Monday, October 20, 2014

"Triple H: Ring General and Backstage Politician"

(I figured, since he's obviously the only reason I'm taking this class, why not write about him?)

Triple H, Paul Levesque, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, The Game.

A lot of people argue that the only reason Triple H made it to where he is today as a major figure in the WWE is due to the fact that he married the heiress, Stephanie McMahon. But his in-ring prowess, sharp wit, and ability to work a crowd is simply unmatched. The WCW didn't give him a chance to shine as a singles player and so he made the smart decision, left, and signed with the WWE. It's here that he was able to truly develop his character and refine his skill. It's safe to say that he is probably one of the most dedicated and hard-working wrestlers in the business. In a tag team match with Steve Austin against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, he tore his left quadricep muscle clean off the bone...and still kept fighting. He was committed to finishing the match and making it a good one--he even let Jericho put him in his signature hold, The Walls of Jericho. And when he returned, he received one of the biggest "pops" in wrestling history. People missed him. He's a heel, but he plays a heel so well, people can't help but like him. He's had other injuries during matches where he continues to play out the match, heals, recovers, and returns in record time. He made a solid name for himself and now, standing next to Stephanie as COO, he has simply enhanced his political power. He not only knows how to play (and work) the Game, he has most definitely (and quite literally) become the Game.


Timothy S. Rich said...

I may be a minority here, but I never found HHH particularly entertaining until well after the Attitude era (I had similar antipathy for Shawn Michaels). That said, it's hard to deny his dedication to the craft, a dedication that would have likely lead to a relatively similar long-term role in the company regarding of his marriage decisions.

Similarly, I've wondered whether WCW had cultivated its own stars earlier on, when they had a young HHH (as Terra Ryzing and later Jean Paul Levesque) and Steve Austin, if their fate would have been different.

My guess is no. The WWF (and later WWE) has a long track record of taking talented but underdeveloped wrestlers and repackaging them into something bigger. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, for example, were midcarders at best until their first WWF run. Other examples are aplenty even later, but the opposite was not. WCW never seemed to repackage a former WWF star into something "hot".

Sam Ford said...

I'd say HHH found his footing more toward the end of the Attitude Era in any case, particularly in finding a way to blend the snob of the mid-1990s and the "rebel" of the late 1990s into the arrogant, "thinks he's a rebel but is actually the man" character that he has done quite well with. I respect what HHH has done in terms of his respect of wrestling traditions and trying to bring some back, as well as his deep focus on the training facility and NXT, etc. People can have their gripes (and I certainly have mine, particularly disparaging remarks he's made to undermine the careers of other wrestlers for seemingly little reason...), but some of WWE's increased focus on actual wrestling ability over the past many years should be attributed to Paul's influence, to be sure.

Tony Smith said...

Katie, I agree that Hunter’s level of dedication and his wit, but I would say his wit manly during his time with DX, are admirable qualities. He can also put on a great match with the right opponent. I think his match with Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX was by far the best match on the card. Further, I agree with Sam that HHH’s respect for the traditions of wrestling are admirable and help make the product better. In fact, NXT is my favorite thing produced by WWE, and that is HHH’s baby. He has an amazing mind for the business. That being said, I will go a step further than Tim and say, I actually despise HHH 90% of the time. The reason for my disdain is what Sam spoke about, Hunter is routinely undermining talent, but also, as a performer, he undermines the product. I say this for two reasons. First, his in ring work IS the WWE style, which is often slow, peppered with too many teased finishers, and ultimately looks fake. For example, the pedigree takes too long to set up, wouldn’t really hurt because HHH isn’t 500lbs, and requires the opponent to jump when they are supposed to be worn down. Another example is that no one in the world would use a sledgehammer the way he does. If you hit someone with a sledgehammer, use the freakin’ handle to swing it! That’s what makes it so effective! Finally, in more recent years HHH is never really humiliated. He is a heel, but rarely is he a coward. Others, like Seth Rollins or Batista, are humiliated in his place, but he never looks embarrassed. It is not satisfying for the bad guy to be beat and then just shrug it off on the next week’s show. This behavior is reminiscent of other wrestlers, like Hulk Hogan or Kevin Nash, who appear too protective of their characters, and don’t allow for the crowd to really get what they want. Yet in the end, believe it or not, I want HHH to take over the WWE one day. I think he is a great backstage guy, but his own insecurities of looking weak and his adherence to unrealistic wrestling moves make me want him to stay backstage.

Timothy S. Rich said...

While much has been said about HHH's comments about other talent (or even preventing pushes), I'm not sure how this is all that different from other established stars trying to protect their position. Such protection of one's spot goes back decades. The only difference I see here is HHH's family connection. If he weren't married to the owner, such activities would probably just be characterized as what most veterans do. Let's ignore that according to the WWE narrative, this mentality is what killed WCW.

Sam Ford said...

Yeah, I think it's more than married to the owner but rather that, for all intents and purposes, he is a co-owner today. One of the things that set New York aside until recently was that it was never a territory where a wrestler ran things. Vince Sr. was not an on-screen personality. Vince Jr. was, but--even when he made himself the star of the show--he never presented himself as truly "one of the boys." This is the first time in WWE history that the owner of the company, presented as COO, is one of the top stars of the last 15 years in the pro wrestling world...which means, I think, that people read the way he protects his spot particularly carefully. I'll give Hunter plenty of credit for keeping himself out of the title hunt most of the time and, as he ascended in backstage roles with the company, for taking himself out of a regular wrestling role, despite the fact that he is still physically able to compete on a regular basis. I assume he's headed more the "Giant Baba route" (the wrestler who owned All Japan), in that he hopes to prolong his ability to perform in the ring by doing matches on rare occasion for a long time to come.