Ranking Triple H's Most Important Matches Following WrestleMania 29 Victory
Image courtesy of WWE.com
Triple H finally exacted revenge on Brock Lesnar for what "The Next Big Thing" did to his family and friends. He also avenged his SummerSlam 2012 loss and two broken arms suffered last spring and summer in the storyline. More importantly, Triple H's legendary career continues after he defeated Lesnar following a Pedigree onto the steel steps.
Triple H will go down as one of the greatest professional wrestlers in business history. His contributions to the industry have been widely underrated and understated to this point in his career. As he continues to gain more control backstage in the WWE, fans from future generations will continue to benefit from his immense dedication, passion and knowledge of professional wrestling.
"The Game" will shape the WWE for decades to come, but it is his legacy as a performer that will forever live in infamy. We won’t ever know exactly what he contributes backstage, but fans will forever be able to honor the contributions he made on the surface as one of the most controversial, intense and gutsiest wrestlers in WWE history.
It may not have stolen the show, but the ramifications of the match were off the charts for Triple H. It’s only appropriate to take a trip down memory lane to honor and remember the most important matches from the career of "The King of Kings" after he escaped retirement at MetLife Stadium.
Honorable Mention: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, SummerSlam 2002
This match obviously had more to do with Shawn Michaels, since it was his first match back in four years and was one of the most impressive performances ever witnessed. Still, Michaels obviously would only come back for one man, and that one man was his best friend, Triple H, because he knew he would be guaranteed a phenomenal match with someone he trusted to keep him healthy.
Triple H is directly responsible for the return of one of the greatest wrestlers the business has ever seen. Michaels realized in that match that he could still "go" and was an active performer for nearly eight strong years after that match went down at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, N.Y.
Having been there live for that match, it was easily one of the greatest performances by two men we’ve ever seen. Their chemistry and synergy were impeccable, which made the flow and intensity of the match that much greater than the emotions that already filled the atmosphere.
Michaels was exceptional, but in his first match back, he still needed somebody of Triple H’s caliber to mirror and cement his return as one of the most inspirational and exceptional wrestlers in pro wrestling history.
5. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit, WrestleMania XX
Nearly every wrestling fan wanted it to happen, but many had their doubts that Triple H would "put over" Chris Benoit at WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden for the World Heavyweight Championship. Then it finally happened.
In easily the greatest Triple Threat match to date, Triple H tapped out near the middle of the ring to provide wrestling with one of its greatest moments at that time.
The King of Kings carried the buildup heading into the main event of the 20th anniversary of WrestleMania with exceptional promos that didn’t just put over his opponents, but also the overall importance of the WrestleMania stage and the World Heavyweight Championship.
After Triple H’s promos, fans didn’t just think the belt was on the line that Sunday night; they knew everything that was important in this world to these three men was on the line.
4. Triple H vs. Batista, WrestleMania XXI; vs. John Cena, WrestleMania XXII
It could be said that Triple H’s most important work came in back-to-back years at WrestleMania XXI and XXII. He was responsible for cementing the status and legacy of two of the brightest megastars in the industry of the past decade—Batista and John Cena.
Batista and Cena were catapulted into superstardom when they defeated Triple H in their respective WrestleMania main events. It was at that point when everyone knew they were going to lead WWE into the future and beyond.
Every wrestler either has "it" or doesn’t. It was abundantly clear that Batista and Cena had "it" and would go on to rule the industry when they were each called up from Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2002. It took them less than a handful of years to reach the top of the company, but each man has Triple H to thank for cementing his status at the top.
Neither man ever dropped down from the main event level or lost any cachet or drawing power within the industry.
3. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho, WrestleMania XVIII
On May 21, 2001, WWE fans witnessed one of the gutsiest performances in professional wrestling history.
On a routine maneuver, Triple H planted his leg when attempting to hit Chris Jericho from behind during a tag team match on Raw. His quadriceps muscle was ripped off the bone, and the pain Triple H felt must have been indescribable. Somehow, he powered through to finish the match and even took the Walls of Jericho on top of the announcer’s table.
People can say what they want about The Game, but nobody can deny his pain threshold, dedication and toughness.
It was on that day that we lost one of the best wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle. He missed one of the most important storylines in wrestling history in the WCW and ECW Invasion that summer. He didn’t return until January 7, 2002, and rightfully received arguably the biggest pop in wrestling history.
As soon as he walked out on stage from behind the curtain, his path back to the top began. He pronounced his return and effectively went on to win the Royal Rumble match to guarantee a spot in the WrestleMania XVIII main event to contend for the WWE Undisputed Championship.
Though many feel that Triple H vs. Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XVIII wasn’t a great match, that opinion most likely stems from the show-stealing and epic encounter between The Rock and Hulk Hogan earlier in the night. The bottom line is that Triple H vs. Chris Jericho was a great match and saw Triple H finally get back to the mountaintop after suffering one of the most devastating injuries in wrestling history.
Triple H had completed one of the most improbable comeback stories in WWE history and deserved to be recognized as one of the best in the business.
2. Triple H vs. The Rock, SummerSlam 1998
Triple H’s time in D-Generation X was one of the reasons the WWE and the Attitude Era was so successful in the late 1990s. His controversial and innovative antics were top-notch, and he helped begin a worldwide craze with the DX-patented crotch chop.
The Game was destined to be a breakout star the moment he stepped into the WWE from WCW. Despite an incident at Madison Square Garden that derailed his career, he pushed forward and demanded greatness from everybody around him, including himself. It wasn’t until his feud with The Rock and the Nation of Domination that Triple H began to separate himself from the rest of the midcard Superstars in the company.
Promos may sell the buildup to the match, and some fans could easily say the hype for a match might be more important than the match itself. However, wrestlers can overcome poor hype to produce a great match. Wrestlers can’t produce a poor match following great hype or no promotion at all because it will be seen as a letdown. Everything builds to the match, not the other way around. At the end of the day, the match is what matters most.
Triple H’s ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship against The Rock during the height of the Attitude Era defined the early portion of both Superstars’ careers. This match was the best they had ever produced up until this point. More importantly, it was also the catalyst for their eventual main event pushes.
1. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack, Royal Rumble 2000
Similar to the year before with The Rock, the WWE enlisted Cactus Jack to solidify Triple H as a main event heel. The results were unthinkable, as Triple H vs. Mankind/Cactus Jack is still seen to this day as one of the greatest feuds the WWE has ever produced.
The storyline of Triple H marrying Stephanie McMahon and taking over control of the WWE was as innovative and engaging as fans had ever seen to that point. To this day, it remains one of the greatest storylines the business has ever seen, and it was all confirmed when Triple H wrestled Cactus Jack in a New York City Street Fight at the Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden.
In WWE’s unofficial home, Triple H and Cactus Jack went on to produce one of the most brutal, intense and engrossing matches wrestling had ever seen.
Everyone knew Triple H was a phenomenal heel and great in-ring worker, but this match proved his toughness and cemented his status as the best heel in the business at that time. He was widely regarded as the best wrestler of that year, and it all started with this feud and match with Cactus Jack at the Rumble.
With "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Undertaker sidelined with injuries, the WWE desperately needed an antagonist for the top face in the company in The Rock, but Triple H first had to prove he was ready to headline WrestleMania XVI. Many fans look to their match at No Way Out the following month, where Triple H "retired" Cactus Jack, but that match wouldn’t have been possible without their Rumble performance.
While Triple H dealt with his calf getting sliced open by a wooden board during that street fight at the Royal Rumble, wrestling fans witnessed the transformation of a wrestler who would go on to become one of the greatest and most influential performers to ever grace the squared circle.
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