In another time, Triple H might have been one of Brock Lesnar's greatest rivals, but a sputtering feud between the two makes him more of a third-tier rival.
Think of Lesnar's most compelling foes and names like Kurt Angle, Undertaker and Big Show come to mind. These are men who brought out Lesnar's best. They had sustained feuds that resulted in unforgettable matches marked by brutality and intensity.
It's not like Triple H doesn't have the skills to be in that group, but both men's part-time status has led to their rivalry being too spread out. Rather than their hatred escalating, it stops and starts. Their momentum has to be regained again and again as both men are not on TV enough together.
WWE has done its best to maintain continuity by making Paul Heyman the bridge between Lesnar and The Game, but it's made it seem that Heyman is more Triple H's rival than Lesnar himself.
Vince McMahon and Steve Austin were at each other's throats just about every week during the Attitude era. During John Cena and CM Punk's rivalry in 2011, they clashed on WWE Raw in a way that heightened their animosity. Triple H and Lesnar, on the other hand, seem to trade off who will be at WWE Raw to challenge the other.
The fact that Lesnar and Triple H's feud lacks consistency is only part of the reason this rivalry ranks below Lesnar vs. Big Show, Undertaker or Angle.
The other factor is the level of stakes between them. Against his biggest rivals, Lesnar was battling for or defending the WWE title. He was fighting to be on top of the WWE mountain and had to swat Undertaker and Angle off in order to stay there.
His feud with Triple H is personal and visceral, but it's between two guys with no ties to championships and no claim to the company's top spot.
That slides Triple H down to the third level of Lesnar's rivals.
He's certainly above Zach Gowen and Jeff Hardy just because of his elevated status. The enthralling quality of Lesnar and Triple H's WrestleMania 29 match has him hovering around Eddie Guerrero and John Cena territory. Hulk Hogan and The Rock had shorter feuds with Lesnar than his top rivals, but like them, they had big stakes and career-defining moments to offer.
Beating Hogan solidified Lesnar as an unstoppable monster. His bloody match with the legend catapulted him. The same goes for his work with The Rock. Beating The Rock made Lesnar the youngest world champion in WWE history.
Where has Lesnar's feud with Triple H taken either man? It hasn't altered their careers or characters in the way the best rivalries do.
Had Lesnar won at WrestleMania 29 and ended Triple H's career, that would have elevated the significance of their feud. Had their fights produced something to hold onto other than memories of a single great battle, Triple H could be talked about as one of Lesnar's top five rivals.
As it stands, their upcoming cage match could very well be the match of the night, but then what? Once the victor emerges, both wrestlers are likely to return to inactive status until SummerSlam rolls around.
What happens after Extreme Rules, just as much as what happens during it, will determine the legacy of this feud. Should the result be a catalyst for something memorable, Triple H becomes a more important rival on Lesnar's list.
For now, The Game plays the part of a lesser foe, obscured by the shadows of Lesnar's archenemies.
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