Paul Levesque, the Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative of WWE, has experienced without a doubt the most meteoric rise to power seen in professional wrestling for decades. It began in late 1999 when his primary wrestling character Triple H started dating Stephanie McMahon, although in another sense one could say it started in 1992, when Terra Ryzing under with Killer Kowalski. Under all of his many names, the one thing that consistently has defined Levesque is his wild-eyed ambition. That he’s basically achieved what he wanted all along has lead him to claim he harbors no personal or career regrets.
Then again, Triple H also excels in an industry based on openly lying to the public. The fact he told Forbes magazine he could retire without regrets doesn’t mean he wouldn’t feel a certain level of remorse when confronted with memories of the worst moments of his professional career. Pretending something doesn’t exist makes it easy to deny penitence, and given the lowest behaviors Triple H has involved himself with, we have to imagine there’s some revisionist history happening in his mind if he truly feels no shame or compunction over his harshest offenses to the sport of pro wrestling. Keep reading to learn 15 career missteps Triple H has to regret.
15 15. Teaming With Perry Saturn
It isn’t at all uncommon for a future main event superstar to have formed a tag team with a wrestler who would’ve quite achieve that level of fame at the start of their respective careers. Triple H and Perry Saturn did just that while training with Killer Kowalski and wrestling in his International Wrestling Federation, even winning the IWF Tag Team Championships together. Compared to most of the other items this list is going to cover, we’re not entirely sure why Triple H has gone to such great lengths to ignore this piece of his career. Saturn has been open about it during interviews, simply stating that Triple H was always serious about his career. And yet, for whatever reason, Triple H himself never comments on it and generally ignored Saturn when they found themselves working together again in WWE. Typically, old tag team partners either become old friends or long term enemies, making Triple H’s decision to basically become strangers all the more curious.
14 14. Terrorizing WCW Saturday Night
Not every superstar debuted with a name that set the world on fire. Flex Kavana was never going to electrify millions and millions of fans, and The Ringmaster couldn’t sell a single t-shirt, let alone enough to define an era’s worth of attitude. Of course, The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin pulled off those feats while barely breaking a sweat, just like Triple H took has slowly been taking over WWE for the past decade. However, we highly doubt he ever would’ve had the chance if he still went by the ring name he made his mainstream debut under, when he appeared on WCW Saturday Night as Terror Risin’. Apparently feeling that didn’t sound real, WCW soon changed it to Terra Ryzing. Levesque was forced to use this moniker a full four months, even earning a few shots at WCW Television Champion Larry Zbyszko near the end. He soon switched gears to a more familiar gimmick, although it still needed some fine-tuning…
13 13. Pretending To Be French
The only thing Terra Ryzing terrorized was people who hate puns, not that he was given much of an opportunity to do elsewise. Granted, even WCW knew that was a horrible name and needed to rebrand Triple H before giving him any real shot, which they did with the new name Jean-Paul Lévesque. Though only an accent away from his real name, Lévesque’s main quality was supposed to be his strong French heritage. The only problem, of course, was that the real Paul Levesque had no particular connection to his surname’s origins, and thus had no idea how to play a Frenchman, speak French, or even inflect a French accent. Arguably even worse than his weak character, Levesque gradually became a jobber to the stars, losing to names like Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes on television while feuding with the equally small stature Alex Wright. It was enough that Triple H wanted out, heading for WWE in 1995.
12 12. His WrestleMania Debut Was The Ultimate Squash
Spoiler alert, as this list continues, you’re going to read about how Triple H has a history of inserting himself in the main event of WrestleMania regardless of whether or not his match actually belongs there. Truth be told, he might not actually regret doing so thanks to his ego. However, for that same reason, he most certainly winces whenever he remembers his WrestleMania debut against The Ultimate Warrior. It wouldn’t even be fair to call it a “competition,” considering the match was a flat-out squash. Warrior no-sold a Pedigree, danced around the ring like a madman, and pinned Triple H clean in about 90 seconds. Knowing Triple H, he’d probably be sore about this even if Warrior’s reputation never took the many hits it did. Because Warrior is such a controversial figure, not to mention one who barely spent another three months with the company, there’s no way this match will ever end up on a HHH career retrospective, to say the least.
11 11. His Controversial Relationship With Chyna
The very moment Triple H started dating Stephanie McMahon in real life, Chyna must have in some level been aware her time in the wrestling industry was practically over. Most timelines indicate HHH was actually still dating and living with the Ninth Wonder of the World when the affair with Steph started blossoming into a real relationship, leaving Chyna to fend for herself both personally and professionally when they finally dropped the hammer and cut her loose. While Triple H didn’t handle his romantic situation well, he always could’ve fallen back on the old saying that the heart wants what it wants and point to his marriage and children as a sign he did the right thing. However, this in no way makes up for how WWE systematically ignored Chyna and practically tried to erase her from history until her sudden 2016 death forced them to face reality. Triple H is more to blame than anyone else for Chyna being blackballed until it was too late, and tragically turning this into a regret he’ll never be able to make up for.
10 10. Demanding He Main Event WrestleMania X8
In January of 2002, Triple H made his return to Raw after nearly seven months on the injured list, receiving a massive ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd. Because of this, it makes sense that he could convince WWE the best course of action for WrestleMania X8 would be Triple H defeating Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship. It seemed like such a logical move, in fact, that Triple H would probably still defend it to this day, despite it’s reputation for earning one of the most tepid reactions in WrestleMania main event history. The problem wasn’t the competitors or the match itself, but rather that The Rock and Hollywood Hulk Hogan absolutely stole the show already, and there was no taking it back. It definitely didn’t help that instead of focus on the long and personal rivalry between HHH and Jericho, let alone the Undisputed Championship, their feud was mostly about Stephanie McMahon’s pet dog.
9 9. Getting Handed The World Heavyweight Championship
Regardless of how one feels about WWE having two World Championships today, in the very least they put some thought into the Universal Championship by actually having wrestlers compete over it from the moment it was introduced. The first brand split went a lazier route, simply having Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff award Triple H the World Heavyweight Championship for no particular reason. Not only did this move devalue the title to an extent it never seemed equal to the WWE Championship, but it also makes Triple H look weak in hindsight, turning one of his seemingly impressive 14 reigns with the belt look like a farce. That same night, Triple H defended the title against Ric Flair, and all the company had to do to make things right was instead have that match decide the inaugural champ. The fact the fix only makes he mistake more glaring in retrospect.
8 8. Getting Down And Dirty With Katie Vick
Not every feud in a wrestler’s career needs to be a winner, even on the main event level. WWE produces hundreds of hours of content every week, and virtually all superstars will at some point be forced to do something that makes themselves look silly as part of the game. Even so, everyone even tangentially involved with the infamous Katie Vick storyline should be deeply personally embarrassed, and no one played a bigger role than Triple H. For those lucky enough to forget it, Triple H had accused Kane of killing poor Katie in a car accident and raping her corpse, and to prove his claim, he filmed a video of himself raping a mannequin while wearing a Kane mask. Triple H himself would later call the angle one of the worst in history, a reputation that would be difficult to argue.
7 7. Refusing To Put Booker T Over At WrestleMania XIX
Proving his track record at WrestleMania is suspect no matter where on the card he lies, Triple H forever marred the semi-main event between himself and Booker T. The problem this time wasn’t that the match was the most important on the Raw brand that year, nor was it that Triple H retained the belt. At least, that is to say, it wouldn’t have been a problem for Triple H to retain had it not been for certain comments he made en route to the match. As the heel of the feud, Triple H had a certain leeway with saying negative remarks, but many people felt the way he referred to “people like Booker” bordered on racist. It also didn’t help how the match played out, with Booker giving it his absolute all and hitting multiple finishers to no avail, only to fall victim to a single Pedigree after a significant amount of stalling. In winning, Triple H was effectively making the statement his questionably racist comments were correct, and whether or not he meant to do that at the time, he probably regrets that people viewed it that way.
6 6. Demanding He Main Event WrestleMania XXV
In a reverse of his fortunes in 2002, seven years later, Triple H was poised to defend the WWE Championship against Randy Orton at the main event of WrestleMania XXV. Unlike his feud with Jericho, this time around fans were actually heavily invested in the war, which started to get personal when Orton violently attacked Stephanie McMahon. WWE also focused on the long history between the two, starting when Orton joined Evolution only to get kicked out when Triple H got jealous of his growing popularity. Despite the strong build, when it came time for the two to finally do battle, the Houston crowd simply didn’t seem to care, and the match was nowhere near good enough to make them change their minds. Perhaps more importantly, the two had to follow the first WrestleMania match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, considered one of the best in WWE history. Once again, Triple H feeling he had to be the main event no matter what completely backfired and the biggest show of the year suffered as a result.
5 5. Chaperoning For A Modern Family
Downplay it though he might, there was once a point in time when Triple H harbored fantasies of becoming an action star on the level The Rock is today. He made minor appearances on TV shows, had a supporting role in Blade: Trinity and was open about his desire to star in a film adaptation of Thor, though he would never get the chance. He did, however, get the chance to play the lead in a WWE Studios film, The Chaperone, released 2011 and co-starring Ariel Winter of Modern Family. The film was a complete bomb in every sense of the word, and yet Triple H somehow earned the shot to star in another, Inside Out, released less than eight months later. His second acting performance was as abysmal as the first, with one critic calling him “a steroidal Steven Seagal.” Other critics pointed out the ironic fact his action film was unintentionally much funnier than his family comedy. With praise like that, it’s no wonder Triple H gave up his acting dreams once and for all.
4 4. Tapping Out To Brock Lesnar
Having a fragile ego can do confusing things to a wrestler, such as make them want to be considered the most hated heel in history while also expecting a standing ovation when the moment is appropriate. Or, well, if said fragile fevered ego thinks it would be appropriate, like after Brock Lesnar made Triple H tap out to a Kimura Lock at SummerSlam 2012. After the match, Triple H waited in the ring for an unusual amount of time, apparently expecting fans to applaud his effort at surviving the Beast Incarnate. Instead, they accurately and mockingly chanted “you tapped out.” His ego damaged, Triple H allegedly demanded the feud continue several months so he could definitely defeat Lesnar in a rematch at WrestleMania 29. The victory served little purpose except to assuage his hurt feelings, and Triple H would go on to lose to Lesnar yet again two months later.
3 3. Faking A Concussion At The Hands Of Curtis Axel
Removed entirely from context, the fact Triple H has faked a concussion in an era where literally dozens of wrestlers are suing his stepfather’s company for causing them is what most business insiders would cause a PR nightmare. Add that his alleged concussion caused him to lose a match against Curtis Axel, and it becomes one of the biggest embarrassments of HHH’s career. Sure, technically they blamed things on his matches with Brock Lesnar, but Axel nonetheless earned credit for making things worse. Digressing to that original point, though, enough was known about concussions in 2013 that WWE shouldn’t have been using them to further storylines, and things have only gotten more severe since. Brain injuries are nothing to joke about, and no one should be more aware of that than the company that employed Chris Benoit. To have the heir apparent wobble around and act like they’re still a normal job hazard is no only irresponsible, but outright dangerous.
2 2. Holding Back Daniel Bryan
As popular and perhaps even iconic as Daniel Bryan has become, wrestling fans will always be remiss at the fact he most certainly could’ve been so much more. Bryan has arguably been the most popular superstar in WWE since at least early 2011, and yet it wasn’t until 2014 his fans so entirely hijacked the show the company had no choice but to put him in the main event of WrestleMania XXX. Chances are Vince McMahon is as complicit in Bryan being held back as Triple H, if not more so. However, that Triple H was the one going on screen and mocking him for being a “B+ Player” will always cast him as complicit in the role, directly going against his oft quoted mantra that what he does is best for business. He might use the phrase ironically as a heel, but Triple H seems to genuinely believe his every move is right off-screen as well, and it would be next to impossible to justify ignoring the most popular wrestler in the company until he was too injured to truly succeed.
1 1. Demanding He Main Event WrestleMania 32
In all fairness to Triple H, his third venture with ruining the main event of WrestleMania wasn’t entirely his fault. The 32nd Showcase of Immortals had plenty of things going against it, including the unbearable 7+ hour length, a lack of heated or well-worked matches, and the nagging knowledge Roman Reigns was going to win the WWE Championship at the end of the night. That said, the fact Reigns was doing so against Triple H didn’t help in the slightest, especially given his tendency to kill the crowd with overwrought half hour matches where the result is never in question. Starting things off with a ridiculous and overwrought introduction by his wife Stephanie McMahon only reaffirmed fears the match would be a boring mess. The result was bored fans chanting for Shinsuke Nakamura until the foregone conclusion was met and they booed Reigns out of the building. That WWE still pushes Reigns and Stephanie McMahon as two of their top stars probably means they aren’t self-aware enough to regret this one yet, but if ratings keep dropping and fans keep running away, Triple H and his co-workers will all face reality soon enough.
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