker, it wasn’t worth it.
Kevin Nash — I don’t need to say much here, honestly. I’m still bewildered that he isn’t injured again by now. God forbid.
You see, all this time, Triple H has been doing nothing new to him. He’s had influence before, and he’s won matches before! You just never noticed it. Why? Because he’d lose to guys like Rock, Austin, ‘Taker, and Angle. He was willing to do that back in ’99, and in ’00, because he knew very well that working with these guys is good for him and it’s what’ll get him the future. Well, he got his.
In 2002, it’s very easy to notice these little games, and inside plans, because his oppoents aren’t credible enough. If they are, the writing and booking on the show mysteriously becomes bad to the point where the fans start to believe it’s better that Hunter is champion, and not Booker, or Kane, for example. It’s just obvious what’s going on. Triple H is also a man of an ego and with his current storyline of being the Nature Boy of today, he can do segments that aggrivate people, and he can have matches where he squashes young talent. Triple H is leaving his dream right now, but WWE.com won’t tell you that his “journey is complete.”
Bill Goldberg is not the best champion there is, but he’s the only man credible enough to fight with Hunter. He has defeated everyone else as you saw above. It’s no longer a one-on-one match at SummerSlam. It’s an Elimination Chamber. I won’t be surprise if Triple H loses the belt (ironically, the last time he lost his belt, it was in an Elimination Chamber match). But honestly… Does it mean as much now? I know that The Game is also injured, so we need to keep this on mind, but when he needed to wrestle injured in the past to get himself over, he’s always done the job and people (including myself) have praised him for that. Up until today I thought that Hunter isn’t trying to create anything or get away from jobbing to Goldberg, but if you look at his history, and you think about it, it won’t take you long to change your mind.
The worst-case scenario is for Goldberg to win the belt only to job it after a month or two back to Triple H. My friends, if that happens, then we have all “played The Game” and I think it’ll be best to just watch SmackDown.
I think if WWE do want the best for their fans, they’ll have Triple H win the Elimination Chamber, and the next month at Unforgiven, they’ll have The Game go one-on-one with Goldberg and drop the belt to him. The company desperately needs a new champion, and if within two months they don’t have one, I think the whole world will be sure in what’s happening. I won’t be surprised if we have to wait until The Rock returns, so Hunter can lose to him, and then Rock will have to job the belt to someone.
My name is Eddie and you can contact me at Levski11@aol.com. Thanks for your time.