The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff.
When Triple H first turned on Daniel Bryan at Summerslam, and aligned himself with Randy Orton, there was a great deal of optimism for WWE, one that had not been felt in quite some time. On paper, a pairing of HHH and Orton seemed like a perfect fit. Triple H was set to play the corporate tyrant, similar to the roles played wonderfully by Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon in the past. Adding an accomplished heat seeker like Stephanie McMahon looked like a move that could only help matters, and so WWE looked to be heading in a new direction.
During the months since "The Authority" arrived, it has become apparent that they are not a storyline that is going to change the fortunes of WWE. No, instead they appear to be just another poorly executed angle that failed to make a big impact on TV ratings and PPV buys. While The Authority is still going strong today, the chances of it making the earth-shattering moves that fans hoped would happen when the storyline first debuted are pretty much doomed.
One of the big mistakes WWE made was that they were somewhat vague on what role HHH was going to play. Sometimes, HHH was there to throw his weight around, putting the screws to faces and screwing Daniel Bryan out of title shots. Other times, HHH was endearing himself to the fans, listening to their demands because that was "best for business."
If the goal is to have Triple H be an evil boss, the guy that makes life harder for all their hard-working people, than that has been a failure. A character like Vince McMahon, a corporate tyrant who WWE would really like Triple H to be, didn't give a damn what was "best for business."
If the fans wanted something, Vince McMahon quickly aligned himself with the exact opposite of what they wanted. McMahon was fond of saying "These people don't know what they want, I know what these people want." If evil Mr. McMahon was in charge of WWE right now, he would have never given John Cena a unification match just because he asked for one. Could you ever imagine Steve Austin coming out in 1999 and demanding that he get a title match against The Rock, and Vince McMahon just gave it to him? Where is the heel in that? Why would fans hate someone who just gave the top face in the company a title match for no reason other than that he asked for one?
It was shocking to see Triple H and Stephanie McMahon come out before Survivor Series and pump up the crowd. They said that there would be no interference in any of the matches tonight (why say that when you already said that there would be no interference in the main event, the only match involving HHH) and Triple H did his old "Are you ready?" bit that always gets the crowd going. Survivor Series was a PPV that was almost entirely built around the fact that people do not like HHH and Stephanie, yet the show starts with them appearing and cutting a very face-like promo. The confusion in booking HHH's character was certainly led to a reduced reaction from the crowd. He does not get the heat that an evil corporate boss, unquestionably the biggest heel in the company, should get, and that is probably because of the inconsistency with his character.
So maybe Triple H is not supposed to be this 100 percent, evil bad guy. Maybe his character is supposed to be subservient to somebody else. Well, that somebody else would be Randy Orton, and Triple H is hardly subservient to Orton. Orton is supposed to be the cocky, brash and arrogant heel that comes from a lineage of wrestlers, and is the apple of HHH's eye as what a champion is supposed to look like. Orton however, has come across more as Triple H's lackey than his equal. Orton is consistently being put-down by Triple H, and Triple H frequently wonders if he is sure that Orton is the right guy to build the company around.
If Triple H is not going to be the number one heel in the company, and if Triple H is going to come out and be a face sometimes, than he cannot be the one calling all the shots and having all the power. In the NWO, Eric Bischoff was the matchmaker and the guy with power, but he was never recognized as the leader. That was always Hulk Hogan. Eric Bischoff did his best to please Hogan, and he always had supreme confidence that Hogan could get the job done. If Triple H is not going to be this overpowering bad guy, than he should not be the leader of a faction that is billed as being overpowering bad guys.
Anyone that is familiar with Triple H and his ego would realize that there is zero chance that Triple H would make himself subservient to Randy Orton. And that is where the crux of the problem is: Triple H's ego. This is just my personal opinion, but I think that Triple H wants to be a dominant heel and a beloved face, at the same time. I think that Triple H is jealous of guys like Chris Jericho, guys that come back as heels, but are just so beloved by the fans that they cheer for them anyways. I think that Triple H is upset that he is not at that level, and that is why he sometimes tries to act like a face. When Triple H came marching out of the back to start Survivor Series to cut that promo pumping up the crowd, it is because he wants to be seen on that iconic level that guys like Chris Jericho and The Rock are at. He wants to be so legendary that no matter how evil he gets, he will still get some cheers. It eats away at him that he is not on that level, and no matter how much power he obtains behind the scenes in WWE, no matter how he books himself, there is a chance that he will never reach that level of respect and admiration from the fans.
The issue of course, is that Triple H is not The Rock who shows up a few months out of the year, or Chris Jericho, who is more of a role player than a main-event title contender at this point. Triple H is supposed to be the most dominant heel in wrestling, he is on TV every week and he is supposed to be the leader of a faction that holds all the cards in WWE. Forcing some face attributes on an overwhelmingly heel character leaves him in some sort of gray area, where is he obviously a bad guy, but he does some nice things for talent and the fans, so you cannot love or hate him too much. The fact that HHH has not had a clearly defined role in WWE is why we have not seen any large improvements in WWE, either financially or in overall quality.