Heel Triple H - Emergence and Domination of The Game
by, 07-03-2011 at 08:08 AM (8000 Views)
Triple H is one of those wrestlers in the world and of the past few years that almost everyone (and quite possibly everyone) seems to have an opinion about.
It has been well documented his politicking, all the way into the top of the company for the forseeable future, apparent butt kissing and whoring into power.
Though this may be true and backed up by people in the industry, success breeds contempt and thats a fact. I refuse to let it sully what may honestly, be my favourite character in all of wrestling. Austin, Hart, Rock, Michaels and many more or so revered almost universally. Yet uttering something positive about Triple H is immediately going to be met with derision at the mere mention of his name. Before I knew or cared to read into his apparent brown nosing to the top, the guy almost overnight became my favourite, and for quite a considerable time.
Now let me give some of my own personal history of the progression of this guys career. When I first saw him debut as Hunter Hearst Helmsley I was still quite young. I got that he was a heel, but I didn't have any real heat towards him. This was quite possibly because around 1995/1996 I took a prolonged sabbatical from wrestling. As much indifference as I showed his character at the time, I had just started becoming indifferent to the whole product in general.
Then around the beginning of 1999, I started watching again. Watching religiously in fact. I had heard a lot about wrestling in school. Originally I scoffed, I had long lost interest. Then I started watching again, slowly more by the week, and within a few weeks or a month I was once again a fan. Steve Austin as the figurehead really made Raw deserved of its name. Rock was a badass heel, and he had come a long way from that cheesy guy with the blue tassels/fliers on his arms (whatever they're called). I was taken aback that Vince McMahon was actually the owner, and was the most hated man in the company, when he was just a standard commentator once before. I was intrigued and interested in the product again. Mankind had a new comedy persona that also seemed fresh, and unaware of the Hell in a Cell match he had previously, I was unaware of what a legend he really was. Undertaker was extremely demonic which I just loved, I'd heard of Kane and he immediately had reputation in my eyes as well. It was still good to see the likes of Owen Hart around too, people that I knew in this completely new looking show. Hell, I even thought the new scribble logo was mega awesome.
Before this, all I knew about Degeneration X was from the game WWF Warzone. Their theme song was the coolest thing I'd ever heard (wrestling wise) and in the biography section of that game, I noticed Shawn Michaels had that music too. I remember thinking "maaaaaan thats much better than that sexy boy song he used to have". Also with this music was Triple H. My first introduction that he had dropped the blue blood gimmick. He must be alot better now, listen to the music for god sake.
Anyway, this personal lookback is nearly complete. I hadn't fully caught up with all the characters until that 1999 Royal Rumble. I was introduced to lots of new and rebranded guys. Everything was a million miles away from what I remembered wrestling to be, I was interested again. There was one rebranded character I noticed, this was Triple H. He was a face in DX, and I still wasn't interested.
It wasn't until WrestleMania XV that I first noticed Triple H properly. i didn't see the whole PPV and didn't really know about his program, but when he pedigreed and betrayed X Pac I was finally interested. I was most definitely still an occasional viewer at the time, internet was new to me, I didn't have Sky Sports (I live in Ireland), so all I got prior to this was the saturday morning shows such as Bottom Line and Metal. I will have to say this, in the attitude era, audience participation and the level/style of commentary were king. The commentary put over everything, and the audience were completely invested in the product. Back then, Triple H turning and joining the Corporation was a big deal.
It wasn't until Corporation Triple H, that I started becoming a fan. I thought he was a total b*stard, I loved it. Quickly, he became embroiled in a feud with The Rock. Now remember, I wasn't a spectator during the DX/Nation feud and knew little of it, not being well versed with the internet at the time as mentioned above. But Triple H became a big deal. I started to like the character more and more, and he became edgier and more vicious week by week, to the point were he was getting a reputation as being particularly nasty in an era of constant chairshots and blood and violence.
When he came out with his new entrance music, in my opinion still his best "My Time", I was 100% behind the character. I got that Austin was the big man, I rooted big for the Rock, I loved the Undertaker's near satan gimmick, but through it all I was most interested in Triple H's obsessive quest to be the WWF champ. In my opinion, it was the most interesting storyline of 1999 - The year he became the man.
Triple H was, in a period were Undertaker was portraying the emodiment of evil, outshining him as pure evil. Doing whatever he had to do to get his way, leaving people bloodied and showing no remorse. I had never loved a heel so much, he was without doubt my favourite. He may have been light on the catchphrases, but I actually bought the character.
In 1999, he wasn't in a relationship with Stephanie, so I fail to see the logic of so called haters that say he only became champion because of his extra curricular activities. No doubt, if anyone feels to point out, that he came up with the idea for the Montreal Screwjob, as proof that he has grovelled his way to the top. They may be right, but unfortunately in life as we know it the ass kissers are the ones who reap the rewards in any profession. I am not an ass kisser, and I would hate to be, but you can't disagree with me that staying quiet and keeping your opinions to yourself isn't going to get you up the ladder can you? As Undertaker once implied in character, no one is as big an ass kisser as him.
Anyway, if 1999 was when Triple H became the top heel in the industry, 2000 was the year that may have seen him morph into arguably the best heel ever.
An extreme time such as the attitude era had to have extreme characters, in the forefront and the mid/lower cards. To be the top heel, he had to be a complete dick. He was jeered and heavily booed every time he opened his mouth. His feuds and matches with Mick Foley were legendary, retiring the extremely affable favourite to further his total dickhead persona. Jim Ross must also receive huge credit. Throughout this time his play by play was iconic and legendary. He sold the hell out of every character and situation. He spouted with real vitriol against Triple H. As much as he put over Austin, he put over Triple H just as much. He feuded for the first half of 2000 with The Rock in a truly main event atmosphere, Backlash and Judgment Day of that year particularly epic. He had a bloody, entertaining and well built feud culminating in a fine last man standing match with Chris Jericho at Fully Loaded, and began the metamorphis into a fully fledged face turn in an eventful feud with Kurt Angle. I was all for Trips turning face, I loved him so much as a heel that he may as well have been a face in my eyes (and many more judging by the reactions he would get) that he eventually turned. He didn't even need to carry the heel side anymore, plenty more were ready for that mantle. Without doubt however, this made Triple H the number 3 babyface and nothing more. Did they need 3 top babyfaces? No.
When he turned heel against Austin as the instigator of the whole "Who did it?" angle, after only about 2 months of being a face, it was a masterstroke. I don't know how you could make a character with the reputation that Triple H had more evil and bastardy, but they did it with aplomb. Whether it was planned that way from the start, only the top brass in WWF knew at the time. If it was planned, it was genius. People say they dropped the ball with Rikishi, and maybe they did and felt compelled to save the storyline with dependable heel of the year Helmsley, but if anyone says they weren't entertained throughout they are lying, simple as. It may have always been the plan for Triple H. As he says "We never saw it coming"
The resulting feud with Austin was in a word, epic, and may, throughout all his greatest feuds, have been at the very top. In the preceeding year and a half, he had feuded with the very best and was the foil for all the top babyfaces, and when required, the foil for heels Angle and Benoit. His WrestleMania X-Seven feud with Undertaker was also brilliant, a feud developed out of no prior run-ins in the recent times, just an interruption and a challenge to a match. After this, he went on to form an unlikely and mind blowing in the context of the recent history between the two, two man power trip with the newly heel Stone Cold Steve Austin.
It was rumoured that the two would feud heavily for the title soon after, but his torn quad put paid to this. His injury meant that one of the mvp's would miss the entire invasion angle (and be sorely missed). What happened next was an outstanding ovation in January 2002 in Madison Square Garden, for a superstar the fans truly adored. The greatest heel of the modern day, cheered back into action by those who missed him.
I don't know about anybody who is reading this, but I have had some fond memories writing about this.
Come back for part 2, The King of Kings - Owning the throne, coming soon, in which I write about the part of his career that really got the IWC in an overly emotional state.