Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 429 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 14 2013

Depending on your opinion, Triple H is either one of the biggest stars and best performers in WWE for the last 20 years, or he is a manipulative, selfish backstage politician who married his way to the top. The answer is probably something in between; nevertheless, fans are given the opportunity for a greater insight into the life, times and career of The Game with Thy Kingdom Come, although it should come as no surprise that the negative allegations about the real-life Paul Levesque are either only slightly referred to or ignored completely.

Thy Kingdom Come (which has a cool cover, if I say so myself) takes us through many chapters of Tripper's life, such as his upbringing and initial fandom of pro wrestling; his training under Killer Kowalski, debut and travels on the independent circuit as Terra Ryzing; his short WCW stint; his early WWF days as Greenwich blueblood Hunter Hearst Helmsley; the impact of Chyna on his career (their real-life relationship is not discussed for obvious reasons); his various battles over the years with Mick Foley; The Kliq; the original version of D-Generation X, which undoubtedly reversed his career fortunes; his initial rise to the main event level in the WWF; his relationship with Stephanie McMahon, both on-screen and off; his battles with The Rock and The Undertaker; his various quadriceps injuries; Evolution, and subsequent battles with the likes of Randy Orton (with whom he had far too many matches); the reunion of DX; and his ultimate progression into the office, and the early days of him running NXT and the opening of the WWE Performance Center.

It's a well-paced documentary with logical chronology that covers many of HHH's on-screen highlights. Accompanying vintage clips of his career are talking head comments from a variety of performers, friends, colleagues and family members. The Undertaker's links are a highlight, simply because it's so rare to see Taker talking out of character these days on an official WWE release. The most intriguing part of the doc is the discussion of how his relationship with Stephanie came to be, and how Vince tried to block it more than once. Even after getting Vince's approval, HHH felt uneasy, so it was Undertaker who HHH consulted with and, after receiving his blessing, he arguably put his career at stake in an attempt to not only find true love, but to also ensure a lifetime career in WWE; fortunately for him, he succeeded. It's also interesting to hear the back-stories of some major matches, like his WrestleMania showdowns with Taker, as well as acknowledging some matches which didn't achieve their potential (such as the WM 25 main event with Randy Orton).

Triple H fans will really enjoy this documentary, especially since it's been so long coming (we did get a documentary back in 2002, but his career has obviously taken many more twists and turns since then, and his off-screen relationship with Stephanie was only in its infancy at that time), but HHH's critics may find it harder to watch. Very few of his aforementioned flaws when the cameras are not rolling are acknowledged; granted, we weren't going to get an examination as to whether or not HHH purposely damaged the careers of such stars as Booker T and Rob Van Dam, but the documentary feels incomplete without discussing his reputation on some level, even if it's in an attempt to suggest that it isn't warranted. It'd be like discussing Shawn Michaels' career without mentioning his real-life feud with Bret Hart, or talking about Hulk Hogan and not touching upon the many wrestlers who found him to be a pain at times (and that's putting it mildly).

Taken with a grain of salt, and assuming that you don't expect a ton of revelations, Thy Kingdom Come is an entertaining look back at a man who, for all his faults, is one of the most important men in recent WWE history, and given the path that he and Steph are on away from the ring, he may just become the most important man in wrestling period someday.

There are a selection of bonus matches, although their quality varies greatly. Even though there has never been a true Best Of Triple H compilation, meaning that a lot of his greatest matches have never been released on a HHH-specific DVD, this collection somehow manages to ignore classic outings to focus on matches that are rare gems, which sometimes works but in this case is a bit frustrating.

Jean-Paul Levesque taking on Ricky Steamboat in WCW is a good start, and while Hunter vs. Dude Love from One Night Only 1997 isn't the Foley-related match that I would have picked, it's exciting nonetheless. We then get the superb Iron Man match between HHH and Rock from Judgment Day 2000, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise; the ending is brilliant, even if the timing is slightly off (although Undertaker's music being dubbed over is annoying). After that, it's a disappionting match with Kurt Angle from Unforgiven 2000 which ended their infamous love triangle storyline with Stephanie on a low note, while HHH and Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker and Kane from Backlash 2001 is a forgotten battle, but one that is still entertaining.

HHH vs. RVD is next; in fairness, HHH had very few notable matches in 2003 from a quality standpoint, so this Raw bout is actually one of his better efforts from that difficult year. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels is next under Last Man Standing rules from Royal Rumble 2004 and, whilst not their best battle, it is still a strong outing (and the bloodshed from both is ferocious, especially Shawn). Two short matches against Ric Flair and Booker T don't need to be here (even if the latter marked his return from a second quad tear), but his LMS showdown with Orton from No Mercy 2007 is a worthy inclusion; not only is it a great match, but it's the best bout that these two common foes ever contested against one another. The last two matches have a filler feeling to them: a bout with Jeff Hardy, which I attended, is good but by no means their best, and a meeting with Chris Jericho really does exist to complete the DVD's running time. The Blu-ray also features HHH vs. Brock Lesnar from WrestleMania 29, as well as a load of additional stories.

Summing this up, there has never been a truly great HHH DVD collection, and Thy Kingdom Come doesn't achieve that status either. However, it is a very entertaining look back at his highs and lows on-screen in his unforgettable career, and while the match selection could have been a lot better, there are still some real gems on there. The wait to see The Ultimate Triple H Collection goes on, but fans of The King Of Kings should get a real kick out of this set while they wait. HHH's army of critics need not purchase this one.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good

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