On the latest episode of WWE’s The Bump, Kayla Braxton and the panel welcomed Triple H to talk about his Royal Rumble memories. The first one they discuss is the 2002 Rumble which featured Triple H making his return from injury after being off due to a very serious quad tear.
“It’s hard to sort of put into words the journey at that point in time because, you know, there was a high probability I might’ve not been able to wrestle again. Coming back and having the return I did at Madison Square Garden, and the reaction I got was great. The challenge was: How do you capitalize on that? So, to come back at the Royal Rumble, there’s so much meaning there. Not only from a performer’s standpoint but from an athlete’s standpoint of the validation to be able to do this still.”
The former nine-time WWE Champion then went on to talk about how it felt to see his mentor Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) take part in the same match.
“It was awesome! For me, as a fan, Curt was one of the best in-ring performers ever. When I came to WWE at the time, and Curt sort of being in his first management position, [he] helped me get [towards] the Intercontinental title. After leaving WWE to go to WCW and then returning later, it was a weird full-circle moment. To see him in that spot and the reaction he got, that was awesome.”
The Royal Rumble has been one of the fan favourite matches ever since it debuted back in 1989. It was the creation of WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson who sadly passed away in December, and Triple H has nothing but praise for the companies first ever Intercontinental Champion.
“[The] Rumble is one of those great matches where it can last the length of time that it does. And every couple of minutes, there’s this surprise every time. Sometimes, those surprises are underwhelming. Sometimes they’re those ‘Oh, my God’ moments,” he began. “They are a lot of fun to put together because of those moments because you’re constantly looking at how you can get that excitement level. But that’s the genesis thing that Pat Patterson put together. Pat was the concept creator of the Rumble.”
Throughout the month, The Bump will ask their guests which moments in Royal Rumble history were their favourite, either as a fan or as a competitor. Triple H nominates the very first Rumble he was in as his pick because of the interaction he got to have with Dory Funk Jr.
“It’s funny. There are moments for me in the Rumble…I’ll give you one that was a cool moment for me that nobody else would even remember happened. It was my first Royal Rumble (1996), and I was in there for a long period of time, and Dory Funk Jr. came into the ring. I don’t remember how long I’d been in there, but I remember Dory just coming and grabbing me in the center of the ring and picking me up and putting me in the corner. He said to me, ‘Get yourself a breather, kid.’ He just started working with me in the corner. And, you know, that was a guy I grew up watching. For me to have that moment with Dory Jr., it was the coolest thing for me of all time.”
If you’re wanting to see how to watch the Royal Rumble 2021, along with the updated match card, we’ve got all the info here.
Credit to WWE’s The Bump and a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription