As I write this, WrestleMania 38 has just hit the books. And in many ways, it felt like truly, finally, the end of an era.
The Undertaker going into the Hall of Fame
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin returning to the ring after 19 years for his “final” match.
And of course, Vince McMahon doing…
…whatever the heck this is.
Oh, that’s right – he’s taking a Stone Cold Stunner. He could never do that right, not even 25 years ago. The thought a Vince McMahon who is closer to 100 years old than 50 was miraculously going to figure it out? Yeah, that was never going to happen. And honestly, it’s much more fitting he screwed it all up anyway.
In the weeks leading up to the show, I was a guest on several wrestling podcasts. On the one I did closest to Mania itself, the host asked me what I thought would be the thing most remembered following the event. And let’s face it, there was no shortage of potential options: the WWE return of Cody Rhodes, Austin making his comeback, the 87th coronation of Roman Reigns to name a few.
For me though, the most fascinating story going into the weekend was if Triple H would return in front of the live crowd. He hadn’t been seen in forever, following a “cardiac event” that was mostly kept under wraps until very recently. And when that info was released? It was harrowing to say the least. It was in many ways a miracle he was still alive.
Thankfully for legions of fans, he was able to come out to the ring on the second night of Mania and say goodbye to his wrestling career. While most times I would say he was for sure making a return, this time not so much – with a defibrillator in his chest, he can’t really get back in the ring and do too much. And if we know anything about ol’ Hunter, you gotta believe doing less than a 20 minute “prove I still got it” affair is of zero interest to him.
As this was all about to take place, I started thinking about what was his last televised match…and I couldn’t name it.
Had to have been Mania, right?
Maybe a Saudi show?
Would you believe that the legendary Triple H’s final fight was a random Raw in front of zero live fans in a ring surrounded by fans teleconferencing in to watch?
And yes, I am well aware that some will nitpick and say this wasn’t an actual MATCH, but that it was unsanctioned and thus doesn’t count.
It’s the last time we saw the man fists up battling in a WWE ring. That’s not open for debate.
And it’s what we’re here to discuss today.
The day was January 11, 2021, and the world was still a bit away from clawing out of the global pandemic. WWE attempted to alleviate the lack of audience by unveiling the Thunderdome, and Tina Turner jokes aside, in large part it worked. Ratings went up, and the shows were far more lively than they had with NXT trainees acting like goofs behind sheets of plexiglass. Don’t get me wrong, there was still chicanery afoot, with fans trying to do things to get noticed, the company telling them when to boo and cheer, you name it. But it was light years ahead of what we had been getting.
And on this particular night, WWE decided to give those fans something extra – a showdown between Randy Orton and The Game himself. It began with Hunter declaring his disappointment in young Randall, noting that he’d been mowing down legends such as Big Show, Mark Henry, and his very own idol, Ric Flair.
The pair went nose to nose and then Hunter gave him a big kiss.
No wait, my bad. It’s just if you’re that close to someone I mean, that looks like what’s going to happen, right?
Anyhoo, Randy says he’s looking for a fight. Hunter explains that no way, no how, would he give Orton what he wanted after how he’d been acting and goes to leave the ring.
Randy then goads him into battle by explaining that he knew why Hunter wouldn’t fight him – Steph kept his balls in her purse.
Of course this makes Hunter sad.
Maybe had to burp as well.
And we all know what happens when you make Hunt sad or gassy or angry.
You get punched right upside the head.
Ain’t no way you’s talking about my manhood like that!
Randy holds his jaw for a moment or two, shakes out some cobwebs, and then gets a big ol’ smile on his face.
He wanted a fight, and now he’s gonna get it!
And just in case you folks watching at home were too dumb to realize the fight was on, we get an interview with angry papaw Hunter where he explained he’d come to Raw as an executive, but now he had to fight.
Fight like a man for the honor of Ric Flair.
Also for the honor of his own genitals, which are apparently in his wife’s purse.
Rest assured, twin brother Obadiah Stane also doesn’t approve of such private part shaming!
So Trips comes out to the ring and does his usual thing with the mean mug and the leather jacket and the water being blown in the air. Won’t lie, I always thought that was a simple yet cool visual. As this is happening, the crack announce crew tells us it’s been 18 months since Trips’ last match which was against…oh go ahead and guess.
If you said “Randy Orton”, step right up and collect your prize.
Not sure if you’ve ever noticed, but this company is a tad bit repetitive.
Orton charges the ring and gets punched in the face again. This time he wasn’t quite as happy. Mock that if you want, but remember that blood feud these guys had years back, then the first thing they did at WrestleMania was a lock up?
This is progress, baby!
Of course as soon as I say that, we get the very non-street fighty Irish whip into the ropes, with Hunter ducking for a back body drop.
That or his hip went out, not sure.
Outside the ring we go, with Orton being run into the steps before being tossed onto the announce table by Trips. A few more kicks and punches and he throws Orton back inside, following him but not before he digs under the ring to pull out…
Yep, ol’ sledgey.
Serious question, did that thing ever have a name? I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have named it something stupid and then sold foam versions we’d all mock.
Another question – is that Conrad Thompson asleep on the screen behind Hunter’s back?
“Trip, chat me up about the sledgehammer. Did it have a name?”
So Hunter takes his weapon of doom into the ring for what would turn out to be the very last time. And as if a sign from above, the tippy top of the hammer bursts into flame as he looks on in…confusion?
At this point Hunter simply vanishes.
I mean, the guy is simply gone and not to be seen again.
In his place is Alexa Bliss.
She’s way easier on the eyes, so I for one am ok with that trade.
Not to leave well enough alone, she too gets her angry face on and blasts Orton in the eyes with a fireball.
That’s right – the final televised match of the legendary Game was nothing more than a set up for an Alexa Bliss Fiendette bit.
And we all remember how horrible that period was for her, right? Need a reminder? Here’s her Gooker winning induction!
Wait, where’s the link?
Do you mean she didn’t win the award in 2021?
Oh yeah, totally forgot about how horrific that was too.
And just like that, Hunter Hearst Helmsley never had another televised match.
It seems so strange that a man who was so decorated never had the farewell bout I’m sure he had dreamed of for so long but was instead a simple plot device for five feet of fiend flinging a fireball.
I mean, I was never the guy’s biggest fan, but even I have to say he deserved way better than this.