There comes a point in time in every wrestling fans life where they will never forget where they were or what they witnessed. Some will remember the Owen Hart tragedy, some will remember Mick Foley being tossed of the Hell in a Cell, and still others will remember The Rock and Hogan at Mania. I was too young for some, or naive for others, but tonight will ring clear and fresh in my mind for a long while.
For over a decade now I have watched RAW as loyally as I could. I have seen some high highs and low lows within the WWE during all this and have weathered through, but this incident is tugging hard on my heart strings. Growing up HHH was one of the most dominant wrestlers in the business. He was arrogant, self absorbed, title mongering, but was always looked at as a bonafided bad ass. You knew any match with HHH would be intense and his promo delivery was money more times than not. For lack of better words, HHH has always been "The Man" in my opinion, and as Ric Flair will say "In order to be the Man, you gotta beat the Man." For over a decade I've watched HHH beat every "Man" that stood in his path and even when he lost, I knew he wouldn't be down long. He was The Game, The Cerebral Assassin, The King of Kings, and no matter what label you gave him, he made a point to make you remember it was given for a damn good reason.
Storyline or not, the HHH I saw tonight was not the same. We did not see The Game, the Cerebral Assassin didn't strut down to the ring, and that sure as hell was not the King of Kings. What we saw tonight was HHH the COO, the out of place business man trying to do the best he can. Since HHH took over the "day to day activities of the WWE" it has been a storylined crap-fest on him. Tonight listening to the grievances of everyone I am confused on what their problem is. Back in the Attitude Era did we not see men hitting women weekly, did we not see refs get beat up so bad new ones had to come down to the ring to replace them, did we not see a very similar brand of anarchy and chaos that drove this company to the juggernaut it is today? These stars are forgetting where this company came from, and what made the WWE into a power house where all the best wrestlers want to work, where they wanted to work. When they all walked out, that spoke volumes to me as a fan.
At first seeing Jerry Lawler walk out was bad and than a few lower mid carders left, along with Vickie Guerrero's complaints crew. I was thinking than "they don't matter much anyway" but then I noticed something. Where were all the real important stars? Where was Cena, where was Orton, where were some key star talents that you see each and every week? The whole WWE roster was supposed to be out but their key players, including the Great Big Mouth himself C.M. Punk, were conveniently missing. How do you get a vote of no confidence without ALL your stars there. As more continued to leave and I began to think "someone will stay with Hunter, someone will have his back." I saw Air Boom, Ryder and a few others near the announce both talking; I really thought they would stay in support for the COO, but they left. Even the camera men laid down thier cameras this night and walked off, but that didn't do it for me. Nope, it was something i felt was far more significant that truly broke my heart and has now completely invested in this story.
The camera focuses on Good Ole J.R., the voice of my youth; I listened to him for years call my favorite childhood matches. J.R. to me has always been the voice of reason at ring side, the honest man who tells it like he sees it. Seeing him sitting in that chair, about to make what looked like the hardest decision of his life is what finally sold it. Him putting down the headset, collecting his folder, and walking toward the ramp to thunderous boos. That finally broke me; in over a decade of viewing WWE programing I have never, ever witnessed J.R. get booed. He has always received the roar and appreciation of the crowd and to see him walk away from WWE like he did and than be booed, it really is saddening.Than HHH, alone in the ring, all WWE staff and talent walked off to the back, with just the crowd chanting left me longing. Will HBK come out to support his friend, will Cena, Punk, Orton, or Sheamus come down and say "Screw them, keep doing you job"? The silence from the arena speakers was deafening. Instead we get the Executive VP of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis coming down to give his head shake of disapproval.
Panning into HHH's face at the end of the show reveled to me something as a fan. I didn't see The Cerebral Assassin or The King of Kings, what I saw was a broken, shell of a man. This was not my childhood hero beating people down and Pedigreeing anyone who got in his way. This was a man who got told by a locker room that used to both fear and respect him that he "can't get the job done." I kinda felt the same way you first felt when someone told you Santa wasn't real, or that Batman didn't have any real superpowers. HHH looked how I feel currently, hurting.
They say the #1 goal in professional wrestling is to draw a reaction from the story you tell. Boos or cheers, as long as the crowd is giving you something you're doing your job well. The WWE tonight elicited both reactions from their live crowd. Many were booed but only one man was cheered in the end, and that was HHH. So I will say this, I support WWE's COO HHH. I will stand by my childhood hero and be the caring fan who is excited to see how he progresses the WWE on TV. And to WWE creative I will say congratulations, I have not been this emotionally invested in one of your story lines in a long time.