Royal Rumble 2000 – Review

The year 2000 was financially the best year in company history for the then World Wrestling Federation. They were far and away the number one company, WAYYYYYY ahead of WCW. We were still within the Attitude Era. Business was certainly a BOOMIN… but when you think Attitude Era, who do you think of usually? Well, I know I think of Vince McMahon, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. BUT… Austin wasn’t here (out with a serious injury, explained by that awful angle the previous November of him being ran down by someone who… ‘did it for The Rock’…) and Vince wasn’t on TV too. Instead the McMahon-Helmsley era was in full force as WWF Champion Triple H and ‘that jezebel’ Stephanie as the lead authority figures, with DX doing their biding. The Rock, in the absence of Austin, was BY FAR the top star in the business but as he was aiming to win the Royal Rumble Match itself and get the prized spot in the main event of WrestleMania, it was cult hero Mankind who was the good to the evil champion of The Game… although it wasn’t Mankind who stood opposite the WWF Champion in Madison Square Garden… it was Cactus Jack! And that is someone who is a whole-nother level of insane… as we certainly saw! On the TWENTIETH anniversary of this show, and with the 2020 Royal Rumble around the corner, now felt like as good a time as ever to look back at this show and see what went down. So here is my review of the 2000 Royal Rumble Pay Per View. Enjoy.

The show began with a cool video focusing on the title match later between some guy who looks just like Mick Foley, and a much younger looking version of that jacked dude who runs NXT… As the show began it struck me how many crowd signs we used to get at that time. Jim Ross, and The King Jerry Lawler introduced us to the show from MSG. I should also note the entrance way was opposite the hard-camera, which was a unique but really cool look for me that has become a WWE-MSG trademark.

Taz defeated Kurt Angle 

Howard Finkel gave Kurt the big intro. They pushed Angle being undefeated, he was booed by the crowd and also still had hair, which is funny. He cut a good promo in his great obnoxious, overtly happy heel style. And he slagged off the local sports team for the easy heat. He said he’ll be the crowd’s champion… at this point I can audibly here people chanting “WE WANT TAZ” as Kurt went on to talk all about this “mystery opponent” and told him to remember your 3 I’s, and to come on out here and ‘give it your all’… And then… The Intro to Taz’s music played… and this crowd went NUTS! A HUGE pop greeted the former ECW Champion as he made his way to the ring to a thunderous ovation. Credit to JR and The King who sold it as a huge surprise. Taz, who is from Brooklyn, New York which helped, came out in his OG ECW gear. You’ll notice I’m referring to him as Taz (as he was in ECW) and not Tazz as he was in WWF/E… Tazz in WWE was a loser, mid-carder afterthought. Taz with one Z in ECW was a real Human Suplex Machine. In this match Kurt Angle faced Taz! Taz beat On Angle early on before Angle came back when they were on the outside, Taz though got an overhead Belly to Belly from the 2nd rope and got a 3 count, but Kurt had his foot on the ropes. Kurt got a couple of nearfalls, after this Kurt took a really horrible looking bump from some weird suplex thing that Taz did that looked rough to take and I’m not sure if that legit dazed Kurt or whatever, but not long after this Taz did a couple more suplexes and then the Taz-mission and Angle passed out. Taz won and the crowd was very happy. A tonne of refs and doctors came out after to tend to Kurt, I think this was a sell job though to get Taz over as Angle was moved onto a stretcher. Commentary sold this as if Angle was really in big trouble. This was a fine showcase for Taz in his WWF debut, but its hard looking back now to be so fond of this knowing how underwhelming Taz’s WWF/E run ended up being. Not much of a match (it went about 3 minutes), but for what it was meant to be it did the job for sure.

*3/4 

A VERY young looking Michael Cole was backstage interviewing The Hardy’s and their valet Terri Runnels. They cut a promo on the Dudleys. Terri was warned off coming out their for the match by Jeff, and Matt says they weren’t meant to be in the WWF, but they are here, and tonight they were gonna put the Dudleys through tables, or they will die trying.

The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) defeated The Dudley Boyz (D-Von Dudley & Bubba Ray Dudley) in a Tables Match 

Bubba Ray cut a promo beforehand, stutter and all… he talked about the New York people cheering for The Hardy Boyz and made a baseball reference than I personally didn’t understand, but the people seemed fairly riled up by it. This was everything you’d think it would be, lots of brawling, lots of crazy high spots, and lots and lots of teases of table spots, and some horrible crash and burn table spots. It went just over ten minutes but it was fun whilst it lasted. Bubba was eliminated via a leg drop by Matt off of a Ladder (because, of course there were ladders involved…). At one stage the Hardys put D-Von on a table and Matt went for a leg drop, only for D-Von to move out the way and Matt went crashing through the table. And just after Jeff went for a suicide dive or something like that (?) but crashed through a table on the outside… but bizarrely Lawler on commentary questioned if the match was over?, Jim Ross pointed out that “absolutely not” and The King cleared up that it had to be an offensive move [that caused someone to go through a table] in order for an elimination to count… ok then, once again WWF/E changing the rules for when it suits them. LOL. ANYWAY… in a great spot Bubba Ray powerbombed Matt through a table balanced on two sets of steps, so if you were keeping score it was currently 1-1. Both teams later brawled into the entrance way at the top of the aisle, Bubba hitting Matt right in the face with a chair, before setting up two tables… and I knew immediately what famous spot was coming up later… The Dudleys put Matt on the tables and as Jeff made the save it was Bubba who used a chair on Jeff, Bubba and Jeff then brawled into the crowd and ended up on a balcony above the start of the entrance way, Jeff hit a low blow and then two chair shots and this led Bubba to fall through the tables below… OUCH… Matt (who was below) but D-Von on a table and Jeff then took his shirt off, posed and then hit a huge Swanton Bomb from the balcony and crashed though D-Von on the table below. This was an all-time iconic spot. The Hardys get the win in a fun match… if you can call it a ‘match’… but it had all the hardcore type stuff you’d want and expect from a match between these two teams. The Dudleys selling after the match was really good.

**3/4 

Kurt Angle was backstage being checked on by medical officials. He was still dazed and confused, but had time to say that if he was choked out he was still undefeated…

Oh boy… right I’m going to keep this next bit brief because it was… yeah… it was very much ‘of the time’ shall we say…

We had the ‘Miss Royal Rumble 2000’ contest. Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Gorea, Fabulous Moolah, Johhny Valiant, Freddie Blassie and some guy from the Conan O’Brien Show were the judges, and Lawler was the master of ceremonies. Basically one by one we had Ivory, Terri, Jacqueline, B.B., Luna and the WWF WOMENS CHAMPION The Kat come out in their own swimsuit outfits and they danced and posed for the crowd and the judges… and then MAE YOUNG came out and revealed her own swimsuit… and then she… well she eventually pulled her top down and although they were censored on TV, everyone in MSG that night saw Mae’s boobs… the crowd were… well they made noise put it that way… thank GOD for Mark Henry coming out to cover Mae up and make the save for us ALL! It was revealed in the end that Mae won the contest…

Mae Young was 77 years old in 2000.

In 2020, and I’m sure in 2000 it would be the same, this was horrible to watch as a segment. Jim Ross noted on commentary that Ivory found this whole thing demeaning… YOU DON’T FUCKING SAY!!!

The Attitude Era Ladies and Gentleman…

I kind of coasted through the rest of the show before the two main matches, That segment took the life out of me. and NOT in the way it was meant to!

A VERY young looking Jonathan Coachman was at WWF New York with some very wild fans.

The Co-Intercontinental Champions Chris Jericho and Chyna were backstage talking about who should wear the belt to the ring, Earl Hebner eventually came into shot and took the belt from them and said we would find out who is the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion.

Chris Jericho (C) defeated Hardcore Holly and Chyna (C) in a triple threat match to become the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion 

Jericho was by a mile the most over of the three with the crowd. I’m so over three ways at this stage in WWE as they all seem the same to me and this was nothing different. One guy on the outside as the other two brawled and did spots… Holly was fine, Chyna was… Chyna… and Jericho worked very hard in this match and was good. One good spot from Chyna was a handspring Elbow into the corner followed by a DDT to Jericho which got her a 2 count nearfall until Holly broke it up. Later Hardcore Holly tried to hit Chyna with a chair but Jericho distracted him, and this allowed Chyna to dropkick the chair into Holly’s face. Chyna and Jericho later both came off the top rope onto Holly and both went for the cover, but Holly still kicked out in time. Chyna and Jericho then brawled, she then hit him with a low blow and then hit a Pedigree on Holly for a 2 count. There was some bizarre 3 way spot where they all came off the top rope, it ended with Jericho hitting a crossbody on Chyna for a nearfall. Chyna would later hit Holly with a chair as the ref had his back turned, and she followed this with a Boston Crab submission… until Jericho came in and hit her with a bulldog and then the Lionsault off the ring ropes. He then covered her for the 1, 2, 3 and the win. Chris Jericho is your Undisputed Intercontinental Champion, to the delight of the MSG crowd. This was… alright I guess… but at least the most popular performer with the crowd got the win here…

**1/2

Michael Cole was backstage interviewing The Rock… The ROCK was really over with the crowd… … …Rock said he was ‘concerned’ with Crash Holly and Headbanger Mosh in the rumble, and that if he can get past them, then he was in with a shot of winning the Royal Rumble. This was legitimately hilarious. Cole asked if he should be more concerned with Big Show, Rock said he should be more concerned with Shuttup Juice! Rock then cut a classic promo on the Big Show. This was pretty standard Rock stuff, which means it was exceptional.

The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) (C) defeated The Acolytes (Bradshaw & Faarooq)

Jim Ross said on commentary that “many consider this team [talking about the new age outlaws] to be the greatest WWF Tag Team Champions in history”… WHO THE FUCK are these people JR?????? Anyway as a match this was… well it existed, but as a feud and as a story it bored me a little (it was pretty much just about who the better team were, kinda like the recent Gable&Roode vs The Revival from a few months ago on Raw). For the record Bradshaw hit the Clothesline from Hell on Billy Gunn, as Faarooq hit a Spinebuster on Road Dogg. But then as Faarooq went for the cover it was Gunn who pulled the ref from the ring, only for Bradshaw to knock the ref and Gunn down. This allowed for X-Pac to come out and hit a spinning heel kick to Bradshaw, Gunn then hit his finisher the Fam-ASS-er to Bradshaw to retain the tag titles. This was about as average as average can be not going to lie, and it went literally a couple of minutes. Boring.

1/2* (0.5)

and now… what we all came for…

Triple H (C) defeated Cactus Jack in a Street Fight to retain the WWF Championship 

There was an exceptional video before the match; it told the story: Triple H as champion, the McMahon-Helmsley era in full force, them firing Mick Foley, them mocking Foley, The Rock leading a revolt of WWF superstars ready to walk out if Foley wasn’t brought back, Foley returning and challenging Triple H for the Rumble, Triple H accepting the challenge but then destroying Mankind, and this leading Mankind to transform into the even more psychotic and maniacal Cactus Jack persona. Cactus came out to a huge pop, and aside from The Rock he was the most over person on the whole show. HHH came out to his iconic ‘My Time’ music which is always a treat. Stephanie came out with him but was ushered to the back by her husband in order to shield her from the chaos that was to come. They brawled to start. HHH used the ring bell, then hit a huge chair shot… only for Cactus to sit back up! Later as they brawled to the outside HHH was dropped onto some wooden pallets (this caused a GIANT gash from Triple H’s leg that bled a disgusting amount). They went back and forth some more until Cactus brought his signature barbed wire bat into play. Only for Triple H to hit the low blow onto Cactus and then he hit him with the bat himself a total of FOUR times!!! Cactus though was able to block a fifth attempt, and then used the bat himself before his ddt type finisher that got a 2 count. There was then a really fun spot; so Cactus Jack wanted the barbed wire bat again, but by now the ref had hidden it for the safety of both men I’m presuming… so Cactus intimidated the ref into telling him where he’d put it… it was with the Spanish commentators for some reason… so, Cactus went to them and got it back. He then proceeded to hit Triple H in the face with it a couple of times for a nearfall. Triple H was bleeding horribly by this point and it was all over his entire face. Cactus then raked Triple H’s face with the bat. Cactus Jack later tried a Piledriver on the table but Triple H instead backdropped him through (kind of) the other announce table, and at this point Triple H looked an absolute mess with blood ALL OVER his face. Triple H was later dropped face first onto the barbed wire bat, this again got a 2 count for Cactus Jack. The action then began to get really quite graphic (as if what we had seen so far wasn’t bad enough) … Triple H tried to handcuff Cactus Jack, as a call back to the previous year’s rumble event when The Rock obliterated Foley with a steel chair, but this time as Triple H rained down punches Cactus was then able to counter when Triple H tried to smash him with steel steps, Cactus Jack was able to utilise a drop toe hold and this caused Triple H to go face first into the steps. As they brawled in the entrance way THE ROCK came out to support his ally Cactus Jack, he hit Triple H with a chair to a giant reaction from the crowd. As both men were down a random police officer appeared and uncuffed Cactus Jack! And now it was on! They brawled which led to Cactus Jack finally hitting his Piledriver onto the announce table, before dragging HHH back into the ring… and then… Cactus Jack went under the ring and pulled out a bag… he then emptied the contents of the bag in the ring… it was THUMBTACKS! Stephanie McMahon came down to ringside to try and stop the match, but as Cactus Jack ran at Triple H it was HHH who lifted his challenger over his head and backdropped him onto the Tacs… so there were many many MANY tacs now puncturing Cactus Jack’s whole body. It looked HORRIFIC. Triple H then hit a Pedigree… but by some act of either God or the Devil depending on your point of view Cactus Jack kicked out at 2! This got a giant pop. What followed was even more barbaric… Triple H then hit another Pedigree but right onto the pile of Tacs. This made me properly grimace and turn away it looked that horrid. This was mercifully enough to get the win for Triple H to retain the title. After the match it was Triple H who was the one who needed to be stretchered away… but Cactus Jack soon ran after him and pushed him back to the ring. Cactus would then hit Triple H again with the barbed wire bat to the face once more. They then played his music so he would end it stood tall, despite not winning the title. This feud would go onto the next PPV and a certain Hell in a Cell Match… which if enough people want to hear about it I may try and review…

This was an all time classic and iconic match. But the amount the tacs was used and the vile nature of what happened with them, and how horrific some of the bumps looked, I cannot award it the perfect score. But it was very close to exceptional as a match.

****3/4 

Jonathan Coachman was again at WWF New York. He this time spoke to Linda McMahon and she said that her, Vince and Shane were very dissapointed at the way Triple H and Stephanie were running things, but ensured they would soon be doing things The McMahon way!  This was obviously the set up for the eventual ‘McMahon in every corner’ debacle for the main event of WrestleMania that year.

The Rock won the 2000 Royal Rumble Match 

Number 1 was D Lo Brown and Number 2 was Grandmaster Sexay. Number 3 was Headbanger Mosh (who looked… weird)… Number 4 was Christian. And Number 5 was Rikishi, who got a huge reaction coming out. This is where it really kicked on. He quickly eliminated Mosh, Christian and Brown, before it was just him face to face with his fellow ‘Too Cool’ member Grandmaster Sexay. A face off with Sexay looking fearful and Rikishi looking ready for business was ended when Number 6 came out… it was the other Too Cool member Scotty 2 Hotty… Scotty put a stop to this… and what followed was an all time CLASSIC moment… just right now, stop what you are doing, go on youtube, and type in ‘Too Cool Dance Royal Rumble 2000′ or something like that… and just enjoy… so… after whatever that was ended with both Scotty and Grandmaster being thrown out, number 7 was the much less fun Steve Blackman, but he was eliminated quickly by Rikishi. Number 8 was Viscera (looking HUGE by the way and I don’t mean muscular)…. he did a fair few moves interacting with Rikishi but given both men’s size this was a sight to behold. Big Boss Man was number 9 but was very reluctant to get into the ring and instead just walked around the outside, so as not to have to go up against Rikishi on his own. Number 10 was Test who got a decent pop from the crowd, he went right after Boss Man, leading both into the ring. British Bulldog was 11, Gangrel was 12, we then had our first run in from disgruntled WWF superstars who weren’t in the rumble… this time was the incomparable Funaki & Taka Michonoku… they were quickly disposed of again… anyway… Number 13 was a very young and very popular Edge, number 14 was of all people… BOB BACKLUND! The returning MSG Legend got a giant ovation, he quickly helped Big Boss Man,  Edge, Gangrel, Test & British Bulldog work together to eliminate Rikishi (who ended with an impressive 7 eliminations to his name). Chris Jericho was number 15 and got a big pop coming out, he quickly got rid of Bob Backlund who proceeded to make his way through the crowd (Jim Ross joked he was looking for registered votes, as Backlund was attempting to run for political office in Connecticut at the time). Crash Holly was number 16 and CHYNA was number 17, a year on from making history as the first woman ever in a rumble, she was here for a 2nd year in a row. She went right after her IC Title rival Chris Jericho and managed to eliminate him,before herself being knocked off the ring apron and to the floor by Big Boss Man. 18 was Faarooq whom was quickly set upon by a run in from the Mean Street Posse, although after he got rid of them he was then thrown out by Big Boss Man. 19 was Road Dogg and 20 was Al Snow. British Bulldog was eliminated by Road Dogg. 21 was Val Venis, 22 was Prince Albert, 23 was Hardcore Holly. Val Venis worked with Al Snow to eliminate Edge, there was a storyline at the time where Edge was dating Val’s sister. And then… the whole complexion of the Rumble changed… after many crowd chants and constant wishful thinking on commentary by Jerry Lawler… Number 24 was… THE ROCK!!! He got a giant pop as you can imagine, and he eliminated Big Boss Man. 25 was Billy Gunn as The Rock eliminated Crash Holly. The game changed once more when number 26 was Big Show! Big show eliminated Test and then Gangrel. Bradshaw was 27 but after another Mean Street Posse run in, Bradshaw was thrown out by both of the New Age Outlaws, before Faarooq returned as the Posse and the Acolytes brawled outside. 28 was Royal Rumble legend KANE. Kane eliminated Val Venis and Prince Albert. Number 29 was The Godfather… and of course… he took his time coming to the ring as he enjoyed his company of his hoes… and finally at Number 30, as was known beforehand, was X-Pac. Then came a series of eliminations: Hardcore Holly was eliminated by Al Snow, Godfather was eliminated by Big Show, Road Dogg out by his tag partner Billy Gunn, Gunn was out via Kane whom was then taken under the ropes and attacked by the Outlaws. X-Pac looked to be eliminated by The Rock, but the refs were busy dealing with Kane and the Outlaws brawling on the outside, so X-Pac crept back into the match! X-Pac then made the most of this and hit a spinning heel kick to eliminate Kane. Big Show eliminated X-Pac, this left us with Show and The Rock as the final 2. As the crowd were hugely behind The Rock he hit a spinebuster and then the People’s Elbow, Show deflated them by hitting Rock with a huge Chokeslam. He then picked Rock up and looked to throw him over the ropes, however Rock looked to have used Show’s own momentum to pull the Big Show over the ropes and Big Show went flying out. It was one heck of a moment. Jim Ross’ amazing commentary “…OH THE BIG SHOW’S OVER, THE ROCK, THE ROCK, HAS WON THE ROYAL RUMBLE” as the crowd in Madison Square Garden went absolutely wild! Rock tried to cut a promo after the match but Show came back out to attack him, and he threw The Rock over the top rope to give him a symbolic win. The two starred off as the show closed, but nonetheless for NOW at least, the winner of the 2000 Royal Rumble Match was The Rock!

***1/2 

Overall this was a fun show. It summed up everything about the Attitude Era in a nutshell really. It was under 3 hours too which was a blessing compared to modern day Pay Per Views. And as much as it should be all about the Royal Rumble Match itself, this show will go down in history for the now legendary street fight. Amazing to think this was TWENTY years ago… If this Sunday’s Royal Rumble is as historic, we are in for a classic show for the ages.

Josh. 

 

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