Triple H has appeared at every WrestleMania, beginning with WrestleMani XII, with the exception of WrestleMania 23, as this was the one after his quad injury. In every one of his WrestleMania matches, Hunter faced an opponent who is or was destined for the WWE Hall of Fame, and some who have already received that honor. A rankings list with this level of talent is one that will spark a great deal of debate, as some will disagree with the placement of several of the names on the list.
Of Triple H’s 20 WrestleMania matches, 17 were one-on-one encounters, and Hunter faced a number of his opponents more than once. However, this is not a ranking of the matches, or even of the opponents. This list is a ranking of the careers of his WrestleMania opponents, so no matter how good or bad the matches were, or even the effect the matches had on wrestling history, all that matters is what the wrestlers did in the sport.
All but two of the opponents are former World Champions, and every one of them has had a highly decorated career. Therefore, this list features some of the greatest professional wrestlers in the last 20 years, along with the number of the WrestleMania where they faced Triple H.
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20 Goldust (WrestleMania 13)
Goldust is one of the two of Triple H’s WrestleMania opponents who has yet to win a World Championship in any of the companies in which he worked. Dustin Rhodes had the in-ring talent to be considered for a world title, and his pedigree from his father should have helped, but he never achieved that goal. However, despite never being a World Champion, Dustin is one of the most decorated wrestlers in the business.
Between WWE and WCW, Dustin is a six-time Tag Team Champion. In addition, he has three Intercontinental Championship reigns, and two reigns as United States Champion. Dustin also has nine Hardcore Championship reigns, and titles from various independent promotions, but in terms of the major companies, Dustin has held gold enough times to warrant Hall of Fame consideration. Unfortunately, there are 19 other wrestlers whose career achievements surpass Dustin’s, which is why he holds this position on the list.
19 Owen Hart (WrestleMania XIV)
Owen Hart is the other of the two opponents who did not win a World Championship, at least in WWE. Owen’s career achievements do, however, include a single, 14-day reign as the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship. However, the title reign came after both the AWA and World Class Championship Wrestling had stopped doing business with the USWA, so in some circles, the title was no longer considered a “world” title.
Regardless of that, Owen’s career saw him win top titles in every company in which he worked. He won the Stampede North American title twice and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title once. His match against Triple H at WrestleMania was for Owen’s European Championship, and at the time of his death, he was scheduled to win the IC title for the third time. Add to that the multiple Tag titles and the King of the Ring tournament that he won, and Owen’s career qualifies him for the WWE Hall of Fame, if the company can ever break through whatever is holding up Owen’s induction.
18 Sheamus (WrestleMania XXVI)
Sheamus is the first Irish-born WWE Champion, and won the title just 163 days after making his WWE debut, which was at the time the third shortest span of time between debut and a World title. Within three years, Sheamus was a three-time World Champion, had won the King of the Ring and the Royal Rumble, and had held the United States Championship on one occasion. However, Sheamus was just getting started.
Over the next three years, Sheamus won the Money in the Bank Contract, and cashed it in for his fourth World title. He also captured his second U.S. title during that span. More recently, Sheamus added a Tag title reign and does not seem to be slowing down. As his career continues, Sheamus could end up as one of the most decorated wrestlers ever, and if this list is ever revisited, his position could be higher than it is currently.
17 Big Show (WrestleMania 2000)
In his debut match in WCW, The Giant won the WCW World Championship from Hulk Hogan. He was stripped of the title after eight days, but 168 days later, he defeated Ric Flair for the title, making him a two-time World Champion, with victories over two of the top five wrestlers of all time in less than six months as a professional wrestler. This was just the start of the career of the man now known as the Big Show.
With a start to a career like the Big Show had, it would not be a stretch to rank him higher on this list. However, the people ranked higher than him have had a greater impact on the business. Show is an eleven-time tag champion, and won one of the four 60-man battle royals in WCW, but while his career is Hall of Fame worthy, it might not be as memorable as many of the other names on this list.
16 Kane (WrestleMania XV)
The Big Red Machine is the third man to accomplish the WWE Grand Slam, having won a World, Tag Team, Intercontinental, and Hardcore Championship. The two men who did it before Kane are Shawn Michaels and Triple H, but while Hunter and HBK each took five years to accomplish the feat; Kane was able to finish the job in just three years, with the World title being Kane's first. This coming after spending three years in WWE with two of the most memorable and forgettable gimmicks in the company’s history.
He started his WWE career as Jerry Lawler’s dentist, and then became an impersonator of “Big Daddy Cool.” From there, Kane won 12 Tag titles with seven different partners, and also captured the Money in the Bank contract. As evidence of Kane’s brilliance, Kane won seven awards for Feud of the Year over an 11-year span, and he is still a valuable asset to WWE.
15 Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 32)
Roman Reigns was, as of this writing, Triple H’s most recent WrestleMania opponent, and the match gave Reigns his third World title in five months, but this time at Triple H’s expense. Reigns’ career is the shortest of the careers on this list, but he has accomplished a great deal in his short amount of time, both in professional wrestling and with WWE. He is rewriting WWE record books with his performances in Survivor Series matches and Royal Rumbles, and is collecting titles at an amazing rate.
Of all of the names on this list, Reigns is the only one who is currently a full-time WWE performer, and is also at the top of the card within the company. Since he is still reasonably young, he potentially has a lot of years left in the business. By the time his career is over, he might be the top entry on a list of this type.
14 The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania XII)
The Ultimate Warrior was Triple H’s first WrestleMania opponent. The match was the Warrior’s first match back in WWE after a three-and-a-half yearr separation from the company. At the time, Triple H was on his way up the ladder while Warrior’s career was nearing an end. However, prior to that match, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the most iconic figures in WWE history.
Warrior made history early in his WWE career as he was the man who ended the Honky Tonk Man’s 454 day reign as Intercontinental Champion, which was the longest single reign in the history of the title. Warrior followed that victory with a victory over Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship, and gave Hogan his first clean pinfall defeat since Hogan won the WWE title. In addition to being one of the few men who cleanly defeated Andre the Giant more than once, The Ultimate Warrior’s professional wrestling legacy is one that has few peers.
13 Batista (XXI)
Batista‘s career, though filled with championships and accolades, is one where the fans are left wondering what might have been. Batista is a six-time World Champion, winning his first in the WrestleMania match against Triple H. He is also a three-time Tag Team Champion, and is one of only six men who have ever won the Royal Rumble match on two occasions. While these achievements might qualify him for the WWE Hall of Fame, one wonders if Batista could have accomplished more as he left WWE for three years at the peak of his career.
Batista returned to WWE after three years away, but was not able to capture any titles, though he did win his second Royal Rumble and headlined WrestleMania. It is possible that is Batista has stayed with WWE during his three year absence; he might have captured a number of other titles and accolades, and put together for himself a career that matched his training school classmates John Cena and Randy Orton.
12 Chris Benoit (WrestleMania XX)
The Triple Threat match at WrestleMania XX is the match that WWE wants for fans to forget about. That is because it is the match where Chris Benoit became World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The victory made Benoit one of the few wrestlers who legitimately won both the WCW and the WWE World titles (before WCW was purchased by WWE). This accomplishment puts Benoit on a list that includes the likes of Randy Savage, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, but that is just the icing on the cake that it Benoit’s career.
Benoit had won titles in Germany, Japan, Mexico and Canada before joining ECW and winning tag titles with Dean Malenko. He then went to WCW and won multiple championships, and then did the same in WWE. Benoit’s career ended with him being the second of only four wrestlers to ever achieve both the WCW and the WWE Triple Crowns, after Bret Hart and before Ric Flair and Booker T. Were it not for the way that his career and life ended, Benoit would be remembered as one of the all-time greats.
11 Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania XXX)
By the time Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) arrived in WWE, he was already one of the most decorated active wrestlers in the business. Bryan had won titles in multiple countries, and had been the top champion in several organizations. At one point, Bryan was considered the best wrestler in the world, even though he had never stepped foot in WWE, and once he got there, his career ascended to an even higher level.
Bryan is a four-time World Champion in WWE, and won every male title that was available during his active years with the company. In addition to being one of the top wrestlers in the company, he was so popular that other popular wrestlers like Batista and Rey Mysterio were booed in the 2014 Royal Rumble because Bryan did not emerge from the curtain as an entrant. Bryan’s quick elimination from the 2015 Rumble is said to be one of the factors that is causing fans to reject Roman Reigns (that year’s winner).
During his peak years, Bryan was awarded the Wrestling Observer’s Best Technical Wrestler Award a record nine consecutive years, leading to the award being named after him. His first win came after the death of Chris Benoit, who had won the award the previous two years, and the last came after Bryan’s forced retirement, so it is left for fans to wonder how many more he could have won if he were still active.
10 Mick Foley (WrestleMania 2000)
Some will wonder how Mick Foley is ranked ahead of people like Daniel Bryan, Chris Benoit and Batista. The simple answer is that these men’s careers never actually got to finish, and Foley’s career did. Also, Foley’s impact on the business is greater than that of these men, and Foley continues to contribute to the business. Foley’s WrestleMania match with Triple H was the culmination of a feud that, though it ended in April, was voted Feud of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON).
In addition to being a three-time World Champion, and an 11-time Tag Team Champion between WWE, WCW, TNA, and the original ECW, Mick Foley was the first ever WWE Hardcore Champion, in what was his only reign with the title. Wrestling Observer also recognized Foley as the Best Brawler in the sport for ten consecutive years between 1991 and 2000. Foley also set the standard for what a baby face authority figure could be with his comedy timing and fan approval. Foley’s impact on professional wrestling will continue to grow as long as he is active in the business.
9 Booker T (WrestleMania XIX)
Booker T faced Triple H in a WrestleMania match with racial undertones that did not sit well with much of the audience, but despite that, the feud did not diminish the career of Booker T. When WCW ceased operations, Booker T was recognized as the most decorated wrestler in the history of the company. His four World Titles, six TV Titles and ten tag titles prove that Booker was one of the best wrestlers in the company’s history. Booker was the first African-American holder of the Television title, and held the World Title and the US Title simultaneously when WCW was purchased by WWE.
Once in WWE, Booker continued winning titles and making history. He is one of only four men who accomplished the legitimate WCW and WWE Triple Crowns, the others being Bret Hart, Chris Benoit and Ric Flair, and he is the first non-mixed African-American to hold a World Title in WWE. His 35 titles between WWE, WCW and TNA put Booker in rarified air with regards to the number of titles he captured during his career, as do the number of firsts that he achieved.
8 Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXIV/XXV)
As of this writing, Randy Orton is in the prime years of his career, but he has already accomplished more than many wrestlers do after 20 or 30 years. When he won his first World Heavyweight Championship, he was, at the time, the youngest wrestler to ever claim the World title in WWE. By the time that Randy had his first match with Triple H at WrestleMania, he had already been a World Champion in WWE three times, and he was just getting started.
Orton currently sits as a 12-time former World Champion, and in terms of solely world title reigns in WWE, that places him third all-time. John Cena has 15, and Triple H has 14, and their careers seem to be nearing an end or at least part-time status, while Orton is still going strong. Before long, Orton could become the holder of the most World titles in WWE history, as he does not appear to be slowing down or losing a step.
7 Chris Jericho (WrestleMani X8)
Many fans see Chris Jericho as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. His ability to re-invent himself and remain relevant as times change makes him an extremely valuable asset to WWE and professional wrestling. In addition to being an outstanding performer, Jericho is one of the most honored and decorated professional wrestlers in the history of the business. Prior to his time in ECW, Jericho won titles in Canada, Japan and Mexico, and at the time that WCW was purchased by WWE, only Rey Mysteio, Jr. had held the WCW Cruiserweight Championship more times than Jericho.
In WWE, Jericho holds the record for the most reigns with the Intercontinental title, having three more reigns that the individuals in second place. He has also held every title that WWE has ever made available to men, including the European and Hardcore titles. Jericho will undoubtedly be in the WWE Hall of Fame someday, provided there ever comes a time that he will decide to stop performing.
6 Sting (WrestleMania 31)
The man known as “The Franchise” in WCW could easily be at the top of this list because of all that he accomplished in professional wrestling. Among Sting’s achievements in the sport is the fact that he is the only wrestler to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship under the WCW banner and under the TNA banner. He is also the only inductee in both the TNA and the WWE Halls of Fame. At TNA’s signature event, Bound for Glory, Sting won the NWA/TNA World title three consecutive years.
Sting is a 14-time World Champion, and held tag titles in both TNA and WCW. In recent years, Sting went from being considered the greatest wrestler to never perform in WWE, to a WWE Hall of Fame inductee. During the Monday Night War, before the emergence of the New World Order, Sting was the man that WCW depended on to lead the competition against WWE, and he was more than up to the task, as his career accomplishments indicate.
5 Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XX)
Beginning with Chris Jericho at number 7, many of the top positions on the list will be debated as some will feel that a particular wrestler might deserve to be ranked higher or lower. Based on his career, Shawn Michaels might be ranked higher by some. Shawn Michaels is only a 4-time World Champion and a 5-time tag champion in WWE, but that only tells part of the story of the career of HBK.
Shawn Michaels was the first ever WWE Grand Slam Champion, which he obtained by being the second ever WWE European Champion. Shawn Michaels is also one of only three wrestlers to win the Royal Rumble in consecutive years, the other two being Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. The clearest indication of Michaels’ greatness is in the fact that from 1993-1996, Shawn Michaels participated in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year, and after an eight year absence, Michaels would win the award for the next seven years in a row, with his 2008 match against Ric Flair at WM XXIV being named the Match of the Decade. Even without a large number of World Titles, Shawn Michaels is one of the best ever.
4 Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XXIX)
Brock Lesnar earned this spot based on the impact of his career on the sport of professional Wrestling. Of the four star performers that Brock trained with in Ohio Valley Wrestling (Cena, Orton, Batista, Shelton Benjamin), only Shelton Benjamin has won fewer World Titles in WWE than Brock, and that is because Shelton has none. However, Brock is not measured by the number of titles he has won. Brock’s victories have made history and have helped to expand the legend that is Brock Lesnar.
With his first WWE World Title victory, Brock became the youngest to ever win the WWE Title. Brock also won the IWGP Heavyweight Title in his debut match with the company. In addition, Brock is the only man who has ever defeated the Undertaker in a WrestleMania Match, and also won the King of the Ring Tournament, the World Title, and the Royal Rumble all during his first year with WWE. Brock continues to make history, and his legend continues to grow.
3 The Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven/XXVII/XXVIII)
The Undertaker faced Triple H three times at WrestleMania, and defeated Hunter all three times. This is not a surprise, as the Undertaker has only lost a single match out of 24 matches at the Showcase of the Immortals. However, The Undertaker’s career is not only measured by WrestleMania, and The Dead Man has become one of the top stars in the history of WWE. 'Taker was a World Class Texas Heavyweight Champion, and also held the USWA World title before coming to WWE, but in WWE, Mark Calaway, the man known as The Undertaker, has had a career that measures up against any and everyone who has ever worked for the company.
The Undertaker is a seven-time World Champion and is also a seven-time Tag Team Champion, but more than that, his matches have made his career unforgettable. No one will ever forget his Hell in a Cell match against Mankind, or his WM matches against Shawn Michaels and Triple H. He will also be remembered for participating in the first ever Hell in the Cell match, and the first ever inferno match, and these are just a few of the innovations that are connected to the career of The Undertaker.
2 John Cena (WrestleMania XXII/XXIV)
John Cena, “The Face that Runs the Place,” as of this writing, holds the record for the most WWE World Championships in the history of the company. His 15 World titles places him second all-time after Ric Flair, but only two of Flair’s came in WWE. Even when compared to wrestlers who won World titles in multiple companies like Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett, Sting and Kurt Angle; John Cena tops them all, and that is just counting his World titles. Cena has accomplished so much more in his career, and it is not over yet.
Cena is a four-time Tag Team Champion with four different partners, and is a five-time United States Champion. His five United States titles also places him one behind Ric Flair for most reigns. Cena is one of six two-time winners of the Royal Rumble, and he is tied with Triple H and The Undertaker for most PPV main events in company history. Some fans are indifferent towards John Cena, but no one can argue his accomplishments, of which there are many.
1 The Rock (XVI)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is considered by some as the greatest WWE performer the company has ever employed. He is not the most decorated champion, nor has he had the longest or most reigns of any title, but when most newer fans think of professional wrestling, despite his acting success, they almost all think of The Rock first. The Rock is remembered as much for his charisma and his skill on the microphone as he is for his wrestling, but in the ring, he was as good as there was during his active years.
Rocky won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship eight times during his career, and held the WCW Championship, under the WWE banner, twice. He has five Tag titles and two IC reigns, but beyond that; his interviews are what many fans will remember. With a mic in his hand, he had no peers. Rocky is one of the few WWE stars who have had a DVD made of their careers, where a portion of the set is devoted solely to promos and sketches. The Rock was a fabulous entertainer who also just so happened to be an outstanding professional wrestler.
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