I first got seriously into wrestling in the fall of 1999, smack dab in the middle of the Attitude Era. Both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker were out with injuries and The Rock had cemented himself as the top guy in professional wrestling. While The Rock was busy partnering with Mankind as The Rock n' Sock Connection, Vince and Shane McMahon were surprisingly effective babyfaces after years of being strong heels. Why was this you ask? Well their nemesis was this long-haired, Kangol-wearing, whiny, taking shortcuts of bad guy by the name of Triple H.
Around this time, Triple H had married Stephanie in a storyline that couldn't possibly fly in 2018. Regardless, his act of marrying Stephanie without her consent was the most disgusting, vile, despicable thing I could've imagined a bad guy doing at that time. At Armageddon 1999, Stephanie turned heel and aligned herself with Triple H and formed the most annoying and evil duo of that era. This made me want to see Triple H beaten in the worst possible way.
At the turn into the year 2000, Mick Foley started fueding with Triple H. Triple H and the McMahon-Helmsley regime did everything in their power to humiliate and destroy Mick Foley, including him being fired by losing a Pink Slip on a pole match to The Rock. When Mick Foley returned, Triple H laid an epic beatdown on him which included giving him the Pedigree through the announce table and busting him open. Triple H had destroyed Mankind so viciously that it forced Mankind into his Cactus Jack persona.
Unfortunately, Triple H defeated Cactus Jack at consecutive PPV's and after that his feud with The Rock reignited. Vince McMahon returned to television and aligned himself with The Rock. At Wrestlemania 2000, when most people expected The Rock to leave as WWF Champion, Vince McMahon turned on The Rock and aligned himself with Triple H. Like Mankind months earlier, Triple H and the McMahon-Helmsley regime tortured and pummeled The Rock on numerous occasions. On one particular episode of Raw is War, The Rock defeated the Big Boss Man in a steel cage match to become the # 1 contender. Triple H entered the cage with a pair of brass knuckles and beat The Rock down with them, and busting him open. My hatred with Triple H had reached a fever pitch and I needed to see him go down.
As some of you reading may remember, around this time, Chris Jericho had defeated Triple H for the title only to be overturned an hour later. The pop from that crowd was insane as Triple H had finally been beaten, but it was short lived. Triple H got the title back on the same night, and fired and beat down poor Earl Hebner.
Backlash 2000, Triple H vs The Rock, with Stone Cold in the corner of The Rock. It's suggested that Austin won't be able to make it. The odds are against The Rock as he's being beaten down by McMahon, Helmsey, Patterson, Briscoe and any other McMahon stooge. The glass breaks, out comes Austin as he lays waste to EVERYONE. Linda McMahon reinstates Earl Hebner, Rock hits the People's Elbow, 1, 2, 3, and The Rock is the new WWF Champion. Judging by what is still one of the loudest pops you'll ever hear, and judging by me and my then 10-year old sister jumping around and shouting to the rooftops, we all wanted that to happen, we all needed that to happen. With how much we loved The Rock, and with how much Triple H put our favorites through, we NEEDED to see Triple H lose.
This brings me to my question, what happened to the despicable bad guy? The bad guys who I despised the most were the bad guys who were the most awful people. I think of Chris Jericho's run in 2003 and 2008 vs Shawn Michaels. I think of Edge's runs in either 06 or 08. These guys weren't just heels. They were the most despicable people on the roster because of the depths they'd go to get what they wanted. Edge was a slimeball opportunist who had no redeeming qualities who put on a live sex show with a woman who left her ex-boyfriend for him. Jericho was a jealous maniac who almost blinded Shawn Michaels and punched his wife in the face (albeit by accident). When Edge was chokeslammed to hell by The Undertaker at Summerslam 2008, it was cathartic. When Ric Flair and The 4 Horsemen jumped Dusty Rhodes and broke his leg, the crowd wanted to storm to the ring.
I can honestly say, there's not a single bad guy I hate or even love to hate. Most of the bad guys on the roster don't mind that they are cheered by half the audience. That vile bad guy that does everything in his power to get booed doesn't really seem to exist anymore. Is it our fault? Is it creative's? How bad can a bad guy be on a PG show? I don't necessarily have the answers to these questions. What I can tell you is, hating Triple H in 2000 was some of the most fun I've had as a wrestling fan. I wouldn't mind experiencing that again.