MR. TITO: Maybe WWE Has a Triple H Problem? Submitted by Mr. Tito on 08/18/2020 at 02:06 AM
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I keep hearing the same ramble by wrestling fans these days... It's always specifically about Vince McMahon... "Vince is senile! Vince is out of touch! Vince doesn't get today's wrestling fan!". Yet, if you read through the criticisms of the early-to-mid-1990s wrestling fans, you'll see the same exact criticisms. 1991 through early 1997 saw steep declines in the WWE's business and many feared WWE would close its doors by 1997, especially with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) around.
Yet, Vince McMahon prevailed and did so by placing more trustworthy & skilled people around him. He brought in Jim Ross as an announcer and eventual talent manager. Jim Cornette was handy for booking ideas and also for talent development with his Smokey Mountain Wrestling promotion and then his Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion helping to restock the roster. His Creative Team needed a shot in the arm so he promoted the ambitious Vince Russo to Creative during 1996 to bring us into the Attitude Era. Jim, Jim, and Vince brought different perspectives to Vince McMahon and all 3 guys were headstrong to disagree with Vinnie Mac or the rest of the WWE management team. The end result? WWE began beating WCW in the ratings again by 1998 and WCW died by 2001.
So what is different between NOW and THEN... Sure, Vince McMahon is much older, won't disagree... But the younger Vince was pushing many obsolete gimmicks and storylines during the early to mid 1990s. He couldn't let go of Hulk Hogan until 1993, tried to push "All American" Lex Luger and Diesel as the next top babyfaces, and also tried to push many profession gimmicks (pig farmers, hockey player, baseball player, plumber, garbage man, racecard driver, repo man, etc.). The 2020 Vince McMahon is doing the same thing... Clinging onto older names as long as possible (Orton & Lesnar), pushes the wrong guys at the top or incorrectly (Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre), and he is prone to creating bad gimmicks. Just see the silly outfits that the Revival were almost forced to wear.
Difference between 2020 and the mid-1990s is that Vince revamped his Creative and Talent development team with Ross, Cornette, and Russo. 2020 has the same management crew for the past decade plus older names like Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman being brought in briefly to be scapegoats for lower ratings and now Bruce Prichard occupies that role. Vince isn't changing his management team to have better people surrounding him like he did during the mid 1990s with Ross, Cornette, and Russo. Thus, any BAD ideas that Vince McMahon has creatively or about a talent are NOT getting filtered out by anyone with an opposite opinion. Instead, his daughter Stephanie claps, his son-in-law Triple H claps, and his two best friends, Kevin Dunn and Bruce Prichard, claps. The entire WWE corporate structure nods their head in agreement, always, with CEO/President and Board Chairman Vince McMahon.
And that is why the WWE is failing...
But there is ONE GUY that WWE fans always seem to give a free pass to... Since the early 2010, Paul Levesque or Triple H as we know him has been an Executive Vice President for the WWE Corporation. Piece by piece, he gained responsibilities one by one through his training directly from Vince McMahon. Through 2011, he began overseeing the Live Events. During mid 2012, he became in charge of Talent. By late 2013, he took over the Creative responsibilities from his real life wife Stephanie McMahon (who became Chief Brand Officer).
And what has happened to business since? If you look at WWE's viewership and attendance, it was on a massive decline from 2000-2004 from the peak but then stabilized through most of the late 2000s and held firm during the early 2010s... Thank you John Cena. But then from late 2014 through now, you know my narrative... RAW went from averaging just over 4 million viewers per show to now being consistently under 2 million per show. Before the Coronavirus hit, the WWE was actually talking about cancelling Houseshows entirely due to poor attendance. Most TV tapings have the majority of the upper decks tarped off and sometimes the entire non-television side gets a tarp too. John Cena was the #1 merchandise seller through mid 2018 despite him becoming a part-time role since 2015, nobody has replaced his sales numbers
So... If you have a guy with an EVP Title of "Live Events, Talent, and Creative"... Shouldn't he be held responsible for an extreme decline in business?
Nah, we're too busy enjoying those NXT Takeover shows that he was giving us for the past 6 years on the WWE Network, right? That territory was so successful as a product, especially with those Takeover events, that it has translated into pure domination on the USA Networks during Wednesday nights... Right? They are consistently defeating All Elite Wrestling (AEW)'s Dynamate show, right? Anyone?
Oh, that's right... NXT isn't as popular as we thought. Demographic wise, it's actually much of the same older audience that watches RAW and Smackdown BUT obviously less because NXT cannot consistently get above 800,000 viewers.
So you're saying that it's EASIER to put on a great show with 4-5 shows per year than a weekly 2 hour show?
A few weeks ago at my previous writing employer, I wrote a column that questioned WHY insider news sources like Dave Meltzer, Bryan Alvarez, Wade Keller, Dave Scherer, etc. never had any news tips about what Triple H said during any Creative or Production meetings. In particular, Dave Meltzer's news reports were always harping on how "old" or "senile" Vince McMahon appeared backstage and yet nothing about Triple H's performance as the Creative Lead or the Talent Manager. Not one word uttered about Triple H's happenings backstage. What, is he a ghost? Yet, we heard all about the things Paul Heyman or Eric Bischoff said or did backstage as "Executive Directors". We hear about goofy things said or done by Executive Producer Kevin Dunn.
But never Triple H... News reporters are either SCARED of Triple H or Triple H (or his close associates) is the source of the insider news on the WWE. It's funny when after I wrote my column on this very topic of Triple H leaking info, Dave Meltzer just so happens to block me on Twitter randomly one day. I said nothing to the man all week and when I posted that column, blocked I was... Gee, I wonder why? And proof of HHH or his close associations leaking info was shown by what the Revival/FTR said about their potential WWE exit. After Triple H met with both members of the Revival privately, news of this meeting was leaked out everywhere by the time that both wrestlers walked to their cars from the meeting. Then, the infamous outfits... As Revival said, someone "from the office" leaked those.
As I've told this story many times before... Shelton Benjamin, during the mid 2000s, reportedly had some disgust towards the Creative Team for his use back then. I had a backstage source tell me back then that Benjamin confided in fellow wrestlers about his disliking of Stephanie's creative process. Of course, one of those wrestlers was a snitch and the rest was history on Benjamin's WWE singles run back then. Triple H and Stephanie have rabbit ears backstage and you know damn well if they caught anyone leaking bad info about them to the Insider News outlets, there would be problems. Major ones.
Instead, we receive endless "Vince is Senile" news reports... Triple H is the guy who oversees the Talent. Back in the day, both Jim Ross and John Laurinaitis were heavily bashed from the Insider News sources, as leaked by wrestlers, for their handling of payroll and contracts. NOT ONCE have you heard you heard a word about Triple H's handling of talent, payroll, or contracts. We've heard nothing but endless stories about Paul Heyman's brief tenure as "Executive Director" and even more brief appearance of Eric Bischoff in that same role (too much time at the catering table). Now, we're hearing stuff about Bruce Prichard. However, those Creative guys still report to Triple H as an EVP and mind you, he has overseen Creative since LATE 2013. Not a single thing said about Triple H's job performance to the "dirt sheets". Gee, why is that?
Because Triple H knows how to play the game, that's why!
The FACT is that if Vince McMahon wasn't Triple H's father-in-law, Vince would be gone. That is the only thing keeping Vince around and that is Triple H's love for the man who brought him into WWE as a singles wrestler (WCW wanted him as Tag Team only), made him millions, and gave him his daughter's hand for marriage... That has slowed down Triple H's ambition and epic climb to the very top of the WWE mountain. It goes to show you how much he really loves his wife, Stephanie McMahon, because otherwise, just a regular non-related boss might be pushed out the door already. Triple H has embraced being a member of the McMahon family and sadly, that has made him soft at a time when some harsh decisions need to be made internally at the WWE.
Here is what I'd argue about Triple H... Is he really qualified to be an Executive Vice President of a publicly traded corporation?
Now before you start attacking me for being just anti-WWE, remember that I wrote about AEW's Executive Vice Presidents just last week. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between being a talented wrestler and a manager of a wrestling business. Being a good wrestler does NOT guarantee that one would become a good booker, creative team member, talent manager, businessman, or board member/CEO. Vince McMahon, for example, has a College Degree and then he worked his way up for 13 years on the business side of things before eventually building up the financial capital and business knowledge to buy the WWE during 1982.
Compare Triple H's rise to fame... No College Degree... Now, I'm not here to knock that as a point, as many successful people have found their way into becoming highly successful business men or women. Triple H's career path to becoming EVP of the publicly traded WWE was bodybuilding and then becoming a professional wrestler. That's it... When he was through with his full-time schedule as a wrestler, Vince had an EVP title waiting for him and then he started shaving off responsibilities of others backstage such as John Laurinaitis for Talent Relations during mid-2012, Stephanie for Creative during late 2013, and Vince delegated Live Event responsibilities to Triple H during 2011. The Live Event part came naturally and HHH does well with that aspect because he has been a performer since 1992. The Talent and Creative parts of the job... Well, that's up for debate on how well Triple H has performed. I don't know, man...
But I think we need to look back at Triple H's career to understand the man he became in the WWE through the early 2010s as EVP. If you look back, he worked for WCW during the dysfunctional days when Eric Bischoff was still trying to figure things out. Not much to learn from there... Then, he joins the WWF during early 1995 and instantly, the likes of Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman take a liking to him. Kevin Nash claims that his WCW character Terra Ryzing was their favorite character but I would imagine that the partying Clique at the time needed a Designated Driver at the time and straight-laced Triple H was perfect for that role. If you consider what the Clique members were going through at the time, this was BAD NEWS for Triple H's early development...
Going back to the mid-1990s WWE, things were troublesome due to the business declining and creative being stale. Top talents Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Shawn Michaels, and Sean Waltman realized fast that they could maximize their creative and payouts by forming a mini-union backstage and they could collectively work together to achieve leverage with Vince McMahon. They spoke to each other about payouts and with HBK/Diesel being Main Eventers and Scott Hall always thick in the Intercontinental Title picture, they had some control over their bookings and which superstars worked with them. Sean Waltman earned a spot to work with any incoming talents and usually his opinion was sought if they could work or not... When the Clique had a beef with management or creative, they'd have a closed door meeting with Vince McMahon to impose their creative will as needed. The Clique had many car rides and hotel stays where they'd speak about the inner-workings and politics of the WWF scene as well.
And Triple H had a front row seat for all of that back then... Sure, he probably learned how to work a match from hanging out with those guys... But he saw many other things, too. He learned how to become a politician backstage not just with improving Creative or Salaries for him, but also how to get away with things... Once Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman all bolted for WCW during 1996, guess who was left to watch over Shawn Michaels? These were tough times in the life of Shawn Michaels, too, as he has readily admitted. There were times when Triple H had to not only help Shawn get back to his hotel room, but to help him change in and out of clothes as well. Yet, Triple H did whatever it takes to not only help his friend literally survive 1996-1998, but to also remain on the cards as a top guy. After the "Curtain Call" incident, Triple H needed Shawn Michaels and their newly formed Degeneration X.
Let's talk about that famous "Curtain Call" incident... This proves what a bad political influence that the Clique had on the young and impressionable Triple H during his early career. During May of 1996, the WWE had a Houseshow at Madison Square Garden in New York City. MSG was the "mothership" of the WWE for many years, primarily from Vince Sr. running that building often for his WWWF shows. This show was special because it was the final WWE appearances of Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel), who both signed contracts to begin working for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) soon. On this card, it was Triple H vs. Razor Ramon in a regular match while Shawn Michaels and Diesel main evented the show in a Cage Match. After the Cage Match, Triple H and Scott Hall walk to the ring without any permission and Michaels, Nash, Hall, and Triple H lock arms and salute the fans in attendance.
Mind you, Triple H and Diesel were heels as characters back then and Shawn Michaels and Razor were babyfaces. Both pairs just did battle in the ring, too. While some of the Clique members suggest that they obtained permission from Vince McMahon, many others have been suggested otherwise. Because Hall and Nash were leaving for WCW and Shawn Michaels was WWE Champion, there was a feeling that they felt "bulletproof" to do that "Curtain Call" salute. However, Triple H was roped into it as well and foolishly joined their scheme to show-up WWE management and other wrestlers working hard to maintain characters for protecting the business. But think about this from Triple H's standpoint... Almost 1.5 years working for the WWE and also 4 years working for the wrestling business and YET he believes this is a great idea? Goes to show you what happens when bad influences are around.
WWE punished Triple H severely for his actions, as they changed the booking for the King of the Ring 1996 Pay Per View tournament as a result. HHH was scheduled to win that tournament but that honor was instead given to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. After Austin won that tournament, he delivered his famous "Austin 3:16" speech and the rest was history.
Triple H, meanwhile, was pushed lower on the midcard but he was still Shawn Michaels ONLY friend and associate at the time. Think about what young Triple H saw back then... Obviously, the substance problems that HBK openly had at the time... But all of the paranoia as WWE champion during 1996 that saw Michaels push out Vader from a top spot (Survivor Series 1996 was supposed to see Vader winning the WWE title but instead went to Sid) to the 1997 "lost my smile" crap as well. Triple H witnessed the backstage heat between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart and likely heard all about it, day and night, from Michaels. Triple H KNEW about the "Montreal Screwjob" from Survivor Series 1997 ahead-of-time and may have been one of the ones coming up with the idea to screw Bret out of the title. Then, after Michaels injured his back at Royal Rumble 1998, Triple H really had to put on the Best Friend pants to help Michaels make to and through the shows.
Just from 1995 through 1998... Look at the "backstage education" that Triple H received. Seems like it could have been a bad influence?
Then fast forward to 1999... To Triple H's credit, he stepped up his role in DX after Shawn Michaels left following Wrestlemania 14 and began to have some good matches. However, the political teachings came into play by early 1999 when his WWE contract came up. Thanks to WCW still being around and as a competitive threat, Triple H used that leverage to secure a "Main Event level deal" according to Jim Ross's Podcast. Much of 1999's booking, particularly from Wrestlemania 15 through SummerSlam 1999, is centered around preparing Triple H to become the next Main Eventer. Coincidentally, Steve Austin's neck was really bothering him at the time and required surgery... With Steve out, Triple H had a golden opportunity to really seize a Main Event spot with ease. Early on, however, fans weren't that crazy about a muscular guy who spits water on himself and calls himself the "Game".
With Triple H struggling initially as WWE Champion, an idea was hatched to instantly improve HHH's heat as champ. I've heard Bruce Prichard suggest that he came up as an idea, but whomever came up with the idea, it worked. They converted the "girl next door" Stephanie, who was always playing the victim in the storylines, to a "bad girl" and Mrs. Helmsley. It was a brilliant idea and it gave Triple H the heel character hook that he was looking for throughout 1999. Meanwhile, sparks began to fly between the two. Now, whether or not Triple H was fully broken up with Chyna when the Stephanie relationship began is up for debate. I've seen Triple H and Sean Waltman claim that it was long over and that Chyna refused to accept that it was over. Chyna claimed that Stephanie wrote Triple H love letters and that Chyna found them. If Triple H began to date Stephanie while he was with Chyna, it certainly adds to this column's debate... But I've heard it more that Chyna was more bitter about the break-up and her WWE exit seemed to have exaggerated many stories.
Regardless, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were dating through early 2000 which coincided with their on-screen character romance. With that, Triple H began to attend Production Meetings that only WWE management and creative personnel were allowed to attend. This was a tactic employed by Shawn Michaels, who attended a few Production meetings as a wrestler during the late 1990s. HHH was able to listen in on management's discussion on other wrestlers' creative and in theory, he could have spoke up about another wrestler's push or stature with the company. This became as major source of frustration with a returning Stone Cold Steve Austin later during 2000 when he returned from neck surgery and caused friction between the two.
Meanwhile, Triple H only became more dominant as a wrestler as 2000 concluded and then onto 2001. He defeated Stone Cold cleanly at No Way out 2001 and this was just before Steve Austin would go on to defeat The Rock at Wrestlemania 17. Then, instead of getting revenge on Triple H, Steve Austin makes the foolish mistake of his career by wanting to turn heel at Wrestlemania 17. The booking after Wrestlemania 17 was changed to create the "Two Man Powertrip" with Triple H and Steve Austin actually teaming up as heels! We didn't get much of this, as Triple H would soon shred his quadriceps muscle and was out for the rest of 2001.
HHH returned for 2002 and received a mega push for the WWE Undisputed Title at Wrestlemania 18. Trips was a muscular tank upon his return and made life a living hell for then Undisputed WWE Champion, Chris Jericho. Hey, could someone ask Chris Jericho how he felt about the storylines heading into Wrestlemania 18? You know, having to feud over Lucy the Dog? Before Wrestlemania 18, Stephanie and Triple H were no longer together in the storylines and they were fighting over custody of their dog. THAT was the storyline heading into Triple H's big return to challenge for Chris Jericho's Undisputed WWE Title which he had to defeat the Rock and Steve Austin on the SAME NIGHT to become.
Oh, but the Creative fun didn't end there for Triple H... After he professionally dropped the WWE Title to Hulk Hogan, Triple H would go on a holy terror for the rest of 2002 and much of 2003-2004. He dominated the entire roster. Whether your name was Kane, Rob Van Dam, Bill Goldberg, Scott Steiner, or Booker T... And even Randy Orton. Youngest WWE Champion ever at SummerSlam 2004 and then gets soundly defeated a month later by Triple H. Triple H mowed through everybody during 2002-2004 except Shawn Michaels (longtime friend, read above) and Chris Benoit. And we're not talking just beating them, but humiliating them. Unmaking Kane and then Katie Vick. Posedown with Scott Steiner. Pinning Bill Goldberg cleanly at the Elimination Chamber despite the torn groin, later losing to Goldberg, and then getting his win back later. Awful scripted lines given to Rob Van Dam ("you spit your water and you're like grrrrr"). Who could forget the legitimate racism pushed by Triple H's character onto Booker T before Wrestlemania 19? Triple H freakin' beat him, too, even after suggesting that "people like you" don't win World Titles.
For this entire time, Triple H is attending more and more production meetings and also during this time, Stephanie McMahon is firmly in control as the Creative Lead and eventual Executive Vice President (EVP) of Creative. And it showed, too. RAW's viewership declined from the Spring of 2000 through early 2005.
By early 2005, Triple H probably felt that he accomplished all that he needed as a wrestler and puts over Batista cleanly at Wrestlemania 21 to make him into a Main Event star. Good job. Trips also got out of the way of the John Cena express, too, putting him over cleanly. But then, for Wrestlemania 25, what did Triple H do? Oh yeah, delivered yet another beating of Randy Orton on a huge stage. This loss was devastating to Randy Orton and in my opinion, soured his attitude on the wrestling business. "Never again", as he learned from his old Evolution master and became difficult to work with that times. Orton learned from Triple H on how to be competitive backstage and to also "dog it" when you're losing a big match. By body language alone, you can always tell when Randy Orton or Triple H are both losing because they are emotionally not there in the matches and have a sour look on their faces. Funny, because Randy Orton seems so happy during 2020 because he's getting that big WWE Title push right now!
Which brings us full circle to Triple H becoming the executive... He began wrestling less and less and Vince McMahon started teaching him things backstage more and more. Early on, Triple H was very high on Sheamus and there were reports, which Sheamus denies, that the two were "workout buddies". Sheamus made his official WWE debut during June 2009 for the ECW Brand (he worked dark matches before that, I know) and he becomes WWE Champion by December 2009. They would try to push Sheamus multiple times with little success and Triple H was reportedly behind the push to make Sheamus win the 2012 Royal Rumble. And they kept trying and trying with Sheamus after that with Triple H coincidentally involved with the 2015 Money in the Bank cash-in.
Triple H took over Talent Relations around mid-2012, as John Laurinaitis was demoted. That date is important because ALL members of the Nexus (includes Ryback, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Bray Wyatt) and the Shield (Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose) were NOT his signings. To his credit, most of the Women are with maybe the exception of Charlotte Flair who was just before his takeover (though he could have been involved, he's close with Ric). He re-branded Florida Championship Wrestling as NXT, which was the reality show concept that the WWE was using during 2010-2011 to debut new wrestlers.
He changed things, possibly for the worse, however, with the Developmental Territory. He ceased developmental operating as an independent territory and created the Developmental Center instead. The building is state-of-the-art, air conditioned, and has the top of the line weight lifting and exercise equipment. Housing accommodations are also taken care of... WWE developmental talents aren't working for $20 per show, living in substandard housing or in their cars, and barely surviving before making their lucky break like many wrestlers before them. Instead, they were heavily pampered and their training was made easier to accomplish by WWE's trainers to specifically fulfill a character on WWE television.
Triple H's pampering style and nice facility has reduced the HUNGER from many of WWE's prospects. Some have let it go to their head, such as Braun Strowman and Nia Jax. Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Braun had the nerve to tell Indy workers worried about their paychecks from cancelled shows that he had to "pay his dues" and live on nothing for a while too. And that is entirely wrong since he was incubated from the WWE Performance Center from the start! Nia Jax, thanks to her relations to the Rock, was rushed to the main roster and has had a bad attitude about it with her videos and posts on Social Media while also being completely careless in the ring. If you watch the WWE Network special Breaking Ground, you can see Triple H handing out paycheck raises to his developmental wrestlers despite them not drawing anything yet. You can also see how much lighter he's going on them than past training schools or territories. While that can be praised to a degree, it's causing wrestlers to not be fully trained to handle different varieties of wrestling and it is causing a LACK OF HUNGER from wrestlers to aspire to be great. Ohio Valley Wrestling workers under Cornette & Davis worked on a smaller budget and trained & performed in very tight and uncomfortably hot situations with temperature.
Also, the training needs questioned for NXT... Unlike Cornette/Davis, Dory Funk, Les Thatcher, or even Steve Keirn at FCW, who all tried retrain prospects and remove bad habits, Triple H allows many wrestlers with Indy backgrounds to continue to their high risk style of performing. He's not filtering out the bad elements of performing, as many wrestlers are performing nothing but high risk spots throughout their matches. Sure, this looks great on a Takeover show that happens every 3 months but it's being exposed heavily on a 2 hour weekly NXT show on Wednesday Nights. Hence the 700,000 per week viewership numbers and being unable to defeat AEW Dynamite. When many of the NXT call-ups arrive to the main WWE roster, Vince McMahon does NOT want them to work that Indy style or to try high risk moves. Well, there goes 80% of the wrestler's maneuvers and they are clueless in the WWE ring. That or someone like Sasha Banks or Alexa Bliss will keep trying that high risk style and constantly become injured.
Nobody can cut good promos from NXT... Are they teaching them how to speak at all? Sure, you can blame the excessive scripted lines, but many former FCW wrestlers who were trained by Dusty Rhodes before he passed away can speak. What, is Albert/A-Train/Lord Tensai (Matt Bloom) not training wrestlers how to speak? Why are most NXT wrestlers who join the main WWE roster look like "deer in headlights" when they try to speak? They are absolutely clueless on how to present their characters on a bigger stage.
For all of the NXT call-ups who seemed to have promise... Where is your "EVP of Creative" at when you join the roster? Where is Triple H to protect his NXT students? Bayley was legitimately female John Cena from 2015-2016 and actually outsold ALL females in merchandise during that time. That's right, despite the many Bella Twins options for merchandise, just a few Bayley shirts dominated them on merchandise sales. Bayley joins the WWE main roster and start making her lose repeatedly and give her this "aw shucks" kind of attitude that destroys her successful babyface character immediately. Eventually, they turned her heel and wouldn't you know it? Her talent shined through... But what happened through the last 3 years? Then, her pal, Sasha Banks, was the best heel female worker that we've seen in years and what does the WWE try with her upon her call-up? Pushing her as a babyface from day one and always losing to Charlotte on Pay Per View.
And there's many more... I could get into any champion that NXT tries to push, be it Finn Balor (though I sort of agree with Vince on that one) and Samoa Joe. Joe drew numbers when feuding with Brock Lesnar only to be dispatched quickly by Lesnar. Now, Joe is announcing. Finn is back in NXT, by the way... How about the Revival? They were earning "Match of the Year" nods for their Tag Work in NXT and when they get to the WWE main roster, they are treated as a joke. The only wrestler that Vince has sort of liked from NXT was Baron Corbin but most fans hate the guy and not in a "I want to pay to see his arse get kicked" kind of way. Negative heat.
Some of you will point to AJ Styles... Yep, I agree, that's a great signing. Based on the way things were going in Ring of Honor and New Japan at the time, I believe that his signing with the WWE was inevitable... But we'll give credit where it's due... AJ Styles was a GREAT signing... But what about Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, and Luke "Doc" Gallows? While they've had some moments out of Nakamura, they got nothing out of Anderson and Gallows. You could blame that on Creative but remember, Triple H was "EVP of Creative". He did nothing for Anderson and Gallows in particular but he didn't see that Nakamura was a performer on decline. Year by year, Nakamura's talent has been in decline and the WWE actually tried to push him a few years ago with the Royal Rumble win.
And now, many wrestlers are fleeing to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) including Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley), the Revival (FTR), Luke Harper (Brodie Lee), Tye Dillinger (Shawn Spears), and others... But we should include Cody Rhodes as a WWE loss, too. He left during 2016 when Triple H was EVP of both Talent and Creative. How could you let him get away? How could you keep him in the Stardust gimmick? How could you let him roam free from 2016-2018 without re-signing him to another WWE contract? You feuded with Cody during the Legacy stuff... Did you not see that talent?
The biggest blow to Triple H as an Executive Vice President is his role as "EVP of Creative". Let's not forget that he's attended Production meetings since 2000 and has been dating/married to the prior Creative EVP in Stephanie McMahon. He's had an opportunity to speak up backstage on bullcrap BEFORE he took over Creative during late 2013. I heard from a backstage source that the Katie Vick stuff with Kane was HIS idea, as he wanted to make his Triple H character more psychological and diabolical towards his opponents. He's tried to deny it since, but he was trying to push a more sinister character back then and doing things like Katie Vick or talking down to Booker T were reportedly part of it. He was also heavily involved with the CM Punk storylines during 2011 and ultimately cooled down the "Summer of Punk" with a Pay Per View victory of Punk that year.
Since late 2013, he has been "EVP of Creative". It's a FACT. The way that the Organizational Charts should flow is Creative Team --> Triple H --> Vince McMahon (if needed).
Yet, what are we hearing the Observer constantly report? "Just 1 hour before the show, Vince McMahon tore up the scripts to force rewrites". Over and over again... So what happens, per the Org Chart, when the Creative Team delivers something directly to Triple H? Or lately, to the "Executive Directors"... It almost seems to me as if the Creative Staff is bypassing Triple H/Executive Directors and delivering the scripts directly to Vince. Why have an Org Chart if nobody is going to properly follow it? Why aren't the creative plans taken to Triple H directly and it stops there? Why is 74 year old (about to be 75) Vince McMahon so involved with daily creative decisions?
For Creative, it's either a situation where Triple H is incompetent or incapable... Which one? He's either afraid to make a decision on his own as EVP, he's not allowed to make a decision on his own per Vince, or he's unable to make a decision on his own? Whichever the case may be, this is NOT a position that you want your EVP to be in that oversees Creative.
Just look at the turnover on Creative since late 2013. Many writers have come and gone, either being terminated or just walking away from the WWE's schedule or process. 2 Executive Directors (Bischoff & Heyman) have been removed from their roles while Bruce Prichard was thrust into a position to handle the Creative of RAW and Smackdown which is just 5 hours of television per week. Meanwhile, many of the NXT call-ups are getting poorly used in the WWE upon being called up. Triple H acts like that cool Uncle by not accepting responsibility, as if it's Vince McMahon's fault 100%.
If Jim Ross was still EVP of Talent Relations, I bet that he'd not only disagree openly with Vince McMahon on how a talent was used or managed, but he'd make sure that Developmental was stocked with trained talent that was ready to go.
If Vince Russo was still Creative Lead, I bet that he'd openly disagree with Vince McMahon on an angle and use his seductive ways to convince Vince McMahon otherwise. Remember, Vince Russo was trashing Vince McMahon on live television during Saturday morning's WWE Live Wire in an unscripted manner. Who else has guts to do that?
In SUMMARY - Triple H just wasn't effective on the "Creative" and "Talent" portion of his older EVP of Talent, Creative, and Live Events title. I wonder if that has led to the creation of the "Executive Director" positions for Paul Heyman, Eric Bischoff, and Bruce Prichard while additional Senior Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents have been added to the Talent Relations area recently. HHH now has a title of "EVP of Global Talent Strategy & Development" yet at the same time, Vince McMahon guts most of his Performance Support employees and shuts down the proposed NXT training centers throughout the world per recent Recessionary moves following COVID-19's eruption in the United States.
You are RIGHT THERE, Triple H... You have the best seat at the table to influence Vince McMahon to change the WWE for the better... However, you consistently fail because you are either TOO NICE to your father-in-law OR you are just don't have the entrepreneurship ability to effectively pull off this job.
And you are a BOARD MEMBER, too... You've been on the WWE Corporation's Board of Directors since 2015!
But you choose to do nothing.
All of those kids that you've been grooming in your state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center are being letdown when they join the main WWE roster. You act like their Father, Friend, or Uncle while they are in NXT but you ignore them on the main WWE roster. Why?
For all I know, Triple H is just waiting it out... Slowly but surely, that WWE roster is going to be mostly consisting of his NXT call-ups. They will all be beholden to the guy who signed and pampered them in the Performance Center. When Vince is gone (retires or, sad to say, passes away), Vince's shares would promote Stephanie to CEO from being Chief Brand Officer and Triple H gets full control of the backstage area like he's always wanted.
If recent history shows us, he might be incompetent for the job to run the entire WWE. If he's failing to accept the challenge to improve things now, what will happen when Vince is gone? Triple H isn't getting any younger himself at the tender age of 51. That motivation slips away, the older that you become...
What I worry about is his upbringing... The Clique educated him and molded his political brain into being way too competitive and thin skinned backstage. He also lacks any business or financial sense that most should develop at an early age. It's easy to spend money at a LOSS for NXT to operate with its Performance Centers and Takeover, it's entirely different when you are managing an entire budget for a company and payroll for the wrestlers. What would happen if Vince retires and the wrestlers try to challenge Triple H's new authority by forming a union?
I'd watch what happens with that new Chief Revenue Officer, Nick Khan. WWE doesn't just hire a new Executive Officer if it feels confidence in their existing ones.
Bases on Triple H's signings since mid-2012 and Creative role since late 2013, I don't believe that HHH has performed well in his position. The numbers speak for themselves. When older veterans like Brock Lesnar, Bill Goldberg, or John Cena aren't around, the WWE has struggled badly for the latter half of the 2010s. Since early 2015, Monday Night RAW has lost MORE THAN HALF of its viewership! Attendance has lost thousands, merchandise sales are declining. Meanwhile, the next Top Drawing superstar has NOT been signed or developed by Triple H's Talent Relations management. Those are just facts...
Triple H = The Phantom Menace of the WWE.
Maybe it's not Vince McMahon who needs to go? Maybe Vince just needs a better supporting cast around him instead, as history shows.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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