TEN NOT SO THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
Justin Shapiro sent in an article celebrating the grand third anniversary of SlashWrestling. It seemed innocent enough to me, as Shapiro was a known IWC writer and had done some Tuesday news before leaving due to burnout. Unfortunately, it seems he was more than correct. Most, if not ALL, of his "Ten Mistakes of the WWF" were only wrong because of a flawed way of thinking, that has come about in our circles for whatever reason. I suspect it really stems from Scott Keith, though I am not educated or wise in the lore of the IWC. That line of thinking is the twin combo of the "Glass Ceiling" and "Triple H is an evil bastard political manipulator who makes sure that only things that are good for him are done in the WWF." The Glass Ceiling theory actually does hold some kind of credibility, as we have seen recently with the nWo's reentry and the subsequent goings-on in the WWF. But the Triple H hatred is far, far beyond me. That's not what I'm here to refute, however, I shall save that for another day. What I'm here is to disprove Mr. Shapiro's "mistakes" by showing that his line of thinking was, in fact, the mistake.
1) WRESTLEMANIA 2000 MAIN EVENT FINISH
This really came as the stunning blow in the article, the first mistake and it's something that just struck me as "Hey, I think something's screwy here..." His reasoning for it being the biggest mistake? "McMahon family overindulgence, what's best for HHH being more important than what's best for the story, nonsensical turns." There's nothing that can be argued against the first and last points, although nonsensical turns have been happening long before Wrestlemania 2000 and will always continue to happen until everyone on this planet becomes perfect and we never make dumb mistakes again. But, what's best for Triple H being more important than what's best for the story? The story, as I remember it, was something very powerful and drawing. Triple H, a powerful maniac on the loose (having turned his back on US, his adoring DX fans), had been running rampant throughout the WWF. It seemed like nothing would be able to stop him, except perhaps the man who had helped to foster the new monster in Triple H - Vince McMahon. Vince had gone back to his first choice as a Corporate Champion, the Rock, who also happened to be Triple H's old-time nemesis. Sure, the stage was set for the Rock to win, all's right with the world, yadda yadda. But aside from Rock marks, who TRULY wanted to see that kind of normal, bland Wrestlemania finish? We always call on the WWF and Vince to shake things up, and when he does (in a GREAT way, no less. Shapiro even had to say how this main event was great for business), we jump all over him because it was "nonsensical"? No, it wasn't. Vince HATED the Rock, hated him for turning his back on the Corporation, on Vince, hated him because of the Rock's overpowering ego and arrogance causing him to further and further himself from the Corporation until finally striking out on his own. And if one thing has been constant, in EVERY angle involving Vince McMahon, it's don't...cross...the boss. The ending revealed that Triple H and Vince were still in cahoots, that the Rock was a sorry sumbitch who was just not the man to stop the best in the business coupled with the psychotic owner (and would have to train harder, think harder, become better to win), that terror and Triple H would still run rampant, until...
The downside? Um....I can't recall one...lets check the facts again, to be sure. WrestleMania 2000 sets a record with 824,000 buys, and the Backlash rematch allowed them to do another huge buyrate, their second highest of the year behind Mania. The Steve Austin return angle led to the highest Smackdown rating ever, 5.42 for his first appearance on 4/27, and the highest Raw rating ever, 7.42 on 5/1 for a show we were supposed to think he would show up on. HHH vs. Rock for the third month in a row at Judgment Day did do the third lowest buyrate of the year. TV ratings were strong as ever all through the spring and summer. Seems like a heel finally going over at Wrestlemania was a GOOD thing.
2) CONCLUSION OF THE LOVE TRIANGLE
Sure, the ending blowoff to this great feud and angle was a little disappointing, but isn't a good portion of them anyway? It's disheartening to see a storyline that's entrapured us for months, years, to have to come to an end and it is disappointing. Especially one as entertaining as the love triangle certainly was...OOPS!! Am I allowed to admit that? Triple H was..::GASP!::...involved in the angle!!! That must mean it was all some evil, post-Klique Levesque power play to build up then bury Angle so that a future star would die and only Triple H would reign and Vince could cackle in the background s'more with his daughter!!!
Or, you know, not.
Shapiro wrote that this was a mistake because "Everybody loved the love triangle and was looking forward to its inevitable conclusion, Stephanie turning on Hunter and going with Angle to turn HHH into a jilted babyface and cement Angle as a top heel. HHH didn't want to separate from Stephanie on camera, didn't want to get dumped, didn't want to give up the top heel spot headlining against Rock and Austin, so we got no payoff. The finish was the first hard example of concession to ego interfering in the company's angles and best interests." Um, what? Talk about your circumstantial evidence and your bias making up an extremely flimsy reason to hate Triple H. Lets go over the actual facts, shall we? Fact: Angle was still NEW, period, and while over like Grover...Rover...whatever the hell, he was getting nowhere near the heel heat that Triple H/Stephanie garnered and (without Stephanie) will continue to garner. Fact: Angle did not need the rub. The man is so extremely talented and charismatic, his heat would not diminish from losing, nor would he have any kind of negative effect from losing. He just recently lost to EDGE. I don't see him careening down into matches against Crash Holly, with Jacqueline as the ref. Fact: Austin was poised and ready to come back with a vengeance as a the top the face. An Angle/Austin feud would not draw as well as the Triple H/Austin feud eventually DID, to say the least. The Triple H/Austin feud was the Feud of the Year, 2001, if I remember my r.s.p.w awards correctly. Again, this was no mistake. This was THE ending the WWF needed, wanted, and got. Period.
3) GLASS CEILING
Yes, we all know it, the infamous Glass Ceiling. While there is certainly great amounts of circumstantial evidence, and a few assorted bits of real proof, that there is a glass ceiling intact, the entire point that Mr. Shapiro wrote is quite flawed and is quite far from the actual Glass Ceiling mistake that the WWF makes. Lets examine..
"After headlining shows with the top guys over the summer, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had their legs cut out from underneath them in the fall" You can't "build a new star" without establishing them first. It seems we also forget the Jericho-Benoit/Two-Man Power Trip angle that was in place before Invasion, an angle that was propelling Jericho and Benoit even more than fake title wins over the current the champion. An angle that was only stopped because of the combined coincidences of Triple H's injury, and the end of WCW and beginning of the Invasion. Their legs were cut out from underneath them, yes, but by Fate. NOT by some hands-rubbing evil schemer in the back, throwing darts at a board riddled with pictures of rising stars and screaming jovially "THEY SHALL ALL FALL, BECAUSE I SAY SO!!".
"Steve Austin's hit-and-run storyline ended up being a huge letdown with Rikishi bombing as the perpetrator, allowing Triple H to slide out of the love triangle and back into the top heel spot." Back INTO? Triple H was already the top heel and that spot was his, love triangle or no. It's also no one's fault but Rikishi's and Vince's that Rikishi couldn't handle the ball as Austin's runner-over. There were better choices, as we all know, and it seemed Vince's love for big fat guys won out over reason.
"Angle was given the WWF Title after getting screwed in the love triangle, but was booked as a weak champion who got beat up by everyone." He was getting attacked and beat up by people before, so? Granted, he was indeed a transitional champion and he was booked pretty weakly. But who "made him look so bad"? Jericho? The Rock? How dare Vince actually build up a new star, and help propel one to megastardom!!! As a sidenote, champions are used quite frequently to give heat to low-midcarders. Just ask Triple H, who quite nearly lost to the Brooklyn Brawler and TAKA and Jeff Hardy (who he DID lose to), or ask Austin, who along with the Undertaker got Mick Foley to be accepted as a main eventer from midcard status or who dealt with the likes of Viscera and Mideon. So that argument is right out.
Now Stephanie McMahon, as head writer? Well, you hear no rebuttals from me. There is no reason why someone as inept in storylines, and someone as self-minded as Stephanie, should have the top assignment.
The actual glass ceiling that is in place in Vince's EGO. The actual mistake being made that hurts the company is Vince's obsession with the "WWF style" of wrestling, his obsession with booking the "divas" to find him attractive and want to do dirty things to him, on camera no less, his obsession with his current and former megaultrasuperstars who hold no real wrestling ability (Hulk Hogan and the Rock, which is another column for another time), and his obsession with giving his daughter power. That is what hurts the company more than any other smarky-smark supposed "Triple H is evil, d00d" conspiracy.
5) STEVE AUSTIN HEEL TURN
Now I can see why people hated Austin's heel turn. He simply wasn't booed, because people did not want to boo him. In the very beginning. It took until the Vince-Angle-Austin triangle to really get some kind of good heel reaction to Austin, but it was STILL THERE. And denying that Austin as a heel wasn't entertaining is just being plain blind. Austin's heel antics make up most, if not ALL, of the prize moments of 2001. The hugging, the petition, the gee-tar, the mocking of Angle, My Name Is Stone Cold Steve Austin and I do NOT deserve to be treated like this, the leader of the Alliance, this is a story about a man named Jed. Those're only the PROMOS. The matches he put on during this period were also first-rate, always retaining some semblance of the Rattlesnake while ALWAYS putting over the face and ALWAYS being compelling. Sure, he may have been a bad heel and him leading the Alliance may have cut away WCW credibility, but did we really except WCW to have any after seeing what Vince had done to that point? The whole storyline made SENSE, thanks to the awesome X7 outing between him and the Rock, it was entertaining, it was fun, and it did just fine. No mistake here.
9) BURYING THE WWF TITLE
This here just does not make sense. And his entire "the title was buried" argument, was nothing more than a legitimate "They booked Jericho to SUCK as champion" argument. And I wholeheartedly agree, that title run was god-awful and did nothing for Jericho. Whoever handled that, Stephie I'm looking at you, was thinking only of themselves and booked Jericho in a hole that he has to climb to get out of now. However, it most certainly did NOT bury the title. It looked bad, sure, but it's now the top of the card, the goa l for all the wrestlers, it's that elevated glory that all seek. It's hardly buried, and it's hardly a mistake.
I'd argue the brand extension, but this article has gone on long enough. I feel I've made my point, and I'm glad to have finally publicly attacked this "Triple H is evil" nonsense. I'm going to leave you with a personal opinion tidbit of mine, so until my next take, auf widersehen!
Jeff Hardy has no business in wrestling any more