I Want To Talk A Little Bit About Triple H

If you’ve followed me over the years, you know I’m not incredibly fond of HHH. He’s done a lot of things over the years that drive both myself and several other fans insane but that’s not all there is to him at all. While also being an infuriating person at times, HHH is also one of the most talented and decorated names in wrestling history. Today we’re going to take a look at his career and the good and bad over the years and look at why people need to calm down about him. Let’s get to it.


HHH has been around the WWE for going on twenty years now and there has definitely been a lot of good and bad. First off let’s take a look at the bad in HHH, which will be the shorter of these lists.


One of the biggest criticism of HHH is a fair one: he’s not as good as he thinks he is. HHH has never been one to shy away from lumping himself in there with Rock and Austin, despite there being no real justification for this. Jim Cornette once called HHH the guy that worked with the guy that drew money. There’s no denying that HHH isn’t great, but he’s at the top of the second tier of wrestlers like Bret, Shawn, Orton and Savage. There’s nothing wrong with being on that level, but there’s a big gap between it and the next level.


Part of the reason why he isn’t on that level is how badly he collapses in attempts to have the big match or big story. Now HHH has had his share of classics which we’ll get to later, but far too often he tries to have THE match and it just doesn’t work. Let’s take a look at his match against Randy Orton from Wrestlemania 25.


The story coming into the match was Orton tormenting HHH and terrorizing his family to get the WWE Title. The match wound up having a stipulation saying that if HHH was disqualified, he lost the title. This went completely against the story they had been telling and took away what the match should have been. On top of that, the match ended with HHH just beating the tar out of Orton, hitting the Pedigree and retaining. He stood over Orton like a beast over its prey and the show ended. The general reaction seemed to be “that’s it?” There was no big comeback, there was no big brutal spot, there was no real conclusion. It was just HHH standing over him in a symbolic ending which just didn’t work.


Speaking of endings, another problem with HHH is his feuds go on WAY too long. We’ll start with Orton again. These two feuded for over a year and the matches just didn’t work. Orton may have been one of HHH’s projects but the whole thing just didn’t work. The matches weren’t very good, the story just kept going and was eventually going in circles. Over the course of the feud, they managed to have three last man standing matches. As you would expect, people got tired of the story just continuing, especially with the same stuff happening over and over again.


Another good example of this and the big epic moment problems came in his feud with Brock Lesnar. The feud started the night after Brock lost in a great match to John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012 in April. The two didn’t fight until Summerslam in August with Brock winning conclusively. How did the show end? With a shot of HHH looking to the crowd and apologizing for not being able to get it done.


The feud would continue at Wrestlemania, where HHH got the win before moving on to Extreme Rules 2013 where Brock won the final match inside of a cage. After three matches, the series felt like a bad movie series: the first match was good but not great, the second match wasn’t necessary but was watchable, and the third match just didn’t need to happen but did anyway. HHH getting the win at Wrestlemania was the only logical way to do the trilogy, but it also drew criticisms that HHH had to get the win on the biggest stage in the match the most people would remember.


This brings us to 2003 and Wrestlemania XIX. HHH came into the match as World Heavyweight Champion and defended against Booker T. The story was that “someone like Booker T” didn’t deserve to be champion. While the storyline explanation was that HHH meant Booker’s criminal past, there were heavy racial overtones to what HHH was saying. What happened at Wrestlemania? HHH won with a Pedigree to retain the title.


That scene is a great representation of the biggest thing holding HHH back: late 2002-2004. This was an AWFUL period for both HHH and the WWE in general with HHH’s title reigns being major factors. Ignoring the creation of the World Heavyweight Championship and the splitting of the titles, HHH had some of the worst matches of his career in this stretch.


His 3 Stages of Hell match with Shawn, the matches with Nash, the Goldberg series, the Scott Steiner feud and some of the Orton matches are just dreadful but HHH just kept the title for months on end with the same matches with the same story (“I’m the best.” “No I’m the best.” Flair interfered, HHH keeps the title) and nothing ever changing despite the talent pool on Raw. HHH would finally break out of this period, but man alive was it hard to sit through.


We’ll wrap it up with something else difficult to sit through: HHH’s promos. There are times when they’re very solid, but some of those things go on long enough to plant a farm and grow your own dinner. He takes about nine breaths between sentences and drones on about THIS BUSINESS, how he is THE GAME and how he’ll prove he’s the best in the world. Long heel promos can work, but you should want to see the villain get beaten up, not change the channel out of boredom.


Now that we’ve gotten all that bad stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at the good side of HHH’s career, because there’s a lot to get to. Since there’ s more good than bad, we’ll be going through it with more of a timeline format.


He arrived as the blue blood (basically the same gimmick he had in WCW when they said he had no future as a singles guy) named Hunter Hearst Helmsley and hooked up with Mr. Perfect before feuding with Marc Mero. The character can best be described as a pompous snob who looked down on everyone for not having as much money or power as he had. He was also obsessed with people’s family history and how much better his was than yours. In other words, he was obsessed with his pedigree. His theme music was Ode to Joy by Beethoven and it was the perfect addition to his character.


The character was absolutely perfect for HHH at that time as he could play a perfect snob. With the curtseying, the huge nose in the air, the classical music and the “I’m better than you” attitude, it was nearly impossible to not punch this guy in the face. He nailed the character and was slowly pushed up the card and won the Intercontinental Title, holding it for about four months.


Next up was DX which is the character that changed everything for HHH. All of a sudden he was being able to act like the sophomoric jerk that he was but on camera and with millions of people watching him. The group turned face after Wrestlemania XIV and was put into a feud with the Nation of Domination, triggering a personal rivalry with the Rock (who happened to be the man that took the Intercontinental Title from him).


HHH’s time as the face leader of DX was some very entertaining stuff and one of the biggest reasons the Attitude Era worked. Instead of just having clean cut faces and heels, all of a sudden the faces were making adult jokes and being over the top funny. Aside from Steve Austin vs. Vince, DX was the biggest deal in the company and HHH was a huge part of that.


By late 1999, DX was all but done and HHH was moving into singles competition. He started talking about it being his time and how he would be the next WWF Champion. While that wasn’t exactly right, he would be take the title from the next WWF Champion, winning the belt the night after Summerslam 1999.


This didn’t quite work as HHH was still viewed as a glorified midcarder. He would be champion a few times around this point, starting his third reign in January 2000 (remember that, as it becomes important later). However, the most important thing for him was his on screen marriage to Stephanie McMahon, who he kidnapped, married and raped before she turned on her father and joined HHH at Armageddon 1999.


The McMahon-Helmsley Faction was born through this union and would dominate the company for the next few months. This would be HHH’s first time as a brutal dictator who ran the company with an iron first. It would also be perfect for him as HHH became one of the best heel characters ever, with the fans absolutely dying to see him get what was coming to him. HHH became the Cerebral Assassin, a man who could fight but would rather out think his opponents to beat hem.


One of the most important moments during this time was his match against Cactus Jack at the 2000 Royal Rumble. We’ll go into that match more later, but the most important thing about the match was HHH’s evolution beyond the Cerebral Assassin. For once in his career he had no way to keep his title other than to stand up and fight, which he did in one of the best matches ever.


This run went on for awhile until HHH was revealed as the man behind Steve Austin being run over by a car. The two feuded for months until they fought in a 3 Stages of Hell match at No Way Out, which happened to be another of the best matches ever. The two would form a questionable bond a few months later until HHH tore his quad in another great match with Austin against Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho.


HHH would be gone for the rest of 2001 (luckily missing the Invasion) and returning in January 2002 with one of the loudest pops ever heard in Madison Square Garden. He later turned heel and attacked Shawn Michaels, leading to a nearly two year on again/off again feud. Not all of the matches were great, but the first one at Summerslam 2002 is as good of a fight as you’ll be able to find for a long time.


We’re going to jump forward to the end of Evolution as Batista wins the 2005 Royal Rumble and chooses to fight HHH at Wrestlemania XXI. After ruining Randy Orton’s face turn (more on that later as well), HHH put Batista over on three straight pay per views, including once inside the Cell. He then took some time off and returned to feud with Ric Flair, culminating in a great old school cage match at Taboo Tuesday 2005.


Next up was a DX reunion with Shawn Michaels and I’m really not sure if I should put it in with the good or the bad. The story dominated 2006 and saw HHH and Shawn torture Vince McMahon who fought back with his handpicked associated. The matches weren’t all that good but it was more harmless than anything else. This was followed by a feud with Rated RKO which was cut short as HHH tore his quad again.


After returning in 2007, HHH would win the WWE Title again that fall and enter a long feud with Randy Orton. Again we’ll skip that and get to Summerslam 2008, where HHH worked what can almost be described as a miracle: he got a good match out of Great Khali. Many have tried but he’s the only person to really pull it off. He followed it up with a very solid feud against Jeff Hardy, eventually being in the match where Hardy FINALLY won the title.


We’ll jump ahead to February of 2011 where HHH challenged Undertaker to a match at Wrestlemania. The match was good but I never bought HHH as a real threat to the Streak. Their rematch a year later inside the Cell was FAR better though and was a contender for match of the year. Soon after HHH started a feud with Brock Lesnar, leading to a match at Summerslam 2011. Again it was good but not all that great.


Our last jump brings us to modern times with HHH and Stephanie as the Authority, the on-screen owners of the company. After months of going back and forth as a face or a heel, HHH would finally establish himself as a heel and set up his match with Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX, which will take place about three weeks after this is being written. I can’t imagine it not being great though.


Now let’s take a look at the major good themes of HHH’s career.


First of all, HHH can play one heck of a villain. As I said, that run he had in 2000 as the WWF Champion when he feuded with the Rock is right up there with Hollywood Hogan in 1996/1997 and Ted DiBiase in 1988 as the greatest heel runs ever. There’s just something about HHH talking down to people that makes you want to see a hero get his teeth kicked in which is exactly what you want in a heel.


Think about this for a minute. HHH kidnapped a woman, forced her to marry him, then got her on his side and took over the company. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what more you could be expecting. The key to it though was he got what was coming to him at the hands of both The Rock and Steve Austin who beat his teeth in over the second half of 2000. The same thing is likely to happen when he faces Bryan at Wrestlemania. I can’t imagine the match ending with anything other than Bryan taking HHH’s head off with a running knee or making him tap out.


Speaking of matches, I can barely count how many classics HHH has had. Let’s look at this for a second. There are the two street fights and the Cell match with Cactus Jack, almost any big match he had with Rock with the ladder match in particular, his wars with Steve Austin, the triple threats with Shawn and Benoit, the unsanctioned match with Shawn at Summerslam 2002, the miracle against Great Khali, his three Wrestlemania matches with Undertaker and some very solid stuff with Cena and Flair. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch but the reality is clear: the guy has been having great matches for over 15 years now. That just doesn’t happen in wrestling.


He’s also had a natural evolution to his character. HHH started off as a blue blood who thought he was better than everyone else before switching over to saying screw that, I want to have fun. However he eventually abandoned the goofiness and embraced the core of his character: a man obsessed with power who would do whatever it took to take over the company. Now he’s in charge of the company and is trying to be civilized but occasionally loses control and agrees to do something that gets him in trouble.


Before we wrap this up, let’s bust up a few myths about HHH.


Quite often you’ll hear people say that he became the star that he is because he married the boss’ daughter. Here’s the thing: by the time they started dating, allegedly in early 2000, HHH was a two time WWF Champion (he won his third title on January 3, 2000 so it was three reigns unless they started dating on the first two days of the year), a two time Intercontinental Champion and the King of the Ring. Marry Stephanie was definitely a boost, but HHH was going to be a big star no matter what.


Another story you hear about HHH is that he invented his own world title. I’ve heard multiple versions of this, with the main story being that the Intercontinental Title was to be the top title on Raw with HHH dominating that belt. Think about that for a second and you’ll see that it doesn’t make sense. At the end of the day, Raw is THE show for WWE and having a glorified midcard title as its centerpiece just wasn’t going to work. WWE making another title made sense and HHH just happened to be the guy that got it. To suggest that it was all his idea is illogical.


Next up is the theory that he pushed his buddies (Shawn, Sheamus, Batista etc) to the moon. Does anyone really want to argue that those three weren’t going to get pushed anyway? Sheamus gets some of the loudest pops on the show, Shawn is as talented a guy as you’ll ever hear, and Batista has been a big star every time WWE has used him. Yeah HHH pushed his buddies, and they’ll all turned out fine.


Sticking with the buddy thing for a minute, why is this something that HHH gets bashed for so much? It’s a common practice in wrestling to push your friends and HHH is really one of the weakest offenders. Ole Anderson nearly put WCW under by pushing his buddies in the early 90s. Hulk Hogan had BRUTUS BEEFCAKE in the main event of Starrcade. Back when Vince took over the WWF, how many of the people that got pushed were people who were loyal to him? There are multiple other instances but the point is clear: HHH isn’t the first guy with power to push his friends and he won’t be the last. It happens all the time and it’s been FAR worse over the years.


Let’s look at one last thing: HHH dominated the world title. If HHH gets blasted for this, he’s fourth worst at best. Since the time the titles were split, HHH has won eight world titles. This puts him fourth in that span after Edge with eleven, Randy Orton with twelve and John Cena with fourteen. Edge won eleven world titles in the span of just over five years, or over two titles a year. HHH might have held the belt longer than Orton and Edge, but HHH didn’t win and lose it as often for as many cheap title reigns. While they’re boring, I’d take one of HHH’s long reigns over five of Edge’s month long reigns any day.


Overall, the good outweighs the bad with HHH. There are just so many outstanding matches and segments (I could have gone on for several more pages breaking down his matches and why they’re as awesome as they are) that they overshadow the bad stuff. The problem is the bad stuff is REALLY bad with 2003 being one of the roughest years I can ever remember in wrestling. That run he had in 2000/2001 is as good a stretch as you’ll ever find in wrestling and his period where he was the veteran who was seeing how much he had left is quite a run as well. There’s just so much to rave about there and it’s unfair to criticize him as much as people (including myself) do.


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  1. Marlene's Disaster says:

    That match with Khali saves him from a lot of criticism. I remember dreading that match and finding myself glued to the TV seeing how HHH was going to pull this off. He can have that epic match, but he tends to overload on story instead of just having that physical war. His Batista feud was a prime example of that. Their WM match was mediocre but that HIAC match at Vengeance was an all out war. That’s why I was so pissed at the Lesnar feud. He can have that match, but you can tell he overloaded with too much storytelling and not enough brutality. That’s what you want from a match with HHH and Lesnar.

    Great write up. HHH is still one of my favorites and his heel run from 1999-2001 remains as one of the top heel runs ever in wrestling.

  2. rocko says:

    I feel him dominating Raw wasn’t entirely his fault. RVD should have been bigger but feuding with Nash, Goldberg and Steiner really did not help. There wasn’t much he could get out of them.

  3. M.R. says:

    You forgot the most irritating thing about the Summerslam match against Brock: They were equals. Brock had spent the entire Extreme Rules match basically squashing Cena with Cena picking up the fluke win, whereas Triple H and Brock battled it out like two guys on the same level.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    This is true. It drove me crazy when I watched it a few years back. HHH even won a slugout I believe.

  4. deanerandterry says:

    Triple H is a guy you can love, hate or feel both feelings at the same time. My biggest issue with Triple H is he isn’t as good as the WWE pretends he is, sometimes I question if he is the right guy to take Vince’s spot (strictly creative. Business wise he’ll be fine), I feel his politics have hurt the business at times (although for a top guy he’s more innocent than most). All of those worries/gripes are fairly reasonable but outside of that its only fair to give him some praise.

    He is a great wrestler, he earned his success for the most part and for all the shit he gets for marrying Steph its often overlooked that there was a much better chance of them breaking up then there was them getting married and if that happened Triple H could have very well thrown hus career away. Sure it worked out for the guy but in what is my biggest compliment I could give the guy, he has balls and having the balls he did often contributed to his success and often balls is what a person needs to be successful. There are better wrestlers than HHH, some weren’t nearly as successful as Triple H but they didn’t have the drive HHH did either and sometimes that makes the biggest difference.

    HHH made a lot of ballsy moves in his career, those moves often paid off for him and I think he deserves a lot of credit for that, most people wouldn’t have that courage and it was ultimately that courage that had made him the future king of the WWE. Although there’s a lot of negative attached to Triple H there should be no question he earned his keep.

  5. Thriller says:

    The Jeff Hardy thing still bugs me. He couldn’t be pinned for Jeff to win the title, it had to be a triple threat with the other guy getting pinned. It’s even more frustrating because the focus was on Jeff winning, not who lost.

    rocko Reply:

    Really? That is an incredibly stupid thing to complain about.

    Dark Grin Reply:

    The focus should always be on the winner, not the loser IMO. Hardy finally breaking through the glass celing is exactly what the entire program was about. Focus should’ve have been on him.

  6. zappa says:

    Triple H just isn’t as important as he or the company thinks he is. He’s a serviceable hand but not “the guy” not now not ever.

    ” HHH getting the win at Wrestlemania was the only logical way to do the trilogy” Um why?

    I don’t think people would have as big a problem with him if he didn’t try to pretend to be more important or influential as he was/is.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    You can’t have Brock go 0-2 and if he wins the first two matches, there’s no point making a trilogy.

    zappa Reply:

    So why couldn’t brock beat him twice and be done with it? as that’s what he did anyway? Triple H doesn’t need any more wins and it didn’t do brock any favours losing.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Hence why I said it was the only way to do a trilogy.

    ted Reply:

    Not true. just because It’s the way it’s always been done. doesn’t mean it can’t be done another way. Lesnar could of beaten him 3 times if they had to 3 matches. Would Triple H even care? Come back in six months and acts like he still won anyway.

  7. #MrScissorsKick says:

    This was a very good read KB.

    klunderbunker Reply:


  8. Killjoy says:

    A face pinning another face isn’t too good an idea. Triple H was sent to Smackdown that time period for ratings in the first place. And at the end of the day, Jeff didn’t do much good with his push. Besides, Triple H set Hardy up twice as a major deal with the wins in 2001 and Armageddon 2007.

    ted Reply:

    Do not act like the 4 day intercontinental title win did jeff hardy any favours. The story was set up so that jeff was not his equal. once he faced triple h again he was destroyed. Jeff was not elevated in anyway by that association, and was right back in tag teams for the next year and a half.

  9. Killjoy says:

    Went it comes to putting talent over, I don’t think anyone has done it better than Triple H. Just look back at how he’s put over Jeff Hardy, Batista, John Cena, Sheamus, Chris Benoit and so on. Look at how he’ll put over Daniel Bryan. When he picks them, he sets them for life.

    ted Reply:

    At what point did he put over sheamus? When he beat him at wrestlemania 26? Or when he would only lose to a guy twice his size and half his age after being assaulted backstage? Or how about when Triple H came back to challenge taker to wrestlemania 28. He proceeded to beat Sheamus to a pulp on raw treating him like an afterthought.

    H has put people over Sheamus is not one of them at least not on camera.

    Killjoy Reply:

    Sheamus ended Triple H’s full time active career. And he’s the only man to injure Triple H as a story besides Randy Orton. The fact that said “injury” lasted nearly a year is huge.

    ted Reply:

    Negligible Triple is still having matches making this “retirement” meaningless. The fact of the matter is Even when Sheamus did get the upper hand, which again only came from injury beforehand. The win did not end up meaning much. It’s just as much the fault of a bad followup. As it is beating triple h just not being as important anymore.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    You don’t have to win a match to be put over.

    ted Reply:

    True but you do have to be perceived as an equal or better to the person your involved with. I don’t believe that ever happened.

  10. LSN says:

    I agree. I think he’s been second to Cena in doing this. Any wrestler Cena has had a prolonged feud with or a big match with has come out of it far better then when they came in. HHH is second behind John Cena in doing this, which isn’t a bad place to be.

  11. frank says:

    ” Poor HHH was dead in the water until they retooled his look, his tights, his music, his entourage, his interview style, his nickname and his personal relationships. But aside from that, he got over 100% on his own. ” Credit scott keith

    couldn’t have said it better myself.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Dead in the water is a bit of a stretch but the blue blood character had taken him about as far as it could have.

    ted Reply:

    I’m not sure I agree. He was being pushed well against the wishes of fans who found him dull. Did he improve? No question. However he assertion of getting over all on his own is very incorrect.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    In case you’re not familiar with Scott Keith, he can’t stand HHH and is far more sarcastic than I am.

    zappa Reply:

    You are capable of sarcasm or humor?

  12. zappa says:

    There’s no denying that HHH isn’t great, but he’s at the top of the second tier of wrestlers like Bret, Shawn, Orton and Savage.

    zappa Reply:

    “There’s no denying that HHH isn’t great, but he’s at the top of the second tier of wrestlers like Bret, Shawn, Orton and Savage.”

    Triple H wishes he could draw more money, be a bigger star, and have a bigger legacy than randy savage.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Unfortunately he does have a bigger legacy than Savage. I’d rather watch Savage any day, but HHH has meant more through longevity alone.

    zappa Reply:

    I disagree. Randy savage has been dead for 3 years and is still one of the biggest stars of all time. The fans still chant for him, they have demanded he go in the hall fame for the last 10 years. His trademark elbow used by two of the all time greats. Promos and catchphrases that everyone in wrestling knows 20+ years later.

    Don’t misunderstand Triple H is a fine talent. He’s just not on the same level of randy savage. The fact that he’s in management now and will be around for years to come. Does not mean, He means more than an all time great. Triple H’s career may be longer but I doubt it will have the same impact on camera.

    Dark Grin Reply:

    I wouldn’t say he’s at the top of that tier. Remove Orton completely IMO and I’d say he’s the bottom of that tier. That being said, that’s still a damn good place to be career-wise.

  13. klunderbunker says:

    That would be an even more boring trilogy and not a logical idea. Hence why it wouldn’t be a realistic option.

  14. klunderbunker says:

    To be fair they chant for JBL too.

    The promos and phrases could apply to a bunch of people.

    The problem for Savage is he didn’t have the longevity at the top. It’s similar to Hogan and Austin. Hogan didn’t reach the peak that Austin did, but he was on top for a longer stretch and is a bigger star as a result.

    M.R. Reply:

    I try telling people Hogan is the biggest star of all time, but Austin’s the greatest star of all time. It’s all semantics, but it makes sense in my head.

    zappa Reply:

    Now your getting into opinions. You have stated that whoever draws the most money is biggest star. I don’t agree but on that premise Austin is the biggest star period.

    The randy savage chants started well before the jbl ones. When you get right down to it Randy savage will go down as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. For a number of reasons, some of which have been discussed here ad nauseum, Triple H will not be on that list. Difficult to swallow for some but it is the way of things.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Just…..no. He’ll be on the list, just not near the top of it.

  15. Jay H. (the real one) says:

    Awesome write up KB and you brought up alot of good points. I get also get tired of his push only came when he married Stephanie but like you said he was going to be a main guy anyway long before that.

    I also agree that who else at the time when the WHC was brought back were they going to give it to? RVD? Maybe he could have gotten it,Booker T? He was still working his way up post-Invasion,Jericho? Possibly but his time on top was/is more of transnational guy.

    When it comes down to it HHH does put alot of guys over on the Big Stages and he will put over Daniel Bryan at WM 30 this year.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Booker or RVD would have been fine. It wouldn’t have needed to be a long reign. Just something for a breath of air from HHH.

    M.R. Reply:

    Why not Jericho? I always thought he was completely underutilized during that stretch and could have easily seen him as the main protagonist against Triple H and Evolution. Literally anyone would have been a better choice than Steiner.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Would have worked fine.

  16. klunderbunker says:

    ….no, you don’t.

    Based on that, Austin or Hogan never put anyone at their peak as no one was ever on their level at the top of their careers.

  17. klunderbunker says:

    Read the Uncensored 1996 review.

  18. #MrScissorsKick says:

    “Soon after HHH started a feud with Brock Lesnar, leading to a match at Summerslam 2011. Again it was good but not all that great.”

    I believe HHH vs Lesnar was at SummerSlam 2012, Mr. KB.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Indeed it was.