When the 2013 WWE DVD schedule was released early in the year, the Triple H set was the one that jumped out to me the most. It’s surprising that we haven’t gotten a comprehensive look at his career yet, and I knew that the WWE would go all out in producing this one. Triple H has never been my favorite wrestler in the world, but he’s always been a very solid in-ring worker, and he’s had a storied career. My interest was piqued further when site contributors Mark D and Shaun Blackford spoke so highly of it. While I did enjoy the set, I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as they did, and ultimately I was a bit underwhelmed.
The documentary runs 2 hours, 7 minutes, and Disc 1 contains over 2 hours of bonus matches. Disc 2 runs 3 hours, with 90 minutes of Blu-ray exclusive extras. The set is TV-14, and the only noticeable edit was Undertaker’s entrance music at Backlash 2001.
“Time to Play the Game…”: The Documentary
Since Triple H clearly does not know what is good for business, I’m going to start this review by answering a few questions in the style of Daniel Bryan.
Will you learn something watching this documentary? YES! YES! YES!
Does it hit the key points of The Game’s career? YES! YES! YES!
Is there an overall narrative arc? NO! NO! NO!
Did I get a little bored? YES! YES! YES!
I think this hits on the key plusses and minuses from the documentary. Like almost any WWE documentary produced nowadays, you’re going to learn some things that you didn’t already know. The documentary does a nice job picking out the key points of Triple H’s career, but we’ve heard about some of this material a lot. The stuff that we haven’t heard about a million times was easily the strongest part of the doc. His start in WCW, the backstory behind his relationship with Stephanie McMahon, and his current role backstage for WWE were the most interesting parts to me. I also was really interested to hear Triple H and Shawn Michaels discuss the “PG era” of D-Generation X, and why they thought it worked. I was never a fan of this era of DX, and the interview did help me to look at them in a bit of a new light. It was odd just how much time was given to his role in a couple of unmemorable WWE films; this was probably the toughest part to sit through.
As always, the WWE chose great subjects to interview, but this also leads to one of the biggest issues with the doc. While Triple H is a smart, talented guy, he isn’t the most charismatic interview subject. The charisma that oozes out of guys like Chris Jericho, Paul Heyman, or Stone Cold helped to keep their respective documentaries more lively, and Triple H simply isn’t on this level when giving an interview. Let me be clear that this doesn’t mean I thought the interview was dull. He told some great stories, he just isn’t as lively as those others. In terms of interviews, the real highlight was finally getting to hear from The Undertaker on a WWE DVD release. I really hope we get a career retrospective with him soon, because he clearly has some stories to tell, and held nothing back in the all too few times he was featured on the DVD.
As I hinted at in my questions above, the single biggest issue with the documentary is that, for lack of a better way to put this, it doesn’t have a compelling reason to exist beyond “Triple H is a great wrestler”. All of the best WWE docs have some sort of overarching story to tell. For the CM Punk doc, it was about the outsider overcoming the odds and reaching the peak of the WWE. For Edge, it was about living out a boyhood dream that started in the crowd at WrestleMania VI. For Austin, it was about a wrestler who constantly had adversity thrown at him, and how he overcome it. Triple H simply doesn’t have a similarly compelling through-line for his career. This is a similar issue to what, in my opinion, really hurt The Rock’s documentary from early 2012. While it serves as a nice career retrospective, there’s nothing overly special about it. Triple H has had a fairly standard career. The biggest wrinkle to his career is that he ended up marrying his boss’s daughter, and, as I mentioned, this ends up being a highlight of the documentary. Because his in-ring career was fairly straightforward, the parts of the documentary that focus heavily on this got a bit dull. Usually these documentaries fly by, but this one felt a little long at some points in the middle. It’s not like I was close to falling asleep out of boredom, but it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat like a lot of the other documentaries.
It may sound like I am being super negative about the documentary, but I did enjoy it overall. I had very high hopes, though, and I don’t think it lives up to the standards set by some of the other documentaries. A large reason for this is that the subject matter, quite frankly, hasn’t had as “interesting” a career as some of his counterparts in regards to drama or controversy. Sure, there were moments here or there that make for interesting stories, and it is nice to see those. If I were to have a power rankings of all documentaries from WWE, my guess is this would fall somewhere in the 11-20 range. It’s solid, but not in that upper echelon of docs.
“That Damn Good”: The Matches
Jean-Paul Levesque Vs. Ricky Steamboat (WCW Saturday Night, 9/3/94) – **
This was a very academic match. A lot of the basics are executed here, and while they are executed well, there isn’t anything more than that. A neat relic from history, though.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley Vs. Dude Love (One Night Only, 9/97) – **
This was one of my least favorite matches I’ve seen between these two men. It’s very slow, and gets a bit boring, especially in the middle part. By this point, Helmsley and Mankind had already wrapped up their great feud, and this just felt like a leftover.
WWE Championship Iron Man Match: The Rock Vs. Triple H (Judgment Day, 5/21/00) – *** 3/4
I never got bored over the course of the hour, so I need to give Rock & Triple H credit for that. There are a lot of fun moments throughout the match, even if they don’t flow together perfectly. I don’t think the storytelling was nearly as strong here as we’ve seen in other Iron Man matches. Also, the ending, although memorable, is a disappointing way to cap off the singles feud between these two.
No Disqualification Match: Triple H Vs. Kurt Angle (Unforgiven, 9/24/00) – ***
While this is a fun match to watch, there is something a bit off about it. I enjoyed the whole soap opera aspect of this storyline, but the story was about two “bad guys” fighting over a “bad woman”. While this type of match can work at times, there was a lot going on here. Still, it’s always entertaining to see these two in the ring together.
All Championships on the Line: Triple H & Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. The Undertaker & Kane (Backlash, 4/29/01) – ** 1/2
One of the few good things to come out of Austin’s heel turn was the Two Man Power Trip; they made a fun team. This match is a very basic tag team match, though, with nothing special going on. The fact that it then is given about 25-30 minutes actually hurts the match, and it gets a bit dull.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H Vs. Rob Van Dam (Raw, 6/30/03) – ** 3/4
This was a fun title match, especially for a TV match. I thought this was a great match choice to represent the Evolution/World Heavyweight Champ era for Triple H. There is a lot of chicanery going on, and Triple H screws someone out of the title like he did so many times in this era.
World Heavyweight Championship Last Man Standing Match: Triple H Vs. Shawn Michaels (Royal Rumble, 1/25/04) – *** 1/2
My thoughts on this particular gimmick match have been well documented on this site. I just don’t find it that exciting to watch a ref repeatedly try to count to 10. If anyone can make that exciting, though, it’s HBK. The anger between the two men is tangible here, but the blood is a bit excessive. They use the blood as a way to create drama, rather than add to it.
Road to WrestleMania Tournament Match: Triple H Vs. Ric Flair (Raw, 2/6/06) – * 3/4
A very strange choice for the DVD. While Triple H and Flair have plenty of history, this is a nothing match. It’s short, and not all that exciting. The only major “bust” on the DVD extras.
Triple H Vs. King Booker (SummerSlam, 8/26/07) – **
For some reason, I felt like this match was going in slow motion the entire time. Triple H and Booker are each solid wrestlers, but for some reason they didn’t work very well together. It also is interesting to note the reception Triple H gets for his return here as compared to his return on Raw in 2002. The video packages make it clear the WWE was trying really hard to get the same huge reaction, but it just doesn’t work.
WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match: Triple H Vs. Randy Orton (No Mercy, 10/7/07) – *** 1/4
Another Last Man Standing match? This one epitomizes why I hate the match type. Triple H and Orton tell a great story throughout this match, but it becomes disjointed because after each move, we waste a lot of time watching the referee count. It hurts the flow of an otherwise great match immensely.
Jeff Hardy Vs. Triple H (SmackDown, 11/21/08) – ** 1/2
A solid but unspectacular TV match pitting good guy against good guy. Not really much else to say about this one.
Triple H Vs. Chris Jericho (Raw, 11/30/09) – **
A fine match, but short and part of the greater storyline between DX and Jeri-Show. For the sole representation of DX on the bonus features, this wasn’t the best choice. I would have preferred something from the original DX run, or at least a tag match.
Blu-ray Exclusive Match
No Disqualification Match: Triple H Vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania 29, 4/7/13) – *** 1/2
This is the first time I’ve seen this match since WrestleMania, and it does help when the match doesn’t have to follow up Punk and Taker. I don’t think this storyline resonated with audiences the way WWE wanted, and that’s another reason the crowd isn’t really into this match. On its own, it’s better than I remembered, but still not the classic match the WWE billed it as.
“Behold…”: The Blu-ray Extras
I always look forward to the bonus stories on these superstar feature Blu-rays. While the stories wouldn’t fit neatly into the documentary, they are still interesting, and at times can be more interesting. The stories here are no different. The highlight is probably Triple H going through his WrestleMania 29 weekend experience. Besides that, the most memorable thing is probably watching Triple H and Stephanie play the Newlywed Game, which is a fun little extra. Honestly, I would have preferred another 40 minutes of these extra stories instead of the Lesnar match from Mania. While that is a pretty good match, nothing beats these little extra stories.
“…The King of Kings”: Closing Thoughts
I fear that this review is going to come off more negative than I intend it to, but it’s hard to say that this set wasn’t a bit of a disappointment. I had pretty high expectations following DVDs like Punk’s or Austin’s, and Triple H simply can’t live up to the crazy stories that those guys have had in their pasts. There’s nothing “wrong” with the documentary, but it doesn’t do anything to set itself apart either. I felt very similar to The Rock’s documentary, and if you’ve seen that one, you are going to get the same experience here. I did watch the documentary in one sitting, but I can’t say the time totally flew by. It was surprising that I was least interesting when they discussed his in-ring career, but that’s probably because all of the stories are pretty well known, and there isn’t much to add (outside of when The Undertaker finally got to talk about it). I think most viewers will enjoy the doc overall, but it’s not in the pantheon for me.
While there weren’t any true classics included as the bonus matches, there aren’t any stinkers either. The only match that really disappointed me was the Flair match, but that was more because of how short it was than anything else. The highlight is easily the Iron Man match. While it doesn’t live up to the Hart/Michaels or Angle/Lesnar classics, it still is a very good match in its own right. I also have to give the WWE credit for giving us very few matches that already exist on compilation sets without making the matches feel like “lower tier” contests. Most of Triple H’s classic matches were The King of Kings match compilation, and this serves as a nice companion piece. We still see pretty all of Triple H’s major opponents throughout the course of his career included. The only thing I would have liked to see included was one of the WrestleMania matches with The Undertaker. Even though they’ve been released before, they are discussed a lot in the documentary, and for that reason alone deserved a place here.
All that being said, this is still one of the more successful DVD’s WWE has put out this year. Comparing it to the other big superstar profile we got in 2013, I would say this is a better overall package than the Foley release, but I preferred the documentary on Foley. If you are a big fan of The Game, this is a no brainer; you’re going to love it. Even if you aren’t a huge fan, you’ll certainly come out of this with a good deal of respect for Triple H. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is a smart guy that is great for the business. I have no doubt that this DVD/Blu-ray will spark a good deal of conversation, so let us know what you thoughts in the comments below.