Over the last 25 years since he’s debuted in the WWE, Triple H has been one of the biggest rivals of the Undertaker. The two first squared off on PPV on opposing sides of a tag team match at Survivor Series 1995, and last fought in the D-Generation X vs. Brothers of Destruction match at Crown Jewel 2018. They also had three WrestleMania matches together.
The history of Triple H and the Undertaker is one of the focal points of the third episode of “Undertaker: The Last Ride”, which premiered last Sunday on WWE Network and you can read John Canton’s review here.
In an interview with CBS Sports, Triple H discussed how his approach to wrestling the Undertaker has changed over the years.
“Obviously, everybody changes as performers and who you are. When I first came in here and faced him for the first time in 1995, it was just about earning his respect and trust as a performer. Taker is one of those guys who gives everybody respect, but you don’t just get it, you have to earn it. That’s in-ring and everything else. I approached that time very differently. Over the course of our careers, we worked a lot. At that point in time, you just didn’t think about it. It was a night off. If I was wrestling Taker — and I’d like to think he thought the same with me — it was a night off. You don’t have to think about it — he’s going to do his part, you don’t have to think for him. You just go in there and it’s magic and fun. You’re laughing and having a good time because you’re in there with a guy that’s incredibly gifted in the ring but you also get along with and think the same as. It couldn’t be any easier. But, when you fast forward toward the end of your careers and he’s in the place he’s in with everything you’re seeing in ‘The Last Ride,’ with self-doubt and the physical shape that he was in and trying to overcome all that, and then you’re having your own issues with all of that.”
“As you’ve heard him say, and I’ve said it a bunch, the hardest thing I’ve ever done is have to do what we do and try to do it at the level we want to do it at once or twice a year. It’s incredibly difficult. So, the approach to that in 2018 is a completely different animal. You don’t know what he’s going to bring to the table, and in some way, you doubt what you can bring to the table. That makes it a lot more difficult.”
Triple H goes on to discuss the retirement talk for The Undertaker. As the Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy and Development for the company, Triple H states that while there has been internal talks of retirement for the 7-time world champion, the performer has to make that decision for himself.
“Look, if we have to, we’ve said it to others. Somebody has to hold the reins and guide the horse or it’ll run itself into the ground. But it’s a tough thing. It’s hard to tell somebody, ‘No, you can’t do this.’ With all due respect to him, Vince tried to do it with Flair and gave him the greatest moment of all time because it was there. The greatest sendoff, the perfect match with Shawn, the perfect moments, all of that. Nobody in sports has had a moment like that, I don’t believe, anywhere in time. Just perfect. And he still left the company and went and had matches for other places. Small, insignificant, way far beneath him. People say, ‘Oh, he needed the money.’ No he didn’t. That was all ego. It’s tough.”
“In some ways, we can say, you can’t do this for us. Look, I’ve had to have that conversation with talent to say, ‘Look, it’s over. Medically, we can no longer have you perform here.’ The second you say that, the question that is asked is, ‘You say I can’t do it here but, I mean, I can go somewhere else and do this, right?’ It’s always that, so it’s tough. The truth is, he has to be the one that says, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ Even if we tell him he’s done, if we want to be realistic about it, he could go do it somewhere else, I suppose. It has to be him. It has to be done right in his mind.”
Check out the full interview with Triple H by CBS Sports right here.
Nicholas’ Take: I completely agree with Triple H here. I know of a lot of people who want Undertaker to retire. However, the guy can still move. Let him wrestle as long as he wants and is physically allowed to. Taker has such a presence, and after watching wrestling for over 15 years I still love the Undertaker and am excited to see what he does for his 30th anniversary. I agree with Triple H in the second portion of the interview. Flair wrestled some really lackluster matches in TNA back in 2010 and 2011 and I really wish he stuck to his retirement after the WM24 match with Shawn Michaels because that’s one of my favorite matches ever. I don’t want to see the same thing happen to Undertaker. Let Taker pick his time, don’t pick it for him.