Triple H: The King of Kings DVD Review

Triple H; rarely has there been a wrestler who divides the wrestling community. Some people despise the man for his alleged monopoly on the WWE & World titles, while others marvel at this passion and commitment for the wrestling business and his ability inside the ring.

triple-h-the-king-of-kings-dvd-cover

Certificate: 18

Running Time: 358mins (approx)

Discs: 2

Chapters

Disc 1

  • The King of Kings
  • Getting Started
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley v John Crystal (RAW – May 22nd 1995)
  • Pressure – It’s All On You & The Workhorse Title
  • WWE Intercontinental Championship Match – v Marc Mero (RAW October 21st 1996)
  • Chyna, Curtain Call & The Crown
  • King of the Ring Final Match – v Mankind (KotR June 8th 1997)
  • The Transformation – The Amplified Version
  • WWE European Championship Match – Triple H v Owen Hart (Wrestlemania XIV 29th March 1998)
  • Elevating The Game
  • WWE Championship Match – v Mankind (RAW August 23nd 1999)
  • Being at the Top
  • No Holds Barred WWE Championship Match – v Steve Austin (No Mercy October 17th 1999)
  • McMahon-Helmsley Era
  • Career v WWE Title Hell in a Cell Match – v Cactus Jack (No Way Out February 27th 2000)
  • Injury & Return
  • 30-Man Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble January 20th 2002)

Extras

None

Disc 2

  • The Return of Shawn
  • 2 out of 3 Falls for the World Heavyweight Championship – v Shawn Michaels (Armageddon December 15th 2002)
  • The Rise of Batista
  • Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – v Batista (Vengeance June 26th 2005)
  • Wrestling My Idol
  • Last Man Standing Match – v Ric Flair (Survivor Series November 27th 2005)
  • The Next Generation
  • Triple Threat Match for the WWE Title – v John Cena v Edge (Backlash April 30th 2006)
  • What’s Left to Accomplish?

Extras

  • Hog Pen Match – v Henry O. Godwinn (In Your House december 17th 1995)
  • Triple H’s First Professional Match – Terra Ryzing (HHH) v “Flying” Tony Roy, with commentary by Triple H and Jim Ross (November 1st 1992)

Main Feature

My personal take on Hunter Hearst Helmsley is that of admiration and respect. Here is a guy who didn’t just have success thrust upon him (despite what some fans will tell you), didn’t win the WWE Championship because of who he is married to and has had to claw his way from the bottom of the card twice before attaining the status he enjoys today.

This is the third DVD collection to focus on HHH, so, in keeping with the more recent WWE releases, there are some sections of his career not on this set that are shown elsewhere. Some people don’t like it (I felt the new Austin release suffered because of it) and some do. In this case, it benefits the DVD to streamline certain aspects of Hunter’s journey to the top.

The disc opens with a video montage of Hunter as the KoK (not the best acronym) and then switches to the man himself taking about his influences growing up (unsurprisingly, Ric Flair is mentioned) and how he broke into the business through Killer Kowalski’s school.

HHH mentions how Pat Patterson came to the school, as a favour to Big John Studd, to look at Ron Reis (who later became Reese, the seven-foot giant, in Raven’s Flock), but ended up really taking an interest in Trips instead. HHH, rather humbly, makes mention of how he wasn’t ready for the WWE at that point, so he went to WCW after Eric Bischoff managed to watch some of his early work.

The WCW run is pretty much glossed over (only some footage of a match against Alex Wright), which is a shame because he had some nice matches for the company and had an entertaining, if short, run as Steven (William) Regal’s tag partner in The Blue Bloods.

A call from J.J. Dillon after his match at the 1994 Starrcade (the aforementioned bout against Alex Wright) inviting him to meet with Vince McMahon heralds his arrival in the WWF. A series of vignettes (a tactic I feel is underrated in getting someone over before they debut. Look at Kofi Kingston and Finlay upon their debuts compared to other wrestlers who just turned up with no fanfare) let the WWF fans know that this upper-class snob is about to arrive and bring some much needed prestige to the company.

The first match on the DVD is Hunter’s RAW debut (where he doesn’t even get an entrance to the ring, just his music playing as he is already in the ring) against John Crystal. Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler on commentary do a good job of putting HHH over, which passed us by on the first viewing, but in hindsight seems obvious that the owner of the company would put over someone he felt would be useful to his company.

The strange thing with watching this match is not how much more streamlined Triple H was on his debut, but the offensive manoeuvres he uses in the contest. It would be almost impossible to picture the current (as of press-time) WWE Champion doing a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker or a spinning leg-lariat. It also seems sacrilege to have Trips not using the Pedigree to win the match; for his first few months he used a (poor) Diamond Cutter as a finisher.

After the debut match is out of the way, things move forward quite quickly to his first title win in the WWF when he defeated Marc Mero for the Intercontinental Championship. Just before the match, HHH gives Mero a very backhanded compliment when he “grudgingly” credits “The Wildman” as the man he learned the most from in Wrestling. The reason for this is because it was against Mero that Triple H “was forced to become a ring general”… a very snide way of saying Mero didn’t know how to work and HHH had to dictate matches to him as they were in progress.

An interesting aside to the match was the heel-turn of Mr. Perfect, who was then supposed to align himself with the new champion, but instead headed to WCW and joined the nWo (via The Four Horsemen).

Trips puts over the IC belt (in the same manner others have) as the title that was held by the more technical and/or athletic wrestlers who stole the show on most occasions. In doing so, he basically confirms everyone’s fears by saying that “at that time, the IC title meant a lot” when it was held by Shawn, Razor, Bret, Perfect, who wowed people with great matches while all Hogan did was “4mins of posing” at the end of the night.

Things move on and Hunter talks about how it was time to evolve his character, and this led to Chyna coming in as HHH’s bodyguard. According to Trips, Vince was so against the idea of a female protector, but as history tells us, he obviously changed his mind at some point.

The Curtain Call is talked about briefly, including Vince giving his blessing for the goodbye. Something went awry though, as Vince called Hunter and said to him that if he wasn’t who he was, then he would have been sent on his way. With Shawn as champ and both Hall and Nash leaving, Hunter was the only one really punished for it. Some people know this, others don’t, but Triple H was meant to win the 1996 KotR tournament, but the de-push put an end to that. Of course, Steve Austin won that year’s tournament and went on to be the biggest star in the history of the business, but how different would the course of the late 90s have been if the Curtain Call never happened?

Exactly one year later, we rejoin the story as Triple H wins the 1997 KotR and enters into a feud with Mankind (that is shamefully glossed over here) and then we leap forward a little bit more in time to the formation of DX. Here Hunter talks about how the antics he and Shawn were doing stemmed from the two of them just messing around backstage. Vince would scream at them after every TV show until he realised that the fans were lapping it up… and from there it was full-speed ahead as the Connecticut Snob became a degenerate.

Owen Hart v Triple H from Wrestlemania XIV is a great match, and the DX Band playing Hunter to the ring is always welcome, but it really skips over the history of why the bout is taking place. Wrestlemania XIV also had Steve Austin ascending to the throne when he won the WWF Title from HBK in the show’s main event. Trips mentions that the biggest fight he had was making sure Shawn actually show up for his match.

The next night on RAW was, to most people, the night that the WWF started to win the war as “we bear witness to the genesis of D-Generation X”, even though it should have been the rebirth rather than genesis. X-Pac returns and the New Age Outlaws joined the group, leading to the most successful incarnation of DX we’re ever likely to see.

We again take a massive leap forward and go from March 1998 to August 1999; a period of sixteen months that misses out all of the feud with The Nation and virtually all of the advances on WCW, not to mention the entire first run of the second incarnation of the group. Whether this is left out because of the fact two-thirds of the other members are in TNA, or some other reason, it is a shame to miss out that time period.

His first WWF Championship win is up next, and a brief mention as to the politics surrounding it (Austin was the champion, but refused to drop the belt to HHH. Instead, he lost the title to Mankind on the previous evening’s Summerslam in a Triple-Threat. Mankind then passed the belt to Triple H on RAW).

The WWF Title, by this point, was no longer the Classic Winged Eagle design; it was now the Big Eagle design that became synonymous with HHH in the year 2000. Triple H really suited that particular design, and I feel that they should bring it back to replace the non-spinning Spinner Belt.

We go through a great match against Steve Austin, the Test/Steph wedding interruption (which was pretty funny at the time), the heel turn of Stephanie and the formation of the McMahon-Helmsley era. The latter of which leads us to a fantastic HiaC match that put Mick Foley’s career on the line against HHH’s WWF Title. The two men beat each other all over the caged structure, with chairs, a 2×4 wrapped in barbed-wire and set on fire, and a fall through the cell all being highlights.

HHH wins the match, but as we all know, Foley was back at the next month’s Wrestlemania making a mockery of the retirement stipulation. To be fair to Mick though, apart from that match, his returns have been sporadic and usually to help elevate someone to another level (Randy Orton and Edge in two fantastic hardcore contests).

The Two-Man Power Trip is briefly mentioned, and some highlights are shown, as Hunter and Austin joined forces to rule the ring. A quad-tear puts paid to the run and shelved Triple H for a long, long time. His eventual return at MSG was, and still is, amazing to watch and listen to. The fans scream loud and long as Hunter returns to RAW and states his intention to win the 2002 Royal Rumble. Honestly, it is amongst the top-five pops I’ve ever heard.

We join the 2002 Rumble as HHH makes his entrance into the match. The only man in the ring at the time is his former running-buddy, Steve Austin. The Rumble itself was decent enough, with a returning Mr. Perfect giving a good showing, but the highlight was The Hurricane attempting a double-chokeslam on both Austin and HHH. It’s not the attempt itself that’s funny, it’s the reaction of the two chokeslamees (it’s a word). Austin and Hunter sell the goozle part of the move for a few seconds until they realise who it is grabbing them, look at each other in disbelief and then eliminate the superhero wannabe. His victory in the Rumble rounds out the first disc and we head into disc 2 with Triple H going into Wrestlemania X8 as the #1 contender to Chris Jericho’s WWE Undisputed Title.

Triple H wins the title, yet the entire run as Undisputed Champion is left out for some reason. Instead, we hear about how Shawn and HHH were having some problems due to Michaels’ drug abuse. Things get better and Shawn wants to have one more match so his son can see him wrestle, and he chooses Triple H as the only man he can trust to give him the quality he needs.

That “one match” was a belter of a streetfight, especially as HBK had been out for four years with a legit injury. The build to the match, particularly the hype video is my favourite build to a WWE match I’ve seen. As we all know, Shawn decided that one more match wasn’t enough; he’s been a mainstay of the roster pretty much for the following six years.

The 2 out of 3 falls match Hunter and HBK contested at Armageddon 2002 isn’t as good as their Summerslam encounter (which can be, at least partly, attributed to the emotion going into Summerslam), but it is a really good match. The finish is a visual spot that I put up there as one of the best in HBK’s career.

December 2002 until March 2005; that’s how much time we skip over to get the next section of the DVD. Whether it’s a coincidence that this is also the worst period of HHH’s career from an in-ring standpoint or not is a subject for debate, but skip forward to the Batista feud we do regardless.

The face-turn of Batista is probably the most perfectly booked turn since Hogan went heel in 1996. Triple H was the World Champion and would do anything, and use anyone, to keep the belt around his waist. Batista was his enforcer in Evolution and did the job really, really well. Randy Orton had been kicked out of the group, for having the gall to win the World Title, by the time we join the story. Batista wins the 2005 Royal Rumble, so can go after either Hunter’s World Title or JBL’s WWE Title. Triple H does all he can to convince Dave to go to Smackdown! from the second he had the choice and uses Batista to keep his title during an Elimination Chamber Match. Eventually, we come to the contract signing where Batista has to choose which title to go for at Wrestlemania 21.

He feigns signing the WWE Title contract (to the boos of the fans… they’d been itching for a full face-turn for months by this point), only for him to put his thumbs down (mimicking Triple H doing the same to Orton when he turned on him). One powerbomb through a table later and the main event for Wrestlemania was set; Batista v Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title.

Batista won the belt that night in a pretty good match and then went over in the customary rematch at Backlash the following month. A desperate Triple H pulls out his ace by demanding a second rematch inside the Hell in a Cell structure; a match HHH had never lost… and it’s here where the action begins again. Hell in a Cell against Batista was a fitting end to their feud and really propelled Dave to the heights he enjoys to this day. No-one had ever defeated HHH three PPVs in a row, so that rub was the kickstart for Batista.

Some fans go on about how Triple H is always the champion and how he uses his relationship with Stephanie to further his career, but they forget to mention that not only did Hunter become WWF Champion before he started dating Stephanie, he never held the any version of the world title from Wrestlemania in 2005 until Backlash 2008 (apart from a two-hour run in October of 2007). That’s over three years without the title, yet people still say that Hunter dominates the title picture, especially since his is now (as of press-time) the current WWE Champion. In my opinion, after three years away from the belt, he deserves another run.

Ric Flair has been an influence on countless wrestlers over the years and Triple H is no exception. Putting over Flair as being the embodiment of pro-wrestling, Hunter discusses what it meant to him to finally have a feud against his hero and how great it was to be able to give him a great match at the 2005 Survivor Series. Fought under Last Man Standing rules, this match really helped to extend Flair’s career and showed that, when motivated, he can still go with the best of them. Shawn Michaels did the exact same thing with Ric during his last match at this year’s Wrestlemania.

A very bloody battle, the LMS match was the right way to end the feud and keep both men strong moving on to other things.

Going from the old guard to the new lions coming up the ranks, HHH puts over John Cena’s popularity and work ethic by telling a story of how Cena asked for some feedback after a match and listened as Trips told him how bad he was in the ring. Hunter gained a lot of respect for him because he listened to the criticism and didn’t bitch about it, but rather thanked Triple H for the comments and vowed to improve in the future… something he most certainly has done.

HHH also talks about Edge’s rise to the top and the fact that even though both of them had been in the company for close to a decade, they’d never really clashed inside the ring. This all changed at Backlash 2006, as they butted heads alongside John Cena in a match for the WWE Championship.

Coming into the match, Cena had made Hunter submit to the shock of almost everyone at Wrestlemania 23 and Edge was coming of a victory over Mick Foley in an unbelievably brutal Hardcore Streetfight that ended with a spear through a flaming table.

The Triple-Threat match isn’t as good as the two aforementioned contests, but it is still a good match between three guys who are super-over with the crowd. He may lose the match, but Triple H’s conduct after the bell leaves no-one in any doubt who the real superstar is out of the three men.

The DVD ends with Hunter talking about what the future may hold for him in the company and how he won’t hang around once he can’t put on the calibre of matches he feels he should.

Extras

There are only two extras on the DVD, with neither of them being essential viewing, but they are nice distractions nonetheless.

The first one is the infamous Hog Pen Match against Henry Godwinn (a wrestler I always liked for some reason), a match that isn’t all that great, but does show you how far Triple H had to climb to get to the top. The most surprising thing about this match is that it comes before the Curtain Call punishment.

The second extra is Hunter’s debut match… and it really does suck. The commentary on the other hand is absolutely hilarious, with JR and Trips really taking the piss out of the debuting Terra Ryzing at every juncture. It really is refreshing to see Hunter diss himself so much.

Overview

A good profile DVD, and one that is better than the Steve Austin collection, although it does suffer from the same problem as Austin’s and Rey’s releases; missing out on a lot of important happenings in their careers.

We don’t really learn much, if anything, about Triple H away from his character (something that used to be a staple of these releases), and the portions of his career that are missing really do detract from the experience, but it is a worthy buy overall.

Points: 7 / 10

Buy It:

 

UK: DVD

USA: DVD

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