Love it or hate it, Triple H has been one of the ever present main event talents in the WWE for close to two decades now. No one has dominated the main event scene like he has against a plethora of different talents. Because of this, fans have grown incredibly tired of the 14-time World Champion going over guys they perceive as more deserving. Sometimes you can't blame them. It does feel a lot of the time that The Game just goes over popular guys without any intention to further their careers.
It may indeed feel this way but the fact is Triple H has put over a lot of guys in his main event run. He's lost more matches at WrestleMania than he's won, whether you can remember them or not he's put over a countless number of guys in high profile situations. And I know what you're thinking, 'he's only put over guys after taking a more backstage role,' but that's not the case. He's been putting over guys since the start of his career. From being squashed by The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania XII to dropping the title to Reigns at WrestleMania 32, The Game has been helping others from start to finish.
Here are 8 guys Triple H theoretically buried and 8 guys he put over.
16 PUT OVER: CHRIS BENOIT
Perhaps he's known as the mystery man nowadays as his name has been wiped from all WWE memorabilia. But despite the WWE's refusal to acknowledge him now, it doesn't change the fact that Triple H put the wrestling technician over at WrestleMania XX. Triple H with the backstage stroke he has, has probably been able to pick & choose who he feuds with over the years. And perhaps because of his exceptional ability or rising popularity, The Game chose to work with Benoit.
Benoit's interactions with the 14-time World Champion would go a long way in assuring his popular status among the fans was not a phase. Because of Triple H, Benoit was graced with the opportunity of main eventing WrestleMania XX. Not only did he main event with Benoit, he would allow the smaller man to submit him in front of 18,000 plus fans. Benoit would go on to hold the title for an incredible five months, with Triple H putting him over several more times, before eventually dropping it to Randy Orton. Thanks to Hunter he was officially a main eventer.
15 BURIED: RVD
It's not hard to understand why many fans lost interest in the WWE after the Attitude Era. Big stars like The Rock and Austin faded away and the insufferable Triple H era began. He was the measuring stick, the main event and the whole damn show on Monday nights. Triple H was the end all and be all of Monday Night Raw from 2002 onwards, he was the proverbial glass ceiling that nobody on the roster was allowed to surpass. Superstar after superstar reached it, hit their head and bounced straight back downwards.
When Rob Van Dam provided fans with hope of being a potential new top guy, he was sent straight back down to the mid-card after running into The Game. When the two faced off at Unforgiven 2002, many thought it was a signal of intent from the WWE to make new stars but the established one would go over and dash that dream.
14 PUT OVER: HULK HOGAN
Not really sure why this match took place except for an answer to a WWE trivia question. Regardless of its random occurrence, in a result that many wouldn't have predicted, Triple H would have Hogan go over on him despite him being the significantly younger star. When Hogan made his heroic return to the WWE after the collapse of WCW, he was greeted with much doubt and subtle backstage resentment. He & The Chairman weren't particularly on good terms but both were willing to put aside personal animosity for business.
Hulk Hogan returned in 2002 and despite his legendary status, doubts arose about his star power. To establish himself as a main event draw again he would be entered into a feud with the hottest thing in the WWE, the Undisputed Champion. Hunter would do the honor and put over the most famous name in wrestling history, to help re-establish himself in the WWE.
13 BURIED: GOLDBERG
An unstoppable force in WCW, a shell of a man in the WWE. Funny how booking holds all the cards to the star power of an individual. The monster Goldberg was handed his first defeat in the WWE by none other than The Game himself. It's been rumoured that the two alpha-males never saw eye to eye and The Game flat out refused to allow Goldberg to eclipse him as the guy in the WWE. The man who had accumulated a 173 match winning streak in WCW was perhaps the most unstoppable wrestler in professional wrestling history. Even though that streak came to an end in WCW, he was protected in a manner that still breathed an air of invincibility. So when he was forced to enter the WWE, fans still viewed him as a star until Triple H brought his stardom to a halt, beating him with a cheap sledgehammer finish in the Elimination Chamber at SummerSlam 2003. While Goldberg would get the win in a return match, the SummerSlam finish completely sapped his momentum.
As an established main event heel, Triple H didn't need to go over at all.
12 PUT OVER: SHAWN MICHAELS
When Shawn made his long anticipated return to the ring he desperately needed to get his mojo back. He needed to remind the fans why he was known as the Showstopper; he needed Triple H. After years of spinal injuries and drug related problems, HBK made his return in 2002 and instantly feuded with the WWE's go-to guy. With their storied history and on-screen chemistry, the two created a rivalry worthy of the record books. In Shawn's return to the main event, he would go over Triple H at SummerSlam 2002 and win back the adoration of the WWE universe.
It's funny how things change. Back in the Attitude Era, Hunter was always viewed as Shawn Michaels' little sidekick act but now it was the Showstopper who needed the star power of the Cerebral Assassin. For someone described as selfish, The Game sure did put over a lot of returning talent in 2002. Almost makes you think he paid his dues and deserved such a dominant reign for the years to follow.
11 BURIED: SCOTT STEINER
What is it with Triple H and former WCW wrestlers that just makes for bad television? It's pretty clear to me that Vince has used Hunter throughout the years to reinforce in his head the WWE's dominance over WCW. Here's another WCW performer that had all the tools to become a bigger star in the WWE but had his momentum sucked up by The Game. And it's fair to say that Steiner hasn't forgiven Hunter ever since.
He's gone on record several times since his departure to accuse Hunter of deliberately sabotaging him through awkward and restricted performances in their matches. Scott Steiner was over with the fans at first, but after a series of forgettable matches with Triple H, the masses soon lost interest and his run as a main event star was over before it truly began. The Triple H era was set to continue through all means possible.
10 PUT OVER: THE UNDERTAKER
I'm surprised as to why many don't talk about the detailed history of The Game and The Undertaker. Many forget that the two met at WrestleMania X-Seven before their classics at XXVII & XXVIII. Of course, The Undertaker went over but the match signified the culmination of two main event worthy talents getting a battle on the big stage. The two would continue to interact over the Attitude Era and produce compelling television.
Fast forward a decade to WrestleMania XXVII and Triple H would not only put over The Undertaker again but he would put him over yet a third time the following year in a match of the night contender, the Hell in a Cell match. People seem to forget that The Game contributed three losses to the streak of the Deadman, helping solidify the larger than life aura of The Undertaker. Triple H's influence and stroke truly helped turn the Phenom from a WrestleMania act to an immortal legend.
9 BURIED: RANDY ORTON
This one may shock you but don't let the father-son dynamic they displayed on television fool you. Yes, Triple H took Orton under his wing when he first arrived but the whole thing ultimately ended with Hunter coming out on top over a promising talent. Randy Orton, as JBL regularly says, is the perfect template of a sports entertainer; he has absolutely everything the WWE needs and wants in a superstar. Over the years, Orton has had several great matches with future hall of famers but has never quite become THE man. He's been a top guy but has always played second fiddle to Cena, Batista & Triple H.
In the jaw-dropping build up to WrestleMania XXV, fans were led to believe that Orton was being primed to become the top guy in the company. An incredible storyline between him and the entire McMahon family placed Orton as the focal point of Raw. All he had to do now was to beat Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania XXV and become the star he was destined to be. Instead, once again, Triple H clung on to the last remaining days of his dwindling star power and went over a more talented guy than himself.
8 PUT OVER: ROMAN REIGNS
This one will definitely not be a popular entry but the WWE has chosen him and Hunter fulfilled his duty. Hunter's new role as a backstage NXT producer has focused him on securing the future of the WWE. In front of the biggest WrestleMania crowd ever, Triple H put over another FCW graduate. Whether we like it or not, Roman Reigns is Vince's chosen one and his feud with Hunter was used as a way to fast-track his ascension. Hunter understands that his time as a top star has well and truly sailed, his only in-ring use now is to use his household name to elevate others.
Despite how intense and captivating the six-month feud was, a large portion of fans still rejected Roman's title win at WrestleMania 32, but the rub from Hunter solidified his status among the babyface audience he had already attained. The win cemented the rise of the Roman Empire into a dynasty that will dominate WWE television for years to come.
7 BURIED: ZACK RYDER
Can anybody on earth give me a reasonable explanation for this act of cruelty? Zack Ryder was flying high, his YouTube show was gaining millions of hits, his merchandise was selling well and he was friends with John Cena. He was a trailblazer for the social media generation and was the first WWE Superstar to engage with his fans over the internet. His popularity online was mirrored by his increasingly louder reactions he received on television. After being fully endorsed several times by John Cena, Ryder got his needed rub and entered into a feud with Cena & Kane. Ryder was in a storyline that was the centrepiece of the show with two future Hall of Famers.
After standing on his own two feet for a while Ryder was becoming established as a star, so what did Triple H do? Go out on a random segment and pedigree the kid for no apparent reason. Another classic case of Hunter stealing someone else's shine for no reasons whatsoever.
6 PUT OVER: JOHN CENA
The face that runs the place wouldn't have been the most decorated WWE Superstar of all time if it weren't for the feud he had with Triple H. Cena in 2006 was still relatively raw to the main event scene. It was clear that the WWE wanted him to be their top star but weren't sure what to make of his unorthodox style. John Cena was never the first choice to become the face of the company. He was behind the likes of Batista, Lesnar and even Orton at a point. Cena was the insurance policy and once they strapped the rocket to his back he went off into the stars.
To gain credibility, he needed to feud with legends fast and quickly. Cena going into a programme with The Game allowed the former chain gang leader to learn from the best on how to build a mega feud and tell a methodical story through a match. Fast forward a few months and on the grandest stage of them all, Cena would tap out the cerebral assassin to become the WWE's top star.
5 BURIED: STING
This was the case of two decades worth of hype being put in the bin due to the ego of Triple H. After his loss to The Game at WrestleMania 31, the fans would never look at Sting as anything more than a nostalgia act. This was clearly a petty agenda by Vince and Hunter to state that the WWE was always, and would always be superior to WCW. It's never bad to have new stars and new draws. Sting could have gone over Triple H to establish him with the modern WWE crowd and he could have put over a younger star afterwards.
In an age where Brock Lesnar & John Cena are the only main event draws you have, surely you'd want someone with the prestige of Sting to help you create new stars? When you're a company that has put all its eggs in one basket with a streaming network, you need as many main eventers as possible. You need a constant buzz and hype around your product to sustain subscriber counts. Sting's in-ring return at WrestleMania 31 was the most anticipated bout on the card and the WWE wasted his hype and put an end to any of his potential worth from then on.
4 PUT OVER: BATISTA
Right from the get go, it's clear that the Animal was a favorite of WWE officials. The way in which he was booked and presented just exuded star quality. Triple H took him under his wing from the start and the pair portrayed a captivating on-screen dynamic to the fans. Evolution was a faction filled with star power, dominance and the company's chosen ones. The way he was held down by The Game made fans yearn for the Animal to break free. And when Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble and opted to face Triple H at WrestleMania 21, it signalled the start of a meteoric rise to stardom for the newcomer. His clean win over Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania solidified his status as a top guy in the WWE and led him to be a main event draw for several years to come.
Perhaps his hand was forced but The Game's impact on Batista's popularity was unprecedented and made the Animal who he is today.
3 BURIED: BOOKER T
Now this was uncomfortable for all those involved. You could feel the genuine dislike for Booker T seething in the eyes of Hunter every time the two were in the same ring together. Often bordering upon the racist, this feud and burial exemplified the bad side of Vince's booking. Booker T was well on his way to becoming a major star in the WWE before he ran into the buzzsaw that was Triple H. Perhaps the most over wrestler on the roster had his chance to become a star but the WWE instead decided to waste his momentum and feed it to Hunter.
Like I said before, the Triple H era was live in effect from 2002 onwards and at WrestleMania XIX in 2003, he ensured once again that another rising star wasn't able to eclipse him. Hunter retained his championship and went on to dominate the roster for several months while Booker T was shafted aside to the B-show SmackDown.
2 PUT OVER: DANIEL BRYAN
Triple H's main event rub to Daniel Bryan elevated him into the top star he wasn't meant to be. Once again, Hunter put over a potential top guy at WrestleMania and made them into a top star. But you know why this case was just so special? Bryan wasn't a chosen guy. The original plan for the WrestleMania XXX main event was Orton vs. Batista. The fans revolted and ultimately made Hunter put the bearded man over. However, throughout the near year-long feud, there was no inclination from Hunter that he was against the idea of elevating Bryan.
Throughout the feud the King of Kings produced a heel master class with 100% intensity to get Daniel over as a sympathetic babyface. Their opening bout at WrestleMania XXX was special and was WWE booking to perfection. Many of us assumed Bryan would go over Hunter at WrestleMania, but the manner in which it happened was nothing short of spectacular.
1 BURIED: CM PUNK
Sometimes it's just so clear to all when two wrestlers don't like or respect each other. As main event stars, you couldn't find two more opposing performers to pit against each other. The perfectly moulded WWE guy versus the man that despises everything the WWE believes is a star. Phil Brooks versus Paul Levesque provided us with uncomfortable but enthralling television. We all know that Punk has never had the WWE main event look and it's clear that Hunter looked down on him because of that.
During which is now known as the 'Summer of Punk' in 2011, Brooks became the most talked about star in the company, even eclipsing Cena as the no.1 merchandise seller. Instead of him being booked to progress and go on to greater things, he was pitted against the COO of the company in a one-off bout. A man that didn't even wrestle anymore came out of retirement, beat the biggest thing in the company and went back into retirement. What message does that relay to the fans? Ermmm, basically an office executive is better than your top guy despite not wrestling week in week out. Thankfully due to the support of the fans Punk was able to sustain his main event run, but this was one of the several incidents that made Chicago icon grow weary of the WWE.