“Contrary to popular belief, from my knowledge, the first person to suggest Stephanie being on camera was Jim Cornette. Cornette thought she would be perfect. She was good looking, put her on TV. She’s a McMahon, exploit the name. It was Jim Cornette the first time I ever heard it.”
Those were the comments made by Bruce Prichard via Wrestle Zone. Prichard worked close to Vince McMahon behind the scenes. The significance behind the quote above gives us the true reason as to how and why Stephanie would be used on television. Her role on-screen would eventually lead to a relationship with Triple H, one that perhaps wouldn’t have happened if the two weren’t working together.
As most fans know, the relationship got off to a rocky start and to this day, it still elicits polarizing reactions from the public. In this article, we’ll take a look at a lot of the details behind this relationship that fans either choose to ignore, forgot about, or were completely oblivious to. These are facts fans shouldn’t ignore.
We’ll discuss the early reaction from Triple H and Stephanie’s peers along with other small details like the fact that Stephanie actually had a boyfriend at the time these two became an item behind the scenes.
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This is a little known fact lots of wrestling fans ignore. It is well-documented that Triple H had a relationship with Chyna, though lots of fans tend to forget that Stephanie was also involved with someone else. According to Bruce Prichard, the two were together during the early 2000s;
"Nobody really knows the timeline. I can go back to New Year's 2000 where there was a big party at Vince's house where Stephanie was there with her boyfriend, a really nice guy and so forth. That went on through WrestleMania 2000 that year and then you really didn't hear too much about her boyfriend at that time.”
Chyna made this claim during her time with us via podcast. When she was upset and had just found out about the relationship, she encountered Stephanie just prior to a meeting with Vince McMahon. What fans tend to ignore is that Stephanie told Chyna exactly how she felt–telling her that she loved Hunter dearly and that there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
Chyna was too upset to make any sense of that information at the time. To Stephanie’s credit, at the very least she was honest about what was going on–though some argue that her honesty came a little too late.
According to Bruce Prichard via Wrestle Zone, Shane wasn’t at all pleased with the relationship. Shane was very protective of his little sister, especially during their earlier days with Vince MIA on the regular. Here’s what Prichard had to say about Shane’s thoughts on the relationship early on;
“I don’t think Shane was happy and that’s me putting words in Shane’s mouth, but I don’t think Shane was happy at all. I think that Shane is very protective of Stephanie, very protective of his mother and if I were a betting man back then, I’d bet Shane wasn’t in favor of it, but he’s also not one of those guys who’s gonna go talk about it either.”
This one tends to fly under the radar, but the two grew close to another behind the scenes due to their work together on-screen. We’ve seen this happen in the past several times before–WWE employees grow a relationship thanks to their work together. Daniel Bryan and Brie's relationship is another example of that.
The bond between these two would only tighten the more they worked together. Though as you’ll see in the following point, they weren’t supposed to work an angle together in the first place. Things could have been very different if they didn’t; perhaps they wouldn’t even have started dating, to begin with.
Fans tend to ignore this important aspect of the relationship. Although they would work together on-screen and form a relationship, that wasn’t the initial plan. Instead, the goal was to elevate Test, Stephanie’s on-screen boyfriend at the time. The end result would have been Test feuding with the McMahon family due to them not giving their blessing for the relationship.
But ultimately, the storyline decision was overturned as Triple H intervened. We wonder how things would have played out had WWE decided to keep the original storyline intact. Then again, it's possible that Triple H and Stephanie would have wound up together anyway.
As you’ll come to realize a little later in the article, Vince wasn’t onboard with the relationship early on. Though what fans tend to forget is that the boss played a big role in getting these two together on-screen. So much so that according to Bruce Prichard via Wrestle Zone, McMahon actually produced the entire wedding angle alongside Triple H. That was the angle when Stephanie and Triple H first got together on-screen;
“That all was Vince & Triple H. It was their doing. In fact, all of that footage was shot by Triple H and them. The stuff at the wedding chapel was shot by Triple H and that was something he and Vince had come up with.”
It wasn’t just that Vince didn’t want Stephanie to date Triple H; McMahon didn’t want Stephanie to date any of the wrestlers in general. According to Bruce Prichard, this was completely off limits. One can imagine what was going through Vince’s mind when he found out that Stephanie was not only seeing a wrestler but that her new man was one of the more prominent acts in the entire company.
Perhaps Vince’s closeness to Triple H eventually allowed things to smoothen over, because early on, McMahon wanted to know nothing about Stephanie and the possibility of her dating a wrestler.
The locker room reaction to the relationship wasn’t the greatest. Although the two are now amongst the most popular figures backstage, especially among the younger WWE stars, that wasn’t exactly the case early on when they started to date. The locker room wasn’t happy and some even voiced their concerns to Vince.
The perception was that Triple H was dating Stephanie in order to climb the WWE ladder. A lot of wrestlers also took Chyna’s side, too, given the way things unfolded between the three. The relationship could have gone the other way early on just based on how people reacted to it.
Based on the locker room reaction, according to his wife Linda, Vince initially didn’t give his blessing for the relationship to proceed. According to Vince, it was a bad look for the family and the company. McMahon wanted the two to part ways from one another. Though as Linda would go on to say, the connection between Triple H and Stephanie was just too strong for them to stay away from one another.
Eventually, McMahon just had to accept the relationship. Despite his lingering negative feelings and what everyone else behind the scenes thought of the relationship, Vince ultimately caved.
After Vince refused to give his blessing, Triple H and Stephanie made the bold decision to see each other behind the scenes anyway. The two just couldn’t stay apart. It wasn’t until 2001 when employees behind the scenes finally started to take notice. Bruce Prichard was one of those people, as he discussed with Something To Wrestle With when he found out about the two;
“I knew it during the first XFL game [Feb. 2001] that I knew they were together because it was something Stephanie said to me about something I said to Triple H and it was just how she said it to me. So, I knew, okay, they are together... it was just intuition the best way I can describe it."
In the early 2000s, Triple H started to gain a lot of power behind the scenes, and again, a lot of that had to do with his relationship to Vince’s daughter. It is said that during the couple's earlier days together, the office requested a romantic storyline between Jericho and Stephanie as they feuded with Triple H.
Ultimately, this idea was dropped. According to the rumor mill, Triple H was the one that didn’t like the idea. The storyline ultimately flopped because of it and the match was eventually completely overshadowed by The Rock and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8.
This is another apparent storyline Triple H also turned down when he and Stephanie had just started dating. This one would have seen Stephanie join forces with Kurt Angle. We saw a little of that during the early 2000s, though eventually it was completely dropped.
Rob Van Dam was another wrestler that was about to enter a romantic storyline with Stephanie, though this time it is said that it was actually Van Dam that turned down the storyline possibility. Things could have played out a lot differently on-screen if Triple H and Stephanie weren’t a couple–fans choose to ignore this, but we really shouldn’t!
Chyna would reveal in an interview with Wrestling Inc. during her time with us that everything completely blew up when she found a letter written by Stephanie to Triple H. She found the letter in Triple H’s bag and later brought it to Vince McMahon. Here’s what the late Chyna had to say;
"After I found the letter I called Vince. He said, 'Okay, I'll see you on Monday,' and when I walked into the building it was like the parting of the Red Sea. It was like everybody was against Paulie.” Clearly, the "big reveal" caused some issues for more than just Chyna.
A part of the relationship that some fans might ignore is that it ultimately cost Chyna her job with WWE. Once she found out about the relationship, Chyna requested a meeting with Vince. Both sides thought they resolved things, but McMahon told Chyna to go home for a bit and wait for a new contract extension.
What she would get instead was a faxed paper granting her a release from the company. Of course, this was all done so that McMahon could protect his daughter. Had it not been for the relationship, Chyna could have had a much different professional trajectory.
Ultimately, it was The Undertaker that played a big part in Triple H and Stephanie McMahon prolonging their relationship. Undertaker was the locker room leader, so Triple H figured it was a necessity to get Taker’s take on the situation. Undertaker was honest to say that Triple H’s professional life and accomplishments would always be judged because of the relationship.
However, if he was willing to accept that, then the two should proceed together whether the locker room liked it or not. After Undertaker gave his blessing, the locker room morale towards the relationship eventually started to change. Fortunately for Stephanie and Triple H, Undertaker's opinion helped smooth things over with everyone else.
This is a major part of the relationship and what the Undertaker also alluded to. With the relationship also came a big rise in power for both Stephanie and Triple H, especially early on. This rise to power would lead to some unforgettable moments. One, in particular, saw Stephanie McMahon win the Women’s Championship–a part of her professional life that we never really hear about.
The title victory is something we won’t see in the future ever again–though it just went to show how the power couple was climbing the ladder early on. Triple H would also enjoy a massive push and a lengthy championship run, especially in the early 2000s.