Could the Roman Empire seriously dethrone The King of Kings?
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H is no stranger to the main event at WrestleMania. In fact he’s wrestled at 19 Manias since 1996 – when he lost to the Ultimate Warrior – and now two decades later he prepares to defend his title against Roman Reigns in the AT&T Stadium in Texas. But despite Triple H’s 24-year legacy inside the squared circle, and despite the fact that he is a 14-time World Heavyweight Champion, he still doesn’t have a winning record at the grand-daddy of them all, WrestleMania.
Proof if it was ever needed, that not even sleeping with the boss’s daughter can guarantee you picking up the three-count every year at Mania.
We’ve dug through The Game’s 18 WrestleMania matches to find out just how wobbly his record is, and why it should give Roman Reigns plenty of hope going into the match as the challenger.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Triple H. He has still picked up nine WrestleMania wins, and picked up the win in five of his nine title fights at the main event. Last year he defeated the icon Sting (with a little assistance from DX) and in 2013 he had a 24-minute No Holds Barred war with Brock Lesnar, which finished with The King of Kings planting The Beat with a Pedigree on to the steel steps.
Triple H can also fondly look back on his 1998 Mania appearance where he defeated Owen Hart for the European Championship, and his first World Heavyweight victory at WrestleMania which came in 2000. On that occasion Triple H came into the match as champ, and with Stephanie McMahon in his corner, Hunter left with the gold, defeating The Big Show, Mick Foley and The Rock courtesy of a sneak attack by none other than Vince McMahon. What are father-in-laws for if they can’t take out your rivals with a steel chair?
But it’s not all rainbows, lollipops and WrestleMania moments for Triple H. He’s lost three times to The Undertaker in three different stipulations – singles match, no holds barred and Hell in a Cell, as well as getting himself disqualified against Kane in 1999 and losing to Daniel Bryan in 2014 on the night the ‘Yes Movement’ realised the dream.
Triple H’s worst run however came in a four year spell between 2004 and 2008. In four seperate WrestleMania events, The Game was fighting for the title, and he lost all four on the spin. At WrestleMania XX he tapped out to Chris Benoit’s Cripple Crossface to lose a triple threat match which also featured Shawn Michaels. The Game then regained the title only to lose it in the following year’s WrestleMania main event, as Batista turned on his Evolution partner and gave Triple H the Batista Bomb.
In 2006 Triple H was fighting for the belt again, but this time submitted to the Champion John Cena’s STFU, and his fourth Mania defeat on the spin came two years later in a triple threat match featuring Cena and Randy Orton. The Game missed the WrestleMania in 2007, and that was a blessing in disguise considering his run of form. At Mania XXIV Triple H took a kick to the head from Orton, and could only watch on as RKO pinned Cena to retain the title.
Heading into WrestleMania 32, Triple H’s record isn’t his only concern. The wrestling-loving traders in Power Tower are convinced that the powers that be in WWE have Roman Reigns mapped out to be a Champion, and that combined with Triple H’s poor win rate at WrestleMania makes the challenger the favourite for the bout. The Game has won five of his eight title matches at Mania, but he’s still the outsider to hold on to the gold.
The King of Kings’ record at Mania is set to get a touch worse if the odds are to believed, and it’ll be a date of destiny for Roman Reigns.