There is no duty we so much underrate as... being happy. -Robert Louis Stevenson
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: (We Always Did Feel the Same/We Just Saw It From) A Different Point of View
Re: Official DVD/Match/Show Discussion Thread
Despite being a huge Triple H mark from back in the day, his matches in 2003 were generally so bad that even I began to kind of tire of him to an extent, but that was a rather terrible year overall and especially on Raw with all of the old, nearly immobile WCW guys going up against Triple H at probably his worst in-ring condition for almost the whole damned year. It's interesting that one of the better matches was at Wrestlemania XIX against Booker T, for a variety of reasons: (a) it's always been shit on for the finish; (b) both guys, Booker in general and Triple H at this time, were largely reliant on the work of their opponent, and yet they both actually meshed rather well in the ring; (c) it was almost treated like a midcard match at Wrestlemania that year while Rock/Austin, Hogan/McMahon and to a lesser extent Lesnar/Angle and Jericho/Michaels all kind of overshadowed it, even with it being for Raw's world championship.
As for the question posed by KingCal, I think the Triple H of 2000 could have practically had at least a very watchable match with almost anybody. The guy worked miracles that year; everyone lists his PPV work, and rightly so, but some forget his TV work. I don't think anybody ever quite made Rikishi look like a million bucks in a one-on-one match the way Triple H did with apparent ease. I still remember Triple H working a match with Bob Holly on Sunday Night Heat at that time. Not to say Holly was some kind of awful worker or anything but Trips put on a hell of a match with him. He even worked the miracle of getting something decent on TV out of Billy Gunn, I think in the first couple months of 2001? His match with TAKA stands as something of a mini-classic, haha.
I'm sure the Triple H of that time period, pre-quad tear, would have at least yielded something okay, even out of Scott freakin' Steiner (although he would have had to bump like an SOB for him, but still). That's how supreme Trips was in the ring in 2000-first five months of 2001 before the quad tear. Trips in 2002-2003 was just too heavy. As much as I admire and love him as a performer, I honestly believe he actually improved most dramatically after the second quad tear. He came back lighter, more mobile and was suddenly much more like the Triple H pre-first quad tear. That isn't to say he didn't put on some fine, even classic matches during that very long stretch of time between quad tears, because he did, but it really did take that Raw match with HBK to close out an otherwise underwhelming 2003 for Triple H to start to come back in the ring. He then put on some damned good matches with guys like Shelton Benjamin, HBK and Benoit which at least gave him some "mojo" back.
Credit to TAR for bringing this .gif to my attention.