Raw Magazine interview (5/04)
The Game Goes On
By Brian Solomon
Thanks to Angy for typing this up for me! ^_^

Through all the injuries and controversy, Triple H is still the best bet in the house.

He's WWE's most controversial Superstar. Ever since attaining elite status in WWE, Triple H has been the consistent target of sometimes-harsh criticism from many, both inside and outside the busniess. Many may love him, but a great many others hate him. Yet through it all, "The Game" seems unflappable, taking the comments in stride as just another price to be paid for being one of the best in the sport.

"Unfortunately," Triple H says, "people think if it's written, it's gospel. And unfortunately, a lot of times, it's nowhere near the truth."

Blame it on success. Or more accurately, the jealousy and resentment that success can arouse. Triple H has found that very often the people who are rooting you to the top can very quickly become the people rooting for your demise.

"Any time you're in a position of success in the busniess, it happens," he continues. "Stone Cold Steve Austin has been extremely successful, and he's taken criticism. The Rock has taken criticism. Hogan and Ric Flair, too. Flair, at certain points in his career, got large amounts of criticism. Now, people only look at him as the greatest, but at the time, the so-called experts were giving him a hard time.

"There's an interesting thing in our business, and it happens to everyone: When you're the up-and-coming guy, everybody is on your team. They all want to see you succeed. And then, as soon as you make it, you're no longer the underdog who they want to be successful. You've done the one thing they were hoping you would do, and now you're gonna pay for it.

"It ate Shawn Michaels up. They thought Shawn was the greatest thing of all time, and as soon as he got the title - 'Oh, Shawn was the worst thing ever!' These people call themselves experts; I don't think anyone in the busniess thinks they are. These are guys who have never even been in our business, but somehow know all about what goes on backstage.

"Then you have guys that aren't around anymore, and wish they were. Maybe they were a star 10 years ago, and now they're out of the business, and there's bitterness there. The easiest way for them to handle it is to crap on the people who are successful now. For some people, it's also a way to get their name in the limelight.

"Look at a guy like Shane Douglas. He made a career out of blasting Ric Flair, saying Flair should've been teaching him and handing the torch to him. Why would Flair have given anything to him? Shane Douglas was a bottom-of-the-card guy outside of ECW. He certainly wasn't in a position to be the next 'Man' in the business. But he will tell everybody under the sun that he was, and that Ric Flair held him back."

There are very few Superstars who can claim to be members of the WWE's roster longer than Triple H. In fact, they can be counted on one hand. Since 1995, through countless personal changes, factions and rivalries, he has been a constant in the organization. Countless Superstars have come and gone, but Triple H remains.

"I try to keep myself in the best shape I can," he explains. "The whole thing in this business is to try and not get injured. I've certainly had my share of injuries, but they've been minimal, considering I've been here as long as I have. Then, from a storyline standpoint, it's the ability to change. Over the eight years, there's been a lot of changes, from Hunter Hearst-Helmsley, to the different phases of DX, the marriage and divorce with Stephanie, right up to what I'm doing now. It continues to evolve."

Clearly, reinvention is key. Perhaps no other Superstar has gone through as many phases. Whether it's the "Connecticut blue-blood" or the McMahon-Helmsley Era, it seems like Triple H has never gotten stale, always finding a way to recreate himself, to refresh his character and give the fans something different.

"Being able to adapt [is important]," he says. "Working with as many guys as you possibly can, without being repetitive or formulaic. When you find something that works, it becomes comfortable; it's very difficult to gravitate toward something else. It's a decision a lot of guys have trouble making. They think, 'This is what I am, this is why I'm over. If I change that, people are gonna have a hard time with it.' But you have to do that, otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels."

Injury is certainly nothing that a Superstar can predict or anticipate, and it's derailed many successful careers over the years. Triple H has not been spared from more than his share of injuries, and some of them have put him on the shelf for extended periods of time, most notably the torn quadriceps muscle that took him out of action for most of 2001. Such momentum-killing catastrophes can be very frustrating for a Superstar working hard to establish himself with the fans, but Triple H has managed to bounce back thus far.

"It's probably one of the most frustrating things in our business," he says. "There's never a good time for an injury. You have to say, 'Okay, this is the card I've been dealt. I'll deal with it; I'll get myself back in shape. I'll get back in the ring as quickly as I can.' It seems like whenever you're working the hardest at creating something is when it always happens. The hardest part of an injury is questioning whether fans are gonna give a crap or not when you come back. I don't care how big a star you are, when you're gone for a while and you're ready to come back, you just pray to God that they don't crap all over you.

"Over the course of the last year," he continues, "it's taken me a while to feel like I've gotten back in my rhythm. It's been over a year since I've been back, but I feel like I'm just starting to get back in the groove of things. This has been a bad year for me from a physical standpoint. I kept having little injuries here and there. I wrestled for about 90% of the time with some type of nagging injury."

Most recently, a hematoma in his thigh nearly sidelined "The Game" yet again. After taking repeated punishment, a muscle in his leg developed a deep bruise and blood began to collect. Many fans may have been unaware of just how serious the situation was.

"If you get hit hard enough, the muscle starts to bleed internally," Triple H explains. "It forms a coagulated ball of blood inside the muscle. It's very painful, very irritating to the body. It was like having a softball underneath my muscle. Once you get it, you have to wait for it to dissolve. There's really nothing you can do about it. If it doesn't dissolve, or starts to calcify (where the coagulated blood starts to form little chunks of bone), you're really in trouble. Those little pieces of bone will cut through the muscle every time you contract it. You eventually have to have them surgically removed, and if you can't, it will end your career. That's what ended the career of (former NHL Player) Cam Neely."

Fortunately, the hematoma completely dissolved, allowing Triple H to continue making history on a weekly basis. The man known as the "Cerebral Assassin" seems to have had a charmed career thus far, and sidestepping a forced retirement is just that latest example of that. Nevertheless, it's entirely possible that such an accumulated damage may be shortening his run at the top.

"During the last year," he remembers, "Shawn Michaels and I have talked numerous times, and Shawn keeps trying to tell me to slow down, that it's my schedule, that I don't take time off or things like that. But I just feel like it's been a bad year. I've had things happen. Certainly, the more you get injured, the more you start thinking, 'Am I starting to wind down?' You feel like that when you're injured, but as soon as you start feeling better, you don't feel like that at all."

Triple H has withstood the nay-sayers, the injuries and WWE's changing environment all these years, and plans to continue doing so until he's ready to hang it up. And judging by the way he's survived the pitfalls of the business up to this point, it looks like that won't be for some time to come. Whether you love him or hate him, you can be sure of one thing: Triple H isn't going anywhere.

Back to the Triple H archive