True Gamesmanship

Written under duress by Critical Bill (@williamrenken83)

We are so damn smart, aren’t we?

Put the magazines away. This is the generation of forums, Youtube, podcasts, and countless forms of media. All of these combine to make us the smartest mother fuckers on the planet. At least when it comes to wrestling.

Where we stand now and where we have stood for several years is in a position of constant judgement of WWE and the current wrestling product of today. It would be one thing if we made those judgements based on what we saw on television. But no, that wasn’t enough. We needed more. We became a million Rybacks screaming “FEED ME MORE!” when it came to the wrestling business.

Let’s put a fact out there that really isn’t a fact at all but might as well be in the minds of 99% of wrestling fans: Triple H is a big asshole…or some variation of that.


The man we love to hate, inside & outside of the ring.
The man we love to hate, inside & outside of the ring.

People don’t like Triple H. Hell, I haven’t liked Triple H. I’m just as guilty. It wasn’t enough that he was an amazing villain on television. He married the boss’s daughter and buried anyone that ventured close to his exosphere orbit in the WWE atmostphere. That’s what he did, right?


Well, maybe not. Of course, wrestlers past their run in WWE have had opinions of the negative variety on Triple H. But honestly was Triple H any worse than anyone else that has been a top guy for Vince McMahon? (To be fair, none of them married Stephanie. There, he gets the edge.)

This is what I’m getting at, and this didn’t hit me until very recently. We know what we know (supposedly) about Triple H based on what the wrestling business has allowed us to know. None of us, and I’m talking about the so-called journalists and experts that do what I do and spew opinions over the internet wrestling landcape, really know what the hell was going on all of these years in regards to Triple H behind the scenes.

Why is this important?

It’s important because it never fails that Triple H is judged (again, by me plenty of times in the past) based on the legend and lore of the villain that existed at the Gorilla position and beyond to the towers in Stamford, CT.

Cut to current events. One in four Monday Night Raws a month are viciously maligned for lacking something, anything that resembles what we think the WWE should or should not give us.

Faced with a last minute derailment of the launch of the WWE Network in the United Kingdom, the Raw from Buffalo might as well been saddled with the sports cliche of a “must-win situation.”

And win they did. Win they fucking did with a slam dunk show that put into high gear a run toward a highly anticipated Survivor Series main event in a few weeks.

I’m going to push aside the tall grass of Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, even Vince McMahon himself to give the majority of the credit to Triple H.

Let’s call it what it is, Hunter owned this show, displaying skills that many of the new crop of superstars just haven’t developed yet, least of which is the type of promo that drives, without meandering, to a climax, resolution, and a new stasis to which everything now has to operate from.

The exchange with Ziggler, a masterpiece in using what the perceived reality is surrounding Ziggler and channeling it as part ofRAW_1119_Photo_101-69123397 the storyline. It was a thing of beauty, like a finely crafted and delivered soliloquy out of Shakespeare; a Mark Antony-like performance. He got Dolph Ziggler to another level without Ziggler having to take a ridiculous bump. He made Ziggler appear higher than he ever has without a world title around his waist.

Then later in the show, building off an intense close-up promo with Randy Orton, Triple H goes forehead to forehead with the Viper, attempting his form of the Vulcan mind meld to simmer Orton’s temper. But it becomes all for not. Orton has to be put down, and he gets a hard way curbstomp on the announcer table. Whereas Stephanie McMahon and the rest of the Authority look pleased and seething with their own venom at the treachery of their longtime conrad, it’s Triple H who takes a different approach. A grudging acceptance of the same mindset his wife and underlings have. Yes, time to put his former protege down…


It was one of Hunter’s best sells. He sold himself perfectly as a man in internal conflict; legitimate internal conflict that was seeded in complete verisimilitude.

Let’s veer off slightly and ask ourselves: who are the best villains? Better yet, what are the traits of the best villains? In fact, single it down to one. One trait.

It’s humanity…Humanity. Go look at the AFI’s list of the 100 greatest film villains of all time. Three quarters to damn near all of them are such compelling villains because there is a shred of humanity that connects with us and makes us see the legitimacy of why they are doing what they are doing in a devil’s advocate sort of way.

Triple H went to this type of level on Monday night. He went to this level and added another layer to the onion that has been his character from the days of the blue blood. And as hard as it might be to give him credit, maybe, just maybe all of us just need to realize that the only reason we should hate Triple H is because he is so damn good as at being the heel he is on our television screen each week. That’s all we know, and that’s all we need to know.


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