“And I don’t mean you leave here and go to some second-rate promotion, like Smackdown and their paper champion.” (Triple H, August 25, 2003 RAW)
It’s been over a week now and the talk still hasn’t died down about those two little words. “Paper Champion”. While addressing Goldberg, Triple H gave the stipulation to their upcoming “Unforgiven” match by making it a career vs. title match. And in the process, he took a shot at WWE Champion Kurt Angle. He called him a paper champion.
And, boy, did he drive the smarts crazy.
“How dare he say that about Kurt! What an arrogant jerk! Kurt can wrestle. Kurt isn’t injured every other second. Kurt can give good promos. Kurt is a draw. Kurt doesn’t play politics. Kurt isn’t marrying the bosses daughter!”
Calm down, fanboy.
It was two words. Two throwaway words. And from a character standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world for him to say them. The “character” of Triple H is very defined. Even from its beginnings, he was an arrogant jerk with a well-to-do background. And through the years, it has evolved from arrogance into absolute conceit. There isn’t anyone that Triple H doesn’t think he can beat. He’s run down RVD, Kane, HBK, Steiner, Booker T, and Kevin Nash during his lengthy title run. He’s never shown any real fear of any challenger and always come out on top, so it would stand to reason that the character of Triple H would be arrogant enough to believe that he is a much greater champion than the promotion’s other one.
And then there is the separate brands issue. Since the WWE separated RAW and Smackdown into two distinct promotions with separate touring date as well as the recent split of pay-per-views, all I can remember reading about is how the WWE is missing the boat by not supporting a rivalry between the two brands. I mean, isn’t that what the fans really want? We saw it a little bit in the Bischoff/Stephanie feud, but that tapered off. Now, the promotions rarely acknowledge each other; but when they do, it’s always in glowing terms. But it would be natural, in the storyline side of things, for there to be a little bit of a rivalry. Especially between the two champions of each promotion.
And we also shouldn’t forget the circumstances in which the World Championship was brought back. Brock Lesner was the Undisputed Champion and had just come out of a bloody feud with The Undertaker. Then a match was held on RAW to determine the next number one contender. Triple H was understandably thought of to be a contender, since he had never received his rematch after losing the belt to Hogan, who in turn quickly lost it to Undertaker. The match was fought and Triple H emerged victorious and ready to face the champion in an almost certain money match, as I know many people (marks and smarts) that would have been willing to pay to see a HHH vs. Lesner match.
Of course, the match never happened because Stephanie signed Lesner to an exclusive contract that very night. With no champion, RAW was up a creek, so Eric Bischoff dusted off the old WCW Title, renamed it the World Title, and handed it to Triple H (the number one contender) on the next show. Of course, you’ll remember that later on that night, Triple H fought Ric Flair and won, thus “earning” the title that was given to him.
But, from a storyline standpoint, it must eat at HHH. Many people still view the WWE Title as the “real” title. He never got his deserved shot at that title either, not through any fault of his own. So, calling anyone that holds that belt a “paper champion” seems logical, since they have never faced him for it.
So, when you look at it from the point of view of Triple H, the character, you can see why the statement is logical. Oh, but we aren’t doing that, are we? No, we are really looking at this from the standpoint of Paul Levesque calling Kurt Angle a paper champion. That’s really the problem, isn’t it? Since Paul Levesque said those two little words, it’s not okay. After all, he probably meant it for real. He was probably shooting out there and taking an “inside” dig at the promotion’s other top guy.
Give me a break. Are we seriously going to presume to know what the man was thinking out there? Now, I know it’s not popular to defend the guy, but why are people allowing their absolute hatred of him cloud their judgment?
Let me ask you this: Had Kurt Angle came out on Smackdown and called Triple H a paper champion, would there be any animosity at all? No, as a matter of fact, we would probably laud him for it. We would say, “He’s telling the truth!”
Look, there are plenty of things to dislike the guy for and I completely understand it. Maybe he really was taking a shot at Angle, but I don’t presume to know that for sure. And to tell you the truth, when he said those two words, I thought it was pretty cool. It’s the kind of think I’ve come to expect from watching a wrestling show.
It’s just two little words. Get over it.
– Feedback in regards to the above article may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. With the amount of time each author puts into an article, your responses are appreciated.