Canvas Critiques #1 – WWF Royal Rumble 2000
Madison Square Garden. Established figures in wrestling hierarchy used to say that if you could get over in this building then you could get over anywhere. That saying still rings true today, but back in 2000 the WWF product reached a quite remarkable peak, and coming back to the arena where it all started for Vince and co would only serve to elevate this even further. As MSG crowds go, this one is red-hot even by their own high standards.
Aside from the guaranteed goodness of the Rumble match, we’ve also had arguably one of the most personal title feuds that the WWF had ever seen, a tables match between two of the WWF’s hottest up and coming tag teams and the company also hand out a debut to one of New York’s favourite sons.
There were other issues to resolve too, like the Intercontinental title storyline between Chris Jericho and Chyna. Co-holders at this point, tonight they would compete with Hardcore Holly in a triple threat match where the winner will be the sole owner of the belt. The New Age Outlaws also faced a tough battle against the Acolytes for their tag team titles.
The Rock was blazing a trail in order to regain the WWF title, but before he could get to that he had to get past Big Show, who had Rocky in his crosshairs following a string of exchanges between them in the run up to the Rumble match. Kane also staked his own claim for a Rumble upset on that week’s Smackdown by winning an over the top rope challenge. X-Pac wouldn’t have been a bad bet either, winning the #30 spot in the match by defeating Test.
Tazz debuted by choking out Kurt Angle, ending the Olympian’s undefeated streak.
The Hardy Boyz defeated the Dudley Boyz in a terrific tag team Tables match.
Mae Young wins the Miss Royal Rumble contest by……do I even have to go there?
Chris Jericho is the undisputed Intercontinental Champion after he defeated Chyna and Hardcore Holly.
The New Age Outlaws dispatched the Acolytes to keep the Tag Team titles.
Triple H defeated Cactus Jack, just, by giving him the Pedigree onto the thumb tacks in a WWF title street fight. Cactus still gets in a beatdown afterwards to avenge the loss and keep the feud going. Classic match.
The Rock wins the 30 man Royal Rumble match, last eliminating Big Show. X-Pac and Kane also made up the final four.
The match, the myth, the legend- Triple H vs Cactus Jack
Where the hell do you start with something like this? I’ll try starting with JR’s commentary.
I’ve said it time and time again, but his commentary just elevates everything going on around him and this is another prime example. Even without commentary this match is a treasure, so Ross’ descriptions and reactions during it just added so much drama to it.
HHH was, quite simply, immense. Foley was, quite simply, immense. Everything about this was just, well, frankly it was brutal. But in terms of context, content, crowd, performers, announcing, everything, this is one of WWF’s finest matches of the year if not the entire decade. I don’t do star ratings, but I’ll give you no prizes for guessing how many stars this would’ve attained had I done so.
If you remember the shows building up to this match, the sheer hatred between these two seemed to be brewing quite nicely. As good as the build up was, and we knew it’d be a decent match whatever should happen, I don’t anyone expected them to produce something like this.
This was pure art. Pure, wrestling, art. Not one for the scientific purists obviously, but it tells a wonderful story and delivers an absolutely classic contest. One of Foley’s last epics and arguably the match he can hang his career hat on. It was that damn good as Triple H would say.
Talking of Triple H, it was the first of several fantastic PPV bouts from him in 2000, firmly cementing his place as the top heel of his generation and the top guy in the industry at that moment in time regardless of his face/heel alignment. He was on fire. Actually, setting themselves on fire is probably the only sick thing either competitor didn’t endure in this match.
Quite simply, epic.
A Rocking Rumble- Rock goes to Wrestlemania
I absolutely love the Rumble match. It brings back some fond memories of when I first started to get into wrestling on a regular basis and I’ve been a sucker for these over the top rope style matches ever since. This one wasn’t one of the best ever in my book but it’s certainly a great Rumble full of fun moments and some good character progression.
Rikishi gets some great crowd reactions as he tears through some of the superstars in the early going, even having to eliminate his own stablemates in Too Cool. The big man seemed to be getting more over by the day, but not at the cost of not being taking seriously due to his dancing antics with Scotty and Grandmaster. The mini-match with Viscera was a nice exchange too.
We had the comedy aspect too, with Kai En Tai kept trying to enter the match but constantly getting eliminated. Poor Taka hit the floor so hard that he was taken to hospital! Bob Backlund’s surprise entry got a nice pop from the crowd too.
But the main story of course is The Rock’s victory, which means it’ll be him going on to Wrestlemania to challenge for the gold. It was to be expected, but it was done in an effective manner and it also leaves some storyline intrigue, as we’ll discover in terms of the follow up from the PPV when it’s revealed that Rock’s feet may have actually hit the ground first as he tried eliminating Big Show. It was the right result and a fun conclusion to the PPV. In terms of where the spectacle ranks amongst other Rumble’s, it’s not the best ever but it’s sniffing around the top half of the league table, so to speak.
The mood Changes- Tazz arrives!
I’ve heard rumblings before about Tazz not initially looking dominant enough, but I put that down to blatant favouritism or stupidity. He choked out an undefeated superstar after all. It would’ve been harsh on Angle to totally job him out, for he was on a good roll at this point. As openers go, red-hot partisan crowd or otherwise, it didn’t last long but it made Tazz look like a total beast. He threw some cracking suplexes as only he can and Angle sold perfectly for him. It’s a pity we never saw these two go at it again as Kurt entered his prime. This was a cracking opener and from the early going the crowd were well enticed for the evening’s proceedings.
Tables and titles- Other bouts
Chris Jericho deservedly has the Intercontinental title all to himself again. The tripe threat match wasn’t bad but you could tell the match was never going to be as important or as good as some of the others. Still, solid effort from all three, if unspectacular, and Jericho would push on from this and go on to have a pretty decent year.
The tag tables match was pure balls to the wall brilliance from the Dudleyz and Hardyz. The match went a long way to establishing both of them and served as a great precursor to the upcoming TLC type of matches they’d go on to have with Edge & Christian. The spots themselves looked absolutely brutal and the crowd just ate it all up. The Dudleyz continue to look like a couple of sick bullies while the Hardyz reached new highs (literally) of daredevil-ness. Thumbs up for sheer fun factor alone, but as spot matches go this is up there with my all-time favourites. And incredibly it wasn’t even the most violent bout of the night!
The same can’t be said for the tag title bout however. This match must’ve seemed like a real drag to anyone who witnessed the tables match earlier in the night. If anything it reinforced the point that the previous tag match had made: A changing of the guard for the tag division was coming. The Outlaws, as popular and as talented as they were, were on the way out and newer, faster, rougher, more exciting teams were coming in to start a new golden age in that division. Thumbs down for this, one of the very few black spots on the PPV.
Miss Royal Rum—…….Oh..
It’s funny now, but I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind thought that this segment was a good idea! Still, I guess it was more memorable than say, a normal women’s title match would’ve been. Rightly or wrongly, this is a memorable moment and Mae stole the bloody show here. She’s game, and therefore she deserves respect (or sympathy?) for her “Yep, I’ll do anything!” attitude. Not for the squeamish.
The 411: Royal Rumble 2000 is by far and away one of WWF/E’s most memorable PPV efforts of the decade, or indeed any other decade. The WWF title bout obviously sticks out in the memory, but there’s also the excellent tag tables match and the arrival of Tazz to whet the appetite, not to mention the Rumble match itself. Despite having a predictable end result, it's a blinder in itself with some great stuff packed into the whole duration of it. If you haven’t seen this PPV yet, then what on earth is wrong with you? Unless it makes you feel a bit queasy then you really have no excuse. Thumbs WAY up for this event. As big time WWF PPV’s go, this is one you absolutely must add to your collection if you can find it. Track it down, search high and low for it, and enjoy.
|Final Score: 8.0 [ Very Good ] legend|