Paul Michael Levesque, better known as Triple H, is one of the most controversial figures in the history of pro wrestling. Not long after debuting in the WWE in 1995, Triple H, then known as the Connecticut blue blood Hunter Hearst Helmsley, quickly found himself ruling the mid-card. After his involvement in the infamous "curtain call" at Madison Square Garden, Vince McMahon decided to give Trips all of the heat. Helmsley lost his planned spot at the King of the Ring in 1996, but other than that, the Nashua, New Hampshire native went into 1997 with some momentum.
Since that fateful year, Triple H has been one of the leading figures in the entire WWE universe. From D-Generation X to the Corporation and Evolution, "The Game" has always managed to find himself in the main event. Just last year, at 2016's Royal Rumble, the 46-year-old wrestler ended the night as the new WWE champion.
Of course, when you have such prolonged success, you're bound to get some flack. Triple H has a closet full of skeletons, including some rather infamous "burials" that occurred either on television or behind-the-scenes. Although he's enjoying a newfound appreciation among the fans for his work in NXT (specifically his grooming of notable of indie veterans), Triple H will always be synonymous with backstage politics.
15 Groomed: Kevin Owens
Prior to joining the WWE, Kevin Steen was one of the most beloved and highly-praised indie wrestlers in the world. Former Ring of Honor booker Jim Cornette aside, most people considered Steen a man worthy of a main event push in the WWE. Triple H obviously agreed with these sentiments.
After he signed a contract with WWE in 2014, Steen, repackaged as Kevin Owens, quickly found himself pushed to the top of the developmental territory. At NXT's TakeOver: R Evolution, Owens attacked the brand new champion Sami Zayn in order to set up a feud between the two. Owens would eventually capture the NXT Championship and thereafter begin an amazing feud with the then U.S. champion John Cena.
According to the internet, there are those behind-the-scenes who are not too high on Owens because of his physique and his ring attire. However, with Triple H and Chris Jericho in his corner, Owens has proven that he can hold his own as the premiere superstar on RAW.
14 Buried: Scott Steiner
It is rightfully considered one of the worst feuds of all time. At the Survivor Series in 2002, "Big Poppa Pump" debuted to a raucous ovation. Madison Square Garden came unglued when Steiner's trademark police sirens hit. At that moment, it looked like WWE was on the verge of pushing Steiner as a main event babyface.
Things went drastically south in early 2003. At that time, Steiner became embroiled in a feud with Triple H. The pair fought each other over the World Heavyweight Championship at two different pay-per-views. Steiner not only failed to win the title, but, according to former WWE on-air personality Kevin Kelly , Triple H intentionally "sandbagged" the matches in order to ruin Steiner's run in the company. Kelly believes that Triple H's inflated ego caused him to sabotage Steiner's push. Steiner has said nothing but horrible things about Triple H in numerous shoot interviews.
13 Groomed: Sheamus
Many have claimed that Triple H actually buried Sheamus during their feud in 2010. While Sheamus should have won the match between the two at WrestleMania XXVI, Triple H has done nothing but support and groom the tall, pasty Irishman. Indeed, way back in 2009, the internet caught wind of the fact that Sheamus and "The Game" were workout partners. Accusations of nepotism soon abounded when the somewhat green Sheamus began capturing WWE titles left and right.
These days, Sheamus and Triple H do not interact much on TV. However, it is no secret that the COO is a fan of the "Celtic Warrior." During the terrible League of Nations angle, Triple H frequently used Sheamus to beat down Roman Reigns. Furthermore, it is very likely that Triple H was in favor of Sheamus's unpopular, yet thankfully brief title run in late 2015.
12 Buried: Zack Ryder
This burial was not only cruel, but also pointless. 2011 proved to be the apex of Zack Ryder's popularity in the WWE. In that year Ryder went from being an underutilized worker to an internet darling thanks to his own YouTube show called Z! True Long Island Story. Soon enough, WWE fans from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine would chant Ryder's name or yell his trademark "Woo, woo" chant. At that year's TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs event, Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler and became the U.S. champion.
As quick as his rise to prominence was, Ryder's fall was even more precipitous. Triple H gave a glimpse into the feelings of the company's creative team when, on an episode of RAW, he hit Ryder with the Pedigree after posing for a group photo. Tellingly, the promo that Ryder cut right before his burial included a dig about how his YouTube show was more popular than the WWE's entire YouTube channel. Ryder was more or less punished by Stamford because he got himself over with the crowd without their help or approval.
11 Groomed: Sami Zayn
Like his longtime friend Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn was a well-known name on the independent circuit for years. Therefore, Triple H did not groom Sami Zayn so much as he gave numerous "rubs" to the Montreal native. Triple H sung Zayn's praises on camera following the conclusion of the excellent Zayn-Cesaro rivalry at NXT Arrival. While working under Triple H in developmental, Zayn became arguably the biggest babyface in the entire company. He not only captured the NXT title, but he was also part of several spectacular matches with the likes of Kevin Owens, Neville, and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Sami Zayn's time on the main roster has been less than stellar, however. Now beholden to the power of Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Kevin Dunn, and the creative team, Zayn has mostly floundered besides a few exceptions. He's being better utilized now, but Zayn's current standing on RAW is nothing compared to his glory days in NXT.
10 Buried: Booker T
For some silly reason, the WWE still seems bitter about the fact that World Championship Wrestling was once more popular. For 83 straight weeks between 1996 and 1998, WCW's Monday Night Nitro bested the WWE's RAW Is War. Known as the "Monday Night Wars," this battle between the two companies was great for both business and the fans. Competition drove both to work harder and be more creative. These days, without serious competition in North America, the WWE has grown complacent.
Once the WWE purchased WCW from Turner Broadcasting, they quickly set about discrediting their former rivals. Although he is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame now, former WCW world champion Booker T was not exactly treated well following his debut for the company in 2001. Famously, The Rock pretended not to know who he was during the early days of the "Invasion" angle. Even worse was the feud between Triple H and Booker T. In the lead up to their match at WrestleMania XIX, Triple H not only disparaged Booker T's past accomplishments in WCW, but he also claimed that Booker T was only fit to "dance" and "entertain" people like himself. Triple H made matters worse at WrestleMania XIX by taking forever to cover Booker T for the win, thereby making his opponent look exceptionally weak.
9 Groomed: Randy Orton
As with Sheamus, there have been times when Triple H played a part in halting Randy Orton's momentum. However, compared to everything that "The Game" has done for Orton's career, these brief hiccups are the very definition of minor.
Along with Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista, Randy Orton was one of the founding members of the Evolution faction. Between 2002 and 2004, Orton and the rest of Evolution ruled RAW and were part of pretty much every meaningful storyline in the company. As the "Legend Killer," Orton also defeated some of the biggest names in the company. At SummerSlam in 2004, Orton became the youngest WWE champion ever when he beat Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship. The fact that Orton is still part of the main event scene in 2017 says a lot about his pull behind-the-scenes. Although a genuinely great wrestler, Orton has benefitted greatly from the fact that Triple H has been both his mentor and biggest supporter over the years.
8 Buried: Sting
It is one of the worst and most nonsensical booking decisions of all time. Because of their stupid vendetta against WCW, the WWE took what could have been one of the greatest moments in the history of WrestleMania and turned it into a frustrating head-scratcher. For fourteen years, Sting, the franchise player of WCW, remained the lone holdout who refused to sign with Vince McMahon's company. When he finally made his debut at the 2014 installment of the Survivor Series, WWE fans erupted in a simultaneously expression of pure joy.
Any hopes of a sustained push for "The Icon" were dashed at WrestleMania 31. While the match between Sting and Triple H was nostalgic fun, it nevertheless utterly buried one of the greatest wrestlers of all time for no good reason. Besides having the nWo fight D-Generation X on behalf of Sting (a decision that defied logic considering that the nWo and Sting were mortal enemies between 1996 and 1998), the WWE's decision to have Triple H win did nothing for either man. The company made matters even worse by having a fresh-looking Triple H appear only minutes later in order to cut a promo about how WWE had yet again defeated WCW.
7 Groomed: Batista
Without help from Triple H and Ric Flair, Batista would have just been another bland big guy. Because he was part of Evolution, Batista found himself in the main event scene not long after his main roster debut. Soon enough, Batista captured the World Heavyweight Championship and other laurels like the WWE Championship and World Tag Team Championship. Like Randy Orton before him, Batista used a feud with Triple H as a springboard towards even greater success.
In 2014, Triple H's deep nepotism was put on full display when Batista, who returned to the WWE after a long absence, won the Royal Rumble. Even though this decision was greeted with a thunderous chorus of boos, the company went ahead with plans to have Batista wrestle in the main event of WrestleMania XXX against Orton. If not for the relentless objections of the fans, it is likely that Triple H would have gotten his way and Batista and Orton would've closed the show in New Orleans.
6 Buried: Rob Van Dam
Paul London spilled the beans about this backstage feud during a rather infamous shoot interview. According to London, Triple H's envy of RVD's popularity and his in-ring prowess caused "The Game" to badmouth "Mr. Monday Night" backstage. On TV, the pair's short-lived feud predictably ended with Triple H besting RVD on several different occasions.
To be fair, Triple H wasn't the only person that held RVD down during the early 2000s. Despite being one of the most popular wrestlers in the entire company, the WWE brass refused to give RVD the Undisputed Championship in 2002. After spending years on the mid-card as either a tag team specialist or the Intercontinental champion, RVD finally won the WWE Championship in 2006. However, because he was caught with pot by the Ohio State Police, the WWE punished RVD by having him quickly drop both the WWE and ECW titles.
According to Van Dam himself, Triple H's backstage politicking and attitude contributed to his decision to leave the company in 2007.
5 Groomed: Sasha Banks
One of the more persistent rumors on the internet claims that Vince McMahon is not a fan of "The Boss." Specifically, many believe that McMahon sees Banks as injury-prone and too small. This might explain why none of Banks' reigns as the WWE Raw Women's champion lasted more than 27 days. This also might explain why Banks now finds herself on the lower mid-card of the division.
If McMahon is Banks' biggest hater, then Triple H is undoubtably her biggest supporter. During her time in NXT, Banks pretty much ran the show. Her series of matches with Bayley were not only praised by pretty much every media outlet in existence, but they also had a hand in forcing the WWE to reconsider their entire approach to women's wrestling. As seen on various WWE documentaries, Banks and Triple H are close friends behind-the-scenes, with "The Game" often playing the role of mentor.
4 Buried: Chyna
This is probably the burial that Triple H regrets the most. Although they both trained at Killer Kowalski's wrestling school in Malden, Massachusetts, Chyna and Triple H did not meet until 1996. Following this fortuitous encounter, Triple H pitched the idea of using the large and physically impressive Chyna as his bodyguard. This decision, which was designed to generate even more heat for the snobby Hunter Hearst Helmsley, eventually led to the creation of D-Generation X.
Throughout the entire Attitude Era, Chyna and Triple H made an imposing team on the screen. Away from the camera, the pair were a romantic couple. This all changed when "The Game" began seeing Stephanie McMahon. According to Chyna, this relationship began as an affair and played a role in her dismissal from the company in 2001. Although others have disputed these claims, it is certainly true that until Chyna's unfortunate death in 2016, the WWE wanted nothing to do with her. Triple H himself implied that Chyna's career in adult films is the reason why she is currently not in the WWE Hall of Fame.
3 Groomed: Bayley
Similar to Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch, Triple H seems to have a soft spot for the perennially upbeat Bayley. In NXT, Triple H had a hand in shaping Bayley into a crowd favorite. Although an extremely white meat babyface with subpar mic skills, Bayley may be the most popular female wrestler in the world right now.
That being said, ever since her debut on the main roster, some of the glow surrounding Bayley has faded. While some of this is due to Bayley's aforementioned mic skills (or lack thereof), the creative team hasn't done "The Hugger" any favors. Not only was Bayley's push delayed for too long, but her current feud with Charlotte Flair noticeably lacks the excitement and buzz of Flair's previous feud with Sasha Banks. It is likely that Triple H's fondness for Bayley is not shared by Vince McMahon.
2 Buried: CM Punk
Although he's proven himself to be a monumental jerk who is capable of destroying a decades-long friendship because of a court case that he caused, CM Punk's negative comments about Triple H seem to contain plenty of truth. On Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast, CM Punk claimed that Triple H not only talked down to him in meetings, but also used his backstage pull to stop the "Summer of Punk" in 2011 before it could really take off.
In response to Punk's comments, Triple H told "Stone Cold" Steve Austin that he had no personal heat with Punk. However, in the same interview, Triple H also claimed that he did not know who Punk was when the "Straight Edge Superstar" moved up to the main roster from Ohio Valley Wrestling. Other wrestlers, most notably Tyler Reks, have supported Punk's comments and have further claimed that Triple H and Shawn Michaels buried Punk backstage during Punk's earliest days with the company.
1 Groomed: Finn Balor
Triple H did not make Finn Balor. Balor, who wrestled for years in Japan as Prince Devitt, had already conquered the indies and NJPW by the time he signed with the WWE. Soon thereafter, Balor not only won the NXT Championship, but held the belt for a record 293 days. On his very first night on the main roster, Balor became the number contender for the new WWE Universal Championship. Balor would later win the belt at SummerSlam, but was ultimately forced to vacate the title one day later because of a shoulder injury.
Triple H's contribution to Balor's success has been substantial, however. Essentially, as the head of NXT, Triple H played a big role in making the undersized Balor look like a serious threat to any WWE wrestler. Realizing that the Irishman has a natural charisma and an excellent gimmick, Triple H pushed Balor to the moon and beyond. If the WWE is smart, they'll follow Triple H's lead and make Balor a main event star whenever he returns to the squared circle.