Triple H shocked the wrestling universe Monday night when he interfered in the fatal four-way main event to determine the new WWE Universal Champion. His pedigrees on Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins allowed Kevin Owens to make the final cover to become the new champ as Triple H’s wife, Stephanie McMahon, as well as Mick Foley, looked on from ringside in utter disbelief.
It was the first time we’d seen Triple H on WWE programming since he lost his WWE World Heavyweight Championship to Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 32 on April 3 in Dallas. There were rumblings that Hunter would return for the brand extension draft. Earlier still, reports surfaced that he’d be back in time to build towards a marquee match at SummerSlam. But alas, Triple H was nowhere to be found, until Monday night.
— Slice Wrestling (@EntSlice) August 30, 2016
Yet again, the company found itself in a major state of flux. Earlier in the summer, Roman Reigns violated the WWE Wellness Policy, resulting in a 30-day suspension. That time off did not keep him out of the main event of Money in the Bank or Battleground, but it did take the title off his waist. Before the suspension, plans called for Reigns to retain the belt in both of those events and lock horns with Seth Rollins again to headline the RAW portion of SummerSlam.
But not only did the violation strip him of his title, it also re-opened the door for another superstar to take his spot at the top of the card. His punishment came in the form of being dropped down a peg or two and into a much less significant program with the United States Champion, Rusev. That is a far cry from the WrestleMania spotlight he shared with Triple H, but a justifiable move for embarrassing himself and the company.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) August 30, 2016
The decision was made to push Finn Balor to the moon immediately upon his promotion to the main roster. That push even included a clean win over Reigns on his first night on RAW. Once Balor became the first Universal Champion, his reign was supposed to last quite a while in programs with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. That, of course, all changed when he suffered a devastating injury during his SummerSlam match with Seth Rollins.
Vince McMahon and the creative team had to come up with a revision quickly, deciding that they’d hold a fatal four way to determine a new champion just a week later. And according to Cageside Seats, Triple H was not scheduled to return this soon. However, plans had begun materializing to re-introduce him to the scene, but they sped up that process shortly after it was announced that Balor would be out of action for the foreseeable future.
The head nod from Triple H really made this pedigree even more badass pic.twitter.com/c1tlEHlAR0
— Riz. (@johncenaAm) August 30, 2016
Immediate plans now call for Triple H to guide Kevin Owens to championship matches with a babyface Seth Rollins, beginning at the first RAW-exclusive pay-per-view, Clash of Champions on September 25. That Rollins turn started on Monday night, when Triple H surprised everyone by hitting his former protege with the very finishing move that he bestowed upon him last year. The turn should be completed by this coming week or in the weeks to come, but the ultimate payoff will come in the form of a Triple H vs. Rollins showdown, presumably at next year’s WrestleMania.
Triple H and Seth were originally on a collision course for this past WrestleMania, but an injury derailed those plans. It appears the company is set on revisiting the angle that will have told a story for two years at that point. Vince was pushing for Triple H to face Shane McMahon at some point, but The Game has vetoed the idea on at least two occasions, preferring instead to help a younger star ascend even higher.
[Image via WWE]