The year 2000 is arguably the finest overall year in the history of the WWE (henceforth referred to as the WWF in keeping with the name of the time). Everything Vince McMahon touched at this point turned to gold; There were epic matches, a rich and diverse roster consisting of various different personalities and skilled workers, cracking storylines that kept you hooked for months, consistently terrific TV shows and not to mention a great collection of PPV events.
As a fan, I always look back fondly on this year. I’ve jumped on board the good ship Wrestling 101 to look back on 2000 in greater depth, through show reviews like this one and by looking at some of the individuals from the era who made it such a special time.
My goal is to make my content something of a special hub for 2000 related goodness. Whether you’re a nostalgic WWF buff like myself or you’ve never seen anything from 2000 (shame on you!) and you’re looking up on it, there should be plenty of stuff to keep you hooked. We’ll look at the shows, the personalities and some of the issues going on with the company in and out of the ring during this unpredictable and exciting time.
Are you siting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
To get you up to speed on the WWF goings on heading into 2000; Triple H & Stephanie McMahon had just hooked up on screen which in turn gave us the McMahon-Helmsley era. DX had also reunited and while X-Pac, Mr.Ass and Road Dogg were mainly lackeys to Hunter and his bride at this point they all collectively had a stranglehold over the show as HHH constantly booked himself to prominence (kayfabe).
They also had a hand in firing Mick Foley, booking him against The Rock in a ‘pink slip on a pole’ match the previous week on Raw. Rock won the match, somewhat begrudgingly against his friend, so Mick was given the boot (much to the chagrin of the rest of the roster).
Big Show was the WWF Champion, having won a triple threat match back at Survivor Series in november. Stone Cold Steve Austin was out of the picture having been ran over by a mystery assailant on the same show (kayfabe) to cover for his neck problems off-screen.
The Rock was over to an insane degree, having turned babyface in ’99 and the crowd reactions towards him were seemingly increasing in volume each week. Some of the content he was providing both in and out of the ring usually made for the highlight of show.
Elsewhere in the midcard, Kane was in a relationship with Tori, but Tori started acting strangely around other males on the roster, freaking out if they came near here. There was a rumour that she’d gotten intimate with X-Pac over the Christmas holidays too, which did nothing for Kane’s mood.
Kurt Angle was slowly but surely climbing the ranks after his Survivor Series debut a couple of months prior and was actually unbeaten going into 2000.
Chris Jericho and Chyna were duking it out over the Intercontinental title. With the other titles, Val Venis held the European title, Big Boss Man was holding the Hardcore title, The Kat held the Womens championship and the mighty Gillberg held the Light-Heavyweight strap.
WWF RAW IS WAR 01/03/2000
Live from the American Airlines arena, Miami Florida.
It Begins- Triple H and The Rock set the scene
The show had not one, but two main events. These were set up during a fantastic back and forth duelling promo segment between Triple H and The Rock during the show opening.
To this day I don’t think there’s anybody that can compare to Rock on the microphone in a babyface capacity in terms of both quality and quantity. He could talk for an entire two hour broadcast if he felt that way inclined and the crowd would still be eating it all up by the end of it. Here in Miami, the hometown crowd adored him unconditionally.
But as fantastic as The Rock was at this point in the face role, HHH was a dominant, despicable heel and thus was the perfect foil for him and any other top babyface on the roster, especially now he had Stephanie as his bride to form the McMahon-Helmsley power couple.
The opening segment here was typical of so many WWF show openings that year with a red-hot promo to set the tone for the rest of the evening. The ambush by the other DX members only heightened the expectations for the main event.
Later, Rock would further display his charisma by promising that he’d take on the entire “Roody Poo Crew” and leave them laying. If twitter were around in this era, #RoodyPooCrew would be safe bet for a trending topic!
Changing of the guard- HHH wins the WWF title
As for the two main events, the company certainly kicked off the new millennium in style. At the top of the hour Triple H and Big Show fought for the WWF title. They contested a thoroughly enjoyable and effective contest which was also incredibly significant thanks to the title change.
Few could argue with HHH getting the title at this point, for he truly was ‘the man’ whether he had the belt or not. He was on a real roll and was absolutely the top guy in the industry, having top matches and cutting some stellar promos in addition to having a brilliant character.
Big Show himself was no slouch, the snap in his moves and the finesse of his powerslams would make a 250 pound man look like a complete rag doll in comparison. He certainly didn’t look to have many problems in the way of moving around the ring or lasting the pace of a big match such as this. A fine effort from both workers overall and easily the match of the night complete with HHH ascending his rightful place at the top of the mountain.
Rock vs The World- The 3-on-1 Handicap Match
It’s worth mentioning that this incarnation of DX was a joy to watch. Aside from having the profession’s best worker in Triple H, you had the lightning quickness and fantastic selling of X-Pac and, at least at this point, the finest tag team in the profession in the New Age Outlaws.
They were only really HHH’s henchmen by now, but they were still incredibly over with the audience and played a huge part in the television shows. Mick Foley made a surprise appearance in the finish for this one which sent the crowd into raptures, especially as it helped Rock turn the tables with the odds stacked against him.
The bout itself was mainly DX working over The Rock who made some well-timed comebacks. The crowd were glued to this one and positively roared during the conclusion. A typically energetic and entertaining main event which was again typical of 2000.
Commentating Class- Notes on JR
It’s worth noting at this point that JR’s commentary truly is a thing of beauty; if anyone ever has any doubt about his ability they need to watch tapes from this era because he elevates everything going on around him. King was in full on-heel sympathiser mode at this point too, so they were clicking together as an announce team very nicely. This was noticeable from the opening promo right through the show and especially in the main event. JR was a very important piece in WWF’s television puzzle at this point.
Midcard- Co Champs, cage matches and gold medalists
Anyone who remembers the WWF’s midcard scene in 2000 will remember that at least 90% of the workers were incredibly popular with the fans. Everybody on the roster had a character or a presence of some sort. The crowd reactions back then were just as loud if not louder than some of the reactions the current WWE Universe display toward the main event talent today, which gives you an idea of how popular the WWF was at the time.
On this show, the first match alone involved no less than TEN different characters and used them with fairly good effect.
Imagine you’re watching this for the first time; so far in addition to the hot opening of the show you’ve seen a cool, funky babyface tag team with a huge sumo guy backing them up (Too Cool and Rikishi), a couple of bully heels in the Dudley Boys who you just wouldn’t want to mess with, three cowardly, smarmy heels in the Mean Street Posse and a couple of beefed up brawlers who you can already tell would never shy away from a good scrap in the Acolytes. All good characters, all with clear and interesting characteristics.
Elsewhere, Kurt Angle displayed some early signs of some real potential behind the microphone before his bout with Kane, really getting under the skin of the Miami audience. He was also getting more respect as good wrestler, and as we progress through the year we’ll gradually see the fruits of this on a more regular basis.
Chris Jericho was another grappler gradually climbing the ranks, though he’d seen some mixed fortunes since arriving in the WWF from WCW in 1999. Despite debuting by sharing the screen with The Rock, he would remain stuck in some uninteresting midcard activity up to about this point. The Co-Intercontinental champions storyline with Chyna kicked off here and despite the flak I’ve heard about Chyna she was actually fine to watch, certainly not looking out her depth with the male competitors. You can tell Jericho wasn’t too interested in the storyline, but to his credit he was making it work well. They also had Hardcore Holly involved in the title scene, another solid midcarder who also had some fun and games with his cousin Crash.
Time for a pet peeve now regarding cage matches. I’m all for a grudge feud ending in a cage match, but a random match from midcarders with the cage gimmick being used as something of a throwaway just isn’t to my tastes whatsoever. Nothing against Al Snow or Jeff Hardy, but the cage wasn’t necessary at all here. This did happen once or twice with usually grudge-type stipulations during the year but otherwise they’d be built up quite nicely for a big PPV event rather than a meaningless bout filling up television time.
The not so good- Other segments
The other downpoints on the show were the non-match that was set up between the Acolytes and the Mean Street Posse, which descended into a beatdown on the babyfaces once the Dudleyz also became involved, and the handicap match which pitted BigBossMan and Albert vs Test, Mae Young and Moolah. The former was a repeat of a segment from the previous weeks’ Smackdown show while the latter was all a bit of a dull cluster, though it did show Test’s toughness as he fought through the pain of a broken nose. The comedy they tried however with Moolah, Mae, Mark Henry and Harvey Whippleman really sapped the Miami crowd’s energy.
There were also three DX spoof segments where a fake Mankind would be the subject of ridicule from Triple H, who’d play different characters in fancy dress and berate him. As fun as this initially sounds, this was really poor and devoid of humour which was incredibly rare for any DX parody activity.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better opening to a year for the WWF than this. The two big matches were terrific for television and certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place on Pay Per View. Kurt Angle continued to show improvement on the microphone and in the ring, the Co-Intercontinental Champ storyline kicked off to reasonable fanfare and the opening tag contest with several different personalities had a real fun factor about it.
The non-match with the Posse/Acolytes, the meaningless cage match, Test’s handicap bout and the absolutely awful DX skits were the only drab points, but at least they still had an element of storyline progression to them.
Worth a Watch?
Not one of the best shows of the year, but still a really good edition of Raw and a terrific way to kick off what was an excellent year, with two big matches and good entertainment throughout.
Next up, I’ll look at the Smackdown episode from later in the week where Triple H makes his first title defence, The Rock goes one on one with Kurt Angle and poor X-Pac faces the wrath of Big Show after he’d just lost the WWF title.
Quick Show Results-
The Rock called out Triple H for a match, but HHH instead booked Rock in a three-on-one handicap match against the rest of DX and booked himself in a title match with Big Show. The rest of DX then ambushed The Rock.
The Dudley Boyz beat Too Cool by DQ. The Mean Street Posse tried to interfere but the Acolytes intercepted them. Rikishi decked Bubba with a Superkick for the DQ. Post-match, Too Cool and Rikishi performed their traditional dance.
Kurt Angle maintained his undefeated record by defeating Kane via DQ. Steve Blackman interfered and actually hit Angle, therefore giving him the surprise win. Kane, annoyed at the loss, chased after Blackman.
Chris Jericho and Chyna were made Co-Intercontinental Champions by Stephanie McMahon, much to their chagrin. This lead to…
Chyna beating Hardcore Holly (non-title) after Jericho reversed a roll-up pin. Jericho left with the belt for himself.
Triple H defeated Big Show to become the new WWF Champion after a DX distraction and a low blow followed by the Pedigree.
Big Boss Man and Prince Albert defeated Test, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young with Albert pinning Test after a bicycle kick.
The Acolytes (with one armed tied behind their back) were attacked by the Mean Street Posse and the Dudley Boyz before a match even began. No Contest.
Jeff Hardy beat Al Snow in a cage match via escaping over the cage walls.
The Rock defeated X-Pac, Road Dogg & Mr. Ass when Rock pinned Mr. Ass with a Rock Bottom. Mick Foley also interfered to even the odds.