WWF Smackdown 20/01/2000

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Quick recap-

Going into the Royal Rumble, Triple H and Cactus Jack is your main title match. The Rock and Big Show are the two biggest names in the 30-man Rumble match. The New Age Outlaws will defend the tag team title against the Acolytes. Kurt Angle is still undefeated, Chris Jericho and Chyna still can’t get along over the IC title situation and poor Al Snow still can’t find a reliable tag team partner…….. Or can he?

WWF Smackdown 20/01/2000

Quick results-

Big Show cements his heel turn by calling out The Rock. They trade words before Kane comes out, he’s also in the Rumble now. Triple H makes the main event match and the other three brawl.

X-Pac defeats Test after interference by the Outlaws. X-Pac will be the #30 entrant in the Rumble match.

Al Snow and Steve Blackman beat British Bulldog and Kurt Angle with Blackman pinning Bulldog. Snow finds a new partner while Angle technically wasn’t pinned, so he’s still undefeated.

Matt Hardy and D’Von Dudley went to a no contest after both sets of teams started brawling. The Dudleyz wound up going through their own tables!

Big Bossman and Albert went to a no contest too, after their match turned into an all-out brawl around ringside.

Rikishi & Too Cool bested Chris Jericho, Chyna and Hardcore Holly by DQ after they wouldn’t stop triple teaming him. Rikishi got revenge afterwards by taking out Chyna.

Viscera obliterated Crash with a Somoan Drop for the win.

Gangrel beat Edge by countout after Edge was distracted on the outside by the divas.

Kane won the triple threat over the top rope challenge. Big Show eliminated Rock, then Kane eliminated Show.

Triple H and Cactus had a wild brawl around ringside to close the show.

The battle before the war- HHH and Cactus sign off for the Rumble

The main event of the broadcast was actually a segment between Triple H and Cactus Jack. Hunter referenced past Rumbles and made things even more personal by brining Foley’s children into the conversation and promising to beat him worse than he’s ever been beaten in his life. It was typical Triple H; full of conviction, passion and authority. Equally, Foley brought stern warnings of his own, promising to crank up the violence and take HHH’s coveted title.

But, as has been the case with Foley’s previous promos in the run up to the PPV showdown, he also put HHH over as the best in the business today. Effectively, Foley’s character has needed to morph into Cactus Jack in order to stand a chance against him.

Queue a vicious assault by Foley, sick piledriver onto the announce table an’ all, which makes the crowd believe he might just walk out of New York with the WWF belt. Stephanie also deserves credit here for her reactions, watching on as her husband takes a right pasting and gasping on in sheer horror.

This was one of the finest go home promo segments we’d see in the year 2000 and it’s no coincidence it came from two of the greatest ever to put a microphone near their gobs. In a word, tremendous. It was an absolute delight to watch and I think it’s a real shame that most of the WWE’s current stars couldn’t even dream of reaching a level of interest for a rivalry like this one had.

Everything was built up so excellently and a short time window too. I criticised the “Have a bad day” skits from the first show of the year, but at the very least they served the intended purpose of fuelling Foley’s hatred. I can’t wait to see this match again.

Royal Rumblings- More Rumble match build

Show’s scathing promo on the fans and The Rock was a nice way to open up the show. Naturally Rock’s retort would completely blow him out of the water, but in Show’s case it was a chance for his character to get a lot of his recent frustrations off of his chest.

Here’s a man who had only lost the WWF title a couple of weeks ago, a man who The Rock had called “A Jabroni” despite not really doing anything to antagonise him. He’s 7’2 and weighs 500 pounds, he signs autographs, takes time away from his own family, kisses peoples babies, yet the fans boo him because of their loyalty to The Rock. It was something of a half-shoot from Show, coming right from the heart.

One of the key themes behind a strongly resonated heel promo is that heel should have 100% conviction in his words and there should absolutely be an element of truth somewhere in the statement, and you certainly can’t argue with Show’s case here. Up to now we’d only heard briefly from Show about his recent goings on in the ring, so it served as a nice counterpart to Rock’s stuff. The ensuing brawl afterwards was a sign of the hectic and exciting content to come on this show.

Leading on from the chaos at the start, the triple threat main event was a fun exchange between the three Rumble favourites, perhaps made more so because Rock didn’t actually come out on top; Instead Big Show eliminated him, possibly making people believe he does have a shot at winning the Rumble match after all, then Kane eliminates HIM and gives his own chances of winning a boost.

It’s smart booking because although Rock was obviously going to be the favourite, you want the fans to be kept in suspense as to the events on the PPV. Can Rock still do it? The mass brawl at the end was also good fun, as they usually are.

To add to the Rock/Show story going into the 30-man match; X-Pac and Test contested a short but sweet bout over the number #30 spot. Test’s power and X-Pac’s quickness combined with both men’s agility made me wish they’d have had a little longer to showcase their stuff because they contrasted really nicely here. This also marked another step up for Test in terms of regaining some prominence on the card. The Bossman feud hadn’t done much for him, sans winning the Hardcore title, so it was good to see him in a more interesting match.

Old friends, current friends and new friends- What else happened?

The Dudleyz/Hardyz rivalry gathered more pace as Bubba found himself in the precarious position of falling off of the stage and through some tables. D’von then fell victim to Matt Hardy’s backside flying through the air an onto him through another table.

See, this is what was so magical about the attitude era; This rivalry is effectively only a week old and already there’s some decent heat for it and in turn it’s doing wonders for two relatively new tag teams. This was seriously entertaining stuff.

As fun as it was watching those two young teams, it’s the Acolytes and the Outlaws who will collide for the tag team gold at the Rumble. Tonight the two teams wound up brawling in a bar, not only with each other but also some of the locals! This was nicely done and I’ve been getting more interested by the week to see how this match will go down on the PPV.

Albert and Bossman’s recent skirmish came to a head and Albert cut a nice promo before the match, praising Bossman for mentoring him but warning him that he’s done learning and he’s going to take him out. It ends with them just leathering each other to the point where the ref has to call for the bell. This was a little awkward for the crowd who weren’t exactly ready to accept Albert as a babyface yet, but this was still really good fun. Bossman had his best bout of the year so far here, most of his others have been pretty drab affairs.

Edge and Gangrel have some prior history, having previously formed The Brood along with Christian. King tries to play up to this on commentary but Cole changes the subject almost instantly. Shame, as this could’ve been made into more than it ultimately was. The diva stuff at the end was nonsense in all honesty.

The Too Cool six-man tag was a good showing, playing up to Rikishi’s chances ahead of the Rumble match and also the IC title 3-way coming up between Jericho/Hardcore/Chyna. Too Cool were just excellent to watch, really captivating and genuinely likeable babyfaces who got huge reactions. The 3-way should make for a good midcard bout in MSG even though it’s one of the less publicised feuds on the shows at the moment.

Finally for this section, a historic event that will send shockwaves through the annals of time in the profession…Head Cheese is born! Two storylines in one came into play here: Snow finally finds himself a partner and Kurt’s undefeated streak continues because he still hasn’t been pinned. Snow’s quip about Blackman (“My last partner Mick Foley had three different personalities…you have NO personality! This’ll be great!) is genius. It’s a bit of a nothing match, but it kicks off the fun and games with Blackman and Snow and keeps up with Angle’s streak arc.

Crash and burn- Elroy takes a beating.

2000 was a great year for Crash, mainly for his Hardcore title bouts. It wasn’t just Crash’s toys that brought the entertainment though, it was his selling and general enthusiasm which won the fans over. His match against Viscera was actually a really fun big man/little man contest. There seems to be a lot of filler content on the show tonight, but at least it’s watchable filler. Viscera wasn’t always the best big man to watch, but he pulled in a great effort here.

Overall-

Great go home show for the Rumble. The actual matches weren’t brilliant but they didn’t need to be; there’s a million ways to promote the relevant rivalries going into the event and they did this brilliantly. Rock and Big Show stepped it up a notch, The Acolytes and Outlaws’ solid build-up to their title match continued and HHH vs Cactus is right up there with the best rivalries of not just the year, but the decade.

Worth a watch for…

Opening and Closing segments. Nothing more, nothing less.

See you soon for the Rumble!

Follow me on twitter: @Nick_Sellers

#CactusJack

#RoyalRumble

#HeadCheese

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