Thursday, July 9, 2015

Maybe Triple H Wasn't So Bad in 2002...

Early Aughts Triple H's least publicized burial may have been the best one for business
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In 2002, Triple H was at the height of accusation of being an evil politicking son-of-a-gun. Having just married into the McMahon family and returned from his blown-out quad suffered on what should have been a watershed RAW match where he teamed with Steve Austin against Chris Jericho and [REDACTED], he resumed his role of being forcibly shoehorned into the national television audience's consciousness with the same vision that Homer Simpson had for Poochie.

But according to Vince Russo, Triple H in 2002 did the world a solid. In an attempt to smear the current Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative, Russo said that when he attempted to come back to WWE, Triple H was "not in [his] corner," thus saving the company from further creative atrophy. Russo claims it to be an act of disloyalty, but while Russo's influence helped make WWE a pop culture phenomenon in 1997, it burnt out quickly and nearly killed pro wrestling as everyone knows it. As seen by his multiple stints in TNA, his methodology is severely dated even fewer than 20 years from its beginning.

Of course, it doesn't really excuse the creative handcuffs Triple H's massive godfather push put on WWE television in the aftermath of his return, especially the embarrassing feud vs. Booker T into WrestleMania XIX. However, people contain multitudes in most cases. In retrospect, a lot of commonly-held opinions or things treated as fact in those days were misinformed at the very least. Don't get me wrong; I don't look at those days of Trips mundane, self-fluffing feuds with guys like Chris Jericho or Goldberg with halcyon fondness. But maybe it wasn't so much that he was the only one playing politics. Jericho himself admitted to maneuvering so that he got more of a shine than Rob van Dam, back when RVD was less bloated and more relevant.

Another victim of hardcore fan vitriol in the early Aughts, Brian Gewirtz, is leaving WWE to go work for The Rock's production company. Gewirtz was a lead writer back then, and actually held onto at least a position on Creative into 2012, when he was finally relieved of his regular duties and sent home as a consultant, which he remained until the recent departure. Granted, it's not that Gewirtz was blameless; he showed his awful tendencies when he served as a promo collaborator with Rock during his most recent comeback to the company. But as stories have illuminated, the position of head writer oftentimes is a neutered one thanks to the final stamp from Vince McMahon.

Again, those villains from back in the day like Trips, Gewirtz, and even Russo, who himself had a positive impact on wrestling in a couple of ways, minute as they may have been, aren't all evil. "Multitudes" is the word of the day. In some cases, those decisions can end up being a net positive. Imagine how much worse WWE might have been in 2002 and 2003 if Trips didn't block Russo from coming back and having a more prominent role. What was produced since then may not have been the most optimal bit of wrestling in the company's history, but it certainly had its merits, more than what it might have been if Russo were allowed back in.