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TJR: Ranking The 10 Best Matches Between The Rock And Triple H

The Rock and Triple H are two of the biggest stars in the history of WWE. They started in WWE at around the same time with Triple H debuted in April 1995 at the age of 26 while The Rock first appeared on WWE TV in November 1996 at 24 years old. As I write this in 2021, Triple H is 52 years old while The Rock is 49 years old and will turn 50 years old next May.

If you watched WWE in the late 1990s through the early 2000s then you know that they were two of the most important performers during the Attitude Era. While “Stone Cold” Steve Austin should be considered the absolute top star from that era, you can make the strong case for The Rock and Triple H as the next two biggest names along with guys like The Undertaker, Mick Foley and so many others.

The Rock and Triple H rose to the top at the same time, feuded for the IC Title, then WWE Title and they headlined many shows together along the way.

The Rock won his first WWE Title at Survivor Series 1998 while Triple H won the WWE Title for the first time on the Raw after SummerSlam 1999. It was the year 2000 when they cemented their spots as top guys. There were 12 PPVs that year and every single one of them ended with The Rock or Triple H in the last match. They were in the same PPV match six times that year. In the years that followed they didn’t really face off as much because The Rock moved on to movies, but if he never left the chances are good that they would have only added to their legendary rivalry.

Think about this also. The Rock left WWE as a regular performer in 2003 (he did wrestle at WrestleMania in 2004, but was mostly done by that point) when he was just 31 years old. If Rock never left for Hollywood, he would have had an incredible run of matches in his 30s. Meanwhile, Triple H stayed in WWE as one of the top stars throughout the 2000s as well as into the 2010s. Triple H even got to headline WrestleMania 32 in 2016 when he was 45 years old. My point is even though they did wrestle a lot from 1996 into the early 2000s, they could have had way more matches if Rock stuck around. Can you blame him for leaving, though? No. Thinks turned out great for The Rock, of course.

Here are 10 of the best matches involving The Rock and Triple H. Some of them are singles matches while others involved different wrestlers. Is it possible that I missed some great matches? Sure. I didn’t include their last match ever in August 2002, but WWE did upload it to Youtube here if you want to watch it. I can’t recall every single Raw or Smackdown match they had, but I tried to pick ones that stand out for one reason or another. Their matches were very good most of the time, so if you want to explore their history here’s a great selection of matches to check out.

(Before I begin, just a note to say I hope Triple H is doing well following his heart procedure earlier in the week. Best wishes to him and his loved ones.)

 

10. Rebellion 1999 (Steel Cage Match)

There were several UK only PPVs in the 1990s and into the early 2000s. One of the PPVs was named Rebellion. This event took place on October 2, 1999. The match saw Triple H as the heel WWE Champion defending the title against The Rock. They wrestled in all kinds of matches against each other, but this one stood out as a Steel Cage Match.

It was a typical cage match with lots of dramatic near escapes and moments where it looked like The Rock might leave with the title, but I doubt most fans expected a title change here. It was a UK only where you know that the champion is likely to retain.

They had a really long cage match that went about 22 minutes. Sometimes cage matches go shorter because there’s only so much you can do in there, but they got plenty of time here. There was all kinds of interference in the match with The British Bulldog getting involved as well as Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Shane McMahon and of course Chyna as well. All of those heels were there to help Triple H win. It ended when Chyna slammed the cage door on Rock when he was trying to get out and also when Bulldog prevented Rock from climbing out. Hunter escaped with the cheap win.

I have not reviewed this match. You can watch this show as well as the other Rebellion specials on Peacock/WWE Network along with other PPVs. It’s not a regular WWE PPV, but this match was really good and showed how talented both of these guys were.

 

9. WrestleMania 2000 (With Big Show And Mick Foley)

A lot of people don’t like this match because they think it should have been just The Rock vs. Triple H. However, it’s impossible to ignore that this was their only WrestleMania match (at this point) together. Also, it’s worth pointing out that it’s really not a bad match when it was just Triple H and The Rock in the final part of the match.

Even though Rock won the 2000 Royal Rumble, WWE added Mick Foley and Big Show to it with the idea that they all had a McMahon family member in their corner. To be fair, Big Show was right in proving that The Rock’s feet touched first, so Big Show did deserve to be in the match. Foley had Linda, Show had Shane, Hunter had Stephanie and The Rock had Vince McMahon, who was in a babyface role going into it.

It was a really long match that went 37 minutes. Show was in it only for a few minutes, Foley lasted about 20 minutes and then the second half of the match was all about Hunter facing off Rock. It looked like Rock was going to win, which a lot of people expected because he was the babyface in the mach. However, just when it looked like Vince was going to help Rock win, he crushed him with a chair shot. A second chair shot was enough to give Hunter the win while Vince turned heel again.

The match made history because Hunter walked in as the heel WWE Champion and walked out as the WWE Champion. That didn’t happen at any of the previous 15 WrestleMania events.

Match Rating: ***1/4 out of 5 (Review)

 

8. Fully Loaded 1999 (Strap Match)

They faced each other at the July Fully Loaded PPV two years in a row. The 1998 Fully Loaded match was really boring. A year later they went at it again at Fully Loaded 1999 in a Strap Match. Sometimes a Strap Match has unique rules. In this case, it was just a match where they were strapped together during the match where the winner was determined by whoever gets the first fall.

The Rock was the face and Hunter was a heel on the rise. They had a very physical match where they used the strap and made it into a good match. It’s not always easy to do that when there’s a strap in there that they have to move around with it, but they made it look effortless. Hunter got the pinfall win after Billy Gunn interfered because he was set to feud with The Rock next.

It made sense for them to feud because if Hunter was going to be a top guy he had to beat his biggest rival in a huge match. The win for Hunter elevated him to the main event level because he went on to main event SummerSlam a month after this. The Rock could afford to lose because he had already been a WWE Champion before. Meanwhile, Rock went on to get payback on Billy Gunn by beating him at SummerSlam. That feud sucked, but at least it led to this legendary Rock promo on Sunday Night Heat of all places:

“Bob?”

“But my name is Billy.”

“It doesn’t matter what your name is!”

By the way, what inspired the Fully Loaded name? Was somebody drunk at a bar when they came up with it? I know WWE tried to convince us that there was a car theme to it, but most people think of being drunk with a phrase like “Fully Loaded” I think.

Match Rating: ***1/2 (Review)

 

7. Global Warning 2002 (With Brock Lesnar)

This was a big match that took place in Melbourne, Australia on August 10, 2002. It was shortly before The Rock’s WWE Title match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam that year, which is the show where Triple H faced Shawn Michaels. That SummerSlam 2002 event is one of the best WWE PPVs ever.

There was an announced attendance of 56,734 people in the domed stadium. We know WWE likes inflate crowd numbers, but you can just tell it was a huge crowd. A lot of people in Melbourne saw it although it’s not really that well known among the worldwide WWE audience since it was a specialty PPV at the time. A lot of WWE may not even know this match even existed, but it did and it was very good. I can remember buying the DVD of it many years ago.

It was a typical WWE style triple threat match where there were all kinds of finishing moves, then the third guy breaks up the pinfall and every time they did it, the crowd is really into it because they’re so used to seeing finishers win. Triple H bled during the match, which was not uncommon for him in big match, and The Rock was able to get the win on Hunter with a Rock Bottom.

A match like this probably should be remembered as a big deal, but as noted it’s not seen as a major match because of where it took place. I have not reviewed this match.

 

6. SummerSlam 2000 (With Kurt Angle)

There are so many great Rock vs. Triple H matches from 2000 as mentioned previously (with more to come) and this one involved Kurt Angle, who had a fantastic rookie year. The Rock was the babyface WWE Champion while Angle had a heated feud with Triple H because Angle was flirting with Hunter’s wife (a storyline at the time) Stephanie McMahon.

It was such an intense match. Hunter brawled with Angle even before Rock got out there. Hunter was trying to give Angle a Pedigree through the Spanish announce table, but the table collapsed, and you could see Angle was knocked out from it. He suffered a legit concussion, which led to Angle forgetting what to do for most of the rest of the match. Angle actually left the match for part of it.

Most of the match was all about Rock vs. Triple H until Stephanie convinced Angle to go back out there to help Triple H win in the conclusion of the match. Should Angle have been out there with a legit concussion? Probably not, but in 2000 they didn’t think about those things as much as they do today. If what happened to him in this match were to happen today then he probably would have stayed in the back the whole time.

There was an exciting finish to the match with The Rock finding a way to get the job done after some miscommunication by the other two guys. Rock got the win when he pinned Triple H after a People’s Elbow.

When you have a great storyline to match an intense wrestling match it’s usually the formula for success. The crowd was on fire for much of the match and the work by three of the best wrestlers ever was excellent too.

Match Rating: **** (Review)

 

5. Smackdown on August 26, 1999

This was one of the more famous Rock vs. Triple H matches because it was the main event of the first edition of Smackdown. There was actually a taped Smackdown in April 1999 as a bit of a test run, but the first show aired weekly starting on August 26, 1999 on Thursday nights.

Triple H was the heel WWE Champion having just won the title for the first time on the Raw after SummerSlam. The Rock was the babyface challenging him with Shawn Michaels in the role of special referee. At the time, Michaels was a babyface that wasn’t wrestling anymore and the crowd loved him. That was key for the finish.

When it looked like The Rock was going to get the win thanks to a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow, Michaels decided to get involved. Rock set up for the People’s Elbow, bounced off the ropes and Michaels crushed him with a “Sweet Chin Music” Superkick out of nowhere. Triple H capitalized with a Pedigree for the win.

That was a creative way to end the match without moving the title off Hunter and it didn’t hurt Rock too much since he was screwed out of the victory.

I have not written a review of this match. I don’t know if I would rate it higher than the matches mentioned before, but I think as a moment it’s pretty huge in their rivalry.

 

4. Armageddon 2000 (Hell in a Cell w/Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, The Undertaker & Rikishi)

The Hell in a Cell match at the December 2000 PPV called Armageddon is the most unique Hell in a Cell match of all time. There were six guys in the match with Kurt Angle defending the WWE Title against Steve Austin, Triple H, The Rock, The Undertaker and Rikishi. They are five of the biggest stars in WWE history. Rikishi had a Hall of Fame career as well, but he wasn’t pushed consistently as a top guy for years the way the other five guys were.

A lot of people remember The Rock’s promo leading up to the match where he did imitations of the five other guys. That was part of the reason why people liked him so much. He always found a way to make things entertaining.

Going into the match, a lot of people figured Rock would win just because it would set him up to go into WrestleMania as WWE Champion with Steve Austin winning the Royal Rumble to set up their WrestleMania 17 showdown. That WWE Title reign happened for The Rock, but he failed to win the gold here. The most memorable moment was when The Undertaker shoved Rikishi off the cage leading to back bump onto a bed of hay that was in a truck at ringside. A lot of blood in this match too.

It was a crazy finish to the match with everybody hitting big moves and Angle ended up pinning Rock to retain his title in a fluke fashion. The story was more about escaping as the champion rather than winning in a dominant manner. There was some good Rock/Triple H related interaction in the match, but with so many others in the match, it did get lost in the shuffle a bit too.

Match Rating: ****1/4 (Review)

 

3. SummerSlam 1998 (Ladder Match)

It was a match that could be considered the breakout match of both guys. A lot of wrestlers have them. They’re the matches where you can see a guy become a bigger star because of that match.

In this instance, The Rock was the heel Intercontinental Champion that was the champion for 265 days as well as the leader of the Nation of Domination. He grew into a cocky heel that was easy to hate, yet he was so entertaining. Triple H was the leader of Degeneration X and this was their big showdown in a Ladder Match involved in Madison Square Garden.

They went 25 minutes in this match. It was a very physical ladder match. At this point we really hadn’t seen a lot of ladder matches other than Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon two times, so they were able to do it in a different way. It was more about using the ladder as a weapon, involving their allies at ringside and just trying to tell the story the best way they could.

In the end, Triple H got the win even though he was blinded after Mark Henry threw powder in his eyes. Hunter got some help because Chyna was able to hit The Rock with a low blow shot to the groin and Hunter managed to climb up to get the win.

It was a big deal when Hunter won. The IC Title mattered because of the really long reign of The Rock. It was also the night where WWE probably realized that they had two future main event players in these two guys. The Rock would be just fine after this since he became WWE Champion at the age of 26 just three months later.

From my review: “It’s an awesome match with a hot crowd that never gets old for me. It’s not easy going 25 minutes in a ladder match for two guys who are not known as being high fliers, but they made it work and put on an entertaining show. A breakout match for both guys. It is still one of my favorite matches in the careers of both of these legends.”

Match Rating: ****1/2 (Review)

 

2. Backlash 2000

This is the match that probably should have main evented WrestleMania in 2000, but WWE opted to go for the screwjob finish and put this match at Backlash instead. A big reason why they did it is because they knew fans were clamoring for The Rock vs. Triple H in a singles match for the WWE Title. This show generated a huge buyrate for a non “big four” PPV. Backlash did great numbers for WWE with 675,000 buys on PPV. That means it was second to WrestleMania that year with WM doing 824,000 buys. It’s rare for Backlash to beat shows like Royal Rumble and SummerSlam, but it did in 2000.

There were all kinds of crazy things that happened in this match with Steve Austin also set to return after being out for about six months. With The Rock out there battling against Triple H as well as all his McMahon-related allies, Austin’s music hit and he marched out there with a steel chair in hand. He destroyed everybody in sight.

It was one of the loudest ovations in WWE history. Fans were clamoring for Austin after his long absence due to neck surgery, so to see him out there helping The Rock overcome the evil heels was the perfect scenario. Rock won with a People’s Elbow with referee Earl Hebner sliding in after they had taken referee Shane McMahon out. The crowd absolutely loved it.

The action in the match was excellent, but the story they told was even better. Great booking and execution of a main event match. In this instance, the interference didn’t hurt it too bad. It was part of the story with The Rock winning back the WWE Title after Vince screwed him at WrestleMania. I’ll always remember this match because of the crowd. They were going crazy in Washington that night.

From my review: “This really is one of my favorite matches ever with the return of Stone Cold. It’s not an all-time classic in terms of the action or workrate, but as a match and a story, it’s so f’n entertaining. I just love watching it and marveling at the brilliance of it with Rock finding a way to win thanks to Austin’s help. The crowd was as hot as any crowd as you’re ever going to hear because the story was awesome.”

Match Rating: ****1/4 (Review) – I know I rated the SummerSlam 1998 match higher. I just think is overall a better Rock/Triple H match.

 

1. Judgment Day 2000 (60-Minute Ironman Match)

This is their longest match because it was a 60-minute Ironman match. It’s also their best match. By this point, they had worked together so much that they had built up amazing chemistry. The Rock walked into the match as WWE Champion with Triple H getting his rematch after losing a month earlier at Backlash.

What was great about this match is it wasn’t anything like the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart Ironman match from four years earlier when they only had one fall in 62 minutes. This match had 11 falls. There were some creative ones too, like when Triple H intentionally got disqualified to lose a fall and then came back quickly to get two falls because The Rock was hurting. It was really well done.

Like most Ironman matches where it’s heel vs. face, the face Rock made the big comeback to tie it up with two pinfalls in the last few minutes. Michaels was the ref of this match as chaos erupted and The Undertaker showed up to attack all of the heels that were there to help Hunter win. The finish of the match saw a returning Undertaker attack Triple H, Michaels saw that and disqualified Rock because of it, which meant that Hunter won the WWE Title. The timing of everything was off a bit, but they were able to get the point across well enough. Do the mistakes at the finish hurt it a bit? Sure, but I’m not going to ignore the amazing in-ring talent because the timing of the finish was messed up a bit.

It’s really a great match worth checking out if you have an hour. They showed that even though they were bigger guys who aren’t necessarily known as technical wrestlers, they were still skilled enough to have a very entertaining Ironman match. That’s not easy to do.

From my review: “I really liked this match a lot. It’s not easy going for an hour with 11 falls in a match, but I was very entertained by it. The finish was messed up, which is what people are going to remember the most. The timing was off with it, so that hurts the match a bit. I just liked the way falls were done with a mix of pinfalls, submissions, countout and disqualifications. I liked the story of Triple H intentionally getting disqualified to weaken Rock, which led to more falls from Hunter. It was also cool to see how Rock came back and the crowd came alive as he tried getting the win as the babyface champion. As for The Undertaker’s return, I had no idea it was coming and I was reading about the WWF on the internet at the time. I remember that was he was set to return soon, but seeing him here was a surprise. ”

Match Rating: ****1/2 (Review)

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Thanks for reading this look back at matches between The Rock and Triple H. I don’t expect them to wrestle ever again, but if they did, it would probably be great like most of these matches were.

You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport