WWE Hall of Famer and Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development Triple H was the interview guest on “The Gorilla Position” podcast. He was on to talk about a variety of things including The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, his early days in the business and much more.
Triple H talked about putting out a product during these times: “For us, it’s been great to be able to put a product out there no matter what. I think people need some entertainment and some relief and stop watching the news and everything else and we have been able to do that. But, the truth is, we do what we do because of the fans and because of their passion for what we do and their reactions. We have been the true interactive television show on TV and always have been. That’s been the fan base and their participation on the shows have been as big a part of it as anything. Not having them there has been a big void. I know we can’t wait for their return. I think everybody will be excited when the world can get back to normal.”
Triple H was asked why he thinks the relationship between Vince McMahon and The Undertaker runs so deep: “For one, it’s been a long time. It’s been 30 years or more together. I think in some way you hear Mark said Vince is a mentor, a father, a brother, a friend, all of those things. I think Vince feels the same way. When you’ve done that much together, when you have been in the trenches together, when you have done all those things, I think in some ways Mark looked at Vince as that father figure that he could always turn to and Vince looks at him as the constant that he can always rely on. The one guy, maybe that he knew, was never going to walk away. He wasn’t going to take a bigger offer. He wasn’t going to do something else. He was always there. I think there has always been a mutual respect between the two. Mark is pretty straight forward in his dealings and so is Vince. I think it has been a constant respect between the two of them. When you get to somebody like Vince, he is not a reflective guy. He tends to move on. Something great happens, he says, that was great, what’s next?. He doesn’t look back. It’s just not his personality. But when you get into somebody like Mark, and you begin to ask him about it, and he does have to reflect on it, it’s overwhelming.”
Was there any nervousness internally about Mark pulling back the curtain all the way (for the documentary airing on the WWE Network)? “Oh yea, there was a lot of that. I think even to this going on the air, I think you would still have found some people saying I don’t know why we are doing this? It’s tough to protect something like that for that long and then all of a sudden, ok, the doors are open. I think Mark had reservations about it. I think he’s thought about doing it. Protecting that character for that long, leads you to the place you are now, but a lot of opportunities have passed by that you think to yourself, man I could have this, or imagine what that would have been like to me. Those are all things he put aside purposely to protect that character and keep the aura and the image up. When everything in the business changed and became wide open, he still protected that character and that image. I don’t know that you could name anybody else in the business whereas recently as just a few years ago, if you would see a picture of him in a T-Shirt, shorts and flip flops, or his wife at the beach or something like that, people would lose their mind over the picture. For him to maintain that mystique until just recently is amazing. So, I think there were reservations on his side and a lot of people’s side. I think the timing was right. It used to be talked about a lot like, man, when you could finally tell that story when he’s done. Why wait until it’s done? Like, get to the place at the end, especially now. No one is going to lose their aura, it’s almost going to increase it. All the things that are awe inspiring, all the things he went through, the things that he did, everything he sacrificed and everything else he did to get to the place he is at now, even just to protect the character. It’s an amazing story as everybody is seeing now. I don’t think it takes away. It’s not like the mystique is gone. I almost think it makes it more legendary and more epic. I think it was the right time to do it before he does say, I’m done.”
Triple H talked about coming to the WWF and meeting the Undertaker: “At that period of time, people came in and out, so you really had to earn that sort of friendship and respect with him. You had to get someplace with him. He wasn’t just going to go out of his way to chit chat with you to make you feel comfortable, even if you were at the same bar at night. He wasn’t interested in hanging out with you to make you feel comfortable or to make you feel part of the team. It just was not his gig. People look at my career in different ways. I came in and I didn’t know and never met Kevin or Scott or Kid or Shawn but I very quickly became friends with those guys over a period of time and that came with a lot of baggage. I think Mark looked at me and didn’t agree with everything those guys did. They were top guys but there were a lot of times when he saw things they did or said and I think he didn’t understand how this new kid comes in with some potential and all of a sudden he is in with these guys and running with that crew. It took me a while to earn his respect and we worked a few times. I think that helped. I remember one specific night when we were all out. I said hello to him. I was on one end of the bar with a bunch of people and he was at the other end with a bunch of people and he kind of gave me the nod to come over there. He went off to the side by himself and I walked off to the side with him. We started talking. I don’t drink, but he ordered two shots of Jack, put them in front of us and we talked about 30 minutes about a lot of things. He gave me the nod and said, you’re alright man. We both did a shot of Jack and that was the ice breaker.”
Would Paul Levesque have booked The Undertaker’s streak to end at WrestleMania 30: “Hard to say. Everybody looked at it from their point of view. You have to go back to that period of time, everything that is happening to all the players involved, to the plan you have involved for all those players to say is this the right thing. To be honest with you, I don’t know what all those thoughts or plans were or anything else. I think Mark said the final decision was made that day. I didn’t know what was being done that day until very late in the day. When I heard about it, I was in shock like everybody else, like, you’re kidding me? But again, you don’t know all the pieces and to this day I probably don’t even know all the pieces. I don’t know all the plans for everybody. I don’t know what was discussed. I don’t know exactly what went down, because, honestly, I’ve never asked. I think Mark had said it best. If this is what Vince wants and he truly believes in this and believes this is what is best then let’s go. I’m sure that if Vince made that decision, then he believed in his mind that it was the right thing, not only for the business, but for Brock and for Taker and everyone. A decision like that affects everything. A character like Undertaker and that streak is meaningful. I think Vince would look at it and say, if not now, then when. He has to weigh all that out and that’s when it becomes a heavy making decision and people can’t understand that position Vince is in. Everybody thinks they know the decision they would make. You don’t. When it’s your decision to make, it’s a different conversation. I believe he would make what he believed to be the right decision for everyone in that moment. Is it the right decision? It’s easy to look back hindsight 20/20 and say, is it or isn’t? But in that moment, I believe he would have believed it was and that leads me to think that maybe if I knew all the things that he knew, that maybe I would have done it too, but I don’t know because I don’t know what all those factors were.”