In the same way that Vince McMahon ultimately decides who appears on RAW and SmackDown, his son-in-law makes the big calls on match outcomes, title holders and all the important details with regards to NXT.
Prior to his association with the black and gold brand, Triple H also attended WWE production meetings during his time as a talent throughout the 2000s, which meant he sometimes gave his opinion on WWE’s up-and-coming Superstars as they came through the ranks.
WWE fans have heard plenty of stories about Triple H “burying” Superstars over the years, but it is rare for the man himself to confirm that he did not have a high opinion of one of his colleagues at the start of their WWE careers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three Superstars who Triple H expected to fail in certain roles, as well as three he tipped to succeed.
#6 Triple H expected CM Punk to fail
The summer of 2011 saw CM Punk cut his infamous ‘Pipebomb’ promo at the top of the WWE RAW stage. One standout moment came when he discussed WWE’s ownership and the possibility of Triple H (aka Vince McMahon’s “doofus son-in-law”) running the company one day.
The “doofus” comment led to an on-screen rivalry with Triple H, culminating in “The King of Kings” defeating Punk at Night of Champions 2011, but the two men also had their fair share of differences behind the scenes.
One year after that storyline, WWE released a documentary about Punk’s career – CM Punk: Best in the World – which included insight from Triple H about the decision to suddenly strip him of the World Heavyweight Championship at Unforgiven 2008.
Triple H implied that he expected Punk to fail as World Heavyweight Champion and he did not believe he belonged in the position at that time, which is why his title reign came to such an abrupt end.
“I think it was kind of like the Championship was trying to make him, and I don’t think it works that way. I think it’s the opposite. I think it’s the guys who are the most successful, the guys that have the long-term value in that role, are the guys that are there. Not because of that Championship; they get that Championship because they’re there.”
In 2019, Jim Ross – WWE’s former Head of Talent Relations – revealed on his Grilling JR podcast that Triple H initially did not believe Punk had what it took to succeed in WWE. The NXT founder thought the up-and-coming Superstar had a “big butt” and it looked “too soft”.
"Hunter! It's all about the workout s***, man. Or how he looked in an eight-by-ten. He's not gonna look the same because he's not the same, and all you do is put out androids that look alike, then what the hell do ya got?" [H/T Wrestling Inc.]
Triple H has since confirmed that he would be open to having Punk back in WWE, but only if the deal is right for everyone involved.