Triple H is the next in line to run WWE. It's a job which only two people have ever held before, Vince McMahon Jr. and Vince McMahon Sr. For years fans assumed that Shane McMahon would be the one to takeover from his father but it was Stephanie and her husband who ended up winning the Game of Thrones for control of WWE.
People often talk about how Triple H married the bosses daughter in order to obtain power. Yes, this is true, but think of the courage it took on his part. If a relationship with Stephanie McMahon didn't work out, Triple H would be out of WWE permanently. Luckily for him, it seems to be working out just fine. What people don't talk enough about, in our opinion, is how Stephanie benefited from marrying Triple H. By marrying Triple H, Stephanie bumped herself ahead of Shane in the running for WWE. Stephanie knew Vince respected Triple H and would listen to his advice. By marrying him she moved herself into a similar position. Triple H and Stephanie were then in a better position to bury Shane and he ended up leaving the company for seven years as a result.
In preparation for Triple H's inevitable takeover from Vince, here are ten changes we are looking forward to him making and five we are not.
15 Positive - Return of Managers
Vince McMahon hates managers. This is the case despite the fact that stars like Bobby "the Brain" Heenan, Jimmy "the Mouth of the South" Hart, and the devious Mr. Fuji helped build WWE into what it is today. It's been decades since a Vince McMahon booked wrestling show has featured managers all that much but we imagine Triple H won't follow the same trend when he takes over.
Triple H is far more willing to cast someone in the role of a manager. On NXT programming, we've seen Paul Ellering manage the Authors Of Pain. When the tag team got called up to the main roster, however, Ellering stayed in NXT.
Titus O'Neil had briefly been cast into something of a manager's role last year, although now it appears he is back to being an in-ring superstar. Actually, after the events at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Titus is now more known for his performances under the ring than in it.
Perhaps Triple H will bring in managers akin to Slick, JJ Dillon, or Captain Lou Albano. It will certainly be seen as a plus for Superstars who struggle on the microphone. Roman Reigns would even greatly benefit from having a manager. That way, he wouldn't have to talk as much and we would never have heard him say "Tater Tots".
14 Positive - Focus on Championships
In Triple H-booked wrestling shows, the championships play a more prominent role than they do for shows booked by Vince McMahon. On NXT or 205 live, nearly every match has a role to play in the title picture of the division within which it is contested.
Even matches taking place early on the card usually have a role to play in terms of determining next challengers for the title. Triple H has made sure on 205 Live that wins move a wrestler closer to a title shot and losses do the opposite. Vince McMahon does not do that as much and takes advantage of the short memory spans of fans. If Vince McMahon decides last minute that he wants to give a certain wrestler a title shot, he will just put them in a title match and assume the fans don't mind such illogical title matches being made.
Triple H, on the other hand, seems more likely to be bothered by such gaps in logic. If Triple H decides a certain wrestler needs to have a title match on short notice you can bet he will schedule a battle royal or some other multi-person match which allows that wrestler to qualify for a championship opportunity.
13 Negative - Likelihood of CM Punk Returning Decreases
CM Punk will never return to WWE and it has little to do with Vince McMahon and everything to do with Triple H. Punk and Triple H did not get along and things between them were said to be downright nasty at times.
Following CM Punk's departure from the WWE in 2014, Vince McMahon publicly stated he would be willing to work with him again. McMahon said as much on an episode of the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast which aired on the WWE Network. He also apologized for Punk being fired on his wedding day.
CM Punk has said he'll never go back to WWE but lots of people have said that before. Triple H will never bring back Punk, however, so once he takes over you can forget about Punk ever coming back.
One possible occurrence, however, is the return of AJ Lee, Punk's wife. While CM Punk has said he will never return to the company, AJ stops short of making the same claim. While she says she is happy with how her career ended and her new projects, AJ has said she'll never say never to a WWE return, although she doesn't make it sound that likely either.
12 Positive - Main Roster Stars to NXT
Triple H has mentioned on NXT conference calls that he hopes WWE will develop a system where main roster stars are sent down to NXT for periods of time. There are many who believe this is an excellent way to use wrestlers who have hit something of a snag on the main roster.
Take someone like Dolph Ziggler. He's been on the main roster for so long now that it's hard for fans to really care about what he does. We've all seen Zigger lose so many matches by now that it's hard to get excited about him. Ziggler is someone who could definitely benefit from an extended stint in NXT. Not only would it give the wrestlers in NXT an established veteran to work with, the time away from the main roster would help those like Ziggler feel fresh when returning.
Triple H has said this before and it rarely comes to pass, however. It's possible Vince McMahon does not see the value in such a plan in the same way Triple H does. For that reason, we probably have to wait for Triple H to take over the company for it to occur. Luckily for fans, Triple H is poised to take over in the next couple of years.
11 Positive - Acknowledgment of Non-WWE Companies
Vince McMahon doesn't like to acknowledge the existence of other wrestling companies. Triple H, on the other hand, frequently has references to other wrestling companies on NXT or 205 Live.
During the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, promos introducing characters often included information on what independent wrestling companies they have worked for. Similarly, commentators on NXT will mention New Japan Pro Wrestling and other companies. Few mentions of Impact Wrestling or Ring of Honor are ever mentioned on these shows however, which is likely because they each have television deals in the United States.
It might not be the best strategy for WWE to mention other wrestling companies but it's great for fans. Letting us know where certain wrestlers used to compete lets us know what other promotions are out there that we might want to check out. It is believed Triple H acknowledges other wrestling companies on his shows is because they are geared towards a more knowledgeable fan base but he might not decide to do the same once he's booking the main roster.
In today's world of pro wrestling, with so many promotions out there, Triple H giving credit to such companies can only be considered a good thing for wrestling as a whole.
10 Negative - Grudges Held
Triple H is far more likely to hold a grudge than Vince McMahon is. One thing about Vince McMahon, he is always willing to work with someone if it is what's best for business. He's brought back Sable after she sued the company for harassment. Vince brought back Bret Hart even though Bret punched him in the face the last time he was there. Vince McMahon will bring anybody back if he thinks it makes sense from a financial perspective. The same cannot be said for Triple H, however, who has a history of burying wrestlers who might be a threat to his position.
If it's in Triple H’s best interest to bury somebody, he will. Vince does not operate like that. This is likely why Vince was willing to turn the other cheek in regards to CM Punk and Triple H is not.
One of our biggest worries about Triple H taking over is that he'll push guys out of the company if he feels they are not respecting his authority. This then allows said wrestler to sign with another promotion and possibly make them more popular in the process. This is something Vince McMahon would simply not allow to happen.
9 Positive - More Tournaments
Triple H loves his tournaments. Be it the Mae Young Classic, Dusty Rhodes Classic, Cruiserweight Classic, or even just the recent tournament on 205 Live which was won by Cedric Alexander. When Triple H takes over WWE expect this trend to only increase.
The single-elimination tournaments that Triple H tends to run are a great addition to any wrestling show.
What these tournaments do is make matches matter. The winner moves on in the tournament and the loser does not. It gives every match a feeling of importance that many matches on Raw or SmackDown lack every week.
The only worry is that perhaps Triple H would begin to abuse tournaments, running them too often so they begin to lose their feeling of importance. We're going to trust Triple H knows what he is doing on this one. It's not as though the use of tournaments has become too frequent yet on either NXT or 205 Live.
We can all expect more tournaments to take place in WWE once Triple H takes over and that's not a bad thing. Vince McMahon's style of booking does not center around real sporting competitions like tournaments in the same way that Triple H's style of booking does.
8 Positive - Gimmick Improvements
While Triple H is the performer who has portrayed the characters "Terra Ryzin" and the Connecticut blue-blood "Hunter Hearst Helmsley", he doesn't tend to book silly gimmicks all that often. This is not to say he doesn't do silly gimmicks at all, just that he does them less than Vince McMahon does and we think that is a positive thing.
For those wrestling fans who lived through the 1980s and early 1990s, we know Vince McMahon loves those silly gimmicks. If you look at the roster in WWE from a couple of decades ago it was awash with characters who came to the ring dressed up as a prison guard, a representative from the IRS, and several characters who brought animals to the ring. This is a far cry from Triple H's use of silly gimmicks which is pretty much limited to No Way Jose and a few others. When Triple H does use gimmicks, they seem significantly less silly than when Vince McMahon does. Triple H seems to have a more mature sense of humor in that regard.
When Triple H takes over WWE for good expect silly gimmick wrestlers to be a rarity. When they do appear on WWE programming, however, they will be significantly better received because they won't have been over-used.
7 Negative - Less Emphasis On Spectacle
Vince McMahon wants his superstars to appear larger-than-life. Triple H, however, is heavily influenced by non-WWE wrestling which he watched growing up. Wrestling he was influenced by did not have the same larger-than-life feeling that Vince McMahon would create with WrestleMania, Saturday Night's Main Event, and everything WWE would do in the 1980s and 90s.
One potential worry of Triple H taking over from Vince McMahon is that he will not be as well adept at creating the spectacle of sports entertainment in the same way Vince has been able to do over the last 30 years.
Triple H's skills are more centered around creating believable wrestling programs. Nothing on NXT or 205 live appears larger-than-life but diehard wrestling fans appreciate the adherence to logic and the context of a fictional sporting event. Will Triple H taking over from Vince McMahon leave WrestleMania feeling like just another gritty event with relatable pro wrestlers on it? If that is the case, WWE risks harming their biggest revenue creating event of the year.
Chances are positive, however, that Triple H will consult his wife, Stephanie McMahon, on this matter. Stephanie is someone who definitely has a feel for creating a spectacle.
6 Positive - Fewer Backstage Skits
Vince McMahon thinks he is running a sketch comedy show akin to Saturday Night Live. That's why he has hired TV writers over the years and eliminated the slew of pro-wrestling bookers to work in a creative capacity. Triple H, on the other hand, produces very few backstage skits for NXT.
When Triple H does book a backstage scene in NXT there is usually a more logical reason for it. The scenes also don't normally have a hidden camera and don't involve wrestlers who are unaware they are being filmed. An NXT skit is usually a wrestler walking into the Performance Center and being accosted by fake reporters whose faces we never see. Sometimes NXT will show a confrontation which took place as well.
There is always logic behind the skits. Vince McMahon will just throw a silly little sketch out there just for the sake of a laugh. We've seen elderly women give birth to hands, Jim Ross have colon surgery, and let's not forget about the whole Katie Vick debacle. Come to think of it, maybe the entire Katie Vick angle is why Triple H doesn't like to film sketches as much, who knows!
5 Positive - International Territories
At the recent WWE Business Partners summit, Triple H announced his "Global Localization" plan. In a nutshell, he wants to open NXT style developmental territories all over the world.
Triple H sees WWE opening these territories over the next few years.
Locations which have been discussed for this include Mexico, Japan, the Middle East and, of course, the United Kingdom, which has been rumored to be getting their own show on the Network for some time now.
For those who enjoy when WWE as a global feel, this is welcomed news. Plus, this will also help the company develop local stars and then give them a chance to compete on Raw or SmackDown in front of the world. Local territories would then become something of a feeder system to the main roster and Raw and SmackDown would almost serve as something of an international Champions League.
This plan, if it comes to fruition, would do a lot to make WWE feel like a true international company, instead of one primarily based in the United States. Still, others are of the belief that this plan would simply create too much wrestling and water down the product. In other words, there is only so much wrestling people are willing to watch.
4 Negative - Longer Matches
Matches booked on Triple H's shows are generally longer than the ones on the main roster. Any given Tuesday now, you can be sure there will be a match on 205 Live, usually the main event, which goes over 20 minutes. There are weeks where the main event of 205 Live is the longest match WWE airs on their weekly programming.
Long matches can be great, especially if there has been a long program to build up the rivalry. Not everybody is interested in watching Drew Gulak and Kalisto have a 20-minute match which started at 10:30pm on a Tuesday night, however. Put that same match on a PPV though, and you've got yourself a solid opening match.
Some TV wrestling matches are often under five minutes. The entrances take longer than the actual match. This is usually because of commercials and WWE wanting to appease the short attention span of fans. While many fans love a good long wrestling match, there is something to be said for keeping them on PPVs and off weekly television programs. This is generally the theory Vince McMahon has gone with most of his career. In fact, in the early days of Vince running WWE, most matches on television were short and squash matches. If you wanted to see a good 20-30 minute match, you had to buy a ticket.
3 Positive - Old School Booking
Despite being 24 years younger than Vince McMahon, Triple H has a far more old-school approach to pro wrestling booking than his father-in-law. Vince has always strayed to the sports entertainment side of pro wrestling, while Triple H has far more reverence for history and the stars of yesterday than Vince does.
When Triple H talks about his influences in wrestling, he often discusses names such as Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, and Killer Kowalski. His influences are far more based in the old National Wrestling Alliance than it is in WWE. One might consider it a little odd that Vince McMahon is so high on a wrestler who favored his competitors when he was growing up but that's the case.
That Triple H does have an appreciation for old school wrestling is evident in his booking of NXT. Much of what happens in NXT follows patterns which were prominent in NWA wrestling from the 1980s.
Triple H books shows, like the old NWA, putting the emphasis back on creating a fictional sporting contest above all else. We think a return to this style of pro wrestling is exactly what WWE needs to do in the future. Whether the McMahon family lets Triple H do this or not is another question entirely.
2 Positive - Wrestlers Keeping Their Indie Gimmicks & Names
One positive trend of Triple H's booking is already having an impact on the main roster. Wrestlers such as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are being brought into WWE under names they used previously in other companies. This is a stray away from WWE's normal way of doing things and it's believed Triple H is the reason things have changed.
WWE will often have wrestlers change their names so that WWE can patent and own it, thus preventing the wrestler from using the name once they leave the company. Cody Rhodes perhaps knows this better than any other wrestler. Although his family has used the last name Rhodes for decades, WWE prevented Cody from taking the name with him when he left the company. Cody's real last name, like Dusty's, is Runnels. Since Cody only ever used the name "Cody Rhodes" in WWE, Vince isn't allowing him to use it outside the company. He could use Cody Runnels, as that's his real name, but he's opted to just go with Cody.
Even Bryan Danielson was forced to change his name to Daniel Bryan so that WWE could own it. Had Triple H been running the company when Bryan was first brought in, however, he would simply be known as Bryan Danielson still to this day.
1 Negative - Lots Of Stephanie
One thing we all need to understand regarding when Triple H takes over from Vince McMahon is that it makes Stephanie McMahon the undisputed queen of the company. Another factor which needs to be considered is that if Stephanie McMahon ever decided to divorce Triple H, it could potentially push him out of the company altogether.
In other words, when Triple H takes over from Vince McMahon, what is actually happening is Stephanie McMahon is taking control of the company. Triple H relies on his marriage to Stephanie to keep him apart of the McMahon family, so he is in no position to not give her everything she wants. If Stephanie McMahon wants to cut a 30-minute promo every single Monday Night Raw, Triple H pretty much has to let her do it. He can't upset the Queen, after all.
This will likely mean Stephanie McMahon is a featured player on WWE programming for the rest of her life. Get used to hearing her theme song, in other words, because you're going to be hearing a lot of it over the next few decades. Fortunately, however, Stephanie is a talented performer. For all the criticism she gets, Stephanie has produced several entertaining wrestling segments over the years. We just hope she doesn't continue to hire Hollywood style writers, maybe this might lead to a clash with her husband due to the different mind sets.