Preparing to play the Game
The murmurs in the Raw locker room started almost immediately after the Superstars -- and millions of fans worldwide -- heard the familiar gravelly voice and saw the all-too familiar sight: Triple H holding his trusty sledgehammer like a holy scepter.
The vignette was the second video of Triple H that the Raw Superstars and our fans had seen during the show last week, but it clearly had the most impact. The first video showed The Game shortly after he suffered a torn quadriceps at New Year's Revolution this past January, having surgery and talking about his long recovery ahead. But in the second video, the 10-time World Champion did what he does best -- capture attention -- as he declared, "In case you have forgotten, I am The Game! And I'm back!" (WATCH)
The Superstars clearly hadn't forgotten Triple H in the nearly six months since his injury. Eyes widened, and jaws dropped. Questions such as "What does this mean?" raced around the locker room. King Booker forgot his British accent as he muttered to Queen Sharmell, "Tell me, I didn't just see that?"
Even the smirk on Randy Orton's face faded. When WWE.com asked the Legend Killer for his thoughts on his hated rival and former Evolution teammate's return, he brushed aside our reporter's recorder and said, "No comment."
Orton brushed shoulders with Carlito, who was leaning up against the wall and munching an apple. He rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth as he watched Orton storm away. The Caribbean Superstar had watched the video like everyone else and was less than impressed.
"I don't see what the big deal is," Carlito spat. "I don't feel he's [Triple H] done much around here. He doesn't add anything to Raw. We're better off without him."
Perhaps Carlito was just trying to play it cool, but he and all of WWE have been put on notice. The Game is coming back, and it looks like he's ready start kicking a**. The list of Superstars who have fallen to Triple H is a who's who of legends in sports-entertainment. From The Rock to Hulk Hogan to Mick Foley to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and everyone else in between, The Game has made a legendary career out of taking on and beating the best.
As a gladiator who thrives on competing when the lights are brightest and the crowds are at their loudest, it had to have nearly killed Triple H to miss WrestleMania 23 and the 80,000-plus fans at Ford Field in Detroit. He had to have been stir-crazy watching the competition heat up on Raw week after week as he sat at home and rehabbed his injury.
But soon, as Triple H's entrance song says, it will be "Time to Play The Game," again on Raw, and some Superstars can't wait for his return.
"To me, it's like having the flag bearer, the standard by which all things are measured [come back]," said Sandman, a Raw newcomer who has never been on the same brand as Triple H. "To me, I'm looking forward to his return because it can only mean things are gonna heat up around here."
Triple H's imminent return has also brought out the fan in some Superstars who happen to be former rivals.
"Triple H was the first guy I ever won the Intercontinental Championship from, and that was an honor in itself," said Jeff Hardy. "It's always great to see that guy -- he's so entertaining and creates such positive energy between him and our fans. I would love to see him. I'm anticipating it like everyone else."
One question our fans and Superstars must be pondering is what will Triple H want when he returns. Who will he target? He has said he wants to win an 11th World Championship. However, he also had to be fuming when Randy Orton and Edge took credit for putting him on the sidelines when they were partners as Rated-RKO. In addition, could The Game seek new legends -- or legends-in-the-making -- to conquer, Superstars he hasn't faced yet, like Bobby Lashley and Mr. Kennedy?
Only Triple H holds the answers to these questions. For now, Raw Superstars and the rest of WWE had best be on top of their game, as Triple H prepares to return at SummerSlam.
Watch the Triple H video from Raw.