Triple H's championship legacy is split between two major titles - the WWF/WWE Championship (8 times) and the World Heavyweight Championship (5 times).
"The Game" may have the reputation of being a burial machine, but let's see what the numbers say about his record as the defending champ on pay-per-view (PPV).
The numbers I will focus on for each of the 13 reigns include the date he won the title (Start), the date he lost the title (End), and his PPV record as the defending champion (PPV Record). This will be done using the chronological order that these 13 championship reigns took place.
WWF Championship (1st) - 22 days
Triple H defeated Mankind on Raw to win his first WWF Championship.
He was defeated by Vince McMahon on an episode of Smackdown.
PPV Record: 0-0
No PPV's were scheduled during this reign.
WWF Championship (2nd) - 49 days
Triple H won a 6-Pack challenge at Unforgiven to win the vacated championship.
He was pinned by Big Show in a Triple Threat match at Survivor Series.
PPV Record: 1-1
No Mercy - Defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin
Survivor Series - Pinned by Big Show in a Triple Threat match that also included The Rock
WWF Championship (3rd) - 118 days
Triple H pinned Big Show on an episode of Raw.
He lost to The Rock at Backlash.
PPV Record: 3-1
Royal Rumble - Defeated Cactus Jack
No Way Out - Defeated Cactus Jack
WrestleMania 16 - Defeated Rock, Mick Foley, and The Big Show in a Fatal 4-Way
Backlash - Lost to The Rock
WWF Championship (4th) - 35 days
Triple H defeated The Rock in an Iron Man match at Judgment Day.
Triple H lost the championship during a 6-man tag team match at King of the Ring when Vince McMahon was pinned by The Rock.
PPV Record: 0-1
King of the Ring - Triple H, Vince, and Shane lost to the team of Rock, Kane, and Undertaker.
WWF Championship (5th) - 35 days
Triple H defeated Chris Jericho for the Undisputed WWF Championship at WrestleMania 18.
Triple H was pinned by Hollywood Hulk Hogan at Backlash.
PPV Record: 0-1
Backlash - Lost to Hollywood Hulk Hogan
World Heavyweight Championship (1st) - 76 days
Triple H was awarded the championship by Eric Bischoff.
Triple H was pinned by HBK in an Elimination Chamber match.
PPV Record: 2-1
Unforgiven - Defeated Rob van Dam
No Mercy - Defeated Kane to unify the WHC and the IC.
Survivor Series - Pinned by HBK in an Elimination Chamber match also featuring Booker T, RVD, Kane, and Jericho
World Heavyweight Championship (2nd) - 280 days
Triple H defeated HBK in a Three Stages of Hell match at Armageddon.
Triple H fell victim to Goldberg at Unforgiven.
PPV Record: 5-3
Royal Rumble - Lost to Scott Steiner by DQ
No Way Out - Defeated Scott Steiner
WrestleMania 19 - Defeated Booker T
Backlash - Triple H, Flair, and Jericho defeated HBK, Nash, and Booker T in a non-title 6-man tag match
Judgment Day - Lost to Kevin Nash by DQ
Bad Blood - Defeated Kevin Nash inside HIAC
Vengeance - Triple H did not compete on this card
Summer Slam - Defeated Goldberg, HBK, Jericho, Orton, and Nash inside the Elimination Chamber
Unforgiven - Lost to Goldberg
World Heavyweight Championship (3rd) - 91 days
Triple H defeated Goldberg and Kane in a Triple Threat match.
Triple H tapped out to to Chris Benoit in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania 20.
PPV Record: 0-1-1
Royal Rumble - Triple H and HBK fought to a draw in a Last Man Standing match.
No Way Out - Triple H did not compete on this card
WrestleMania 20 - Lost to Benoit in a Triple Threat match that also included HBK
World Heavyweight Championship (4th) - 85 days
Triple H defeated Randy Orton at Unforgiven.
The championship was vacated after a Raw Triple Threat match featuring Benoit and Edge that ended with a double fall.
PPV Record: 1-1
No Mercy - Triple H did not compete on this card
Taboo Tuesday - Defeated HBK
Survivor Series - Team Triple H (with Snitsky, Edge, Batista) lost against Team Orton (with Maven, Jericho, Benoit) in a non-title match
World Heavyweight Championship (5th) - 84 days
Triple H won the vacated championship after pinning Randy Orton in an Elimination Chamber match at New Year's Revolution.
Triple H was pinned by Batista at WrestleMania 21.
PPV Record: 1-1
Royal Rumble - Defeated Randy Orton
No Way Out - Triple H did not compete on this card
WrestleMania 21 - Lost to Batista
WWE Championship (6th) - 0 days
Triple H opened the No Mercy PPV by defeating Randy Orton for the WWE Championship.
Triple H ended the No Mercy PPV by losing to Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing championship match.
PPV Record: 1-1
No Mercy - Defeated Umaga
No Mercy - Lost against Randy Orton
WWE Championship (7th) - 210 days
Triple H emerged victorious in a Four-Way Elimination match against JBL, Orton, and Cena at Backlash.
Triple H was pinned by Edge in a Triple Threat match. The match was originally scheduled to include Jeff Hardy rather than Edge, but Jeff Hardy was injured in the storyline prior to the show, leading to Triple H fighting Kozlov in a singles match for a while until Vickie announced Edge's surprise return near the end of the match.
PPV Record: 8-1
Judgment Day - Defeated Randy Orton
One Night Stand - Defeated Randy Orton
Night of Champions - Defeated John Cena
Great American Bash - Defeated Edge
SummerSlam - Defeated The Great Khali
Unforgiven - Defeated The Brian Kendrick, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, and Jeff Hardy in a Scramble match
No Mercy - Defeated Jeff Hardy
Cyber Sunday - Defeated Jeff Hardy
Survivor Series - Pinned by Edge in a Triple Threat match also featuring Vladimir Kozlov
WWF Championship (8th) - 70 days
Triple H pinned The Undertaker to end Edge's reign as champ inside an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out.
Triple H was pinned by Randy Orton at Backlash in a 6-man tag team match where Triple H's championship was on the line.
PPV Record: 1-1
WrestleMania 25 - Defeated Randy Orton
Backlash - Triple H, Batista, and Shane lost a 6-man tag team match against Orton, Cody, and DiBiase Jr
Triple H won the WWF or WWE Championship on eight separate occasions (tied for 2nd most all-time) for a total of 539 days (7th most all-time). That produces an average length of 67.4 days per championship reign. He competed in 21 separate PPV matches as the reigning WWF or WWE Champion and his overall record was an impressive 14-7. Eight of those 14 wins came during his lone WWE Championship reign in 2008.
Triple H also held the World Heavyweight Champion 5 separate times (2nd most all-time) for an all-time record of 616 days. That produces an average length of 123.2 days per championship reign. Every single one of these reigns lasted at least 75 days. He competed in 17 separate matches as the reigning WHC (including some non-title matches) and his overall record was a surprisingly mediocre 9-7-1.
Triple H's first 4 reigns as WWF Champions mostly consisted of short reigns during the Attitude Era, and they only spanned the ten months between August 1999 and June 2000. His most notable run of this time included his 3rd championship reign, which included PPV matches with Cactus Jack and The Rock. Triple H also headlined WrestleMania 16 during this reign and became the first heel to walk out of WrestleMania as the WWF Champion.
Triple H missed most of 2001 with a quadriceps injury before returning and winning the Undisputed WWF Championship at WrestleMania 18 in 2002. This 5th run as WWF Champion was a quick one-month reign that ended at the hands of a resurgent Hulkamania fad. Triple H would not hold on to the title again for over 5 years.
During these first 5 reigns as WWF champ, Triple H's PPV Record as defending champ was 4-4. Four of these five reigns lasted under 50 days. Three of these 5 reigns ended on his very first PPV appearance as champion during the reign.
After losing the Undisputed WWF Championship to Hulk Hogan in 2002, Triple H spent the next 3 years as the main player in the WHC scene. In fact, the WHC's debut took place on an episode of Raw in September 2002 when Eric Bischoff simply granted the WHC to Triple H.
Triple H was the reigning WHC for 616 out of a possible 944 days between 9/2/02 and 4/3/05. To get an idea of how much Triple H dominated the WHC for those years, here is the sorted list of who held the WHC for the most days during that time.
- Triple H - 616 days
- Benoit - 154 days
- Goldberg - 84 days
- Vacated - 34 days
- HBK/Orton - 28 days each
There is no doubt that Triple H held on to the WHC for an extremely long time. From the day of its inception in September 2002 until the summer of 2005, the WHC was on the line 26 times on PPV. Triple H was either the champion or challenger for 24 of these 26 matches. The only exceptions are Bad Blood 2004 (Benoit vs Kane) and Summer Slam 2004 (Benoit vs Orton).
With all these facts in mind, it might be hard to believe that Triple H's PPV Record as the defending WHC was a mediocre 9-7-1. His 7 losses included the end of 4 of his 5 championship reigns, and this is when HBK, Goldberg, Benoit, and Batista each won the WHC from Triple H. The other 3 losses included 2 DQ's (against Nash and Steiner) and one Survivor Series team defeat.
One thing that should stand out when looking at the list of Triple H's PPVs as defending champ is that there were several cards that he did not compete on in the midst of his championship reigns. WWE began doing brand-only PPVs in 2003, and so Triple H did not compete on the Smackdown-only PPV shows from that point on. This is one contributing factor to the length of Triple H's WHC reigns that often goes unmentioned. For example, in both 2004 and 2005, Triple H defended the WHC at the Royal Rumble and then did not have to defend it on PPV again until WrestleMania, because the annual February No Way Out PPV was a Smackdown-only event those years.
After Triple H's feud with Batista ended in 2005, Triple H did not win the WHC ever again.
Triple H's championship legacy went on hiatus for a while (including another year-long quadriceps injury in 2007) until he finally reclaimed the WWE Championship at No Mercy 2007. This marked the beginning of a championship reign that lasted fewer than 3 hours. Triple H opened the PPV by defeating Randy Orton, thereby starting his 6th reign as WWE Champion. This was actually his first run with the title since the initials changed from WWF to WWE, which happened right after he lost the WWF Championship to Hogan back in 2002.
Triple H then successfully defended his newly won title against Umaga during the midcard of the same PPV. The PPV then ended with Triple H's third match of the night, as he lost the title right back to Randy Orton. In an unrelated note, Triple H successfully defended the WWE Championship more times during this 3-hour reign than Dolph Ziggler did during his recent 2-month run as the WHC. He's that damn good!
Triple H did not reclaim the WWE Championship again until April 2008 when he won a four-way match at Backlash. From a kayfabe standpoint, Triple H's 7th run with the WWE Championship was one of the most successful championship reigns in history. This is evident by looking at his 8-1 PPV Record as the defending champion. His Reign Of Terror with the WHC around 2003 gets all the attention, but his reign with the WWE Championship in 2008 included superior results.
Triple H won the WWE Championship for an 8th and final time in February 2009 at the No Way Out PPV during an Elimination Chamber match. He defeated Randy Orton in the main event of WrestleMania 25 before losing the title to Orton in a 6-man tag match. This marked the 2nd time one of Triple H's championship reigns ended in a six-man tag team match.
So that marks the end of Triple H's championship legacy. In general, at least 4 of Triple H's 13 championship reigns are very interesting to look back on:
His third run with the WWF Championship (early 2000) was by far the most important reign of his career and cemented him as a career-long main event superstar on PPV.
His Reign Of Terror with the WHC (spanning multiple title reigns) certainly soaked up a ton of TV time but ultimately did not lead to a dominating PPV record. I think his WHC run gets the bad reputation based more on the generally awful storylines that Triple H was associated with at that time which included being handed a title, necrophilia, pose-offs against Scott Steiner, boring matches with the past-his-prime Kevin Nash, and a seemingly never-ending feud with his buddy Shawn Michaels. I think his failure to put Goldberg over in the Elimination Chamber at Summer Slam 2003 also contributed to that negative perception.
And the tail end of his championship legacy included a brutally short yet very action-packed zero-day title reign. It also included a massively successful (yet largely forgotten) 210-day title reign with the WWE Championship.
That's enough from me on this topic, so now it's your turn to chime in. Does he deserve the generally accepted reputation of a burying machine? Or was he simply a bankable top star who deserved his spot on the card because he was always in the discussion for the most valuable worker in the company? How much of his success, if any, does he owe to his relationship with Stephanie McMahon?
What do you think of Triple H's championship legacy, Cagesiders?