Triple H, one of the most hated wrestlers in the business all due to whom he married, which hinders him from being one of the best wrestlers in WWE’s history. To me, despite his “burials” and “holding down talent” theories, HHH will be known to be as a great psychologist.
HHH was a unique wrestler to me in the 90s because everyone in WWF was starting to acclimatize to the jumbled brawling, except HHH and a couple others. HHH was more about the fundamentals of wrestling, making him a complete alternative in the Attitude Era.
His forte was psychology and storytelling, which was great to see. His heel work has also been his forte.
His style was a mixture of the all time greats - Harley Race, Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair. His work was at is apex in early 2000 to early 2001.
He had handfuls of great matches during that era with wrestlers such as Mick Foley, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and many more.
After he injured his quad, his work became more by-the-numbers and less interesting. HHH can still have a good match here and there, but he never reached the level of consistency prior to his quad injury.
Nonetheless, let's count them down.
This match is a prime example of HHH's good matches out of the blue. We knew they were capable of putting on a good match since they showed us at Armageddon 2007, but nobody thought they would be capable to reach this level of greatness.
Fans wanted to watch No Way Out 2008 for one reason - Jericho vs. HBK's Ladder match. The ladder match was great, but the last match I remembered was this match.
I always say when HHH shows any kind of heel mannerisms, his matches improve immnesly. This is a point blank example of that, as HHH was more deliberate and dicated the pace, while Jeff Hardy was the crazy high-flyer, trying to win the match based on his risks.
The two styles went together, and made a great match. HHH really made Jeff Hardy look good in setting up his spots properly, as Jeff Hardy made HHH look good with his in-ring charisma.
The ending was a little silly, as HHH no-sold Jeff's finisher, but it worked in the context of the story being told. I could've done with a better finish, but one small inperfection, doesn't make the rest of the match bad.
At Wrestlemania 16, Vince McMahon helped HHH win the title, swerving us all. The unsolved questions coming into this match were: Was Austin going to show up, and can Rock trust Austin.
Before the match, Vince McMahon says Austin will not be there. If there's anyone who HHH worked better with than Mick Foley, it is the Rock.
HHH was able to be the ring-general, being able to structure and properly place everything against The Rock. The Rock made HHH look good because the fans cared a lot about The Rock when he was on defense, making him a sympathetic babyface, and in the process, making HHH an evil jerk.
This is a prime example of how to overbook something properly and not kill the heat in the match. Austin's return was huge, almost as big as when he helped Mankind win the title ironically against The Rock.This had tons of heat and the crowd was into every step they took.
These two had several great matches, but this one stands out the most. This had great psychology, pacing, timing, intensity, and the whole nine-yards.
The interference didn't even hurt the matches flow, because it made sense in terms of the story. Sadly, this was actually the last PPV booked by Kreski, and then the downfall of Stephanie McMahon running the booking team began after this.
I don’t want to talk too much about Kreski on a HHH list, but he took over when Vince Russo left. His booking was pure gold, as he was great at consistency and long-term booking. Everything in 2000 just worked while he was booking, because of skill and a little bit of luck.
Sadly, he left because he was sick of working those long days. When Stephanie took over, she used the talent wrong, putting Benoit in meaningless feuds. She put the title on Kurt Angle, but booked him as a backburner champion, behind Rikishi and HHH for top heels in the company.
The ratings started fall, and people started getting less interested in wrestling. Vince McMahon was able to get people back into it in the early stages of 2001, but after WM-17, the interest of wrestling fell right on its face.
Shawn came back from being off the shelf as an active wrestler since 1998. The night he came back DX was formed for about five seconds until HHH turned on Shawn.
This all led to this match. In the match, HBK played a great face-in-peril babyface, cause of his conceivable body and facial mannerisms.
HHH played a great-unadulterated ruthless, undiplomatic heel that wanted to impair his at one time best friend for his ego. The dynamics and structure of the match worked to a key here, making this one of the most heated and most hatred matches in WWE history.
This was the rematch from their Backlash 2000 match, but in the Backlash match, they went 20 minutes. In this match, they have to go one-hour.
Many fans thought at this time thought both Rock and HHH were good wrestlers, but they weren't on par with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in work-ethnic, thus this match would expose their weaknesses and make the match uninspriring.
That was not the case at all, though, as they constructed a totally different type of iron man match, making it one if not the best iron man match in WWE history. I perfer this over Bret-Shawn's iron match match by a landslide.
This was better booked, structured, and delivered, while Bret-Shawn had pacing, selling, and 'keeping it interesting' issues. The interference hurts this match a bit to me, because it renders the moot, but despite that, these two just went together like PB&J.
I bet WWE as well as Jericho and HHH could've repeated this magic two years later in their WM 18 match as well as their other matches that didn't have the spunk like this one. Sometimes Last Man Standing matches become spotfest matches accidently due to the stipulations of the match, killing the flow of the match.
But these two used the gimmick to their advantage, putting on one of their best matches they've ever had. The hate between the two was off the charts and help both elevate each other to a new level.
This is one of the many great things about most of 2000. With Stone Cold out for the most of the year and all the great talent WWE got from either WCW, or people like Kurt Angle who just learned the trade so quickly, we were able to see fresh talent in the mainevent, and them cycling in and out the midcard and mainevent, giving us stacked cards on PPV.
This was at the time where fans wanted to puke everytime they saw Triple H vs. HBK because it felt as if they did everything possible in the ring together. However, when you throw in Chris Benoit in the mix, then you had something to talk about.
What can you say about this match that hasn't been said? Psychology, storytelling, memorable bumps, great finish... it's all here.
This was a follow up of their match at Royal Rumble 2000. If Foley lost, he had to retire.
He ended up losing the match, but was brought back in no time, then was added to Wrestlemania's 16 main event. So much for that.
The match itself, though, is about as insane as a WWE gets, and a very emotional match for its time. This is just behind Undertaker-HBK for greatest HITC matches of all time.
After Rikishi ran over Austin with a car, Austin was never the "same", as he wasn't as tough as he use to be, leading to him having to sell his soul to the devil (Vince McMahon) at WM-17.
This was the first block of building towards that story. The match had so much heat, intensity, and abhorrence that would literally could cut the tension with a knife.
It was a shame to see what these two wrestlers became one year later. HHH went from the best worker in WWE to a generic heel pushed too hard, and Austin went from greatness to, well, down right bad.
The only flaw, and yes it’s small flaw, was the obvious spot calling, which makes this a speck less than number one, but it’s still an awesome match.
This was an easy pick for number one for me. This match did so much for HHH's credibility.
Before this match, nobody took HHH as a serious Champion. Vince McMahon liked HHH for a while and always wanted to push him, but it never worked for reasons, the biggest being Stone Cold.
When it was finally right to push him as a top heel, he wasn't getting over as planed, so Vince McMahon, being the genius he was, decided to put him with guys who he clicked together greatly in his midcard career.
The first being the Rock, who he would put classics together with later on, but the man who he worked better than anyone else was Mick Foley. The creative team put together a creative story with HHH beating up Foley so much to the point where Foley had to bring back his other ego personality - Cactus Jack.
The entire plan worked to a charm, as everything delivered. The match was very well put-together and structured to its best; the violence was top-notch for a WWE match, and psychology, storytelling, timing and pacing were flawless.
The best booked and executed brawls in WWE history.