On August 29, 2016, Triple H did the thinkable. He did the possible. He did the expected. He did the precedented. He interfered in a WWE Title match and helped crown a new champion.
To be fair, the initial reveal--as he jumped the barricade and strode into the ring--was shocking and fun (remember when Raw was constantly shocking and fun?), but the initial excitement quickly gave way to the predictability of it all.
Triple H entered the ring, sized up Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins (the two men left competing for the title) and--in a move that should have surprised exactly zero people--"turned" on Seth Rollins to help Owens win the gold.
Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon were "shocked" and outraged, but should they have been? How could they have not seen this coming? Seth Rollins was incredulous but that's even more silly, considering his initial big break as a singles star came IN THAT EXACT SAME SCENARIO! Yet there they were acting as though Triple H's moves were totally out of bounds.
It's like no one on Raw actually watches Raw.
If you've watched WWE programming over the years you know this is how things go. Triple H has made a career screwing people over in order to elevate either himself or a chosen proxy to the championship (both on and off screen).
If you haven't watched much WWE programming, or if you're new to the scene, consider this a refresher course on just what kind of a backstabbing, traitorous, self-serving villain Triple H has been and shall ever be. In short: He is the worst friend in this history of pro wrestling. Don't believe me? Here are 15 examples of people he screwed over...
16 Shawn Michaels
Back in the original era of D-Generation X, Triple H was nothing more than Shawn Michaels’ lackey. He was the muscle used to protect the cocky-but-diminutive heel. Essentially he was just another Diesel or another Sid. The difference was that Diesel and Sid were men of few words. Triple H (then Hunter Hearst Helmsley) was a loud, brash cut-up. Still, despite having a bigger personality than those other bodyguards, he was always second-fiddle to HBK.
Things changed, however, when Michaels dropped the WWE title to Steve Austin. Triple H jumped to grab some of the spotlight for himself. With Michaels’ severely injured (to the point that he’d have to take four years away from wrestling), Triple H attacked his “best friend” and seized control of DX. He claimed Michaels was a weak-link holding him back and immediately became a featured attraction on Raw each week. He got what he wanted (glory), and all he had to do was stab his friend in the back.
Chyna was another part of that original DX group. Just as Triple H was the muscle to protect Michaels, Chyna served as a hired goon to watch Helmsely’s back. Together they cheated and conspired to win many matches and for a while it looked like they would rise together to be the next great main event power couple.
Things changed in mid-1999, however. Their relationship waned as Triple H set his sights on the WWE Championship and moved beyond needing her in his corner. Behind the scenes their relationship had also cooled off and as Triple H began his ascent to the top of the WWE, Chyna slid downward. In the span of a year, she went from almost competing for the WWE title at SummerSlam 1999 to being “Eddie Guerrero’s girlfriend.”
Her tumble is synchronized perfectly with Triple H’s rise, as though she was the dead weight he sought to remove so that he could reach the top. Behind the scenes... well, we all know how their relationship ended up.
14 D-Generation X
And then there’s DX themselves. On the Raw after the 1999 Royal Rumble, Chyna turned on Triple H and joined Vince McMahon’s Corporation faction. That lasted barely two months before she turned back to Triple H’s side and helped him beat Kane at WrestleMania XV. You’d think that would mean Chyna was rejoining Triple H’s new post-HBK version of Degenration-X, but no. Instead, Chyna and Triple H turned on DX.
Why though? I have no idea.
Anyway they turned on DX and both of them (briefly!) joined the Corporation. Triple H formed that version of DX personally. He kicked out Shawn Michaels (see above) and brought in X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws. They were his guys. That was his team. Why turn on them? On the one hand it’s because Vince Russo had A.D.D. and his writing reflected that, but also you have to say—based on the entries thus far—that Triple H has serious commitment issues.
13 Stephanie McMahon
In late 1999 Triple H was feuding with Vince McMahon and, one night in Las Vegas, kidnapped and drugged Stephanie McMahon, and tricked a drive-by priest to marry them.
The Attitude Era, ladies and gentlemen!
Shortly thereafter, Stephanie turned heel (because of course she did) and aligned her self with the man who slipped her a mickey and…date-raped her? Was that ever addressed?
Together they formed one of the most dominant power-couples in WWE history: The McMahon/Helmsley Faction. For over two years they ran roughshod over the company, but it all came crashing down when Triple H was forced to take several months off to rehab a torn quad.
When he returned his marriage was in shambles, and Stephanie—desperate to save the relationship—faked a pregnancy, the poor girl. Triple H found out and promptly dumped her in a public shaming ceremony on Raw. Once again we see the commitment issues of Triple H. Sad!
12 Kurt Angle
During the height of the McMahon/Helmsley era, one of the faction’s most stalwart defenders was a rookie named Kurt Angle. Angle was in his first year with the company but was already proving himself one of the hottest talents around. Not to mention, the guy was a bonafide American Hero and role model for kids everywhere!
He also had a harmless crush on Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, and—the camera doesn’t lie—she seemed to have a little somethin-somethin for him too. It was harmless, though, and no cause for alarm.
So of course Triple H went crazy.
At SummerSlam 2000, Triple H pedigreed Kurt Angle so hard it shattered the space-time continuum and broke the announce table on which they were standing before he even hit the move. The force of the pedigree gave Angle a nasty concussion and forced him to miss most of the championship match. Triple H proved once again that no friend or associate was safe around him!
11 Shawn Michaels again
After four years rehabbing his back (and attitude), Shawn Michaels announced to the WWE universe that he had returned. A reformation of D-Generation X was quickly announced and Triple H and HBK celebrated the rekindling of their friendship on Raw in July of 2002.
Guess what happened next. Go on and guess.
Poor HBK: He’d cleaned himself up and turned his life around. He “found Jesus” and became a man of morals and character and faith. But he should’ve remembered never to put faith in Triple H. His “best friend” turned on him, nailed him with a pedigree and drove his face through the window of a car.
Brave and valiant Michaels agreed to an “unsanctioned Street Fight” (a No-DQ match where you wear jeans) at SummerSlam 2002, and in the end the hero scored a victory over the evil villain. Unfortunately, Triple H got the last laugh by driving a sledgehammer into Michaels’ back. Shameful!
10 Randy Orton
With DX dead, and Michaels now a blood-enemy, Triple H began teaming up with Ric Flair. The mentor assisted Triple H repeatedly, helping him continue to be one of the winningest competitors on Raw at the time. Eventually the duo decided to expand and form a stable: Evolution. They brought in the monstrous Batista to be the muscle, and recruited blue chip rookie Randy Orton to be the “future” of the company.
Unfortunately for Orton, the “future” came too soon for Triple H’s liking. At SummerSlam 2004, Orton defeated someone whose name escapes me to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Exactly 24 hours later, Triple H turned on his gullible apprentice and declared himself the next challenger to the title. One month later he defeated Orton and recaptured the gold. He was back on top in WWE and all it cost him was a loyal companion. The man has no scruples!
Batista watches Raw.
In 2005 Batista—of the now three man Evolution group—won the Royal Rumble and with it the right to challenge for either the WWE or the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H (then World Heavyweight Champ) urged Batista to go after JBL’s WWE Championship, saying how great it would be if Evolution held both top titles in the company.
But again, Batista is the only guy in Raw history who actually watched Raw. He knows what Triple H does. He knows The Cerebral Assassin is a back-stabbing liar. Sure enough, Triple H attacked Batista just as he had done to Randy Orton a few months prior. Batista was ready, however, and eventually put The Game down inside Hell in a Cell, but that doesn’t change the fact that Triple H’s first instinct when he sees a friend achieve success is to try and stamp it out.
8 Ric Flair
Triple H destroyed Evolution piece by piece: First he turned on Orton, then Batista. In the end the only person left loyal to him was Ric Flair, the man he formed Evolution with. You’d think that would afford the aged legend some respect, but no: After dropping the world title to Batista and seeing the beloved Big Gold belt shipped off to SmackDown, Triple H took out his frustrations on Flair, hitting him with a sledgehammer and dropping him with a Pedigree.
Flair would get revenge with a win at Taboo Tuesday, but Triple H refused to call it even. He continued to attack the elderly Flair and eventually defeated him at Survivor Series. Flair’s only crime against Triple H was being at his side when he lost his title. The Game’s pettiness knows no bounds!
7 Vince McMahon
Vince has been in and out of Triple H’s crosshairs from the beginning. They were enemies when Triple H was palling around with HBK and DX. They were allies with the Cooperation…then enemies. Then Vince became a face and Triple H went heel. Then they both went heel. And that just covers two years (1997-1999).
Most of the 2000s saw them on the same page, but in 2006 Vince entered a feud with Shawn Michaels. That led to DX reforming. You might ask why HBK would suddenly be friends again with Triple H after all the times he stabbed him in the back…but of course the answer is “because pro wrestling.”
The point is, after years of father and son (in-law) getting along, Triple H was more than happy to throw it all away for the chance to make fart jokes with his old buddy. It culminated in a Hell in a Cell match that saw Vince’s face shoved into(!) Big Show’s posterior. No family loyalty!
6 CM Punk
CM Punk was the hottest thing going in mid-2011. For two years he was easily the most talked about (full-time) superstar in WWE. His fire died quickly however and he never became “the man” he thought he deserved to be. What happened?
Triple H happened, of course.
CM Punk was WWE Champion, taking on John Cena at SummerSlam. Triple H declared himself the match’s referee (#1) and missed Cena’s foot being on the ropes which would have continued the match (#2). Instead, Kevin Nash lumbered in and attacked Punk after the fight, leaving him open to have the title stolen by Del Rio. Nash claimed he did it for Triple H (#3). In the end a Punk/Nash match never happened. Instead we got Nash vs…Triple H (#5). And before that we got Punk vs Triple H…with Punk losing (#4)!
Triple H stole the spotlight from Punk, who never quite got that hot again.
5 Kevin Nash
Speaking of Kevin Nash…Triple H had such a friend in him that he was willing to risk a double quad tear just to saunter into the ring to attack Punk. He did it because he thought Triple H’s company (he’s COO you recall) deserved better than CM Punk as champ. What a great friend!
Instead, Triple H rebuffed Nash at every turn. He all but told him he was old and over the hill and no longer needed. Triple H was no longer the long-haired, Chester A. Arthur-beard having DX/clique party animal he once was. Now he was a corporate suit with no time for Nash or any of his old running buddies.
Nash tried to work it out but Triple H wanted none of it. Nash ended up leaving WWE soon after, but not before his “friend” forced him into a “Sledgehammer/ladder” match. Adding insult to injury, lousy friend Triple H defeated him. Sad!
4 Daniel Bryan
It seems that Nash saying that the WWE deserves a champion worthy of Triple H’s leadership got to his head. Because just a couple years later, Triple H decided to act on that very notion.
Within just a few years Daniel Bryan had risen from midcard purgatory to being the most popular superstar in the company. He was on the cusp of becoming a made man when he faced John Cena for the WWE Title at SummerSlam 2013. Along the way Triple H had pledged support for the upstart challenger. Improbably, Bryan defeated Cena clean and won the gold.
Guess what happened next. Go on and guess.
Triple H viciously attacked Bryan, leaving him vulnerable for Randy Orton to cash in his money in the bank contract and steal the title from Bryan. Why would Orton help Triple H after what he did to him a decade prior? Surely he knows Triple H is a backstabber…
3 Randy Orton again
After re-aligning himself with Triple H, Randy Orton became the ultimate corporate champion. Though he lost the title to Bryan (by way of Batista) at WrestleMania XXX, he stayed by Triple H’s side for another year, waiting for his moment to recapture WWE gold.
Along the way, a new golden boy emerged to catch Triple H’s eye. Seth Rollins bought into the propaganda Triple H was selling, ditched The Shield and joined the evil Authority. Initially, Randy was okay sharing a seat at Triple H’s table, but soon Rollins’ antics became too much for him. Sides were taken and Triple H turned on Orton, choosing Seth as the official “next corporate champion.” Orton was taken out with a curb stomp onto steel steps. A few months later, he returned and defeated Rollins at Mania, only to watch Rollins win the title later that night. As he did, he likely lamented ever getting back into business with such traitorous people!
2 Seth Rollins
Seth doesn’t watch Raw.
If he did he’d have known exactly what was coming when he saw Triple H enter the arena that fateful Monday night in August.
After a devastating injury sidelined him and forced him to vacate (not lose!) the WWE Championship, Seth showed real grit and determination to come back better than ever and challenge for the top title. Triple H should have been his biggest supporter. In fact, it seemed like he was, but anyone who’s watched Raw knows that his being extra nice to you is a bad omen.
Triple H entered the ring, attacked Rollins and literally handed the title to Kevin Owens. It was a scene right out of the Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton playbook; right out of the Randy Orton/Seth Rollins playbook. He’d been playing the game for two years; he should have seen it coming.
He should have known that when you play the game, in the end, the only winner is The Game himself.
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