Paul Michael Levesque (born July 27, 1969) is an American professional wrestler and actor, better known by his ring name Triple H, an abbreviation of his former ring name, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He currently wrestles for the SmackDown brand of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he is the reigning WWE Champion.
Before joining WWE, Levesque began his wrestling career with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1993, wrestling under the ring name Terra Ryzing. He changed his ring name to Jean-Paul Lévesque before joining the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1995. His initial on-screen persona was that of wealthy sophisticate Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He later changed his name to Triple H and adopted an alternative image in the group D-Generation X (DX), a stable. After the dissolution of DX, Triple H was pushed as a main-event wrestler, winning several singles championships. As part of a storyline, the scripted events in wrestling, Triple H married Stephanie McMahon, who later became his real-life spouse. In 2003, Triple H formed another stable known as Evolution, and in 2006, briefly reformed DX with Shawn Michaels.
Overall, Triple H is a twelve-time world champion: a seven-time and current WWE Champion, and a five-time World Heavyweight Champion. In addition, he won the 1997 King of the Ring, the 2002 Royal Rumble, and was the second Grand Slam Champion.
Levesque enrolled at Killer Kowalski's wrestling school in 1992 after it was recommended to him by Arcidi. He joined the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF), which used trainees from Kowalski's school in their promotion. Here, Levesque became the IWF Heavyweight Champion and started using the name Terra Ryzing.
Lévesque had a brief storyline feud with Alex Wright that culminated at Starrcade. Between late 1994 and early 1995, Lévesque briefly teamed with Lord Steven Regal, whose snobby British persona was a good match with Lévesque's similar persona. The team was short-lived, however, as Lévesque left for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in January 1995 after WCW shot down his request to be pushed as a singles competitor.
As a continuation of his gimmick in WCW, Levesque started off his WWF career as the Connecticut Blueblood, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He appeared in taped vignettes, in which he talked about how to use proper etiquette, up until his wrestling debut on the April 30, 1995 episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge.
Although he was heavily pushed in the first few months after his debut, his career stalled during 1996, starting off with being mired in a feud with Duke "The Dumpster" Droese following a loss in the Free For All at the 1996 Royal Rumble. Up until that event, his angle included appearing on television each week with a different female valet. Sable was his valet at WrestleMania XII, and after his loss to Ultimate Warrior, as part of the storyline, he took his aggressions out on her. The debuting Marc Mero came to her rescue, starting a feud between the two wrestlers.
On May 28, 1996, Helmsley appeared on WWF Superstars against Marty Garner. When Levesque attempted to perform the Pedigree, Garner mistook the maneuver for a double underhook suplex and tried to jump up with the move, causing him to land squarely on top of his head and suffer neck damage. Garner sued the WWF, eventually settling out of court and later discussed the incident in an appearance on The Montel Williams Show.
Levesque was known backstage as one of the members of The Kliq, a group of wrestlers including Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman and Scott Hall, who were known for influencing Vince McMahon and the WWF creative team. He was slated to win the 1996 King of the Ring tournament, but was demoted from championship contender to jobber to the stars after the Madison Square Garden Incident, in which the Kliq broke character after a match to say goodbye to the departing Nash and Hall. Despite the punishment, Helmsley did have several successes following the MSG Incident. He found a manager in Mr. Perfect and was booked to win his first Intercontinental Championship on October 21, 1996, defeating Marc Mero. When Mr. Perfect left the WWF, his departure was explained to be a result of Helmsley turning his back on his manager as soon as he won the Intercontinental Championship. He held the belt for nearly four months before dropping it to Rocky Maivia on the February 13, 1997 special edition of Monday Night Raw, called Thursday Raw Thursday. For a very brief time, Helmsley was accompanied by Mr. Hughes, who was his storyline bodyguard. After losing the Intercontinental title, he feuded with Goldust, defeating him at WrestleMania 13. During their feud, Chyna debuted as his new bodyguard.
After WrestleMania, Michaels was forced into temporary retirement due to a legitimate back injury sustained at the Royal Rumble, and on-screen, Triple H took over the leadership position in DX, claiming that his now-former associate had "dropped the ball". He introduced the returning X-Pac the night after WrestleMania and joined forces with the New Age Outlaws ("Bad Ass" Billy Gunn and "Road Dogg" Jesse James). It was also during this time that Triple H began a feud with the leader of the Nation of Domination and rising WWF heel, The Rock. This storyline rivalry eventually led to a feud over The Rock's Intercontinental Championship, which Triple H won in a ladder match at SummerSlam. He did not hold the title long, however, as he was sidelined with a legitimate knee injury. When The Rock won the WWF Championship at the Survivor Series, the rivalry between the two continued, as DX fought Vince McMahon's Corporation stable, of which The Rock was the main star. Triple H received a shot at the WWF Championship on the January 25, 1999 edition of Raw in an "I Quit" match against The Rock, but the match ended when Triple H was forced to quit or see his aide Chyna chokeslammed by Kane. This began a new angle for Triple H, as Chyna betrayed him by attacking him after the match and joining the Corporation.
As part of the storyline, at WrestleMania XV, Triple H beat Kane with the aid of Chyna, who was thought to have rejoined DX. Later on in the night, he betrayed his long-time friend and fellow DX member X-Pac by helping Shane McMahon retain the European Championship and joined the Corporation. After Triple H's heel turn in early 1999, he moved away from his "DX" look, taping his fists for matches, sporting new and shorter wrestling trunks, and adopting a shorter hairstyle. His gimmick changed as he fought to earn a WWF title shot. After numerous failed attempts at winning the championship, Triple H and Mankind challenged WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin at SummerSlam in a Triple Threat match, which featured Jesse "The Body" Ventura as the special guest referee. Mankind was booked to win the match by pinning Austin, but the following night on Raw, Triple H defeated Mankind to win his first WWF Championship.
Triple H dropped the WWF Championship to Vince McMahon on the September 16, 1999 edition of SmackDown! before regaining it at Unforgiven in a Six-Pack Challenge that included Davey Boy Smith, Big Show, Kane, The Rock, and Mankind. He defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin at No Mercy before dropping the title to The Big Show at Survivor Series.
By January 2000, already a three-time WWF champion, Triple H had dubbed himself "The Game," implying that he was at the top of the wrestling world, and was nicknamed "The Cerebral Assassin" by Jim Ross. His storyline feud with Vince McMahon continued, with McMahon winning the title from Triple H during an episode of SmackDown!. As a result of the feud, an angle with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon began which carried the WWF throughout the next seventeen months; this period was known as the "McMahon-Helmsley Era".
Triple H feuded with Mick Foley in early 2000 in a storyline that ended with a Hell in a Cell match at No Way Out that sent Foley into retirement. Triple H pinned The Rock at WrestleMania 2000 to retain the title, but lost it at April's Backlash to The Rock. He regained it three weeks later, in an Iron Man match at Judgment Day, only to lose it back to The Rock at King of the Ring. Hunter then entered into a storyline feud with Chris Jericho, which culminated in a Last Man Standing match at Fully Loaded.
A later storyline feud between Triple H and Steve Austin started when it emerged that Triple H had paid off Rikishi to run down Austin at Survivor Series, causing him to take a year off action. In reality, Austin's previous neck injuries started bothering him again, forcing him to have surgery. In 2000, Triple H and Austin had a match at Survivor Series that ended when Triple H tried to trick Austin into coming into the parking lot to run him over again, only to have Austin lift his car up with a forklift and flip the car onto its roof 10 feet high. Triple H returned a few weeks later and attacked Austin. The feud continued into 2001 and culminated in a Three Stages of Hell match in which Helmsley defeated Austin. In 2001, Triple H also feuded with The Undertaker, who defeated him at WrestleMania X-Seven. He later teamed with his former nemesis Austin to form The Two-Man Power Trip, capturing both the WWF Tag Team Championship and the Intercontinental Championship (twice) by the end of the next pay-per-view.
During the May 21, 2001 broadcast of Raw, he suffered a legitimate and career-threatening injury. In the night's main event, he and Steve Austin were defending the Tag Team title against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. At one point, Jericho had Austin trapped in the Walls of Jericho submission hold. Triple H ran-in to break it up, but just as he did, he suffered a tear in his left quadriceps muscle, causing it to come completely off the bone. Despite his inability to place any weight on his leg, Triple H was able to complete the match. He even allowed Jericho to put him in the Walls of Jericho, a move that places considerable stress on the quadriceps. The tear required an operation, which was performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. This injury brought an abrupt end to the McMahon-Helmsley Era, as the rigorous rehabilitation process kept Triple H out of action for over eight months, completely missing the Invasion storyline of WCW/ECW.
Triple H returned to Raw as a crowd favorite on January 7, 2002 at Madison Square Garden. He was booked to win that year's Royal Rumble to receive a WWF Undisputed Championship match in the main event at WrestleMania X8. At WrestleMania X8, Triple H beat Chris Jericho for the WWF Undisputed Championship. After holding the title for a month, Helmsley dropped it to Hulk Hogan at Backlash. Triple H then became exclusive to the SmackDown! roster due to the WWF Draft Lottery and continued to feud with Jericho, culminating in a Hell in a Cell match at Judgment Day.
In the interim, between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, the McMahon-Helmsley era was brought to an official on-screen conclusion. By the time he returned, Triple H's on-screen marriage to Stephanie McMahon was on the rocks, so Stephanie faked a pregnancy in order to get him back on her side. When he learned that it was fake, he dumped her publicly on Raw when they were supposed to renew their wedding vows. Stephanie aligned with Jericho afterward, but she was forced to leave action after losing a triple threat on Raw the night after WrestleMania when she was pinned by Triple H. The divorce, and thus the storyline, was finalized at Vengeance.
Meanwhile, Triple H's old D-Generation X companion Shawn Michaels had made his return to WWF and joined the New World Order (nWo), and Michaels and Kevin Nash planned to bring Triple H over to Raw in order to put him into the group. Vince McMahon, however, disbanded the nWo following several backstage complications and brought in Eric Bischoff as the Raw brand's new General manager. One of Bischoff's first intentions was to follow up on the nWo's plan and woo Triple H over to the Raw roster. Triple H did indeed jump over to the Raw brand, reuniting with Shawn Michaels, but on July 22, he turned on Michaels by performing a Pedigree on him during what was supposed to be a DX reunion. The following week, as part of the storyline, Triple H smashed Michaels' face into a car window to prove that Michaels was "weak". These events led to the beginning of a long storyline rivalry between the former partners and an eventual "Unsanctioned Street Fight" at SummerSlam, in which Michaels came out of retirement to win. Afterwards, however, Triple H attacked him with a sledgehammer, and Michaels was carried out of the ring.
Before September 2, 2002, WWE recognized only one champion for both the Raw and SmackDown! brands. After SummerSlam, champion Brock Lesnar signed a storyline deal to become exclusive to SmackDown!, leaving Raw without a champion. Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff then awarded the World Heavyweight Championship to Triple H in the form of the old WCW Championship belt. Triple H then received a push by having numerous successful title defenses, but he eventually dropped the belt to Shawn Michaels in the first ever Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series. He regained the title from Michaels a month later in a Three Stages of Hell match at Armageddon.
In January 2003, Triple H formed a stable known as Evolution with Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista. The group was pushed on Raw from 2003 to 2004, the height of their dominance occurring after Armageddon when every member of Evolution left the pay-per-view holding a title. Triple H held the World Heavyweight Championship for most of 2003. At the 2004 Royal Rumble, Triple H and Shawn Michaels fought in a Last Man Standing match to a double countout, so Triple H retained the title. Triple H dropped the title to Chris Benoit at WrestleMania XX, and he was unable to reclaim the belt from Benoit in subsequent rematches, including a rematch of the WrestleMania main event between Triple H, Benoit, and Shawn Michaels at Backlash.
He then ended his angle with Michaels, defeating him in a Hell in a Cell match at Bad Blood. After another failed attempt, losing to Benoit at Vengeance, he focused on Eugene, beating him at SummerSlam. Triple H then regained the title from former associate Randy Orton at Unforgiven. Following a triple threat World title defense against Benoit and Edge on the November 29, 2004 episode of Raw, the World Heavyweight Championship became vacant for the first time. At New Year's Revolution, Triple H won the Elimination Chamber to begin his tenth world title reign. At WrestleMania 21, Triple H lost the championship to Batista, and subsequently lost two rematches at consecutive Raw pay-per-views: Backlash and Vengeance. Following this, Triple H took some time off from wrestling, suffering from minor neck problems.
Triple H returned to Raw on October 3, 2005 as part of WWE Homecoming. He teamed up with Flair to defeat Chris Masters and Carlito. After the match, as part of his new storyline, Triple H turned on Flair with his sledgehammer, sparking a feud between the duo. They met in a Steel cage match at Taboo Tuesday for Flair's Intercontinental Championship, a match that Flair won. Subsequently, Triple H defeated Flair in a non-title Last Man Standing match at Survivor Series to end their feud.
Although Triple H failed to win the Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble in January 2006 to earn a title shot, another championship opportunity arose for Triple H in the Road to WrestleMania Tournament. He won the tournament, granting him a match for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 22. At WrestleMania, Triple H and John Cena fought in the main event for the title, which Triple H lost via submission. Later that month at Backlash, Triple H was involved in another WWE Championship match, fighting Edge and Cena in a Triple Threat match, where he lost again. In an act of frustration, a bloodied Triple H used his sledgehammer to attack, in storyline, both Edge and Cena and then performed a number of DX crotch chops. Triple H unsuccessfully attempted to win the WWE title from Cena on numerous occasions, blaming his shortcomings on Vince McMahon, which eventually lead to a storyline feud between the McMahons and Triple H.
Shawn Michaels returned on the June 12 edition of Raw and soon reunited with Triple H to reform D-Generation X, turning Triple H face once again. DX defeated the Spirit Squad at Vengeance in a 5-on-2 handicap match. They continued their feud with Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and the Spirit Squad for several weeks. They then defeated the Spirit Squad again at Saturday Night's Main Event in a 5-on-2 Elimination match. They then again defeated the McMahons at SummerSlam, withstanding the attack of several handpicked WWE superstars by Vince McMahon. At Unforgiven, D-Generation X overcame the odds once again, defeating The McMahons and ECW World Champion Big Show in a Hell in a Cell match. During the match, DX embarrassed Vince by shoving his face in between the Big Show's buttocks, and DX won when Triple H broke a sledgehammer over the shoulders of Vince McMahon after Michaels performed Sweet Chin Music on him.
At Cyber Sunday during DX's storyline feud with Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton), special guest referee Eric Bischoff allowed the illegal use of a weapon to give Rated-RKO the ill-gotten win. At Survivor Series, DX got their revenge when their team defeated Edge and Orton's team in an Elimination Match with a clean sweep. In January 2007, at New Year's Revolution, DX and Rated-RKO fought to a no-contest after Triple H suffered a legitimate torn right quadriceps (similar to the one he suffered in 2001 but in the other leg) fifteen minutes into the match. A successful surgery was performed on January 9, 2007 by Dr. James Andrews.
Triple H made his return in August 2007 at SummerSlam, where he defeated King Booker. After his return, he won the WWE Championship at No Mercy after beating the newly named Champion, Randy Orton, making Triple H an eleven-time world champion. In the same event, Triple H also defeated Umaga in his first title defense after Mr. McMahon declared his already-scheduled bout with Umaga, a title match. McMahon then announced, Orton would receive a title rematch in a Last Man Standing match in the final match of the event, which Orton won after an RKO onto the announcement table, thus ending Triple H's sixth reign. Triple H's title reign at No Mercy is the fourth shortest reign in WWE history, only lasting through the duration of the event. In the Raw Elimination Chamber at No Way Out, Triple H gained a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XXIV, by outlasting five other men. However, at WrestleMania XXIV, Randy Orton retained after punting Triple H and pinning John Cena following Triple H's Pedigree on Cena. A month later, at Backlash, Triple H won the title in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match against Orton, Cena, and JBL, tying the record for most WWE Championship reigns (7) with The Rock. Triple H then retained the title against Orton at Judgment Day in a Steel Cage match and again at One Night Stand in a Last Man Standing match. Orton suffered a legitimate collarbone injury during the latter match, thus ending it prematurely.
1Triple H's fifth reign was as WWF Undisputed Champion.
Levesque has also appeared in several WWE Home Video releases, including Triple H: The Game and Triple H: That Damn Good in 2002, D-Generation-X, a reissue of the VHS version, in 2006, and The New and Improved DX in 2007. Triple H: King of Kings, a DVD covering his career so far, was released on March 25, 2008.
He has a sister named Lynn, and he is an uncle to her two children: Peter and Nayssa. Levesque is also an uncle to brother-in-law Shane McMahon's two sons: Declan and Kenyon. His in-laws are Vince and Linda McMahon.
In late 2004, Levesque released a book entitled Making the Game: Triple H's Approach to a Better Body. Mostly devoted to bodybuilding advice, the book also includes some autobiographical information, memoirs, and opinions.
In a November 14, 2006, interview with rapper The Game, it was revealed that Levesque is involved in a lawsuit with him over the rights to the name, "The Game".