Continuing with our series on the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time, here’s No. 9 on our list.
No. 9 – Triple H
Born as Paul Michael Levesque in Nashua in New Hampshire, he grew up as a huge fan of pro wrestling and his favourite wrestler was Ric Flair, who later went on to become his mentor. Triple H made his humble beginnings in the erstwhile WWF in 1995 with the moniker the ‘Connecticut Blueblood’ Hunter Hearst Helmsley after joining the company from the rival WCW. He earned infamy a year into his career when as a member of ‘The Kliq’, a group of wrestlers which included Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash (Diesel), Sean Waltman (1-2-3 Kid), and Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) who were greatly influential with Vince McMahon and had a huge presence backstage, he and Michaels broke kayfabe during Nash and Hall’s final match in the WWE at the Madison Square Garden in 1996 by embracing them. The incident was referred to as ‘The Curtain Call’ and led to Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the 1996 King of The Ring, a tournament which Triple H was originally supposed to win. Despite the disciplinary action taken against him, Triple H managed to win his first WWE title, the Intercontinental Championship in October of that year, by defeating Marc Mero.
Triple H’s big break came the following year when he won the 1997 King of The Ring with Chyna as his bodyguard. He then formed the most controversial stable in WWE history, the D-Generation X, along with Chyna, Michaels and Rick Rude. With Michaels as their leader, The D-X were notorious in the wrestling world for their famous, rebellious antics and their legendary catchphrase, ‘Suck It’ and the ‘crotch chop’. After the forced retirement of Michaels, HHH became the leader of D-X and led them to their most famous and controversial act, the invasion of WCW on April 27, 1998, before they were stopped by security.
Triple H later betrayed D-X and went on to join The Corporation (later the McMahon-Helmsley faction) and won his first WWE Championship on the August 23rd edition of Raw in 1999. He went on to dominate the WWE over the next decade, engaging in iconic feuds with the likes of returning former best friend Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, former Evolution cohorts Batista and Randy Orton, John Cena and most recently The Undertaker. He’s one of the most decorated wrestlers in history having won 13 World Championships, 3 WWE Tag Team Championships, 5 WWE Intercontinental Championships, the 1997 King of The Ring, the 2002 Royal Rumble, in addition to being the first ever World Heavyweight Champion in 2002. He was voted wrestler of the year by PWI (Pro Wrestling Illustrated) in 2000 and 2009 and also wrestler of the decade 2000-09 by PWI.
Triple H is noted as being one of the main wrestlers during the ‘Attitude Era’ of the WWE from 1998-01, which popularized the WWE to the moon and brought about the demise of rivals WCW and ECW. His antics as part of the D-X, including the invasion of WCW and the parody of the Nation of Domination are some of the highest-rated segments in WWE history. He’s one of the few who’s been cheered by loyal fans even during his villainous times and has time and again been highlighted as the main event at WrestleMania, even over upcoming stars such as John Cena and Batista.
His pre-match routine which involves spitting water onto the fans before entering the ring has become one of the most famous and recognizable routines ever. The fans absolutely adore it and even clamour for ‘The Game’ to spit onto them. It’s become one of the most popular and imitated acts in WWE history, and is replicated by millions of Triple H fans all over the world.
A few critics believe that Triple H’s success has largely been because of his marriage to the WWE boss’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon. They perceive him as lacking in all-around ring ability and claim that better superstars were ignored in his favor. But ask any die-hard WWE fan and he’ll tell you that these claims are completely absurd. The man deserves his dues for the sheer charisma, work ethic and passion that he brought to the ring. He was a huge superstar years before he married Stephanie and would’ve undeniably cemented his legacy even if he had never married Stephanie.
Triple was never an outstanding ring worker like Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels (few are), but he made up for it with his undying commitment and hard work. Over the last 10 years, nobody has worked as hard as Triple H (maybe with the exception of John Cena) to improve the company, and he has already started executive work before his retirement. When ‘The Game’ finally retires he deserves a farewell as exceptional as his idol Ric Flair received on his retirement in 2008.
Here are the other players who have made it so far:
No. 10 – John Cena
Read the detailed write-ups on all the players in this list here: