“You see, in this industry, just like in life, everything evolves”. – Triple H, 02/03/03
It has been just about a month since Paul Levesque took over the reigns as head of WWE Creative and Talent relations in WWE after the ouster of Vince McMahon. And, honestly, it’s been such a fun ride. There are so many visible changes happening, but of course, not everything can change overnight. Stars are getting pushed, stars are getting fixed, there is more fluidity and genuineness on the mic, and there is more time devoted on TV to what this product we watch, listen, read, and rant about on social media is all about: professional wrestling (cue Noah), dammit!
But, some don’t really seem to grasp that idea. Some are stuck in their own fantasy land. Some fans just haven’t grown up. Let me explain what I mean.
In this world things change. They’re supposed to. We’re supposed to grow up, become wiser, understand more, and continue on. But for a large group of wrestling fans, none of them have done that. And, specifically I mean the fans that go, “We want the Attitude Era back!” “Where are these copy paste Stone Cold guys” “Wrestling isn’t what it was back then”. No, it’s not. And that’s a good thing. Thank goodness we are no longer in the Attitude Era!!! And thank goodness it’s never coming back, even despite the potential of Raw becoming TV-14, let me explain something to you: the Attitude Era is never coming back, and that is one of the best things for wrestling.
Let me give a little example by what I mean with one person in particular: Vince Russo. Russo is known as one of the “architects” of the early Attitude Era before he left WWE for WCW in 1999. To Russo’s credit, from 1997 to 1999 he helped Raw surpass WWE by helping create DX, the Stone Cold vs. McMahon feud, and pushed The Rock and Stone Cold. When Russo left for WCW in 1999 he tried to do the exact same type of thing in WCW that he did in WWE. But it didn’t work. Russo’s involvement with WCW, I will dare say, hastened their eventual destruction faster than anything with Bah at the Beach 2000 being one of the worst instances in WCW history. Need I go on? Then in 2002, Russo signed with TNA where he worked on and off till 2014. TNA never was seen as any threat to WWE. Why? Because Vince Russo kept trying to do his same old tricks that were done and over with in 1999. Russo never learned. He never evolved. And he still hasn’t grown to this day. Russo doesn’t understand the business anymore because *he* and his ideas aren’t the business anymore. Russo’s ideas worked *at the time*, but despite how many swear by it’s And that’s what so many other fans haven’t gotten past either. Their idea of wrestling isn’t a thing anymore. And not only is that true for Vince Russo and co., but it’s also true for Vince McMahon.
Vince McMahon’s refusal himself to grow and change, professionally and personally, is what led to his downfall. Vince McMahon, like Vince Russo, refused to accept change. Why? He wasn’t *always* like that, was he? He created Hulk Hogan and then passed the torch to Bret and Shawn. But, we should note, that wasn’t always the plan (see Lex Luger). Then the torch was passed to Stone Cold and the Rock and from them to John Cena. Then what? Then Vince didn’t know what to do because wrestling was changing in a way that he didn’t understand and he couldn’t control. And we all know how much Vince hates not being able to control things (just sneeze around him). That’s why, when Cena’s time at the top full time was coming to a close, Vince went with Roman Reigns. He went to what he *thought* would work, but it wasn’t 1987 anymore. And Vince failed to realize that. Vince had a great roster to work with of amazing talent, but didn’t have a clue how to use them right, because Vince refused to grow and understand where wrestling was and had been building to at that point. He thought his old “tried and true techniques” would work, but they didn’t because wrestling had been evolving right under Vince’s nose and he couldn’t see or comprehend it. That’s why Vince had to destroy NXT, and why he didn’t understand the majority of superstars who came up through it: because he, like his buddy Russo, no longer understood wrestling.
So where am I going with all this? Ever since Triple H became head of creative and returned to his post of Head of Talent Relations, the same people who have been criticizing Vince but loving Russo’s 97-99 years have not shut up with,, “Triple H is bringing in his old guys” “why is Hunter bringing back Vince rejects?” (as if you’ve actually enjoyed what Vince had been doing), and, “Triple H is only catering to diehard marks! We can’t relate with these guys!”. And, you know what, in a way, they’re right.
Triple H is bringing back his guys because he knows their worth. He knows their skills. He knows their *WRESTLING* talent, because as much as Vinny Mac didn’t like the term anymore, this is still World *Wrestling* Entertainment, where you fight in the ring to get a shot at the belt!
Triple H is bringing back guys and girls Vince saw no value in and cast out because Vince himself had no creative value anymore. He couldn’t see past himself and his own ego, and when he got scared because wrestling fans were wanting and demanding the change Vince would not give them, Vince punished those fans instead by wasting the superstars they loved and were invested in with the product Triple H was leading, because Vince neither cared nor understood, nor did he ever want to.
Triple H isn’t catering to diehards. Triple H understands that wrestling is changing. Wrestling is going to change and always will and we must be willing to demand that change as people have for so long. That is why so many are embracing Triple H because he understands professional wrestling and the landscape and world we live in. It was him and Shawn Michaels in DX in 1997 who saw things were changing and forced Vince’s hand. It was Triple H who realized wrestling was again changing, and WWE was refusing to truly change with it, and so he gave us NXT. Triple H gives us superstars to relate to BECAUSE they’re not Hogan or Rock, or Stone Cold because we have all grown up, or at least should have. That time is gone and it’s done. We see superstars who are regular, normal people, nerds, geeks like all of us. We as fans are able to relate to today’s wrestlers simply because we’ve grown up. The world has grown, the world has changed. When I look at a wrestler like Johnny Gargano, like Finn Balor, like Sami Zayn, like Adam Cole, like Kevin Owens: I see a regular guy like me living out their dreams. And THAT is what makes them relatable to EVERYONE, not some die hard Attitude Era marks who haven’t grown up and don’t think wrestlers can be real people and do amazing things no matter how much they weigh. Because these wrestlers today and their characters are just like us: human beings.
“Evolution always continues and you have to look to the future”. This is something Triple H understood and knew from day 1. Vince Russo and his marks didn’t. Vince forgot it. Triple H LIVES it. And that is exactly why this industry will flourish with what Triple H can do at the helm. He understands the fans. He understands change. He has the greatest mind for the business today. And now that the handcuffs are off, it’s time to watch this place go to heights yet unseen. The future is bright. The future is now. Accept it and grow, or evolution will pass you by.