Hunter Hearst Helmsley, known as Triple H, is one of the wealthiest wrestlers in the world. In fact, he’s sixth on the list of the top twenty-five richest wrestlers according to WealthyGorilla. How did he get there? The honest answer is that he worked for it. Far beyond lifting weights and learning to rock the ring, Triple H has made his place with the sort of diligence and effort that can take fame and turn it into obscene amounts of success and wealth.
Beginnings: A Wrestler is Born
The wrestler we know as Triple H was born Paul Michael Levesque on July 27, 1969, in Nashua New Hampshire. Whether you believe in fate or just determination, Paul watched his first wrestling match at the age of five, and clearly, it made a massive impact on his young life. In school he was always a sporty kid, playing basketball and baseball. Young Paul took up bodybuilding at the age of fourteen to look more like the wrestlers he idolized. Soon after graduation, he began entering bodybuilding competitions.
By age 19 he’d won the 1988 Mr. Teenage New Hampshire bodybuilding competition. Levesque took a job working at Gold’s Gym, after all, what better way to keep up with his physique than helping others achieve their fitness goals? While he was employed there, he met the then world champion powerlifter Theodore Arcidi who was working for the WWE and eventually convinced him to introduce the young aspiring wrestler to a friend who ran a school for pro wrestlers. Killer Kowalski, a Polish Canadian former professional wrestler, ran his school in Malden Massachusetts. Sadly, though the school remains, Killer, himself passed away back in 2008.
Wrestling & Winning With the IWF
Nevertheless, this was where Paul got his start down the path to becoming a professional wrestler and so much more. Incidentally, he would also meet some of his future coworkers in the same class. Chyna and Perry Saturn were learning the sport at Kowalski’s during the same time Paul started training there. It was also through Killer and his school that Paul would fight Tony Roy and win his first match as a member of the International Wrestling Federation. He took the name Terra Ryzing for that match and kept it while he was a member of IWF. Eventually, Paul rose through the ranks to defeat Mad Dog Richard and win the 1992 IWF Heavyweight Championship. For the next two years, he worked the Independent Circut on the East Coast, but everything would change for the young wrestler in 1994.
From The WCW to The WWF
In ’94 Levesque joined the World Championship Wrestling as a villain called Terror Risin.’ He only wrestled there for a year before leaving for the WWF because WCW refused to promote him as a singles competitor. Billed initially as Reginald DuPont Helmsley, the Connecticut Blueblood, Levesque requested the change to Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Initially, he played off his ‘pedigree,’ status (a throwback to his WCW days) and taped a series of etiquette shorts where he often mocked the “riff-raff” of the wrestling world. He dressed in French-inspired frocks, and management thought his laughable gimmick would cause instant hatred among fans. How wrong they were to doubt him.
Vince McMahon was rumored to have given him the gimmick as a slight to some neighbors he didn’t like very well. Apparently, McMahon lived near some people who were none too fond of his sports empire, and the character was meant to annoy and mock them. We’re not sure if these neighbors ever saw or cared about Triple H if they weren’t fans of the sport. Still, it seems to have satisfied Vince. Moreover, it gave Triple H something to work with that no one else in wrestling could boast, manners. Additionally, Vince also had Triple H wrestle as his “Only Begotten Son-in-Law,” hence Triple H was brought in as a part of the McMahon Family early on.
Most of Triple H’s early matches were ‘class warfare,’ based affairs. His effete persona, cane, pie, and handkerchief along with the ghastly curtsies he gave defeated opponents led fans to suspect he might be gay. Regardless of his sexual preferences, Levesque was well on his way to becoming the magnificent millionaire he is today. He played the Pedigree part so well it eventually became (almost) real, and he does live in Greenwich Connecticut these days.
Two Big Moves
It wasn’t until he teamed with Shawn Michaels in 1997 to form D-Generation X that Triple H’s career truly started to soar. D-X was one of wrestling’s most successful and loved factions the sport had ever seen. Their trademark sexual innuendo, doubtless inspired partly by Triple H’s desire to move away from the gay wrestler stigma, became part of virtually every faction’s storyline during the Attitude Era.
In spite of the many storyline based permutations of D-X, the popularity never gave way, and for the next decade or more it remained one of the most successful groups. In many ways, D-X remains arguably the most successful faction in wrestling history to date. As career moves go, Triple H made Vince and himself a whole lot of money by forming this brilliant idea with his closest friend (Shawn). Between that win, and his in-ring wins which included the very first title of World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H was a force to be reckoned with. However, it was the next big career move that would seal the deal for him financially and skyrocket his paygrade to match the fame.
2010 was a special year for Levesque. Almost a decade ago now he was officially named Executive Senior Advisor at the WWE. The very next year he was given the position of Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events. With a salary that ranges from $2.8 million a year to $3.2 million a year as of 2018, Triple H had finally arrived in the upper echelons of both income and wrestling management royalty. It turns out that the dapper, snobby noble personality he played led him down the path to real wealth. Doubtless, no one was more surprised than Paul himself.
From a small child who watched a show on TV to one of the most influential and wealthy wrestlers in the world, Paul Levesque is undoubtedly living the dream. However, he didn’t get there by accident. Paul literally and figuratively fought his way to the top, and every time he reached a pinnacle in his career, he set his sights higher still. It takes drive, determination, and commitment to achieve that sort of wealth, and Triple H has all those things and more in one witty and well-muscled package.