Triple H is still not a fan of The Rock by the sounds of things. Via David Seto on Flickr.
In an amazing turn of events, despite having already announced The Rock vs. John Cena as the main event of WrestleMania 28 and The Rock teasing a confrontation with Cena at this year's Survivor Series PPV at Madison Square Garden, someone in WWE management is trying to stop this match from taking place. As Dave Meltzer reported on his subscribers only August 4th Wrestling Observer Radio show, "there's one very influential person in the company that is very much against The Rock John Cena match". Hmm, I wonder who on earth that could be?
All evidence points to one Triple H. Only someone of his stature could second guess such a key booking decision by his father-in-law Vince McMahon. Moreover, despite having great chemistry in the ring together, The Rock and Triple H were fierce rivals behind the scenes, almost from day one. Bret Hart in his autobiography Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling discussed how Shawn Michaels and Triple H attempted to kill Rock's WWE career off before it even got going in the spring of 1997:
Poor Rocky Maivia was also being buried by Shawn and Hunter for supposedly not wanting to job, for not selling and for stealing their spots. Rocky was a good kid, and he tried to be polite and respectful, but he couldn't get them to like him at all.
That night had one more wrinkle: I was slated by the booking committee to challenge Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental title, and Hunter was insisting I beat him. I didn't see any need for me to beat Rocky; it wouldn't build heat for my new heel turn, and would only undermine a real talent. I insisted on a DQ instead, which infuriated Hunter. He and Shawn disliked Rocky intensely and were too myopic to see that Rocky was destined to become one of the all-time greatest megastars in the history of the business, The Rock.
Triple H is known to hold grudges, so him still attempting to undermine The Rock within WWE over 14 years later would come as no surprise. He legitimately beat up Jim Ross in a match in 2005 over a belief that Ross while head of talent relations many years earlier had lowballed him on contract negotiations and payoffs. Perhaps still upset over Bret Hart nixing a pinfall loss to him on a taped edition of Raw from Cologne, Germany in February 1997, Triple H was also opposed to bringing Bret back in early 2010 to headline WrestleMania 26 in a match against Vince McMahon and recently gave this terse answer to WWE.com when asked what if the Montreal Screwjob was reversed?:
That would've never happened. We're not that stupid.
More recently, Triple H's influence likely prevented Bill Goldberg from being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame this year, even though his presence at WrestleMania 27 would have likely helped ticket sales and increased local media publicity for the event in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
The fact that this unnamed opponent to booking Rock vs. Cena had a very well thought out business reason for changing course also fits Hunter's modus operandi; he has built up a well deserved reputation over the years of being able to pick holes in any scenario he doesn't want to see executed or talent he doesn't want to see pushed. According to Meltzer, the "perfectly logical" explanation as to why that match shouldn't be booked is as follows. The long term goal of the company is to get John Cena over with the guys, so him feuding with The Rock and being booed out of the building at WrestleMania is completely counterproductive to that aim, and coming up with a finish that will send the fans home happy while still putting over Cena will be extremely tricky, if not impossible.
I have a number of problems with that explanation. Firstly, they've been trying to get John Cena over with the guys for six long years now and they've never come close to succeeding. Outside of turning him into a cool heel, which WWE won't do for fear of alienating his teenage fans, there's nothing they can do to make him beloved (or at the very least tolerated) by adult fans that they haven't tried already, so torpedoing a match that you've already spent six months hyping and promises to do huge business for that very reason is pretty silly. Indeed, booing Cena has become a WrestleMania tradition for the hardcore fans that come from all over the world to root against him, so it will happen regardless of who he faces in Miami.
Secondly, this thought process flies in the face of the success of the recent CM Punk shoot promo. By allowing Punk to be a "truth speaker" who captured the frustrations of adult fans sick and tired of Cena's kid friendly act and creating a dynamic where boos for Cena were not only tolerated, but encouraged, on the night of their match together in Punk's hometown of Chicago, WWE captured magic in a bottle which is very difficult to recreate. The Rock is the only possible opponent for Cena at this year's WrestleMania who could even dream of matching, yet alone having a good shot at surpassing, such a vociferous crowd reaction.
Finally, if Triple H is indeed trying to stop the match from taking place for that reasoning, then he has some nerve. Isn't this the same Triple H that took advantage of the peak of Cena's fan backlash in early 2006 by mocking John Cena's wrestling ability, who was scripted to feebly agree, and thus ensured that WWE's top babyface at WrestleMania 22 was booed out of the building in order to get his own babyface turn off to the best start possible? I suppose the rules for The Rock don't apply for The Game.