During the latest edition of his “Grilling JR” podcast, Jim Ross commented on the original plans for Triple H to win the 1996 King of the Ring and the Curtain Call.
“I think it was a reprimand type thing. There was some punishment involved in it. It’s not that he was putting Jake [Roberts] over, it was the fact Hunter was gonna win it. That had been planned as a natural step of his maturation creatively, so that got taken when all four of those guys go into business for themselves. Everybody looks at things differently, and I thought it was a lack of instutiatonal control quite frankly. The guys shouldn’t have done it. But they loved each other so much and they had to say goodbye. It was The Garden, it was bullshit. That’s what it was. ‘The hardcores thought it was cool.’ What, all eight of them? C’mon. Was it really that big of a deal or was it just for them to show their defiance that they could what they wanted when they wanted because of who we were. You’ve gotta blame Vince for a lot of that because he let a lot of that shit slip by. I couldn’t have stopped it. That’s what they wanted to do, and Vince was gonna support those guys. Sometimes bookers and owners can be too gracious in their quest to be talent-friendly. I thought that was an example of that.”
“As I’ve said before, Vince and Shawn have always had a strong bond. It’s bonded together by the fact that Vince saw a little bit of himself – as far as being defiant and attitudinal – in Shawn. They were connected in that respect, even though they had significant arguments. I just think that Vince, for whatever reason, had a special affinity for Shawn Michaels. I just thought that thing in The Garden was kind of selfish. We’re gonna defy tradition and turn our back on kayfabe in the world’s most famous arena because we want to and we can. A lot of the other guys I heard from were not happy about it. Essentially, a lot of the talents just thought Shawn and those guys got too big for their britches. They flaunted it. I think Vince also saw the WCW element becoming more prominent that we needed to be more talent-friendly, but I think that’s not just your top guys – you’re talent-friendly to everybody.
“I think it was an error in judgment all the way around with everybody involved. They just had a belief they could get away with anything, and that led to this King of the Ring, where Hunter, who we planned on being the next King of the Ring, was taken out of that equation because of what happened at The Garden. Kevin Nash is one of my best friends and I’ve known him forever, but I think Vince saw we lost those two guys and maybe I need to tweak my PR game a little bit with talent. Did he turn over a brand new leaf? Not really. He just became more aware of talent’s needs and the changing philosophy of talent in that era. The business was changing, and this was one of those significant changes.”