The former leader of the ultra-popular D-Generation X took on a darker attitude in 1999, and won his first Federation Championship from Mankind soon after. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment came later that year, when he married Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley - the boss’ daughter - and thus began the McMahon-Helmsley era, one of the most dominant alliances in the history of sports entertainment.
Triple H claims that he is "The Game," and he has proven time after time that he is just that. He ended Mick Foley’s Federation career, and plotted to have Stone Cold Steve Austin run down by an automobile, an attack which put the Rattlesnake out of action for nearly a year. Triple H likes to say that he is that damn good - and given his track record, are you going to disagree?
Thanks to WWF.com for above Triple H bio.
Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley), a.k.a. Jean-Paul LeVesque, is a three-time WWF Champion, but he may very well be the most hated title holder. As a matter of fact, during his most recent reign, modern technology almost stripped him of his championship, as wrestling fans from all over the world were e-mailing the WWF headquarters demanding that Helmsley be stripped of the strap immediately. They wanted to see the People's Champion, The Rock, sitting on the WWF throne, and they almost got their way. The federation's front office had a powwow to discuss the situation and ultimately decided to leave Triple H as champ.
They realized that even though this guy was truly hated by the loyal watchers, it made great sense in business and for the storyline to leave him where he was. He was getting the fans to react and interact, and that's a big part of the sports entertainment business - reaction.
The normal reaction nowadays when Triple H enters a building is anything but normal. As a matter of fact, it's pretty harsh when twenty thousand crazy fans are chanting "asshole! asshole!" But the Heavyweight Champion doesn't mind being the federation's most popular heel.
"Things change so fast around here," Triple H explained. "I like where I am now. I forsee myself as being, and trying to be, and hopefully continuing to be the number one heel in this business - the most hated guy in this business. That suits me just fine."
However, he also realizes that he may be losing out a little in other areas of the business, namely financially and popularity-wise; but he takes it all in stride and rolls with the punches.
"I sometimes think I'm an idiot for doing it," he said. "As a heel in the business you make less money because of royalties, which [I believe] is wrong. You get less fanfare, you get less publicity outside of the business, you get less push by the office [and] you get less respect all around." But turning heel has put him back on top of the federation, where he believes he'll remain for a long time, and for that he's grateful.
"I like being a heel much more," he said. "I think I'm better at it...I'm one of the very few guys left in this business who is willing to get legitimate heat (for being bad)...I think a lot of guys in our business want to be heels a lot of times because the heel sometimes is a more interesting character. You get to do more dastardly stuff, so sometimes it's more fun. But they want to do it in such a way that the fans still think they're cool."
But Triple H, on the other hand, couldn't care less. As a matter of fact, the six-foot-four grappler would probably hit all those fans who didn't think he was cool with an ever-popular D-Generation X catchphrase and tell them to "suck it!"
LeVesque has made a lucrative career out of being an unpopular wrestling personality. He first got started in the business in 1992 when he trained with the Hall of Fame grappler, Killer Kowalski. Being a quick learner and well-conditioned athlete, he made his professional debut as Terra Ryzing only two months later in March for Kowalski in a New England independant federation, the IWF. Not long after his debut, LeVesque would win his first championship belt when he beat Mad Dog Richard for the IWF Heavyweight Championship belt.
He toiled in the indies for two short years before World Championship Wrestling came knocking at his front door and offered him a tryout. The Greenwich, Connecticut native jumped at the opportunity and packed his bags and Ryzing persona and headed to Atlanta.
Having impressed the powers that be at the time in WCW, LeVesque inked a contract with the federation and was welcomed to the big time by being put into a feud with fan favorite, Johnny B. Badd. Even though Badd dominated the matches against Ryzing, it was good for the federation rookie to get his feet wet.
A short while later, he would make and win his TV debut match against Brian Armstrong. Although they liked his potential, the WCW didn't like the Ryzing character or name, so they scratched that personality and used his last name, LeVesque. The LeVesque character was to be a wealthy, cultivated, arrogant and snooty French Canadian grappler with a babyface. But the LeVesque gimmick never got off the ground - he only appeared in one Pay-Per-View, the 1994 Starrcade, where he lost to Alex Wright. LeVesque began to question not only the direction his character was going in, but also his future in WCW.
Feeling neglected, the 246-pound wrestler explored his options and soon found interest from the other major federation, the WWF. He left the WCW and what he considered their broken promises behind and moved back home to Connecticut where, coincidentally, his new federation's offices were located.
Looking for a clean start in his new federation, LeVesque decided to go with a new ring name. He chose Hunter Hearst Helmsley as his moniker. The personality would have all the lowest characteristics of the wealthy - the greediness, the cockiness, the designer clothes and of course, the wealth. He chose the "Hearst" part of his name in tribute to the egotistical billionaire, William Randolph Hearst, and the "Helmsley" part was taken from Leona Helmsley, the stuffy millionaire heiress of the Helmsley hotel fortune. He was putting himself into a character whom fans were going to love to hate, but then again he didn't mind as long as he got some kind of feedback from the crowd.
Hunter made his WWF debut in July 1995 against Henry Godwin. This was a great matchup, since opposites not only attract, but also provide some good wrestling. The Godwin character was your typical farmer, minus the good country boy looks! The baseball cap-wearing Godwin would mosey on into the ring unshaven with his overalls covering his beer belly, while Helmsley would strut his way to the mat with his clean-shaven babyface looks, stylish black rider's pants and chiseled physique. This battle with the former hard-working hog farmer would be the first of Helmsley's many battles with the WWF's blue-collar grapplers.
The snobby wrestler began to catch on with both the male and female fans. The men would look forward to watching him wrestle because of his arrogance and skill in between the ropes (and the fact that he was always accompanied to the ring by one of several beautiful valets didn't hurt), while the women loved him for his long blond locks, handsome face and muscular body (and the fact that his character came from money probably came into play, too).
One of the best stories to come out of his persona and ring entrances involved his most famous valet, Rena Mero, known to all wrestling fans as Sable. The gorgeous blond would accompany Helmsley to the ring for matches, and when he lost he would take his losses out on her in front of the crowd. What "The Greenwich Snob" didn't know was that berating Sable in public would not only cause him to lose the beautiful valet, it would also set the stage for a feud between him and newcomer "Wildman" Marc Mero, who also just so happened to be her real-life husband.
At WrestleMania XII, Helmsley took on the Ultimate Warrior and lost in embarrassing fashion (one minute and forty-three seconds) to the grappler who had been away from the federation for some time. When he blamed his valet for the loss to The Warrior, Mero came to her defense/
"The Wildman" Mero grew tired of watching HHH treat Sable terribly, so he turned on the charm and won her over to his corner to be his valet and together they formed one of the sport's best one-two punches. At the time. Helmsley watched his former valet guide Mero to an Intercontinental Championship, which added more fuel to the fire of this feud that lasted until the end of 1996.
During his feud with Mero, many were questioning whether or not HHH had what it takes to wrestle with the big boys. Helmsley would beat the trunks off any of the lower-card talent he would face in the ring, but he just wasn't having that type of luck or success when he squared off against the Razor Ramons and the Bret Harts of the wrestling world.
Just when it looked like HHH was being lost in the shuffle, he hooked on with a WWF grappling group known as "The Kliq." Being associated with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Diesel (Kevin Nash) and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) did wonders for his career at this time because The Kliq seemed to get special treatment from Vince McMahon. The WWF boss allowed them to have a say in which wrestlers were going to get a push and which ones were going to be buried.
This was great while it lasted, but it would come back to haunt him sometime later as Helmsley became the fall guy for the Kliq members, who one night acted out of character in the ring. It was an incident that McMahon deemed disrespectful to his federation.
On May 19, 1996 in New York's Madison Square Garden, the fans witnessed the final matches Razor Ramon and Diesel wrestled for the WWF, because the two had inked deals with the rival federation, WCW, which would go into effect when their WWF contracts expired. Well, the contracts just so happened to terminate on the nineteenth, the night of this Madison Square Garden event, so let's just say that the members of The Kliq decided to throw a "Garden" party that night and not only celebrated at the end of the night amongst themselves in the ring, but they also included twenty thousand screaming fans in on the good-bye to Ramon and Diesel.
The reason this was so wrong was that they broke character in front of the fans. This is a no-no in the biz because the fans are supposed to believe that these superstars are really who they are in the ring. They are not supposed to stray away from their character's storylines, especially if they just wrestled against one another.
"There was a strong bond between us and it being Kevin and Scott's last stand, it was a very emotional night for all of us," HHH explained.
Well, McMahon obviously couldn't punish Ramon or Diesel, since they were no longer his to discipline and he wasn't going to take it out on his meal ticket at the time, Shawn Michaels, so he decided to make an example of Helmsley. He got buried for a couple of months by the federation and the King of the Ring title he was supposed to win was instead won by Steve Austin.
When Helmsley was asked about the incident and about losing the chance at winning the title, he said: "Do I regret the incident? Emotionally no, [but] from a business standpoint maybe just a tiny bit."
But what transpired next in Helmsley's career should go down in the heel hall of fame. HHH hired Curt Henning, who had been absent from the WWF for three years, as his manager. Henning and Helmsley plotted to pull off one of the best scams in federation history.
The two made everyone believe that the partnership that they had formed was beginning to fall apart, as Henning began escorting Helmsley's female valets from ringside after matches. Appearing to be irate, HHH challenged Henning to a match on a Monday Night RAW. The contest turned out to be a hoax. Helmsley appeared to attack Henning before the match and Henning faked being injured and claimed he couldn't compete that night. His friend, Marc Mero, then offered to fill in for the injured wrestler.
Helmsley agreed to tangle with "The Wildman", but only if Mero would put his Intercontinental strap on the line. "The Wildman" agreed to the terms and Helmsley defeated him for his first WWF title. Mero was livid after the bout when he found out that the two grapplers had plotted all along to dethrone him.
From there, Helmsley moved on to another dastardly deed when he tried to pry one of his fellow wrestler's (Goldust) manager, Marlena, out from under his nose. Although he wasn't successful at doing this, HHH did manage to defend his IC title against the WWF's gold wonder with the help of his butler Curtis Hughes. Unfortunately, Hughes didn't last too long by Helmsley's side because he had to leave the federation due to health problems. In the meantime, Hunter was trying to convince Vince McMahon to bring over one of his female bodybuilder friends, Joanie Laurer (Chyna)m into the WWF so she could become his private bodyguard.
McMahon finally gave in and HHH brought in his friend, who would watch his back while he was in the ring. Helmsley's bodybuilder friend was none other than the Ninth Wonder of the World - Chyna. Chyna immediately showed the fans and wrestling world what she had by pummeling Marlena for her boss during one of his matches, as Marlena tried to interfere in one of Triple H's bouts.
In February 1997, HHH lost his next IC title defense at an In-Your-House event to a freshman grappler who was trying to make a name for himself at the time - Rocky Maivia. Even though he lost the title, he still remained focused and eventually won another championship - he was the victor of that year's King of the Ring tournament against Mankind (Mick Foley). This would be the start of a long feud between him and Foley (a.k.a. Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love).
In December he also gained another title, when he "defeated" Shawn Michaels in a clown match to win the European title. The reason this match was so funny was that Michaels set up Helmsley to win because the WWF commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter, wanted him to defend his title, so he chose his friend. HHH got the easy pin and was awarded the belt.
Upon winning the Euro title, Helmsley would now start a rivalry with Owen Hart. He would lose his title to Hart, but not by fault of his own. Even though he was injured, the WWF officials still wanted him to defend his strap. Hunter proceeded to send the artist formerly known as Goldust to the ring disguised as HHH to compete against Hart. The plan would backfire on HHH, as Hart won and Goldust lost his title, even though HHH really didn't wrestle.
Helmsley met up with Hart in March at a RAW IS WAR and regained his belt and European title. He held onto the strap for another four months until D'Lo Brown took it from him with a little help from The Rock on July 14, 1998.
Soon after on a RAW IS WAR, he was forced to team with Shawn "The Heartbreak Kid" Michaels in a tag match against Mankind and Steve Austin. The pairing seemed to inspire the two former Kliq members to reunite and form another group...for old time's sake. The new group, or gang as it was later labled, was called D-Generation X. The charter posse members consisted of Michaels, Helmsley, Chyna and the late Rick Rude.
The gang was known for their rule-breaking, crotch-chopping gestures, match interferences, crowd mooning and cursing on national TV. Although Michaels fought most of the groups battles, HHH's role down the road would increase tremendously as The Heartbreak Kid had to take some time off to recuperate from a major injury. Many questioned whether or not Triple H could lead the group. Needless to say, he not only succeeded, but thrived under the pressure!
After recruiting some new members and adding some comedy skits to their usual shtick, Helmsley had DX where it had never been before - in the limelight. Not only were the fans nuts about this rule-breaking gang, they were also making the members rich. DX merchandise was second in sales only to Steve Austin paraphernalia. It was during this time that Triple H also came out with the Michael Buffer-like saying, "Let's get ready to...suck it!"
The gang theme was at its best when DX battled another WWF group, the Nation of Domination. This not only led to great group brawls, but also awesome individual action, when Triple H would square off against the Nation's leader, The Rock. One of the best matches between the two occurred during a 1998 SummerSlam ladder match where Triple H regained his IC title. In October, he would be forced to relinquish this belt because he was unable to defend it due to an injury.
Over the next part of his career, there would be many interesting events involving Triple H. For example, he turned his back on DX and aligned with Shane McMahon. Also, who could forget the clips of him marrying a passed-out Stephanie McMahon in Vegas in November? But there was nothing more satisfying for the blond bomber than when he won his first ever World Championship on August 23, 1999. Triple H beat Mankind on a RAW IS WAR for the right to wear the cherished belt. But less than one month later, he lost the title to his boss, Vince McMahon, who had some assistance from Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Ten days later, Triple H had the belt on his mind as he was to compete in an UNFORGIVEN event in a six-pack match, where the winner would be crowned WWF champ. When all was said and done he would defeat The Rock, Mankind, The Big Show, Kane and the British Bulldog for his second championship. He would again lose it less than one month later (on November 14, 1999), this time to The Big Show in a Triple Threat match.
Not one to hang his head, Triple H went about his business for the next month and a half until his time came around for another shot at the belt. He started the new year off with a bang as he was crowned WWF champ for the third time on January 3, 2000. He now deemed himself not only federation champion, but also "The Game!"
At WrestleMania XVI in Anaheim, California, Triple H successfully defended his crown in a Fatal Four-Way match against The Rock, Cactus Jack and The Big Show. "The Game" did not play fair in the championship match, as he was aided by his "father-in-law," Vince McMahon, in his win. But in the end it doesn't matter how you play - as long as you win.
Triple H always preached to his competitors, "I am Hunter and everyone else is the Hunted." But ironically, "The Game" has changed, as he is now "the Hunted." But that's the price one has to pay if they want to be the WWF Heavyweight Champion.
Bio story courtesy of Rulers of the Ring by Robert Picarello.