Releasing the old classics from WWE’s back catalogue is a fantastic idea and this double-set continues that great tradition. 2000 was one of the best years WWE has had from a creative and in-ring standpoint and these two PPVs are filled with great wrestling matches and guys at the peak of their career.
Running Time: 248mins (both events)
- Right to Censor (Steven Richards, Val Venis, The Goodfather & Bull Buchanan) v The Dudley Boyz & The APA
- Strap Match: Jerry Lawler v Tazz
- 10min Hardcore Battle Royal for the WWE Hardcore Championship
- X-Pac v Chris Jericho
- WWE World Tag Team Championship Steel Cage Match: Edge & Christian v The Hardy Boyz
- WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Eddie Guerrero v Rikishi
- No DQ Match (with Mick Foley as the referee): Triple H v Kurt Angle
- Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE Championship: Chris Benoit v The Undertaker v Kane v The Rock
No Mercy 2000
- Gauntlet Tag Team Tables Match: Too Cool v D-Lo Brown & Chaz v Tazz & Raven v The Goodfather & Bull Buchanan v The Dudley Boyz
- Steel Cage Match: Chris Jericho v X-Pac
- Mixed Tag Team Match: Val Venis & Steven Richards v Chyna & Billy Gunn
- No-Holds-Barred Match: Rikishi v Stone Cold Steve Austin
- European Championship Match: William Regal v Naked Mideon
- World Tag Team Championship Match: The Hardy Boyz v Los Conquistadors
- Chris Benoit v Triple H
- WWE Championship Match: The Rock v Kurt Angle
First up is Unforgiven 2000, a solid card with a lot of great wrestling action, even though the first three bouts are quite short (the third by proxy of having a set time limit). The opening Eight-Man Tag is decent enough, but it more to push the Right to Censor as heels than anything else. The second match was also really to set up an angle rather than an out-and-out match. Jerry Lawler had tangled with Tazz and Summerslam and saw Jim Ross smash a glass jar over the former ECW Champions head. The rematch was fought under slightly altered Strap Match rules where pinfalls and submissions would also be legal. The highlights of the match include Tazz no-selling two piledrivers to a great reaction from the crowd and then Lawler trying his best to touch all four corners after a third piledriver succeeded in keeping Tazz down. Of course, all of this was just a set up for the real highlight: the debut of Raven in WWE. The fact he debuted at this event was no coincidence, seeing as it was held in Philidelphia, PA, the hometown of ECW (which was still in business at the time), thus virtually guaranteeing a positive response. Unfortunately, WWE wouldn’t capitalise on it and Raven remained a glorified jobber for pretty much the rest of his run with the company.
The WWE Hardcore Title started out as a respected title belt that was fought for in exciting matches and helped some of the talent get over where they had struggled before. Steve Blackman was one such guy and he thrived in these matches (with his bag of tricks). The Battle Royal is the usual hit each other with everything they can find and along with Blackman, the match also featured Crash Holly (the reason the title became a joke), Al Snow, Funaki, Perry Saturn and Test. The crowd popped for most of the shots and the guys did their best, but looking back on it, it’s easy to see why the overkill came so quickly.
The next two matches, but contrast, featured great wrestling, first in a singles match between Chris Jericho and X-Pac, but again, this match was too short. Had they been given more time, this would have been a lot better. Both wrestlers work well together and have some really exciting exchanges and a red-hot finish that has the crowd on their feet. The fans stay there for the next bout as it pitted the brother team of The Hardy Boyz v the “brother” team of Edge & Christian, this time inside a steel cage. The previous month, the first ever TLC Match took place (although, it could be argued, that the WrestleMania 2000 Three-Way Ladder Match was basically the same thing) between these two teams and The Dudleyz that raised the bar for tag-team wrestling. It wouldn’t be until SIX YEARS LATER, with the arrival of the “Smackdown Six” that it would even come close again. Both teams put out a fantastic effort and really innovated a lot of spots that had the fans lapping up every second of it. It’s no exaggeration to say that these three teams could have wrestled each other every week until the end of time and it would have remained great.
The Intercontinental Title Match isn’t really worth revisiting and is easily the worst match on both cards. Running at slightly over 6mins, Eddie Guerrero plods along with Rikishi until the lame DQ finish (Rikishi was disqualified for hitting Chyna) and no-one cares or even remembers that it happened. The same can’t be said for the grudge match between Triple H and Kurt Angle, a match given the time to develop and a match that had a great rivalry that warranted the stipulation. Kurt Angle, still in his debut year (you’re going to read that a lot in this review), more than holds his own against a Triple H who was having the year of his professional life in 2000 (you’re also going to read that a lot in this review). For over 17mins the crowd remain hot, the wrestlers perform awesomely and both men come out stronger than they went in. You can’t really ask for much more from a wrestling match.
As the PPV rumbles on, one of the longest-running storylines in WWE comes to the front as Steve Austin tries to find out who tried to kill him with a car at the 1999 Survivor Series. He’d been running his investigation (more about that later) and was getting closer to the culprit. Up for “questioning” tonight were both Shane McMahon and Steve Blackman. Shane had blamed Blackman, but this was just to get back at him after their awesome match at Summerslam. Austin didn’t care and simply hit both with a Stunner to a huge reaction from the crowd. The suspect list was getting shorter and it wouldn’t be too long before we got our man.
The show closes with one of my favourite matches. All four guys work well together and the action is fast, brutal and edge-of-your-seat intense. The false-finish was put across excellently (I can still remember how gutted I was at the time, for the right reasons) and the actual end sent the fans home happy. It was a fitting end to a good PPV.
The second disc is No Mercy 2000, a show that had the hugely anticipated return of Steve Austin as an in-ring competitor as he takes on the recently turned-heel Rikishi. The show starts with a Tables Gauntlet and the first team out, Too Cool, get a great reaction. It’s easy to forget how over EVERYBODY seemed back in the day. The eliminations, unsurprisingly, come quickly, but every team that comes out get a reaction from the crowd and the pop for The Worm is still fantastic (not as fantastic as Taz calling Raven by his real name when asking for assistance). The finish is another well-worked spot and the whole match is a great way to open the show.
Before continuing with the review, it needs to be said that I’d forgotten how Lita looked absolutely stunning at this event. OK, continuing on, JR’s commentary including the line “… needs to beat T&A” made me smile when I think of today’s wrestling landscape.
When watching these old shows, a lot of greatness comes flooding back as you remember just how awesome it was. Take Edge & Christian. Today, both are pretty damn good (alright, I know Edge is injured – again – but run with it), but back in the year 2000, we had “surfer-dudes” E&C (along with Commissioner Foley) and the downright awesomeness of their promos and interviews. No Mercy 2000 features one such segment and, for that, we should all be thankful.
X-Pac gets a lot of bad press, most of it justified, but when he was “on” as an in-ring performer, he was a fantastic worker. The cage match between him and Y2J was a bout I always felt stood up as a great example of the former 1-2-2-3 Kid with his working boots on and revisiting it, I still feel the same way. The action is fantastic, the crowd are hot and the near-finishes work brilliantly. Sticking with the “bad press” brigade, Chyna has had more than her fair share of troubles, but back in 2000, she was a great worker. The tag match pitting the former DX members against RTC is another reminder of how great WWE was creatively. The Right to Censor was such a fantastic group, a faction who were super-over as heels, that you couldn’t help but get into any segment they were involved in.
The event moves on and we get a video package highlighting the almost year-long “Who Ran Over Steve Austin?” storyline. Austin was on fire during his “investigation” (basically asking people if they did it and hitting them with a Stunner when they said no) and the whole angle was logical and had a conclusion that made sense… at least until Triple H stepped in and took the credit for himself, reducing Rikishi to a mere lackey in the process. The match that follows isn’t so much a match as a lesson in how to kick the crap out of someone. Steve Austin driving vehicles to and from the ring will never get old and the finish of this match is pure Attitude Era.
Another gimmick that is Attitude Era through and through is having a bona-fide Southern, bearded, brawler and putting him in nothing but a flesh-coloured thong /um-bag combo… and that’s what we got with Naked Mideon. His opponent, William Regal, is a vastly underrated wrestler and a man with the best facial expressions around. Just watch him when he goes to apply his Regal Stretch to a naked man and see what I mean.
No Mercy picks up again as, before the WWE Tag Team Championship Match, Kurt Angle interviews The Rock. Angle was such a natural in all aspects of pro-wrestling and the most amazing thing is he was this good in only his first year in the business. The aforementioned title match continued the astounding tag-team scene in WWE at this time. Five teams in the opening match and two teams here, all fighting over ONE set of titles, is a far cry from the current WWE tag team situation..
I mentioned earlier that the year 2000 was a great period for WWE, but it was also a great year for one of the company’s stalwarts. Triple H had the best year of his career as an in-ring performer, turning in sterling bouts against Cactus Jack (the greatest Streetfight in history and a stunning HiaC to name two), The Rock, Kurt Angle, Tazz, Benoit and others. The match against Benoit at this event was another great bout, with Triple H even pulling out an inverted-STF and a Death Valley Driver at one point.
Similar to Lita, I’d forgotten how hot Stephanie McMahon was in the year 2000. The love-triangle storyline between Stephanie, Triple H and Kurt Angle was phenomenal and really helped Angle climb to the main event. My favourite match between Kurt Angle and The Rock was the Triple Threat Match between both men and Undertaker for the WWE Undisputed Title at Vengeance 2002, but this is still a very good contest that is wrestled in front of a red-hot crowd. The fans really took to Angle straight away and that’s a testament to both the man himself and the character he got over with great in-ring skills, not being afraid to make himself look stupid when he needed to look stupid and being a wrestling machine when he needed to be a wrestling machine. The reaction to his victory was amazing, especially with this being in his debut year.
I love the Tagged Classics collection, especially as they have no blurring or edited commentary in regards to the WWF scratch logo. These two events would normally have mentions of WWF silenced out, which is a frustrating experience, as is the blurring, so to not have it present make a huge difference. Long live UK/European exclusivity.
Unforgiven and No Mercy are good cards, with the latter being the better overall show, but the former having the best matches of the collection. Bouts that make the package worth buying are the two X-Pac/Jericho encounters, the Tag Team Cage Match, Chris Benoit v Triple H, Triple H v Kurt Angle, Kurt Angle v The Rock and the Fatal Four-Way.
The lack of extras is a shame, but to be expected. I would like to see some retrospective interviews with the guys still on the roster today (or, at the very least, when the discs were released) or have them do alternative commentary (in character or out of character), but I fear that will have to remain unfulfilled.
I heartily recommend this collection and advise you to keep your eye out for more from the Tagged Classic series.