Last week I wrote about how this year’s WrestleMania build up has been terrible, well this week’s Raw has done nothing to improve it. Unbelievably (or perhaps not) Bad News Barrett was pinned yet again and although he got the win this week Cesaro was humiliated by Torito afterwards. Remember in WWE titles are for losers. John Cena’s nationalist persona is becoming more and more of a caricature, so much so I half expect him to appear at WrestleMania in Hulk Hogan’s “Mr America” costume. But Despite Cena’s cliché riddled promos Rusev, the man that was a beast just a few week ago, was running away from him after being completely dominated in the ring last week. Erick Rowan another former monster heel in the making was squashed by the up and coming star The Big Show. And we heard part 143 of the Bray Wyatt monologues to promote his match against the Undertaker.
Despite WWE’s best efforts to ruin the biggest night of the year in wrestling for me I’m excited to see Sting. It would be better if he was 15 years younger but he seemed like a man revitalised and energised on Raw and his brief appearance brought with it a glimmer of hope. There is no question that a singles match between HHH and Sting at WrestleMania XXXI is something of a risk, despite having over 50 years of wrestling experience and a shed-load of titles between them. Triple H is now 45 and goes to work in a suit these days while Sting is 55 and hasn't wrestled in over a year.
Having Sting team up with the newly-babyface Randy Orton against The Authority team of Triple H and Seth Rollins as they did this week would have definitely been a safer option. This would also have helped in terms of getting the crowd onside and responding to create an amazing atmosphere, although Sting got a great reception on Raw it is something that Triple-H has had problems with in previous WrestleMania bouts. He has never been a Steve Austin or Dwayne Johnson or even a Mick Foley in terms of connecting with the crowd. Seth Rollins is generating more heat than anyone at the minute and I it would be a match of a greater magnitude for him which he fully deserves after a brilliant year. I'd have loved to have seen the up and coming superstar coming up against "The Icon".
I have some concerns about where the singles match is going and it isn’t too late to change it. It’s a good job Sting appeared this week on Raw alongside Orton as it’s almost as if everyone was forgetting who the babyface is and who the heel is in this feud. Triple H has even been using some "Hollywood" Hogan-esque tactics in attempting to make himself the person the fans should be cheering for by making this about "WWE vs WCW" and casting Sting as the villain for remaining loyal to the company that made him a star when the greedy rats who sank the ship were abandoning. It is annoying how Sting's ten-plus years in TNA are being ignored and it is being suggested by Triple H that he has been in hiding since WCW went under.
If Sting doesn't win at WrestleMania, then it begs the question why was he brought in and where does he go from here? If WWE want the dream match of Sting vs Undertaker (or even Steve Austin) in Texas next year they need him in a strong position. Many people would question why Undertaker vs Sting isn’t happening this year and have suggested that it is Triple H’s ego and obsession with giving himself glory at the top of the card with the hottest available star. Remember CM Punk said in the infamous Colt Cabana podcast that Triple H booked himself to fight him last WrestleMania before he walked out. Triple H has been accused plenty of times by people, including other former WWE champions such as Bret Hart and Chris Jericho, of using his family connections to do what is best for himself at WrestleMania (and beyond) and not what is "best for business". Let's have a look at the facts, starting our journey in 2000 when Triple H and Stephanie McMahon began their relationship.
WrestleMania 2000 WIN - Triple H pins The Rock to retain the WWE title in a fatal four way against Mick Foley and The Big Show.
WrestleMania XVII LOSS - Triple H loses to The Undertaker
WrestleMania XVIII WIN - Triple H pins Chris Jericho to become undisputed WWE champion.
WrestleMania XIX WIN - Triple H pins Booker T to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
WrestleMania XX LOSS - Triple H loses to Chris Benoit by submission in World Heavyweight Championship triple threat match.
WrestleMania XXI LOSS - Triple H loses to Batista by pinfall to lose the World Heavyweight Championship
WrestleMania XXII LOSS - Triple H loses to Cena by submission in WWE title match
WrestleMania XXIV LOSS - Triple H loses to Randy Orton by pinfall in a triple threat match for WWE title.
WrestleMania XXV WIN - Triple H beats Randy Orton to retain the WWE title
WrestleMania XXVI WIN - Triple H beats Sheamus by pinfall
WrestleMania XXVII LOSS - Triple H loses to The Undertaker by submission
WrestleMania XXVIII LOSS - Triple H loses to The Undertaker by submission
WrestleMania XXIX WIN - Triple H beats Brock Lesnar by pinfall
WrestleMania XXX LOSS - Triple H loses to Daniel Bryan by pinfall
In 14 WrestleMania appearances since 2000 that is only 6 wins which would not necessarily suggest that Triple H was being selfish in terms of his booking. However if you delve a little deeper a slightly different picture emerges. Three of those losses were against The Undertaker and were a given, why though was he booked twice in high profile “streak” matches against the Undertaker in successive years, in his later years, rather than giving the spot to a future WrestleMania main eventer needing the exposure? As is the case this year with Bray Wyatt, even if he was still getting the win and maintaining “The Streak”, The Undertaker should have been used to boost the profile of younger stars, not boost the ego of an older star of the past. Looking at the cards it would appear to be Triple H’s desperation to be involved in a main event of some sort when it wasn't possible in the title matches.
Look at the matches either side of his Undertaker double-bill. Despite not being a regular on-screen wrestler at the time Triple H booked himself to beat the returning Brock Lesnar the year before Lesnar beat The Undertaker, just think about how ridiculous that is now with the way Lesnar is promoted. Triple H also decided that he would defeat Sheamus at his very first WrestleMania, shortly after Sheamus had lost the WWE title. Just to make sure his man event status was short and sweet. He did a pretty good job of burying Booker T and Jericho too. Although he did lose last year he made sure he got his match with the biggest star in the company at the time. Expect Triple H vs Seth Rollins next ‘Mania.
Most of the predictions I have seen for WrestleMania have Sting down to win this bout, but don’t underestimate the ego of Triple H and the current obsession in WWE with making decisions that make no sense. Hopefully there is no sting in the tail and Steve Borden will get his WWE WrestleMania moment which he deserves after giving so much to wrestling.
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