What Triple H has gotten wrong: Missed opportunities and unnecessary title belts
Not striking while the iron was hot with Cody Rhodes (and Drew McIntyre): To be fair, WWE could render this critique moot if it follows through with its plan to have Cody Rhodes beat Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40, but there’s no guarantee that Reigns or Rhodes will be as over then as they respectively are right now, and if that happens, the decision to not put the Universal Title on Rhodes will feel like an even bigger mistake than it already does.
Since WrestleMania 39, some fans and even Triple H have found plenty of ways to justify Rhodes’ loss — his character needed to experience “adversity” (omitting his bicep injury), it’s Jey Uso’s story, Reigns reaching 1,000 days as champion was more important, it’s merely a chapter in a larger narrative — but it doesn’t change the fact that WWE had a chance to cement “The American Nightmare” as the company’s lead babyface and instead chose HEEEEEEAAAAAAT.
To a lesser degree, WWE made the same mistake with Drew McIntyre at Clash at the Castle. In both cases, the company could’ve solved its absentee champion problem by crowning a hot babyface who could take on all comers. Instead, Triple H picked a worse option…
Introducing a new World Heavyweight Championship: So, WWE’s answer to the part-time titleholder problem was to introduce a consolation world title belt. While Seth Rollins is working hard to get the championship over, it’s going to take more than a couple of midcard PPV matches with Finn Bálor to convince fans that it’s at the same level as Reigns’ championship.
Perhaps WWE sees this as a long-term project, but it’s one that it didn’t need to take on if it put the Universal Title on Rhodes.
Distraction Finishes: Triple H correctly recognized the negative effect that non-finishes have had on the product, limiting the amount of them — even during televised marquee matches — is encouraging. Replacing them with distraction finishes, however, tempers that optimism.
It’s not hard to see the rationale behind these decisions — Triple H clearly sees this as a way to “protect” wrestlers in defeat while setting up future feuds — but constantly using these finishes lessens their overall impact. Plus, it makes the wrestlers who lose clean look weaker by comparison. Hopefully, we see less of them going forward.
The same old stuff (and some returning nonsense): Despite the shift to Triple H, we still see some of the same issues that make WWE a tougher watch than it needs to be. These aren’t major issues, but seeing things like the “promo-interruption-promo-match” format or contract signings stick around is a bit disappointing for anyone for a more seismic shakeup.