WWE Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development Paul “Triple H” Levesque says he will never wrestle another match following a “serious cardiac event”.

“For me, as far as in-ring, which I get a lot, I’m done,” Triple H told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during a portion of an interview that aired on Friday’s episode of First Take. “I won’t – I would never wrestle again. First, I have a defibrillator in my chest. Which, it’s probably not a good idea for me to get zapped on live TV.”

The interview is the first for Triple H since his health problems took him out of the public eye last fall. Stephen A. Smith’s full interview with Triple H will premiere Friday night on Stephen A’s World on ESPN+.

WWE announced on September 8, 2021, that Triple H underwent successful heart surgery a week earlier at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. It was stated that the operation was needed after Triple H suffered the cardiac event, caused by a genetic heart issue.

“I had viral pneumonia,” Triple H recalled. “My lungs were inflamed. and as the next couple of days went on and I got home it got increasingly worse and my wife saw some blood and stuff that I was coughing up. I went and got checked and I – it was coming from the viral pneumonia but I had fluid in my lungs. I had some fluid around my heart. So they followed up on it. Did an EKG and echo and everything and basically the way your heart pumps out 55-65% of your ejection fraction is a good number. I was at 30. and I got a quick text message saying, ‘Don’t take time. Pack a bag real quick, head to the emergency room. I’ll fill you in on the way.

“So by the time I got to the emergency room, my ejection fraction had gone down to 22,” Triple H continued. “Which, I was in heart failure. Bad. By the next morning – as they figured that out that evening – by the next morning as they got the MRI done and they were sending me in for a heart cath my ejection fraction was down to 12. So I was nosediving and sort of at the one-yard line of where you want to be – or where you don’t want to be, really, for your family and your future.

“They tell you it’s 99%. It gets real,” Triple H said as he choked back tears. “We have 3 young girls – 15, 13, 11. You know, suddenly I come home. I’m a little bit sick and their dad who’s strong always suddenly is in the hospital and I don’t know if they understood the consequences of it but there’s moments in there where – when they’re putting you out for stuff and you think, ‘Is this it?’ Do you – Do you wake up from this? That’s tough to swallow and makes you think.”

Triple H has done some WWE work over recent months. He toured the new WWE headquarters facilities in Stamford along with other executives last November. However, he has not returned to the daily workload that he had before.

As of this past January, there were reportedly no plans for Triple H to return to running the NXT brand. Shawn Michaels has been overseeing the brand since the start of Triple H’s medical leave.

Triple H’s last match was on June 29, 2019. He tagged with Shinsuke Nakamura in a win over Robert Roode and Samoa Joe at a non-televised WWE live event in Tokyo, Japan. Triple H’s last televised match was against Randy Orton at the Super ShowDown pay-per-view in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on June 7, 2019.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit ESPN’s First Take and ESPN+’s Stephen A.’s World with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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