Stephanie McMahon did the unthinkable when she filed for divorce from Triple H in August of 2008. In the wake of the divorce, Stephanie exorcised her frustrations by altering storylines to humiliate Triple H on television. At Unforgiven, Stephanie stripped Triple H of the WWE Championship. Triple H’s subsequent efforts to reclaim the WWE Championship were ultimately fruitless, and he developed an impressive losing streak that he fostered throughout September and October. In November of 2008, Stephanie announced that a draft would take place at Survivor Series. The draft reallocated talent so that Triple H’s losing streak could continue without growing stale. Triple H reached his breaking point in December of 2008, and he entered negotiations to officially terminate his contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.
In January of 2009, Shawn Michaels announced his retirement in the wake of Triple H’s departure from World Wrestling Entertainment. Although Shawn attributed it to the re-aggravation of old injuries, many interpreted his sudden retirement as a form of protest against Stephanie McMahon’s treatment of Triple H. John Bradshaw Layfield announced his retirement as well in January of 2009. In an interview, JBL attributed his retirement to an urge to pursue business interests outside World Wrestling Entertainment. Stephanie McMahon responded to the retirements by offering releases to WWE Superstars who opposed her treatment of Triple H. Surprisingly, almost a dozen WWE Superstars took advantage of the offer.
Edge, Christian, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, CM Punk, Brian Kendrick, John Morrison, and The Miz resigned from World Wrestling Entertainment. Unfazed by the wave of resignations, Stephanie McMahon supplemented the depleted rosters of RAW and SmackDown! with talent from Florida Championship Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. World Wrestling Entertainment began to reflect Stephanie’s vision as each brand developed a distinct identity. RAW featured established WWE Superstars, whereas SmackDown! featured younger talent with an emphasis on a revitalized cruiserweight division. ECW became a showcase exclusively for the women’s division. Superstars such as Montel Vontavious Porter, Ken Kennedy, and Umaga were presented as the vanguard of World Wrestling Entertainment.
In February of 2009, Triple H resurfaced in the world of professional wrestling as the head of a new promotion -- Sports Entertainment Xtreme (SEX) -- based in New York, New York. At a press conference, Triple H revealed that he had successfully contracted the WWE Superstars who had resigned in January. Triple H also revealed that he had successfully contracted free agents Bobby Lashley and Paul London. Shawn Michaels made an appearance to announce that he would be involved with SEX. John Bradshaw Layfield made an appearance as well to announce that we would also be involved with SEX. In the wake of the press conference, Triple H raided Total Non-Stop Action as he contracted Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Alex Shelley, and Chris Sabin.
Stephanie McMahon used World Wrestling Entertainment as a soapbox as she expressed her doubts about SEX on television. In response, Triple H maintained his faith in SEX with a smirk. Triple H announced that a second press conference would take place to reveal four signings that he guaranteed would rock the world of professional wrestling. At the second press conference, Triple H revealed that he had signed Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar made an appearance and spoke briefly about being undefeated as the UFC Heavyweight Champion before being forced to vacate the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Brock Lesnar concluded with a promise to become the first-ever SEX Heavyweight Champion.
Triple H then revealed that he had also signed Batista, Randy Orton, and John Cena. Batista, Randy Orton, and John Cena subsequently appeared to confront Brock Lesnar and challenge him. The tension in the room was palpable as John Cena insulted Brock Lesnar in an impromptu rap about becoming the first-ever SEX Heavyweight Champion. Eventually, security guards had to separate John Cena and Brock Lesnar and escort them from the building to prevent any sort of physical altercation. Batista and Randy Orton remained calm and collect as they stood on opposite sides of Triple H without saying a word throughout the remainder of the second press conference.
Triple H then explained that SEX would feature a five-month season and a one-month postseason. Triple H explained that the five-month season would feature five special pay-per-view events (Pedigreed, Evolution, King of Kings, Degeneration, and Game Over). Pedigreed will span two nights and will feature a tournament to crown the first-ever SEX Heavyweight Champion. The one-month postseason will feature a non-televised “SEX Tour.” “SEX Tapes,” however, will be available and will feature highlights from the SEX Tour. Triple H then explained that a weekly show (SEX: LIVE!) would emanate from Madison Square Garden. Triple H concluded the press conference by begging to know: “Who doesn’t love SEX?”