Triple H as WWE Creative Head: A Year After

WWE Hall of Famer and muti-time WWE Champion Paul “Triple H’ Levesque has been in-charge of the content that WWE brings to its audience in every multimedia platform. This highlights the change that people see in the storytelling of major WWE programs and brands such as Raw, Smackdown, and NXT which I observed that it improved in such a way that its level of wrestling quality can be competed with the likes of NJPW and AEW to name a few. Well, it is a fact that Vince McMahon created WWE as a global entertainment powerhouse that mainly focused on wrestling, but watching matches during these times are lackluster especially on weekly TV shows or any non-PLE show. Today’s a different story, where Vince McMahon stepped down from power and Triple H replaced him in the gorilla position and everything went interesting again.

Good side

Firstly, the most obvious change that happened during Triple H’s regime is the quality of matches that they showcased not just on PLE but also on weekly TV programming. This highlights the second “W” in WWE, that lacked for ages in the company’s main roster, to say at least. This also doesn’t mean that wrestling was absent after all during the time of Vince McMahon, but it elevated drastically in terms of quality. Although, during Levesque’s tenure as creative head of NXT’s black and gold brand, WWE fans argued that it was one of the best times in contemporary WWE history due to consistent storylines and high-caliber matches. Going back, I honestly want to give highlight on RAW because I find it enjoyable for 3 hours straight and did not feel any some sort of fatigue in front of my TV set during Triple H’s first months as creative head. A big factor here is that some “random” matches felt like a worthy for main event that lets you stay in that channel until the show ends. Since then, there were several matches that happened under Triple H’s leadership that were given 5 stars by veteran pro wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer. Additionally, the backstage morale of talents burns more passion in their hearts and urges them to perform better and work efficiently without any fear of being scolded by their boss or having an embarrassing act on TV.

Another point that made the WWE product better since Vince McMahon left the creative head position is that he eliminated good ole’ jokes that are cheesy which doesn’t fit in this generation. Personally, I still find old segments of DX funny during the Attitude Era, but it will be a different story if those happened today. WWE will be probably out in national TV since people will rant at social media and will “cancel” WWE and people involved and take those issues as a huge deal whatsoever. Going back with the DX “jokes” from the attitude era, most of the jokes under the PG Era of Vince McMahon aren’t entertaining at all. The usual scenario is that wrestlers often “insult” their rivalries in promo segments like they were kids rather than being tough-looking individuals with balls, in comparison to the guys back in the day. It also brought wrestlers being monotonous in giving their promos since I just observed that there’s a certain way on how they should deliver promos under Vince McMahon. These are all completely gone under Triple H’s control. He gives emphasis to let wreslters feel that they mean business when they’re in the ring confronting their enemy.

Asuka and Iyo Sky delivered an anime-like confrontation during their promo on RAW? Rey Mysterio speaking more Spanish with LWO on Smackdown? That’s absolutely possible if Triple H is head of creative. This is just a part of the new WWE creative booking strategy for it to legitimize its international presence. I often don’t pay attention in promos delivered by non-english speaking wrestlers during the time of Vince McMahon due to the fact that it doesn’t give authenticity in confronting their opponents with their voice. With these foreign languages being allowed to be spoken on promos, it just gave those storylines another flavor that magnets viewers into their screen. However, most audience might have a language barrier, I just wish that WWE will add some translations if they post those parts in their social media accounts if it happened live. I don’t see the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura struggling in speaking English which they can effectively deliver their character well. It also adds to their “internationalization” is that they seek potential venues outside mainland United States for their PLEs, which I see it as a great move. WWE already hosted successful international events that aired worldwide such as Backlash in Puerto Rico, Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, and their annual event in Saudi Arabia that were warmly welcomed by passionate WWE fans in those places in terms of ticket sales.

The consistency of storylines and proper execution of angles with a highlight to huge plots, also played a huge factor in making WWE’s business boom during post-COVID-19 pandemic under Triple H. A great example of this is the babyface turn of Sami Zayn, that chose to side with his longtime friend Kevin Owens, from The Bloodline wherein the “chair shot of betrayal” to Roman Reigns echoed inside the Alamodome while the crowd immediately erupted at Royal Rumble PLE in 2023. This also happened during the 30th anniversary of RAW which happened a week before Royal Rumble where The Bloodline had their Tribal Court where an escalation among the members, including Sami Zayn, has been observed leaving a potential implosion within the group. It was the best episode of RAW so far since RAW after WrestleMania 30. Fast forward at WrestleMania 39 wherein Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens dethroned Jimmy and Jey Uso to win the Undisputed Tag Team Championships. After that match, the crowd was extremely happy about that moment which I did too at home. It was satisfying at a high level, only to figure out that Cody would fall short from Roman Reigns and failed to “finish” his story the following night. Currently, the Bloodline has been imploded with Jey leaving the island of relevancy by transferring to the red brand.

During Vince’s tenure, the United States and Intercontinental titles are being disregarded and was treated like it doesn’t exist in WWE but that changed when McMahon stepped down as creative head. Many people were disappointed when Walter was changed to Gunther due to WWE’s consistency in changing wrestler’s in-ring name more likely when making their debut in the main roster. The WWE Universe are in doubt seeing Gunther being successful in his career after being called up from NXT. There was a time during his first few weeks that I felt like Gunther was not in a good position wherein he always chops Ludwig Kaiser despite being his longtime “partner” in his days in NXT, collectively called as Imperium. Gunther’s booking at the time was some sort of lackluster and a bit racist since Vince had a reputation of treating non-native english speaking wrestlers bad in WWE TV. Since allegations of hush scandals of Vince McMahon came out on mid 2022, he was ousted in power, and they replaced Levesque as head of creative. To say at least, Gunther is extremely lucky with the situations during that time and I’m happy for it. Now, he is the current and longest-reigning Intercontinental champion of all time beating several WWE Hall of Famers. He also created several 5-star matches both in NXT and the main roster which is something that lacked for a long time. I am elated with the things that are happening to Gunther and the Intercontinental championship since Hunter made a, together with the US Title, main event-like treatment.

Bad side

Levesque’s first days as newly in-charge of creative is that he called former WWE talents back in the company by giving them another chance to showcase their talents in the main roster. There were likes of Karrion Kross with Scarlett, Johnny Gargano, Hit Row, the late Bray Wyatt, and other people mostly from NXT made their return to the company. For me, this was a bad move by Hunter because WWE gave contracts to a lot of people at once without planning it well. This caused inconsistencies to storytelling and overall booking of matches since some members of the current roster at that time were being forgotten already, due to Triple H giving more screen time to just a few talents, newly hired or not. An example of this scenario is Karrion Kross’ main roster run, which both lacked character execution and storytelling. This wasn’t the first time that Kross had a main roster run in WWE since he was called up from NXT during the time of Vince McMahon, but he suffered same fate under Triple H. There was a time when WWE tried to create an angle with Roman Reigns in Kross’ Smackdown debut on August 2022, but it was all trashed prior to his release. The only difference is the presence of Scarlett and the amount of screen time Kross had. In the case of Hit Row, as I watched Smackdown with them in my screen, I cannot tell their presence without their former member and leader Swerve Strickland (FKA Isaiah “Swerve” Scott) during their days at NXT. They were just painful and a waste of time in my TV since they lacked proper character build-up and interesting storyline.

Although Triple H brought back some talents, there were a few talents backstage that prefer Vince McMahon to handle creative which was reported by Wade Keller at PWTorch. Some well-known wrestlers that are considered as Vince guys were Brock Lesnar, The Miz, Austin Theory, and Rick Boogs who stated that his career was better when McMahon was still in charge giving him more TV spotlight. It was notable that Boogs had his debut match at WrestleMania 38 in 2022 but suffered injury during his tag team championship match with Shinsuke Nakamura, and he was released earlier this year with short appearances on RAW backstage. I don’t see anything wrong here since Triple H’s job doesn’t prevent him from having some kind of favoritism to some talents. Moreover, this might potentially cause misunderstanding in terms of effectiveness of Triple H’s policies and changes to the overall product of WWE.

With the number of wrestlers in this generation, I am still in doubt that he might fail to build new organic superstars with his way of booking matches and segments. Lately, I just noticed that his treatment to the current roster is more balanced that almost everyone now has significant time in front of the camera, but I think building the organic superstar will be a hard time for Hunter for now. There is no doubt that Roman Reigns is currently the biggest WWE talent today despite being a top heel, but he is still miles away from what John Cena had created. Let’s not forget that both Roman and John Cena rose to the top due to Vince McMahon’s booking with their strong characters, especially as babyfaces. People watching WWE still prefer a huge babyface character for them to cheer on every week, which is something that I currently see on Cody Rhodes. Sami Zayn’s face turn from The Bloodline earlier this year was undoubtedly an epic moment, but his “hotness” started to fall down after he lost to Roman in front of his hometown crowd in Montreal. It was also a bad call for Judgment Day’s Balor and Priest to defeat KO and Sami at Payback PLE for the Undisputed Tag Team championships, which led to Sami’s complete fade from the spotlight. The connection here is that Sami could’ve been consistent as a top babyface or even talent in WWE, together with Cody Rhodes, but I don’t see it anymore. Although, things became more interesting when KO and Sami indirectly broke up as a team while “main event” Jey Uso is on RAW roster.

WWE remains to be a top wrestling company in United States and worldwide for these reasons that it gives enteratainment targeted for kids and become family-friendly program in weekly television. The consistency of storylines, variety of characters, and the overall production and brand partnerships can counter opposing sports programming such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, and other major sports league in United States. This corporate legacy of WWE will continue under the vision of Triple H, also with the help of other promotions to let the professional wrestling industry thrive, decades after the death of WCW that served as WWE’s toughest competition during the 90’s. With WWE’s long reputation of providing high caliber products worldwide and creating superstars that are ready for Hollywood, no one can deny the influence of this company in a much broader aspect of entertainment. As being dubbed by Vincent K. McMahon, WWE is highly known for its “sports entertainment” branding WWE became a global brand of excellence then, now, and forever.