Triple H - The True 'Mr. WrestleMania'? - Part One: Obscure Rise

Does Shawn Michaels' vaunted title belong to someone else? Tiffany takes a look at the rise of Triple H, starting with his first two WrestleMania matches against the Ultimate Warrior and Goldust.
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When you hear the nickname ‘Mr. WrestleMania’, who do you think of? Like most wrestling fans, you probably think of Shawn Michaels, who definitely earned that nickname with all of the great WrestleMania matches he’s had over the years. What if I told you that there was another superstar who is, perhaps, a little more deserving of that title; no shade to Shawn Michaels, whom I love dearly. What if I told you that there was a legendary superstar that has only missed TWO WrestleManias in his decades long WWE run, even surpassing Taker’s record and only coming behind Howard Finkel? ‘Who could this be?’ you ask? Triple H.

That’s right, kids, Triple H has only missed two WrestleManias since his first WrestleMania in 1996 and one he missed due to injury and the other due to COVID-19, and while his win/loss record is nowhere near as legendary as Undertaker’s, it has included a who’s who of legends, Hall of Famers, and future Hall of Famers.

So, what kind of matches are in this unsung streak? Given Triple H’s legendary status, what do these matches tell us about the career and legacy of The Game? Let’s find out!

Part 1: Obscure Rise

WrestleMania XII – Ultimate Embarrassment: Hunter Helmsley vs The Ultimate Warrior

We begin in 1996, WWF was not quite in the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars were just grumbles across the fence between WWF and WCW. As WrestleMania XII drew near, the legendary Ultimate Warrior was looking to make another comeback to the company he’d walked out on twice. Facing him would be a young superstar that had made his debut the previous spring: The Connecticut Blue Blood, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Yeah, it sounded stupid back then too, but it’s better than his WCW ring name: Terra Ryzing and yes, I’m serious.

The Match:

Helmsley comes out to the obnoxious 17th century harpsichord entrance he used to have and the lady on his arm was a woman who would become known as Sable. Helmsley looked like an idiot in white tie and tales and the VERY old school curtsey/bow he did didn’t help. The crowd is pretty quiet for him, it’s important to remember that he’d only been in WWE for a year.

The Ultimate Warrior’s pop was as deafening as ever. Warrior came out wearing a sleeveless trenchcoat, same mullet and ran around the ring like always.

There’s not a lot to say about this match. It was a little more than a squash since Helmsley DID get some offense in, but it’s clear that this was just to re-introduce Ultimate Warrior to the fans, but I can’t say Warrior’s ring skills have improved since 1992.

The end was no surprise, Warrior would get the win after a splash on Helmsley’s back, which HAD to have hurt.

Winner: Ultimate Warrior by pinfall.

Comment: I would feel sorry for Trips for that less than stellar WrestleMania debut, but then I remember where his career would go. Not a great match, very few signs of the ring general he would become, but it was just the first one.

WrestleMania 13 - Gold and Chyna: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Goldust

Triple H’s feud heading into WrestleMania was a complete 180 from 1996. For one, it was an actual feud and two, it would prove to be a turning point in the careers of several people involved.

Goldust, Helmsley’s opponent, had been scandalizing the WWE Universe with his homoerotic, genderbending gimmick in a time when that wasn’t done had found himself defending his valet, Marlena, against Helmsley’s unwanted advances, a move that stunned many in WWE.

Helmsley, who had morphed from the Connecticut Blue-Blood to a character who deemed himself irresistible to women, whether the women agreed or not and had set his sights on Marlena. To make sure he won his matches, Helmsley had also introduced Chyna, a body-building woman who was as big and tough as any man in the WWF and wasn’t afraid to mix it up.

The Match

Thank god the harpsichord is gone but Helmsley’s music is the same music that the Starz Network was using for their ‘When I want movies, I want to see Starz!’ campaign, and hearing the music always brings back memories of watching John Travolta as ‘Michael’ dancing on my TV.

Helmsley’s presentation seems more in line with his personality than the Connecticut Blue Blood, but he still did the stupid curtsey thing.

Goldust and Marlena’s entrance was much the same as it would be for most of their run together, but it’s clear that Goldust is NOT in a good mood and Marlena seemed nervous.

This match was REALLY good. Dustin Rhodes is a great athlete, but the Goldust gimmick had really overshadowed that, so this storyline let him show what a badass he actually was and is. It’s also wild to see the crowd, that used to yell some pretty unspeakable stuff at Goldust, getting behind him.

The only thing I really didn’t like about this match was the storyline. The whole storyline with Helmsley basically using Chyna to punish Marlena for not wanting to be unfaithful to her husband really bothers me. It was an edgy-ish storyline for 1997, but now it really doesn’t hold up looking back.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley by pinfall after Chyna distracted Goldust by attacking Marlena.

Comment: I really liked the match, but the storyline was just terrible. 

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