Flair and HBK on Triple H 'hanging up the boots'
He’s been a cornerstone of WWE for the better part of the last two decades, but on April 7 at WrestleMania, Triple H could be competing in a WWE ring for the very last time when he collides with Brock Lesnar in a barbaric No Holds Barred Match. Thanks to Paul Heyman’s sinister machinations, The Game must retire if he is unable to conquer the former WWE, NCAA and UFC Champion.
With Heyman revealing the stipulations of this bout only after Triple H had signed the contract on the March 18 edition of Raw (WATCH), the WWE COO was unaware that he was agreeing to terms that could prematurely end one of the most celebrated careers in WWE history. The revelation that Triple H’s final match could be fast approaching immediately sent shockwaves throughout the WWE Universe.
“He’s too young to leave the business and has too much left to offer,” two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair told WWE.com. “If he doesn’t wrestle again, no matter how much time he spends in the office working with the company, he’ll be miserable. He needs to be in the ring. That’s who he is.”
There are only a few who know Triple H quite as well as “The Nature Boy,” who served as a mentor to The Cerebral Assassin as part of Evolution and continues to be The Game’s close confidant. In fact, it was Triple H who inducted the 16-time World Champion into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 — the night before Flair was retired at the hands of Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV.
“[At WrestleMania XXIV], the cards were dealt,” Flair explained, thinking back on his own legacy as Triple H’s career hangs in the balance. “I was nowhere near the level of ability as Shawn Michaels that night, and I don’t think anybody expected me to be. But I walked out of there a very proud man. It was sad to leave, but I was very proud.”
Just two years later, it was fellow WWE Hall of Famer HBK who would be facing similar circumstances on The Grandest Stage of Them All, battling The Undertaker in a “Streak vs. Career” Match at WrestleMania XXVI. Like Flair before him, “Mr. WrestleMania” took that long and final walk back to the locker room after falling to The Phenom.