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Triple H talks Sting, Foley, WWE athletes vs others, helping Rollins & more

The real headliner at WrestleMania is the battle of the icons Triple H has been doing the media rounds this week to promote his upcoming induction ...

The real headliner at WrestleMania is the battle of the icons

Triple H has been doing the media rounds this week to promote his upcoming induction into the International Sports Hall of Fame this weekend. He spoke with Bleacher Report & Mensfitness.com on a number of topics. Below are some highlights :

Because you weren’t always “The Game.” Even when you went to WWE you did matches with Duke “The Dumpster” Droese and Marc Mero. That’s not exactly the golden ticket to getting over is it? When did you feel like you really made it?

Triple H: It’s funny, because it was actually when I was working with Marc Mero that I felt, “OK, clearly they must like me.” Because they had just put a lot of money into bringing Marc Mero in.

I remember George “The Animal” Steele came to me at the TV where Mero made his debut. He worked a dark match and Steele said, “Did we make a mistake bringing this guy in here?” It was just bad.

They put me with him on the road to work with him and get him up to speed. And I thought “if they’re reaching to me to handle this guy and get him going, wow.” It was kind of a confidence boost for me.”

But you were young and hungry and looking to improve your position. Do you relate to wrestlers today with the same mindset you had?

Triple H: As far as the talent goes, when you see somebody who’s really hungry, and talented and has a bright future, you are willing to allow them to spread their wings and try things. And sometimes they are going to make mistakes and you’re going to have to reel them in and control them. And if it gets too bad, you have to really step in.

I have the ability to look at this differently because I went through it. If you’re smart with it, and I think this is how Vince (McMahon) was with us, he allowed us to go through all that without crossing a line that was too much for him. He controlled us but allowed us to expand our wings and grow.

Seth Rollins and I went through a similar thing. He’s so talented, and he was very cocky. Like we were. We were so full of ourselves and thought we knew more than we did. We thought we knew better and were going to show the world.

Some of that is a good thing. You don’t want to squelch that. You want to almost embrace that. But you have to protect those kids from hurting themselves. I could see how much talent Seth Rollinshad, but he was manifesting that self-destructively. And I was trying to help him point that in a positive way.

I was trying to help him. And we had to have some pretty stiff conversations about it. We had to get there. But I never tried to hold him back as a talent from growing and trying things. And even using that, using those feelings. If I’m pissing him off and he feels I’m holding him back slightly, use that as a character tool and get that out of him.

He and I have talked about this a lot, from when he was in developmental to today. You have to work with talent no different than you do your kids. You’ve got to let your kids do things and experiment with their lives. And they are going to fall. But you have to be there for when they are really going to cross a line to say “no, not that step.”

You mentioned self destructive, and though it wasn’t in this context, it made me think of Mick Foley. I often think of the two of you together, because I think you really carried each other to new heights in those matches in 2000. Did you feel like those were the matches that got you ready to be “The Game?”

Triple H: Absolutely. And one of the things that working with Mick did, was show people “wow, this guy will go through anything too.” I earned a different level of respect.

I think for Mick and I, through all the different versions of us working together, we’re both trying to prove ourselves. Mick had worked with Undertaker and worked with Shawn (Michaels) and worked with Steve (Austin) when they were the top guys, but he was kind of the guy who was with them. I was a guy trying to come up too.

I remember having a conversation going into the Royal Rumble in 2000, because we were the main event. We were the title match and headlining. It was a big moment for both of us. We both had something to prove that night. It was a step forward. We weren’t working with someone else who was a megastar. We both came alive that night.

Getting back in the ring to face Sting at WrestleMania 31:

Listen, it’s a lot of pressure. I haven’t wrestled since last year. Sting hasn’t wrestled in God knows how long. We were talking about how I’m getting up there—he’s 10 years older than me.

I don’t know what I’ve got. I don’t know that he knows what he’s got. So, we’re going to see. I guarantee you this though—we will leave it all out there. We’re going to have 75,000 people giving us a lot of motivation to do it.

I know for him, this has kind of been a dream he thought was never going to happen. Both stepping into the WWE ring and going to WrestleMania. I’m glad that we could make it work out for him—and for the WWE Universe.

I think it’s something our fans are really going to enjoy, no matter how it goes physically, just being there and sharing that moment. Witnessing Sting at WrestleMania is huge for them.

Aside from having charisma and a quick wit, what do you think makes WWE Superstars stand out from athletes in other sports?

Triple H: I think the well-roundedness. Charisma, quick wit, the ability to perform in front of tens of thousands but also one or two. Our athletes are very well rounded and some of the best in the world physically, and they also have to have the ability to improvise and do theater at the same time. It’s like playing football and doing Shakespeare at the same time. I think that’s a rare combination. It’s a broader skillset. Also, with all these other sports, they want the athletes to be a cog in the wheel. With WWE, we want you to be larger than life. The bigger your brand is the bigger ours is.

Can you name something you’ve done in your career that helped sports entertainment transcend?

One of the cool things for me is growing up as a gym rat and then being on the cover of Flex and Muscle&Fitness and to be representing fitness and health. That was me transcending the WWE world. One of the things I love most about doing a signing is when somebody comes up to me and says they were inspired to lose 100 pounds, or says, “You’re why I went to the gym in the first place.” That means a lot to me. When you can alter someone’s life in a positive way, that’s huge.

That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to most about this Arnold [Sports Festival] weekend. I want to talk to Arnold about health and fitness and how can he and I and my wife work together to affect the world. I brought it up to him a while ago—when he was on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, everybody knew about it and was striving to do these physical challenges. I feel like that’s all been lost and no one is representing that anymore. As many people work out as ever, or maybe more so, but there’s not that front line where kids today are getting it and making working out fun.

If you had to pinpoint a favorite moment in your career what would it be?

I’ve had a long career. I had a series of matches with Mick Foley in 2000 which was a big turning point in my career. Then, coming back from my quad injury in 2001, a lot of people were saying my career was over. A few years ago I wrestled the Undertaker at Wrestlemania with Shawn Michaels as guest referee. That was sort of a symbol of the end of the Attitude Era and our generation. There’s a moment where the three of us are standing together that I’ll never forget.

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