In his 20 years in the wrestling business, Triple H has made a name for himself as a tough competitor, a student of the game, a man who never backs down from anyone. Though he is able to deliver in comedic segments, even a casual fan of the WWE knows that when The Game steps through the ropes, no matter his opponent, there aren't going to be any jokes or horseplay. Triple H has amassed an impressive resume with matches against legends like the Undertaker, Chris Jericho, The Rock, Kurt Angle and the long-standing love/hate relationship with his best friend, Shawn Michaels. His most formidable opponents have known which buttons to push to get inside The Game's head, and over the years, even sensitive topics such as his personal relationships have served as fodder to try to damage Triple H's psyche.
In 2012, we have seen Triple H primarily in an executive capacity as the COO. At first, his dispute with Brock Lesnar did not require him to step into the ring as a wrestler, since the issues centered mostly around Brock's outlandish requests and addendums to his already impressive contract. But at his core, Triple H will always be a wrestler, and maintains his sculpted physique just in case he has to settle a score the old-fashioned way.
Lesnar is arguably the most physically intimidating of Triple H's opponents, and the stage was set for SummerSlam months in advance. Paul Heyman, Lesnar's manager and mouthpiece, left no topic untouched while trying to get into The Game's head. The instigating, maniacal Heyman made suggestive comments about Triple H's wife Stephanie McMahon, and even dropped a few barbs regarding their children. He forced Triple H to stand at ringside and watch as Lesnar held Michaels in the Kimura Lock and broke his arm. It was obvious from the moment Lesnar made his re-debut that he wasn't there to entertain, he was there to fight and injure. Brock is a machine of destruction, and it may not have been the smartest decision for the aging Triple H to step in the ring with such a monster. Heyman knew exactly what he was doing; he left Hunter no choice. Heyman knew that Triple H wanted to fight Lesnar to salvage his family's honor and avenge his best friend.
The match at SummerSlam was forceful and raw, spilling out to ringside and both announce tables. Lesnar's offense was methodical and dynamic, showcasing his brute strength. Triple H never gave up, but after being slammed onto a table, into the steel steps, and taking an F-5, Lesnar caught him in the deadly Kimura Lock. The Game showed his perserverance and grit, but after Lesnar bent Triple H's arm backward in a scene horribly reminiscent of when his arm was broken, Triple H had no choice but to tap out. After Lesnar had exited the arena with the triumphant Heyman in tow, Triple H sat defeated in the ring, his arm hanging uselessly at his side. The crowd at the Staples Center began a "you tapped out" chant, and The Game began to apologize. He trudged up the ramp, surveying the crowd with tears in his eyes. He had failed. SummerSlam had been his for the taking, and Lesnar had taken it away. As SummerSlam came to a close, Michael Cole wondered aloud if this would be the last time we would see Triple H in a wrestling ring.
Absolutely not! Triple H may have been defeated tonight, he may be upset and embarassed for failing to deliver. But this is not the end for The Game, and this is not the end of his feud with Brock Lesnar. I believe these two will reprise their rivalry before the end of the year, possibly at Survivor Series. Lesnar works a very limited schedule and will likely go home believing that he has put The Game on the shelf for good. Triple H is one of the greatest wrestlers of the past 15 years and he will not want to be remembered as the man who tapped to Brock Lesnar. He will go home, rehab his arm, and soon the fire will begin to burn inside him again. Heyman's taunts will swirl through his mind; it will get to the point where he will not be able to rest unless he has a rematch against Lesnar. Triple H wants the final match of his career to be victorious, and this is why, although he succumbed to the Kimura Lock tonight, there is no way The Game is done for.
Lesnar's lack of respect for both the art of wrestling and the veterans who have made it their livelihood is another issue that will pull Triple H back to the squared circle. Hunter adheres to the code of conduct where younger wrestlers respect, revere and admire the elders in the lockerroom for the time and pain they have given to the wrestling business and the sacrifices they have made. Lesnar lacks respect for anyone; if it came down to it, he may even eventually throw Heyman aside for the right price. It would go against everything that Triple H stands for to let Lesnar walk away with the last word. It may take months for the WWE Universe to see The Game back on TV, but there is no doubt in my mind that he will be back. Vengeance will be on his mind; he will be looking to return the favor and humiliate and injure Lesnar upon his return. The dynamic Shawn Michaels will be back to full form, and may physically be in his best friend's corner for the rematch. Lesnar may have won the fight tonight, but the war belongs to Triple H. Heyman may regret taunting Hunter and drawing his ire when he comes back from injury with a nice little message for Brock Lesnar. The message may come in the form of a stipulation match, or in a hit with a sledgehammer. The Cerebral Assassin is not finished with his career, and he is certainly not finished with Brock Lesnar.