Quick Recap- We’re up to the go home week for No Way Out, where Triple H once again defends the WWF title against Cactus Jack, this time in Hell in a Cell. Also, The Rock will face Big Show and the winner will challenge the WWF Champion at Wrestlemania. Kane wants a piece of X-Pac, and the Radicals have been at loggerheads with Too Cool and Rikishi.
Kurt Angle and British Bulldog defeated Chris Jericho and Chyna. The ref was distracted and Angle nailed Jericho with a title belt. The Olympic Sam scored the pin.
Too Cool defeat Head Cheese. Al Snow desperately tries to get Blackman to do a little dance. He actually does, but Scotty 2 Hotty takes advantage of him and rolls hims up for the three!
Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko pinned Godfather & D’Lo.
Christian, Edge, Matt & Jeff Hardy defeated the New Age Outlaws and The Dudleyz. Everyone started attacking each other, regardless of team, and In the end Jeff got the pin, the ref screwed up the finish.
The APA and Mark Henry defeat The Hollys and Viscera. After the match Mae kicks away at Crash, but Hardcore clotheslines her and Viscera gives her a big splash!
Chris Benoit defeated Test. Eddie Guerrero helped interfere.
Rikishi beats Eddie Guerrero.
Tazz had a DQ win over Big Bossman.
DX and Big Show defeated The Rock, Cactus Jack and Kane. HHH scored the pin on Cactus after everyone was brawling around ringside. Cactus went on the attack afterwards and partially ruined the front of the DX bus, smashing a window!
A hardcore revolution begins, as Crash Holly wins his first of many Hardcore titles, pinning Test to take the gold.
Kane and Chris Benoit went to a no-contest. Tori lured Kane to the top of the stage and then Kane was burned again.
Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and Head Cheese defeated Edge, Christian and the Hardyz. The Radicals hit a sweet double team move where Malenko hit a jumping calf kick to Jeff Hardy’s face at the same time as Saturn nailed him with a tiger suplex, bridging for the pinfall.
DX (Triple H, Road Dogg and X-Pac) defeated Too Cool and Rikishi. X-Pac pinned Grand Master after the X-Factor.
Godfather and D’Lo pinned Albert and the Big Bossman. Tazz got a little revenge on the heels in the run up to the finish.
Billy Gunn gets a DQ win over Bubba Dudley after D’Von went after him. The Dudleyz set up a table, but Road Dogg makes the save. Billy then hits huge Fameasser on Bubba through a table!
Big Show and Kurt Angle beat The Rock and Chris Jericho by DQ. Chyna tried nailing Show with a steel chair, but it had no effect. All four brawled afterwards. Show throws Rock through a window!
Fun with Foley- Mick cuts an epic promo, then takes a ride.
Looking back, some of Mick’s words in his impassioned promo Smackdown seem a bit futile now. He gave his word that he would “never wrestle again” should he lose to Triple H at the PPV. I hope the spoiler police won’t complain, but most of us know the outcome of said match already. We also know that since then, Foley has stepped back into the ring on a number of occasions.
That being said, you’d be cruel to argue with the sentiment, emotion and wordplay that Mick conveys while addressing the crowd one last time before heading to No Way Out. In many ways, I think you could see the writing on the wall for him. He even described a meeting he had with Vince McMahon about his own lack of confidence. If anything, he was actually giving us a big reveal into why he made the transition to Cactus Jack. Fed up with making people laugh but not having stad-out matches, Foley effectively tells us he HAD to resort to his old persona to recapture the fire. It also goes back to what he said when he actually brought back the physical Jack character in January. Happy, cuddly Mankind isn’t going to be able to beat Triple H, but the brutal, barbaric Cactus just might have a shot.
It was another excellent display on a microphone from an esteemed member of the WWF roster. Today in the WWE, few can even come close to matching some of the verbal skills of the main eventers and upper midcard workers from 2000.
Looking back, I think the build-up to the Royal Rumble match was actually better than the run-up to No Way Out. Whilst there were more personalities involved this month with The Rock and the Radicals involved, the build up to the Rumble was more concentrated on just the two of them. But over the last week it intensified again, with Mick smashing up the DX Express and then HHH locking him in a cage and dragging him round the parking lot with it, as you do!
Again, if you look at Mick’s promo, in fairness he alludes that it could be then end of his life as an ACTIVE wrestler. If you want to be picky, it does imply that while he’s hanging up his boots for a full-time schedule, he might dust them off once or twice for a return match, or indeed stay in our lives as an on-screen character, which in both counts can only be a good thing. I can’t cry wolf personally, because I’ve throughly enjoyed some of his efforts on the occasions that he has returned to the ring, as I’m sure many others have who were clamouring for him to lace the boots up again.
Showtime- Big Show and The Rock get ready to settle their bid’ness
Big Show’s transition into a heel role has been seemless. With his height, weight and intensity, he fits such a roll perfectly. He’s also been a dab hand on the microphone, taunting The Rock and the crowd and easily riling them.
Effectively, the Rock/Show feud has been something of a placeholder for both of them. HHH and Foley have the WWF title picture locked between them for now, so both needed something to keep them on track throughout February before the real road to Wrestlemania began. The controversy surrounding the Royal Rumble match was the perfect antidote for this, and since then they’ve engaged in some great exchanges.
From Rock mocking Show’s haircut, to Show throwing the brahma bull straight through a window, the hatred between them has been well honed. The only criticism I’d have is that while the actual match has been built up well, there seems to have been very little mention of what’s actually at stake in their PPV bout. The winner will go on to Wrestlemania and challenge the WWF Champion. It’s been mooted once or twice on commentary, but otherwise it hasn’t been made as big a factor as I believe it could’ve been. Still, I’ve never had so much fun watching the Big Show, and Rock’s path towards greatness was still in full flow.
Grab a partner!- Tagging, tagging and more tagging.
From the quick results, you’ll have noticed that in the sixteen matches this week, ten of them were tag bouts. That’s not a criticism, more an observation on the embarrassment of riches WWF had at the time in terms of it’s talent roster.
Some of the teams may seem a bit thrown together, but at least it keeps the personalities on the show and gives them a purpose. It’s something I wish the current WWE would do more often, rather than having several guys treading water with not much to do. Head Cheese is the best example. Bossman and Albert is another. D’Lo and Godfather too.
Tag matches were often used to progress two sets of feuds in one big nutshell, I.e the 8-man tags featuring the personalities going after the tag team titles, or Rock and Jericho teaming up to take on Angle and Big Show, or one of the other many examples from this week.
Another aspect I like about all the tag matches is that everyone competing in them looks fresher for it. Being able to tag out gives them a bit of a breather, before coming back in and maintaining the fast pace. The crowds at both shows responded to them well, especially as they get to see even more members of the roster than usual.
More from the Midcard- Other happenings this week.
A Hardcore revolution is born, as Crash Holly becomes the Hardcore Champion for the very first time. This is where it all started for him, but later on we’d get the greatness of the 24/7 rule and the hijinx that came with it. The relationship with his cousin makes for fun TV, so I’m looking forward to re-watching all the good times ahead with Crash on top of the hardcore mountain.
After Cactus/HHH and Rock/Show, X-Pac and Kane is the next biggest rivalry heading into the PPV. On Smackdown, X-Pac’s flamethrower attack on Kane was an overt way of reminding the audience of their recent history, with Tori playing bait for the majority of it. Kane had never been more over than right at this point, and X-Pac was benefitting from it too, as it gave him importance while his buddy HHH was running the DX ship.
After twice teaming together in 8-man tags, Edge, Christian and the Hardyz finally came to blows. For two teams who were fan favourites, this was quite a big deal. It all leads up to the three-way tag match at Wrestlemania, so it was cool to watch it back and see how it all started. Yet another sign of the guard changing in the tag ranks.
Speaking of which, The New Age Outlaws saw out one of their last shows as tag team champions with something of a bang, doing a number on Bubba Dudley by putting him through one of his own tables. It was a way of sending a message; if the young lions wanted to throw the old lions out of the pride, they’d need to step it up a gear. Some great interactions between all four of those teams during the week.
The Radicalz were still being booked very prominently. Saturn and Malenko were linking up brilliantly as a tag team, while Chris Benoit continued to look vicious in singles action. Eddie was making more progress from his arm injury. Too Cool again played great foil for them, the perfect heroic counterparts to the rabid and sadistic heels. Great stuff!
The Smackdown tag encounter between Jericho/Angle was good, but their Raw tag bout wasn’t as much. I’ve praised the tagging this week, but I think these two just needed to be let at each other one on one. When you have two men as technically gifted as these two, you don’t need all the rest of the commotion to sell the match to the audience. Chyna should be nowhere near all of this.
Finally, spare a thought for poor Mae Young, after Viscera nailed her with a big splash! It’s an impressive visual. Just as I was starting to actually like the story, they go and effectively finish it! Cest la vie.
If you weren’t sold on No Way Out before, you should be by now! A good week with two good “go home” shows leading up to it. There weren’t any matches that really stood out as tremendous, but most of them were very entertaining. The angle advancement was again terrific, which is the main thing, and the main matches leading into the show all look great on paper. Bring it on.
Worth a watch for-
Dig up Foley’s promo on Smackdown if you can, because it’s a belter.
Follow me on twitter: @Nick_Sellers