There’s no doubt that Triple H and The Rock had one of the all-time great rivalries in WWE history.
Their battles over the Intercontinental title as Rocky Maivia and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, their duels as the leaders of D-Generation-X and the Nation of Domination and their electric world title feud in 2000 saw their fantastic rivalry span a number of years.
It seemed the genius behind NXT was primed to finally face The Great One at WrestleMania 32, but it never quite happened.
talkSPORT had the chance to talk to The Game ahead of NXT UK TakeOver in Cardiff and dived a little deeper into his history with The Rock – so why didn’t WM32 happen?
“Scheduling,” Triple H started. “I don’t remember the details of it but it was one of those things that Rock and I had talked about doing to the point where we did the backstage promo [on SmackDown] where it was like let’s throw a seed out here and see what happens. And we did and it blew up and we talked about it some more and then scheduling just got in the way. It really wasn’t until much later. At that point, we were like over a year away from that WrestleMania.
“It wasn’t until the following year about three or four months away from WrestleMania that Rock was like: ‘Man, it’s just not going to work. I just can’t. All my stuff, my movie thing has changed and I just can’t make it work anymore.’ So, it was what it was.
“I would love to have done it, it would have been a blast to step in there with him one more time and tear it up. The cool thing about the place where I’m at in my career, you sort of appreciate those moments a bit more. When you’re busy doing it… you appreciate it, but, man, you’re in the thick of it and it’s tough. When you get to later in your career and you start to realise these moments come now and then, there might not be more, you can appreciate the moment more. It’s a lot more difficult – you put a lot more pressure on yourself too when you don’t do this a lot.”
The King of Kings did get his nostalgia match at WrestleMania 35 when he retired former protege-turned-foe, Batista.
“But to sort of go back in time and have that match with Batista, when Dave called me about doing that and we spoke about it, I think for both of us [it was] just an ability to go back in time but at a point where we could both appreciate it and just do that again, relive that moment, and then go out there and do it in a way where you don’t embarrass yourself [laughs].
“But I think it’s even more special now when you have the opportunity to do it in that manner so stepping out there with The Rock, which for me, you know, there’s guys I look at in my career, it was so competitive at the time for all of us but I don’t know I had more fun with anyone in the ring [than Rock].
“I worked with him so much and so many times from him being Rocky Maivia to me being Hunter Hearst Helmsley and all the way through, we just kept going back to each other. And it was always magic I felt like. I feel like we both had that comfort level with each other where we could just get in the ring with each other and have a blast and create something special. So, to do it again would have been something special but sometimes it’s just not on the cards.”
Triple H also revealed that he and The Rock were set to headline WrestleMania 2000 in an Iron Man match before it was decided Mick Foley would be brought back in. Eventually, that match was moved to Judgment Day that had Shawn Michaels as the referee and The Undertaker debuted as the American Bad Ass.
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“One thing people always ask me is do you have any regrets, and it’s not really a regret, but it’s just one of those things where I wish we would have had the chance to do in 2000 – when we did the fatal-four-way match – that was originally supposed to be Rock and I and I believe if I remember correctly – he might remember – I believe we were supposed to do an Iron Man match. I believe that was the scheduled match at ‘Mania.
“Timing of returns and everybody else’s stuff and they needed to get us through another pay-per-view is why we did the four-way and then we came back and did the Iron Man later [at Judgment Day], so it changed the thing but I really wish I would have had that opportunity with him one-on-one at WrestleMania. Because we had done so much together, having that one-on-one would have been special.”