The panel (Kayla Braxton, Matt Camp, Evan T. Mack & Ryan Pappolla) asked about HHH’s return from injury back in 2016. When he made his return back to being a full-time in-ring performer, ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ admits that year in particular was the most challenging part of his overall career.
It was completely out of the blue and completely unplanned in a way. There was a moment in time with injuries and everything that was happening in the company where, you know, I sort of got to a place in my career where Vince would joke that I was the in case of an emergency, break glass guy. So, I’d be sitting there with my trunks on. He’d tell me, ‘Ok. You’re my in case of an emergency guy, we’re breaking the glass, and here’s what we’re going to do.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, my God.’
I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything harder in my career than have moments where you don’t wrestle for an entire year or a long, long period of time. Then you come out and do whatever it is at the highest level, you know, to try to add to the stuff you’ve done without letting others or yourself down. It’s really one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever faced. The pressure was immense.
The conversation soon turned to the Royal Rumble. The first Rumble they look back on was his big return back in 2002 from when he suffered an eight-month quad injury – an injury which almost cost him his career. For the nine-time WWE Champion, this moment 19 years ago gave him the validation as a performer that he was able to return successfully.
It’s hard to sort of put into words the journey at that point in time because, you know, there was a high probability I might’ve not been able to wrestle again. Coming back and having the return I did at Madison Square Garden, and the reaction I got was great. The challenge was: How do you capitalize on that? So, to come back at the Royal Rumble, there’s so much meaning there. Not only from a performer’s standpoint but from an athlete’s standpoint of the validation to be able to do this still.
During the match, Triple H (who is now the Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development for WWE) recalls the excitement he felt from the crowd when his mentor Curt Henning (Mr. Perfect) made his entrance at the event.
It was awesome! For me, as a fan, Curt was one of the best in-ring performers ever. When I came to WWE at the time, and Curt sort of being in his first management position, he helped me get towards the Intercontinental title. After leaving WWE to go to WCW and then returning later, it was a weird full-circle moment. To see him in that spot and the reaction he got, that was awesome.
Throughout the month, The Bump are asking their guests which moments in Royal Rumble history were their favorites (either to participate in or to watch). For ‘The King of Kings’, he says the very first Rumble he participated in (in 1996 – that Rumble Shawn Michaels won) will forever be his favourite because of the interaction he got to have with Dory Funk Jr.
It’s funny. There are moments for me in the Rumble…I’ll give you one that was a cool moment for me that nobody else would even remember happened. It was my first Royal Rumble, and I was in there for a long period of time, and Dory Funk Jr. came into the ring. I don’t remember how long I’d been in there, but I remember Dory just coming and grabbing me in the center of the ring and picking me up and putting me in the corner. He said to me, ‘Get yourself a breather, kid.’ He just started working with me in the corner. And, you know, that was a guy I grew up watching. For me to have that moment with Dory Jr., it was the coolest thing for me of all time.
We wait to see whether HHH will lace up his boots once again for another Royal Rumble moment, the Game has nothing left to prove to the WWE Universe but given the chance maybe there’s one more run left in him.