ROYAL RUMBLE 2000
January 23, 2000
Hulkamania turned sweet sixteen on this day, but Hogan was in WCW, so it’s only a coincidence. But that’s okay because it’s a notable show anyway. Tazz debuts, HHH bleeds his way to becoming a legit top guy, and Mick is able to rest assured that his impending retirement can come on a high note.
Tazz . . . makes a big bang in his WWF debut, but of course that would go down the commode quickly.
Triple H . . . actually earns his status as a top guy, and carries his weight in a superb street fight.
TAKA Michinoku . . . steals the show in the Royal Rumble, and he wasn’t even in the actual match.
TAZZ vs. KURT ANGLE
As far as Tazz matches go, this is pretty much the exact same match he’d have at any ECW show in 1996, and any ECW Hardcore TV show after that. He makes the grand entrance, lets his opponent get in some token offense, does his suplexes and wins with the Tazzmission. The only problem is that he’s actually taking on somebody who matters, rather than a jobber or someone lost in the shuffle. You’d think running through the previously undefeated Angle would be giving Tazz some sort of rub, but Angle gets to play up the ‘mystery opponent’ card, and Angle and Lawler both hammer home the point that choking is illegal. So instead of the main story being that Tazz just beat Kurt Angle in three minutes, the story is that Angle wasn’t prepared and got choked out, leaving Tazz as mostly an afterthought, which more or less sums up how his wrestling career in WWF turned out.
MATT HARDY/JEFF HARDY vs. BUH BUH RAY DUDLEY/D-VON DUDLEY (Table match)
Hey, remember when this style of a match was considered fresh and exciting? This is watchable for what it is, which is basically a mindless spotfest. Fortunately it doesn’t go very long, which is best considering the amount of actual wrestling that goes on. If I had a nickle for every chair shot, then I’d be a millionaire. There are a couple of nice spots, like Buh Buh’s counter to Jeff running along the guardrail, and the use of the ring steps to elevate the table that Matt gets put though with the powerbomb. By and large though, the match is just pedestrian brawling and chair shots, along with a couple of prerequisite spots where someone gets ‘saved’ by their partner moving the table out of the way. Not that a table match is the type of match where you expect smart work and good wrestling to take place. The brawling aspect of the match is obvious given the feud going on, but they don’t even put much intensity into it, other than the chair shots, and the table bumps. The amount of abuse the Hardys take (both from themselves and their opponents) does make for a nice ending image however. With both of them banged up and Jeff barely conscious after doing the senton off the balcony to get the win (to a huge pop after the bell), but standing tall and victorious.
Between this match and the next match is the Miss Rumble competition. Thank Tsuruta for the ability to chapter skip on DVDs, that’s all I have to say about it.
CHRIS JERICHO © vs. CHYNA © vs. HARDCORE HOLLY (WWF Intercontinental Title)
Oh yeah, the angle where Chyna and Jericho were ‘co-champions’ and held the title at the same time. God that idea was stupid. Just flip a coin or something. This would be an okay match if there was any attempt to tell a real story and not the insultingly obvious ‘all of them want to win’ one that takes place in all these matches. The work itself looks good for the most part, other than Chyna’s ugly pedigree, but very little takes place that really means anything. There was a nice moment when Jericho saved Chyna from Holly bashing her with a chair, but it didn’t really lead anywhere, until the end, when Chyna returned the favor by bashing Holly, and not to save Jericho but to help herself. A mutual respect between Chyna and Jericho brewing as the match progressed would have been neat. Although with only seven minutes or so, it’s doubtful it’d have been able to fully develop. Chyna more or less shooting herself in the foot by going for the Walls of Jericho only to mock Jericho, and then getting taken by surprise and pinned by Jericho works as far as Chyna taking her eyes off the prize, but that wasn’t anything that had come up in the match at all to give that impression. Other than working that particular ending, there really wasn’t a need for this to be a triple threat in the first place, a simple decision match for the title would have sufficed just as well.
BILLY GUNN/ROAD DOGG © vs. FARROOQ/BRADSHAW (WWF Tag Team Titles)
What a shocker, this is over before it begins. The champions bump all over the place and get in all of three offensive moves. The ref goes down and X-Punk runs in and lays out Bradshaw so that Billy can finish him off with the Fame-Asser, after a grueling three minutes. There isn’t anything here that couldn’t and shouldn’t have happened on regular TV.
TRIPLE H © vs. CACTUS JACK (WWF World Heavyweight Title - Street Fight)
Most of Foley’s famous matches under this stipulation (vs. Van Hammer, Sting, and Rock for example) have all been made by Jack doing what he does best, taking bumps. They weren’t so much matches, as they were exhibitions that Jack’s opponents (and Jack himself) can take a few more years off his career. This match easily blows them all out of the water though, simply because they make a real effort to tell a story, and in the process they throw away the ‘handbook’ for how Cactus Jack style matches need to be worked. The WWF Title isn’t even the issue here. HHH had humiliated Foley time and again, that’s why he resurrected Cactus Jack in the first place. And when Jack unloads on HHH, he’s not doing it to get a fourth WWF Title reign. He’s doing it to humble the jerk.
The big highlight of Mick’s other matches like this was always exactly how much he was able to take. Whether it’s a hip toss off a ramp, or a twelve-foot fall off the balcony onto a circuit board, or Undertaker tossing him off the top of the cage and falling sixteen feet down through the announce table. In every single one of those cases, he got up and kept on fighting. He isn’t any different here. Whether HHH is going after his knees, back dropping him through the announce table, or hitting a backdrop suplex onto a garbage can, Jack got up and kept going. Of course when you compare the fall of the cage and the trip through the circuit board, it’s hard to imagine Cactus Jack staying down from his knees getting sent into the ring steps, or taking a backdrop onto a trash can. But until the tacks come into play, it’s Cactus who’s dishing out, not taking, the most severe punishment. Sure the suplex onto the trash can looked nasty, but that can’t compare to taking the vertical suplex onto the palettes (which opens up a nasty gash in HHH’s calf). And while no doubt a back drop through a table is a rough bump, it’s not leaving Cactus covered in his own blood, like the shots with the barbed wire board do to HHH.
Cactus beating the holy hell out of HHH isn’t just Cactus getting revenge on HHH for the ‘Have A Bad Day’ skits, or booking the ‘Pink Slip On A Pole’ match. It’s an initiation of sorts for HHH. The powers that be in the WWF decided they wanted HHH to be the champion and the top guy. Foley knows his role here, and it’s to make HHH look that much better. Foley doesn’t do it the same way he did with Rock though. Instead of bumping left and right, he makes HHH weather the beating. That’s the key aspect. HHH doesn’t have much choice, he doesn’t Hulk Up and mount a comeback, he’s forced to take it all. When HHH finally does get a chance to get some offense in, he shows how far he’s willing to go in order to win. HHH’s first offensive move of the match was a wicked chair shot, right across Cactus’ face, and he turned his back and started gloating about it, and then Cactus got up and commenced to opening up a can of whoop-ass. After that though, HHH learns his lesson and does what he can to make everything count. One of the best parts of the match is HHH handcuffing Foley, in a throwback to Mankind vs. Rock from the year before, and that Rock needs to come to Foley’s rescue is rather fitting. The tacks coming into play is another example of both of them willing to give it their all. It was obvious that HHH wasn’t going to be taking the big bump into the tacks, especially after Mick hadn’t taken any really big bumps other than the trash can suplex. But after HHH tosses him into the tacks, still can’t put him away after the pedigree, he does another one, basically jumping into the tacks with Cactus in order to finally end the match. Even though HHH won the match, they both wound up as winners in a sense. HHH got his hand raised, remained WWF Champion, and earned himself a healthy dose of credibility as a top guy. Foley was a winner too though, with his active career winding down and his body breaking down from years of physical abuse, he proved he still had it in him to have a great match. ****
THE 2000 ROYAL RUMBLE
The inherent problem with these matches has always been predictability. It’s nice to see something actually at stake, but with such a high profile opportunity being the prize for winning, you can quickly rule out 90% of the participants. Lack of doubt as to the winner isn’t the only thing that hinders this though, very few of the wrestlers do anything to really stand out. The most memorable moment of the entire match was when TAKA got hurled over the top and landed face first, and TAKA wasn’t even legally in the match (TAKA and Funaki intruded several times as a sort of protest to their not being included). The bulk of the match is simply made up of guys pairing off in the corner and trading fists, it’s an easy way to fill time, but it’s far from exciting. The match does have its fun moments, for example Too Cool and Rikishi all dancing, as well as Bradshaw putting the hurt on the Mean Street Posse. There are a few instances of the match that play off earlier happenings in the show. The Rock eliminating Crash Holly (whom he’d jokingly referred to as someone who could give him trouble during the match) for example, and Chyna eliminating Jericho in a bit of revenge from their triple threat. But fun moments like that are fairly few and far between.
Nobody other than Rikishi, Rock, Big Show, and Kane gets to look very dominating at all. Big Bossman and Test are the two guys who last the longest, but neither of them did anything memorable in the match. Bob Backlund’s cameo was harmless fun for a cheap nostalgia pop in MSG, but it’d have been just as effective if Bob cut a promo about his campaign, or hit the ring unexpectedly, rather than putting him in the actual match. The booking of the tainted win for The Rock isn’t anything new. It’d been done in 1995 for Michaels, and 1997 for Austin, and the idea of a tie was done for Hart and Luger in ‘94. But the execution of it is terrible. Both refs were clearly there to see Rocky’s feet hit the floor before Big Show even went over the top, so unless they had the ring lights in their eyes, there isn’t any reason as to why Rock was declared the winner. Any match would have been in trouble having to follow HHH/Cactus, let alone a disappointing Rumble with a lousy finish.
Conclusion: The WWF Title match is awesome, and is easily worth having to sit through the fun at times undercard for. The Royal Rumble itself is mostly dull though, and is nothing anyone needs to see more than once. So this basically gets thumbs up, but with warning about a dull main event.