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March 29, 2016

Triple H talks building a legacy entering his 20th WWE WrestleMania

As busy as Paul "Triple H" Levesque is these days, it's no surprise that he might neglect to stop and appreciate a career milestone.

On camera, Triple H is a sadistic and violent WWE world heavyweight champion, an extreme representation of abuse of power. He's preparing for a main-event showdown with Roman Reigns with the title on the line at WrestleMania 32, set for Sunday, April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. That much on its own -- being relied upon to be one of the top performers in a show expected to break attendance records -- is a lot to deal with.

Away from the bright lights, Levesque is WWE's executive vice president of talent, live events and creative. In the simplest terms, he's in charge of the lifeblood of WWE: the wrestlers, the storylines, the overall experience of a live WWE show. Taking his eye off that ball could have very dire consequences for WWE.

So it's no wonder Levesque hadn't taken a beat to notice that he was about to cross an impressive threshold for an active WWE superstar. On April 3, Triple H will wrestle in his 20th WrestleMania match.

Only one other person -- The Undertaker, who will perform in his 24th WrestleMania match vs. Shane McMahon this weekend -- has ever crossed the 20-match mark at the biggest event of the year.

During a candid interview with CBS Sports, Levesque seemed a bit surprised to hear his match count was so high.

"I was unaware of my milestone," Levesque said. "Thank you for pointing it out."

Most wrestlers are lucky to have 20-plus active years in the ring, period. In the physical sense, Levesque's 20 WrestleMania matches mark an extraordinary achievement. Looking back at his list of opponents in past years -- names like Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior, Owen Hart, The Rock and Sting, to name a handful -- Levesque feels appreciative.

"Starting out with Warrior [at WrestleMania XII in 1996], that being my first WrestleMania, and walking into the ring with the Ultimate Warrior?" Levesque began. "I don't know that the average person can put that into context for themselves, you know? 'Hey, it's your first WrestleMania. You want to work with one of the biggest stars ever in the business?' It's like, 'Yeah.' You know, all the way through to moments I had with Owen [Hart] and just ... it's just been an incredible ride."

At age 46, Levesque keeps himself in impeccable physical condition. He still can -- and does -- hold up his end of a great match, as displayed just a few weeks ago in his impressive title match against Dean Ambrose at WWE Roadblock. With his in-ring ability still at such a high level, Levesque said it feels odd to look back on his past.

"You know, it's funny that all of a sudden you find yourself at a point in your career where people are talking about your legacy," he said. "It's a weird thing.

"I've been lucky. I've been lucky to have a great career and a large number of very talented people to work with along the way at all of these different WrestleManias."

After all this time, Levesque said he's still awestruck by the magnitude of the so-called "Showcase of the Immortals."

"It is a pretty cool thing," he said. "I'm in the main event of WrestleMania in front of a record-breaking crowd in Dallas. That's gonna be amazing and mind-blowing to me."

Across the ring from Triple H will be Roman Reigns, a main-event babyface whose ascension to the top of the WWE ladder has been met by occasional resistance from fans. While Triple H is Reigns' hated adversary in storylines, Levesque has nothing but praise for the youngster.

"He's a great kid, and I'm really happy for his success and how well he's done," Levesque said. "But it's a tough road and a long road. That success has come fast. Sometimes that can be a blessing and sometimes it can be a curse. So I think he's done the best that he can with it."

As for the mixed crowd reactions for Reigns, Levesque chalks that up to the changing times.

"You know, the hardest thing in this business to do now is, as a character, to either make everyone love you or everyone hate you," Levesque said with a laugh. "The world is a divided place in politics, in music and everything. Choices now, and people's opinions, are front and center more than ever. The Internet makes that readily available to everybody. They know all of the machinations of everything and the behind-the-scenes of everything, you know.

"It used to be that the good guy was the guy that didn't cheat, you know what I mean? It was just very simple. The world has changed. I think [Reigns has] done a phenomenal job. He's, you know, from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, a great human being. I'm really happy for his success, as I am for all of them."...More?

source: cbssports.com

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