CM Punk was in the news yesterday for shitting all over the idea that WWE’s culture will change now that Vince McMahon is gone and Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have assumed much of the power behind the scenes.
Punk’s skepticism isn’t surprising given his history in dealing with Triple H. When Punk had his tell-all interview on Colt Cabana’s podcast after walking out of WWE in 2014, he told unflattering stories about Triple H; he had no interest in wrestling Hunter at WrestleMania 30, and it sounded like Punk’s relationship with the “doofus son-in-law” was much worse than his relationship with Vince McMahon. Triple H is the man who is often blamed for cooling down Punk’s white-hot push in the second half of 2011, after all.
Actor Freddie Prinze Jr. used to work on the WWE creative team around that time, and he has plenty of stories about what he witnessed behind the curtain. On the latest episode of his podcast, he added a brief anecdote regarding Triple H and Punk that further illustrates the divide between the two men.
As Freddie tells it, back around the time when Punk was getting hot in WWE, he had a promo segment on SmackDown with Triple H. Punk’s straight edge lifestyle was a big part of the promo. Prinze claims that Triple H undercut the whole thing in a rather dishonest manner that Punk was helpless to counter. Here’s how Freddie described it:
“Hunter’s looking him dead in the face, just gassed to the gills, and you know drinks wine with Vince on the plane. And he just no-sells Punk’s whole promo and goes, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink.’ And he just looks him dead in the face like, go ahead and try to call me a liar, I’ll fire you so quick. And Punk couldn’t do anything!
So that’s why when Punk had that promo on live Raw instead of taped SmackDown, where [Triple H] had no control...Punk got a chance to do his own thing, and he let his feelings known.
So this could be a huge chance for Hunter to stick it to him. I promise you dude, Triple H is petty Betty.”
Prinze goes on to explain that Triple H often botched promos on taped SmackDown episodes but it didn’t matter since they could be edited to his liking afterwards. That’s part of the control he implies Hunter had over Punk in the above situation where he no-sold Punk’s straight edge lifestyle. Freddie is also making a few assumptions about Triple H and drugs, as well as attempting to read Triple H’s mind based on non-verbal cues. You can make of that what you will.
Does any of the bad blood between Punk and Triple H from a decade ago even matter today in pro wrestling? Maybe not. But Punk works for AEW now, and Triple H’s bad history with that promotion is indeed very relevant today.
Triple H’s NXT television show was humiliated in the ratings on a weekly basis by Tony Khan’s AEW Dynamite from October 2019 into April 2021. This ultimately led to NXT moving away from Wednesday nights. The show was rebranded a few months later; everything Triple H built up there was completely stripped away and erased in September 2021.
That’s why I think Prinze’s final point where he promises Triple H is super petty is the most interesting thing he has to say here. Is it any coincidence that soon after Triple H assumes more power in WWE, it’s being reported that NXT’s next premium live event will go head-to-head with AEW’s All Out pay-per-view on Sept. 4?
We could be heading for some very interesting times if Prinze is right and Triple H has AEW directly in the crosshairs of his increased power in WWE. The war between WWE and AEW might quickly escalate from here as Triple H’s influence begins to take hold.
Or maybe Prinze and Punk have outdated takes on Triple H’s personality and motivations, and this is much ado about nothing.
Let us know what you think about all of this in the comments below, Cagesiders.