WWE WrestleMania 29: Ranking All of Triple H's Previous 'Mania Matches

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2013

WWE WrestleMania 29: Ranking All of Triple H's Previous 'Mania Matches

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    Shawn Michaels holds the moniker of "Mr. WrestleMania" and The Undertaker is synonymous with the biggest event in professional wrestling due to his unblemished 20-0 record, but Triple H has also left an indelible mark on the show of shows over the years.

    WrestleMania XII, back in 1996, was the first 'Mania I ever watched live and it also happened to be Triple H's first in terms of making the card.

    Triple H has wrestled at every WrestleMania (save for one) since then, so I suppose you can say that the only certainties in life are death, taxes and Triple H performing on the big stage.

    His WrestleMania track record is somewhat of a mixed bag as he has had some classics, some middle-of-the-road matches and some train wrecks to boot. Considering that he has competed at WrestleMania on 16 occasions, however, that is to be expected.

    With a match against Brock Lesnar on the verge of being finalized for WrestleMania XXIX, it seems quite likely that Triple H will add one more bout to the "classics" column in the very near future.

    Keep reading for analysis on all of Triple H's WrestleMania matches, including rankings from best to worst. Both match quality and importance were taken heavily into account, but there is obviously no hard-and-fast formula for grading matches, so let the debate begin.

16. Triple H vs. Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania XII)

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    Triple H's first WrestleMania match came at WrestleMania XII while he was still going by the long form of his name in Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

    Interestingly, Triple H was escorted to the ring by Sable, who was making her WWE debut at the time. Sable went on to become a household name during the Attitude Era, but she certainly had humble beginnings in the WWE.

    Over the years Triple H has grown accustomed to being the center of attention, but that wasn't the case in this match as he faced the returning Ultimate Warrior.

    This marked Warrior's first WWE match since 1992 and his first 'Mania match since beating Randy "Macho Man" Savage at WrestleMania VII. With that in mind, it was all about The Ultimate Warrior on this night.

    Warrior rushed to the ring and Triple H attempted to mount some offense before Warrior could even shed his entrance gear. Triple H even hit Warrior with his signature Pedigree, but Warrior no-sold it and quickly won the match.

    Triple H has gained a reputation for "burying" talent over the years, so I suppose it's ironic that his first 'Mania match involved him getting buried in his own right.

15. Triple H vs. Kane (WrestleMania XV)

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    Heading into his WrestleMania XV match against Kane, the big storyline involving Triple H was actually his feud with former D-Generation X cohort Chyna.

    That played a big role in the bout as a swerve resulted in DX being reformed.

    Perhaps the most memorable part of the match, though, was The San Diego Chicken attacking Kane prior to the bout starting. Kane removed the mascot's mask to reveal Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader in Pete Rose. Kane then delivered a thunderous Tombstone.

    Triple H gained control early thanks to a sneak attack, but The Big Red Monster eventually started to take the fight to Triple H.

    Chyna appeared ready to assist Kane on numerous occasions throughout the match, but it never happened. During the contest's latter stages, Chyna grabbed a chair and acted like she was going to hit Triple H, but she decided to strike Kane instead.

    This resulted in Triple H hitting Kane with a Pedigree on the chair. Triple H lost the match by disqualification, but D-Generation X was back in business.

    It wasn't an awful match by any means, but the ending was indecisive and there was more focus on other factors than the in-ring action itself.

14. Triple H vs. Goldust (WrestleMania XIII)

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    One match that is often forgotten among Triple H's myriad of WrestleMania encounters is his bout with Goldust at WrestleMania XIII.

    Triple H hadn't yet become The Game and was still the blue blood known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, so it's no wonder that this one gets lost in the shuffle. This was actually a fairly lengthy match during the mid-card portion of the show, but it was pretty nondescript as well.

    As was the case on many occasions, Chyna took some of the focus away from Triple H.

    The same was true of Marlena for Goldust. I consider Triple H and Goldust to be underrated in terms of in-ring work, but this wasn't one of their better matches regardless of distractions. There were quite a few rest holds and the flow simply wasn't there.

    Things came to a head late in the contest when Chyna grabbed Marlena outside the ring and essentially began tossing her around like a rag doll.

    This caused Goldust to rush to her aid, but it also allowed Triple H to take advantage by hitting Goldust with a Pedigree. Goldust was unable to recover and Triple H won the match.

    This is one of the few Triple H WrestleMania matches that didn't really have high stakes.

13. Triple H vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXV)

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    In terms of pre-match build, the WWE Championship bout between Triple H and Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXV should have been an absolute classic.

    The match itself simply didn't live up to the hype, though, and is viewed as one of the most disappointing main events in WrestleMania history.

    The feud between them was very personal—Orton had tormented Vince, Shane and Stephanie McMahon—but that was never projected throughout the 'Mania encounter.

    Perhaps the biggest thing that put a damper on this match was the stipulation put forth by Vickie Guerrero. It was ruled that if Triple H got disqualified or counted out, Orton would win the title.

    This is the type of match that should have actually had a no-disqualification stip.

    That would have done justice to their feud, but that simply wasn't the case. Also, both Triple H and Orton hit their respective finishers early in the match only for them to be kicked out of.

    That definitely hurt the flow of the contest.

    Triple H ultimately prevailed by taking the sledgehammer from Orton and hitting him with it while the referee was incapacitated.

    He then followed that up with a Pedigree to retain his title. Triple H getting revenge on Orton for his actions and winning the match was proper booking, but the manner in which it happened just wasn't satisfactory.

12. Triple H vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXIV)

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    It was pretty clear heading in to WrestleMania XXIV that Triple H, John Cena and Randy Orton would have to really tear the house down in order to stand out.

    With matches such as Edge vs. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair already on the card, the WWE Championship triple-threat match was pretty much overshadowed from the start and didn't stand much of a chance in terms of stealing the show.

    There have been several triple threats at WrestleMania over the years involving one of the word titles, and while some of them have been excellent, others have fallen flat.

    They have definitely proven to be a hit-and-miss venture. Triple H, Cena and Orton are three of the biggest stars in WWE history, so they should have been able to rise up, but there just wasn't enough chemistry between them.

    The formula for a great triple threat normally involves one fantastic in-ring worker running the show and facilitating throughout the contest, but this didn't really have that, so perhaps that is where the blame falls.

    The match wasn't bad by any means as there were some cool spots and false finishes, but it just didn't pop.

    The contest came to an end when Triple H hit Cena with a Pedigree, but Orton broke up the pinfall by punting Triple H. Orton then covered Cena to pick up the victory and retain his title.

    The match was only about 14 minutes long and didn't properly showcase the skills of any of the three men involved, so there aren't many fans who speak too highly of it.

11. Triple H vs. Booker T (WrestleMania XIX)

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    Much like Triple H's WrestleMania XXV match against Randy Orton, his bout with Booker T at WrestleMania XIX wasn't as good as the preceding feud suggested it would be.

    Triple H entered the match as World Heavyweight Champion and Booker earned the right to face him by winning a 20-man battle royal. Triple H took plenty of shots at Booker prior to the event: He called his WCW Championship reigns a joke and made reference to Booker's criminal past.

    That should have led to Booker getting redemption and winning the big gold belt on the big stage, but Triple H prevailed at WrestleMania.

    The match itself was solid as both men worked hard and put on a decent show. Ric Flair got involved on the outside as he caused Booker to hit his knee on the steel steps. This gave Triple H an advantage and led to him working on Booker's knee throughout the contest.

    Booker gained some momentum late in the match and seemed poised to win, but his knee gave out and Triple H executed a Pedigree for the victory.

    I have never subscribed to the Triple H burial theory, but this match is definitely an instance where it would have made more sense for him to lose.

    It was a passable bout; however, it could have been much better had the ending been different.

10. Triple H vs. Sheamus (WrestleMania XXVI)

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    After several years worth of main-event matches at WrestleMania, Triple H took a bit of a step back in that regard at WrestleMania XXVI.

    Triple H faced a rising star in the form of Sheamus earlier in the card and put on an entertaining match. Triple H eliminated then-WWE Champion Sheamus at Elimination Chamber, which resulted in The Celtic Warrior losing his title, so Sheamus challenged The Game to a 'Mania match.

    Interestingly, this bout essentially spelled the end for Triple H as a full-time roster member.

    Triple H would go on to beat Sheamus at WrestleMania, but he lost the rematch at Extreme Rules and was "injured" by Sheamus, which allowed him to take some time off.

    He didn't exactly go out on top in his final 'Mania match as a full-timer since it was overshadowed by several other bouts on the card, but it was a good supporting encounter that I enjoyed.

    There wasn't anything inherently special about the match and it certainly isn't one that fans have been talking about ever since, so I can't put it much higher than this on the list. That said, Triple H definitely helped Sheamus get over to the point where he is one of the most popular figures in wrestling three years later.

    Triple H didn't give Sheamus the victory, but simply facing him was a huge deal for Sheamus early in his WWE career.

9. Triple H vs. Owen Hart (WrestleMania XIV)

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    WrestleMania XIV took place a little more than a year before Triple H really made his push toward the main-event scene, but his match with Owen Hart is one that shouldn't be dismissed.

    Hart was certainly one of the best in-ring workers in the WWE during the Attitude Era and was capable of putting on a great bout with anyone. Triple H entered the match as the European Champion, so there was some gold on the line.

    There was also a story being told outside the ring as Chyna was handcuffed to Sgt. Slaughter so she couldn't interfere.

    The action in the ring was fast and furious as it went back and forth throughout. Owen came close to ending it on a couple occasions with the Sharpshooter, but Triple H was able to escape.

    Late in the match, Chyna threw white powder in Slaughter's eyes, which prompted Hart to check on him. With the referee's back turned, Chyna hit Hart with a low blow. This allowed Triple H to hit Owen with the Pedigree and retain the European Championship.

    This is an easy bout to forget because it happened early in the card and wasn't for a major title, but it was really well put together.

    Had they been given 20 minutes I'm sure that they could have potentially had the match of the night. That didn't happen, but it was good nonetheless and is a hidden gem of sorts that every wrestling fan should attempt to watch.

8. Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. Big Show (WrestleMania 2000)

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    To this very day, the only time a Fatal 4-Way Match ever served as the main event at WrestleMania was at WrestleMania 2000.

    Triple H entered the bout as WWE Champion and put his title on the line against The Rock, Mick Foley and Big Show.

    Each combatant was also supported by a member of the McMahon family. Stephanie was with Triple H, Vince was with The Rock, Lind was with Mankind and Shane was with Big Show.

    This led to some interesting interactions throughout the contest.

    Triple H, The Rock and Foley combined to eliminate Big Show and Triple H proceeded to eliminate Foley after multiple Pedigrees. This meant that the elimination match came down to Triple H and The Rock. It appeared as though The Rock was firmly in control, but Vince shocked everyone by hitting him with a steel chair and turning heel.

    This allowed Triple H to score the pinfall and retain his WWE Championship.

    The Rock went berserk after the match as he took out Vince and Shane, and even hit Stephanie with a People's Elbow.

    There are some differing opinions among fans about this match, and while I don't consider it to be a fantastic main event by any means, it was a fun match with a good finish. Triple H was furthered as a top heel and it was absolutely a signature win in his career.

7. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania X8)

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    One Triple H WrestleMania match that receives way more criticism than it deserves is his encounter with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8.

    Jericho came into that match as the Undisputed Champion and he had Stephanie McMahon in his corner as she turned on Triple H. The match itself was quite entertaining as both Triple H and Jericho performed admirably.

    Stephanie's presence was great as well. She received a Pedigree from Triple H during the contest and Triple H eventually hit Jericho with one as well to become the new champion.

    The reason why this match has been raked through the mud over the years, though, is that it main-evented the show rather than The Rock vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan.

    In hindsight it's easy to say that Rock and Hogan should have closed the show because of how great that encounter was, but Triple H and Jericho wrestled over the Undisputed Championship, which was the most important thing in the company at that time.

    Because of that, I don't blame the WWE for trying to showcase its top title.

    If we're judging this match solely based on The Rock vs. Hogan, then it didn't measure up, but very few 'Mania matches ever have.

    In terms of every other WrestleMania match that has ever taken place, though, Triple H vs. Jericho was quite enjoyable. It certainly could have been better, but it was more entertaining than most seem to remember.

6. Triple H vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXII)

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    Whether you love him or hate him, there is no doubt that every WrestleMania match involving John Cena is an important one. His battle with Triple H at WrestleMania XXII may not have been the greatest match of his career, but it was definitely an encounter worthy of a 'Mania main event.

    It can be argued that the most memorable part of the match were the entrances as Triple H came to the ring dressed as a king, while Cena was a Chicago gangster. That set the stage for a high-stakes affair.

    The match was back and forth, and it featured plenty of close calls.

    The final stages of the contest were particularly exciting as Cena narrowly avoided being hit with a couple Pedigrees and Triple H kicked out after an FU. Triple H also found a way to escape the STFU, but Cena eventually locked it back in and Triple H was forced to tap out.

    Thus Cena retained the WWE Championship and earned a win at WrestleMania that would propel him to new heights.

    Cena was still fairly new in terms of being a top guy at this point, so it was vital for him to defeat a guy the stature of Triple H.

    The outcome also destroyed the notion that Triple H wasn't willing to put people over.

    Triple H had to be the top guy in the company for a period of time when there weren't a lot of other options, but he realized that his time was up and that Cena was the go-to guy, so he willingly ceded control.

    This was a pass-the-torch match to some degree and it played out like it should have.

5. Triple H vs. Batista (WrestleMania XXI)

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    It can be argued that the best angle in all of professional wrestling over the past decade involved Triple H and Batista ahead of WrestleMania XXI. Batista was clearly a star on the rise thanks to his partnership with Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton in Evolution.

    It got to the point where Triple H's dominance was holding him down, though, and it was time for The Animal to break out.

    Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble, so Triple H assumed that he would go after the WWE Championship, but Batista turned face on Triple H instead.

    Batista's turn was a long time coming as he was treated progressively worse by Triple H as time went by. Batista didn't like Triple H telling him how to use his guaranteed title shot, so he decided to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship out of spite.

    During the contract signing Batista pretended to choose the WWE Championship and gave Triple H a thumbs up, but he turned that into a thumbs down and attacked The Game.

    Batista had a ton of momentum heading into WrestleMania XXI and it was clear that he had to beat Triple H.

    That is precisely what happened as Batista closed the show by winning the world title and taking the proverbial torch from Triple H.

    It may not have been the greatest match from an in-ring perspective, but the meaning behind it and the perfect result made up for that. It was the culmination of a feud that was a long time in the making and that made the match truly special and memorable.

4. Triple H vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)

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    When Triple H challenged The Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania XXVII, the WWE essentially acted like it was the first time they ever faced each other on the big stage. In actuality, Triple H and Taker actually went toe to toe once before at the show of shows with Taker emerging victorious at WrestleMania X-Seven.

    Although their first 'Mania match certainly didn't live up to their more recent battles, it was a fantastic bout. The fact that The Undertaker's streak wasn't yet a huge deal probably has something with why it isn't talked about more by the fans.

    Their WrestleMania X-Seven match was the second-to-last contest of the night, so they had a featured spot on the card.

    Their match resembled a fight more than a technical display as it spilled to the outside on numerous occasions. Taker eventually knocked out referee Mike Chioda due to frustration as he couldn't put The Game away.

    This led to the combatants fighting around the arena. Taker eventually chokeslammed Triple H off of some scaffolding and followed it up with a flying elbow drop.

    Triple H was able to recover and hit Taker with a sledgehammer to the head, but The Undertaker kicked out as Chioda regained consciousness.

    Triple H got Taker into the corner and began to work him over with right hands, but The Undertaker reversed it into an elevated Last Ride for the victory. It's a shame that this match is often forgotten because it was truly one of Triple H's best and one of Taker's best as well.

3. Triple H vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVII)

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    As perfect as the buildup for Triple H vs. Batista at WrestleMania XXI was, there really wasn't much rhyme or reason behind Triple H facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVII.

    Taker made his return after a hiatus and Triple H proceeded to interrupt him.

    That was essentially the extent of things, and while Shawn Michaels was integrated into the storyline in order to make it personal, there honestly was no build needed because Triple H and The Undertaker work so well in the ring together that they can have a great match under any circumstances.

    The fact that The Undertaker was aging and "losing his powers" was played up quite a bit prior to their WrestleMania XXVII match and it played a big role.

    The contest itself was a no holds barred match, which certainly added a ton to the atmosphere. The early part of the match was even and included plenty of near falls with The Undertaker executing a chokeslam, Last Ride and Tombstone.

    Triple H kicked out of all of them and Taker kicked out of a Pedigree. Triple H hit two more Pedigrees, but The Deadman kicked out of those as well.

    Triple H continuously hit The Undertaker with a chair and looked to put the match away with a Tombstone of his own. The Undertaker once again kicked out, so Triple H fetched his sledgehammer.

    As he went to hit Taker, The Phenom locked in Hell's Gate. Triple H hung in there for quite some time and nearly grabbed the sledgehammer to break out, but he couldn't take anymore and tapped out. Both men were spent by the end of the match and The Undertaker had to be carried to the back.

    The mere fact that Triple H made me and others believe that the streak was actually in jeopardy made this clash an absolute classic that will forever live in the annals of WrestleMania history.

2. Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XX)

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    Triple H was part of one of the most disappointing triple-threat matches in WrestleMania history against John Cena and Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXIV, but he was part of one of the best a few years earlier.

    Triple H entered WrestleMania XX as the World Heavyweight Champion and had to defend his belt against both Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels.

    Benoit won the Royal Rumble match to earn his title shot, while Michaels fought Triple to a draw at the Rumble to get involved as well.

    It was an extremely interesting bout because there was so much to consider. The main storyline was arguably the feud between Triple H and Michaels. They had been best friends, but they were wrapped up in a blood feud that needed to be settled.

    Also, Benoit playing the underdog role was great as he surprisingly won the Rumble and had never won a major world title before.

    In addition to that, Michaels and Benoit were arguably two of the greatest in-ring workers of all time and Triple H was a master psychologist, so the synergy between them was fantastic.

    A lot happened over the course of that match with guys hitting their signatures and finishers and coming up just short. Triple H and Michaels double teamed Benoit in an effort to knock him out of the match, but he recovered.

    He evaded Sweet Chin Music from Michaels and locked Triple H in the Crippler Crossface to eventually win the match and become the new World Heavyweight Champion. Benoit then embraced new WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero to close the show in one of the most memorable 'Mania moments ever.

1. Triple H vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVIII)

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    It would seem as though picking one WrestleMania match out of 16 as the best in Triple H's career would be an arduous task, but it was actually the easiest choice on the entire list.

    Last year's WrestleMania XXVIII focused largely on the main event between The Rock and John Cena, but a different bout truly stole the show.

    Triple H challenged The Undertaker for the second year in a row and for the third time in his career in an effort to end the streak, and while he was once again unsuccessful, the match was truly one for the ages.

    Topping their WrestleMania XXVII encounter was a tall order, but adding the Hell in a Cell stipulation and Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee were huge factors. It was a see-saw affair as all of their matches have been, and it featured several close calls.

    At one point it appeared as though Triple H was in full control.

    He battered The Undertaker so badly with a chair that Michaels showed remorse and nearly called for the bell at Triple H's request. Taker was able to battle back, though. Michaels became frustrated with Taker and hit with a Sweet Chin Music, which Triple H followed up with a Pedigree, but The Deadman shockingly kicked out.

    The Undertaker hit a Tombstone and Triple H hit another Pedigree, but they were both able to kick out.

    The Phenom eventually gained the upper hand and hit Triple H with a decisive Tombstone for the victory. Taker's WrestleMania streak was extended to 20-0 with the win and it marked the end of an era as Triple H couldn't unseat him.

    As great as the match itself was, the aftermath was even better as Taker and Michaels helped Triple H up the ramp. Once they got to the top of the stage, the three of them embraced and the crowd went wild.

    That was the stuff that WrestleMania is made of, and it will go down as the greatest WrestleMania moment in Triple H's career.

     

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