Hanging up his belt. WWE star Paul “Triple H” Levesque is officially retiring after undergoing heart surgery last year due to heart failure.
“As far as in ring, which I get [asked about] a lot, I’m done,” the 52-year-old athlete told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take on Friday, March 25. “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 14-time world champion, whose full interview will air on Stephen A’s World on Friday evening, explained what led to his decision to step back from the ring, pointing to his health scare in the fall of 2021.
The professional wrestler recalled having viral pneumonia where his lungs became enflamed. After learning that he had fluid around his lungs and heart, he got “increasingly worse,” explaining that he was told by doctors to pack a bag and get to the hospital ASAP.
Triple H had having only 30 percent of his heart ejection fraction working before arriving at the emergency room when it should be at 55 to 60 percent. (Ejection fraction is how well one’s left or right ventricle pumps blood with each heartbeat.)
“By the time I got to the emergency room, my ejection fraction had gone down to 22,” WWE’s executive vice president of global talent strategy and development said during his interview. “I was in heart failure. Bad.”
The next morning, Triple H noted that his ejection fraction was down to 12 ahead of his heart catheterization procedure. The stark nosedive in how his heart was pumping led to him undergoing heart surgery in November 2021.
“[I was] sort of at the one-yard line of where you need to be — or where you don’t want to be, really, for your family and your future,” the New Hampshire native told Smith, 54, about his health pre-surgery.
That scare made him reevaluate what was important to him as a father of three.
“Suddenly, I come home, I’m a little bit sick and [then] their dad who is strong always suddenly is in the hospital. I don’t know if they understood the consequences of it,” Triple H said, noting that the severity of his heart problems was not lost on him. “There’s moments in there when they’re putting you out for stuff and you think, ‘This is it. Do you wake up from this?’ That’s tough to swallow.”
He added: “It makes you think differently about life. It doesn’t make you any less driven about the things that you do, but it certainly makes you appreciate the things that you have more. Your friends and your family.”
Triple H’s last wrestling match was during a June 2019 WWE live event. His last televised event was later that month.
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The TV personality — who first competed on TV in the early ‘90s as Hunter Hearst Hemsley — continued to make appearances as his Triple H wrestling persona on WWE Raw, WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures and WWE NXT through 2021. He has become a producer and director as well on multiple wrestling-related projects.
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