The Most Pointless of All Feuds
Over the past few years, the big events have become more and more focused on part time performers. The last three WrestleMania main events have been primarily focused on The Rock, with the semi main event being whatever The Undertaker is doing (naturally), and two of those matches were against Triple H. Just this past Mania, the big three matches involved no less than four guys who would be considered part time. I completely understand the argument behind this, the big time feel that they bring to their matches, the fact that they are almost a guaranteed draw for the casual fan.
As we head into Extreme Rules this Sunday, the match with the biggest build, the match with the go home segment on Raw this past Monday, features Triple H and Brock Lesnar, facing off for the third time. Their feud has been almost a year in length. Ten years ago, the idea of a Triple H/Brock Lesnar feud would have really excited me. In 2013, it is entirely pointless and actually quite damaging to the product. There are many reasons for this, so lets get going on them bad boys.
First of all, the way the feud has been booked leaves absolutely no reason for any fan to give even the slightest hoot about it. Triple H, the babyface believe it or not, has shown absolutely no weakness, no chink, no peril. The idea of peril is absolutely critical to the position of the babyface, especially when in the ring against someone of the intensity of Brock Lesnar. Whilst they began something when Lesnar wrecked Trips' office in a brilliantly fun segment, it became entirely pointless once Trips came out and proclaimed that his real office was the ring, and blah blah this business this business.
There is no vulnerability on the part of the babyface, almost to the point of desperation. For a lot of fans, the only acceptable result that can come out of this Sunday would be Brock Lesnar absolutely annihilating Triple H, but even then what is the long term point of it? Lesnar will disappear for a few months, then come back to tick off more dream matches from the mid 2000s, rinse repeat rinse repeat.
I'm not here just to bash the part timers though, far from it. I believe they have an incredibly big role to play, that they are almost vital to the future of the company. They are just being used in entirely the incorrect way. There is always the complaint of a lack of new stars, a worry about how new stars are going to be made at the top of professional wrestling. Well, this is where a vastly over-used phrase comes in, and that is the good old act of 'passing the torch'.
There is absolutely no need to Triple H and Brock Lesnar to be facing each other in the modern story driven world of professional wrestling, especially if the longevity of THIS BUSINESS is whispered about being in jeopardy. Sure, you might pop a decent buy rate for Extreme Rules, but then what? H and Lesnar slip off into whatever, and the 52 week guys are left to pick up the blame for the slump in business, when they have never been positioned as top level guys at all.
That is the word we are dealing with here. Positioning. The lack of new stars has absolutely nothing to do with ability or crowd connection. It can be argued that the group of wrestlers bubbling under the surface of being huge are as talented as any in the history of the company. Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Antonio Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, The Shield, Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Fandango, they are all crazy talented guys with multi faceted abilities just waiting to be given the ball. When given the position, the crowd reactions for some of these guys has been as big as anything in recent memory. Just look at the pop for Ziggler finally cashing in. Daniel Bryan frequently gets the loudest reaction on Raw. Heck, the crowd even popped huge for Wade Barrett beating The Miz the night after WrestleMania, but maybe that was a combination of THAT crowd and it being The Miz. The glaring error and major mistake is one of positioning. By putting people in meaningless segments at traditionally weak times for television ratings, you are essentially telling the crowd that these guys aren't quite worth caring too much about, that they aren't worth caring about as much as The Rock, or Triple H, or Brock Lesnar. It is the WWE's form of propaganda. Tell and show people something long enough, it will become fact.
The fact that both Triple H and Brock Lesnar were available for WrestleMania meant that WWE had a huge opportunity to cement two guys as genuine main event level players. By pitting them in singles matches against younger guys, you had the chance to show the audience that two guys belong in the main event on the biggest stage, and you would have had two considerably stronger matches in the process. Who can deny that WrestleMania would have been infinitely stronger, had instead of the tag title match and Lesnar/Trips bore you had Triple H putting over Dolph Ziggler and Brock Lesnar putting over Daniel Bryan? I complain as much as anyone about the poor booking of the tag titles, but putting them on the biggest show of the year does not make up for years of negligence. By having the cocky young upstart Ziggler back up his show off character by beating The King of Kings on the Stage of Stages, you immediately have a main event guy with all the ability in the world who will be around for a very long time. Heck, you don't even need Bryan to beat Lesnar, but by giving them a highly competitive 25 minute match that ends with the plucky Bryan passing out, not tapping out, in the Kimura, and you have the best wrestler in the world cemented in the minds of the crowd as a tough bastard not to be trifled with, as opposed to a comedic character who happens to be an incredible wrestler. It's not difficult to work out.
This doesn't ring true for all the part timers of course, and this is exactly why guys like The Undertaker and Chris Jericho have a much better appreciation level amongst intense wrestling fans than Triple H. Jericho is pretty much entirely there now to put younger guys over. Whilst The Undertaker rarely loses, his opponents more often than not come out of the match looking strong, such as Dean Ambrose a couple of weeks back on SmackDown. Jericho and Taker obviously understand that they won't be around forever, and that new stars need to be made. This makes it extra worrying that Triple H is likely to be in charge of the company sooner rather than later.
I don't want to bash Triple H too much. I've a lot of time for him as a performer, and he actually did put people over frequently on the big stage years ago, Benoit and Batista being the obvious examples. The problem is that this tendency seems to have stopped, and it has stopped when it is needed the most. These days, Triple H gives the impression of a performer who desperately, desperately wishes to still be relevant, but also knows his best days are over. In a hopeless attempt to be relevant, he has made the wrong decision of putting himself at the front of the product, as opposed to passing a metaphorical torch. Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar in 2013 is a completely pointless feud, a feud that shows the obsession with short term as opposed to long term that plagues modern day professional wrestling, and sport in general. I have no interest in seeing it, especially not dragged out over almost 12 months. Calling it pointless is almost being kind. It is the main reason I worry about THIS BUSINESS.
There you have it. Where do you stand on the HHH/Lesnar feud? Intense and gripping or pointless and pointless? How important do you view positioning? Who would you like to see put over by either guy? Why am I still drinking? Leave your comments in the lonely comment box below, or find me on the darker parts of the internet, be it email (email@example.com) or twitter (@pingvinorkestra). I'll meet you there.