The King of Kings says this year’s Royal Rumble winner is unpredictable.
By Matt Fowler
WWE Superstars have been paired up with the likes of Scooby-Doo, the Flintstones, and the Jetsons for animated family fare that brings different worlds of entertainment together. But in Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania — available now on DVD and digital platforms — Triple H, John Cena, the Undertaker, Vince McMahon, Paige and more get transformed into penguins (and an otter) in order to play the extreme surf brigade, Hang 5.
Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania features the return of Cody Maverick (Shia La Beouf in the first movie, Adventure Time’s Jermey Shada here), Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) and Tank (Diedrich Bader) for an all new adventure that takes out heroes to the hazardous Slaughter Island for a contest of bravery and fortitude.
I had a chance to talk to Triple H about voicing Hang 5 member “Hunter” in the film and getting transformed into a penguin (complete with taped flippers!), along with his thoughts about this year’s 30th Anniversary Royal Rumble and the announcement of Kurt Angle being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
IGN: You’ve voiced animated versions of yourself before, but this is the first time you’re likeness has been transplanted onto an animal. What was it like seeing yourself as a penguin?
Triple H: [laughs] Yeah, it was a blast. I never really thought of myself as a penguin necessarily, but it was a cool project. Going in and doing the family projects like this, whether it’s this or Scooby-Doo or something else, the only way to describe it really is “fun.” It’s fun to do. You go in there, they’ve got this crazy story and you can be larger than life. You can sort of be you, but amped up and different and say funny stuff. It’s a different experience. I have three girls, ages 10, 8 and 6, and to see them watch these kind of movies when I’m in them and their grandfather’s in them, and other characters they know from WWE because they’re around them all the time – it’s exciting to see the enjoyment and the wonder in their eyes when they see you as this animated penguin. Surf’s Up 2 is out now and people have a chance to go grab it right now, but I still have yet to bring it home for them so they can see it. We just haven’t been home yet, so we’ll probably do that this weekend. I’m excited for them to see it, and they’re happy too because they enjoyed the first one so much.
IGN: You have a couple live-action movies under your belt, but with all you do nowadays it seems like doing a voice for something like this is nice because you can more easily fit it into your schedule.
Triple H: It is actually nice to be able to do it. The project is great, it’s fun to do, but there’s not the big massive time commitment of being on set all day, or for weeks at a time, or any of that. You’re not relying on doing take after take or doing it with other people. You go in there and they show you a bit of the artwork, but that’s really all you see. I worked through what was essentially a Skype call with the producer and director and, you know, they give you direction and you do the character, you laugh and you get to ad lib a bit. It’s awesome to do. You read your character, but I’m not there when Taker does his lines or when Cena does his lines. So reading the characters then seeing what it ends up being, the end result, where they all tweak their lines and how it plays out in reference to yours is a lot of fun.
IGN: WWE participates in a lot of animated projects like this one, but then you also make action, horror, and comedy films. Is it all part of trying to hit every genre?
Triple H: I think it’s one of the big points of success for the WWE. We have something for everybody. Whether it’s our core product or the other projects we do or the films we do in Hollywood. We do things to appeal to young adults like horror movies and action movies but we also do films like this one for kids. But they’re good for adults as well because, honestly, I haven’t seen a movie that’s not animated in a long time. But I enjoy the animated films as much as my kids do because they’re cleverly written. Surf’s Up 2 is no different. It’s very clever and there’s a lot of adult humor in there with some jokes that kids won’t get but adults will think are funny. The one thing I also think that speaks to WWE is that we are very generational. It’s a shared experience. You see it all the time at events, the kids are in there with their parents or grandparents and that’s what the parents and kids bond over. It’s cool to see and I think that projects like this or with Scooby-Doo or the Jetsons, which we have coming, they do the same thing. They’re very much shared experience with families. We connect with many different audiences.
IGN: Speaking of connecting with audiences, the Royal Rumble is coming up fast, on January 29th, and it’s the 30th Anniversary for the event. As a former Rumble winner — and the winner of last year’s Rumble, in fact — what are your thoughts on this year’s Rumble?
Triple H: This year’s Royal Rumble is one of the biggest, most star-studded Rumbles that I can recall. Just look at the people who have thrown their name into the Rumble so far. You’ve got Goldberg and Lesnar and the Undertaker. When you start to look at that level of talent and then also see the Bray Wyatts and the Randy Ortons and everyone else that’s going to be a part of it, it really is one of the biggest Rumbles I can think of. Sometimes there’s a year in the Rumble where you think “Okay, I can see this or that happening. This seems like where the Rumble might be headed.” But this year, it’s really tough to call. And I think that’s when the Rumble’s at its best, when you can’t really put your finger on what’s going to happen. I can see this year going a lot of different ways and I think it’s going to go in a way that nobody expects.
IGN: Switching over to someone you once eliminated to win the Rumble, it was announced this week that Kurt Angle would be going into the WWE Hall of Fame. What’s it like to have Kurt back in the fold?
Triple H: I think it’s a very well deserved induction into the Hall of Fame. We’ve had an association with Kurt for a long time but when Kurt was here in the WWE, he was one of the most impactful and memorable and iconic characters probably ever. One of the things that always stands out for me is that I was here when Kurt was coming out of the Olympics and training. And having never done this before, he went from zero knowledge of our industry to being one of the most incredible performers in the ring in the time frame of the Attitude Era where, you know, he was in there with some of the best in the world. And he very quickly went from walking to the ring for the first time to being one of the best in the world himself. It happened faster than anyone else. And that’s what I do now mostly in my day to day job. Most of my day is focused on talent and recruiting and training and talent development. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone pick it up as fast as Kurt. Just on that basis alone, he should be inducted. But then you throw in all that he’s accomplished, that he’s accomplished since leaving WWE even, and will continue to accomplish. I’m really happy for Kurt as a human being. I’m also happy that he’s a really good place in his life right now.
Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania hails from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and is now available on DVD and Digital. Included are bloopers and a special featurette showcasing WWE Superstars John Cena and Triple H, and WWE Announcer Michael Cole, recording their voices for the film in “Behind the Mic: Hanging with the Dream Team.” Plus, character drawing lessons from Director Henry Yu, along with a piece that dives into the making of this film’s score in “Inside the Music with Composer Toby Chu.”
Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA). Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.