The People's Champion & the Cerebral Assassin had the defining Attitude Era rivalry. The poster boy of the promotion, WWE Hall of Famer Stonecold Steve Austin, was sidelined with a neck injury during the peak of his popularity & the apex of the Monday Night Wars.
Despite the loss of the Texas Rattlesnake, World Wrestling Federation continued breaking records as the next big babyface star, the Rock, carried the company to even greater heights. He also had the perfect villain, as a dance partner.
HHH mightn't be mentioned in the same breath as his aforementioned fellow WWE Hall of Famer, the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, or even Hulk Hogan, but the Game is a definite candidate for the greatest tarheelian of all time & back in the Attitude Era, there was nobody more despised than the former Hunter Hearst Helmsley... & much like his fellow former WWE Champion, The Cerebral Assassin had to suffer on his rise to the top.
Rock Versus Triple H Carried WWE in 2000
HHH was put in the doghouse, for disgracing the sacred rules of kayfabe... but during an interview, the lackey of fellow WWE Hall of Famer "HeartBreak Kid" Shawn Michaels rebranded himself as The Game & his career took off. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson & Nipple H's Baby Daddy feuded over the WWF Intercontinental championship in 1997 & after going their separate ways for a little bit, they collided in 2000 & the top prize in the company, the WWF World Heavyweight championship, was on the line.
These athletes had incredible chemistry with each other & that was apparent, each time they stepped inside the ring... whether it be a single match, an iron-match match, or even a tag-team contest. The People's Champion & The Game were just that good together... but back in the Attitude Era, these 2 didn't get along too well backstage.
Johnson's issues with the HeartBreak Kid are well documented & since he didn't get along with Michaels, he didn't get along with The Cerebral Assassin either, as they were best friends backstage & Shawn had a vision for his best buddy.
Shawn Michaels wanted HHH as the face of the company, but the emergence of the 3rd-generation superstar threw a wrench in his plans. To make sure that his fellow D-Generation X member would rise to the top of the company, the WWE Hall of Famer did his best to bury the then-Rocky Maivia. He shared a strong dislike for the Rock & so did 1/2 of the 2 Man Power Trip. In addition to that, Rocky was close to WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hitman" Hart, the arch-nemesis of the Showstopper.
Hart himself commented on the backstage animosity & mentioned that both HBK & HHH were pushing for the Excellence of Execution to beat Maivia for his newly-won IC title... but Bret refused to do so. Bruce Prichard has also commented on the tense relationship between the DX member & the former Nation of Domination member during an interview & he mentioned that it was born out of jealousy, on the part of the former Terra Rizing
After 1 particular segment between the pair, the Rock was extremely mad & he complained about it to Prichard, irate that he was following orders, while The Game was taking liberties. Bruce then advised Johnson to do what The Cerebral Assassin did & the next time he shared the ring with his arch-nemesis, the People's Champion cocked his eyebrow... & his fist.
The 2 superstars retained the intensity & animosity during their feud for the top title in 2000 & the competitive spirit was on display each time they crossed paths on live television.
Rocky & Hunter Are On Great Terms Today
Despite the dislike, the duo were professional inside the ring & by working together, they made quite a lot of money for themselves, as well as the federation. Years later, HHH himself recalled that they weren't the best of friends backstage.
The WWE Hall of Famer chalked it up to them being uber-competitive individuals & there's truth to this statement, as the locker room was fiercely competitive during the Attitude Era, as every Superstar wanted to make it big. That being said, the backstage animosity was real, as confirmed by several people in the company. The former D-Generation X member & the former Nation of Domination member didn't like each other... but thankfully the 2 legends are on good terms today.
Without each other, they wouldn’t be where they are today, in the annals of WWE history... & maybe the Federation wouldn’t exist either, as the rivalry between them was extremely vital for the company, amidst the Monday Night Wars. Despite the apparent dislike, the Superstars were professionals inside the ring & they made magic whenever they came across each other on WWE television.
Source: the Sportster