Earlier in their career, The Rock & The Game Triple H would battle one another in a quest to find out who would be the one to move the WWE into the next millennium. The result was a rivalry that would help to put both in a position where they would establish themselves and those around them as the faces of the company.
The Rock and The Game Triple H –
Chapter Three: Best in the Business
By the end of 1999, Stone Cold Steve Austin, arguably the biggest star in professional wrestling, was sidelined with nagging neck injuries. His absence opened the opportunity for a new face of the WWE to be crowned. Something the Rock and Triple H jumped at in efforts to become THE MAN.
That year, five times during WWE pay-per-view main events, the Rock and Triple H crossed paths in some fashion. Triple H was the top heel in the company, and the Rock was the perfect protagonist to challenge him. Their first main event encounter was on the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania.
The WrestleMania 2000 main event was a run-of-the-mill fatal four-way WWE Championship Match. It also featured Mick Foley, the Big Show, and every McMahon family member. It turned into a historic night as Triple H retained the championship after Vince McMahon betrayed the Rock. This was the first time a heel ended WrestleMania victoriously.
The following month at Backlash, the two megastars met in a singles match for the WWE Championship. With Shane McMahon serving as special guest referee and Stephanie McMahon in Triple H’s corner, the odds were heavily stacked against the Rock. However, an old enemy turned ally joined his side as Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to the company to be in the Rock’s corner.
The Rock and The Game Triple H – The Career-Defining Rivalry
As per the norm of the Attitude Era, hijinks ensued during this match. Run-ins from Vince, Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and even Linda McMahon, along with Shane’s shenanigans as a referee, littered the match. The Rock got the win after replacement referee Earl Hebner, brought out by Linda, counted the 1-2-3 after a People’s Elbow. This marked the Rock’s fourth reign as WWE Champion.
It turned out to be one of his shortest reigns as he lost the title less than a month later to you guessed it, Triple H. Judgement Day 2000 is significant for a couple of reasons. First, the Rock and Triple H’s Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship was just the second time the WWE Championship was defended on pay-per-view in this format.
The instant classic between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart at WrestleMania 11 set the bar high.
Secondly, it was the debut of the Undertaker as Biker Taker. Like the first match, Shawn Michaels was part of the outcome serving as special guest referee. Unlike the first, that only had one pinfall in overtime, this had a plethora of victories for both men.
The Rock takes an early lead with a Rock Bottom, only for Triple H to tie it with a Pedigree. Triple H takes his first lead with a small package roll-up before extending the lead to 3-1 with a piledriver. Battling back with a DDT helped pull the Rock within one before HHH got disqualified for using a chair, tying the match at 3-3.
Triple extended the lead to 5-3 after using the ropes for leverage on a pin and causing the Rock to pass out from a sleeper hold. Down two, the Rock pulled out all the stops. First, he got Triple H counted out after hitting his own version of the Pedigree through the announcer’s desk. One People’s Elbow later, and the match was tied 5-5.
This is when all hell breaks loose.
With the clock winding down, everyone aligned with Triple H began to interfere. From Road Dog Jesse James to Vince McMahon himself, the numbers advantage seemed to be too much for the Rock to overcome. Then with his signature gong, the Undertaker arrives to even the odds.
But this isn’t the Undertaker fans know and love. This is a biker Taker, and he cleans house. Through all the chaos, time expires, and special guest referee Shawn Michaels awards the victory and championship to Triple H. Later, proclaiming the Undertaker’s assault on Triple H was grounds for disqualification, giving Triple H six wins to the Rock’s five.
The Rock won the championship back from Triple H at King of the Ring in a convoluted six-man tag team match also featuring the Undertaker, Kane, Vince, and Shane McMahon. At SummerSlam, the two met once again, with Kurt Angle joining them for a memorable triple threat match for the WWE Championship. Once again, the Rock emerged victoriously.
Triple H and the Rock’s feud during their time at the top of the WWE empire cemented their status as two of the best in the business. Both men parlayed that into bigger things, one within professional wrestling, the other in the world of Hollywood.
The Rock and The Game Triple H –
Chapter Four: To Be Determined??
All great stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The rivalry between the Rock and Triple H has yet to give us a conclusion worthy of the story they have told. Their last match against each other was a No Disqualification match on the August 9, 2002, episode of Monday Night Raw.
Both men have become megastars in and out of the ring since then. Triple H serves as COO of the WWE, leading a new generation of wrestling stars behind the scenes, and the Rock is one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Despite both men achieving big things outside the ring, both have occasionally returned to the squared circle for appearances and matches over the past 18 years.
Their paths have even crossed on more than one memorable occasion, like during WrestleMania 31. After defeating Sting earlier in the show Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, came out to address the audience. In typical authority fashion, they quickly garnered boos from the WWE Universe.
This brought out the Rock and after some verbal back and forth with his rivals, he invited UFC megastar Ronda Rousey into the ring.
The Rock and The Game Triple H – Their Post-Career Exchange At WrestleMania
From there, the Rock lays the smackdown on Triple H. Ronda, then hip-tosses the Game and follows up with an arm lock on Stephanie. It’s quite the WrestleMania moment and proved once again how great the chemistry still is between the long-time rivals.
Years before this WrestleMania moment, the two shared an even more significant interaction before the 15-year anniversary of Smackdown. It starts very cordial but doesn’t take long for the underlying tension to shine through. Both men deliver fantastic verbal haymakers hinting towards a possible WrestleMania match.
“The end result is going to be the same as it always was, was me whipping your a**.”
– Triple H
“Let’s get something perfectly clear, you and the Rock go way back, but there ain’t no way, and the Rock means no way that you would ever whoop his a**.
You and the Rock one more time at any WrestleMania, this year, next year, the year after that, ten years from now the Rock would still layeth the Smackith down on your candy a**.”
– The Rock
Speaking of WrestleMania, throughout all their years as rivals, the Rock and Triple H never received a proper WrestleMania conflict. With WrestleMania scheduled to take place in Hollywood next year, it’s the perfect opportunity for these legends to meet one last time.
Since it takes place in Hollywood, have the Rock headline the Hall of Fame Class of 2021. Triple H’s personal and professional jealousy over the Rock going in as an individual before he does serving as the storyline to their match.
This gives WrestleMania a marquee match without affecting either world championship picture. Even more importantly, it will (in my best Rock impression) “FINALLY” bring a worthy conclusion to one of the greatest rivalries of all time.
We’ve come to a point where we appreciate that competitive nature, but to this day, if he posts something at 4 a.m. on Instagram, he was working out, and I’m like, ‘Oh man, I can’t take the day off today. I’ve got to train too.
Rock trained.’ Yeah, I don’t know what it is. We’ve laughed about it with each other, but there’s still something about our relationship with each other. We get along great, talk business, and the things that he does intersecting with WWE.
– Triple H (h/tSportskeeda)
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