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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Road To Wrestlemania 18
Triple H on OFF THE RECORD
March 15, 2002 - By Brad Dykens

Submitted by Trent Walters

This was definitely a stronger show than yesterday's Ric Flair OTR program. Generally, quotes below are word-for-word, however there is some paraphrasing just to be concise.

The first segment was quite powerful. You can't watch it without having a greater respect for HHH then you had before the show. Michael Landsberg asked immediately about the night HHH torn his quadricep this past May in San Jose.

HHH explains that as the swelling came down on his leg, the damage appeared to be more serious.

Landsberg: (The difference between wrestlers and any other sport is) that if you tear this muscle on your thigh, they aren't bringing out a stretcher for you. They aren't stopping nothing - (showing footage from match that HHH tore his leg).

HHH: The second it happened it felt like a lightening bolt hit me - I felt the muscle on the front of my leg, the quad, roll up my leg. As you can see, I can't walk on it. My thigh is basically rolled up into my hip. (Shows HHH clearing monitors from table during the match) At this point I know I am badly hurt.

Landsberg: So why aren't you stopping? Who is going to criticize you for stopping? Or maybe they would criticize you.

HHH: I just know that it never even entered my mind. (HHH on announcer's table with Jericho) Right here Chris Jericho is asking me how bad I am hurt. It was one of the first things he said, "Are you hurt?" I said, "Ya." "How bad?" "Bad." "What do you want to do?" "Just do it." Because he was going to put me in the Walls of Jericho ... It is all (the pressure/strain) is all on the front of your thighs. That was the longest 30 seconds or a minute of my life. I couldn't wait for Benoit to come off the top rope so we could move on. I still at that point had to get off that table, get into the ring, and do another spot. Why we do that ... I don't know. It never dawned on my mind to stop."

Landsberg: I know why - because of the guys before you. You have a real sense of history of your sport. You are known as someone who studies tapes. You know that the guys who went before you never quit no matter what.

HHH: I think too you hear people say most guys wouldn't have done that. I disagree. I think most guys in our locker room would have done that. That is the way we all are. There is a pride in what we do - It is like your badge of courage.

Landsberg: Is there a loss of face of you don't? If you say, "I can't go on."

HHH: It would depend on how severe the injury is. I have seen Bob Holly wrestle and continue a match with a broken arm (with Kurt Angle). If Bob would have stopped that, I don't think anyone would be calling Bob a wuss. How tough can you be to go with a broken arm - There are times when guys will take a week off because they have a tummy ache or sprained an ankle or his knee hurts a little. That severely gets heat with guys in the locker room. There are guys like the Undertaker who I have seen go into the ring wearing a flack jacket because of broken ribs, but yet goes out every night.

Landsberg: Now more amazing then your recovery from torn quad is that you recovered from Vince McMahon's bad books. (Landsberg describes the Kliq farewell at MSG from 1995.) Did you know at that point you were saying, "Screw you, " to Vince?

HHH: No, Shawn Michaels had asked Vince about doing something and Vince had said, "Okay." Umm, it got out of control out there. It was going to be a from far away and point at each other kind of thing which I was just told we were going to do. Shawn never came to me and said we are going to do this thing. When we came back, I sensed the heat. Nothing was said and a couple days later, it all came down. Two of them were leaving; Shawn was World Champion and was untouchable. I got all the heat. It all came down on my head.

Landsberg asks if HHH was mad no discipline to Michaels.

HHH: Would it have done any good if both of us got heat? I made my bed.

Landsberg: Shawn was (is) your buddy. He was going to work the last Wrestlemania. He came back and the company said that he was in no condition to perform. Did he let you down? Did you have to decide who do I have to side with Shawn or the company?

HHH: Shawn came in; it was my idea. After talking with Shawn on the phone, I went to Vince and to some of the guys to smooth things out and got things taken care of and then the company made that decision.

Landsberg: But you agreed with it. You could have went in for Shawn and said he can still work, but you said you guys are right.

HHH: Without going into the specifics of why, I don't see how anyone could not have sided with them.

SECOND SEGMENT - dealt mostly with his personal life and relationships. Ya right, as if I am going to type that word for word.

Landsberg asks how Steph & HHH got together. HHH responded by saying like interests and working together. HHH says that he and Steph don't act like a couple around business. They try to keep things as professional as possible.

After answering yes to the fact that both he and Steph are involved in the writing of the shows, he responds to the question if he is worried what the other wrestlers think about conflict of interests dating Steph. "I talked to a lot of guys about including Undertaker. I consider Mark to be one of the leaders of our locker room. As I was coming up, Mark was always someone I looked to for the right judgement. One of his points to me was nobody in this business can deny you the fact of what you have done to get to where you are. So, if anyone says you got to where you are because of that it is a crock." HHH talks about his awesome work ethic.

After showing footage of Chyna blaming HHH not Stephanie for their break-up, HHH mentions that he and Chyna took a bad turn in their relationship before that. He wishes her the best, but adds she made career decisions after that no one forced her to make.

THIRD SEGMENT - emails

Favorite person to work with? Mick Foley, Rock, Austin, Undertaker because of all the different styles and what they bring to the plate. Talks about Ric Flair being someone that influenced him more than any other.

Toughest person in the locker room? (Who cares? Better question, who is toughest person sitting in First Class on the plane?) Mentions Ron Simmons, Bradshaw, Angle, Big Show.

Any disappointment over Hogan-Rock being the main event at Wrestlemania? Says no, but says he wish he and Jericho had a stronger build, but says that Hogan is a Babe Ruth/Michael Jordan headline kind of story so that means a greater interest in that.

Safety net to prevent bookers from over pushing themselves? Vince McMahon. Dirt Sheets make him laugh because everything goes thru Vince and you can't work him. The more guys on the upper level, the more money for everyone.

SEGMENT FOUR

Landsberg: How close is Chris Jericho to being in the upper elite?

HHH: It is difficult to say, I think Chris is just a step underneath. Why, I am not sure. There is just a small piece of the puzzle missing. (I don't think Lucy is that missing piece.) And Chris will get it. It is there. Sometimes, it takes a couple of shots at it to get it right. It is not an overnight thing. Some guys they hit it and it just explodes, well for others like me, it is more of a slow simmer which is the same way he is headed.

Landsberg: Up and comers?

HHH: Test, Edge. Young guys like that and there is likely a diamond in rough that maybe getting overlooked. He talks about shaking the blueblood snob gimmick so he could be himself and being larger and life and entertaining.

A great 30 minutes. Host Michael Landsberg was on his game and Triple H was quite candid in all his responses and came off sincere and as someone who loves the business and is definitely entrenched in it.



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