Shawn Michaels and Triple H will forever be linked as the founding members of D-Generation X. These best friends were two of the catalysts behind the Attitude Era. However, the original stable ended after WrestleMania XIV when Michaels needed back surgery. Triple H then got his opportunity to step out of Michaels’ shadow and begin his run at the top.
Michaels eventually returned in 2002. His first “official” match was at SummerSlam against his friend, Triple H in a brutal street fight.
They would go head to head four more times, with Triple H picking up three victories. They fought to a draw at Royal Rumble 2004 in a Last Man Standing match.
Michaels and Triple H would reunite as DX a couple of more times in 2006 and 2009.
With Michaels fully retired and Triple H’s career winding down, it’s time to take a look back at their careers and see which original DX member was the better performer.
Both Triple H and Michaels won numerous championships throughout their careers.
Michaels is a three-time WWE champion, one-time World champ, one-time European champ, three-time Intercontinental champ and a six-time tag team champ.
The Heartbreak Kid was the first Grand Slam Champion in WWE’s history. Michaels is also an 11-time Slammy Award winner and a member of the Hall of Fame.
Triple H is an eight-time WWE champ, five-time World champ, two-time European champ, five-time Intercontinental champ and a three-time tag team champ.
He also won three Slammy Awards and the 1997 King of the Ring. Triple H is WWE’s second Grand Slam Champion.
Even though most of Triple H’s title reigns came in the absence of Michaels, the WWE trusted him enough to take the ball and run with it. Triple H was on top as recent as 2009 when he won his eighth WWE Championship. Triple H wins this category.
Triple H has fought in 16 WrestleManias, while Michaels fought in 17. Triple H’s record is 7-9. Michaels finished his career with a 6-11 record at the grandest stage of them all.
Despite a sub-par record, Michaels stole the show more times than his friend. Michaels put on some great matches at WrestleMania early in his career, including the ladder match at WrestleMania X and the Iron Man match the following year.
Michaels continued his show-stealing performance when he returned after four-and-a-half years away from the ring. Michaels’ match against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XIX and against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21 were excellent matches.
Triple H was in a WrestleMania main event six times—16, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 25—but none of those matches were memorable. The match that was the closest to being a classic was the triple threat match at WrestleMania XX. However, that match featured Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit, two excellent wrestlers.
Regardless of the losing record, Shawn Michaels put on much better performances at the biggest pay-per-view of the year, which is why he is called Mr. WrestleMania.
It is one thing to compare the title reigns and WrestleMania victories that were booked by WWE. However, it’s another to look at how a third party ranked these two Superstars based on their long careers.
Who was the better performer?
This section will focus on the awards received by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
Shawn Michaels received 11 Match of the Year awards, including seven in a row from 2004 to 2010. He also won Feud of the Year in 2008 with Chris Jericho.
PWI ranked Michaels the No. 1 wrestler out of 500 in 1996. Michaels was back in the top 10 in 2003.
Triple H only had one match of the year and that was the WrestleMania XX main event. However, he won three Feud of the Year awards—in 2000 with Kurt Angle, 2004 with Chris Benoit and 2009 with Randy Orton.
This was a tough one to decide, but the 11 Match of the Year awards puts Shawn Michaels over his friend, Triple H.
Both Shawn Michaels and Triple H had excellent careers, winning many championships and awards. However, Shawn Michaels reigned supreme in two separate stints with the WWE. Many would say he was better his second time around. Shawn Michaels is a once-in-a-lifetime performer and will be remembered forever.