Quick recap- We are hot off the heels of No Way Out, where Triple H retired Mick Foley inside the Hell in a Cell and retained the WWF title. Shane McMahon made a surprise return, costing The Rock his Wrestlemania title shot. As a result, we are headed for a Big Show/HHH ‘Mania main event. The Dudley Boyz are the new tag team champions after beating the New Age Outlaws and Kurt Angle now has both the European and Intercontinental titles.
WWF Raw 28/02/2000
The Hardyz defeated the APA.
Rikishi beat Kurt Angle by countout in a European title match, but he doesn’t win the title because of the countout. Post-match a mass brawl erupted between Angle, Rikishi & Too Cool, Chris Jericho and the Radicalz.
Edge & Christian defeated Head Cheese. Terri distracted Steve Blackman to aid E&C, but the Canadians look totally puzzled as to why Terri is helping them.
The Rock made quick work of the Brooklyn Brawler. The idea was that HHH was forcing Rock to “Start again at the back of the line” for WWF title contendership, and naturally the Brawler was at the back of the queue!
Chris Jericho defeated Perry Saturn.
Crash Holly’s Hardcore title defence against Mark Henry ended abruptly when Mae Young got involved, injured herself and managed to somehow go into premature labour. She then gave birth to a hand backstage. Yep!
Tazz and Chris Benoit went to a no-contest, as Big Bossman and Albert appeared to attack Tazz.
DX kicked Billy Gunn out of the group, which left Road Dogg and X-Pac to take on The Dudley Boyz. Kane arrived late-on to attack anything that moved.
The Rock then took on HHH and Big Show in a handicap match. If he won, he’d compete for the WWF title at Wrestlemania after all. Shane McMahon interfered again, so Rock technically wins by DQ, but he needed a pinfall or submission victory, so Show retains his title shot.
WWF Smackdown 02/03/2000
Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko bested Chris Jericho and Too Cool in an enthralling 6-man tag.
Jeff Hardy defeated Essa Rios by DQ, but doesn’t win his Lightheavyweight title as a result. Lita hit Jeff with a moonsault to cause the DQ. Tensions flared between Rios and Lita afterwards.
Crash Holly retained the Hardcore title against Tazz after, you guessed it, Bossman and Albert attacked him yet again.
X-Pac and Road Dogg defeated Edge & Christian after Terri distracted Edge.
Test pinned Viscera.
Kurt Angle defeated Sgt.Slaughter.
Kane held his own against the Dudley Boyz. Kane Chokeslammed D’Von through a table, which ended the match.
The Rock & Rikishi defeated Big Show and Triple H. Rock got the pin on HHH after a People’s Elbow.
A Rock, A HHHardplace, and a McMahon- The Rock trailblazes the ‘Mania main eventers.
With No Way Out in the books, Triple H thought he could breathe easy. Cactus Jack was out of the picture, beaten and retired. The title was still around Hunter’s grasp, having fought in two of the most brutal matches of his career (Which still stand out today) in the last two months. With Big Show having beaten The Rock, thanks to Shane McMahon, the Game also didn’t have to worry about defending the title at Wrestlemania against the People’s Champion.
The two main events from this week were great contests full of emotion, which is mainly testament to Rock’s work. The crowd were utterly incensed that he wouldn’t be in the main event of Wrestlemania. They were incensed at Shane for costing him for a second night in a row, they were incensed at the thought of a Triple H/Big Show main event, they were just generally incensed as to how their hero was being treated.
It’s amazing how much sympathy Rock managed to draw for himself, yet as he explained in his Smackdown promo, everytime he gets Chokeslammed, Pedigreed or nailed with a chair, he keeps getting back up and you just can’t put him down. The last part of that paragraph is one of the major reasons Rock was so beloved. He would lose and put several superstars over, but he would always keep getting back up and be ready to whoop a candy-ass or two on the next broadcast, or talk trash better than anyone in the profession.
Gunned down- Mr.Ass leaves DX with a whimper.
After losing the tag titles to the Dudleyz the previous night, X-Pac and Road Dogg were granted a rematch of sorts on Raw. With Billy Gunn injured, he was effectively benched. After questioning this, along with a verbal tirade at Triple H, Gunn was attacked and kicked out of the DX lockeroom. This not only signalled the end of his spot in DX, but it broke up the New Age Outlaws once and for all. In a flash, one of the greatest tag teams of all time was finished.
With X-Pac stepping in as his replacement, it was actually a lot easier to get behind DX as a heel team. The Outlaws were supposed to be heels, but often found themselves with more crowd backing and support thanks to their popularity. The match with the Dudleyz and then Edge & Christian on Smackdown were two good outings, but ultimately I felt the partnership didn’t click as much as the Outlaws. Also, it seemed a waste for X-Pac, especially coming off of the back of beating Kane at No Way Out.
X-Pac and Road Dogg would continue teaming throughout the year, while Billy faced a lengthy spell on the sidelines thanks to his injured shoulder. It’s a shame that such a brilliant team was broken up in the manner they were, with little to no build up and in such a quick segment, but it did mark the next step in the division’s renaissance.
Hardcore heaven, 24/7!- Crash Holly starts a legend.
The Hardcore title is often debated by wrestling historians. Some thought it was excellent fun with some bizarre brawls, others think it was a load of nonsense, a detriment to other, more high profile brawls. Some say it also desensitised the fans and made the performers constantly push the boat out to become more and more violent, thus risking their health tenfold.
I understand the sentiment behind the latter, and I think in the yeas following the title’s retirement that the company worked hard to reverse that philosophy. But I, for one, loved the Hardcore title. I’d look forward to seeing every Raw and Smackdown to see it defended, often several times in a night. Yes, the matches were violent, but more often than not the weapons were used more for comic effect than for the purposes of a blood feud, I.e using stop signs and broomsticks. I think you could look back and see a clear difference between say, the Royal Rumble street fight and your average Hardcore title match.
Two more aspects made the title very unique. One was that pinfalls could happen anywhere inside (or indeed outside) of the arena. The other was the 24/7 ruling introduced by Crash Holly. After announcing this self-created ruling on Smackdown, the Mean Street Posse tried attacking him at his car. Somehow, he escaped!
The belt and the 24/7 rule did a lot to get Crash over, and he became a loveable babyface rogue as a result.
Midcard mania- The Rest.
Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit all found themselves acquainted with one another during the TV shows from this week. On Raw, Kurt defended the European title against Rikishi in a reasonably good bout, and the Radicalz came out to attack the big man afterwards. Too Cool and Jericho made the save, which led to a blinding tag match on Smackdown. Whilst nothing was set with regards to the Euro-Continental belts, the seeds were certainly planted between the three of them. Too Cool continued to impress against the Radicals too, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing them all collectively do battle.
As for Angle, not only did he successfully defend the European title, but he also defeated a former WWF Champion and Wrestlemania headliner in Sgt. Slaughter. Ol’ Sarge put in a strong shift and did Kurt a good service, putting him over strongly. Angle rolls on down the Road to Wrestlemania, collecting feathers in his cap by the show.
Tazz is still lumbered with the Big Bossman and Albert. After ruining what could’ve been a terrific match on Raw between Tazz and Benoit, the duo then stuck their nose in during Tazz’s Hardcore title match with Crash. I feel for Tazz, because after such a strong start this feud already seems like something of a relegation for him. Nothing against Bossman or Albert per say, but the feud wasn’t doing anything for all three of them!
Recently the holy tag trinity of the Hardyz, Edge & Christian and the Dudleyz had been at each other’s throats, this week they were strangely kept apart. The Dudleyz were busy with DX and Kane on the respective shows, while Edge & Christian even teased tension amongst themselves after Terri cost them a match with DX on Smackdown, after she’d actually helped them on Raw against Head Cheese. It seems strange to me, because although they eventually all hooked up anyway, you’d think they’d have wanted to build up their ladder match as soon as possible. Perhaps it wasn’t even thought of at that point in March.
Speaking of the Hardyz, they were introduced on-screen to Lita for the first time. Lita had been a valet for Light-heavyweight Champion Essa Rios, and even nailed Jeff Hardy with a Hurracanrana in Essa’s title defence against him on Smackdown. The post-match heat between Lita and her man was the beginning of the end for them as a duo. The match itself is terrific, a really fast paced and high flying affair.
How could I forget Mae Young and Mark Henry’s suff from Raw? Mae finally gave birth, albeit only to a hand. It’s a weirdly infamous moment on the show, and strangely one that people look back on in fondness when thinking about Mae. Crikey.
We also had some more Head Cheese related fun, as Al Snow tried setting up Steve Blackman on a date. Cool, Hawaiian style green shirt an’ all, Blackman sold the annoying date perfectly. For someone apparently devoid of personality, he showed great personality in getting the angle over with the fans. He clicked with Snow brilliantly.
For me, this wasn’t the strongest overall week of WWF TV. The Rock’s stuff was brilliant, when isn’t it? But I felt anything outside of the main event programme was lacking. The Outlaws’ split could’ve been much more memorale. Both Kane and X-Pac were effectively back in the midcard ranks again after a cracking No Way Out brawl. There was no interaction between Edge & Christian, the Hardyz and Dudleyz. Tazz is still duking it out with Big Bossman and Albert. There were some upsides though, like Too Cool and The Radicalz mixing it up again, the Head Cheese skits, Crash bringing in the 24/7 rule. The matches are mostly good watches, and it’s still a good week of TV, especially when you compare it to modern standards, but there are far, far stronger shows and weeks of television in 2000.
Worth a Watch for-
Anything involving The Rock, and Crash introducing the 24/7 ruling.
Follow me on twitter: @Nick_Sellers