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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Greatest Villain in WWE History
By The Doc
Mar 18, 2014 - 9:14:54 PM

The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment.

The Snowman is a genius

QUESTION OF THE DAY: If you could sit down for 30-minutes and pick the brain of any mind in the wrestling business, who would it be?

I’ll tell you who I would pick….Triple H.

For the entirety of our hypothetical half hour conversation, I would ask him nothing but questions pertaining to how he managed to become such a hated man in an era where being good at being bad mostly led to the crowd turning around and cheering for you. Pro wrestling’s audience has never been as “smart” (insert laughs, here) as it has been during the time that Triple H has been at or near the top. He rose to prominence right when the internet became popular and the media world changed, accordingly. The vocal minority grew substantially and effectively made it possible for the entire sports entertainment fanbase to mimic what had traditionally been reserved for “smarky” cities: going against the grain. The voices of the few, thus, became more influential based on their ability to control the audio on WWE programming that accompanied the on-screen product. Guys who were simply great at being professional wrestlers, heel or babyface, started being treated like heroes. The WWE had to adapt. They could no longer trot out a patriot with a flag and expect the people to boo or cheer. Monstrous physical specimens were not guaranteed the desired reaction. Men could do really “bad” things and be treated as really “good” guys. And, yet, through it all, Triple H was hated whenever he wanted to be hated. The Game, by and large, was hated not just against all-time great heroes, but against foes that were historically lousy. If I had 30-minutes to sit down with Triple H, I’d spend the whole time finding out how.

I have my theories, sure. I received my twelfth year Internet Wrestling Community registration card in the mail in January, so I have read more than my fair share of wrestling rumors and news reports since 2002. In our sect of the fanbase, one of the basic tenets of an “internet” fan is that Triple H is a horrible person who buries everyone. From LOP to the Torch, from the Observer to the Insider, we are conditioned to believe that thou shall not like Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon. To appreciate The Game is almost treasonous. Two years ago, I wrote a column called “You Learned to Hate The Game” and received nasty emails from LOP readers. I vividly recall the days when a younger Doc spewed the hate speech on LOP reports that were supposed to be professionally presented opinions, but instead featured lengthy rants on Triple H’s personal conquest to destroy the wrestling industry…or however the verbiage went back then. I can actually remember as far back as his debut match in the WWE. There’s nothing in Triple H’s career that I have not seen. So, I have plenty of tales from 19 years of tape from which to draw my conclusions. Is he a Vince McMahon henchman, sent from the top of the corporate ladder to execute a master plan to bury non-traditional main-eventers? Is he a political mastermind whose dastardly backstage tactics help facilitate the mysterious glass ceiling? Or is he, simply, a pro wrestling savant with a better psychological understanding of the part of the fanbase that became the most difficult to manipulate during the very same time that he began his ascent to the top of the business?

The last 8 months have solidified, for me, that Triple H is the greatest villain in modern pro wrestling history…and it’s not even close. The role of the antagonist is to incite the audience to want to see a protagonist rise up and stop him. Ric Flair was an outstanding character, but he ultimately became too cool even back when the fans basically went with the flow. The Rock was so charismatic that people began cheering him, too. Steve Austin was so “bad” that eventually people added “ass” to it, making him the anti-hero of the century. Bret Hart could only get jeered in the United States. Shawn Michaels had too flashy an in-ring style to get booed for too long. The list goes on and on. Triple H, though, found a way to cut through the undetectable layer that separates the audience from the wrestlers. His words and actions permeated past the membrane of the little kayfabe bubble designed to hold in all the heat for the context of an on-screen drama and sent it hurling right into your face. Long before CM Punk waved at the Raw TV viewership and launched a figurative grenade through the fourth wall, Triple H punctured it with an invisible, unnerving gas. In all my years as a fan, I have never seen someone loathed by the majority like Triple H.

Last night, Triple H took the next step toward that point which he had logically been building since last August. After months of verbal barbs, either direct or disguised as backhanded compliments, The Game got physical with Daniel Bryan. Two weeks ago, he retaliated to a perceived attack from Bryan, so the 3/18/14 Raw was not the first time that Trips had laid his hands on his WrestleMania opponent. However, this time it was cold, calculated, and sadistic. The difference between Randy Orton, arguably the top heel of his generation, and Triple H is that Trips can both verbally and physically dissect a challenger in the build-up to an ultimate triumph. Those of you that began watching during the Cena Era have missed having the total package as the #1 bad guy. Orton could get it done with his actions, but not his words; CM Punk the opposite; Edge somewhere in between. Triple H is the consummate antagonist, as proven by his communicative crimes in recent memory and by his overt onslaught on Bryan on Raw. No one in the industry can more effectively create heat for his matches. I literally want to throw the hammer of Thor at that guy.

I wrote a list of the top 10 title chases in WrestleMania history last weekend. One of the comments in response was “Interesting that the last one listed was in 2005.” Indeed, it is interesting. I firmly believe the reason to be Triple H. The combination of John Cena’s meteoric rise (and subsequent shift in the dynamic of how heroes and villains are perceived by the audience) along with Triple H’s babyface turn in 2006 have led to a product that has shied away from its roots. At the heart of it all, wrestling is an entertainment avenue that thrives via stories of good guys vs. bad guys; I do not agree with everything that Wade Keller says, but on that he and I can agree. The Authority has been the perfect antagonist for this generation and WWE television is more compelling because of it.

What I think some of my colleagues and readers have missed, to a degree, is that Daniel Bryan has always been the ideal target for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who in her own right has been fantastic throughout this fresh take on the “boss” angle. To see him wind up where he’s at is not just the by-product of fan support, but of the stars aligning to allow for the most engaging story to be told. I remained confident that Bryan would emerge a WrestleMania headliner despite all of his trials and tribulations on-screen and through the online speculation because he was the catalyst for The Authority to exist and no resolution in their on-going issue had ever been reached. Personally, I believe that the plan has always been for Bryan to battle The Authority on a grand stage. The fans simply sped up the process and landed him in their opposition on the grandest stage. The story was just too perfect to pass up. I think that CM Punk was rumored to lose to Trips at Mania because he was never The Authority storyline’s end game…Daniel Bryan was. Triple H and Stephanie’s on-screen tandem has thrived when they have been positioned to antagonize the percentage of the viewership that has most strongly demanded that Bryan be on top. Vince and Stephanie practically dared the internet fans to buy Summerslam, developing a feud that was less about Bryan vs. Cena and more about Bryan vs. the so-called “Machine.” They have always known what they have in Bryan; just not fully so until the events at and leading up the Royal Rumble. If you’re dating Rachel when all of your friends know you should be with Monica, all they can do is quietly hope you come around to figuring that out. In the end, the WWE figured out that they married this WrestleMania to the wrong person and, for various reasons, changed course.

It all goes back to Triple H. He is both the emerging boss behind the scenes and the on-air leader of The WWE Empire and all its glorious, well-established favoritisms. Both now and in the past, he has done a marvelous job of convincing people that Daniel Bryan will never win – that he cannot win because the WWE Machine is not designed for guys like Bryan. He is the master at getting people to hate him. He makes you forget that it’s all just for show. If he says your guy never drew a dime, you jump online and go on a tirade. If someone else says it, it’s just a storyline. Somewhere along the line, The Cerebral Assassin psychologically profiled the most rabid fans and found a way to get inside their heads. He was once in mine; likely yours, as well. He still is in the heads of many.

On an eventful night in which The Shield turned babyface, The Real Americans became poised to challenge for the Tag Team Championships, several notable stars entered the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, John Cena cut the promo that sold his feud with Bray Wyatt, and Randy Orton and Batista added another layer to the unique WWE Championship situation, the man who stood out most was Triple H. He and his wife concocted a brilliant storyline scheme that surely will have the boo birds out in force in the next few weeks, reiterating their past claims of burial. Make no mistake about it, when Daniel Bryan beats him at WrestleMania, the moment will be all the more sweet because of the job that Triple H has done at setting himself up to receive his comeuppance.


Join us on "The Doc and Super Chrisss Show" Wednesday at 5PM as we offer our Win/Fail from Monday's RAW and discuss our top 10 favorite WrestleMania matches of all-time.

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