It’s a decade since the single disc Triple H: The Game DVD was released. That marked the last time that a full length documentary on Triple H was produced by the WWE. Needless to say, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, making Thy Kingdom Come one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year.
Regardless of what the likes of William Regal and Vince McMahon himself will tell you on this DVD, Paul Levesque did not immediately capture the imagination when he debuted in WCW as Terra Ryzing. He looked good and was obviously more than competent in the ring but seemed to lack that spark that everyone in hindsight agrees was always there. If you’d have said back in 1993 that he would be essentially the most powerful wrestler in the industry two decades later you might have been laughed out of the building; but that is essentially the journey that this documentary takes us on.
His early days on the planet are touched upon, with his mother and father being interviewed throughout the DVD, as are his early days in WCW. There is some great footage of his days on the independent circuit and some entertaining clips of his WCW work. From Terra Ryzing comes Jean-Paul Levesque, with the modern day HHH admitting that neither gimmick was his idea of a winning character. He candidly admits that he left WCW because their limited schedule would not give him the opportunity to wrestle enough and improve his craft and whilst it would be easy to be cynical this is the first sign on the documentary of the sheer determination that led him to the top.
The Hunter Hearst-Helmsley gimmick is rightly panned by the man himself and by The Undertaker, whose appearances on the disc bring a lot to the proceedings. Indeed witnessing him speak you long for the day the WWE produce another documentary on his career. But I digress.
The days of the Kliq are gone into in detail, with comments from Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels. The stories of the formation of their on-the-road band of brothers differs somewhat from what they’ve previously said, but it’s an entertaining portion of the feature. The “curtain call” incident is covered in depth with HHH admitting that he was, to paraphrase Vince, “going to have to eat sh*t, and learn to enjoy the taste”. Of course within a year HHH was back on track with King Of The Ring glory and an Intercontinental title win.
HHH talks us through the debut of Chyna and the first incarnation of D-Generation X, taking time along the way to acknowledge how much Mick Foley did to help his career. From there, Shawn Michaels takes his sabbatical and Helmsley emerges to lead his own version of DX. By far the most time in this section though is dedicated to the blossoming off-screen relationship between him and his now wife Stephanie McMahon. It’s not something that has really been covered in-depth before and it’s an interesting section, especially with comments from Vince and Linda McMahon about how Vince gave his permission for the liaison before withdrawing that permission as wrestlers got agitated. What was most interesting for me was the tales from Stephanie about her first feelings towards him and being somewhat upset that HHH would turn up to production meetings in jeans and a denim jacket. It shows that our man was influencing decision making even before he married the bosses daughter.
We also get footage from the real-life wedding (sadly no audio of Michael Hayes singing is available) as well as the Vegas wedding between the two that ruined Test’s big day. It’s interesting to hear that it was HHH who suggested that himself, after Vince admitted he was struggling to come up with a pay-off.
Once the love story is out of the way, we get a large section on his rivalry with The Rock. I would argue against the assertion made here that whilst the money was being drawn by the superstars it was these two getting the attention (having recently watched SummerSlam 1998, the crowd is deathly silent at times for their ladder match) but it’s no exaggeration to say that the rivalry helped to put both men on the map and on the course to ever higher stardom.
From there HHH suffers the torn quad, which Jim Ross somewhat disingenuously suggests was one of the most horrific things he ever witnessed, before returning to (genuinely) one of the loudest receptions in WWE history at MSG. We gloss over the disappointment that was HHH/Jericho at Mania 18 (I was there, and people were walking out mid-match) to get to his days in Evolution. Whatever your thoughts on that particular faction, there’s no denying it made stars of Randy Orton and Batista.
We quickly run through the second coming of the HHH/HBK DX faction before an other injury interlude puts his career in jeopardy again. Thoughts then turn to his battles with Randy Orton leading up to WrestleMania 25. HHH admits it was a disappointing feud, and that the storylines were overcooked. He never mentions that presumably he could have done something about that in his role in Creative, but it’s refreshing to hear all the same.
A brief look at his “movie” career, where HHH says he turned down a movie career at the same time as The Rock, is followed by a look at his WrestleMania epics against The Undertaker. There is again some great input from Taker and some cool backstage footage from Mania. We end the documentary with a look at HHH’s new backstage career as the COO of WWE and it sure is interesting to see a little peak behind the scenes. You’re also left with the impression that the future of the business is in good hands.
There is refreshingly little of the usual WWE spin on the documentary. There are a couple of times during it that things didn’t ring quite true for me personally but you never feel that HHH is being anything less than a reliable narrator. Watching this might even make you change your mind of a few aspects of HHH’s character. He was clearly involved in creative decision making before he started dating Stephanie and whilst there is no attempt to discuss some of his more self-centered booking decisions over the years it is very clear that HHH knows what he’s doing and has a great wrestling mind.
The caricature of scheming wrestler getting ahead by shacking up with the bosses daughter does not survive this absorbing documentary feature. Whatever Paul Levesque has now, he’s worked damned hard for and seems intent to work even harder now he’s there. With an engaging Triple H leading the way and a whole host of relevant talking heads adding to proceedings, this is another top-notch feature from the WWE. Even if you’re not a particular HHH fan, this is required viewing and I’d wager even his biggest detractors would come away from this with a new found respect for the man.
With King of Kings (and the more limited That Damn Good release) in the collection and a number of DX releases already out there, the match listing perhaps doesn’t represent the very best of Triple H but it’s nice to see that they have thought about it and tried to avoid to many re-released matches.
Disc 2 contains 4 matches, but as one of these is the epic Iron Man Match from Judgement Day 2000 against The Rock that is understandable. It’s one hell of an effort and the wrestlers aren’t at fault for the confusing finish. A match from WCW against Ricky Steamboat is interesting viewing, the cage match from One Night Only against Dude Love is hugely entertaining and the no-DQ match against Kurt Angle from Unforgiven 2000 is also very good.
Disc 3 has 8 matches. Some, such as the HHH & Stone Cold Vs Kane & Undertaker “All Championships On The Line” match and the “Road to WrestleMania” tournament match against Ric Flair seem to be here because of the big name opponents but the two Last Man Standing matches on here., against Shawn Michaels from Royal Rumble 2004 and Randy Orton from No Mercy 2007, are both brilliant bouts. TV matches against Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho and Jeff Hardy are all worth watching but whilst the SummerSlam 2007 match with Booker T isn’t quite the outright burial their WrestleMania XIX match was, it seems a bit incongruous for it to be on here. Not Triple H in his best light at all.
The Blu-Ray has one extra match (the very good clash with Brock Lesnar from WrestleMania 29) and more than 20 “outtakes” from the main documentary feature. They’re probably worth the extra few pounds to upgrade.
– By Matthew Roberts
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk for providing our copy of Triple H – Thy Kingdom Come. Triple H – Thy Kingdom Come is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 14th October. You can pre-order your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.