What if Triple H never married Stephanie McMahon?
Triple H could've been retired from WWE by 2005...
It's 2017, which means that we're nearly two decades into, what can be best referred to as a real-life "McMahon-Helmsley Era" in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Stephanie McMahon and Paul Levesque have also been married in real life since 2003, which means that for 14 years, Triple H has been slowly ascending from Championship wrestler to Vince McMahon's son-in-law, to now being heir to the throne of Chief Executive Officer of the company.
But, let's imagine for a second that McMahon and Levesque never had an angle together, and moreover never got married in real life. If neither of these things happened, what would have become of Triple H's WWE career?
Would he have gone on to becoming a 14-time World Heavyweight Champion?
Would he have become a historical footnote buried by poor booking or perpetual upper mid carder?
Or, could he have just existed somewhere in-between, maybe as a three-or-four time champion, and more of a tremendous asset, as either a heel or babyface developing numerous then-future WWE legends to come. Every story has a beginning, even this one...
It all started for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at the Unforgiven 2000 pay-per-view, which was headlined by the culmination of the ‘love triangle’ feud between Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Stephanie McMahon. Instead of Triple H winning after a Stephanie low blow and Pedigree, imagine the polar opposite occurring.
Stephanie turning babyface by turning her back on her villainous husband and being the babyface cheerleader for Kurt Angle, would’ve been amazing in the sense that it would’ve sent WWE in a vastly different creative direction. What direction exactly? Keep reading.
Triple H losing to Angle would’ve precipitated a storyline divorce, which could’ve then been exacerbated by Stephanie’s brother Shane sliding into a leadership role alongside Steph and employing Chris Benoit to continue to punish Triple H. A despondent Hunter losing clean to Benoit would then actually create a great reason for him, instead of Rikishi, to attempt to run over Steve Austin.
Triple H as a shamed, divorced non-champion and non-contender, deciding to take out his anguish on the company’s top star, could’ve easily made for much more compelling television than Triple H paying off Rikishi and playing on the big man’s not-so-hidden fears of anti-Samoan attitudes existing in WWE.
Ultimately, Triple H going so far off the deep end as to attempt vehicular manslaughter would have been a perfect set-up for his Wrestlemania X-7 match versus The Undertaker. ‘Taker coming back to avenge Stone Cold would add an element of intrigue to everything, as in the midst of the feud, the match could even take on an element of Undertaker feeling bad for Triple H, but still wanting to dish out punishment.
This would, in turn, have led to a post-Wrestlemania apology from Hunter and his ex-wife rewarding his admission of guilt with an Intercontinental title match against Chris Jericho, which could’ve done well to push Triple H as a babyface after his manic depressive heel run.
Triple H winning that match and then rolling the dice by teaming with the man he attempted to kill, Steve Austin, to win the tag titles could’ve been a truly amazing moment. Couple that with his quadricep tear occurring in real life, and Triple H taking a year off on top of the world after such an intense run, would’ve been something truly special.
Also, imagine that Triple H’s return in 2002 was coupled with the debut of the New World Order, an nWo that would’ve featured Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and the new boss of the faction, Triple H.
Triple H could then have cut a promo and saying that, like Hogan was “IMMORTAL,” he was THE GAME. Triple H winning the Rumble, and then, as a heel, beating his ex-wife’s babyface hero Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship on the same show that also would’ve featured The Rock vs. Hogan, would’ve been epic.
As well, Angle and Hunter was probably one of the few match combinations available in WWE in 2002 that could’ve received a response from the crowd, following Rocky and Hollywood Hulk’s epic encounter.
Triple H being paired with the nWo could’ve been fascinating, in the sense that bringing back Shawn Michaels as the ultimate foil to their plans of WWE domination, could’ve spawned an even more compelling feud between the two.
Triple H and Shawn beating each other for the title, as well as the multiple permutations of Hogan vs. Michaels, Hogan and Hunter vs. Michaels and say anyone, or Hall being put in matches with Michaels a decade after their legendary ladder matches could’ve been big draws for the company.
All of this building up to a Survivor Series match in 2002, wherein Triple H and the nWo’s existence in WWE would be on the line versus Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair creating the Evolution stable with Randy Orton, Batista and himself with Shawn Michaels added on for one night as the team’s captain would have been a drawing Survivor Series match in the same vein as the Invasion’s WWF versus Alliance match.
Once the nWo would break up after losing in the Survivor Series, Triple H turning babyface to wrestle Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania XX would’ve been an ideal match for Madison Square Garden. Two of the company’s biggest draws in a building that changed both of their careers forever.
Triple H winning and the next night celebrating by re-forming Degeneration X for “one final ride” would’ve been an easy way to prepare a then once-injured and still able-to-major league draw Triple H, a great run in the spotlight. This DX being more of The Kliq with Shawn Michaels, Hunter, Hall, Nash, and X-Pac could’ve easily been the perfect swan song for Triple H.
Hunter ending his career in 2005 at Wrestlemania 21 as the World Champion having to face, say, Brock Lesnar in a title versus career match would’ve been epic. Given that you’re not expecting long-term service out of the rest of the members of DX, the idea that Lesnar could injure and retire Hall, Nash, X-Pac, and Shawn Michaels in the build to his Mania match with Triple H would add intrigue.
Hunter then losing to the ascendant “beast incarnate” would’ve been a moment likely on par with, but different than the retirement of Ric Flair.
Yes, it’s hard to imagine a world where Triple H and Stephanie McMahon never married. However, if you really sit down and think about what that world could’ve potentially been, it’s amazing.
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