WWE COO Triple H was recently interviewed by CBS Sports to talk about several professional wrestling topics.
Here are the highlights:
How approaching matches with the Undertaker changed over the years:
Obviously, everybody changes as performers and who you are. When I first came in here and faced him for the first time in 1995, it was just about earning his respect and trust as a performer. Taker is one of those guys who gives everybody respect, but you don’t just get it, you have to earn it. That’s in-ring and everything else. I approached that time very differently. Over the course of our careers, we worked a lot. At that point in time, you just didn’t think about it.
It was a night off. If I was wrestling Taker — and I’d like to think he thought the same with me — it was a night off. You don’t have to think about it — he’s going to do his part, you don’t have to think for him. You just go in there and it’s magic and fun. You’re laughing and having a good time because you’re in there with a guy that’s incredibly gifted in the ring but you also get along with and think the same as. It couldn’t be any easier.
But, when you fast forward toward the end of your careers and he’s in the place he’s in with everything you’re seeing in ‘The Last Ride,’ with self-doubt and the physical shape that he was in and trying to overcome all that, and then you’re having your own issues with all of that. As you’ve heard him say, and I’ve said it a bunch, the hardest thing I’ve ever done is have to do what we do and try to do it at the level we want to do it at once or twice a year.
It’s incredibly difficult. So, the approach to that in 2018 is a completely different animal. You don’t know what he’s going to bring to the table, and in some way, you doubt what you can bring to the table. That makes it a lot more difficult.
Why the Undertaker hasn’t retired:
It’s an addiction. The crowd, the thrill of it, there’s nothing like it. To stand in that ring and have those emotions in your hand — that feeling is incredible. It’s the greatest form of entertainment when it’s done well. Think of it this way: What other sport or anything else can bring 100,000 into a stadium where you’re not focused on everything but the fans? If you go in to play the Super Bowl, you’re thinking about the game. You’re almost trying to shut out the fan experience and concentrate on the game. Don’t let the bigness, the epicness of it, the moment of it get to you.
You just want to focus on the game. If you’re a fighter and you’re fighting in a stadium and it’s sold out, your focus is on the other fighter. You can’t focus on the crowd and take your mind off the game. In our business, it’s the exact opposite. It’s those fans and that moment. That’s what you’re trying to get out of them and you’re so in tune with those reactions. When you’re really good at this and have done it for a long time, their reaction is like your heartbeat.
It’s the most exciting, intoxicating thing that there is. To put that down is really difficult. I don’t like saying this because it sounds shallow, but it’s almost everything that you are. So, it’s tough and a catch-22. If you go in there and don’t feel like you had the performance you want, ‘Oh man, I can’t leave it that way.’ If you go in there and you tear it up and it was great, ‘I can do that again. I still got it and can continue to do this. That wasn’t so bad. I got more.’
It’s tough. When the feeling is good, you want to do it again and you keep doing it. When it’s bad, you can’t leave it that way because you have to end on a good note. I hear people say, and I’ve heard Taker say, it’s chasing the dragon. You’re always going to chase the dragon.
Ric Flair wrestling elsewhere after his retirement and who will decide when Undertaker is done:
Look, if we have to, we’ve said it to others. Somebody has to hold the reins and guide the horse or it’ll run itself into the ground. But it’s a tough thing. It’s hard to tell somebody, ‘No, you can’t do this.’ With all due respect to him, Vince tried to do it with Flair and gave him the greatest moment of all time because it was there. The greatest sendoff, the perfect match with Shawn, the perfect moments, all of that.
Nobody in sports has had a moment like that, I don’t believe, anywhere in time. Just perfect. And he still left the company and went and had matches for other places. Small, insignificant, way far beneath him. People say, ‘Oh, he needed the money.’ No he didn’t. That was all ego.
It’s tough. In some ways, we can say, you can’t do this for us. Look, I’ve had to have that conversation with talent to say, ‘Look, it’s over. Medically, we can no longer have you perform here.’ The second you say that, the question that is asked is, ‘You say I can’t do it here but, I mean, I can go somewhere else and do this, right?’ It’s always that, so it’s tough. The truth is, he has to be the one that says, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ Even if we tell him he’s done, if we want to be realistic about it, he could go do it somewhere else, I suppose. It has to be him. It has to be done right in his mind.