As I’ve said a long time ago, in addition to being a big action figure collector, I also enjoy comics and I like pro wrestling as well and would like to use this site to cover ALL things in geekdom not just toys. I’ve been meaning to make a couple of wrestling related v-logs for a while but I just never got around to it. Thing is though, I was so horrified and disgusted with the ending of Summerslam this year that something within me snapped and I just had to share my thoughts (via the following rant).
In case you missed it (and I’m sure you did if you don’t like wrestling), Daniel Bryan, a GOD among smarks (“smart marks” which is something I’ll explain sometime down the road to those of you unfamiliar with the term) finally won the WWE title only to be screwed by the dastardly Randy Orton and Triple H. Marks (casual fans who don’t know about the behind-the-scenes stories and politics) got excited for the new storyline while some of us smarks thought it was horrible. The thing is though, I’m the only smark I know who is upset with the new storyline to the point that I’m calling it out and saying it’s the new “fingerpoke of doom” for pro wrestling and that it could very well be the thing that will kill pro wrestling off once and for all (at least as far as it being on network TV is concerned).
So what is the “fingerpoke of doom” and what would I say it is the best example of Triple H (said man behind the modern day fingerpoke of doom) being an insecure asshole who ruined wrestling? Keep reading to find out!
I watched wrestling on and off again at some of my friends’ houses’ quite often when I was little. We didn’t have cable until I was 13 so I didn’t get to grow up with it week to week like a lot of other kids did. Thing is though, I watched enough of the classics to pretty much “not” be a poser even though I didn’t seriously get into it until around the time it took off with all the posers in ’98. So I had a bit of cred when it came to wrestling as I had seen Andre vs Hulk when it was new at a friend of my older brother’s house. I had seen Undertaker at a couple of the old pay-per-views at a friend’s house. I saw Ultimate Warrior vs Hogan as well live on pay per view. So I wasn’t quite a diehard “smark” (a smark is a “smart mark” which is something I’ll touch on sometime down the line) but I had seen enough of the classic matches to not be a huge poser even though I didn’t start watching wrestling on a weekly until ’98 which was the time ALL the obnoxious posers got into it.
And I couldn’t have picked a better time to start watching wrestling. when I started watching in the summer of ’98 the “Attitude Era” of wrestling was taking off, Bill Goldberg won the World Heavyweight Championship and the Wolfpack group was having their epic war with the nWo. Sting, of all wrestlers, was the guy who got me into wrestling but Kevin Nash, Triple H and Shawn Michaels became my favorites pretty quickly (even though Shawn Michaels had quit wrestling for a while by the time I got into it). The irony is, I had no idea at the time those three were known as “the kliq” of professional wrestling in real life (and yes, they really did misspell “clique” on purpose).
Seriously, I didn’t.
I liked Nash because he was a badass who was smart and funny and he had the awesome “jacknife powerbomb” finishing move, I liked Shawn Michaels because I thought he was funny (he was doing sporadic commentary appearances at the time and later became the “commissioner” of the WWF) and I liked Triple H because I thought he was a badass as well. It wasn’t until I started picking up “Pro Wrestling Illustrated” and I started looking at pro wrestling websites at school in between classes that I got to be a smark and I started learning about all the backstage politics going on in wrestling. At that point I started to learn which wrestlers were total tools in real life and which guys were cool/nice guys and why some angles (storylines) happened the way they did.
So I liked Triple H a lot (at this point I hadn’t heard about all the asshole things he did in real life and how he screwed over a lot of great wrestlers) but I also really liked The Rock who was also starting to really take off at that point. The two of them had some awesome matches and I quickly became torn as two which wrestler I liked more. Ultimately I decided Triple H would be my favorite WWF wrestler. Why? I saw him as an underdog, a guy who was talented enough to be the champ but always got screwed over in favor of guys like The Rock, Stone Cold, Mankind, etc. See, I marked out for (cheered for) the mid-card guys that I figured would never become top stars.
Boy did I turn out to be an idiot in retrospect.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque, for those of you who don’t know much about wrestling, used backstage politics and his real-life relationship with Stephanie McMahon to screw over other wrestlers and book himself (write himself) into the champion role several times over throughout the years. He’s someone who is legitimately hated by other wrestlers because he used his friendship with top wrestlers like Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash to get ahead in the industry and it was his idea to do the “Montreal screwjob” that ruined Bret Hart’s career (If you’re not into wrestling and don’t know what the Montreal Screwjob is I can’t recommend watching Wrestling with Shadows, a documentary focusing on the behind the scenes politics in the pro wrestling world, enough). In other words he’s the pro wrestling equivalent of the actress who sleeps with the writer and the director to get more screen time and get featured more often.
If I had known back in ’98 that he would go on to force his way into the top spot for years on end, I would never have become a fan of his back in ’98. So yeah. When I was growing up and I just started following wrestling, I loved The Rock and I loved Triple H. And while I still enjoy the Triple H character (occasionally) I really don’t like Paul Levesque at all. And if you really want to know WHY I don’t like him, just watch this video below:
So this video comes from a storyline from a couple of years ago where Triple H was a face (a “good guy” character) and Randy Orton was in the midst of a serious heel (villain) turn. Orton assaulted ‘Aitch’s wife, beat up his father-in-law and played some serious mind-games with him up to this point. So Triple H, badass that he is, decides to seek some retribution by assaulting Orton and his house with his sledgehammer (Triple H’s preferred weapon when he’s a face and a heel).
Now why was this a terrible segment and why does it exemplify everything wrong with a guy like Triple H? Allow me to explain. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mick “Mankind” Foley, the three other wrestlers that were huge stars in the “Attitude Era” of wrestling were huge stars because the audiences thought/believed that they were some badass dudes. And they got some serious cred by doing badass things. Austin returned to wrestling after suffering a legitimate broken neck in a match with Owen Hart (brother of Bret Hart), Mankind fell twenty feet off a steel cage through a table and was then chokeslammed onto thumbtacks. That’s right. Real thumbtacks. And The Rock? Well, The Rock had a couple of brutal hardcore matches with Mankind, one of which featured him really hitting Foley with a steel chair over twenty times.
Fans, in other words, could see that those guys were no-nonsense badass dudes. They didn’t need to write themselves into storylines for people to see that they were legit tough guys. They rose in popularity by their own steam, they didn’t need to suck up to the bookers (writers) and then become bookers themselves later on, which is what Triple H did at the time he appeared in that ridiculous video segment. Basically Triple H is the equivalent of the weak, insecure bully at school who has to do stupid things in order to convince people he’s tough whereas the true badass tough kids were seen as badass kids just by being themselves.
And it’s the insecurities exemplified in that video, that, in my opinion, are things that contributed to the terrible Summerslam finish that I think can be called the “modern day fingerpoke of doom.”
And what exactly is the “finger poke of doom?” A little history for y’all here. The “fingerpoke of doom” was an ending segment of an episode of WCW Monday Nitro that many believe doomed the company forever and cost WCW the “Monday Night War” (a huge ratings war) with WWF/E. Basically it went down like this: Bill Goldberg, the undefeated World Heavyweight Champion representing WCW, was finally defeated by Kevin Nash, the charismatic leader of the nWo Wolfpack. Bill Goldberg was basically the Stone Cold and Rock of the WCW. In other words, he was arguably the most popular wrestler in WCW at the time. Kevin Nash was also massively over with the crowds and was probably the second most popular wrestler in the company. So when these two titans clashed at Starrcade in December ’98, fans were glued to their TV sets, fascinated to see who would come out on top of the match.
Thanks to some interference by Scott Hall (Nash’s sidekick of sorts), Kevin Nash did the unthinkable and ended Goldberg’s incredible winning streak. So how did the bookers in WCW handle the epic rematch between these two Goliaths? Well, instead of giving fans what they wanted to see, they decided to go with one of the most infamous ending segments in the history of professional wrestling. Basically Goldberg was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, leaving Nash to fight “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, the reigning heel and leader of the original nWo. Instead of actually fighting Hogan for the title however, Nash laid down for Hogan following a finger poke, thus turning his back on the fans so he could join forces with Hogan once again and end the war between the nWo Wolfpack (the good guys at the time) and the “Black and White” nWo (the bad guys at the time).
And how did fans react to said fingerpoke of doom? Well, basically they all tuned in to WWF/E Raw and they never went back to WCW Monday Nitro again. WCW, the once dominate pro wrestling company, destroyed itself thanks in part to the egos of Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea and Kevin Nash who was actually a booker at this point in time (which is something he only recently admitted to).
In my opinion, the terrible end of Summerslam and Levesque’s insertion of himself as the corporate badass heel forcing the smarter viewers (the “smarks”) to endure a rehash of the “Corporation” storyline from the late 90s really is the modern day equivalent of the fingerpoke of doom because it’s another example of huge egos forcing an unwanted storyline on all of the fans because they think they know better than them and they think they know what fans want to see. Hogan and Nash thought that fans wanted to see another nWo storyline when fans were clearly ready to move on from the nWo at that point in time, just as Levesque and his fellow bookers think the fans want/need to see another iteration of the “evil corporation” storyline from the nineties when really all they want to do is see Daniel Bryan rise to the top and carry the company as its champion.
The thing is though, as much as I think Daniel Bryan being screwed out of the title is the new finger poke of doom, I really don’t want it to be the new finger poke of doom. Seriously, I don’t. I don’t want to see the WWE go the way of WCW. I don’t want pro wrestling to finally be off of television. I really don’t. The thing is though, I can’t really see the WWE do anything but hemorrhage ratings if they decide to keep pushing this unwanted storyline on the fans simply because one of their head bookers can’t stand the fact he’ll never be as popular/respected as The Rock, Stone Cold and Mick Foley were. If this whole thing eventually blows over and Daniel Bryan gets a long run as the champ, that will be great (and I hope that is what ultimately happens), but if this is what finally becomes the nail in the coffin of the WWE, I’ll have to say “I told you so” years from now and I can tell you right now that is something I really don’t want to do if you smell what The Sean is cookin.’
And if you want to learn more about the “fingerpoke of doom,” just watch this video below: