FOLLOW Mr. Tito on Twitter: @titowrestling
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN - The Top 10 Triple H Accomplishments in Pro Wrestling
By Mr. Tito
Nov 2, 2013 - 9:15:34 PM
IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN! Today, we're going to bring you a POSITIVE column about Triple H. Often, Triple H is the target of criticism because of his backstage role and how competitive he is as a wrestler. One thing that wrestling fans cannot deny is how much Triple H "wants it" both to be a top level pro wrestler and to succeed as a WWE Executive. Quite possibly, the criticism comes from Triple H being too competitive against other fellow wrestlers and being unable to turn the wrestler "off" when needing to be a company executive.
But nobody can deny how successful Triple H has been both as a pro wrestler and as a company executive despite all of the warts he might arguably have. The fact is that Triple H is driven to be successful in the wrestling industry and has fully dedicated his life to the business. There are not many individuals like him nor are they able to become part of the management group of a wrestling company with time. That, and I believe that the quadriceps injury ended what was a remarkable 2000-2001 run and created incredible expectations on Triple H for his 2002 return that he couldn't physically meet.
For today's FINAL COUNTDOWN, we shall review the Top 10 Triple H Accomplishments in Pro Wrestling and to be honest, this was one of the easiest Top 10 to put together. As seen with a few honorable mentions left out, we could have extended this list beyond 10. And as tradition goes, if you want to further enhance your FINAL COUNTDOWN experience, you must add some theme music like this "great" Final Countdown cover.
TOP 10 TRIPLE H ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN PRO WRESTLING
HONORABLE MENTION: Putting over both Chris Benoit and John Cena. In hindsight and not just because he became a murderer, making Chris Benoit as World Champion wasn't that great of an idea. As great as Benoit was as an in-ring performer, he had weak drawing appeal to a wider WWE audience. Granted, Benoit's opponent selection wasn't much once the Triple H/Shawn Michaels feud was over, but for as hard as both Triple H and the WWE tried to put Benoit over at Wrestlemania 20, it didn't greatly enhance Chris Benoit as a draw to all WWE fans. With John Cena, Cena was already a made man by the time the Triple H feud occurred for Wrestlemania 22. Still, Triple H deserves credit for doing business with John Cena and Cena did strengthen as a star because of his Wrestlemania 22 defeat of Triple H.
#10 - Great business with the Rock for both 1998 and 2000. During 1998, the WWE had Steve Austin at the top of the card and feuding with the McMahon Corporation. For the WWE to grow as a company, however, they needed a stronger midcard. The battle for the Intercontinental Title between Rock vs. Triple H was very important at that time and helped enhance the WWE to be an all around better product. It was pretty evident through SummerSlam 1998 when they wrestled each other in a Ladder Match that both were destined to be stars. Then, when Steve Austin was out for a length of time due to a neck injury, it was Triple H as the heel and Rock as a babyface competing in the main event for much of 2000, the most successful WWE year ever. The 2 would headline several Pay Per Views together and the chemistry was undeniable in the ring. Their Iron Man Match in particular at WWE Judgment Day 2000 is considered a classic and improved upon Bret/HBK's match at Wrestlemania 12 by having multiple pinfalls (11 to be exact). WWE probably should have had just Rock vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania 16 instead of the McMahon 4 way with Foley/Big Show, but the other matches during 2000 more than made up for it.
#9 - The success of Joanie Laurer in the WWE as "Chyna". During 1996, Joanie Laurer was performing on the Independent circuit and hoping for a big break. Then, one night she met Triple H and Shawn Michaels and showed them tapes of her matches, as the story reportedly goes. Additionally, Laurer was trained by "Killer" Kowalski, who also trained Triple H as a performer. There was a push to get her hired by the WWE and once she joined, Triple H made the most of her as a bodyguard, manager, and also a performer. They pushed her hard as Triple H's bodyguard and she got over very quickly. She was an integral part of Degeneration X and by the mini-Rumble match of 1999 when she became the #30 entrant by tossing Vince McMahon over the top rope, she was crazy over. She became a major household name that allowed her to venture into other areas like television, movies, and even Playboy. By the end of 2001, Laurer and WWE parted ways and she hasn't been in the WWE since. Without Triple H's help in joining the WWE and continued support of her, who knows how successful she could have been.
#8 - Becoming a legitimate back-up for Vince McMahon as a WWE Executive. This one is only at #8 because Triple H probably has some more training and experience needed to fully replace Vince McMahon, but he's getting there. In case you haven't noticed, Triple H has increased his role backstage and is reportedly Vince McMahon's #1 adviser. Meanwhile, Triple H has been filling in for Vince to run houseshows and overseas shows and training to eventually run television shows. For a Corporation, it's incredibly important to have an organizational chart, a succession plan, and a business continuity plan should something go wrong with your top executive. That's important to Investors of WWE stock because if Vince were to leave the WWE today, the transition to Triple H as his replacement could be seen as smooth. Certainly, Triple H has a lot to learn from Vince and we'll see how well the developmental system does under Triple H to see if he's fully ready to become the next Vince. But as it stands now, Vince McMahon respects Triple H enough to begin grooming him to replace Vince in the future on the road.
#7 - Successful Degeneration X after Shawn Michaels during 1998. After Shawn Michaels lost his match to Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 14 and was going to be reportedly out with a back injury, the fate of the Degeneration X stable was unknown. However, DX was regrouped with new members in X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws. With Triple H as their leader, they began hanging out on the outside of WCW Nitro events and performing other antics such as the classic parody of the Nation of Domination. They were getting over as babyfaces and Triple H was elevated as a babyface upper midcarder because of it. Through the revised DX, Triple H became a stronger household name insomuch that by 1999, he was ready to turn heel and begin his climb towards the Main Event scene. By 2000, he performed extremely well as the top Main Event heel for WWE's most successful heel. By the time the original DX reformed later during 2006, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were considered as equals instead of during late 1997 through early 1998 where Shawn was the bigger star.
#6 - Convincing Bruno Sammartino to return to the WWE and join WWE Hall of Fame. 2013's Hall of Fame was a major deal. Not just because Mick Foley, Trish Stratus, Bob Backlund, Booker T, and Donald Trump got in, but for the fact that Bruno Sammartino was finally getting in. The WWE Title was created out of thin air during 1963 from dispute with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) from which Vince McMahon Sr.'s Northeast wrestling promotion was a member. Buddy Rogers was the first WWE Champion (or WWWF Champion) until Bruno Sammartino defeated him shortly thereafter. Bruno would hold that title for almost 8 years after that and then have another lengthy title reign for over 3 years during the 1970's. He was gravely important to the growth of the WWE to help provide Vince Jr. with a legitimate asset to buy from his father, Vince Sr., during the early 1980's. However, Vince Jr.'s changing business model and other issues caused a rift between Vince and Bruno that would last about 25 years.
Then Triple H stepped in. For the latter half of 2012 through early 2013, Triple H had various conversations with Sammartino in hopes to have him inducted into the 2013 WWE Hall of fame and return to being on good terms with the WWE and Vince. It took a while but Triple H was persistent and helped convince Bruno that the WWE, today, was far different from promotion he was disgusted with during the late 1980's. And it worked... To the shock of many, it was announced on a Monday Night RAW that Bruno would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Having Bruno return to the WWE is a major accomplishment because the WWE lacked the bridge to link the 1980's WWE to the Vince Sr. era without Bruno. Bruno was getting older, too, and the real risk existed that the WWE and Bruno couldn't reconcile their differences before Bruno could eventually pass. Now, the WWE can celebrate Bruno's contributions and Bruno can now promote his WWE career instead of regretting it. All because Triple H stepped up as a WWE executive and the WWE Corporation benefits incredibly from his deed.
#5 - Making Batista into a serious WWE Superstar. For the Evolution Stable which was a dominant feature of the RAW brand between 2003-2004 as a complete group, Triple H took both Batista and Randy Orton under his wing (Ric Flair's presence helped too). While they may have pushed Randy Orton too fast to the World Title at SummerSlam 2004, the WWE and Triple H took its time with Batista. Slowly but surely, Batista was developing the swagger and in-ring ability that resembled that of a WWE Main Eventer. By late 2004, he was clearly ready and beginning to receive natural face pops. It was clear that he was ready and at Royal Rumble 2005, Batista won a World Title shot. For a few weeks, Batista pondered which brand until he decided that he wanted to challenge Triple H. That didn't sit well and the final nails were driven into the Evolution stable by yet another beatdown of an evolution member when they dared to outshine Triple H. To further establish Batista, Triple H put Batista over as World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania 21. Batista would enjoy 5 solid years in the Main Event mix after this and Triple H deserves much of the thanks for the work done during 2003-2005 preparing and making him champion in grand style. I bet if Batista made his WWE return, he would be welcomed by WWE fans as an established star.
#4 - Being a stable friend to Shawn Michaels and convincing him to return. Shawn Michaels injured his back at Royal Rumble 1998 and was thought to be done with his in-ring career because of that injury. In addition, Shawn was battling personal demons that were probably increased due to that injured back and possibly from depression of his wrestling career being over. While Shawn Michaels was mostly sitting at home with a few limited WWE appearances, he probably saw the rise of his friend, Triple H, in the WWE during 2000-2001. Triple H took his wrestling career seriously instead of using it for a means to find the next party, as the mid-1990's WWE became. In addition to a strong wife, I believe seeing Triple H succeed motivated Shawn Michaels to take himself seriously and also to begin to take his talents seriously. Michaels started his own wrestling school (which Daniel Bryan attended) and begin considering a comeback. Then, at SummerSlam 2002, Shawn made his WWE comeback and arguably had the 2002 "Match of the Year" against Triple H. After that, it seemed that Triple H kept trying to get Shawn more involved with matches instead of just the SummerSlam 2002 match. By sometime during 2003, Shawn Michaels became a full-time wrestler again. From there, Shawn had an incredible run through Wrestlemania 26 during 2010 and kept himself out of trouble by having a stable friend in Triple H around him.
#3 - Putting the Undertaker over 3 times at Wrestlemanias 17, 27, and 28. The Undertaker has an incredible Wrestlemania streak of 21 straight wins. Of those 21 wins, 3 are actually against Triple H. The first one was at Wrestlemania 17 where Triple H was in his prime with the Undertaker still feeling out his new "Bikertaker" gimmick and attempting to change his wrestling style. At Wrestlemania 17, Triple H not only put the Undertaker over, but gave the Undertaker one of his best matches of his career at that point. Then, at back-to-back Wrestlemanias (27 & 28), Triple H dared to challenge the Wrestlemania streak. Those matches were epic and Triple H took the loss in each one. Again, Triple H gave the Undertaker a superhuman effort to add more career best matches to Undertaker's resume. Of the 21 wins, the 2 battles against Shawn Michaels and 3 against Triple H has legitimized the Undertaker as one of the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time. For Triple H to drop 3 matches to the Undertaker without hesitation is quite remarkable and generous of Triple H. Undertaker benefits greatly from Triple H's respect.
#2 Greatest Year and a Half Ever in the Ring, 2000-2001. Between January 1st, 2000 through June 30th, 2001, I would argue that nobody has ever had a better 1 and a half year segment of their career than Triple H. He was in his prime and put on incredible performances against many different wrestlers. Some will argue that Triple H had great competition. However, consider this with many wrestlers during 2000... They were just entering the WWE. Kurt Angle was still new and figuring out the business. Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit were entering a whole new landscape in the WWE with a different ring, atmosphere, and style of wrestling expected of them. It was Rock's first full run as a top babyface. Things could have gone incredibly wrong with all of those new wrestlers or settings... But Triple H stepped up his game. If you watch is 2000-2001 matches, Triple H is bumping and selling like a champion. He's begging for mercy like any heel would. In addition, he had healthy quad muscles which I believe the May 21, 2001 tear has forever limited his ability.
Just look at the collection of matches between 1/1/2000 to 6/30/2001. Multiple "Match of the Year" candidates in big Pay Per View spots where he needed to succeed. Those battles with Mick Foley, Rock, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho (both on PPV and on RAW), Kurt Angle, and then later with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Undertaker during 2001 were remarkable. On top of that, Triple H was performing extremely well on RAW and would put on great matches with completely random wrestlers. Go find his RAW match against TAKA Michinoku on the April 10th, 2000 edition of Monday Night RAW. Crazy good! Triple H brought it that year and it's a crying shame that he tore his quad injury to stop that in-ring momentum. To finish off his incredible 2000-2001 run, Triple H actually completed, despite the injury, the 5-star epic Tag Title match between Austin/Triple H vs. Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho. We'll never know what could have happened if Triple H remained healthy for the rest of 2001.
#1 Marrying Stephanie McMahon and becoming a Family Man. Some will say "Triple H just married her for her money and to run the WWE". To that I would say that they been married for 10 years and have 3 daughters together. Must be just the money and WWE power, right? Wrong... This is a genuine relationship. The pro wrestling industry, particularly under the rule of Vince McMahon, is a difficult one to have a normal family life. Thanks to the marriage storyline during late 1999, Triple H and Stephanie were able to work closely together. However, they still had to get along to manage becoming a successful couple in real life. All indications are that both are madly in love with each other and will certainly grow old together.
To have a successful marriage and family life in the pro wrestling setting, especially with the added pressure by shareholders to succeed as executives, is a major accomplishment. Together, with the strong bond that both Triple H and Stephanie have, they will ensure that the WWE ball keeps rolling for years to come whenever Vince McMahon decides to retire. While both are driven in their careers with WWE, they've made sure that their marriage and family continues to come first. And that's the way it should be or else they wouldn't be together to this day. Seems that both are acting as wise executives by staffing up management below them so that they can both enjoy each other and their daughters.
Having a successful marriage and raising a family together is the greatest accomplishment that anyone could have. Period.
There you have it... 10 great accomplishments by Triple H. He truly was an A+ performer and is among the all time greats in WWE history.
Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling
SO JUST CHILL TILL THE NEXT EPISODE!
MR. TITO COLUMN ARCHIVES on LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @titowrestling