Re: Did Vince Russo think of Triple H as a top guy
Honestly, I've always kind of been against the 'blind' Triple H hate. But having read Bret's book (yeah, I know, but hear me out) - coupled with other things, such as Foley's third book (Hardcore Diaries) and even just points on here, even I can't help but buy into things a little.
I do still honestly think that he'd be in the same spot right now regardless of who he's married to. He became a legit top guy in 2000. But with Rock taking Austin's spot as number one guy, Austin himself on his way back from injury, and the returning Undertaker, Triple H still wasn't the guy. 'Retiring' Foley sure as hell put him over huge, though. Still one of the key guys in this time period, and you'd be crazy to deny it. Also, at this point, his relationship with Steph was supposedly only on-screen.
By the time 2002 rolls around, a scorching-hot Triple H returns from injury and steamrolls his way to the world title. By this point, his relationship with Steph is legit - but, as mentioned, the guy was number one as soon as he got back. Just listen to the MSG reaction to his return and try telling me his wasn't over at this point.
It's this time period where he basically becomes Kingshit, ushering in the reign of terror during the Ruthless Aggression era. But it's not as though anybody could have been the guy, in my opinion.
Austin was beat to shreds, was totally at ends with Vince and WWE and even got buried on TV. Rock was part-time by this point to focus on Hollywood. Orton, Cena, Batista were all fresh-faced rookies. Lesnar was probably neck-and-neck with Triple H, but has made no secrets that it was WWE's schedule and an increasing reliance on painkillers that made him leave. So you'd have to imagine he was probably making noise about that during his rise to the top. Not great signs for someone you'd want to have carrying the company. So they went to Triple H, a guy who had proven himself. Undertaker was over as hell at this point, but he was pushing 40 even then. Then you had guys like RVD, Angle, Benoit, Jericho and all that. They all got their time at the top, but this wasn't it. No biggie.
It was only in 2003 that he married Stephanie. By that point, he'd already won multiple world titles and led a Hall of Fame career. Considering he was in his early thirties back then, it's really not surprising that he went on to win another 10 or so world titles and stick around in the main event scene. Edge won the title eleventy-billion times in 5 years. Triple H had 10 years to play with.
But the points I can't contend with are the fact he was on the booking team and sat in on creative meetings as early as '97. Then Bret's accusations that he and HBK buried (well, tried) the Rock. Then Foley's veiled shots at him in his book, referencing the fact he's basically invincible. However, Foley has since come out and said Triple H is the reason he's even back in WWE, so make up your mind on that one I guess.
Still, regardless of his politics - which he almost certainly has played, as I imagine every top guy has had to - I still do think he's one of the all-time greats. Fact is, he paid his dues following the Curtain Call incident. And he did so without one complaint - as stated by the Undertaker.
Plus, not that this is wholly related, but he's more than proven he's the guy when it simply comes to that 'show must go on' mentality that top guys need to have. He's blown both his quads, and both times it happened he finished his matches - even hitting pedigrees and being put in a fucking Walls of Jericho. Come on. Not to mention when RVD landed on him badly in the first Chamber match and tore Triple H's trachea. He could barely breathe and still finished the damn match.
So, sure, maybe he is Darth Vader. But frankly I think he'd have had the same career and ended up in the same sport regardless. It's not as though wrestlers transitioning from the ring into the office is unheard of. During their active career? Ok, maybe not an everyday occurrence, but still not some big, massive thing.
Just my two cents, if anybody even reads it.