Thursday, 14 February 2013
Wrestling Legends Split Over Triple H By Shaun Nichols
In the last couple of weeks Triple H was able to do something that most wrestling fans had thought was impossible, he had after several months managed to convince Bruno Sammartino to once again become a part of the WWE family and accept an invitation to join the WWE Hall of Fame. Also he found himself being criticised by Bret Hart in an interview with the UK's Wrestletalk. So let's have a closer look at both of these stories.
First the good news, Sammartino had almost become as well known for his criticism of the WWF/WWE over the last 25 years then as he was for being the legendary WWWF Champion in the 1960s and 1970s. This caused the WWE quite a lot of problems when they decided to launch their own version of a Hall of Fame which started in 1993 with the sole induction of Andre the Giant.
As the years rolled by more voices were raised that it was impossible to treat the WWE Hall of Fame seriously when legends like Bruno Sammartino were missing when in the last few years we have seen the likes of Koko B Ware, 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan and Wendi Richter. Many of the wrestlers just saw the opportunity of grabbing a quick payday and really didn't see it as anything more than that. More than one inductee has used ebay to sell their HOF ring stating that it meant nothing to them compared to getting inducted into Cauliflower Alley's Hall of Fame.
Sammartino's main objection to the promotion was the blatant use of steroids in the 1980's and he became a regular interviewee when the steroid scandal broke in the early 1990s. He also was very critical of the product in the 'Attitude Era' which he saw as vulgar and was very much reliant on profanity and use of nudity.
Both of those have changed over the last several years, the WWE has gone down a PG road, steroids are certainly no where near the factor they had been in previous decades. A doctor called Dr Maroon who had operated on Bruno a number of times was employed in a key position by the WWE and certainly helped convince him that the company was treating drug use seriously and they were actively trying to stop it from happening. They pointed to Wellness failures which led to suspensions, and should a wrestler fail three times then they would be terminated.
However Sammartino still needed to be convinced, this obviously was not going to be done by Vince McMahon so it was left to Triple H to try and strike a deal. Unlike a lot of the stars of the past, Sammartino was not interested in appearing just for the sake it. He had appeared at a number of ROH shows at the past, in part as a way to convince fans that the ROH product was the best wrestling product.
Even a few weeks ago it seemed likely that Triple H would fail, although they liked one another personally and Bruno saw him as honest and acting with integrity it didn't look all that promising. Bruno had stated that if he didn't agree to be inducted in 2013 then it would be likely that he would never agree to be inducted.
For Triple H this could be argued that this really was a make or break attempt, his two big signings he had made for the WWE in Sin Cara & Kharma which had for various reasons failed. He needed a big win to show that he could get the job done and act in the right way to do so. By getting Bruno into the Hall of Fame and also setting the stage for DVD boxsets, appearances on the Legends Roundtable and maybe tie-ins with documentaries and films which are being made about Bruno is a major coup for Triple H and should be seen as a great success for him.
Less promising for him was Bret Hart's recent interview about him. The timing of it seems particularly strange, Triple H's influence in the company is only going to strengthen in the coming years so from a political point of view it does not make any sense for Bret to be critical of him. There is no indication that Bret is on bad terms with the company as he made a cameo at the Royal Rumble in order to put over Alberto Del Rio as the 'Mexican Bret Hart' and the WWE is scheduled to release another 3 disc boxset this year called Bret Hart: The Dungeon Years which obviously will give Bret a nice payday through royalties.
Although Bret and Triple H are clearly not great friends, some of his comments seemed to contradict one another. He often called Hunter a 'good wrestler' or a 'decent wrestler' but then says he was nothing special and that he just showed up and the WWE made him a star. He then went onto say that Hunter had never had a great match which was quite the statement.
I don't know what Bret considers to be a great match, but I think Triple H has had a number of great matches and I'm not even that big a fan of Hunter. His '3 Stages of Hell' match against Steve Austin at No Way Out 2001 PPV was probably in the top ten matches in the WWF/WWE in the last 15 years. He had excellent matches with Cactus Jack, a shockingly good 60 minute match with The Rock to name some really obvious examples.
Bret goes on to say that he thought Triple H's match with The Undertaker at last years Wrestlemania was probably a 3 or 4/10, due to the fact Bret says he knew exactly what was going to happen before he actually saw it. While most fans rated it well over ****, Bret thought it would be lucky to get ** star rating.
In a later interview he slightly backtracked by saying that he was referring to Triple H's matches in the time they were both actively working for the company which would have been 1995 to 1997. That he hasn't seen Triple H's matches in the last 10 years and that it wouldn't be fair to comment on him but he stands by his thoughts that he was average. That he had never seen Hunter contribute anything creative or suggest ideas for his matches, or that he couldn't change up his style if the fans were not reacting as expected noting Triple H's matches with Bill Goldberg as examples of that.
As I've said it does seem strange that Bret has chosen to be vocal about Triple H in the last couple of weeks, although he seems to have mended his bridges with Vince and Shawn it does not appear that he has done so with Hunter.