Ain't nothing like Saturday baby, this week's history is gonna be crazy... Well, maybe not, but I couldn't think of anything that rhymed. Today, I'll discuss the man behind the Game. The man who was originally brought in to be a blue blood snob, who then turned into one of the fiercest WWF competitors ever.
Of course, I'm talking about Triple H. One of the highest requested ones yet. I'll mainly focus on his early career, because you could probably remember the tail end of his time in the WWF. It shall be fun, because I was a huge Hunter Hearst Helmsley fan back in the day, before he was the "Game".
I'll do more with the blue blood Triple H than anything, and then wrap up his time in DX and his current time to finish it up.
On to the PDC.
Triple H's start, as you all probably know, was in Killer Kowalski's professional wrestling school some time in the early 1990s. Triple H was a quick learner and showed lots of potential, and by around 1992, Triple H began surfing the independents that were associated with Kowalski. If you read Chyna's book, you'll know that the Killer liked having ties with his wrestlers until he could no longer do so. Triple H would be under Kowalski's wing until WCW came a-calling.
In 1994, as WCW was gearing for the debut of Hulk Hogan, Triple H came in as Terra Ryzing, a name which he used in several independent circuits. Ryzing was basically stuck in undercard hell, never receiving a chance to step up the ladder. Then, the WCW bookers decided that his current name or so called gimmick wouldn't work, so they wanted to change it a bit. Since Steven Regal was working quite well as an English blueblood, WCW thought it would be a snappy idea to make Ryzing a French blueblood! Terra Ryzing became Jean Paul Levesque (an actual play off his real name), and he sort of acted the way Hunter Hearst Helmsley did in the WWF for the first few years.
As Levesque, he was still stuck in WCW undercard hell. However, WCW's times were changing, as Ric Flair lost his booking power and Hulk Hogan gained backstage power, no youngsters were able to rise to the occasion, including Levesque. Jean Paul would get his first big Pay Per View match at Starrcade 1994, where he'd lose to Alex Wright. Funny, because where is Alex Wright these days? Levesque wasn't seeing much in terms of his singles career in WCW, so with that, he began tagging with Steven Regal (not William yet) as the Bluebloods.
Levesque's WCW came up later in 1995, and impressed WWF officials were quick to make him a deal. However, it's not like WCW wanted to discard him, as I've mistakenly said a few times. They wanted to keep him, but just as a tag team wrestler with Regal. The WWF made him an offer to become a singles wrestler, something that Jean Paul wanted the most. So he figured he could just test the WWF waters, and if it didn't work out, he'd just come back to WCW. Simple as that. Little did he know what was ahead of him at the WWF.
Like everyone in the WWF, Levesque had to climb the ladder in order to get any kind of push. The WWF dubbed him Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and basically pushed him as a blueblood, although he wasn't French like the Jean Paul Levesque character in WCW. Triple H would go through undercard hell, feuding with such losers as Bob "Spark Plug" Holly and Fatu "let's make a difference". Oh wait, those guys became something later on! Bob Holly is now Hardcore Holly, and Fatu is Rikishi Phatu. Wow, what irony there. Funny how some things in wrestling play out.
Triple H's snobbish attitude was gaining heat from the fans. The WWF saw a heel in the works, and they actually put him on the evil heel team of Isaac Yankem, Jerry Lawler, and King Mable against the Undertaker's team. Sure, Triple H got his ass handed to him, but the opportunities were being created. Then came a feud with Henry O. Godwin (Get it?? HOG??), which turned out better than anyone expected. Godwin was pushed to the moon by the WWF, as Vince and company were just high on gimmick wrestlers. They especially got off on ones with accessories, like Godwin who would dump a bucket of slop on his opponents.
Scary enough, this feud was solid. You had a big snob in Triple H, and the complete opposite in HOG. Their feud eventually led to the famous "Hog Pen" match at an In Your House in late 1995, which Triple H actually won. But Triple H proved to be the hard worker in the match, taking a few hard irish whips into the hog gate, and the hard backflip over the fence and into the mud. Triple H took a lot in that match, therefore, making his stock rise as an overall performer.
So with that, Triple H had a big moment for the 1996 Royal Rumble. Before the show, on the "Free for All", Triple H wrestled Duke "the Dumpster" Droese in a match to decide the #1 spot and #30 spot. Winner of the match, obviously, would gain the #30 spot. Triple H CHEATED TO WIN the match, so he was #30. BUT WAIT! In one of the rare occasions in the WWF, Instant Replay was used to prove that Triple H cheated in the match. Gorilla Monsoon (I may be wrong) overturned the match, with Triple H throwing a tantrum about his positioning in the Rumble now. As the #1 man, though, Triple H lasted well throughout the Rumble, making his stock rise even further. Triple H made up for the screwjob to Duke Droese at the next Pay Per View, and then it was on to WRESTLEMANIA!
Wrestlemania 12 was sort of a bad event for Hunter. He lost fairly quickly to the returning Ultimate Warrior, although Triple H had an incentive to lose. Back then, the WWF's ratings were slipping and WCW was gaining the upperhand. In June, Vince McMahon knew the arrival of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would be big money for WCW, so to counter that, he figured he could bring back the Ultimate Warrior for one more great run. So with that thinking, he sent out the improving Triple H to be the whipping boy at Wrestlemania, but he promised Triple H the win at King of the Ring 1996 and also, an Intercontinental Title run as well. Hell, I'd lay down for the Warrior for that.
Anyway, for Wrestlemania, Triple H had an escort that you may remember as Sable. After his loss to the Warrior, Triple H blamed Sable backstage. Also backstage at that time was Marc Mero, who just jumped ship over from WCW. Mero attacked Triple H for being such a bastard, and that should have been the feud to fuel the King of the Ring and the IC title. Well, they'd fight over the IC title, but that was lightyears after what was originally planned. Mero and Triple H would feud over the next two Pay Per Views, with Mero getting the upperhand. Triple H was supposed to make up for that at the King of the Ring....
However, if you've read previous columns of mine, you'll know what happened next. The famous Curtain Call incident. Allow me to explain it ONE MORE TIME: At a houseshow in Madison Square Garden, which was Hall and Nash's last WWF event, the "clique" broke the line between reality and wrestling storylines. Earlier in the night, Triple H beat Razor Ramon, and they weren't scheduled to do anything else for the rest of the evening. Those were orders. Anyway, Diesel and Shawn Michaels fought in the main event, a cage match, in which HBK got the win. After the match, Razor and Triple H came down to salute Diesel and HBK, to the amazement of fans. Wrestling was still kept a secret back then, and with that, Vince McMahon saw it as a personal insult towards himself. As the story goes, McMahon couldn't punish Hall or Nash, since they were off to WCW, and he couldn't touch HBK, his current World Champion. Who was left to blame? Poor Triple H.
Triple H was totally depushed for his actions, to set a wonderful example for a locker room that needed discipline back then. Triple H lost early on in the King of the Ring tournament, and he was also demolished by Psycho Sid in the 1st round of the Intercontinental Title tournament (I saw it live!). After jobbing to death and actually being kept off WWF shows, Triple H would begin an angle with Mr. Perfect, which originally started as a joke for Hennig. The WWF, however, had other ideas, and they wanted to make it an angle, and they eventually created a friendship between Marc Mero and Mr. Perfect to revamp the Triple H vs. Wildman feud. Week after week, Hennig kept taking Hunter's escorts away, which eventually led to Triple H challenging Hennig to make his big wrestling comeback.
Before their big RAW match, Triple H "attacked" Hennig backstage to the point where he was "injured", or so we thought. Hennig came down with Marc Mero, and told everyone that he couldn't wrestle, but then he asked Mero to take his place. Since Mero hated Triple H anyway, he agreed. But Triple H said he wouldn't wrestle Mero unless the title was on the line. The screwjob was so perfectly set up, and at the end of the match, Hennig ran into the ring to attack Hunter with a chair. Instead of whacking Triple H, he drilled Marc Mero to enable Triple H to win his first WWF gold! It was quite a thrilling moment during such bad days in the WWF back then.
As IC champ, Triple H, I guess, needed a bodyguard to protect himself. So in the midst of the feud with Goldust, Triple H had a muscular female attack Marlena quite often. This amazon woman turned out to be Chyna. But the real deal about Chyna was that she was only going to be paired with Triple H if he dropped the IC strap. So Triple H jobbed the belt to the shitty Rocky Maivia back then, and he would now work with Chyna. It was a great risk for Triple H, because it could have damaged his character totally, but he didn't care, obviously. He wanted to give Chyna the opportunity to shine, and this was before they were even sleeping together!
Triple H didn't do much as a wrestler after losing his IC title, as I guess they were just building up his connection with Chyna. Eventually, people were booing the hell out of Triple H and Chyna so much that Vince and company saw the potential Triple H had before he was depushed after the Curtain Call in 1996. Triple H was pushed to win the 1997 King of the Ring, where he cheaply won against Mankind. Mankind was in the midst of actually revealing what he was or who he was during this time, which made him a perfect babyface. Triple H and Mankind would feud for the next two months, which blew off at Summerslam 1997 with the Cage Match. It's an exciting match, with Mankind imitating his hero, Jimmy Snuka, by jumping off the top of the cage and onto Triple H. Triple H and Mankind would feud later on...
That concludes the snobbish Triple H, as a new version would take over. DEGENERATION X!!! After bugging Vince McMahon forever to team them up, he finally gave in and let Triple H and HBK team up. HBK turned heel with his awesome feud with the Undertaker, so it was a perfect fit. They did an angle where they didn't want to team up, but they did, making an effective combo. You know, I should just write a Degeneration X column in the future, instead of just quickly explaining this. Hunter's comedic side came out in DX, which would eventually gain him cheers down the road. Triple H would later win the European title on one of the funniest moments in wrestling, where HBK actually laid down for Triple H in an ordered match by Sgt. Slaughter.
Triple H suffered a leg injury shortly after this, in which the title oddly came up for grabs during a match where Goldust dressed as Triple H. Owen Hart won the match, but Triple H came back from injury to grab his title right back. Triple H would then focus on a tough feud with the late and great Owen Hart, which many thought would blow off at Wrestlemania 14. Nope. DX's new formation was going to be a big focus of the WWF, so the title was kept on Triple H, and besides, Owen had a bad ankle injury then, too. Degeneration X, with their funny actions like the WCW invasion, became a big hit with fans and Triple H became a face. It would then catapult him into a big feud with the Rock, who just came off a hot feud with Ken Shamrock. After losing the European Title cheaply to D'Lo Brown, it was on.
Triple H and the Rock had a war at Summerslam 1998 with their ladder match, which is surprisingly good for 2 non-risk wrestlers. Triple H would then tear up his knee, I believe, and lose his IC title. Triple H came back to start a DX vs. Corporation feud, which would have lots of swerves to come. For one, Chyna turned on Triple H, and then she would side with Corporation member, Kane. This would set up the great swerve at Wrestlemania 15, where Chyna and Triple H reunited, and then they proved to be on the Corporation side, and NOT the DX side when Triple H helped Shane McMahon beat X-Pac. Triple H would shortly feud with the remainder of DX, and then he would step his own "game" up completely.
Around Wrestlemania 15, Triple H inked a nice contract with the WWF, which was the first big step towards what he is today. I remember there were some whispers that Eric Bischoff would give ANYTHING to steal Triple H away from the WWF, but the Game resigned with the WWF. Then, Triple H hit the gym harder than ever! Triple H was in decent shape all of the time, but nothing like he would become. He also changed tights and gained an aggressive attitude. The look, attitude, and timing were just right for Triple H, but now he needed someone to put him over the top!
And you know what, Steve Austin wasn't willing to put him over. At Summerslam 1999, the match was originally scheduled to be Triple H vs. Austin, where Triple H would win the World Title in a very cheap fashion. But the thought of losing the title to Triple H, for some reason or another, disturbed Steve Austin. As the company's top star, Austin used his backstage pull to REFUSE to job to Triple H at this time. That's why the returning Mick Foley was inserted to win the World Title this night, and then job the World Title to Triple H on RAW the night after. If that's not proof of a growing Austin ego back then, I don't know what is. Austin would shape up for the next month, where he did lose to Triple H, but come on... why not lose to him the first time around? Why stall?
Triple H would then lose the World Title to Vince McMahon, who wanted a taste of being the champ. Austin cost Triple H the title, though, on one of the early editions of WWF Smackdown. Big Show would win the Survivor Series match where the title was on the line. During this time, Test and Stephanie McMahon were supposed to get "married". The famous wedding episode of RAW had a scene where Triple H kidnapped a knocked out Stephanie, and cheaply married her at a crackpot wedding chapel. This would set up the Vince McMahon vs. Triple H match at Armageddon 1999, where Stephanie decided that once you go blueblood, you can't go back to anything else.
Big Show failed badly as a champ, and Vince McMahon came to his senses and immediately had Triple H beat Big Show on a televised event. Instead of seeing more Big Show vs. Triple H matches, Vince McMahon took Foley's own advise and put Cactus Jack in a big feud with Triple H. At Royal Rumble 2000, one of the most brutal matches happened, ever! Triple H busted his ass, and elevated himself to a new level in the WWF, and Foley proved that he had a few more great matches left in him. It would then lead to another great match at No Way Out 2000, with the Hell in the Cell against Foley. Triple H came out as a new brutal champion, and Foley added something else to his legacy.
Triple H would then go on to feud with the Rock for several Pay Per Views, including the cool Iron Man match, which I totally prefer over the HBK vs. Hitman match. Triple H would then feud with the likes of Chris Jericho, which led to the exciting Last Man Standing match and the almost title change at RAW, Kurt Angle, which had them feuding over Stephanie, and some matches with Chris Benoit. Steve Austin would later come back to the WWF, and evil Triple H revealed himself to be the man behind the hit and run at Survivor Series 1999.
That set up the incredible feud and the awesome match at No Way Out 2000, where Triple H beat the Texas Rattlesnake CLEANLY in the best 2 out of 3 falls match. Triple H would then feud with the Undertaker, where the Game lost CLEANLY to the Dead Man Walking. I still don't know why. Anyway, Triple H's alliance with Austin was actually a last minute decision. You see, he should have done an angle with Shawn Michaels after Wrestlemania, where he would possibly tag with HBK and go after Undertaker/Kane or something like that. However, Shawn Michaels was not ready to perform that night, and plans for Wrestlemania and future storylines were trashed. The WWF then decided to pair Triple H with Steve Austin, since Austin needed more help as a heel. During this time, Triple H would win the IC title from Jericho, lose it to Jeff Hardy, and then win it back soon after. That's where he's at today, probably heading into Judgment Day to fight Kane.
Wow, I was expecting to briefly describe the time after he formed DX, but oh well. Triple H has been the pinacle of the WWF for the past year, as his improvement has helped other stale characters get to new levels. I'd argue that he's the modern day equivalent of Ric Flair, but I couldn't make a strong argument until a few more years down the road if Triple H can keep this momentum up.
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