The 5 Faces of Triple H Over 25 Years in WWE
The Triple H who walked through the proverbial doors of WWE in 1995 is certainly not the same titan of the industry we see today. The journey of this legendary superstar-turned-executive and influencer will be celebrated by the company during a 25th anniversary celebration on SmackDown this Friday, April 24.
Before we get to that special, let’s take a look at the five faces of Triple H over the years.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Before signing with WWE, Triple H got his first break in WCW with gimmicks he will never live down, including his characters Terra Ryzing and Jean-Paul Lévesque. The latter would serve as an aristocratic base for what would become Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the Greenwich blueblood persona WWE fans would be introduced to on TV. The snobbish heel could have easily been thrown into the gimmick graveyard of the time with so many others, but his talent shined through. Adding the late Hall of Famer Chyna as the bodyguard helped HHH further stand out. In those early years, Helmsley found success winning the Intercontinental championship and the 1997 King of the Ring. Though the onscreen character needed more to truly connect to the audience.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels took their friendship from behind the curtain to Monday Night Raw with Chyna, and for a bit, Rick Rude. Their sophomoric antics on WWE started to catch on with WWE fans looking for more of an edgy product. Unfortunately, Michaels was mentally burnt out and physically banged up, The big void HBK didn’t stop Triple H from building a new DX army, recruiting X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn (New Age Outlaws). From mooning the crowd, parodying their opponents or even riding a tank into enemy territory, the lovable degenerates were one of the cornerstones of the “Attitude Era.” And no matter who the other members were, Triple H was the constant.
DX allowed Triple H to show more personality, but there was just one more piece of the puzzle missing to reach true main event status. He knew in order to make a real go for the WWE championship, he had to be taken seriously. Channeling frustrations of the past and embracing the chip on his shoulder, “The Game” was ready to take his place at the top of the business. Stephanie McMahon stood by the side of her storyline-turned-real husband, dominating the turn of the century dubbed the “McMahon-Helmsley Era.” In 2000, Triple H became the first heel to leave WrestleMania successfully defending the WWE championship. “The “Cerebral Assassin” had truly arrived among greats like The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mick Foley.
By 2003, Triple H had already solidified himself as one of the greatest of all-time. A regular draw who amassed countless championships along the way. He was ready for the next phase of his career, maybe even also providing an opportunity for the next generation of talent. Enter Evolution, made up of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Batista and Randy Orton. Flair just returned to WWE and was given a confidence boost while in the faction. Triple H saw superstardom for Batista and Orton. A prophecy fulfilled in the years that followed.
Triple H’s days of being a regular fixture on Raw or SmackDown were slowly inching behind him. He began transitioning into that special attraction space, used for big events like WrestleMania or a nostalgia segment. These days, the 50-year-old has traded in the tights and ring for suits and the boardroom. The dedicated worker was instrumental in growing WWE’s developmental system in not only the United States but around the world. The state-of-the-art Performance Center and the ascension of NXT are seen as his babies. Today, Levesque’s title is Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development. Needless to say, when it’s all said and done, Triple H remains an important part of WWE and will be in its long-term future.
WWE SmackDown, Fridays, 8/7c, Fox