He's Tan He's Mad He's Back!
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) otherwise known as "The Game," entered professional wrestling by joining Killer Kowalski's wrestling school in Massachusetts. There, he learned the ropes and would eventually begin journeying through independent federations in hopes that one of the big two, The World Wrestling Federation or World Championship Wrestling, would notice his talents. In 1994, WCW signed Helmsley, and he first wrestled under the name Terra Ryzing. As that gimmick didn't work, he was then turned into a Blueblood with Lord Steven Regal, and renamed Jean-Paul Levesque. He would mainly work as a tag partner for Regal, forming a very snobby team that began to attract a loyal following.
In 1995, Helmsley had a decision to make. The WWF talent scouts saw some potential, and offered him a deal to possibly become a singles wrestler, but at less money than he'd make in WCW. He took a gamble that would forever change his career, opting for the singles career in the WWF, rather than just being a tag partner in WCW, with no potential as a singles wrestler with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff in charge.
Changing his name to Triple H, Helmsley was now set to slowly climb the WWF ladder. Wrestling fans soon loved to hate him. After several WWF Titles and fans growing in the millions Helmsley was on top of the world.
Triple H would then meet the queen of female wrestlers, Chyna. Helmsley convinced the WWF to let her in as his valet/bodyguard and the pair soon became a couple. But the relationship and Chyna's career in wrestling would turn sour when Helmsley began a romance with Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWF president Vince McMahon. Triple H was a full fledged heel (Writers note: a "heel" is a wrestler who the fans love to hate.)
Despite all his success Helmsley's lucrative livelihood nearly came to an end last year when he injured his leg so badly that it seemed likely his career would be over. But the determined showman proved the experts wrong and after surgery and months of rehab Triple H is back and more popular then ever.
You can see Triple H and the rest of the WWF stars go to battle on Thursday, March 28th at the Continental Airlines Arena. For tickets call Ticketmaster at 201-507-8900 or 609-520-8383
Chauncé Hayden: I heard you were nervous about talking to Steppin' Out. How come?
Triple H: I just wanted to make sure it wasn't "Steppin' Out of the Closet" magazine.
No problem. You wouldn't be the first to ask that question. Anyway, how's the rehab coming along? Everybody thought you were finished with wrestling after you had severely injured your leg.
I'm back. I'm 100 percent now.
So no health problems since your comeback?
Nobody is 100 percent after an injury. You're never like you used to be. Sure, I think about it at times. But I'm past the point where I think about it every time I do something. Which is something I did when I first came back. Now I just go in the ring and everything is fine.
Are you comfortable being back in the ring? Did you work all the rust out?
It took me a little bit of time to feel like myself again. I've been in the ring for a couple of months now, and I feel pretty much like I'm back to normal. It took me a month or two to get past all the rust. Plus, my body moves a little differently than it did before. The muscles are connected a little differently, therefore I have to move differently. So I had to get used to that. It took me a while to get back into the swing of things. Sure. But I'm there now. I feel comfortable in the ring and I feel comfortable being on the road. I feel like I'm back 100 percent.
You've held the WWF Championship title four times. But does a title really mean anything when the matches are predetermined?
When a company like the WWF takes you and puts you in the position to win the championship title for an extended period of time, it's because they feel it's your time. It's your run. It's the absolute ultimate in our business. What it means is that this business is saying to you that you're the top guy. You're the guy who's going to be headlining all the events, and we're looking at you as the guy who's going to sell out the arena. You're the guy who's going to sell the Pay-Per-View events. Whether the fans love you or hate you, the fact is people want to see you in that ring. It's the WWF's way of saying, "You're the guy."
In other words, you make Vince McMahon more money than anybody else, hence you are the champion.
Right. Being the WWF Champion is like an actor winning an Oscar. Yeah, it's all scripted and planned out, but so are movies. But the best actor gets an Oscar. It's the same type of thing in the WWF.
Any interest in fighting for real? Like the Ultimate Fighting matches you see on Pay-Per-View, for instance?
Personally, I don't find that entertaining. I'm an entertainer. I go to the ring to entertain people. I take people on an emotional roller coaster ride during my 45-minute match. That's what I do. I don't consider myself a fighter. I don't consider what I do a tough-guy business.
It looks pretty tough to me. I wouldn't want to get body slammed any time soon.
Don't get me wrong. What we do is very tough. Ken Shamrock was a former UFC fighting champion. He told me what we do is a lot harder than what he used to do. What he did was train and fight once every six months or so. What I do is every day. It's a grind. The physicality of it is very real. But at the same time, we're entertainers at heart. That's what we do.
I take it we're not going to see you in any real Pay-Per-View extreme fights anytime soon?
No. If somebody wants to do it strictly for entertainment, that's different. But I wouldn't do it for real.
How do you feel about the growing trend of teens who put on their own version of wrestling matches in their backyards?
I'm down on that. What kids need to understand is that we're trained professionals. We're like stuntmen, in a way. We're specifically trained on how to do this. And even though we're trained to do it, there are still risks involved. We had guys paralyzed and even die. There are very serious injuries that can occur doing what we do. I mean, I know every kid likes to wrestle with his buddies, and he does what he sees on TV and he pretends. To me, that's fine. But when you go out there and you're actually trying to emulate what we do and you start using chairs and things like that and create a product like we put out, you're running a serious risk of injury. They just shouldn't do that.
Many have accused wrestlers of taking steroids to achieve otherwise impossible muscle mass. Have you ever taken steroids?
I don't condone its use. But I understand its place. I don't have a problem with people who take steroids. It's a great medicine for people who need it, and it has a place in the world just like any other medication. If a doctor feels that's what you need to improve your health or life and puts you on it, then that's great. However, if you take it without a prescription, then it's just a drug like any other drug, and you shouldn't take it. It should only be given by a doctor.
Joanie Laurer, formerly known to WWF fans as Chyna, has been talking to the press about your relationship with her and the ugly breakup. Does it bother you that she's been so public about it?
No. If that's what she wants to do, that's her business. We had a relationship and things didn't work out. That's life. As far as I'm concerned, it's in my past. What's past is past. I don't bring it up in interviews unless I'm asked about it. But if she wants to talk about it to the press, that's her decision. It doesn't bother me.
It's no big secret that you're currently involved with Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie. How's that relationship going?
How difficult is it dating the boss' daughter?
It was a little weird at first. But my business and my personal life are two separate things. Stephanie and I keep the two worlds separate. It's been that way since the beginning, and we're going to keep it that way.
Tell me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't a Pay-Per-View match between Stephanie McMahon and Chyna be a guaranteed home run?
(Laughs) I doubt that will ever happen!
Have you ever checked out www.tripleH.com?
No, I never have.
It's a textile Web site. Do you have any interest in getting the site for yourself?
Nah, not really. We actually have our own WWF Web sites. That's good enough for me.
What's the worst thing anyone's ever said to you outside of the ring?
I don't think you could print it. For such a long time in this business, I was the ultimate bad guy. I was the guy everybody just loved to hate. If I say so myself, I was very good at getting under people's skin and making them hate me. That's just what I did. When you antagonize people to hate you, you have to expect to be hated back. So I dealt with that a lot, both privately and professionally. In once sense, you hate to have too much negativity surround you, but it also meant I was doing my job well.
One would assume you're afraid of nothing. Would that assumption be correct?
Anybody who says that they're not afraid of something is lying to you. Everybody is afraid of something.
What's your fear?
My biggest fear is what happened to me this past year, when I got injured. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to continue my career. And after the injury, I had fears about my leg not holding up after my comeback. Everybody has fears that they go through daily. However, there's nothing in my mind at this minute where I can give you an example of something I don't do because I'm afraid of it. I think you just have to live your life and face your fears.
One of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
The Babe Ruth of wrestling.
Terry Taylor once said in an interview that if he could pick the last person who he could wrestle to end his career, it would be you, because you are what the WWF is all about. He goes on to say that you embody the spirit of what is the WWF. Would you grant him his wish?
I've never heard that quote, but I appreciate you telling me, that because I respect Terry greatly. He's a great friend of mine and I think he's one of the great minds of our business. An untapped mind, sometimes. If Terry ever decides to have his last match and wants to have it with me, it would be my honor to have it with him. I owe Terry a lot. He taught me the psychology behind this business.
Finally, if you could kick someone's ass outside of the ring, whose ass would you want to kick?
Do you think he's insane?
I think he's misunderstood. I'm not saying he hasn't done a lot of things wrong, but I think that when you're in the position that he's in, that everything you do is extremely scrutinized. I just think he's a very misunderstood person.
What would you do if he bit your ear off?
I'd bite his off.
You can e-mail comments to Chaunce Hayden at Chaunce100@aol.com
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