July 12, 2003
Nonstop reign in forecast
By TJ MADIGAN
Some weeks on Raw, my biggest guilty pleasure (and often the only thing that keeps me awake) is keeping my eyes peeled for clever, funny or derogatory homemade signs that security didn\'t manage to confiscate. About halfway through last Monday\'s show, some guy in the front row at Montreal\'s Bell Centre made my day, holding up what has become my absolute favourite sign of all time. It simply read: \"Wrestlemania XX spoiler: Triple H retains!\"
It\'s only funny because it could be true. With the exception of an insignificant one-month reign by Shawn Michaels, Triple H has held the WWE championship for almost a full year.
Considering Vince McMahon has trained fans to expect regular title changes (an average of 6 1/2 per year over the past five years), this is an insane amount of time for one man to hold any championship, much less the highest-profile gold in the game.
In fact, the last time anyone enjoyed more than a few months with a major title was when Kevin Nash won his first world strap as Diesel and managed to hold onto it for a painfully long 12 months. That was in 1994.
I\'ve lost count of the number of spiteful editorials I\'ve read over the past few months, criticizing Triple H for using his backstage stroke to avoid doing the job (the original plan was for him to lose to Goldberg in June) and making himself seem so strong fans don\'t believe he\'ll ever drop the belt (contenders aren\'t taken seriously and his opponents invariably get buried after he\'s finished with them).
I\'m inclined to agree with both of those arguments but I have to take a page out of DDP\'s book and say even though the champ\'s political connections make this whole scenario seem a little fishy, Triple H\'s extended reign isn\'t actually a bad thing. No, you guessed it, it\'s a good thing. Here\'s why:
After years of rapid-fire title changes to pop quick ratings, the WWE championship is finally gaining some value by being attached to one wrestler for a long time. I wish they didn\'t have to bury the RVDs and Booker Ts of the world to accomplish this but by having so many grapplers chase the belt and fail, it\'s setting up a monster pop for the guy who finally dethrones the Game to raise the title.
Personally, I was hoping the WWE would look past the Goldberg plans and give that massive rub to someone who actually needs it but it looks like the former Atlanta Falcon is going to be the one taking the title (and the glory) Aug. 24 at SummerSlam in Phoenix.
The America West Arena has officially announced a Goldberg-Triple H main event in its advertising for the show and, from what I\'ve heard, a changing of the guard is the only possible outcome the company is considering.
The first test-run of the match will go down at a house show in San Jose on July 20, if Goldberg can recover from the elbow infection that kept him off TV this week.
If the untelevised match goes well, expect WWE to go all the way with the Triple HHH angle, setting up an intense feud and blowing it off with a big title change at SummerSlam. If the Goldberg angle doesn\'t pan out the way they had hoped, the backup plan is to run Mick Foley vs. Triple H as the main at SummerSlam.
The storyline seeds have already been planted for Foley-Helmsley II, and even though the Hardcore Legend has confessed to wanting a Wrestlemania return next year, it wouldn\'t surprise me if he was the one who ended up challenging at SummerSlam.
This would buy Triple H at least another month with the world title -- it\'s highly unlikely Foley would win the strap -- which will push the length of his reign into 1980s/ Hulk Hogan territory.
Heck, then he could make it all the way to \'Mania with the belt, just like the Montreal sign guy suggested.
It\'s a very real possibility.