So how do you start a DVD review about one of the most powerful men in the world of wrestling today? You could go on about how he's been a polarizing figure during his career, or how he went from a blue blood to a degenerate and all that. But I think the best way to start this thing is to just say that we're going to take a look at WWE's most recent DVD tribute to their Chief Operating Officer with Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come.
And as is the way with these thing let's start at the very beginning with.....
This is where you'll find the documentary piece, a chronicle of our man's career. Clocking in at a shade over two hours Trips and his army of admirers guide us through his life, beginning with the proverbial humble beginnings and how he got hooked on the wrestling business as a young boy.
It's the usual slickly-made pro-WWE piece, and it makes for interesting viewing. Sure, I knew there wasn't go to be any sort of hatchet job here, and I knew that some of the things would probably have a sort of brown-nosing quality for some, but I really enjoyed this. Going back in time and seeing those years when he used that bloody awful French accent in WCW was kind of fun, and it was nice to go through the years and re-living some of the things I remember extremely well from the Attitude Era, a time when I often thought to myself "did they really just do that?"
Overall this was a great way to document Triple H's life and career. I, like many other 'net nerds before me, criticised the hell out of him over the years, but I couldn't help but respect him for his achievements in the wrestling business and the way he's working to improve the industry in his behind the scenes roll.
But this collection isn't just about this documentary. There's also a few matches here as well, which leads us nice to.....
We begin in WCW territory with our man adopting that bloody awful French accent as Jean-Paul Levesque takes on United States Champion Ricky Steamboat on an episode of WCW Saturday Night.
I'm guessing that this was from the early days of the "JPL" era, mainly because of the lack of fancy ring attire and the lack of pompous posturing as he made his way to the ring. In short, he's in generic heel mode here.
So this was one of those short and sweet television matches lasting a little under ten minutes. Steamboat controlled the early going, but when a mistake saw him crash and burn shoulder first into the ring post JPL began working over the Dragon's right arm and shoulder, turning him into a southpaw.
But just when it looked like JPL was going to get the win Steamboat remembered the way he beat Randy Savage a few years before and pinned JPL with a small package out of a bodyslam. Frenchie was none too pleased with the manner of his defeat and attacked Steamboat after the bell, doing even further damage to the Dragon's bad wing.
With the French accent gone, and as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, our man is on his way to becoming a D-Generate in WWE, and with Chyna by his side he ventures onto British soil to take on Dude Love at One Night Only.
The opening match of WWE's first ever UK-only pay-per-view proved to be a great back and forth encounter between two guys who had quite a storied rivalry back then, all of it stemming from the King of the Ring final. The Dudester controlled the early going, showing that he was a gifted wrestler as well as being a gifted brawler. But the interference of Trips' bodyguard as the action spilled out to ringside changed the complexion of the match entirely.
Trips did a good job of controlling the action, albeit with further interference from his lady friend, especially when Mrs. Foley's baby boy made his comeback, placing Trips' foot on the rope after the Dudester and taken him down with his sweet shin music/double underarm DDT combination.
Dude's argument with Chyna ended up costing him dearly, the distraction leaving him open to Triple H's attack as he put him away with the pedigree for the winning pin.
21st May, 2000
With Shawn Michaels as the special referee our man challenges the Rock for the WWF title in a sixty minute iron man match at Judgement Day.
The second iron man match in WWE history proved to be a very dramatic affair with great storytelling throughout and a rather chaotic ending. Before the match began Trips sent the McMahons backstage, telling them that he wanted to win the title on his own. It was a request they reluctantly agreed to.
As is the case with these matches the show and methodical approach was the order of the day. Neither man put a foot wrong throughout this gruelling contest, and the same could be said of the special referee as well. The action flowed brilliantly as the clock ticked down and they stacked up the pins, with Rocky playing catch-up for most of the match when Trips took a two fall advantage.
Both men bled for their art as the champion worked his way back into the match, beginning when he took Trips down with his own pedigree move on the announcers table. A count out and a people's elbow helped him level the score before all hell broke loose. First the McMahons, closely followed by Road Dogg and X-Pac, came down to the ring to help Trips, and when Michaels was temporarily taken out of commission the McMahon-Helmsley faction began to take Rock apart.
Then it happened. A strange but somewhat familiar music began to play before none other than the Undertaker returned and roared down the aisle on his motorbike. The then-former dead man quickly dispatched the interlopers before taking Trips down with a chokeslam and a tombstone.
But the Undertaker's interference had a drastic effect on the Rock. Special referee Michaels saw everything and called for the bell as the time limit expired, and after a quick chat with the Fink it was announced that the Rock had been disqualified because of the Undertaker's interference, meaning that the eleventh and final fall went to Triple H, giving him the title.
24th September, 2000
With Commissioner Mick Foley as the special referee our man faces Kurt Angle in a no disqualification match at Unforgiven.
This was at the height of the Triple H/Stephanie/Angle love triangle, an angle that promised so much that was allowed to fizzle out, and if this match was anything to go by then the entire angle could have been so much hotter.
Trips came into this one with his ribs taped up courtesy of an Angle sledgehammer attack a few days before, which meant that he was at a serious disadvantage throughout. It also meant that Angle dominated the majority of the match, with his best move coming when he suplexed Trips off the American announcers table and through the Spanish table.
But no matter what Angle threw at him Trips kept coming back, and after he took Angle down with a one-handed pedigree he called the somewhat conflicted Stephanie into the ring, telling her to choose between him an Angle. The Billion Dollar Princess quickly made her choice when she kicked the Olympic hero south of the border, and after Trips took him down with his regular pedigree it was all over.
29th April, 2001
Our man is now Intercontinental Champion as he teams with WWF Champion Steve Austin to take on Tag Team Champions Kane and the Undertaker at Backlash.
This was one of those matches where all the titles were on the line, which meant that not only were Trips and Austin challenging for the Tag Team titles, the Undertaker and Kane were challenging for their opponents respective singles titles.
As far as this match goes, I think the phrase slobber-knocker describes it perfectly. It's nearly thirty minutes of controlled chaos with four masters of their art putting on a match the crowd lapped up. Everything that happened was either cheered for or booed extremely loudly, which just added to the overall atmosphere.
Austin and Triple H played their parts as the cowardly heels perfectly. They were quite reluctant to get into the ring at first, and when the match eventually began the Brothers of Destruction took them apart. The Two Man Power Trip soon took control of the action though as they gave the Dead Man a taste of their particular brand of medicine, and even though he managed to come back he was reluctant to tag Kane into the match because the Big Red Machine was suffering from a serious elbow injury.
Indeed, the masked one only got in on the action when he tagged himself in, and although he enjoyed some success at first it wasn't long before Trips and Austin began to work him over, using every trick in the book as they targeted the injured limb.
But try as they might they couldn't take the monster down. But when he made it back to his corner the referee was taking a snooze after an accidental collision, so while he was trying to regain his senses the Undertaker came in and cleaned house before taking Trips down with the last ride powerbomb. The only problem was that the referee hadn't seen his tag so he refused to count the pin afterwards.
More chaos followed. The referee got into a shouting match with Stephanie McMahon before he pushed the Billion Dollar Princess off the ring apron, and as Austin and the Undertaker brawled through the fans Vince McMahon came down to the ring, sledgehammer in hand. The referee took another hit before Trips saved his father-in-law from Kane before clobbering the big man with the hammer before Vince pushed the snoozing official back into the ring as Trips made pinned Kane to take the winning pin for his team.
30th June, 2003
Our man is now World Champion as he defends his title against Rob Van Dam on Raw.
Now if I recall it was around this time that Trips took a hell of a lot of criticism for apparently holding back guys like RVD. In hindsight I'm not sure if that's the case, but upon seeing this match you can't argue that he did everything he could to make the future WWE Champion look great.
The action began with the champion attacking as soon as the bell sounded, but it wasn't long before he found himself on the receiving end of a backside kicking from his challenger as RVD brought out all of our favourite kicks. However, the arrival of Ric Flair at ringside changed the complexion of the match completely as the Nature Boy helped Trips work over RVD's legs.
But despite being on the end of an Indian deathlock and a figure four RVD came back, but when he connected with his five star frog splash Flair came in and clobbered him with the title belt. The referee had no choice but to disqualify Triple H immediately.
That wasn't the end of things though. Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff appeared on the stage, and after saying that he didn't want the title match to end on a DQ he ordered the referee to re-start the match as an anything goes falls count anywhere affair.
Randy Orton then appeared on the scene, but not even his interference could stop RVD at first, and it was only when the two protagonists brawled onto the ramp that Trips managed to get his own way, especially when Flair and Orton arrived to lend a hand. A shot to the head with the title belt and a DDT on the metal sealed RVD's fate as Triple H took the title-retaining win.
25th January, 2004
It's on to the Royal Rumble, and our man defends his World title against his old buddy/old rival Shawn Michaels in a last man standing match.
Good ol' JR's much-used phrase to describe an extremely physical encounter would fit this match perfectly, because it really was a good old fashioned slobber knocker. You always knew you were going to get a great match when these two went up against each other, and that was definitely the case here.
For about 25 minutes these two beat the proverbial out of each other. Both guys wore the crimson mask as the blood flowed freely, but despite all of their best efforts they just couldn't put each other away, with the champion becoming more and more frustrated as the match went on.
Trips came closest towards the end when he took Michaels down with the pedigree, but when Michaels beat the count and took the champion down with sweet chin music it looked like a title change was about to occur. The referee's count seemed to take an age as both men lay on the mat, and as he neared the end Michaels stirred before slumping to the mat, so with neither man beating the count the match was declared a draw, with Trips retaining his title, much to the annoyance of the fans in attendance.
6th February, 2006
Our man enters the Road to Wrestlemania tournament as he takes on old buddy/rival and Intercontinental Champion Ric Flair on Raw.
If I'm to be completely honest then I'd have to say that this isn't the best match I've seen these two in. It's more or less your typical Flair match from this point in his career. He spent most of his time taking Trips to chop city before working over his man's leg in preparation for the figure four, which the Game eventually escaped from when he reached the ropes.
Trips' performance was okay, but it wasn't the best one of this collection. I can't put my finger on it but something about his performance lacked that "it" factor. It didn't stop him from taking the win though, pinning Flair after his trusty old pedigree.
26th August, 2007
Our man returns from one of his many injuries as he faces royalty in the former of King Booker at Summerslam.
Did you ever watch one of those matches where the entrances and pre-match posing took so long you felt like yelling "get on with it!" at your television? That was how I felt while watching this one unfold.
The long entrance was mainly due to the video hyping Triple H's return from a quadriceps injury. After that he spent a great deal of time posing on the second rope drinking in the adulation from the crowd, and by the time the match started a chapter that lasted twenty minutes or so was already at the ten minute mark.
The match itself wasn't bad I suppose. Booker was a step behind a couple of times early on, but it was more or less a showcase for the returning hero, who took the win after about seven minutes with the Pedigree, with the final three minutes of the chapter filled with more Game posing.
7th October, 2007
Having defeated the newly-crowned WWE Champion Randy Orton earlier in the evening, and having defended the title against Umaga, our man faces Orton again, defending the title in a last man standing match at No Mercy.
Remember what I said about slobber knockers a few lines back? Well, that would be a great way to describe this match as well, and it's all the more remarkable considering that this was the Game's third match of the evening, and Orton's second.
These two tore shreds off each other for twenty minutes or so as they brawled all over the place. It certainly was a dramatic piece of storytelling as both men gave everything they had, and then some. In fact it was the sort of match they should have when Orton was kicking his way through the McMahon family a while before.
Eventually the heavy guns came into the equation, or rather the heavy metal as they clobbered each other with chairs and ring steps, but despite all of this neither man could get the job done. But in the end something had to give, and that something was Triple H as Orton countered his pedigree attempt on the Raw announcer's table with an RKO onto the wood, and although Trips managed to crawl off the table he failed to beat the count, giving Orton the title win.
21st November, 2008
Our man is WWE Champion once again, and a trip to England sees him taking on Jeff Hardy in a non-title match on Smackdown, with the stipulation that if Hardy won he'd earn a spot in the WWE title match at the Survivor Series.
I remember the matches these two had a few years before this one, when Trips was part of the Two Man Power Trip with Steve Austin. They were somewhat one-sided affairs from what I recall, but this one was a more even, with those in the know wondering aloud if Hardy could hang with the big boys and finally win that "big one".
The answer was yes, yes he could. With a date against Triple H and Vladimir Koslov (remember him?) up for grabs Hardy went on the offensive as soon as the bell sounded, clobbering the champion while shaking his hand and controlling the early going brilliantly.
Needless to say that the Game soon slowed the charismatic enigma down a little, but as the match moved into overdrive the aforementioned Koslov made an appearance, taking a right hand from Trips and a suicide dive from Hardy.
So with the big Russian out of the way Trips tried to suplex Hardy back into the ring. Hardy quickly countered, and one roll-up later and Hardy had booked himself a place in the WWE title match.
30th November, 2009
It's the final match of the collection, and our man faces another old rival in the form of Unified Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho on Raw.
This one had a couple of stipulations. If Trips won Jericho would face D-Generation X in a handicap match the following week, but if Jericho won then Trips would face Jeri-Show instead.
With their respective tag team partners sitting in on commentary these two put on a match which seemed a lot more entertaining than their Wrestlemania main event. It was a nice little back and forth encounter which was well-paced throughout, with the banter between Shawn Michaels and the Big Show adding to the rivalry.
The aforementioned partners also got in on the in-ring act before the referee banished both of them backstage, and after Trips countered Jericho's walls attempt by pushing him off into the turnbuckles he rolled Y2J up for the three count and win.
In conclusion - several hours and a few thousand words later I've finally reached the end of another marathon session. So how did this collection rate then?
Well, it was pretty obvious that parts of this collection would come over like a vanity piece, but despite that it's a well put together set. I really enjoyed the documentary part, and while some of the matches probably won't go down in history as the greatest of our man's career there's some real gems on here, particularly the iron man match against the Rock and the last man standing encounters against Michaels and Orton.
So with all of that said and done there's just one more thing to do, and that's to give this collection the thumbs up.