It was around 2006 – I think – that I was flown out to Titan Tower to interview for a job as a WWE writer; ECW was still a third brand and had just hired Monty Brown, while DX versus the Spirit Squad was the headlining feud that had just ended. I had passed the first round of cuts that involved submitting a storyline, and now it was time to meet the staff who would decide my fate. I had been given a lot of advice along the way, most of it involving erring on the side of caution. Don’t act like a fan, look super-professional, don’t express strong opinions on the current product because you don’t know who you might be meeting that could have written it, and so on.
In retrospect, I was far too cautious. But that said, I’m also happy I don’t currently live in Stamford, CT. The storyline I DID pitch was a combination of two factors – the then-hot rise of the mentally challenged Eugene as a fan favorite, and the current headlines about terrorist sleeper cells. My storyline involved DX looking for a third member, settling on Eugene, and having him turn on them to reveal he was actually a super-intelligent sleeper agent for Uncle Eric Bischoff all along…and there were more we didn’t know about.
It wasn’t bad for what it was – I may be imagining things, but I think they ended up using some of the peripheral stuff I had in there, or something like it. But it wasn’t the thing I really wanted to pitch.
I didn’t think there was a chance in hell they’d go for the angle I wanted to see – and I thought, based on what I’d been told, that suggesting anything of the sort involving the boss’ daughter would not fly for a second. But since they never got to hear what I had in mind, I might as well share it here. It was going to be a storyline involving Triple H, Stephanie, and whatever developmental talent was ready for a huge push – let’s just call that hypothetical guy “John Jones.”
My thinking at the time was that Triple H was the only remaining active roster member from the Attitude era, and thus potentially the biggest money draw the company had…but only potentially. The problem with Trips is that fans never love him. He’s a guy who has gotten where he is through a ton of hard work and tenacity, the right friends and a major family connection – but he has never, ever, in my opinion, had that “it” factor that makes a star. He has had everything else, and basically forced the company to accept him as a top star by sheer will and hard work – but while the Rock could go out there and do absolutely anything, Triple H only clicks if he’s booked correctly. Like I’m gonna tell the company that, right? I’m gonna be the guy get to Vince’s son-in-law over like he should be?
Here’s how I would have had it go down…
First, you acknowledge on TV that Trips and Steph are married. Everyone knew they were, but storylines didn’t openly say they were. You don’t make it a big thing; just in a side vignette about one of the charity programs they do, show the power couple attending and say that they’re husband and wife.
Second: have Stephanie go out in public around Stamford with a well-dressed John Jones. Have nobody say who he is, and don’t mention it on TV. But leak tabloid photos via a third party.
On TV, meanwhile, Triple H botches a move or two in a main event. Nothing big, and it doesn’t keep him from winning. The announcers don’t even acknowledge it. Pretend it’s a real botch, and make it look like he’s just slightly unfocused.
After a couple of weeks of this, start showing vignettes of John Jones. Don’t make the connection to Stephanie at all until the third time, at which point she will be seen backstage welcoming him to Raw. Triple H walks in; appears to break character and asks what the hell is going on. Stephanie makes tiny gestures that seem to indicate this is not an appropriate conversation for live TV.
Again, in REAL LIFE – have Triple H move out to his own apartment for a while. Never mention this on TV. Meanwhile, John Jones is developing on TV in an arrogant heel persona, and is favored by Stephanie as the future of the company.
A week later, leak photos of a Stephanie/John Jones kiss to TMZ. Don’t show the pics online or on TV, but make an oblique comment on WWE.com that the company is considering legal action against TMZ for their invasion of privacy.
On TV, have Stephanie put Triple H and John Jones in a tag team match, against whomever. Jones lets Triple H do most of the work, then tags himself in and scores the winning pinfall with his feet on the ropes. Stephanie insists Triple H mentor the guy, while Hunter keeps getting pissed – not just at Jones, but other stuff unsaid on camera.
In real life, show Steph and John together more. FINALLY acknowledge it on TV, along with the whole history of photos that has built up thus far. Hunter demands a match with Jones – Stephanie says she’ll grant it, and the winner gets a title shot. Even if that win is by disqualification.
In the match, Triple H beats the hell out of Jones, looking like the stronger man, but Jones manages to evade the pinfall. Finally he sneaks in a cheap shot and puts Triple H in a submission hold, and Stephanie comes to “save” her husband by hitting Jones when the ref doesn’t see – except the ref does see, and disqualifies Triple H.
Jones gets the title shot, and wins. This is where Stephanie reveals her true colors – she’s filing for divorce, and firing her no-good husband. Not only that, but to add insult to injury, John Jones is now going to be known as “The New Game.” Triple H is now off TV for a while, save for maybe a vignette or two where he tries to get into an arena and is barred from entering. John Jones, now the champ and entering to Triple H’s “Time to play the game” theme, racks up some dastardly victories as a heel champion.
We get footage of some of Triple H and Stephanie’s divorce negotiations, which boil down to this: Triple H will give up all claims on her property and even on child custody, provided she gives him an ironclad contract for one more year in WWE. Just one. She agrees, but with this stipulation: he has to work his way up from the bottom of the card. At the next pay-per-view, his opponent will be the Brooklyn Brawler.
He agrees. He’s back. But he has no theme music, no gimmick of his own, no money, and no friends left because Stephanie has stipulated nobody can help him.
All he has is a shirt with a new slogan.
On the front: “NO MORE GAMES.”
On the back: “FEAR THE HUNTER.”
Are you ready to see him win the Royal Rumble yet?