Today in WWE, Triple H is a fantastic and ruthless businessman who will surely take WWE to new heights when and if Vince McMahon ever steps down. One big thing that fans really like about Triple H today is that he seems to have a very good idea of what stars in WWE can be, and that is the next big thing. He has used this as one of his ways of making his NXT brand probably the most popular aspect of WWE today, at least in terms of internet viewership and critical reception.
While he may have a keen eye today, he has very much overlooked a lot of fantastic talent in the past, both during his time as a full-time wrestler and his current role backstage. WWE has had many talented performers who could have been the face of the WWE, only for The Game to say no.
He has often been criticized for 'burying' talent, a claim that has spanned over two decades in the WWE.
In this article, we look at six such wrestlers who Triple H was wrong about.
#6 Mr. Anderson
When Mr. Kennedy debuted on the WWE main roster in 2005, he had so much potential. Unfortunately, he seemed to be plagued by a few back-to-back injuries, but despite this, it never seemed to dwindle WWE management's interest in pushing him to the moon.
Within two years (and a lot less taking in his injury time), Kennedy had been WWE United States Champion, had challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship on pay-per-view, won the 'Money in The Bank' and had several high profile victories over The Undertaker, Batista, Booker T, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Kane and more.
Following his return from injury, Kennedy was already put back into big plans as he was the leading candidate backstage to be revealed as Vince McMahon's illegitimate son. As revealed by Kennedy in more than one interview, and even referenced on Impact Wrestling, Triple H was the one who ''got in Vince's ear'' to convince him that Kennedy wasn't 'The Guy'. Following this, Kennedy stuck to mid-card feuds and, following another round of serious injuries, was released by WWE in 2009.
As Mr. Anderson, he would go onto perform for TNA Impact Wrestling for over 5 years, where he became a 2 time TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Kennedy has been critical of how he was treated in the WWE and has often been vocal about the same.
#5 Booker T
Former 5-time WCW Champion Booker T's first year and a half with WWE as a top performer brought in mixed results due to some conflicting bookings. After finding a comfortable place on RAW as part of a comical act with Goldust, WWE finally decided to pull the trigger on Booker T as a major singles performer in early 2003.
When you look at the build-up to Booker's WrestleMania World Championship match against Triple H, it really looked like the kind of tale that would have seen Booker come out on top, and that's because that was what was supposed to happen.
Even with uncomfortable racial jabs, this was still a good underdog story, but only if it had the right result. As the story goes, at the time, Triple H just didn't see Booker as a main event player and used his creative stroke to change the result.
Triple H would embarrass him even further after hitting him with the pedigree. He would lay in the ring for what seemed like an eternity (21 seconds) before finally pinning him for the win. Thankfully, Booker would receive another shot of WWE Championship pursuit in 2004, before finally winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 2006.
#4 Rob Van Dam
Despite entering WWE as a heel member of the Alliance in 2001, Rob Van Dam got over very quickly and was soon being cheered even louder than The Rock. With his ever rising popularity and the Alliance lacking star power, RVD was soon given a prominent push as he was added to the WWF vs. Alliance's top program between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle.
RVD would pin Austin on an episode of SmackDown and be added to their match at No Mercy, making it a triple threat main event for the WWE Championship. And despite his loss, things seem to be going great for RVD. Alas, things would slow down pretty quickly for 'The Whole F'N Show' as the Alliance angle ended.
And it wasn't because the WCW/ECW team was disbanded, but because someone else came back to reclaim his spot -- Triple H. The Game had been out of action for the previous seven months with his torn quad, and as soon as he returned, the spotlight was on him, and RVD went from main eventing pay-per-views to opening the show with William Regal and Goldust.
Allegedly, there were plans for RVD to be featured more prominently, but Triple H didn't think he was ready and convinced the right people so. Coincidentally, RVD would open WrestleMania in 2002, while Triple H would main event it. Later on that year, RVD would challenge Triple H for the World Championship at Unforgiven, but came up short, killing the incredible momentum he had built up all summer.
RVD would go even further down the card by the end of the year, when he accidentally injured Triple H at Survivor Series. Thankfully, Rob Van Dam would eventually become WWE Champion and WWE ECW Champion in 2006, and also held the TNA World Championship in 2010.
#3 Cody Rhodes
While a few of the wrestlers that I have chosen for this list have outright publicly mentioned Triple H as being the reason they never achieved their full potential in WWE, Cody Rhodes has never mentioned The Game by name for this matter but has at least alluded to it.
Cody has mentioned in several interviews since leaving WWE in 2016 that they, WWE higher ups, had plenty of opportunities to pull the trigger on him as a big star, but didn't. While he didn't mention any of them by name, it is safe to assume that Triple H is one of them. There were reports back in 2015 that it was Triple H who denied Cody's request to drop the Stardust character, and of course, both men have been taking pretty big promotional jabs at each other with Triple H at the Hall of Fame, and Cody at All Elite Wrestling's Double or Nothing.
Considering what Cody has accomplished since he left WWE and what he is about to accomplish with AEW, one would assume WWE and Triple H really missed the boat with The American Nightmare.
Cody's father, the 'American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, was a WWE legend who also took up many managerial roles within the company. Despite being in an influential position, the fact that Dusty could really not do much to push Cody's prospects just goes to show Triple H's hold on the company.
#2 Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho once described leaving WCW and joining WWE as going from black and white to color. And while he said that years after joining WWE, I'm sure that feeling didn't originally last long. In fact, Jericho has admitted he decided to leave WWE in April 2000, just eight months after his debut.
Jericho was convinced to stay, however, after he was told about his 'WWE Championship win' and feud with Triple H. While Jericho did pin Triple H on RAW for the title, it was stricken from the record that same night and rewarded back to The Game that night. Jericho would then go onto feud with Triple H that summer, and things seemed set in stone that this was Jericho's shot at the main event.
It wasn't meant to be at the time, apparently, as despite their Last Man Standing match at Fully Loaded (won by Triple H of course) being one of the best matches of the year, Jericho soon reverted back to mid-card. It has since been publicly revealed that Chris Jericho and Triple H didn't like each other between 2000 and 2003, and this is likely what played into Jericho's fall to the mid-card in 2000 and rose to the main event scene while Triple H was injured for most of 2001.
Chris Jericho has since gone on to become one of the greatest performers in WWE and all of wrestling and is a multi-time world champion. He currently plies his trade in AEW and was the inaugural AEW world champion
#1 CM Punk
This one is no secret but still takes the top spot on this list for just how successful and controversial CM Punk went on to become. It has been revealed by several different people in the business over the years that CM Punk was a very polarizing figure backstage when it came to the big push, that some thought he could go all the way, while others saw nothing in him.
Triple H is one of those that saw nothing in him. As Punk put it himself, Triple H was quoted saying that CM Punk was ''An internet darling who couldn't hang with him''. And while CM Punk would hold several different championships in WWE after Triple H made these comments, including the World Heavyweight Championship, he still fell back down the ladder.
As everyone knows, the threat of Punk leaving WWE led to him becoming the biggest and most talked about name in WWE for the next few years onwards 2011, until his controversial departure in 2014.
What is very interesting is CM Punk was slated to face Triple H at WrestleMania XXX just before he left, so was The Game going to put the Voice of The Voiceless over on the Grandest Stage of Them All? I guess we will always have to wonder.