Many people forget about Triple H's stint in WCW as first, Terror Risin', before changing his name to Terra Ryzing. He was with the promotion right when Eric Bischoff was in the midst of being promoted to Executive Vice President and being in charge of the company.
Bischoff reflected on Triple H's time in WCW and said they didn't have too many interactions. Triple H would end up leaving WCW for WWE in early 1995 and Bischoff revealed there was nothing he could do to prevent that from happening.
"When Hunter came in it was at a time in WCW when we were really cutting costs. Expenses were a really big issue," admitted Bischoff. "I think it was Terry Taylor who first introduced Hunter to us. My biggest concern with him was that he lived in the Northeast. At that point things were so tight financially that we were looking to concentrate on the talent that lived in Atlanta, Georgia because we couldn't afford to fly people all over the country, so that was one big issue."
Triple H was in his mid-20s at the time and wasn't the Superstar back then that we've seen in WWE over the last 20+ years. Bischoff described him as a solid worker but said he lacked the personality to really resonate with fans.
Bischoff also noted that Triple H wasn't a drinker or partier like most other wrestlers at that time. Because of that, Bischoff didn't think that Hunter really fit in as one of the boys.
"He didn't drink, he didn't smoke, didn't do drugs, didn't get loud. He was friendly, he was sociable, he was cordial, but he was kind of… I don't want to say aloof but he was one step outside the kind of inner circle of talent in the way he carried himself. And by the way, that is a compliment because he was a real pro even in this social environment, and I did notice that because it was early for me in management, but I did notice it. He was in control of himself almost at all times," stated Bischoff.
Due to Triple H living so far away from WCW headquarters, and the fact that Bischoff didn't see an engaging personality, WCW didn't go the extra effort to retain Hunter and he jumped ship to WWE in 1995.
"He grew up watching the WWF. He was from the Northeast, that is what he grew up watching and that is what his goal was, and I don't think there was anything going on in WCW at the time that was going to make him change his mind about his goal," said Bischoff. "And when the time came, he was ready to move on. There wasn't any tension, argument or anything like that, but his contract was up. We made him a little bit more of an offer to stay but he had already made up his mind that he wanted to go take a shot in WWF and we parted ways, and that was really it."
Bischoff and Triple H would eventually meet up again when the former joined WWE in 2002. After the Brand Extension later that year, SmackDown had the Undisputed WWE Championship, held by Brock Lesnar, while Raw had…nothing. There was no world champion on the brand so Bischoff, as Raw GM, created the World Heavyweight Championship and awarded it to Triple H.
While Bischoff was on board with bringing back the Big Gold Belt, he thought that WWE could have done more with it and with the history it represents.
"I liked the idea when they laid it out to me when I found out what I was going to be doing," Bischoff said on presenting the title to Triple H. "I thought it was a great idea. I have to say that I was a little disappointed because they only went halfway with it, meaning I think that could have been a bigger moment."
Bischoff went on to say that he didn't speak up about it back then because he didn't want to ruffle any feathers. He didn't want to get involve or appear to be involved in politics so he just went along with the flow.
In addition to that moment, Bischoff also wasn't thrilled with the way the Brand Extension played out. With the Big Gold Belt returning, so many former WCW stars on hand and Bischoff in the fold, WWE had all of the elements for a great storyline, but they dropped the ball.
"One of the reasons why [the brand split] didn't work probably started before I got there with the ill-fated Invasion angle. They never went all the way with it, they went halfway with it. They had compromised it. This idea that we are talking about now where I had introduced the belt and everybody associated with WCW and to an extent me, that could have been a bigger moment. It could have been a bigger issue and could have created a more divisive environment and created heat," said Bischoff.
"As it was, it was kind of a smarmy little move. It was okay because as a heel it worked for me and they were trying to position Hunter as a heel, I guess. He wasn't a very good heel in my opinion, but he was trying. It worked okay, but I remember thinking when it was over that we kind of missed the heat here if they had spent a little more time and became a little more committed to taking advantage of me and who I was and my history with WCW.
"Now, introducing this belt, and if they had turned the volume up just a little bit more than they did instead of it being a throwaway segment, I think it could have been, maybe, I don't like to look backwards, but I think it could have been a much bigger moment and it could have led to a much bigger story. And it did, but like I said it was just a throwaway segment."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.