Most are not born a CEO, a chairman, a president or the founder of the next great group of an organization. The same can be said of the current King of Kings, Triple H, who had to battle his way to the top of WWE prominence. While he now wields considerable control in the company that “made him,” there was a time when his career stalled, when few gave him a chance, and when he feuded with guys like Alex Wright. Um, who?
Paul Leveque’s (i.e., Triple H) most important characteristics may be that he is consistent and opportunistic. When the WCW denied his wish to be pushed as a singles competitor, he signed with the WWE. While he first struggled to stand out as the snobby French aristocrat that he once played in the WCW, he eventually met a clique of wrestling friends who helped him transform into a nightmare for opponents. Sure, maybe his wrestling character hasn’t always been consistent. But his ability to recover, adapt and push forward is a rare quality in professional wrestlers.
Arguably Triple H may be one of the WWE’s greatest heels of all time. I might even argue, the greatest. His mic skills are foolproof and his tongue sharp and witty. Unlike other opponents who feel gimmicky, Triple H’s character feels authentic. He helped usher in the Attitude Era not only because of his personality and feuds with top good guys, but also because he worked hard at his craft. Love him or hate him, you have to respect Triple H, and in the end, is it better to feared or loved…or respected?
10. Triple H is a New England Native
The now massive—physique and entertainment wise—superstar was once a tall, skinny kid out of New England who had an eye on professional wrestling. The New England region has been kind to WWE superstars. John Cena was born in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Damien Sandow in Worcester, Massachusetts and Spike Dudley in Rhode Island. Triple H hails from Nashua, New Hampshire.
At the age of 14, Triple H accepted a one-week free membership to a local gym. In the years to come he’d develop his build and win a number of body-building competitions including Teen Mr. New Hampshire at 19 years old. He would also train at legendary wrestler Walter ‘Killer Kowalski’s training school in Malden, Massachusetts.
Interestingly enough, Triple H dated another New Hampshire native, Joanie Laurer, better known as the WWE personality Chyna before parting ways in the early 2000s.
9. Terra Ryzing is Born
Who could have guessed Triple H, then known as Terra Ryzing, would become a 13-time WWE World Champion and form some of the most notorious wrestling groups in wrestling history? Let’s be honest, absolutely no one.
On February 4th, 1994 the WCW awarded Terra Ryzing a tryout match in Atlanta with Keith Cole. While he beat Cole, it was clear from the moment Ryzing walked down the ramp, he’d have to work hard to earn the businesses’ respect. Instead of reading Terra Ryzing, as it should have, his entrance card mistakenly read Terror Rising. Prior to Triple H making his mark in the wrestling industry, he was a billed as a mid to low-card wrestler whose main opponents included Larry Zbysko, Alex Wright, Bob Holly, Fatu—before he became Rikish—and Duke “The Dumpster” Droese.
8. Triple H is the WWE’s Toughest S.O.B
Is this a bold statement or the truth? On a May 21st, 2001 episode of RAW, Triple H suffered a debilitating injury, which almost cost him his career. In a tag-team match between himself and Stone Cold versus Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, Triple H tried to break up Jericho’s Walls-of-Jericho, but tore his left quadriceps muscle completely off the bone. He not only finished the match, but let Jericho put him in the Walls-of-Jericho on the announce table.
In a 2002 Survivor Series Match, Triple H severally injured his throat after Rob Van Dam landed awkwardly on it. However, “The Game” continued the match as planned. He outlasted every superstar, but Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship. Although scary, Triple H was back in the ring in a little over a week.
In 2007, Triple H also tore his right quadriceps as he attempted to give Randy Orton a spine buster on the New Year’s Revolution Pay Per View.
He has come back from each injury and always in record time.
7. The Cerebral Assassin Founded Powerful Groups
Triple H’s progression to wrestling prominence was lethargic. In WCW his career stalled, and he later left for the WWE when the WCW denied his request to be pushed in singles competition.
While in the WWE, Triple H kept with his same snobby French gimmick as Connecticut Blueblood, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, until he began to form powerful friendships behind the scenes. Eventually these friendships formed a clique, later known as The Kliq, and their supposed influence over the creative direction of their characters, as well as others, became legendary.
When the Kliq disbanded—members Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left for WCW—the remaining WWE members eventually founded D-Generation X, a powerful group that would help define the WWE’s Attitude Era. The two groups propelled its members to greatness and pushed their companies into the Monday Night Wars.
In later years, Triple H fronted the group Evolution, which represented “the past, present and future of the WWE…” In more recent times, he’s headed a group called The Authority.
6. A Hug Cost The Game a Win at the King of the Ring
Triple H lost the match before it could ever get started. Prior to the 1996 King of the Ring, the WWE planned to give Triple H a massive push, however, he stunted his rise because he gave his best friends a simple farewell hug on a live broadcast.
Before Evolution and D-Generation X existed a group called the Kliq, a group of wrestlers who some believed had considerable power even outside the ring. The group consisted of Scott Hall, Paul Levesque (Triple H), Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman. Prior to Nash and Hall departing the WWE, they squared off against Michaels and Triple H respectively. When both matches ended, the group gave one last “Curtain Call” in the middle of the ring at House Show in Madison Square Garden.
It’s been said that Vince McMahon was not initially upset with the incident, but when other wrestlers protested, McMahon demoted Triple H in the 1996 King of the Ring and had him lose to Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the first round.
5. Triple H and Stone Cold Won Tag-Team Gold
There have been some strange tag-team champions over the years. Steve Austin and Dude Love won them on Raw Is War in 1997. Kane and X-Pac, whose unique friendship transformed the monster into a more human-like creature, held the belts high, as did Kane and Rob Van Dam. But the most unlikely of tag teams may have been Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Their alliance formed soon after Austin turned heel at WrestleMania 17. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Triple H and Austin attacked crowd favorites like The Rock, and the budding partnership between Triple H and Austin was later dubbed “The Power Trip.”
Interestingly enough, the WWE had to split the duo almost as soon as they won the titles. During a title defense against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, Triple H tore his left quadriceps muscles, which kept him out for a year.
4. Patience and Hard Work Turned Into a WWE Championship
Triple H is an eight-time WWE Champion and a five-time World Heavyweight Champion, but he didn’t win his first WWE Championship until the August 23rd edition of RAW in 1999.
“This was the ultimate moment—finally reaching the pinnacle of the business,” said Triple H. His win wasn’t clean. Shane McMahon instated himself as the guest referee and hit Mankind with a steel chair to help Triple H win the title.
Triple H faced many obstacles prior to winning his first title. He battled his way to the top, first trading his French-aristocrat gimmick for DX green and black. However, to be taking seriously, he had to take himself seriously, and by the end of 1990s, he began to sport a cleaner look. Shorter hair, tapped wrists and different trunks, Triple H had remade himself into a more feared athlete.
3. Triple H is Not the COO of the WWE
In fact, Triple H is far from COO. However, because he married Stephanie McMahon, he can now control his character, as well as his win and loss record. He is officially the Executive Vice President (Talent, Live Events and Creative).
As part of a storyline in early 2011, Triple H returned to RAW and took over duties for Vince McMahon. In the coming weeks, Triple H booked a number of matches on air and took control over the direction of a number of wrestler’s fates, including his rivals.
In recent weeks, legitimate reports claim that tension exists between Triple H and McMahon over creative storylines. Ultimately, McMahon has and always will have final say, but his notorious habit of changing narratives at the last second has frustrated Triple H. Others who have been in Triple H’s position, like Jim Ross, have also stated the job is stressful.
2. Triple H Does Not Like The Rock
When Triple H hugged his fellow Kliq comrades following the group’s last hurrah together, McMahon initially let it slide. Yet, the incident actually discredited the WWE, which had always worked painstakingly hard to create a sense of kayfabe—the illusion that heels and fan favorites always hated each other. However, sometimes it is not an illusion. Some wrestlers really have problems with their colleagues.
During a radio interview with Greg and the Morning Buzz, Triple H talked at length about his relationship with The Rock.
“Rock and I have a unique relationship,” said Triple H, “and I think it’s unique to anybody else in the company, he and I were kind of like coming up at the exact same time…you know, listen, I was there, it was Rock and I that Vince came to and said, “Hey, I’d like you guys to sign with William Morris and think about going and making some movies in Hollywood.”
While The Rock jumped at the chance, Triple H turned down the offer and even felt slightly offended. “We had such a professional rivalry with each other…but yet there was always that like, no matter what he did, I was like, ‘Screw him, I’m doing something better than that.”
1. Triple H Had an Affair With Stephanie McMahon
Triple H and Chyna’s chemistry was also not an illusion. It was real. While they worked wonders in the ring together, the two grew a strong bond behind the scenes. Eventually their relationship helped elevate Triple H from wrestler to businessman, but cost Chyna her WWE career.
In various interviews, she recounted the relationship she had with Triple H and how the affair he had with Stephanie McMahon rocked everyone’s world. “If you didn’t know, Triple H and I were engaged during the time of the McMahon/Helmsley Takeover on Raw,” she wrote. As their relationship crumbled, Chyna recalled how Triple H would come home and start unusual arguments and then storm off. One night, she opened his brief case and found a love letter from Stephanie—he had been seeing her for over a year while still in a relationship with Chyna. However, to this day, Triple H remains certain his relationship with Stephanie began after he stopped dating Chyna.
Immediately after Chyna found the letter, she spoke to Vince who replied simply, “Well, the jig is up.” Chyna’s contract was about to end, which became an easy out for the eventual McMahon/Helmsley regime.
In any interesting storyline twist, there exists an awkward scene between Triple H and Chyna during an aired episode of Monday Night Raw. Per storyline, Triple H discussed his marital issues with Chyna who, at the time, was seeing Eddie Guerrero. Chyna responded, “You know, whatever you and Steph are going through, you’ll work it out. But you know, trust is a really big thing in a relationship. It means everything. Without it you have nothing.” Storyline or not, you could almost feel Triple H squirming in his seat.