Finishing Moves: Pedigree
9x WWE/WWF Champion, 5x World Heavyweight Champion, 5x Intercontinental Champion, 2x World Tag Team Champion, 2x Winner of Royal Rumble.
Early life and Career
Triple H (short for Hunter Hearst Helmsley, his original ring name) was born in Nashua, New Hampshire. Having been fascinated by wrestlers he saw on TV, Hunter took up bodybuilding at the young age of 14. Though he played basketball and baseball in high school, his real interest lay in pro wrestling and was introduced to the business by former wrestler Killer Kowalski, through some contacts he made while working at Gold's Gym.
His debut in pro wrestling came at the International Wrestling Federation run by Kowalski himself, as Terra Ryzing. After being taken on by WCW, he was first known as Terra Ryzing and later as Jean Paul Levesque, tapping into his French roots, portraying a sophisticated Frenchman who spoke in an accent. His WCW run did not go too well though, and Triple H ended up leaving the promotion in less than a year.
Rocky beginnings in WWE
Hunter made his debut in WWE (then WWF) in August 1995. While the company decided to retain his gimmick of an aristocrat, they changed his name to Hunter Hearst Helmsley and pushed him as the 'Connecticut Blueblood'. This gimmick did not last too long though, as the audience didn't seem to warm up to it.
Just as Triple H was supposedly set to win the King of the Ring tournament in 1996, the now infamous 'MSG Curtain Call' incident occurred.
Triple H was part of a backstage group known as The Kliq which included HHH, Shawn Michaels, Sean Waltman (better known as X-Pac), Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Now, Nash and Hall had just signed with rival promotion WCW and were set to leave WWE. After their last match at a live event in Madison Square Garden, The Kliq, who were supposed to be rivals on screen, broke kayfabe and embraced in the ring.
Though kayfabe is almost dead in the age of social media today, back then it was not so.
WWE management took this as a serious breach and Triple H ended up bearing the brunt of their wrath (Nash and Hall were leaving; Michaels was just too popular). His push was cancelled as a result, and Stone Cold ended up winning the King of the Ring, ending it with his iconic Austin 3:16 speech.
Hunter did eventually find some success though, being the talented performer that he is. In October 1996 HHH won his first title in WWE, when he defeated Marc Madison for the Intercontinental Title. Things took a turn for the better for Hunter, however, after Chyna debuted as his bodyguard and became associated with him full time.
D-generation X: Laying the foundation for the Attitude Era
DX and the Attitude Era. We really cannot talk about one, without mentioning the other in the same breath, can we? Hunter, along with Shawn Michaels, Chyna and Rick Rude, formed the stable DX in the latter part of 1997. The group was fast gaining popularity, pushing the envelope on what had hitherto been a family friendly show.
After Michaels had to take time off due to a serious back injury, HHH took over as the leader of the faction, recruiting the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac to form the new DX. The faction, though initially started as a heelish one, soon gained popularity. A memorable moment in their run was when DX, dressed in camouflage, got on an army truck and tried to invade the arena hosting WCW Monday Nitro. Ultimately, DX ended up being one of the major reasons for WWE Raw winning the famed Monday Night Wars against WCW.
During his time with the DX, Triple H clashed with the leader of the opposite faction, The Corporation. Hunter and The Rock were two of the top guys in the company and fought it out in a long term feud that had personal undercurrents as well.
It was at this time that HHH won his first World Championship, when he defeated Mankind on an episode of Raw for the WWF Championship. Later, he began a feud with Mr. McMahon and it is safe to say that this feud changed the course of Triple H's personal life as well, as he ended up marrying Stephanie McMahon in real life.
The McMahon-Helmsley Era
A feud with Mr. McMahon saw The Game forcibly marry Stephanie McMahon in an on-screen storyline. However, this translated to a budding romance off the screen as well, as HHH and Stephanie began dating.
A lot of controversy surrounds this part of The Game's career, though. Allegedly, Triple H was dating Chyna when he started seeing Stephanie as well, essentially cheating on Chyna. After Chyna found out, she was released unceremoniously from the company. Notably, even after all her achievements in the business, 'The 9th Wonder of the World" has still not been inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame.
Another feud with The Rock, followed by notable bouts with the likes of Chris Jericho, Rikishi, Stone Cold and a triangle love story between himself, Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon, sum up the next couple of years of Triple H's career in WWE, during which he won the WWF Title two more times.
In a terrible turn of events, Triple H suffered a terrible injury in 2001 which almost ended his career. In a tag team match on Raw in May, The Game completely tore his left quadriceps muscle. Even though he was hardly able to stand, he went on to complete the match. This injury ensured that Hunter would miss the 'Invasion' storyline completely. His return from injury though, is widely regarded as one of the best moments in Raw history, as he made his return in MSG to a pop that blew the roof off the arena.
Triple H had a pretty good run as a babyface, during which he won the Royal Rumble and then went on to WrestleMania to win the WWF Undisputed Championship from Chris Jericho.
When his best friend on-screen and in real life, Shawn Michaels returned from his injury, Hunter would pretend to welcome him back, only to turn on him later. This led to one of the best feuds ever in WWE history between HHH and Michaels. Their first match was an 'unsactioned' Street Fight at SummerSlam, after which Triple H would introduce Shawn, and the world, to his weapon of choice - a Sledgehammer. They continued their feud later on to have a 3 stages of hell match, and even inside the first ever Elimination Chamber. It was also during this time that Triple H would be a part of the highly distasteful 'Katie Vick' storyline with Kane.
Evolution and DX reunions
In 2002, Raw's onscreen GM Eric Bischoff introduced a second World Title to the WWE, namely the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H was crowned the first ever champion. It was at this time that Triple H would form a stable alongside Ric Flair, Batista and Randy Orton, called Evolution. This phase of Hunter's career has been criticized by fans and critics of the industry alike, due to his very lengthy, monotonous runs with the Heavyweight Title. One memorable feud though, was with Batista, who won the Royal Rumble and chose to challenge HHH at 'Mania, breaking up the Evolution with the now iconic 'thumbs down' gesture.
In the next few years, Hunter amassed quite a number of World Championship reigns to his name.
He was also part of two DX reunions with Shawn Michaels (once in 2006 and again in 2009), though these runs couldn't live up to the standards of their time during The Attitude Era. The Cerebral Assassin now stands at a total of 14 Word Championship reigns, the third highest in history, only behind John Cena and Ric Flair who have 16 reigns apiece.
Also worthy of a mention, are the two classics between The Undertaker and The Game at WrestleMania 27 and again at WrestleMania 28. After The Undertaker retired Shawn Michaels at WM 26, Hunter vowed revenge and challenged Taker to a match at WM 27. A rematch of this encounter would take place inside Hell in a Cell at WM 28, with Michaels as the guest referee. This has been widely regarded as one of the best matches ever inside Hell in a Cell. The image of all three legends walking out of the arena together is still etched in the fans' minds.
In 2013, Triple H would start his backstage career in WWE, after being hired as the Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events & Creative. His in-ring appearances became few and far between. Later on that year, Hunter along with Stephanie McMahon, and The Shield and Kane by their side, would create the heelish faction dubbed The Authority, similar to the Corporation of the Attitude Era.
Most storylines consisted of them screwing over other babyfaces and justifying their actions as doing what was 'best for business'. This angle saw one of the best storylines in the modern era - the rise of Daniel Bryan against The Authority. Another memorable feud saw Hunter reforming his old stable Evolution to feud with a babyface Shield. Fans remember this feud for the moment when Seth Rollins turned on his brethren to join The Authority.
After The Shield broke up, Triple H went on to feud with Roman Reigns. During this, he won the Royal Rumble 2016 to win his 14th World Championship. He went on to wrestle Reigns in a losing effort at WrestleMania 32. His next feud saw him screw over his former protégée Seth Rollins out of the Universal Championship match and hand over the win to Kevin Owens. Rollins and The Game fought it out at WrestleMania 33, in which Rollins came out on top, hence earning him the moniker of The Kingslayer.
Currently, HHH is set to take on the team of Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 34, alongside his wife Stephanie McMahon.
Personal life and work with NXT
The Game married Stephanie McMahon in 2003 and is the proud father to three beautiful girls. The power couple are not only known for their work on screen, but for their philanthropy off the screen as well, including the establishment of Connor's cure.
In real life, The Game is a teetotaler and abstains from consuming any alcohol. Shawn Michaels and others have famously commented about how Triple H would never be a part of their parties during their time on the road. He is huge fan of the band Motorhead and all his theme songs have been composed by them. His other passion lies in bodybuilding, as can be seen from the physique he has maintained even at the age of 48.
Triple H is widely appreciated for being the mastermind behind the developmental brand NXT. He has been credited with many famous signings including Samoa Joe, Asuka and most recently even Ronda Rousey. His other protégées at NXT include Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens, Bayley and many others. His other achievements in WWE include promoting women's wrestling and the company's international expansion as well.