MR. TITO: The NEW WWE World Heavyweight Title is Just Another Triple H Blunder
For years as a pro wrestling fan and also for over 24 years as an opinion writer, I’ve seen some lazy booking… Particularly with these Brand Splits, the WWE gets very sloppy regarding its title belts. “Title Inflation”, as I’d call it, with too many belts and too many new champions crowned. Then, I saw highlights from Monday Night RAW on 4/24/2023…
A new World Heavyweight Championship title belt?!?!?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Roman Reigns have 2 World Titles, one from each brand (RAW & Smackdown)? And doesn’t he hold TWO title belts, still, to be representative as the champion of both brands?
Sooooooo, why isn’t the WWE just simply stripping him of one or both of the titles? If the issue is him being a part-timer, then where is that old “must defend title within 30 or 60 days” clause that the WWE used to force on its wrestlers in storylines? Didn’t they just do that on Brock Lesnar a few years ago and was the emphasis of a SummerSlam storyline with Roman? Wasn’t Roman dogging Brock for being a part-timer and not defending the title often?
So why aren’t those title stipulations imposed on Roman Reigns? Why is he the exception to the role?
Instead, Triple H introduces a NEW World Championship title, which appears to be the lovechild of the stupid “WWE” logo titles and the NWA/WCW big gold belt that Triple H lusts over and awarded during 2002 out of thin air to become RAW’s world champion. What a joke… This is the BEST that you can offer as “Chief Content Officer”? And honestly, if this belt was created so that Cody Rhodes can win it, WHAT A JOKE and this “world title” will be immediately laughed at by everyone. Cody would be a PHONY champion if he wins this without ever defeating Roman Reigns. Then, in a few months, WWE will try to correct this mistake with yet another Title vs. Title match… LAZY!
NOBODY and I repeat NOBODY gets over because of these DUMB decisions regarding WWE’s main event wrestlers and the title belts.
The simple solution is that when Roman Reigns is away, you’d bolster the statuses of whomever is holding the United States Title and Intercontinental Title of each brand. THAT should be the title sought after OR the WWE could have fights over who is the #1 contender to wrestle Roman when he returns. It’s that simple… Have valid fights over RANKINGS in the main event division, like they used to… WWE only had a World Title and IC title back in the day for a large roster and nobody had a problem finding something to do.
I swear, I must be the only one 100% OK with Roman Reigns being a part-time World Champion. I’m fine with it… I don’t have to see him every week, nor do I have to see him wrestle every week. His appearances as the top guy and champion SHOULD BE SPECIAL and not something to be watered down. Gee, why has Brock Lesnar been over for the past decade? Because we’ve seen him LESS than the rest of the tired roster who works weekly. LESS IS MORE, folks, in the pro wrestling industry. If you don’t get that, then you are watching WAY TOO MUCH wrestling than you should be. If you eat pizza & cake each and every day, you’re going to get tired consuming pizza & cake every day.
But let’s get back to the PHONY “World Heavyweight Championship” that was created by Triple H. THAT is your guy, Internet? That is the genius that you’re defending as Vince McMahon returns and attempts to correct things? Really? That ugly ass title and the idea of it existing is what you want to defend? How about all of those FAILED re-signings that Triple H brought back since July 2022? Come on, tell me which of them has drawn money for the WWE that would exceed the salaries that Triple H has paid them to return. Which one is over and considered a success? I’ll answer that for you, NONE of them…
I’ve been writing on this guy for 24+ years, folks… The more that Triple H‘s influence backstage has grown or the more responsibilities he’s earned, the WORSE that the WWE gets. That’s a fact. Complete FACT. WWE has done NOTHING BUT DECLINE since pushing him through late 1999, where WWE peaked, and has declined further since Triple H began gaining backstage responsibilities during the 2010s.
In the past, Vince McMahon had a reliable management group around him which included Jim Ross for Talent Relations (through 2004), Pat Patterson for Creative (through 2004, consulted afterward), Jim Cornette for Creative (through late 1997), Bruce Prichard just as a Creative Team member (through 2008, returned during 2019), and Talent Development (through 2005), Vince Russo for Creative (through 1999), and Gerald Brisco as Talent Scout and Road Agent (through 2009). Since then, the WWE replaced all of that brainpower surrounding Vince, resulting in over 4 million fans lost since the 2000s, with Triple H on various roles, John Laurinaitis on Talent Relations several times (now gone), Stephanie McMahon on Creative for a while (late 2013), increased Creative role for Kevin Dunn, Michael PS Hayes as a snitch, and anyone who is a friend to Triple H (Road Dogg, William Regal, HBK). Oh, and a whole host of FAILED Hollywood Writers, about 40 of them employed including the late wife of the Ultimate Warrior. Seriously.
But Triple H has been the biggest player on that team, helping with Live Events since the early 2010s… He has been in charge of Creative from late 2013 through the Fall of 2019, returning to that role since July 2022. For Talent Relations, he was in charge of it from 2012 through early 2020, resuming that role since July 2022. However, let’s not overlook his influence backstage throughout the 2000s not just as a Main Event wrestler, but then fiancé and then husband to Stephanie McMahon who was in charge of Creative throughout the 2000s. These timeframes are documented FACTS.
Folks, I’ve tried to tell you REPEATEDLY for many years… Triple H is the “phantom menace” of the WWE. The WWE has done NOTHING BUT DECLINE since he became increasingly involved at the top of the WWE and then backstage thereafter. Let’s run through the facts of his career since joining the WWE to see what a snake and what a bad influence he has been for this company.
– Joins WWE, immediately starts hanging out with the Clique (Hall, Nash, HBK). Funny how that works.
– During the 1996 “Certain Call”, he thought it would be OK to just walk to the ring and salute his departing friends Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. He was lucky to not be fired, but has his pal Shawn Michaels to thank for probably saving his job.
– Complete enabler to Shawn Michaels on the way up with DX. HHH has admitted to helping Shawn Michaels change in and out of his tights due to HBK’s substance abuse during late 1996 and leading up to Wrestlemania 14 through 1997. HBK was in bad shape with pills and especially after the Royal Rumble 1998 back injury. Why didn’t you say anything back then to HELP Shawn with his issues? You said something during 2001 to help him, but why not during 1997-1998 when HBK could have really injured himself or someone in the ring?
– Always jealous of the Rock. That has been documented as a fact for many years by many wrestlers. Funny how many times Triple H has defeated him throughout the years and with titles on the line.
– Completely lied about any involvement into Survivor Series 1997, as you may witness for yourself on Wrestling With Shadows when HHH lies right to Bret Hart’s wife’s face. While the situation was unique, he was a midcarder at that point and doing his best to protect the Shawn Michaels gravy train for his career.
– After Steve Austin left for surgery following Survivor Series 1999, attendance numbers declined during late 1999 and throughout 2000 according to Jim Ross particularly for houseshows. Triple H was World Champion for much of that time. Without Austin and over-pushing Triple H, it ended the peak of the Attitude Era.
– Triple H, as a wrestler, began attending Production Meetings during 2000. This is well documented and a point of contention with Steve Austin, as documented either in his book or a documentary while being confirmed by other attending sources. A wrestler attending these can not only enhance his role, but harm other competing wrestlers.
– Steve Austin turns heel at Wrestlemania 17 and what happens? Joins in a faction with Triple H known as the Two Man Powertrip. Complete disaster and HHH hijacked any possibility of Steve Austin doing well, as a heel, on his own. We all knew who was the butch in that relationship.
– Good for HHH on dating Stephanie, but his influence protected him when he returned as a WWE wrestler during 2002-2003. Those years were AWFUL as Triple H defeated many babyface opponents cleanly and made a mockery out of Kane, Booker T, Scott Steiner, and Bill Goldberg.
– Created World Heavyweight Championship out of thin air and was awarded the title during 2002. No tournament, nothing credible other than later merging the Intercontinental Title with the play title. Of course, the belt resembled the NWA/WCW big gold belt so that Triple H could cosplay being Ric Flair. Funny how that big gold belt magically appears now…
– Developed a snitch culture backstage, as anyone being critical of Stephanie’s Creative or Triple H as a performer were immediately reported to both of them. This also parlayed into what was reported to the Observer or Torch, as you RARELY saw any anti-Stephanie or anti-Triple H stories. Plenty of stories calling Vince “senile”, however. Any wrestlers who dared to complain backstage about creative were instantly buried (Shelton Benjamin, for example).
– His creative ideas during 2002-2003 blew up in his face. Triple H wanted to make his character more diabolical or psychological as a heel, hence why you saw the cruel stuff with Booker T or the Katie Vick stuff with Triple H. I’ve heard road agents confirm Triple H either pitching or getting excited about ideas brought up at creative meetings regarding those ideas. Triple H was “all in” for that Katie Vick idea, make no mistake. Much of the script during the funeral scene with Katie Vick was thought up by Triple H, I was told by sources.
– Protected his Evolution buddies. While I’d argue Batista was warranted and very talented, Randy Orton got away with some bad behavior during the 2000s that would have terminated other wrestlers. Orton was over-pushed several times during the 2000s and not ready for the Main Event scene.
– Exempt from the Wellness Policy or any other mandatory drug testing. Scott Steiner is quoted as saying when WWE asked him to take a drug test, he suggested that Triple H join him for testing and he never heard back from the WWE ever again. The lack of testing might have been a bad idea for future years.
– Took over Talent Relations during 2012 and inserted Matt Bloom as a yes-man and former friend to handle training duties, particularly after Dusty’s passing. Wrestlers haven’t been developed as well ever since. Female wrestlers coming out of FCW/NXT who were without Dusty’s influence haven’t been as good, too. Complete lack of ability to create any MALE Main Eventers, with Kevin Owens and Finn Balor being his “prized” call-ups. Finn Balor returned to NXT… HHH’s signings have been veterans, former Impact wrestlers, or just tall wrestlers pushed to be brooding clones of Triple H’s 2002-2003 character.
– He signed Sin Cara, tried to push him to the moon. Complete disaster.
– His Creative Tenure from late 2013 through the Fall of 2019 has resulted in OVER 2 million viewers lost for Monday Night RAW. You can keep blaming Vince McMahon, but Vince clearly had better results with Stephanie McMahon from 2010-2013 than afterward with Triple H. Many NXT call-ups during 2015-2018 suffered HHH’s wrath, as he did not protect his own students or push them well at all.
– Disliked CM Punk, repeatedly mocked him at Production Meetings about his physique by calling him “skinny fat”. Then, Triple H buried CM Punk by defeating him on the Pay Per View after SummerSlam 2011 to officially end his momentum.
– Disliked Daniel Bryan, insomuch that he over-pushed Randy Orton to defeat Bryan after SummerSlam 2013 and pushed for Batista vs. Randy Orton, his buddies, to headline Wrestlemania 30. The fans reversed course on that and forced Triple H to repair that drastic mistake.
– Big fans of Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio, kept over-pushing both whenever he had the opportunity. Neither worked out, ever.
– AEW kicked his NXT brand’s arse in the “Wednesday Night Wars”. When pushed to make NXT become a 2-hour live show, the smoke & mirrors of the previous years of his NXT promotion were exposed. Tony’s AWFUL AEW brand consistently beat Triple H’s NXT booking, even when HHH tried to stack cards with WWE talent.
– Returns to Talent Relations during July 2022 and immediately resigns multiple wrestlers who were released during 2020-2022. None of them have been successful.
– Creates JOKE of a returning World Heavyweight Championship title on April 24th, 2023.
But what do I know, I’ve just been covering Triple H‘s career as a fan for his entire tenure and as a writer since late 1998. I’ve tested numbers, studied facts, talked to legitimate sources, etc. Everything points to Triple H being a great politician but not delivering when it’s his turn to be the top guy or make decisions. Period.
For example, if you look at the timeframes when Triple H was fully in charge of Creative from late July 2022 through late March 2023, here are his average viewership numbers:
– RAW: 1,769,389
– Smackdown: 2,205,639
Then, you compare that to a similar timeframe just a year earlier from late July 2021 through late March 2022 while Vince was actively in charge and Triple H was not fully part of Creative:
– RAW: 1,717,086
– Smackdown: 2,100,057
Congrats to Triple H for almost 50,000 more viewers for RAW and around 100,000 extra viewers for Smackdown. However, several things to note here… The 2021 numbers were still climbing out of the pandemic following those closed arena and Thunderdome sessions which saw numbers hitting lows for both shows. 2022 saw fully attended shows compared to carefully protected live events endured during 2020-2021. Triple H did a few smart tweaks to the Bloodline, such as Sami Zayn being added to the group, which deserves credit as well particularly for Smackdown.
BUT… If you know statistics, these 50,000 for RAW and 100,000 for Smackdown differences are NOT within statistical significance. While they are up slightly, both are below any variance or standard deviation for anything materially significant in viewership growth. FURTHMORE, Triple H’s July/August numbers were heavily influenced by the whole Vince McMahon exit controversy and curiosity for WWE’s new direction. If you look at June and July 2022 numbers, RAW in particular was seeing much higher numbers for that time period especially after WWE’s April/May numbers for 2022 were lackluster.
If you factor out July/August, for example, and compare the rest of 2022 (September through December) versus the same time period with 2021, RAW’s numbers for the last few months of 2021 are actually HIGHER than 2022 while the margin on Smackdown is just 30,000 viewers higher. To Triple H’s credit for the 1st quarter of 2022 versus 2023, he seemed to draw up better interest in Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania events. In my view, he captured “lightning in a bottle” with Sami Zayn that really made Royal Rumble 2023 interesting and the weeks thereafter.
Numbers are slightly up, but not significantly. Amazing what Sami Zayn actually did for the WWE through early 2023, for sure.
But the TALENT is the big thing… All of those re-signings were failures. Nothing in the NXT brand, since Triple H regained control, has made any difference. In fact, it was wrestlers signed while John Laurinaitis was in charge (2020 through mid 2022) that may seem to show promise, such as Rick Steiner’s kid. Nothing signed since July 2022 and there are still wrestlers signed from 2012-2019 that still haven’t made a big impact on the WWE roster, especially on the male side. The only signings that Triple H made and have made impact were trained by Dusty Rhodes and the talents in NXT since his passing haven’t been trained as well under Matt Bloom.
Besides Sami and the Bloodline, as the Bloodline was a Vince McMahon idea since August 2020 by the way, Creative hasn’t been that great for other wrestlers. It just hasn’t… And again, which is why the numbers are significantly higher than they could be under a new creative voice.
Vince knows that Triple H isn’t that creative, which is part of the reason he forcefully made his return.
Triple H only knows one thing and that is how he rose to the top of the WWE roster through late 1999 and then dominated from 2000-2005. That is what he THINKS is how to present characters. But he’s wrong and WWE has suffered with him as a manager since the early 2010s and Vince McMahon is too nice as a Father-in-Law and Dad to correct this mistake. He tried during 2019-2021, but sadly brought back John Laurinaitis and Bruce Prichard to be his replacements. Because Vince McMahon pushed back on former wrestlers joining his company as backstage hands, denying brilliant talents like Mick Foley, Edge, Christian, Steve Austin, and many others from obtaining backstage roles, he’s relied on his family (Stephanie, Shane, Triple H), failed Hollywood writers, and corporate types to help him run his company.
Thus, there is NOBODY in the pipeline to bring in and help your wrestling business. That’s why Tony Khan cannot find anybody to help him, either.
But again, what do I know? Just a wrestling fan for 35 years and a writer for over 24 with thousands of columns under my belt that have been read by millions.
Triple H just isn’t exceptional as a manager of a wrestling company. He’s hardworking, yes, but he should answer to someone smarter and creative than him instead.
Open your eyes, wrestling fans… I know that you grew up with Triple H as your in-ring hero during the early 2000s, but numbers don’t lie about his decisions during the 2010s and his return to the top since late July 2022 hasn’t been that great either.
So just chill… till the next episode!