IGN Sports interview (12/20/04)
The Game talks Blade, books, and beat downs.

December 20, 2004 - It's a long road from Terra Ryzing and the Blue Bloods to Blade: Trinity and bodybuilding books, not to mention all the gold that's been around Triple H's waist, but this is one of the hardest-working men the sport has ever known, so it's no big deal to walk the red carpet one night and Pedigree Chris Benoit the next. It's no big deal to enter the Elimination Chamber and methodically pulverize and pummel pugilists, foes, and friends who might turn out to be enemies down the road.

"It's all about The Game and how you play it," his theme song blares as he spits his water into the crowd and takes in the thousands of fans who love to hate his every move.

IGN Sports sat down with Triple H to talk Evolution, wrestling, and his new triple threat status as wrestler/author/actor.

Here's what he had to say…

IGN Sports: Are you more proud to read your own book or to see yourself on the big screen in Blade: Trinity?

Triple H: It's hard for me to say. The bodybuilding book is a cool thing because I feel like it's a way to give back to what got me here. At one point in my life I was just a young kid walking into a gym and someone pointed me in the right direction and got me going. And the things that I learned in the gym actually led me to the success that I've had now. So for me to be able to write a book and possibly point some people in the right direction with their lives, it's a great feeling for me to be able to give that back. But I have to say, seeing yourself on the big screen and doing the red carpet at the premiere, that's a cool experience, and something that I'll definitely never forget.

IGN Sports: There are a lot of struggling writers, actors, and wrestlers who have to take some pretty crappy jobs in order to survive as they're waiting to make it. What's the worst job you've ever had?

Triple H: I've been lucky in that respect where the worst job I've ever had was working at a Wendy's. For me, I had a paper route when I was a kid, then I worked at Wendy's, and from there I started working at a gym, just cleaning up the place and things like that. A few years later I was managing the gym and that's what I got into, managing health clubs. I was managing a pretty big Gold's Gym where I lived and consulting for another gym on the side, so I never really had a crap job.

IGN Sports: Did you get discovered at the gym?

Triple H: No, I had wanted to get into the wrestling business and was trying to find out how to do it. I ended up meeting a friend named Ted Arcini who had been a power lifter and had been in wrestling for a brief period of time. He pointed me in the right direction to Killer Kowalski who had a wrestling training camp about an hour away from me in Massachusetts. I ended up training with him and working the independent circuit for $10 a match here and there. I was wrestling little halls all over New England up to Canada and I ended up being seen by WCW and received an offer to go there. That's how it all began.

IGN Sports: It's a long way from wrestling for $10 to people paying $10 to see you in Blade.

Triple H: When you get started, you always hope to be the biggest and to find success, but you never know, you never dream where things are going to take you. That's the cool thing about life, you never know what direction you're headed next.

IGN Sports: There were a lot of cool stunts and fights in the movie. Were you fighting stuntmen, or were you beating up poor Ryan Reynolds?

Triple H: Ryan Reynolds really stepped up in this film. He gained 20 pounds for the role and really got himself into top shape. He used that and really wanted to make the movie himself. He didn't want stuntmen in there, he didn't want to rely on other people to do his job. In fact, there is only one scene in there where it's not him, everything else you see is really Ryan. He took a beating, I'll tell you. He really took an ass kicking. I threw him all over the place, bounced him off the concrete floors and walls. I'd see him every day at lunch, he'd be in his trailer icing himself down, trying to put himself back together so I could beat him up all over again in the afternoon. He took a beating.

IGN Sports: Did he ever ask you to show him the secrets of the Pedigree?

Triple H: Not the Pedigree, but I taught him how to slam a guy. It was really funny because he was like a little kid when I taught him how to do it. I had him pick me up and slam me and he was so thrilled with the thought that he could slam me that we actually shot it on camera, and he couldn't wait to play the footage back. [laughs] He was like a little kid.

IGN Sports: How did you come up with the Pedigree?

Triple H: When I was training with Kowalski, I was trying to come up with some different moves and some unique things I could do in the ring. It is kind of a combination of a couple of moves that I had seen done and really just combined them together. It was like a what if type of thing, like what if I tried blending these moves and just see what happens. Through the years it's evolved into the move you see today. I used a version of it when I was in WCW and then when I came to the WWE, I adapted it from there.

IGN Sports: Where do you think the move ranks among wrestling finishers?

Triple H: I think mine is one of the most known. There are a lot of guys out there, but not a lot of them have real distinct finishers, so I think that puts it right up there in the top category.

IGN Sports: I remember when Stevie Ray tried to copy it and almost killed somebody.

Triple H: [laughs] Yeah, and I think that's why you don't see a lot of guys try to copy the move. There are a lot of moves that guys just go out and copy right away, but it took a long time before people figured out how I was doing it. I think it's so distinct that it's mine, and that's one reason, but the other is simply that guys couldn't quite figure out how I pulled off the move while protecting my opponent at the same time. The first time guys take the Pedigree, it's kind of a scary move, and guys have been leery about taking it, so if you don't do it right the first time, they'll never let you do it again. You really need to earn their trust with it. I think when Stevie Ray did it, I'm sure the rest of the boys in the back were like forget that, I'm not letting you do that to me.

IGN Sports: The other night on Raw, there was the announcement of the Elimination Chamber match coming up for the championship. Where does the Elimination Chamber rank amongst your favorite gimmick matches?

Triple H: It's a cool match, and I really like the concept of it, I've just never had very much luck with them. The first one I ended up spending 36 hours in the hospital after Rob Van Dam landed on my throat and I was pretty seriously hurt. The second one I had a torn groin and I really couldn't compete too hard. So the two I've had have been really difficult for me, that's why I'm hoping this one goes a lot better for me.

IGN Sports: What are some of your other favorite gimmicks. Do you like ladder or Hell in a Cell matches or something else?

Triple H: I'm not a big fan of ladder matches. I'm not a big heights guy. Not that I'm afraid of heights, but when you've had a torn quad, the last thing you want to do is jump off of a ladder. I love Hell in a Cell matches, I think they're a lot of fun. I've always loved cage matches, and the Hell in a Cell is the best cage match out there. If I had to pick one match that is my favorite, and I think it's my favorite because not a lot of guys out there can do it, and even those that can do it, there aren't a lot who can do it well, then that would be the Iron Man match. I don't think there are a lot of guys left in the business who can go an hour, physically, let alone have it be entertaining and good.

IGN Sports: Evolution is a cool group because there is actually meaning to it, the past, present, and future of wrestling. Was the group your idea?

Triple H: It was my initial concept and I ran it by Vince and I ran it by Flair. My initial concept was pretty much what we said on TV. I looked around and we had Ric Flair as a baby face just sitting there and not doing a whole lot, then you had myself, and I felt like Ric could be utilized better as a mentor to a younger guy who was up and coming. I felt like somebody could get the rub off of him, then the more I started thinking about it, I thought if we put together a group where we took a couple of guys and they could get a rub off of both Ric and I, and Ric could be accompanying them to the ring and become part-wrestler, part-mentor, part-manager, that this could really get big. So I ran it by Ric and he liked the idea. And when I was talking to Vince about it, he asked me what other wrestlers I wanted to do Evolution with, and I honestly didn't know. So Ric and I spent a lot of time just watching guys. Ric and I would actually watch ever match, scouting each wrestler to see who could pull this off. To me, this was an important deal because I had to pick two guys who I thought could be big stars on their own one day, otherwise we're just wasting our time.

This isn't a knock against anybody, but there are a lot of groups, and when the group folds, the guys in that group fold because they were propped up by that group. That's not what we wanted. I wanted two guys who could be stars standing on their own, we just needed to get them to that point of standing on their own, and that's what we've done. If you look at Randy Orton, it was time for him to get kicked out of the nest and try to fly on his own, so we kicked him out and he's out there flying. He's in a place where he's either going to become a huge star or he's going to hit the ground, but we got him to that point, and he got himself to that point too. Same thing with Batista. We're going to turn Batista into a big star here, and he's working his ass off at it. And when the time is right, we'll kick him out of the nest and see how he flies. That was part of the whole thrill of doing Evolution. We took two guys who, if they would've kept doing the same things they were doing, they would've just been a couple of other guys, and it would've been hard for them to progress from that level. We literally took them out with us everywhere we went, talked business to them non-stop, and they watched matches with us, they wrestled with us, and listened to our advice. I'm not trying to take credit for where they are, they are the ones who had to put in the work, but we gave them the platform to do it from. They deserve the credit, though, because they are the ones who did it.

IGN Sports: Was Flair one of your idols in wrestling growing up?

Triple H: Without a doubt. Still to this day, I think he is the greatest of all time. When I look back at wrestlers, the guy who always shines above the pack was Flair. In his heyday, nobody could touch him.

IGN Sports: In watching all of your matches, it seems like the best chemistry you had in the ring was with The Rock. Why was that?

Triple H: Rock and I are friends, but we aren't good friends. We get along, but it's not like I've been over his house for dinner or anything like that. There's a strong professional rivalry with us. When Rock came in, I was the Intercontinental champion, and he was immediately wrestling me for the title. When he was the heel, I was the good guys wrestling him for the title, and then it was the Nation of Domination wrestling against D-X, then he was the face champion and I was the heel. On camera there was a rivalry but behind the scenes there was a rivalry as well. If Rock was wrestling somebody else, I wanted to have a better match than him and he wanted to have a better match than me. So when we were together, we wanted to have the best match we could, and we wrestled so much, that we both knew what each other's strengths were and we played to those strengths to put on some great matches. I think that rivalry made us push each other to the limit, and I think that's great. He's one of my favorite guys who I've worked with and whenever I'm asked about him, whenever people give me a name and want a quick answer and they say The Rock, I say the ultimate entertainer, because that's what he is. I think he's one of the most entertaining guys I've ever met.

IGN Sports: Is there a guy now who you could have that chemistry with?

Triple H: I think I've had that chemistry with Shawn Michaels, and more recently, I've really enjoyed getting the chance to work with Benoit. There are a lot of guys who I'm looking forward to working with in the future. Orton is one of those guys, I'll be wrestling Batista down the line when the time is right, then there are guys like John Cena and Rey Mysterio who I would love to work with as well. There are a lot of guys out there and you never know who you'll have that perfect chemistry with until you get in the ring.

IGN Sports: The new WWE video game, Smackdown! Vs. Raw has all types of legends in it, from Andre the Giant to Brutus the Barber. I was wondering if you could have one match against any legend where you were both in your prime, who would it be?

Triple H: Flair. I think for me, there would be a few guys. Definitely Flair, definitely Ricky Steamboat. I think Steamboat and I would've had great chemistry together. Dusty Rhodes is another guy who I would've loved to wrestle because he was so charismatic.

IGN Sports: Do you ever get a chance to play the wrestling games?

Triple H: You know what, I never do. I have a PlayStation 2 and all of that stuff at home, but the only time I ever get to play is when I go visit my sister and my nephew, who is 14, takes me downstairs and creams me at his latest games. I have no idea what I'm doing.

IGN Sports: Are you the type of guy who pulls the power cord out of the wall if you're losing?

Triple H: No, but my nephew is. If I happen to get lucky and get one up on him, all of a sudden the game is broken and we can't play anymore. [laughs] There are a lot of guys who bring their systems with them on the road. They play a lot online, but before, they would actually get adjoining rooms and have cables running under the doors so they could all play each other. There are some serious gamers in the WWE, that's for sure. I'm so involved in the business, I just don't have time for the games anymore. I don't even have time to follow sports anymore, that's how busy I am.

IGN Sports: Now that you've released your bodybuilding book, can we expect a biography in the near future, or is that something that you're waiting to write after your career is finished?

Triple H: There's a little bit about my career in this book, and originally, Simon and Schuster wanted my to do a biography and I turned it down. I just feel like a biography is something you do at the end of your career and I'm not there yet. When the time is right, I'll write one, but it will be towards the end of it. Right now, it just feels too early for me.

IGN Sports: You've already pretty much done it all in the wrestling world. You've held just about every belt, and now you're moving on to movies and books. What's on the horizon for 2005?

Triple H: I've made one movie and I'd like to do more. I want them to be as good as they could be. The book was a lot of fun and if I could do more things in the bodybuilding world that could help guys getting started, then I would love to do that. And to me, wrestling isn't about the gold around your waist, it's about the process. It's not about how many times I've won the belt, to me it's about going in the arena every night and making the fans go crazy. That's what it's about to me. It's not necessarily the accomplishment of winning this or winning that or being the guy who is this or that. I agree with Ric in this standpoint. It's the privilege of going to that ring every night and doing it for the fans. There's no other feeling in the world like that. This business is all about the fans. Without them, we're nothing.

IGN Sports: Speaking of fans, how many do you spit water on before every match? You'd think they'd know to duck out of the way when you're coming.

Triple H: What's funny is how that's started. It started with me just taking a drink of water and spitting it toward the crowd, and then it evolved into the whole production of what it is today. It's really funny, though, because 90% of the time, people in the front row are trying for me to spit on them. They are actually yelling: "Dude, spit on me!" It's just something they dig. It's kind of wild, but that's just the way it is. I guess it's a sign you've made it when people actually want you to spit on them. Only in wrestling would you find something crazy like this. Man, I love this business. [laughs]

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