WWE recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of their most iconic superstars, a pioneer in today’s modern industry and a company man through and through. Paul Levesque, best known to the wrestling world as Triple H, has been instrumental in many of WWE’s triumphant moments, spanning from his days as a member of the rebellious D-Generation X to his numerous reigns of terror throughout the 2000s and of course his most recent achievements in spearheading the NXT brand.
There’s no doubt about it, Triple H has become one of the biggest influences in all of professional wrestling, not only in terms of his masterful in-ring psychology, but also his work behind the scenes in creating a new status-quo for wrestlers around the world to aspire towards. He’s manufactured a new standard for wrestlers to live by, championing genuine athleticism and entertaining matches that fans want to pay money to see, rather than the monotonous culture maintained by his tyrannical Father in-law.
We would like to join WWE in giving just credit to ‘The King of Kings’, the man that ultimately changed the game for years to come. Triple H is a performer that transcends all eras of pro-wrestling, an incredible achievement for a guaranteed future Hall of Famer and potentially someone that could one day end up running the whole show. Here’s to 25 more years of Triple H.
Triple H debuted in WWE in 1995, sporting the gimmick of the ‘Connecticut Blueblood’ Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The distinguished Helmsley fit right in with the zany and comic characters that were rife throughout the roster and immediately found success in the mid-card scene. Hunter would make his WrestleMania debut at XII in a losing effort to the returning Ultimate Warrior. Although his ‘Mania match was a complete squash, Helmsley managed to recover thanks to his backstage alliance with The Kliq.
Speaking of The Kliq, Hunter’s long-term friendship with a certain ‘Heartbreak Kid’ would go on to redefine Helmsley’s character in the years to come. As WWE took a turn towards maturity, so did Hunter. The Blueblood transformed himself into a renegade, dropping the sparkly robes for the iconic green and black of D-Generation X. DX would push the boundaries of TV ratings and form some of WWE’s most defining feuds of the late nineties against the likes of Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Mick Foley.
Even with the loss of Shawn Michaels, Triple H continued to ride the momentum of DX all the way through to the 2000s, staking claim to numerous reigns with the Intercontinental and eventually the WWE Championship. Triple H would slowly start finding himself featured in pay-per-view main-events and come into his own as one of the most sadistic and dastardly heels in the business.
During this time, Triple H would develop a real-life relationship with Stephanie McMahon, daughter of Vince and soon-to-be his foot in the door to the corporate life. As with all wrestling couples, naturally they became an integral part of programming for the best part of two years. Triple H would founder the McMahon-Helmsley era, using Stephanie as his villainous valet in high-profile matches with The Rock, Chris Jericho and Mick Foley, the latter of which Triple H would have one of WWE’s most incredible matches with at the 2000 Royal Rumble.
Unfortunately for Triple H, while wracking up more and more big victories and main events, wear and tear would eventually get the better of him and he would succumb to a career-defining injury in 2001. Triple H was kept out of action for the best part of a year, but would make a triumphant return during the build to the 2002 Royal Rumble, of which he would go on to win.
Triple H was thrust straight back into the main event, competing against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X-8 for the Undisputed Championship. This began Triple H’s elongated reign of terror, winning and dropping various World Heavyweight Championship reigns over the duration of 3 years. Triple H’s rivalries with Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, Booker T, Kane, Randy Orton, Goldberg and Batista would all help build his profile as one of the most decorated champions of all time.
It’s safe to say that every wrestling fan despised ‘The Game’ and his monopoly over the RAW main event scene. He and Evolution would run rampant over every dominant babyface until they eventually went their separate ways, all the while making stars out of themselves and everyone they stepped in the ring with. Triple H would later reform the D-Generation X faction with Shawn Michaels, battling his own family in a feud with the McMahons, breathing life back into the ever-popular DX brand.
Triple H would often return to battle alongside Michaels but, for the most part, he remained a singles competitor, regularly being used to capture the WWE Championship and occasionally bringing a crashing halt to a rising star. Not that this was any fault of his own, as we’ve seen over the past few years, Triple H is more than happy to put the golden shovel to one side and elevate an up-and-coming superstar to new heights.
Triple H began to wind down his full-time in-ring career with an excellent series of WrestleMania encounters with The Undertaker. Since then, Triple H has occasionally returned for a couple of in-ring cameos, namely his feuds with rising stars Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, while also ticking off a few last dream matches whenever WWE needed a big draw for their card. But as time passed by, ‘The King of Kings’ started to grind his heels into the backstage happenings on WWE, slowly building his skills in producing and orchestrating matches. Vince would naturally take his son-in-law under his wing and give him the necessary acumen to allow him to go onto produce one of the most popular products in all of pro-wrestling today, NXT.
A brand that started out as a corny game-show, NXT was re-branded and moved to Full Sail University, putting the spotlight on fresh talent with a penchant for ‘professional wrestling’ as opposed to sports-entertainment. As the years would go on and the fanbase would grow exponentially, future stars such as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor and The Four Horsewomen would all sow the seeds of NXT’s legacy, building to where the promotion is now: a proverbial third brand of WWE.
NXT has done wonders for the wrestling industry, and that’s mostly down to Triple H’s drive to create a new status quo within WWE. With the help of the legendary Dusty Rhodes, William Regal and Robbie Brookside, NXT would mould a new generation of WWE superstars that would help bring the mainstream a little closer to the independent style, a style that was becoming the desired norm for wrestling fans across the world.
NXT would eventually branch out into the UK and potentially Japan in the near future, allowing for more talent to be included in the movement and help spread the reach of WWE’s influence in the industry. Partnerships have been formed with various indie promotions and has ultimately created one of the most lucrative markets since the days of the territories. Again, this is all thanks to Triple H’s vision.
You’d struggle to not find a wrestling fan that believes that WWE will undergo a massive face-lift when Triple H eventually takes over the helm from Papa Vince. It would very much be a changing of the guard and a complete overhaul of the main programming. Triple H has an incredible mind for the business, thanks to his 25 years of competing throughout various different eras, witnessing the dramatic turns of events in the Attitude Era and the PG Era.
Triple H can be trusted to take good care of what wrestling fans hold dear, while also being a good hand in the ring for the occasional comeback match. Triple H has it all, and we hope he goes on to play even more of a major role in the wrestling world in the coming years.
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