Truth be told, I HATED the Hunter Hearst Helmsley character—absolutely HATED IT.
A gimmicky product of mid-1990’s “rasslin”, Hunter was created while I was editor of the WWF Magazine. At that time the creative team consisted of Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard and Pat Patterson. At a time where the world was constantly going forward and evolving, the WWF was stuck in reverse. In my opinion, they just couldn’t get out of their own way.
The characters at the time were just so corny, campy and over-the-top. Knowing Hunter the way I KNEW him—there is no doubt in my mind that he absolutely had to HATE this gimmick. Hunter Hearst Helmsley—the Greenwich snob, blue-blood aristocrat—please GAG ME NOW.
Honestly, his first gimmick at WCW prior—“Terra Ryzing”—was HORRIBLE, but the Connecticut SNOB may have been ten times worse.
So, where do I come in?
At this point, I was in a position where I was still the Editor of the magazine, but I was helping out with specific individual character work, such as Goldust and producing house show promos. You know the ones where wrestler A says, “This Friday Night I’ll be at the Nassau Coliseum”, yada, yada, yada. I would write at least ten DIFFERENT PROMOS for each talent, all fitted for the venue they were playing. Then I would be in the pre-tape room with them, under the guidance of the GREAT Jack Lanza, and produce the promo.
Man, I could remember being in that room literally HOURS with the 1-2-3 Kid. Sean Waltman, at one point, couldn’t string a sentence together, but after hundreds of reps over hours of time, he actually became quite good at it.
As my role in the company was growing, I was given the task of writing and producing every Hunter Hearst Helmsley promo. EVERY ONE. This was the time where Hunter had a different valet on his arm at every show. Many people don’t remember this, but Rena Mero/Sable actually got her first big break here. Man, I just wasn’t feeling this and I think it’s fair to say neither was Trips, but, Hunter was a pro and he was trying hard … real hard.
Writing and producing as many talents as I did, you just know when they aren’t feeling it, and, being new to the company, no matter what his true feelings were, Hunter wasn’t going to say anything. Remember he was trained by the LEGENDARY Killer Kowolski, who instilled in him “just listen, keep your mouth shut, and DO WHAT THEY SAY”. As a newbie you don’t EVER want to rock that boat because you will CRASH into that ice berg without ever seeing it.
But, we did it and we both did our best. The one thing I specifically remember about producing Hunter was that the HR Rep, Lisa Wolfe, who EVERYBODY HATED, had to be hovering nearby ALL THE TIME, to assure that the weekly valets were treated “accordingly”. Why? I have no idea. That would have never been a concern with a talent like Hunter who was both EXTREMELY polite and respectful.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that this “unbelievable” character was going to be dead on the vine. The fans weren’t buying it, I was buying it and Hunter SURELY wasn’t buying it.
So a bit under the radar, together Hunter and I started morphing Triple H in to the DX hooligan that we all would grow to love.
It kind of started organically in a program he was having with Mick Foley. I can vividly remember writing him a promo where he said, “I don’t just play the game… I AM THE GAME.” Yes, that was designed to stick and it surely did. “The Game” would be Hunter’s moniker throughout his entire, legendary career.
I haven’t spoken to Hunter since I left the WWF in September 1999. That’s 24 years. Bro, the Hunter I worked with was such a kind human being, always treated me with the utmost respect. Always thankful for EVERYTHING I ever did for him. He was a sponge—a student of the game. He would soak in every word of wisdom that was passed along to him by the elders in the business. He was truly a one of a kind.
Man, I miss THAT guy… I really do.