It remains the most controversial finish in the history of professional wrestling.
Was it a work? Probably not.
You’ve read the Observers. You’ve seen Wrestling with Shadows. You’ve heard claims. You’ve heard truths. You’ve heard lies. You’ve heard everything there is to hear.
Or so you thought.
But what you don’t know is the untold story of a man who had an idea to save the company for which he worked. It was an idea so powerful that it shook the very foundation of professional wrestling forever. It was an idea that turned a simple announcer into the biggest villain the business had ever known. In an instant, the lines between real and fake were blurred and in just a few months, the World Wrestling Federation had turned a corner to becoming the number one promotion in all the land. A little over three years later, the competition was gone. The World Wrestling Federation had vanquished World Championship Wrestling for good.
One man saved the WWF.
And his name was Paul Levesque.
[Just after midnight. November 9, 1997. Three men are gathered in a hotel room. An older gentleman is slumped in a chair at a table. A still burning cigarette sits in an ashtray. Two younger men are there. One with bloodshot eyes that point in two different directions. The other with gorgeous locks of luscious blonde hair. The old man is sweating. He lets out a deep sigh and then…]
McMahon: I have no idea what I’m going to do.
Paul: Vince, we can’t let him leave with the strap tonight. You know that.
Shawn: Do you guys have anymore beer?
McMahon & Paul: Shut up, Shawn!
[Shawn stumbles around the room before tripping on the edge of the bed and falling face first in the floor. Paul just shakes his head. McMahon slaps his knee and starts laughing.]
Paul: This isn’t funny, Vince. I know the Harts. They can’t be trusted. A shady bunch of people, if you ask me. Bret wouldn’t put me over. He wouldn’t even sell for Chyna. Plus, his hair is just way too greasy. I tried to offer conditioning tips, but he just flipped me off.
McMahon: Listen, let me go talk to Bret. I think we can hash this thing out, dammit.
[McMahon takes a bite out of a steak and ketchup wrap. He moans. Deep pleasureful moans. Paul steps over to the window and peers down below.]
Paul: Fuck him. If he doesn’t want to do business, you do business for him.
McMahon: Well, what do you suggest we do?
Paul: We shoot.
[McMahon stares at Paul with a look of concern and disgust.]
McMahon: I’m not sure of Canadian gun laws, but that seems a bit much.
[From the floor, Shawn sneezes. McMahon dives from his chair onto the prone body of the next WWF Champion. A struggle ensues. Paul just lets it play out. This is what happens when someone sneezes around the old man. Finally, Vince tires and just sits on the edge of the bed.]
Paul: Are you done?
Paul: Ok. Look, there’s no guns involved. Let’s turn this thing into a shoot. Shawn can get him in a hold …. the Sharpshooter …. And we tell Earl to ring the bell immediately. Shawn grabs the belt and runs out of the building. We have a car waiting for him. We can do damage control later.
McMahon: We can say it was Russo’s idea.
Paul: Yeah. Let’s do that. No one knows who he is.
Vince: I like that idea. I like that idea real good … Shawn, what do you think?
[Shawn is standing next to the door to the hotel room. He’s literally urinating on the carpet and laughing.]
Shawn: If I do this, will you guys get me a couple of midgets, two live chickens, and a six pack of Natty Lite?
Paul: Yeah, Vince can swing that. Can’t you, Vince?
[Vince says nothing. He’s got his notebook out. Time to rewrite Survivor Series for the ninth time.]
Things would go according to Paul’s plan at the Survivor Series. Bret would leave for WCW. Shawn would be World Wrestling Federation Champion. And Paul would gain a permanent spot at Vince McMahon’s right hand for saving the company from certain disaster.
At WrestleMania 14, Triple H would wrestle Bret’s brother, Owen, and would retain the European Championship. And that was really the turning point for the World Wrestling Federation. Moving forward Mr. McMahon would be the company’s top villain and Triple H would be the top non-bald babyface.
On April 13, 1998, Raw would finally beat Nitro in the ratings with a show anchored by an Owen Hart/Billy Gunn match which saw Triple H at ringside, lending his support to his friend William.
See, the show didn’t have to be about Paul. He let someone else have the spotlight and Raw beat Nitro.