Alex loves writing about WWE and critiquing their major shows.
The year 2000 was another interesting year for WWF. Steve Austin was out for the majority of the year with a neck injury, and Mick Foley retired (more or less). But the Federation was able to keep afloat not just because of main eventers like The Rock and Triple H but also because Jericho, the Radicalz, and Angle bolstered the mid-card. And the Dudleys, the Hardys, and Edge & Christian helped make one of the best tag team divisions in company history. Also, as Mick Foley pointed out in his second book, so many of those guys (and Foley himself) were providing a lighthearted, humorous edge to the company.
Ranking the shows of this year is tough because the majority of these shows are good to great, but I don’t know how many I’d call exceptional.
King of the Ring
I never watched this show all the way until I was doing research for this article, but I still knew it would be the weak link by virtue of every other show being so good. And honestly, when I sat and watched this, I wasn’t impressed. Kurt Angle was an excellent choice for King, but the tournament was kind of dull. Some of the matches were okay, but in broad sweeps, they never kicked into that next gear.
If only that were the worst part of this show. Voted the worst match of the year by the Observer, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco wrestled a hardcore evening gown match. And yes, file this one under “as bad as they say.” There were some okay tag team matches – including a dumpster/table hybrid match. The main event was nothing special – a 6-man tag with the title on the line. As the main event of Raw, it would have been fine. But as the main event of a PPV, it felt substandard. At least the Rock winning back the world title ensured a happy ending.
This is another show that, for better or worse, has one eternal image. Austin dropping a car with Triple H in it from a crane. It’s understandable why many fans considered it too far. It’s bad enough that this would be murder, but Triple H showed up a few weeks later, unharmed. And sadly, this bizarre ending marred possibly the best match of the night. Then again, it does have a so-bad-it’s-good quality.
A lot of matches feel like they should be better. Angle celebrated his one-year anniversary and the Undertaker celebrated his decade of destruction in a match that devolved into comedy (creative comedy but comedy nonetheless). Many of the tag/survivor series matches are serviceable but feel like obligations. Seriously, why were Edge & Christian teaming with Right to Censor? Jericho/Kane and Rock/Rikishi were both okay. The women’s title match was interesting for a rare instance of a woman bleeding. It speaks to the quality of the company in 2000 when this was one of the weaker shows. A year ago, this might have made the top 6.
No Way Out
Many of us truly believed this would be Mick Foley’s final match. While I’m glad he had classics with Edge and Orton, if he retired, this would have been a respectable retirement match. And Foley did not go out like a sucker in a match that involved flaming 2x4s and Cactus Jack falling through the cell. If only the rest of the show were that good.
A month after ending Angle’s undefeated streak, Tazz was already having forgettable matches with Big Boss Man. Mark Henry and Viscera wrestled to the delight of nobody. The Rock and Big Show had a so-so number one contender’s match. Once again, the tag matches were solid. As was Angle winning the Intercontinental title against Jericho.
The excellent N64 has probably overshadowed the show. WM 2000 is notorious for having no regular one-on-one matches, but the supposed biggest show of the year feels like it was booked in Universe mode. Some of these are at least entertaining in a crass way including Scotty 2 Hotty doing a double worm and Kane’s last chapter with Pete Rose.
The highlight is the triple threat ladder match. The 6 men who would come to define the tag team division had a pretty epic match this night. The other triple threat where Angle lost his European and IC title in two different falls was novel and one of the better matches. I’ve written before about the main event being overbooked with an undesired McMahon in every corner gimmick. But it’s still an entertaining, albeit overbooked, showdown.
This is another show that falls into the good but not great category. The big news of this night was the return of Steve Austin after his neck surgery. A segment yes, but the return of someone that big warrants a PPV spot. The 8-man tag, the Hardcore battle royale, and Tazz’s frustrating feud with Jerry Lawler were weak links, but nothing too bad.
There was a solid cage match between the Hardys and Edge & Christian. A year after their first match, Jericho and X-Pac had a proper finish to a match. Triple H turned babyface to have a pretty good no-DQ match against Angle. The main event was a fatal 4-way where the Rock defended his title against the Undertaker, Kane, and Chris Benoit. Good match, but the decision to repeat the Fully Loaded dusty finish was baffling.
There are actually a lot of reasons to like this show, but the big news at the time was that Steve Austin would make a one-night return to be the Rock’s corner man. Austin basically just ran in to save the Rock’s skin, but luckily the match was good enough – in that fun, chaotic attitude era way. This is also a weird show because there were a lot of segments and comedy bits.
The T&A/Dudleyz match was built around Bubba Ray wanting to put Trish through a table. That was followed by Eddie Guerrero “going to the prom” with Chyna before a hidden gem with Essa Rios. In the middle of his impersonators’ gimmick, Big Show squashed Kurt Angle while pretending to be Hulk Hogan. The build made it look like Jericho would be in the main event – especially after his phantom title win over Triple H. But then he feuded with Benoit over the IC title. And that ended in a DQ. The sleeper hit of the night was a rare Light Heavyweight title match where Dean Malenko beat Scotty 2 Hotty by… Look, if you haven’t seen it, I’m not giving it away.
So… It was Rikishi all along. In hindsight, turning a lovable, fun-loving goof into a killer was an odd choice. But Rikishi tried to make it work. It’s also weird that Austin’s big comeback match didn’t have an ending, but Austin sure sold the idea that he wanted revenge for losing a year of wrestling. (Also, Austin remembered you wear street clothes in a street fight – I respect when wrestlers remember that detail.)
There are a few duds on this show – most notably the Naked Mideon match. Yes, that was a thing. Also, Edge & Christian pretending to be the Conquistadors was amusing but begot one of the few so-so matches they had with the Hardy Boyz. The Dudley Boyz Invitational was nothing special, but it was kind of fun. Jericho and X-Pac had a good cage match. Triple H and Chris Benoit had a technical classic. Kurt Angle won his first world title in a great match with the Rock. Whether it was really an apology for his bump on the noggin at Summerslam, it was well-deserved.
I already talked about Triple H and Cactus Jack’s amazing Hell in a Cell. It’s pretty impressive it was so good because they created a tough act to follow. Critics of hardcore wrestling have called it garbage wrestling and said that hardcore wrestlers are glorified stuntmen. But Foley and Hunter proved there is an art to this kind of wrestling. Triple H tries every dirty trick in the book and Cactus Jack somehow always has an answer. Triple H won with a Pedigree on thumbtacks. Besides the miracle of Foley not losing an eye, he still came out looking like a killer in defeat.
The rest of this show has its ups and downs. Tazz made his debut in the opener where he ended Kurt Angle’s undefeated streak – pretty good for a sub-5-minute match. The following table’s match between the Dudleyz and the Hardyz was solid as well. The triple threat for the IC title is alright, even if the reluctant partners’ angle didn’t work as well as the booking team hoped. The tag titles match is skippable but short. And the Miss Royal Rumble swimsuit contest is a definite skip. This would be cringe even if it didn’t end with Mae Young exposing herself. The Rumble match itself is solid but not one of the best. It starts a little slowly before getting a little more exciting. And the ending with the split decision was memorable – even if bringing up HBK’s iconic ‘95 win was telegraphing the plot.
After the iconic ladder match at Wrestlemania 2000, many fans wondered how the teams could top that. They took three words: Tables, ladders (and) chairs. These matches have become so common, likely because the first one was so good. If you love spot fests, this match is for you. These were six men who made that type of match an art form.
Overall, Summerslam was really good, but it loses points for some padding. The stink face match was a joke. X-Pac and Road Dogg were on their last legs of relevance when they faced each other. And despite some good matches in the past, Undertaker vs. Kane was so obviously thrown together. (Allegedly, it was supposed to be Big Show before he was sent to OVW for an attitude adjustment). This is also the show where Tazz famously jobbed to a candy jar.
If you can get through those messes (and you can cuz fast forward exists), there’s still good stuff. Jericho/Benoit had a solid 2 out of 3 falls match. Shane McMahon took an insane fall (that isn’t talked about as much) in a hardcore match against Steve Blackman – who also took an insane dive. The main event was pretty good. Though it’s mainly remembered for Kurt Angle taking a nasty bump on a collapsed table. The planned triple threat ended up mainly being Rock vs. Triple H, which is understandable. But Angle STILL came back, beginning his rich history of working through serious injuries.
Just like with the Royal Rumble, when a single match takes up 1/3 of the show, that one match better be good. And while he’s super talented, I never thought of the Rock as someone who could carry an hour-long match. But he – and HHH – sure did. Not to mention, after one-night teases with Austin and Foley, the Undertaker made his comeback, debuting his biker gimmick.
The rest of the show didn’t exactly slouch either. I’d say the weak link of the night was a Falls Count Anywhere match between the Big Show and Shane McMahon. It’s a run-in fest, but it’s still a little entertaining. Believe it or not, these two would have better matches a year later. Judgement Day opened with a 6-man tag that’s decent but better-remembered Edge, Christian, and Angle goofing on the crowd with a jug band. I love that the crowd was booing, but the camera caught so many people laughing. ¾ of the Radicals imploded with a sleeper hit European title triple threat. There was a wild tag team tables match. And Jericho and Benoit made up for their DQ finish with a superb submission match.
With the watering down of the match and the frequency of Elimination Chamber matches, it’s pretty easy to forget what a huge deal stuffing 6 main eventers into one Hell in a Cell match was. The match is a little flawed – Undertaker shoving Rikishi off the cell into a hay truck was a little forced (albeit still an impressive stunt). Not to mention, how we got there – but the match is still an epic encounter.
We’ve seen shows where the undercard fell on its face because most of the main eventers were crammed into one match. And the rest of the show picked up the slack… for the most part. There is some junk – like the women’s title and European title matches. The tag matches weren’t the best of the year, but they got the job done. It’s easy to forget Billy Gunn actually held the Intercontinental title in 2000. But he still had an okay match against Benoit. Kane vs. Jericho in a Last Man Standing match was the best of the other matches. As the only main eventers not in the cell, Kane and Jericho brought it. December PPVs have a history of being bad, but this one delivered.
It’s weird thinking this was the best show of the year because it feels more eclectic than other big shows. It wasn’t Wrestlemania, they didn’t book the top two stars of the company. Not to mention, advertising featured Steve Austin months before his return (and is still on the WWE Network). But the show was good enough to wash away that false advertising.
I’ve lamented how many of these shows still had padding, but even the padding was tolerable. Billed as a triple main event, Angle/Taker wasn’t as good as those men could deliver. (Seriously, watch No Way Out ’06 if you want to see those two bring it.) Al Snow and Tazz tried to have a good match, but they never had the chance to get into that next gear. The tag title match was more entertaining for the comedy bits beforehand than the actual match. But there was a decent mixed tag and European title match. The Intercontinental title cage match is worth watching for a spectacular splash from Rikishi.
At least two of the three main events delivered. Triple H and Chris Jericho had the match of the night with a last man standing match. Chris Benoit was more or less a dark horse contender in a match where the Rock could not get disqualified. I get why some people don’t want to watch Benoit matches, but he and the Rock had chemistry. Their feud reminded me a little of Flair/Funk from a decade prior – a rich fighting champion against a vicious animal. There was the infamous Dusty finish, but with the Rock overcoming the bad guy, it sent the fans home happy.
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© 2022 Alex deCourville