It feels like Roman Reigns has been shoved down my throat for at least two years now. For that entire time Vince McMahon has stubbornly micromanaged everything with the goal of crowning Roman Reigns as the next face of WWE, and for almost that entire time the plan has been blowing up in Vince's face. How many more Royal Rumble matches need to be ruined before Vince finally gets that message?
It seems clear that the audiences are largely rejecting the notion of Roman Reigns as the face of the company. When Triple H destroyed Roman's nose to a chorus of cheers on Raw a few weeks back, I saw many folks respond with glee about how much of an ass kicker Triple H was and how it would be impossible for anyone to root for Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32.
So that got me thinking, when was the last time that I actually rooted for Triple H to win a match? It's been a really long time.
Triple H: 2000 to 2005
I enjoyed Triple H's work immensely back in the year 2000 during his feuds with Foley, Jericho, Rock, and Angle. But then he tore a quad in 2001 and came back in early 2002 as some misshapen behemoth who was nothing like the guy whose performances always entertained me just one year prior. From 2002 through 2005 Triple H went on to permanently blemish his career in my eyes.
Here are just a few of the things he did in that time that forever tainted him in my view: placing himself in the main event of WrestleMania 18 in a storyline involving dog poop, the tasteless mess of a feud with Booker T in 2003, screwing the brains out a corpse in a casket while wearing a mask of Kane, his godawful pose-down and subsequent matches with Scott Steiner in early 2003, his weak effort in putting Goldberg over in 2004, and thinking that main eventing a Pay-Per-View (PPV) against Kevin Nash inside Hell in a Cell was actually a good idea in 2003.
Triple H's reign of terror as the World Heavyweight Champion from 2002 to 2005 was just a disastrous stretch of television with horribly boring matches and way too much rambling pointless promo time for The Game on Raw. He basically used his untouchable position in the company to put himself over at every chance he could get while rarely making his opponents look any good, even when he lost. This guy was an overrated mediocre performer who married his way into a top spot that his performances no longer warranted.
If there was one guy I could have booted off television at that time, it would have been Triple H. There's no way I would ever root for this guy again. Just go away and let me watch more of Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Edge, and Eddie Guerrero.
But then John Cena came along and in 2005 he ascended to to the top of company very fast. Cena got over in a big way with his Thuganomics gimmick in 2004, and it was cool to root for John Cena. It didn't take long for Vince McMahon to step in and go all-out with pushing John Cena to the moon.
From June 2004 through January 2006, John Cena had a span of 13 consecutive PPV matches where he won 12 times and his only loss came via disqualification. His move set looked like a joke compared to what opponents like Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and Shawn Michaels were doing, yet Cena was winning all the time. When Batista went down with injury in 2005 and Cena suddenly had a clear path to the top spot in the promotion, the realization dawned on me pretty quickly that this was not at all what I wanted to see in the main event picture.
Then January 2006 happened, and John Cena joined my list of people who I was done with. It started out really great with Edge cashing in the first ever Money in the Bank briefcase on Cena to become the new WWE Champion. John Cena was finally booked to lose and as a big fan of Edge it felt pretty sweet. Edge was finally going to get a serious run as a top player.
But then just a couple of weeks later John Cena entered the Royal Rumble 2006 PPV on a spaceship, and Edge's reign as champ was quickly shot out of the sky. CenaWinsLOL. Ugh, fuck this guy. Can't you just go away so I can see more of Edge in the main event story?
Vince McMahon's love of pushing John Cena at all times was too much to bear anymore.
WrestleMania 22 (2006)
So I was a pretty disgruntled fan heading into WrestleMania 22 in 2006, and WWE went ahead with a nightmare of a main event match for me: John Cena versus Triple H. They sacrificed Edge's run as champ so that Triple H and Cena could hog the spotlight together in the main event of the biggest show of the year. Gross.
I wasn't the only disgruntled wrestling fan though. Vince's unrelenting push of John Cena for that last year had turned a large portion of the audience against John Cena. Here was a relatively fresh face trying to get his big crowning WrestleMania moment as the top face of the company against one of the old guard. But it didn't feel like John Cena deserved it, and I also spent the last year already watching John Cena as champion. I had seen enough of him to know that I wanted something different, something better than John Cena.
That's why I decided to reject John Cena and embrace Triple H. It was a pretty disgusting feeling but for that one night at WrestleMania 22 I was rooting like hell for Triple H to pull out every backstage political maneuver in his arsenal to convince Vince to put him over Cena. I actually tricked myself into thinking that Triple H was probably going to be booked to win. And to hear the crowd in Chicago so thoroughly reject John Cena, it just made it so much better. I didn't mind putting up with Triple H's massive ego and stupid facial hair for one night. As long as it meant John Cena lost.
Needless to say I was completely stunned when Triple H tapped out to that crappy-looking STFU and John Cena won yet again. What the hell was that? Triple H actually allowed himself to tap out to that terrible move? I was just shaking my head in disbelief that the one time I decided to root for this assface he ended up tapping out to some move that looks completely ineffective. And just like that the switch turned back off and I was done rooting for Triple H.
Triple H: 2008 to 2016
So now here we are exactly 10 years later and I am facing a similar dilemma. Roman Reigns is the guy who is receiving the endless push from Vince and I am so bored of it. No thank you. Roman is ok but I see plenty of guys on the roster who tickle my fancy much more than he does.
But Triple H is still the worst. After losing to Cena in 2006, Triple H went on to somehow lower my opinion of him even when I thought it was already at rock bottom.
In 2008 he never put over Jeff Hardy in something like half a dozen championship matches when Hardy was really close to breaking through as a main event level star.
2009 was the year where Triple H killed off the exciting momentum that Randy Orton had coming into WrestleMania 25. They had a clunker of a main event match and for some absurd reason Triple H was booked to win. Oh but I'm sure in Triple H's mind he solidly put over Orton on the next PPV when he dropped the championship to Orton in a six-man tag team match that also included Shane McMahon. It wasn't the first time that Triple H lost the championship in a six-man tag team match, and I wouldn't be shocked if it's not the last time either.
Then there is 2010 where Triple H beat Sheamus at WrestleMania 26 and then gave Sheamus his win back on the next PPV. This one is sort of like the history between Fandango and Jericho. Most people only remember that Fandango won at WrestleMania and they forget that Jericho got his win back on the next PPV. And that's because winning on the PPV after WrestleMania doesn't matter; you lost at WrestleMania!
The biggest sin of all came in 2011. Triple H interjected himself into the Summer of Punk and somehow turned it into a Sledgehammer Ladder match pitting Triple H against Kevin Nash. There is no way Triple H can ever be forgiven for this one. CM Punk had a chance to really shift the status quo in WWE but Triple H squashed that potential and then took a 7-foot dump on it in the form of Kevin Nash.
But the madness continued in 2012 and 2013 where Triple H played a big role in diminishing the star power of Brock Lesnar in a series of three lackluster matches that did very little to make Brock look like a monster attraction. And of course Triple H won their biggest match at WrestleMania 29 while giving Brock the win back on the following PPV.
2013 was also the year where Triple H put Curtis Axel over as a man who can win matches via count out by inducing dizziness in his opponents. Yeah, ok pal.
Triple H had some fantastic matches in 2014 and actually helped Daniel Bryan and The Shield look great. But by the end of the year he showed off just how much of a soulless talking suit he was on the podcast with Steve Austin. He essentially ducked and dodged every question and threw all the accountability on Vince's lap.
The staleness of The Authority gimmick reached new heights in 2015, and Triple H also decided to bury the corpse of WCW further into the ground by beating Sting in The
Vigilante Icon's first ever WWE PPV match at WrestleMania 31. This was basically the Katie Vick angle all over again, just with a different look to it.
The absurdity continued on in 2016 as Triple H actually won the Royal Rumble match and the WWE Championship at age 46.
Triple H has built up a lot of goodwill in recent years with hardcore fans because of his connection with NXT, but none of that applies to me because I don't watch NXT. When I look at Triple H today, I see the same overrated mediocre performer from 10 years ago who now also has a more distinctive layer of nauseating corporate slime on top of all that.
How am I supposed to root for this guy?
Roman Reigns looks really really strong
Well maybe here's why I am supposed to root for Triple H for the first time in 10 years.
The last time I rooted for Triple was back in 2006, and it was largely because WWE was strongly pushing someone as the face of the company who I did not approve of in that role.
That's exactly what Roman Reigns has been for the last two years, except this time it's worse because it is clearly failing. There's also an opportunity cost that comes with pushing Reigns this hard for this long; many other performers on the roster never get a serious push because Vince always has Cena and Reigns in two of the upper card feuds. There's only so many upper card slots to go around, and Cena and Reigns simultaneously take two of those spots at all times. Naturally, I am going to push back against Reigns because I don't believe he is the next best in line for that spot.
But it's more than that. It's that he was anointed from Day One because of The Look. There is no more effective way to turn me off from a performer than to give them a massive push based primarily on physical appearance. And of course you can debate whether this is fair or not, but that's the reason I assume Reigns was chosen to be the next face of the company at such an inexperienced point of his career.
Something is different with WWE's audience now than it was just a few years ago. I don't know if the fans are more informed or if there are simply less casual fans around, but it seems like it is harder for WWE to push their own agenda against the will of the fans. One example of that is Batista's face run bombing two years ago because the fans wanted Daniel Bryan in that spot.
Roman Reigns also struggled to get around the universal love for Daniel Bryan, but Bryan has missed enough time now that it is clear Reigns is struggling to be accepted as the top guy even when Bryan and Cena are both out of the picture.
Right now the audience seems to want Dean Ambrose to be the next top guy. But WWE has stubbornly clung on to Reigns, and he even pinned Ambrose for the WWE Championship back in Survivor Series 2015. Reigns also pinned the beloved Ambrose at Fastlane 2016 to earn this title shot at WrestleMania 32.
The truth seems to be that WWE doesn't really care what I want. They want Roman Reigns. And that in isolation is not a problem, because the storyteller should be able to craft a tale that is captivating enough to keep me intrigued regardless of my personal preferences for the performers. But the story of this Roman Reigns character seems painfully bland to me.
Just like with John Cena in 2006, I am not particularly interested in watching this Roman Reigns character main event a bunch of PPVs for the next 5 years. That sounds pretty boring to me, and it makes me wonder how much better things could be if the wrestlers I preferred were given as much time and focus as Roman has been given these last two years.
I still can't explain how Kevin Owens starts his main roster career with a clean win over John Cena yet isn't facing Brock Lesnar or Undertaker at WrestleMania 32. I still don't get why Cesaro hasn't won a one-on-one match on PPV in over 3 years. I still don't understand why Bray Wyatt and Rusev have lost all their credibility as upper card heels even though they were both in high profile matches just one year ago at WrestleMania 31.
Sure, none of those problems are Roman's fault, but to me those things happen because WWE has been extremely short-sighted in their decision-making. And I think this two-year push of Roman Reigns is the epitome of that out-of-touch mindset. It's not working. It has been failing practically the entire time. Sorry Roman, but I need a long break from you and from this push that just reinforces the extremely stagnant status quo of the last two years.
Triple H or Roman Reigns?
This is the impossible decision that WWE is presenting to me at WrestleMania 32. Do I root for Roman Reigns or do I root for Triple H? Do I support Ted Cruz or do I support Donald Trump? There's no good answer here; it's all a complete disaster.
I don't know why WWE continues to shove Roman Reigns down my throat. It's just been going on for so long and I am completely turned off by the idea of him as the top face of WWE. Maybe one of these days they'll see what many other people are seeing and abandon ship by at least turning him heel.
But unlike 10 years ago, this time Triple H turns me off even more than Vince's chosen one. And the reality of the situation is that Triple H is Vince's chosen one. Vince has been shoving him at me now for over 15 years telling me how great he is, and I am beyond sick of it. If there was one WWE performer who I could boot off television right now, it wouldn't be The Ryback. It would be Triple H.
So am I rooting for Triple H at WrestleMania 32?
Hell no, I'm not rooting for Triple H. Triple H is the epitome of everything that disgusts me about the world of professional wrestling. I last rooted for him 10 years ago; it's going to require something much worse than Roman Reigns for me to repeat that mistake again.