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"Should This Game Be Fixed?":
The Debate that Will NEVER Die
June 2, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


[NOTE FROM THE PRESENT DAY: Pop quiz, hot shot... how long do you think Internet Jackoffs have been unleashing their venomous rage at Triple H for being a backstage politician who cared only about himself and his placement on the card?

If you said a minute less than 4 years, you're wrong. And it's probably more like 5. That's right: even before he was Mr. Stephanie McMahon -- while he was, in fact, still boning Chyna -- Triple H was reviled as the Most HHHated Man on the 

Internet on the grounds that he'd been reared by the Clique, and therefore knew all sorts of dirty tricks.

Today, HHH has upgraded to boning the boss' daughter, and the jack-offs have upgraded their loathing of a man they feel only has his spot on TV because of his backstage connections. I think, to a large degree, that accusation rings hollow today, especially after HHH had his strongest calendar year since 2000 last year. But sure, maybe he shouldn't be at the epicenter of everything: that I grant. It puts me in a precarious position of appreciating what HHH is capable of doing for the product, but at the same time realizing that maybe the best thing he could do, every now and again, is to DO LESS for the product and let others come in and freshen things up while he takes a little break from main events. I'm like a man without a country.

I was in the same spot 4 years ago, in May 2001, when the HHHatred was reaching a fevered pitch. Did people have a point about HHH? Maybe to some degree; but I still felt there was credit to be given to Trips for going from a man in over his head in 1999 to 2001's Best Heel in the Business. So I was in an awkward spot of not being sanguine about totally praising HHH, but also wanting to deflate some of the asinine beliefs people had about the guy. The result was the following Very Special Interactive Edition of OO, which was published on WrestleLine.com almost exactly four years ago.

It's a fun article to revisit for two reasons: one, the HHH Debate rages on hotter than ever to this day. And two, it's kinda funny to go back and see which parts of my prosyltizing were so dead-on that they still hold up today (and not just about HHH, but also about tangential issues, about how it'd take a lot of time to actually build Jeff Hardy into a PPV main eventer! Even then, I must have known it'd take something as zany as a jump to TNA to accomplish that goal!), and which parts are so painfully wrong that I wish I could edit them out (but I won't: which is why you'll actually see me state that I think HHH would make a GREAT main event babyface by the time WM18 came around; d'oh).

So buckle in, cuz this is a long-ish one: The HHHistory of the HHHatred!]

OOPINION COLUMN: "Should This Game Be Fixed?"

Originally Published on WrestleLine.com in May, 2001

"I have not watched one single WWF show since the end of January, in large part due to the fact I feel as though I'm watching the HHH is God Show rather than Raw Is War. I didn't even flinch at missing WrestleMania. Sad, ain't it?." 
       -- OO Reader "KelMarSuperVixen" speaks on 
           behalf of enraged internet smarts

"Thanks for putting people in their place for thinking HHH has all this power backstage. I also think it's a bunch of BS and people creating something that doesn't exist. Some people need to get their heads out of their ass and enjoy the damn show instead of analyzing it." 
      -- OO Reader Ryan McGovern speaks against
           enraged internet smarts

It's interesting... I started out with a mission to talk about "The Triple H Thing," and asked as many of you folks who have an opinion on the supposed power wielded backstage by HHH to mail in with your thoughts. I wound up with a two-headed monster.

On one hand, HHH is very much at the center of this debate: Is he booking story arcs that will land him as the WWF's top dog? Is he forcing his way into wins over more deserving talent? Is he keeping younger stars from breaking through to the next level? Fans are really fired up about those aspects of this argument, and think they are directly tied not just to HHH's well-being but to the downturn of the WWF product as a whole.

But what showed up quite clearly in the couple hundred e-mails I got on the topic is that a lot of people don't see this as a Triple H issue: they see it as an issue fabricated by smart marks who want to have something to write about. Y'know, since we don't have WCW or ECW to kick around anymore. The ostensibly pro-HHH crowd was, more than anything, arguing AGAINST the writers/fans themselves and not FOR The Game.

Kicking off the column above are two quotes that almost perfectly encompass the essential tone of all the feedback I got. It's not what I expected.

Now, one thing that I've always said, and which I've actually tried hard to stick to over the many years since I started doing this, is that I'm not interested in reading or writing about what others are reading or writing. Writing about other writers or fans is just pointless: it's not interesting to 90% of people, and it can only lead to silly "wars" that even FEWER people ultimately care about. So I'll try to put that small portion of this discussion off until the end... and focus on some HHH-centric elements of this issue.

So let's get started with an easy one...

Argument the First: Triple H wins all the time

"Nine times out of ten HHH always wins. Come on now, give me a break. [...] Here's my predictions: HHH WINS, HHH WINS, HHH WINS, HHH INS....." 
      -- OO Reader "Spencersdad"

Hmmm... let's just see about that.

Royal Rumble 2001: Kurt Angle pins Triple H to retain his WWF Title. No Way Out 2001: Triple H pins Steve Austin in the third fall of their contest to take a win. WrestleMania 2001: Undertaker pins Triple H in the middle of the ring. Backlash 2001: Triple H and partner Steve Austin get a pinfall win over Undertaker and Kane.

That doesn't sound like "all the time" to me. It looks like an even 2 up, 2 down in major matches so far this year. And what's more: BOTH HHH's wins were screwy as hell (the NWO match basically had a double knock-out finish, with HHH landing on top; the Backlash finish involved Vince McMahon and an illegal sledgehammer shot), while only one of HHH's loses was a screwy "face-saving" affair (Austin interference caused the Rumble loss, but Taker pinned him clean at Mania).

So, I ask: What the frick is the problem? He wins a lot, week in and week out, but once he's paired up against the other top level guys, his record's about .500. He should be expected to get wins over the lower level guys, for the most part...

And what about jobbing to the Brooklyn Brawler last year? What about making us ALL believe that he might lose to TAKA Michinoku a while back? What about matches against Jericho and Benoit that he should -- by rights -- have lost, but which were overturned in his favor in screwy fashion?

HHH comes out on top an awful lot, yes... but his opponents rarely come out any the worse for wear. Of course, the converse is that when HHH does drop a match, he tends to find a way to get HIS heat back, too... like by squashing Jeff Hardy just days after being beneficent enough to give him a screwy win.

So, maybe THAT's where your problem lies....

Argument the Second: Triple H is preventing others from getting over

"I mean, I thought it was push time for Jeff Hardy and then for Test the other night, but both times they just got totally squashed. Will they ever get what's coming to them?" 
      -- OO Reader Ray Curren

OO's in quote mode today, so I'm half-tempted to simply retort with, "Rome wasn't built in a day." But I'm just using quotes to compartmentalize OTHER people's arguments, not to make my own...

Still, I don't care how badly you want to see Jeff Hardy in main events -- and know that I'd like to see it, too! -- you have to grant that there is no such thing as an "Instant Main Eventer" switch that the Fed can flip to force fans to accept someone at the very highest level. It is a gradual process.

You can do all sorts of revisionist history with guys like Bret Hart or Diesel, who SEEMED to come instantly out of the mid-card and won the WWF Title to cement their spots at the top of the card. But that's simply not the case.

Hart was being groomed for that sort of thing all along: his IC title push came very quickly after he went solo in 1991, and then his programs started to get stepped up a few notches. It culminated in a friendly feud against Roddy Piper for that belt, a feud which simultaneously started getting fans to think about Hart in a different light (playing with the "top level" guys) and which had the effect of strengthening the position of the IC belt itself. Hart's final push to the top probably came sooner than anyone had expected, and was dictated by backstage chaos more than anything... but it was coming, and it was being diligently built up to all along. If Hart had won the WWF belt any sooner (based on the observations, "Why are they still shoving Randy Savage down our throats, didn't you HEAR the pop for Bret?"), I doubt things would have turned out so well.

And in Diesel's case, well, yeah, he DID go straight from the mid card to the main event. But not just because Vince decided it would be so. The fans DEMANDED that move. Try as he did, Kevin Nash couldn't stay a heel in 1994; starting at the Royal Rumble, his badassery drew cheers and "D-Cell, D-Cell" chants. When Nash turned face and won the WWF strap in the course of one week near the end of the year, the WWF was only selling us what we were ALREADY BUYING. There was no real risk. I still think the only reason Nash tanked (and why he was thus expendable when WCW came to sign him up 2 years later) is because the Fed tried to change the packaging after we'd bought the original box (they tried to change Diesel into a likeable good guy instead of a bad ass).

So that leaves us back to the year 2001, where people think "Well, why are they still shoving HHH down our throats, didn't you hear that pop when Jeff Hardy beat him?" and where some smart fans just assume that since THEY like a guy that the Fed can flip a switch and instantly get the general populace to buy into them as a World Champ. I just don't think it works that way. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes a majority of all fans (not just us cutting-edge smart marks) to believe before a guy can get that final big-time push.

Just look what happened to WCW last year when they tried to make fans like us happy by phasing out the old guard and running with all new main eventers! I love Booker T and Jeff Jarrett, but business -- be it house shows, PPV buyrates, or cable ratings -- took that final downward plunge into the toilet. Hey, bravo for trying, WCW, but maybe you shouldn't have put THAT much faith in the smarks to sustain you! A little more time and effort in the months leading up to those pushes and it might have worked. But that's just about proof positive that the "flip the switch and watch it run" philosophy doesn't hold water.

So: Jeff Hardy -- or Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Test, or any other of your personal favorites who you can name -- are not being hurt at all by getting involved in (and ultimately beaten in) feuds against HHH. Maybe the elevation isn't as fast as you'd like, but for the vast majority of fans (i.e. NOT US), just seeing the Hardys in there with HHH does more good for the Hardys than HHH's ultimate victory does to hurt the Hardys.

The time will come for these guys, but in the meantime, I think it's a GOOD thing that the mid-card is being increasingly populated by popular (or hated) stars who get to rub shoulders with the main eventers on occasion, rather than (as it had been in the past) keeping them totally segregated until a situation dictates that someone from the mid-card ghetto MUST come on up to play with the big boys.

But then again, maybe the problem isn't that HHH is keeping people from joining the ranks of the "big boys," it's that some jealous/pissy fans are upset that HHH has designs on being the one, LONE Big Boy...

Argument the Third: Triple H is ruining Stone Cold for his own benefit

"I don't know if it's me or what but doesn't it seem that Stone Cold is HHH's lackey? I mean the SCSA heel persona never would have gotten over without having HHH by his side. So who his the King of heels? HHH by far." 
      -- OO Reader "Zero the Hero"

Of all the arguments I saw, this one is both one I expected least and one which I find hard to refute unequivocally.

There is, in my mind, no doubt that HHH is a big part of the reason why the

Austin heel turn is finally working. And in fact, the only other way I could have ever envisioned it working is if the fans were really as rabid as they seemed for a HHH babyface turn on the night after WrestleMania, and if the Fed had run with that story. Would HHH have been a strong enough fan favorite to FORCE fans to boo Austin in comparison? I don't know... but it's all the proof I need to believe you folks are right to credit HHH's positioning of himself as key to Austin's role right now.

The problem is, while I see that as a good thing, most of you see it as bad... HHH gave Austin that heel rub, gave Austin the edge he needed in a way that Vince McMahon and all his easy-to-chant-"Asshole"-at interview could never have accomplished. HHH didn't just make Austin evil, he helped make him the kind of CAPABLE evil that gets shit done.

In turn, Austin's had to weaken his past bad-ass gimmick. Well, duh. Heels can't be going and doing the things that get cheers, and acting like a bad-ass tends to be very popular. So now Austin's playing the willing partner, the cowardly accomplice. Hey, it makes him a heel, it makes him easier to boo. And in this case, that's good. Doing these things six months ago? THAT would have been bad.

I don't even know if I accomplished anything with that bit of editorialization or not... but I think there's even more to it than Austin-as-HHH's-lackey. There's also the "so what's next?" factor.

Some people think that it's HHH's raging egomania and desire to never turn babyface that has him "pulling a powerplay" backstage to have him coming off as the big bad-ass of the heel pairing. In this scenario, HHH will never let Austin shine as the WWF's lead heel, which diminishes not just Austin's standing with fans (even if he does turn back face, he was always HHH's bitch, goes the logic), but which also diminishes the value of the WWF Title (since it's around the waist of the #2 guy, instead of the leader).

The other people think that, while HHH has been hesitant to go face in the past, he'd be willing to do it if the situation were right. And they think HHH sniffs a situation that would make him the WWF's top guy, using Austin's old bad-ass-who-does-heelish-things-but-gets-cheered-wildly role for himself. And he's doing it by throwing his political weight around, positioning Austin as a weak heel, and then orchestrating the perfectly timed babyface turn for himself that would culminate in a WWF Title reign.

I don't know what to say to those arguments... I honestly do think that before the year is up, ONE of them is going to be turning. And it's my belief that it should be HHH. But it won't be some brilliantly schemed back room powerplay that puts HHH on top, it'll be the fans who dictate whether the face turn works well enough to justify another WWF Title run for the Game.

You folks might be on to something that in this whole scenario, Steve Austin may be the biggest loser... but I'm not sold on just how integral HHH and his backstage power is to that problem.

Maybe that's just because I'm simply not sold on believing he really DOES have the same amount of power as you do....

Argument the Fourth: Triple H has too much power that he simply doesn't deserve 

"I'm not capable of telepathy or hiding microphones in Paul Levesque's house. I don't have proof that would stand up in court. However, It's kind of obvious HHH is benefiting more than anyone else. [...] and please remember his past association with the Clique. HHH learned from the masters of backstage politics. Once the student, now the master." 
      -- OO Reader Paul Berry

Upon first pass through the feedback I got, there appeared to be two separate issues here... but they quickly coalesced into the ever-so-trite "two sides of the same coin." People believe HHH has a lot of backstage power, but what really sets them off is their perception that it is completely undeserved in every way.

Take the "Triple H is bullying everybody around backstage" and pair it up with "This guy just sucks, he bores me, and I can't believe HE's the one calling the shots," and you see where I'm coming from.

I attack this two ways. First, let me say that there is just no way in hell that anyone short of Vince McMahon and Triple H himself really know what's going on with this whole dynamic. I don't care if you're ultra-plugged-in, hardcore wrestling "journalists"... or if you're a "get your news third hand from indie guys and WWF support staff" schmuck like me... or if you're just reading what gets printed on the internet... you just do NOT know the truth. Even the most plugged in of wrestling writers is getting information colored by their own sources' opinions (and hey, maybe their source doesn't much like HHH).

We can suspect that HHH learned some nice tricks from his Clique buddies. We can pretty much know that -- just like EVERYBODY ELSE in that damned locker room -- HHH will be looking out for his own well-being.

But we can never know if he's doing this with disregard for the company's well-being, at the expense of others, and by utilizing disproportionate amounts of political clout. We can NOT know.

But hey, for the sake of argument, let's suppose that his Clique experience and raging egomania have got Hunter some sort of major booking influence with the company. In the grand scheme of things, is this as bad a situation as it could be?

Well, it ain't no Hulk-Hogan-holding-power situation, no matter how badly some of you want it to be. For it to be that bad, Triple H would have to be cutting trite promos, wrestling DUD matches against weak opponents and only getting carried to ** matches against really good ones, and managing to get X-Pac into the main event mix.

None of those things are happening. HHH cuts great promos that get crowds booing him, he works solid matches against a wide variety of opponents, and (maybe best of all) X-Pac is working as a low-mid-level heel. A spot commensurate with the sorts of reactions he gets. If HHH has that much power, he's not using it as an excuse to rest on his laurels and put forth shitty efforts and he's not using it to shove undeserving buddies down our throats.

Now, saying Triple H (or any single man) "deserves" a bunch of backstage power is a hard thing to do. But if somebody's gotta have it, then I'd rather it be somebody like HHH, who understands the value of making the product around him better (by putting on great in-ring efforts, telling great stories, and not pushing undeserving talent) as the best way to make HIMSELF look better. But like I said, I'm not even granting the guy has that kind of power.

And think about this: the one thing we CAN know with relative confidence is that in the WWF power structure, the buck stops with Vince McMahon. A quick glance at Vince's track record shows he does not suffer people wielding backstage power to the detriment of the company lightly. Hulk Hogan? Bret Hart? Those names ring bells? Once Vince's pals and top stars, only to be discarded... don't think that Triple H wouldn't be out on his ass tomorrow if Vince thought he was in any way contributing to a less-than-optimal creative direction for the WWF product!

And all this leads us to sort of our cornerstone argument. Is the WWF product surrounding HHH really all that good right now? And what role does HHH have in that?

Argument the Fifth: Triple H is the reason why the whole entirety of the WWF sucks now

"I was watching Monday Night Nyquil . . . I mean Raw is Snore a few nights ago and saw the nWo . . . uh, I mean HHH and Austin beating up Lex Luger and Sting . . . uh, I mean The Undertaker and Kane after a 30 second non-match. The can of spray paint . . . uh, I mean sledgehammer was used (yet again) to beat up people. [...] So I guess I am getting angry at Triple H." 
        -- OO Reader "Deranged Clint"

Ahhh... talk about the very height of fashion! This breaking news is fresh from Milan: comparing the present day WWF to the NWO-laden "downward spiral era" of WCW, circa '97-'98 is "in" this season for all savvy internet smarts.

I guess it's -- what? -- that the heels are running roughshod... and somehow that equates to the entire product becoming boring, which is sort of what happened when the bloated NWO completely saturated WCW TV a few years back.

Me, personally, I give a lot more credence to the "Triple H = Ric Flair" comparisons than I do to these NWO comparisons... sure there's the versatility in the ring, the good promos, and all that which has resulted in the moniker "The New Man" for HHH. But something else for fans to consider: while Ric Flair was making himself the original "The Man," he often held booking power himself. Nobody bitched much about it then, and nobody's bitching about it retroactively, either.

But I'm digressing... let's get back to this NWO thing and how it's ruining WWF TV just like WCW tanked back in early '98.

It all starts with a simple question: is WWF TV right now REALLY that bad? Nah, not really... it's hit and miss, just like it's been for a while. And actually, it's hitting and missing in new ways the past couple months, since the addition of Paul Heyman to the creative team. Maybe that's what's got fans all discombobulated: Heyman's shuffling the deck and getting situation before he can really start playing his cards. I don't know...

And critics can use declining ratings as evidence all they want, but I'm not really buying it. At some level, yes, there is something to be said for "bad shows equal lower ratings." But c'mon: we all knew wrestling wasn't going to stay as hot as it had been for the past few years. It's a fad, and it's popularity had to die down to reasonable levels eventually.

Think about it this way: have the Spice Girls been putting out progressively worse material since they were huge in 1996? No, they sold fewer and fewer records and wound up doing solo projects because their ship had sailed. Don't mess with pop culture, and don't expect to escape it's fickle grasp by "improving the product," either. It probably won't work.

Yes, I know there are examples of numerous timeless, iron-clad classics... but pro wrestling ain't one of 'em. Just like the US got bored with the Spice Girls and replaced them with Britney Spears, so they were bound to stop supporting rasslin' quite as heartily (in favor of "Survivor" and other reality tripe that probably won't be around much longer).

So I honestly think that what we've got here is a PERCEIVED rut or slump, not a real one. And yes, this does tie into the final part of this discussion (which is "Exactly what role did the smarks have in creating this entire issue, anyway?"). But for now, let's talk about the things OTHER than Triple H that are probably having a stronger influence on how we're seeing the WWF product right now.

My generally "HHH ain't that bad" thesis is probably pissing off enough of you folks as it is. I don't mean to do it, but I am. And I'm sorry in advance, cuz I'm about to make it worse. I'm going to say one reason you're sensing a rut is because you're missing the Rock.

The Rock?!? But you hate him and his catchphrases and his same five moves and his no-selling even MORE than you hate Triple H!! How can this be?

It's simple: the smarks turned on the Rock long before they had to turn on HHH, but the fact is, the Rock is over huge, his presence does add an electricity to a show, and watching a match/promo where the crowd is going wild is always going to be preferable to watching one where they're dead.

So yeah, we're missing the Rock and what he brings to the product. Because the WWF is short on genuinely over babyfaces. And the ones they've got -- Undertaker and Kane -- are also on the "smart" fans' shit lists (apparently, if you're over 6' 5", you can't be any good at all). Scream all you want about how THIS, therefore, is the time to make the big push for Benoit or Jericho or whoever, but realize this: it's not what you want, it's what the ticket-buying, PPV-watching audience will accept (I love how it's all starting to tie together!). Those guys will be there, and soon, but for now, we've got Taker and Kane. And the Rock coming back soon.

A shortage of babyfaces is one reason fans are perceiving a downturn in show quality more dramatic than what's probably really happening. Another is the fact that with March's purchase of WCW, every smart mark worth his salt began fantasizing about the cross-promotion possibilities. Finally, a WWF vs. WCW War!!! But then the Fed goes and says, "Guess again, Potsie... we're not going to do that until we've firmly established WCW as its own entity. No crossovers for you!"

And just like that, the smarks' proverbial raging erections subside, leaving them unsatisfied in every way. We were THISCLOSE to nailing the Playboy Playmate, or so we thought; something we always wanted, but never thought we'd get, and we were THISCLOSE, dammit! But now we're back to the girl next door, again. It's nice to have ol' reliable there, but compared with what might have been? It's human nature to get frustrated... so it's no wonder the WWF's business-as-usual storytelling is getting poor reviews from jilted fans who really wanted that WCW Invasion right away. No wonder at all. And nothing to do with Triple H, I might add!

And maybe that leaves us with our segue into our final section... jilted fans with their own agendas? Sounds like the sort of description that might fit us internet types to a T. Maybe the net did just fabricate this whole "Triple H is ruining the WWF" theory to entertain itself. Let's face it: we're down to one wrestling company, for all intents and purposes. Without warring promotions providing us news (and biases), we've been short on content.

So we snipe at each other, we try to figure out what's left to bitch about, and we wind up with this giant Triple H Debacle. That could just be it... at the very least, it's the final bit of reader-supplied content that I felt deserved it's fancy header!

Counter-Argument: Or is this just about the smarks?

"First off, it's not Triple H that polarizes Wrestling fans. It's intelligence. I hate to put it so bluntly, but it's an undeniable fact. There are two kinds of wrestling fans: Immature children of all ages, who see wrestling as yet another outlet for their hostility and aggression, and the rest of us. The hostile fans will complain about *anything*, they're just using Triple H because it's currently trendy to do so. They've built up an entire mythology around him, mainly based on things they've heard in chat rooms and discussion boards, posted by OTHER hostile, immature fans." 
        -- OO Reader and Slash Contributor Kyle 
            "Y-Pac" Maxwell

"This whole debacle is a fluff job for internet folks who have nothing to do at the moment because of the lack of news. But before you X out: I think it adds something for those of us who know it's fantasyland but enjoy the twists the internet gives to things. It's just fun to hear grown men bicker about their points of view on something that is make-believe. I love it!" 
       -- OO Reader Jeff in Baltimore

I include "Y-Pac's" comments because they pretty well sum up a lot of the anti-smark sentiment I got, which we'll expand on a bit later... but I thought Jeff simply HAD to get these two cents in, too.

I don't know who's getting the short end of the stick here: you people who have read through this ultimately worthless piece of opinionated fluffery, or me (who actually sat down and wrote it). Since it took me longer to write than it did you to read, I'm guessing I'm the chump. But still, the irony is not lost on me: I'm sitting here trying to deflate the smart mark point of view, but there's no denying that I'm part of that very problem as I sit here being all over-analytical and self-important. Just like THEM.

I've always said that what we do is pointless at best. Parasitic at worst. Writing about wrestling for a mass audience shouldn't exist as a position anywhere in the world; it's ludicrous and almost unimaginable that it does. I wonder why anyone should care that much what we say. And then I wonder if what we're doing isn't just skimming off interest from the people who do all the hard work (i.e. the wrestlers and those in the industry) and who should be benefiting more. But then I realize a few things: there IS an audience for this sort of thing, and somebody's going to exploit it and have his/her ego stroked in the process. So it might as well be me and my ego, right? As long as it doesn't interfere with me being a fan the same exact way I've been for 17 years, then hell, I'll join in the fracas.

And that might be where Y-Pac's comments drive home a point. Maybe he's right that some internet fans have a completely different take on their position, and have taken the time to develop the things like hostility, self-importance, and personal agendas. What they say online is a gimmick, then, a way to ruffle feathers and get noticed, and not an honest attempt to put forth a well-reasoned argument. Why try to reason logically when you're convinced what you do is already Important, and that your words will be Noticed, and that People are Paying Attention? You're not trying to win people over or convince them to come back and read you again at this point: you're already 100% sure that you're pure gold.

And I do think this is a problem, but I have a hard time saying it's the only thing going on. Because outside of the realm of adolescent discussion boards and half-literate flame mail, I've read good columns and gotten good e-mails from people I think are NOT in this "I'm angry, I've got some second hand insider knowledge, and I possess a loyal audience... and I'm going to use it!" category.

That leads me to one conclusion: that there are people out there who are piling on the Triple H sucks bandwagon because it's a popular thing to do on the 'net these days, but that there are also people who have thought this out and just don't like HHH or what he's bringing to the table. The former group, well, I don't think I can do much there. By taking this stance, I'll become just as big a part of the problem as HHH, as far as they're concerned. I'd never be able to convince them otherwise. And never the twain shall meet.

That's why this whole discussion of smarks was abbreviated and nestled down here at the end of this column. Because the first five arguments (and accompanying counterpoints) comprise the sort of (hopefully) useful back-and-forth that maybe, just maybe, get the latter group (the folks who've taken the time to think about this) to think about it some more. To maybe realize we're not acting on perfect knowledge of the situation (like just how much power HHH really has), perhaps even overreacting to outright false claims (like his fictional 563-match winning streak).

I doubt I'll change anyone's mind, but I still hope I'm not the only one who found at least a modicum of usefulness in this exercise. There's no news here, and I don't think I've really put forth any new opinions I haven't touched on in past columns... but thanks to the voluminous input you folks had on the issue, we've now had the chance to see a bunch of different facets of this issue assembled into one piece. Your criticisms of HHH, my defenses, the whole issue of how the smarks really fit into both: putting it all together afforded me a better chance to see the big picture and a chance to tailor my own thoughts accordingly so that everything kind of tied together and made sense.

Or maybe I just liked the fact that this little column afforded me the interactivity and variety of opinions that a message board would... just with me GUARANTEED to get the final say so that I can look like the smartest smart guy of all! Yeah!

But seriously, I greatly appreciate all your mails. They steered the direction of this column, and I'd be curious to know what you thought of the results. I've never been big on publishing feedback, and would never do just a big page of "Letters to Me." But in this context, used as starter points for cogent discussion, is this something you'd like to see done again?

Or did I turn you all off when I violated my own prime directive and dedicated a chunk of paragraphs to writing about other writers and fans? Eh, can't win 'em all... unless you're Triple H, and you're wielding unmatchable backstage political clout, that is!

Ha ha, and you thought I'd lost sight of my thesis! No sir, I was just looking for a way to get back to the titular question: Should this Game be fixed? Let's see: we've seen that he DOES lose matches, we've talked about how he's participating in the slow/steady elevation of some talents (even if he won't hotshot them right into the main event), we've been unable to prove anything about exactly how much real power he does/does not hold, and we've come up with a number of possible alternative explanations for the perceived downturn in WWF TV quality that do not center on him.

I think Triple H is innocent on all charges (except maybe for the one about how Steve Austin's losing out in this deal so far, which will require more evidence before a final decision can be rendered). Of course, there are two very important things to keep in mind after I say that:

One, in the court of internet wrestling fandom, there are no laws against Double Jeopardy. If we see things changing, we will feel free to try HHH on these very same charges a second time, and we might not be as lenient then.

And two, this whole damn diatribe, well, it's all nothing more than (sing along, now!) My Own Damned Opinion. Your mileage may vary...

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.




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