Raw Magazine (2001)

Most people are nine-to-fivers. For them, getting a job that requires more than 200 days of travel a year would be a major adjustment, to say the least. For Triple H, it's the opposite. He's gone from spending virtually all his time on the road to a set, eight-hour-a-day schedule. And he describes it as very weird and awkward.

"I kind of feel like a work-release prisoner," the four-time World Wrestling Federation Champion said. "I get up in the morning and I eat breakfast and I go to my job, which is rehab. And I'm there all day and somebody's there with me all day making me do stuff. I leave there, go to my hotel and hang out and if I have a good day, I get an hour to go to the gym. The rest of the time I'm in my 'cell.'"

His cell is a hotel room in Birmingham, Ala. Triple H has called it home for almost five weeks, since the day he tore the quadriceps muscle in his left leg. Reached via phone by WWF.com, Triple H said he's spending virtually every waking hour getting back to 100 percent, so he can get back on the road.

"Probably the most painful part of what I do is trying to break through swelling and the scar tissue to try to get some range of motion back," he said. "You start with your leg in a stuck-straight position and you're trying to get it to a fully bent position. You maybe gain a degree or two every day. It's a very slow, painstaking process."

The Game is in rehab from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and for another four hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Even when he's hanging out in his hotel room, he's either using a machine that rotates his leg through a range of motion, or another device that circulates ice water around the knee to decrease swelling. With all the effort he's putting it, it's no surprise that he's ahead of schedule.

Doctors allow him to put 30 percent of his weight on his injured leg when he has his brace on. Still, Triple H says it's too early to know when he'll return. While doctors call it a "four-to-five month" injury, The Game says he simply won't return until he's completely ready, whether it takes three months or six.

"I'll have days where I'll make great improvements, and then I'll have three or four days where I hit a wall and I can't get anything, and it seems like I'm just stuck there," he said. "No matter what I do I can't get another degree range of motion; no matter what I do, I can't make another step. And then all of a sudden one day that'll loosen up. One day you're way ahead and then you lose three or four days, and then you're not quite as ahead as you thought you were."

The "Cerebral Assassin" says the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process, physically and mentally, is right now. Because he hasn't been able to do full-blown workouts, he's lost 20 pounds. And then there are the things that most people take for granted that are difficult or impossible for him right now.

"I'm in a position where I can't get in and out of a car by myself," he said. "I'm on crutches all the time. Taking a shower is like an hour project. Those are frustrating things. Those are things that take away your independence. I'm getting through that as time goes on. It's just a slow, pain-in-the-ass process. "The first week or so that I was here it was difficult because every fear that you ever had runs through your mind from an injury standpoint. You start thinking, 'What if I can't come back? What if this thing doesn't heal right? What if surgery doesn't go good?' You start having all the fears in the world."

Slowly, everything improves. He hopes to be off crutches and be able to drive in about a month. And while he was unable to do any kind of normal workout right after the surgery - "People have no idea what this type of surgery takes out of you. The first week, when I went to go to the gym, I did basically nothing and was absolutely exhausted." - he visits the gym about four times a week now. Some things never change.

The Game -- whose nickname was born in part because he's such a student of "the game" - still uses the bulk of the time that he's not in rehab to watch wrestling tapes. And while he said it was tough to watch RAW IS WAR and Smackdown! just after he got injured, he hasn't missed a single episode of Federation programming.

"There have been a lot of guys who have been impressive to me," he said. "I think (Chris) Jericho and (Chris) Benoit have done a really great job in stepping up into the role that they've been given. Rhyno has done a great job since he's been in the WWF. I'm real impressed with Tajiri right now. I think he looks great. Of course Austin has been doing a great job. I've been enjoying the Undertaker stuff with Diamond Dallas Page as well."

And even though he hasn't been on television, there are always rumors about him. Jim Ross' statement in a recent Ross Report that Triple H would "most probably will be a huge fan favorite" when The Game returns has been much talked about.

"I've never done anything in this business from a fan standpoint to be liked by the fans," Triple H said. "The guess is that all of a sudden I'm going to come back and I'm going to be a huge babyface and I'm going to love the fans and all that stuff. I can guarantee you this: I will come back and I will not change. I will be the exact same thing I was before. If people want to cheer that, they can. If people hate me, they can hate me. I will come back and do exactly what I did before. While I'm doing that, hopefully I'm going to be able to give people performances better than anybody else. If that makes them cheer me, great. If they want to still hate me, that's fine too. I'm not looking to come back and do anything other that be 100 percent and be able to perform at the best of my ability."

Then there's the rumor that he might be one of the superstars who jumps from the Federation roster to WCW...

"That's a new one to me," he said. "I haven't heard that rumor. Here's the thing: I'm not opposed to anything in this business. If I felt like the competition was great there and I could test myself to the best of my abilities there, and that was the best for the WWF and for WCW, then that's where I would be. If it's best for me to stay, I'll stay. I'm going to do what's best for this business and for both companies. Hell, I don't care, I'll wrestle for both. I'm serious too. I'll wrestle for both."

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