Politics. It’s something we’re all exposed to in our lives.
When you work in the corporate world like I do, you watch people find any way possible to advance themselves. Get in with the right group of people and make them your “friend” just enough to get what you want. Form a relationship with the right person that will help you advance. Insulate yourself with a tight knit group that supports you.
This has always been the critique of Triple H. His loudest critics say he’s a no-talent hack that married into his top spot. They say he gloms himself onto the hot act – “he’s not a top star, but he works with the top stars.” He only looks out for his friends.
You can build an argument that this is true. In the 90’s when Rock and Austin were the hottest thing going, he was right there in the mix. Once he married Stephanie McMahon, his push became suspiciously stronger even though some thought he didn’t have the chops to back it up. Recently, long-time friends and former Evolution stablemates Randy Orton and Batista were positioned to be in the World Championship picture. The New Age Outlaws came out of a retirement of sorts and were given the Tag Team Championship.
Maybe this was all part of the storyline to show that The Authority had truly taken over at the top of the company. The hardcore critics of course won’t concede that.
There was a collective groan on the internet this past Monday when Triple H inserted himself into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture by guaranteeing a triple-threat title match regardless of who won between him and Daniel Bryan. There he is again, glomming on to the hottest act going in Daniel Bryan. There he is again, sticking his big beak in the middle of a good thing. There he is, ensuring he and his friends stay on top.
More politics. The fans’ choice – the indie-riffic Daniel Bryan – was going to be shoved back down by the mighty Triple H so that his long-time WWE-bred star friends would remain at the top of the card. It’s been happening since SummerSlam, and it’s just going to keep happening.
In the end this all may just have been the long path to get to what is best for business.
For years, WWE has been known as the land of the giants. Vince has always had an affinity for the big men of wrestling. His star champions like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, Batista and Randy Orton have all been north of 240 lbs of cut muscle. He flocks to the “larger than life” visual that men like the ones I’ve mentioned present.
Vince has always considered that to be something that is best for business. Those men draw money. They're attractions because they're physical specimens alone, and it's just a plus when they can actually work a wrestling match.
In case you haven’t noticed lately, Daniel Bryan is not that kind of man.
WWE has tried to utilize the traditionally smaller statured independent talents, and in some cases it just hasn’t worked out. Maybe fans haven’t caught on to the act, maybe there have been injuries, maybe the desire to learn the WWE way of wrestling isn’t there. Maybe booking failed them. Or maybe in the case of “Phil Brooks, aka CM Punk” (as he was billed for the hit show “Talking Dead”), it was just time to go home.
Despite Bryan’s stature, he is the guy who won’t quit. His simple “yes!” gimmick has caught on with fans and made its way into the popular culture to an extent. Like a Timex watch, he takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Team Hell No was successful in part because of Bryan’s ability. Together he and Kane took a badly booked angle and made it work.
Vince hasn't seen the "it" factor in guys that worked the independent scene. He didn't consider that good business. He would rather turn to his own development of stars. But the developmental side of the business is now up to Paul Levesque to run. Just maybe, Levesque sees something in Daniel Bryan that he hasn’t seen in those other guys.
You know, the same Paul Levesque that will enter the ring as Triple H on Wrestlemania Sunday against Daniel Bryan.
You can argue all the traditional points about Hunter, but one thing that can’t be ignored is the fact that he has worked hard. Yes, perhaps marrying Stephanie McMahon greased a few wheels for him. But this is a guy who came back from not one, but two, major quadricep tears during matches that he finished. He endured the Connecticut Blue Blood gimmick, survived the de-push because of the Kliq curtain call, and worked through his issues with Chyna.
In other words, Triple H did earn his share of his success and it wasn’t all handed to him on a platter. This is what he sees in Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan worked his way up, from wrestling in front of 30 people in a gym to Ring of Honor and eventually to WWE. He got fired for his choking incident in the Nexus angle, but came back. He’s been saddled with bad gimmicks, beaten up, and lost in 18 seconds at Wrestlemania. But he keeps working hard. He has earned all that he has gotten, and the fans respond to him.
Triple H and Daniel Bryan, both on screen and off, are polar opposites. Hunter is the prototypical big man, and Bryan is the somewhat undersized indie wrestler. Hunter is "corporate ready" with his clean cut look and suits and ties. Bryan is content in flannel and jeans, with his wild hair and beard flying all over. But in their differences one thing is the same - they both have earned their way in the business..
On Monday night, I think Triple H and Daniel Bryan realized one thing - they have successfully caught lightning in a bottle. And if in just a moment of time, it slipped - Triple H said that he respects Bryan. I may have read too much into that storyline moment but it seemed far more sincere than just enough to set up the show-closing angle. Maybe it was just part of the angle, but the visual cues told me that there was more to that comment than story alone.
In just over two weeks, the two will square off to settle their differences on the grandest stage of all, Wrestlemania 30 with a World Championship opportunity hanging in the balance. Conspiracy theorists are afoot saying that Triple H will push his way back to the top for one more title run. But Paul Levesque knows that isn't what's good for business and he knows what he has - a hard working talent that has connected with the fans. This is something that he knows a lot about, because he has done that very same thing himself.
He and Daniel Bryan will go out on the Wrestlemania stage and put on a match worthy of that grand event. I firmly believe that once that night is over, the Hall of Fame bound Triple H will have put over the atypical Daniel Bryan. In doing so, he will give endorsement to a man whose spirit mirrors his own, even if he doesn't look the part. In doing so, he will put aside backstage politics and allow fans to enjoy a grand moment for a man that we all have connected with.
Because THAT is what's best for business.