In the years since his professional wrestling debut at the tender age of 22, Triple H has amassed quite the career. He’s a future first-ballot WWE Hall of Famer, he’s being groomed to take over the reins from Vincent Kennedy McMahon whenever that day should come, and despite his rare in-ring capacity these days, his popularity among fans both old and new doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
For a man like Triple H to create a legacy like the one he’s woven – through years of hardship in the undercard in his early days with the company, to becoming one of the most recognizable names in the history of the industry – it’s naturally going to come with its fair share of reputations.
In Triple H’s case, he’s become known through the years for his tendency to bury his fellow WWE Superstars. Notable cases include Scott Steiner, Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, Booker T and Goldberg, with CM Punk and Sting rounding off the list as his latest victims.
In recent years – as we’ve seen with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns – Triple H seems to be more interested in pushing the future generation than getting himself over. But as his career continues to wind down, it would come as no shock to see Triple H return to his old ways, to bury an upcoming talent and go out on a high note himself before he hangs up his boots.
Who could find themselves at the mercy of “The King of Kings,” you might ask? Well, let’s find out.
15. Elias Samson
Given how aggressive Triple H appeared during his most recent run, displaying a no-nonsense attitude and becoming fed up with certain aspects of Monday Night Raw, namely Mick Foley, a brief run-in between Triple H and Elias Samson could actually happen at some stage.
Don’t go too overboard and think of a full-blown rivalry or even a match here though, he’s not going to be that lucky. “The Drifter” stands out like a sore thumb as someone who could very easily be utilized by Triple H to make an example out of – for whoever it is he’s feuding with at the given time.
We’ve seen Triple H destroy the likes of Damien Sandow and Zack Ryder in the past to show that he’s still “The Cerebral Assassin”, whether that be on-air or in a dark segment, and Elias Samson’s character fits the parameters of someone he would have no problem burying at a moment’s notice.
14. Bobby Roode
Ever since his TNA days, Bobby Roode has been likened to a young Triple H, with similar psychology, personality and in-ring technique, boasting a mutual fondness for moves like the spinebuster, and a shared tendency to dial their entrances up a notch for big events.
It’s not every day that these kinds of parallels get drawn in such an organic way in WWE, and the dynamic here would surely be an intriguing one as Triple H starts to slow his in-ring career down while Roode just gets things started with his, at least within WWE.
It would seem counter-productive to build Bobby Roode up for so long only to lose to Triple H, but it’s hard to imagine “The Game” putting over someone that’s been compared to him for so long.
13. Shinsuke Nakamura
It’s not a match that destiny calls for, it’s not a match that’s really been foreshadowed up to this point, but Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Triple H is a match that just sounds right.
It’s a classic past-meets-present dream match that would put two extremely contrasting styles on display under the WWE umbrella, with Triple H’s sports entertainment-based skills meeting the ultimate match in Shinsuke’s strong style kicks and strikes. The concept was made ever-more mouth-watering last year when Triple H spoke openly about his fondness for Nakamura and how he’d be one of the guys Triple H would love to face if he ever reopened his career on a full-time basis.
Nakamura would have to be careful though. Triple H has always been known for his enormous ego, and it would come as quite the shock if he’d allow “The King of Kings” to be ousted by “The King of Strong Style” – even if it meant maintaining a main roster undefeated streak.
Despite his consistently solid performances, and his ability to make any booking work for him, it would be wishful thinking to hope for a push for Cesaro in the near future. Never say never, but it’s long been said that the man’s lacking mic skills will always hinder him from becoming a top guy.
That is, however, until WWE finds a use for him that supersedes his apparent lack of charisma.
Cesaro’s struggles with the higher-ups in WWE have been well-documented over the years – with Vince McMahon even going on to talk about him on Steve Austin’s WWE Network special in 2015 – so if the company thinks they can weave a Daniel Bryan-esque narrative out of that with Cesaro challenging the decision-makers within WWE, it certainly wouldn’t be out of the question.
McMahon is at the stage where he’s unlikely to take such a hands-on role in a rivalry, so the alternative is the man being groomed to take over when Vince steps aside; Triple H. It’s a feud that would make or break Cesaro’s career, as a win over a bona fide legend would set him for life.
But if the story shared any similarities to that of CM Punk’s in 2011, Cesaro’s rage against the machine could easily be nipped in the bud with one loss to “The Game” on pay-per-view, to turn his breakthrough into a breakdown. Thus proving in Triple H’s mind that “the man” was right all along.
Rusev’s main event push seems to have gone up in smoke before it ever really got started.
A little while after “The Bulgarian Brute” was traded to SmackDown Live as part of the Superstar Shake-Up, Rusev used social media to tout his disdain for management and how he had no intentions of showing up until he received a WWE Championship match at Money in the Bank.
With Jinder Mahal now set to defend against Randy Orton at that event, the plot of Rusev’s return seems to have gone down the tubes with “The Maharaja” instead emerging as the unlikely champion. It looks like his storyline has been dropped altogether, which doesn’t bode well for Rusev.
This was the first time in a while where Rusev looked primed and ready for a big-time push, but now that the decision-makers – Triple H being one of them – have changed their minds, he could very easily dip back into obscurity as he struggles to get over on Tuesday nights.
A complete 180 on WWE’s behalf makes Rusev look like all talk with no substance, and it could result in him being jobbed out when he comes back. Perhaps the only man on this list who doesn’t need to come into conflict with Triple H to get buried by him, Rusev is perhaps also the most tragic.
10. Dean Ambrose
Although Triple H already defeated Dean Ambrose one-on-one at Roadblock last year – in a match that actually made “The Lunatic Fringe” look like a million bucks – the two have yet to engage in a lengthy rivalry marketed towards a big-time pay-per-view. It almost seems like Ambrose is being snubbed in a way, since he’s the only member of The Shield not to face Triple H at WrestleMania.
With Ambrose having taken a dip in the card since winning the Intercontinental Championship, a renewed rivalry with his old adversary might be in order to boost his stock back to where it was.
The problem here is that despite being WWE’s MVP of 2016, Dean Ambrose seemingly isn’t looked upon with such high regard as his former Shield brethren. His absence from the main WrestleMania card this year shows just how much of a draw Ambrose is in the company’s eyes, and if that’s the case, any attempt to boost him up again could end with the rug being pulled from under him.
9. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
It’s been rumored for a while now that Triple H will at some point go head-to-head with Finn Bálor. We’ll get to that particular rivalry a little later on, but depending on when it actually happens, the former leader of Evolution could have much more on his hands than just “The Demon King”.
Eventually, Bálor Club is sure to become more than just a concept, as the eponymous front-man of the movement could enlist the help of his old friends Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to aid him to become the biggest name on Raw. Though this would theoretically do all three men a big favor, if Bálor got into it with Triple H then Anderson and Gallows would probably eat a lot of beatings.
Think back to last year’s feud between AJ Styles and John Cena, where Anderson and Gallows essentially had their debut run squandered by their constant losses to Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass. That’s the kind of thing they’d be looking at once again in this scenario, and just like their handicap loss to Roman Reigns earlier this year, it would end with them looking like jokes.
8. The Miz
As of yet, The Miz and Triple H don’t really have any conflicting interests.
They haven’t exactly interacted a lot over the last few years, but whenever Triple H does come back to Monday Night Raw as an authority figure, he could find himself with a problem in “The A-Lister.”
The Miz spent the majority of his time on SmackDown Live ridiculing management, putting down Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon for their unfavorable treatment of the then-Intercontinental Champion. He became one of the hottest topics as a result of his verbal jabs on Talking Smack.
The difference between Daniel Bryan and Triple H, however, is that “The Game” isn’t being held back from competition by WWE’s medical staff. He may have suggested that physical conflict was a bad idea from a business standpoint in the past, but if a worker steps out of line and tries to bite the hand that feeds him, Triple H’s business suit isn’t going to hinder him from dishing out a beating.
As of now, there’s no reason for them to have any animosity between them, but if The Miz continues to be screwed over by, in his words, corrupt referees and the like, then he might have some words for the way Monday Night Raw is being run. And you just know Triple H won’t be happy about that.
7. Kurt Angle
This rivalry writes itself, considering Kurt Angle stepped in as the leading authority figure on Raw the night after Triple and Stephanie McMahon left WrestleMania 33 licking their wounds.
Angle being the fan favorite returning home to WWE after so many years away, a mainstay like Triple H may not take too kindly to someone coming in after such a lengthy hiatus and calling the shots – from a kayfabe perspective, that is. His treatment of Mick Foley was a telling tale of how he saw the “lovable veteran “ authority gimmick, and while Angle may not be quite as old or as damaged physically as Foley, the same line of reasoning could be used here.
It’s also worth noting that the last several of Triple H’s matches have seen losses to upcoming talents. Someone as proud as “The Game” could notice this and think a win is in order to keep his legacy in check, and it might not come with as much backlash over a legend as it would over a rising star.
6. Sami Zayn
If Cesaro’s mic skills aren’t enough for WWE to take a risk on, the company could very easily slot someone like Sami Zayn into the underdog role in a story akin to that of Daniel Bryan in 2014.
The fact that he pinned Kevin Owens cleanly in 2016 – much like he did with Baron Corbin at Backlash – yet still didn’t find himself on the main line-ups for SummerSlam or WrestleMania 33 are already a telling tale of Sami’s lack of priority in WWE’s collective mind.
One guy in particular that Zayn had issues with on Raw was his own hero; Mick Foley.
Foley saw something in Zayn, but although he held him back in situations involving Braun Strowman, he still encouraged Sami and eventually allowed him to fight his own fights. That was, however, until Triple H ousted Foley as Raw General Manager and humiliated him on live television.
It was a random one-off renewal of a long-time rivalry, but it could easily be renewed for a full story with Zayn representing “Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy.” The only problem with recreating a Daniel Bryan-esque rise to the top once again, however, is the track record when it comes to doing so in the past.
CM Punk left the company just two years after the push that made him an international star, and Daniel Bryan himself suffered a barrage of bad luck when it came to injuries after his rise to stardom. In order to prevent this from happening again, it wouldn’t be too big of a surprise to have Triple H go over – even if it undoes the work put in to make Zayn a formidable adversary to “The King of Kings”.
5. Bray Wyatt
We haven’t seen a huge amount of interaction between Bray Wyatt and Triple H in the past – save for a few moments when Triple H and Stephanie’s reign of tyranny was in full effect. Despite that, a story between Wyatt and Triple H seems like a mouth-watering prospect.
Recently, Triple H has been known to call himself “The Creator”, boasting great pride in all that he’s done during his time as a top executive – NXT, UK Championship, Cruiserweight Classic, what have you. He has settled nicely into his role, and it makes for quite the antithesis to someone like Wyatt.
Wyatt often likens himself to some form of deity, calling himself “The Eater of Worlds” and “The Man of 1000 Truths”, stepping away from the pack as a somewhat apocalyptic cult leader who doesn’t stand for anything that “the machine” does. He couldn’t be more isolated from business if he tried, and that kind of mindset would surely prompt “The Game” to show him who’s boss.
On top of that, Triple H fits the bill for the kind of man Bray Wyatt would go toe-to-toe with at WrestleMania. He’s faced off against huge names like John Cena, The Undertaker, The Rock and Randy Orton at the Showcase of the Immortals, and although he carried the bulk of those build-ups and angles, he was made to look like a fool in defeat every single time. Expect a similar story should Triple H and Wyatt ever lock up at the biggest event on the wrestling calendar.
4. Shane McMahon
It’s easy to forget sometimes that the biggest overlying rivalry in WWE right now is Raw vs. SmackDown Live – more specifically, Stephanie McMahon vs. Shane McMahon. The brand extension was initiated as a way for Vince to pit his children against one another, in a bid to find out who had the best business sense – and who could potentially take over when his time on top is over.
With Survivor Series being the last time they interacted, it’s not hard to forget that, but movements like Vince introducing the “Superstar Shake-Up” are all just ways to further challenge his progeny.
Eventually, and we don’t know how soon, this is bound to culminate in one commissioner being dubbed the winner. If that comes with the complete power of both Raw and SmackDown Live remains to be seen, but it does appear to be the way that things are being set up.
When that time comes, it would make sense for this dispute to be settled in the ring, with Triple H taking on his brother-in-law in a blood feud with power over WWE hanging in the balance.
The result here is self-explanatory. Triple H has been groomed to take over for a long time, and Shane only reared his head once again last year, so despite being the only son of the chairman, this match is bound to end with Triple H standing over the golden boy with the entire WWE in his hands.
3. Kevin Owens
The coalition between Triple H and Kevin Owens last August, with which “The Cerebral Assassin” aided Owens to become the second WWE Universal Champion, has yet to be explained to this day.
We know Triple H was finished his alliance with Seth Rollins, since they had a feud over it for the first few months of the year, culminating in a clash at WrestleMania 33. But why Triple H hand-picked Kevin Owens to be “the guy”, we’ve yet to find out, and it may never be addressed.
Whatever the reason is, it didn’t seem to pan out when Owens fell victim to Goldberg at WWE Fastlane, ending a relatively disappointing run as champion with an even more disappointing burial of its own, after Goldberg finished “The Prizefighter” off with just one spear and one jackhammer.
It was suggested for a while that maybe Triple H was enlisting Owens, Samoa Joe and anyone else – some even suggested Pete Dunne as the third recruit – to form a modern day Evolution, but the Superstar Shake-Up has likely derailed those plans, at least until further notice.
The fact remains, however, that Owens and Triple H’s solidarity was quite short-lived and still needs to be explained, and should this situation ever be rectified with a rivalry between the two over Owens’ failure to get the job done as champion, it could easily end with Owens looking even worse for wear than he did at Fastlane – should “The Game” look to show him how it’s done.
2. Samoa Joe
Around the same time that Triple H adopted the moniker of “The Creator,” was when he introduced Samoa Joe to the main WWE roster. Joe became the yang to Triple H’s yin, a “Destroyer” enlisted personally to eradicate any of Triple H’s past creations that had gone rogue; namely, Seth Rollins.
It could be argued that Samoa Joe and Triple H already have reason to be at each other’s throats considering the former’s lack of ability to finish the job before the Showcase of the Immortals. He was also nowhere to be found at said event, despite the unsanctioned match concept perfectly calling for an outsider like Samoa Joe to make a run-in on Triple H’s behalf.
The aforementioned stable concept with Triple H leading a band of Kevin Owens, Joe and another rising talent also seems like a pipe dream when you consider how little of an effect Joe has had beyond injuring Seth Rollins. He’s found himself as more of a background character to the main event scene, making little impact despite carrying himself as a worthy headliner.
It could definitely be said that Joe is underachieving, and a feud with “The Game” would ideally act as a catalyst for Joe’s surge in popularity. The key word here, of course, is “ideally”. As, in a Creator vs. Destroyer rivalry, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Triple H to make short work of his newest acquisition in a bid to prove that he didn’t need someone doing his dirty work after all.
1. Finn Bálor
Triple H is virtually guaranteed to lock up with Finn Bálor at some point, and if you keep up-to-date with the rumor mills you’ll know it could happen as early as SummerSlam in August.
In bringing Bálor in to be the face of NXT in 2014, it could be said that Triple H hand-picked the Irish sensation to be his “next big thing” in WWE. Triple H clearly has an eye for talent, and its proven fruitful considering Bálor’s accomplishments as the longest-reigning NXT Champion and the first-ever WWE Universal Champion in history in such a short period with the company.
Triple H’s project has been a rousing success up to this point, but that could all come to a screeching halt very soon. Bálor has been heavily talked about as someone that could take on Brock Lesnar for the title, and should that match come to fruition, it could end very badly for Bálor.
A Brock Lesnar-Finn Bálor match could very easily go down the same route as Lesnar’s match with Seth Rollins at Battleground in 2015, with Lesnar immediately putting his opponent on the mat and essentially making child’s play out of the match until the finish.
Should this happen, essentially proving that WWE has moved on from Bálor as the aforementioned “next big thing”, a Triple H win in the inevitable Bálor-Triple H match seems much more likely.
With Lesnar taking the brunt of fan negativity over burying Bálor live on pay-per-view, it means Triple H could do the same at SummerSlam to try and regain some integrity after consecutive big-match losses to Reigns and Rollins, and it won’t shine as harsh of a light on “The King of Kings.”
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