WWE: Don’t Hate the Game – An Appreciation of Triple H – by Mike Sanchez

Firstly, my sincere apologies for not being here last week. Life sometimes gets in the way. I still managed to catch up with all things WWE and saw the celebration of Ric Flair’s 70th birthday party be spoiled by Dave Batista, which led to Triple H addressing his former Evolution teammate this week on Monday Night Raw. Triple H’s promo was everything one comes to expect from the man. It was well said, emotional, story-driven and had me invested from start to finish. It felt personal and powerful. He spoke right into our homes from the arena and made no mistake in strongly stating that Batista had crossed the line by his mistreatment of the legendary Flair. This feud will likely lead to Triple H vs Batista at Wrestlemania and I’m more than ok with that. In fact, I’m very much looking forward to it.

I’ll come right out and say it; I’ve always been a huge fan of Triple H. Right from the get-go when he was Hunter Hurst Helmsley, through to his run as probably the last true killer heel in WWE during the Attitude Era, his Degeneration-X and Evolution runs and even now as the COO of WWE, the guy is and always has been, one of my favorites. I even have a well-worn copy of ‘Making the Game’ on my bookshelf – a great book about his path in professional wrestling coupled with awesome tips and workouts he used to get himself into incredible shape.

Like everyone in the limelight, he’ll always have some detractors, but one simply cannot deny the impact he’s had in WWE in recent years. I’d even go so far to say he’s probably the most influential and important person in the company who isn’t named McMahon. His passion and drive for the business is clear to see in how he speaks and promotes the industry when he’s not portraying a character. He is open, honest and accommodating when speaking to fans, reporters and even some wrestling sites who all love to hear him talk.

The incredible growth of NXT and NXT UK owe a large portion of their success to him and his vision. Yes, he’s unlikely to take all the credit and frequently praises the hard-working team around him, but for many fans, he’s seen as the figurehead for NXT and that is a great credit to the man. So much so, that on Wikipedia he’s listed as an ‘American Business Professional’ before professional wrestler.

His character on screen is probably more true to life than any he’s played before and the fruits of his labor can be seen on our screens almost every day. It would have been really easy to build NXT with the biggest and strongest the world had to offer, but that hasn’t been the case and the decision to move away from huge muscular dudes who looked great on camera but weren’t the best technical wrestlers has reaped rewards. The decision to build NXT on talent before image has led to some of the most gifted stars getting chances they likely wouldn’t have gotten in generations past. NXT is the breeding ground of talent in the WWE and the alumni of that small institution have gone on to take over the world.

This year Triple H will turn 50 years old (July 27 to be exact) and he is once again likely to be wrestling at Wrestlemania. To the outsider this may look like nepotism; the boss’s son in law pushing himself into the biggest show of the year, but to the fans, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Triple H will face off against Batista in a story that is personal and will be very entertaining. Last year he starred in one of the best matches on the card and in the process took an ass-kicking from Ronda Rousey. Now, I know we’re in 2019 and women’s wrestling is better than it’s ever been, but as a serious professional and senior member of the office, he didn’t have to do that – but he did. He didn’t have to sell for Ronda, but he did. He didn’t have to let her hoist him up on her shoulders and look like a beast, but he did. He didn’t have to lose the match, but he did.

Credit: Inside the Ropes

Triple H epitomizes someone who sees the bigger picture and puts self-interest on the back burner when it comes to WWE. He will take the hits and the losses if it means greater things down the road. Much like Vince McMahon who played the jester in his own court on many an occasion, Triple H – the model professional he is – will gladly take one for the team and the company to make it better. Not everyone in such high authority and in different walks of life would do that, but he would. He’s a scholar of the business and has brought up in WWE surrounded by Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, the McMahons, the Clique, William Regal and many more. He’s absorbed knowledge from those around him to evolve into the man we see today. He’s a definite leader, not just of the locker room, but the wider WWE organization and revels in taking center stage if it means pushing WWE to the next level.

Sometimes in life, we’ll work for or come across businesses and organisations who have someone in a senior role who has worked their way up the ladder from the bottom. I once worked in a large department store where the manager started his career collecting trolley carts at sixteen years old. Triple H is such a man who has worked his way up the corporate ladder and has earned every rung on the way. He is passionate about his business, he’s dedicated about it and is constantly looking to take it to the next level.

Though Triple H has his critics, one cannot deny he continues to make a massive impact not just in WWE, but in the wider world of professional wrestling. WWE is improving and growing. More talent have the chance to showcase their skills to a massive audience, and it’s no coincidence that Triple H has been at the forefront of the changes and growth of WWE. Long may it continue. May The Game never end.