An honest interview with 'eloquent and reflective' Triple H
TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
|A victorious Triple H after the Great American Bash in May 2008. Photo by Bruno Silveira, TopRopePhotography.com
As the father of two young daughters 00 Aurora Rose (now two) and Murphy Claire (born July 28) -- you'd think sledge-hammer swinging Paul Levesque may have softened up a bit.
But the seven-time world heavyweight champ that fans have come to love as Triple H isn't afraid to come out swinging when it comes to talking about some of the kids in the wrestling business, guys who want to become stars.
"I hate to sound like an oldtimer, but sometimes I get upset about the young guys," says Triple H. "We've got guys like Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, Ricky Steamboat and Michael Hayes around. That's a wealth of knowledge ... and they still have to make it mandatory for guys to show up early and go into the ring with them.
"When I got into the business, you couldn't get me out of the building. I had a burning desire to get better. Now, the young guys seem more interested in their I Pods or playing Guitar Hero.
"I see guys complaining: 'I've been here for five years and they're not doing anything with me.' I say to the guy: 'Dude, you've been doing the same thing now that you were five years ago. What do you expect?'"
And heading into tomorrow night's Summer Slam, where he'll face gigantic Great Khali in one of WWE's biggest nights of the year, Triple H pulls no punches when asked about "the best wrestlers in the world."
"This will sound like I'm firing back at the guys who take shots at me on the internet all the time," he says. "But if you go to the internet, there's always somebody saying 'this guy is the best wrestler in the world' and you've got somebody else saying, 'no, this guy is the best wrestler in the world.' But it's not about what they like. It's what the masses like. These guys they're talking about are wrestling in front of 50 people, not 20,000. And that's because the masses don't want to see them.
"Vince doesn't make anybody. Wrestlers make themselves. Stone Cold (Steve Austin) was brought in to be an extra, but he created a character that people went nuts for. So he became a star because of the fans.
"The biggest name ever, if you look at Hulk Hogan, what big move did he ever do? But he knew how to tell a story, how to get fans to interact with his character and keep them entertained. It's not about how high or how far you can jump, it's about telling stories."
Truth be known, Triple H is eloquent and reflective on the phone. There are no sour grapes. He's just being honest, with no need to sugarcoat what he believes.
Has being a father changed his life?
"It's been great, other than the no-sleep thing," he says. "It's put a whole new spin on life for me. It's changed my perspective about what's important in life. I don't know if it's softened me up, but it changes the way you look at women. I'm probably going to pay for my past."
Contary to popular opinion, his move to Smackdown! hasn't given him more family time.
Vince and Linda McMahon, with their daughter Stephanie and her husband Triple H at the screening of Blade: Trinity in December 2004 in Toronto. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
"It's actually worse for me," he says. "When Vince told me, I said I'd go wherever he needed me. It really screws me personally, but we'll make it work. You know when you get into this line of work you're going to be gone a lot. It's really important that the time I get to spend with my family is quality time."
And what about being cast as the "face," the fan favourite?
"It's more fun playing a heel," he says. "I just went to see the movie, Batman (The Dark Knight) ... and I'd so much rather play The Joker than Batman.
"I look at a guy like Edge, and I mean this in the nicest way, he's getting to do such cool things."
Even at age 39, Triple H has a passion for the business, a craving for the adulation.
"When I hear the music and go through the curtain, there's a rush of energy, an adrenaline rush," he says. "You see guys past their prime, guys that maybe shouldn't be wrestling and they're still getting into the ring because of that feeling, that moment. That's why it's hard to put down. It's like a drug. Harley Race said: 'There's no better place to be than under the lights.'
The cheers can be deafening when Triple H unscrews the cap on his water bottle, leans back, takes a sip and spews the water into the air.
"Sometimes it makes me chuckle when I see how big the reaction is when all I'm doing is spitting water," he says.
Triple H says the King of Kings moniker he took on was never meant to replace The Game.
"It was never about getting away from The Game stuff," he says. "It was basically a promo where I called myself The King of Kings. That's how The Game started, I called myself The Game in a promo."
Another moniker certainly didn't hurt when it came to selling more merchandise.
"One of the things I like to do with my merchandise is to not have the merchandise yell 'wrestling.' I want people to be able to put it on and feel good about wearing it to the mall."
Triple H Photo Gallery
Triple H bio and story archive
Tim Baines is the editor of the Ottawa Sun sports section. He lobbied a long time to get this Triple H interview. A shorter version of the interview appeared in the Sun newspapers. Email Tim at email@example.com.