Triple H seems to be a fan of apprenticeships. He was the heir apparent to Shawn Michaels in the embryonic stages of Degeneration-X (the version that did not throw glow sticks at five-year-olds) and later served in the mentor role to the likes of Batista, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins.
He is at the point in his legendary career that even the smallest degree of help to another wrestler will come off as Triple H still being the main event, while the receptor of this assistance is in obvious need of Hunter’s iron fist.
There is a reason why fans chanted “you deserve it” at Kevin Owens after winning the WWE Universal Championship. He did not need anyone’s help on this way to the belt, and he is not in need of anyone’s help now.
Regardless of previous degree of independence, Owens, a man who single-handedly beat the legendary John Cena in his first WWE pay-per-view match, did in fact receive help from “The Game” when winning the WWE Universal Championship. The look of shock on his face after pinning Seth Rollins showed that he did not know the help was coming, but his character is one that will win the title and accept the perks that come with it by any means necessary. Regardless, he has never been involved in a program with anyone as influential as Triple H, and if careful attention is not paid, Owens may not be seen as the credible threat that someone of his caliber should be seen as.
There are worse positions to be in than being an apprentice to Triple H. That position played right into the hands of Orton, who was given a natural reason to strive to become the multi-time world champion that he is, even getting to point where he would serve as a mentor to Ted Dibiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes in Legacy.
One could also argue that Triple H’s presence allowed Rollins to be, as many wrestling experts believe, the best talent in professional wrestling today. Like Orton, his break from Triple H, initiated when Trips helped Owens win the Universal Championship, gives him a similar organic opening to forge his own path, much like Orton was given.
What is the difference between these situations? Neither Orton nor Rollins possess the polarizing charisma that Owens has.
There is nobody in the WWE, or possibly in the entire professional wrestling industry, quite like Owens. Although he is able to innovate and execute moves that nobody his size should, he has the look of your bowling teammate rather than a world heavyweight champion.
This is what makes him unique. Your bowling teammate is usually going home to a babysitter taking care of his kids. Owens has made it clear that fame, fandom and allegiances are not even touching his radar, but feeding his son is. If someone dares interfere with his child’s meal, he will bite his head off. His humanism in his biggest asset, and that is a quality that will be ruptured if he is seen as simply a pawn of Triple H’s ultimate plan.
Triple H was once able to be seen as the family man when Orton, once upon a time, attacked his father- and brother-in-law and snuck a kiss on his unconscious wife. However, he was only able to do this after a career spent becoming a dominating (if not overbearing) legend.
En route to becoming a legend, Triple H was an opportunist to a level that would make Edge look like Mother Theresa. There was no concern for anyone but himself, an image whose fire saw gasoline dumped on it when he began dating (and eventually marrying) the boss’ daughter. There was nothing relatable to his pursuit of the brass ring.
This difference in relatability is the main reason why WWE must remain cognizant of how much the aura of Triple H rubs off on Owens. Triple H is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but doing whatever was necessary to grab the brass ring. Owens will do whatever is necessary as well, but his reasoning is more so to keep his family fed and fed well.
Therefore, we have a heel that is potentially fueled by pain, making him gallons more dangerous than Triple H ever was. The ticking time bomb that is Owens must be protected. He will be placed into a prime position regardless of creative direction, but WWE needs to make sure that they get the most juice out of the squeeze as possible.