WWF.com interview (1/18/02)
Triple H's return at Madison Square Garden after his quad injury

NEW YORK -- An emotional chapter was written into the World Wrestling Federation's long and storied history at Madison Square Garden on Monday during RAW. In the final segment of that live national broadcast, one of the Federation's most valuable and revered superstars officially overcame a devastating injury.Less than 24 hours after his poignant return, Triple H leaned against a hallway wall in the bowels of the World's Most Famous Arena and reflected. "Indescribable," is how the four-time former Federation champion described the evening. "I've spent the past eight months since the injury happened thinking every single second of nothing but that."

Jim Ross, who called the play-by-play action at ringside Monday, stated that he had never heard or felt emotion quite like what filled Madison Square Garden that night. "That was the longest sustained reaction I can remember hearing," Ross told WWF.com. "I felt very proud for him because I'm aware of how serious an injury it was and how diligently he rehabbed.

"Although not planned, the timing for Hunter's return couldn't have been better. One of the Federation's premier events, the Royal Rumble, is just weeks away. That Pay-Per-View traditionally signals the intense buildup toward the granddaddy of them all, WrestleMania.

"None of it was planned," said Triple H about the picturesque timing. "You couldn't write a more compelling story.

"The hours leading up to his big moment were nerve-wracking, Triple H confessed.

He worried that the crowd would give him as chilly a reception as the biting New York City air. "I was hoping they wouldn't go, 'Who cares,'" he said. "I was under a lot of pressure. Madison Square Garden is hallowed ground. I was walking on eggshells all day.

"Naturally, Triple H's fears were unfounded. "It was the type of moment I've dreamed about my whole life and (the fans reaction) makes it magnified 10 times. It was unbelievable.

"On Tuesday, the Cerebral Assassin experienced a similar scenario during an autograph session when more than a thousand people jockeyed to get inside nearby WWF New York for a chance to meet The Game. Several brave fans camped out overnight in frigid Times Square to secure a spot in line. "In a weird kind of way it was a little embarrassing," Triple H said. "What did I do to deserve that?

"Plenty. The Game gave the RAW crowd exactly what they bargained for from his much-anticipated return. Triple H, his face glistening from the signature spray of mist that marks his every entrance, clutched the microphone in the center of the ring and soaked in the spectacle of a sold-out crowd standing out of respect and screaming from excitement. Several moments passed before the roar subsided enough for The Game's address to be heard.

"Just in case you've forgotten, let me tell you just who the hell I am," Triple H growled. "I am The Game! And you can bet your ass I'm back!"

Two-hundred and thirty-one days after hobbling up the entrance ramp with a shredded quadriceps, The Game is that damn good once more.

Triple H capped his memorable return with a crushing Pedigree that left Kurt Angle crumpled on the mat. The Game also picked up right where he left off, as perhaps the Federation's most dominant superstar. No matter what great feats Triple H goes on to accomplish in his career, Jan. 7, 2002 will certainly stick out at the top of a lengthy list of highlights. "I'm sure it's a night that he'll replay in his mind over and over," Ross said. "He should. It's an ovation that he overly deserves.

"Triple H humbly acknowledged, however, that other people merit just as much praise. "Without sounding sappy, I want to thank the fans who didn't forget about me during the past eight months," he said. "I want to thank every employee of the Federation at every level, every position. Without them I wouldn't be able to live my dream."

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