Friday 11 November 2011

End Game

On the October 24th RAW Triple H was written out of WWE storylines when he was battered with a sledgehammer by Kevin Nash. Viewers were informed that ‘The King of Kings’ had been taken to a local hospital and that he would miss at least six weeks of action. At that point Survivor Series was five weeks away, which made me assume Triple H, the valiant babyface, would make his heroic comeback just in time to exact revenge at the big show.

As I write this Triple H hasn’t returned to television and with next Monday’s RAW being built around The Rock’s first appearance in months it seems unlikely ‘The Game’ will appear. Tuesday’s SmackDown taping is out of the question as the episode won’t air until Friday, which would give WWE only two days to hype the bout. And besides, nothing important ever happens on SmackDown!

It now looks as though the Triple H return may occur at Survivor Series or in the following weeks of TV. The likely reason for this is that Survivor Series doesn’t need Triple H v Nash on the card to do good business. Whether people like it or not this year’s show will succeed or fail primarily on the strength of The Rock’s involvement. Every other match will just be an afterthought as far as casual fans (who are the ones WWE need to attract) are concerned.

WWE seem to have realised this and postponed the Nash v Helmsley match in the hope that it can help attract buys for a show that’s less likely to succeed. That show is December’s TLC pay-per-view. It hasn’t yet been confirmed that the Battle of the Clique will take place on that show but it seems the most likely time to me.

But what will come after that match? Triple H is now 42 and has not worked a full time schedule since the spring of 2010. Since his full-time return to television on July 18th it’s become clear that he is going to wrestle only occasionally and be used as a special attraction. It’s an approach that should work well for both him and WWE. At this stage in his career he’s of more use in his on-screen authority role than wrestling each week.

I imagine the immediate future holds the aforementioned bout with ‘Big Sexy’ and a possible appearance in the Royal Rumble. Beyond that nothing seems certain. Rumours have circulated for months that Triple H will once again challenge the Undertaker’s Streak at next year’s WrestleMania XVIII, and at the moment I’d say he has to be one of the frontrunners for that position.

Should that rematch take place I’d say there’s a decent chance that it could be Triple H’s final match. Shawn Michaels could only get ‘Taker to agree to a second ‘Mania match by putting his career on the line, which ultimately led to the end of his career. It would be apt to recreate that drama with HBK’s best buddy.

WWE need to make use of Triple H’s in-ring skills while they still can. A match with Kevin Nash is not going to do this. ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ ought to be wrestling his occasional matches against young guys who will be elevated by working with a main eventer with his (ahem) pedigree. Men like Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger could all benefit from feuds with Triple H.

When all’s said and done it doesn’t matter when or where Triple H wrestles his final match, or who his opponent is. His retirement from active duty is on the horizon and a backstage role, to which he seems very well suited, awaits.

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