By 2015, Triple H was fully in his role as COO of WWE. His Authority stable had managed to break up the Shield and Seth Rollins, the Authority’s chosen star, was on the brink of bringing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship back under the Authority’s control.
However, a ghost from the past was coming to WWE and would challenge Triple H to a match for the ages. Sting, the enigmatic star of the long defunct WCW, made a shocking debut at the 2014 Survivor Series, costing Triple H’s Authority team the victory, and Triple H was forced to leave RAW, until Seth Rollins forced John Cena to invite the Authority back. It would culminate in the last battle of the Monday Night Wars.
In 2016, Triple H found himself WWE World Heavyweight Champion after Roman Reigns, the controversial Powerhouse of the defunct Shield, had engaged in a campaign against the Authority to become champion on his own terms.
In these years, Triple H would become the authority figure in WWE, supplanting his father-in-law, Vince McMahon and would come to terms with his own role in the changing of the Professional Wrestling landscape.
The Last Battle of the Monday Night War: Sting -WrestleMania 31
This match could actually be traced back to the Monday Night War between WCW’s Monday Nitro and WWF’s Monday Night RAW of the mid-to-late 1990s through to 2001 when Vince McMahon bought WCW. Sting was the star of WCW, a lifer who had spent of his career in WCW and had refused to join WWE after the buyout.
However, at Survivor Series 2014, that changed when Sting made a shocking debut, costing Team Authority the win, and forcing the Authority out of WWE. However, the Authority, thanks to Seth Rollins, would be back and the collision with Sting was on. The Stinger played mind games with Triple H for weeks before making his wishes known: He wanted a match at WrestleMania against the man who had done so much to put WCW out of business; or, at least the one that was still in the company and able to wrestle, NOT named The Undertaker: Triple H.
Sting, making what would be his only WrestleMania appearance, has what looks like an Asian drum group, some dressed like him. I will say Sting’s WWE music was pretty good, and even cooler sounding with a live group. The Stinger gives no real indication that he’s overawed by the near hundred thousand people in Levi Stadium, it’s a lot more than would’ve been dreamed of in the Attitude Era. The San Francisco crowd loves the Stinger and he seems to be enjoying himself.
I do NOT like the commentators treating Sting like WCW was a small time operation when they know damn good and well that WCW, at its peak, was the most serious competition WWE had had for the better part of two decades.
Triple H’s entrance was weird. It showed San Francisco…in the apocalypse and Triple H came out basically as a Skull King/Terminator mashup that I’m not crazy about, despite using it for the picture for this series. I do like him labeling Levi’s Stadium as a hostile environment. Sting’s ‘WTF’ expression is gold. We also get Arnold Schwarzenegger in a shameless ‘Terminator: Genesis’ plug telling us that ‘It’s time to play the Game’. I guess that’s his payoff for going into the WWE Hall of Fame. No shade though. Again, Sting’s face is ‘WTAF’ and it’s HILARIOUS.
I’m going to be real, though, as much as I respect Triple H, he was NOT who I wanted Sting’s first WrestleMania opponent to be. If we ever got Sting at WrestleMania, I wanted him to face the Undertaker, and the fact that we never got that hurts my enjoyment of this match. I just never saw the real thing for having Triple H vs Sting when we could’ve had Undertaker vs Sting instead.
It takes a few minutes before we get started, but we start with a bang. Anyone in WWE who wants to dismiss Sting’s talent never really watch his matches when he was in his prime. Full disclosure, Sting was TERRIBLE when he first started, but, unlike his friend, Warrior, Sting actually cared enough to improve and turned into quite the ring general. He was no Ric Flair, but he was great to watch.
My saltiness about the fact that it’s Triple H vs Sting and not Undertaker vs Sting aside, this was a really good match. Despite both men being past their primes, they locked up pretty good.
The big thing I did NOT like was the inclusion of the NWO and DX into this. Like, the Monday Night Ratings War has been over for more than a decade, we do NOT need to rehash this shit again. WWE won, we all know that, let it go, Vince.
Hogan doing the DX chop and stealing the sledgehammer was pretty good, though.
With all this nonsense going on, the end wasn’t surprising. It would take a whole lot of BS and chicanery, but Triple H would pull out the win and put the final nail in WCW…which had been dead and dusted for over 14 years.
The Winner: Triple H by pinfall.
Comment: Okay match, but I wanted Sting’s opponent to be the Undertaker. It’s no shade to Triple H, but Undertaker would’ve been a better fit. Also, the DX/NwO stuff was just unnecessary.
Battling the Big Dog: Roman Reigns – WrestleMania 32
At WrestleMania 31, Seth Rollins had paid back the Authority’s belief in him by capturing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the most brazen MITB cash in of all time: Cashing in DURING the title WAR between champion Brock Lesnar and challenger Roman Reigns.
However, in November 2015, Rollins was out with a serious knee injury that would keep him out for months. Proving that a rolling stone gathers no moss, Triple H set his sights on Roman Reigns, the former powerhouse of the Shield, who had been scheduled to face Rollins at Survivor Series. Triple H offered Reigns a deal: Join the Authority, and he could skip the tournament that was being arranged to decide who would battle for the vacant title, a tournament that included Reigns’ best friend, Dean Ambrose. Reigns refused and after winning the tournament, speared Triple H. However, Triple H had an ace up his sleeve in Sheamus, Mr. MitB, who successfully cashed in on Reigns. Reigns refused to take that lying down, and after being screwed over by Sheamus and his cohorts, the League of Nations at TLC 2015, viciously attacked Triple H when he came out to calm things down, then attacked Vince McMahon on RAW, leading to Reigns putting his career on the line for one more title shot, and winning the title in a wild match on his daughter’s birthday.
However, the Authority wasn’t going to take that lying down and forced Reigns to defend his title in the Royal Rumble Match. Triple H would eliminate Reigns and barely squeak past Ambrose to win the title for the fourteenth time in his career.
However, Reigns and Ambrose, who both felt like they had a rightful claim to a title shot, would not go away. Reigns would beat out Ambrose and Brock Lesnar to become the #1 Contender. However, Ambrose was not going to give up on his ambition and Triple H BARELY got a win over the Lunatic Fringe at Fastlane. The showdown with Reigns was on.
We start with a really cool video about the Authority that was blatant propaganda, but we’ll give it a pass. The real cherry on this is Stephanie McMahon, in a leather leotard and over the knee high-heeled boots, as the Skull Queen. Every king needs his queen. It’s absolutely incredible and badass.
Triple H coming out after than almost seemed unnecessary, it wasn’t going to compare to Stephanie, but out he came. He wasn’t the Skull King, but the effect was cool.
Roman Reigns is out next and his entrance isn’t NEARLY as grandiose, but punching the floor and getting fireworks is pretty cool.
This match really got panned by fans and critics after it aired, and I can SORT of see why. Triple H was not in his prime anymore and Roman Reigns can never seem to do anything right as far the IWC is concerned. HOWEVER, the criticism kind of missed the point of: WWE had a chunk of its roster out due to injury.
I think the biggest problem with this match was that the build up was so violent that the match couldn’t live up to the hype. Triple H had ‘taken out’ Reigns the RAW after Fastlane because Reigns legit needed to have surgery on his nose, that had been broken in a match with Sheamus at the end of 2015. Then, when Reigns returned, their brawls were pretty violent for the PG era and the match they would’ve needed to have to live up to that build was just NOT going to happen, not with 17 members of the roster out and not in the PG Era.
Not to say that this match wasn’t violent, it certainly was, but the hype would’ve had you believe that they were going to go full Attitude Era blood and guts and that didn’t happen.
All that said, this was a really good match. Reigns was really beginning to come into his own as a performer and working with Triple H could only help him more in polishing his performance and presentation.
The Game had the experience and the fact that he was everyone’s boss, but the Big Dog had the youth and the determination. After spear to Stephanie that just about knocked her out of her boots and a near fall off the distraction and a miss with the sledgehammer, Roman Reigns would put the Game away with a spear. NEW CHAMP!
The Winner: Roman Reigns by pinfall. We have a NEW WWE Champion.
Comment: Good match. Kudos to Stephanie for taking that spear. The Big Dog is on the mountain again.