The Piledriver Report 05.09.13: The History of Vince McMahon’s Wrestling Empire: Part Sixteen
While “Y2J” debuted in the WWF in 1999, the world awaited the arrival of “Y2K.” As the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2000, paranoid people around the world found out that there was nothing to worry about after all. The world didn’t end. Chaos didn’t reign. The computers throughout the world didn’t experience the dreaded “Y2K” bug. In the WWF, they had a greater disease to worry about then a computer virus. At the end of 1999, the World Wrestling Federation was taken over by the McMahon-Helmsley Era.
On the first RAW of the year, on January 3rd, 2000, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley announced that Triple H would face the WWF World Champion The Big Show that night. Triple H regained the WWE title from the Big Show to become a three time WWF World Champion.
On January 19th, Vince McMahon tried his hand at becoming a night club/restaurant owner when he opened up WWF New York entertainment complex in New York City. The complex featured a huge WWF merchandise store. On pay per view Sundays, they featured the shows on all of their television screens. Tuesday nights featured live airings of the SmackDown! tapings. The restaurant’s claim to fame from a non-wrestling perspective is that they were home to the largest bar in New York City. For a wrestling fan, when the WWE was in town, you can always find a WWF Superstar walking around the complex, as well as several autograph signings involving WWF personalities.
FOLEY’S ROAD TO THE MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA
The 2000 Royal Rumble took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In the opening contest, Kurt Angle put up his winning streak on the line against WWF newcomer and former ECW World Champion Tazz. Tazz’s debut was a success as he handed Kurt Angle his first “official” WWF loss. Matt & Jeff Hardy defeated the Dudley Boyz in a tables match. WWF IC Champion Chris Jericho defeated WWF IC Champion Chyna and Hardcore Holly to become the sole holder of the IC title. WWF Tag Team Champions Billy Gunn & the Road Dogg defeated the Acolytes. WWF World Champion Triple H pinned Cactus Jack in a street fight. The Rock won the 30-man Royal Rumble match by last eliminating the Big Show for a spot in the WWF World title match at WrestleMania 2000.
The January 31st edition of RAW featured one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history. Around this time, turmoil was brewing behind the scenes at World Championship Wrestling. The company was losing millions of dollars. The wrestlers were unhappy, and the management team was about to get another make over. This time, former wrestler Kevin Sullivan takes over creative. Several mid-card wrestlers wanted to get out of their contracts because they haven’t been used to their proper potential. One wrestler, in particular, had a reason to worry, because this wrestler wound up falling in love with Kevin Sullivan’s wife. This wrestler was Chris Benoit. His fellow partners that wanted out of WCW included Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero. On this January night, all of these wrestlers, with the exception of Shane Douglas, showed up in the front row on RAW as a new group called The Radicalz. On their very first night in the WWE, they were involved in the main event angle when they attacked the WWF World Champion Triple H. This was a far cry from their days of being held back in WCW.
On February 3rd, Vince McMahon announced his latest non-WWF venture. This time he was going to team up with NBC in the creation of the XFL. The XFL was a new football league that was designed to take place after the NFL season ended. Vince wasn’t trying to compete against the NFL. He didn’t want their players. He actually signed non-NFL ready and former NFL players in the league.
On February 27th, No Way Out aired live from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, CT. WWF European Champion Kurt Angle pinned WWF IC Champion Chris Jericho to win the Intercontinental title. The Dudley Boyz defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Billy Gunn & the Road Dogg to win the tag titles. Mark Henry pinned Viscera. Edge & Christian defeated Matt & Jeff Hardy. Edge & Christian became the #1 contenders to the tag team titles and earned a title shot at WrestleMania 2000. Tazz defeated the Big Bossman by disqualification. X-Pac pinned Kane in a no holds barred match. Rikishi & Too Cool defeated Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, & Perry Saturn. The Big Show pinned the Rock. Due to pre-match stipulations, Show won The Rock’s world title shot at WrestleMania. WWF World Champion Triple H pinned Cactus Jack in a Hell in a Cell.
On the next night’s RAW, WWF World Champion Triple H was in the ring cutting an in-ring promo on the previous night’s Hell in a Cell match against Mick Foley. Shane McMahon & the Big Show interrupted, with Shane cutting a promo on Stephanie running Vince out of the WWF, then stating that the Big Show would be the future world champion. The Rock came onto the stage and said he would be the WWF Champion at WrestleMania despite losing at No Way Out.
On the March 13th RAW, The Rock challenged the Big Show to a one-on-one bout for the Big Show’s title shot against The Rock’s career. The Rock beat the Big Show for the title shot.
This was a big week for The Rock, because on March 18th, he hosted Saturday Night Live. Triple H, Mick Foley, Vince McMahon, and the Big Show also appeared in a skit. The show was the highest rated Saturday Night Live of the season.
On the next RAW, Linda McMahon announced that the WrestleMania 2000 main event would be changed to a Fatal Four Way contest featuring WWF World Champion Triple H, The Rock, the Big Show, and Mick Foley.
WrestleMania 2000 took place at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA on April 2nd. The Big Bossman & Bull Buchanon defeated the Godfather & D-Lo Brown. Hardcore Holly won a 13-man 15-minute hardcore battle royal to win the WWF Hardcore Title. Test & Albert defeated Al Snow & Steve Blackman. Edge & Christian defeated Matt & Jeff Hardy and WWF Tag Team Champions the Dudley Boyz in a ladder match to win the tag titles. Terri defeated the Kat. Chyna, Grandmaster Sexay, & Scotty 2 Hotty defeated Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, & WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko. Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho and WWF IC & European Champion Kurt Angle to win the IC title by pinning Jericho. In the second fall, Chris Jericho defeated WWF IC Champion Chris Benoit and WWF European Champion Kurt Angle to win the European title by pinning Benoit. Kane & Rikishi defeated X-Pac & the Road Dogg WWF World Champion Triple H defeated the Rock, the Big Show, and Mick Foley in a No DQ elimination match when Vince turned on The Rock, and hit with a chair.
THE ROCK VS. THE GAME
The next pay per view was Backlash at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian defeated X-Pac & the Road Dogg. WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko pinned Scotty 2 Hotty. The Big Bossman & Bull Buchanon defeated the Acolytes. WWF Hardcore Champion Crash Holly defeated Matt & Jeff Hardy, Tazz, Perry Saturn, and Hardcore Holly. The Big Show pinned Kurt Angle. Before the match, the Big Show came to the ring dressed as Hulk Hogan and to the tune of “Real American.” Test & Albert defeated the Dudley Boyz. WWF European Champion Eddie Guerrero pinned Essa Rios. WWF IC Champion Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification.
The Rock pinned WWF World Champion Triple H to win the WWF World Championship.
May 21st was the date for Judgement Day from Lexington, KY. Rikishi & Too Cool defeated Kurt Angle & WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian. WWF European Champion Eddie Guerrero defeated Perry Saturn and WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko. Shane McMahon pinned the Big Show in a No DQ match due to outside interference from Test, Albert, and Bull Buchanon. WWF IC Champion Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho in a submission match. X-Pac & the Road Dogg defeated the Dudley Boyz in a tables match. Triple H defeated WWF World Champion the Rock in a 60-minute Ironman match to regain the WWF World title in 6 falls to 5. Shawn Michaels was the special referee for the controversial bout. The final fall saw The Rock get disqualified as the Undertaker interfered at the buzzer. This match was named Pro Wrestling Torch’s Match of the Year.
The May 29th edition of RAW featured the qualifying round for the King of the Ring tournament. Rikishi defeated Shane McMahon by disqualification. Bull Buchanon pinned Steve Blackman. On the next Sunday Night Heat, the King of the Ring qualifying matches continued. Chyna pinned the Godfather. Val Venis pinned Al Snow. SmackDown! also hosted a couple of qualifying matches. Kurt Angle pinned Bradshaw. Crash Holly pinned Albert.
The qualifying matches continued the next week. RAW had two matches. Chris Benoit pinned the Road Dogg. Hardcore Holly pinned Farooq. Sunday Night Heat hosted two more matches. Bubba Ray Dudley pinned the Big Bossman. Perry Saturn pinned D-Von Dudley. The final two qualifying matches of the week included Chris Jericho pinning Test and Eddie Guerrero pinned Matt Hardy on SmackDown! The final qualifying matches took place on RAW on June 12th and on SmackDown! on June 15th. X-Pac pinned Dean Malenko. Jeff Hardy pinned Christian.
The first round of the King of the Ring tournament started on the next Sunday Night Heat. Bull Buchanon pinned Perry Saturn. Val Venis pinned Jeff Hardy. Round One continued on RAW. Kurt Angle pinned Bubba Ray Dudley. WWF IC Champion Chris Benoit defeated X-Pac by submission. WWF European Champion Eddie Guerrero pinned Chyna. Chris Jericho defeated Edge by submission. Rikishi pinned WWF Tag Team Champion Scotty 2 Hotty. WWF Hardcore Champion Crash Holly defeated Hardcore Holly via disqualification.
The King of the Ring pay per view took place on June 25th at the Fleet Center in Boston, MA. In the King of the Ring Quarterfinals, WWF IC Champion Rikishi defeated Chris Benoit by disqualification. Val Venis pinned WWF European Champion Eddie Guerrero. Kurt Angle pinned Chris Jericho. In semi-final action, WWF IC Champion Rikishi pinned Val Venis and Kurt Angle pinned Crash Holly. In the finals of the King of the Ring, Kurt Angle pinned WWF IC Champion. In other matches on the card, Edge & Christian defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Scotty 2 Hotty & Grandmaster Sexay, Matt & Jeff Hardy, and Test & Albert in an elimination match to win the tag team titles. Crash Holly pinned WWF Hardcore Champion Pat Patterson to win the Hardcore title. X-Pac & the Road Dogg defeated the Dudley Boyz in a handicap tables / dumpster match. The Rock, the Undertaker, & Kane defeated WWF World Champion Triple H, Vince & Shane McMahon when The Rock pinned Vince with the Rock Bottom. Due to pre-match stipulations, if a member of Triple H’s team was pinned, the winner of the fall would win the title. Therefore, The Rock became the new WWF World champion.
On July 23rd, Fully Loaded took place at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX. Matt & Jeff Hardy and Lita defeated Test, Albert, & Trish Stratus. Tazz defeated Al Snow by submission. Perry Saturn pinned WWF European Champion Eddie Guerrero to win the title. The Acolytes defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian by disqualification. WWF IC Champion Val Venis pinned Rikishi in a steel cage match. The Undertaker pinned Kurt Angle. Triple H defeated Chris Jericho in a Last Man Standing Match. WWF World Champion the Rock pinned Chris Benoit.
For Kurt Angle, the summer of 2000 was the “Summer of Love.” During this period, Kurt Angle developed a “friendship” with Stephanie McMahon. This storyline would be Kurt Angle’s introduction into the main event stage in the World Wrestling Federation. As the Angle/Stephanie relationship grew, the tension between Triple H and Kurt Angle heated up. While Triple H was teaching Trish Stratus wrestling holds, Kurt Angle was Stephanie’s shoulder to cry on. Eventually, Angle had to let his true feelings be known to Stephanie. A few days before SummerSlam, Kurt Angle passionately kissed Stephanie McMahon.
SummerSlam 2000 took place on August 27th in Raleigh, NC. Steven Richards, Bull Buchanon, & the Godfather defeated Rikishi, Grandmaster Sexay, & Scotty 2. X-Pac pinned the Road Dogg. Eddie Guerrero & Chyna defeated WWF IC Champion Val Venis & Trish Stratus when Chyna pinned Trish to win the IC title. Due to pre-match stipulations if Guerrero & Chyna won the match then the person who scored the fall would win the championship. Jerry Lawler pinned Tazz. Steve Blackman pinned WWF Hardcore Champion Shane McMahon to win the Hardcore title. Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho in a Best 2 out of 3 falls match. WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian defeated the Dudley Boyz and Matt & Jeff Hardy in a TLC match. This match was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year.
The Kat defeated Terri. The Undertaker fought Kane to a no contest. WWF World Champion the Rock defeated Kurt Angle and Triple H by pinning Triple H with the People’s Elbow after Triple H collided with Stephanie McMahon on the apron.
The RAW telecast in Chicago, IL from the AllState Arena on September 18th, was the final RAW telecast on the USA Network. The show included an opening segment where Stephanie McMahon cut a promo asking Mick Foley to cancel the Triple H/Kurt Angle match at Unforgiven. Kurt Angle told her the match had to happen. He presented a video montage of the various problems between Stephanie and Triple H over the past several weeks to remind her. Triple H alluded to the fact that Angle might be gay since he said he just wanted to be Stephanie’s friend. Triple H showed a clip of Angle at the 96 Olympics. The first shot was of Angle’s opponent’s head in Angle’s crotch. The next shot showed Angle crying after winning the gold medal. Triple H encouraged Angle to come out of the closet. Foley came out to the ring, replayed the clip of Angle crying, and ordered a match between Trish Stratus, Test and Albert against Triple H, Angle, and Stephanie for later in the show. This RAW featured an in-ring promo by WWF World Champion The Rock where he told the Undertaker that if he wanted a title shot, all he needed to do was ask for it. Mick Foley agreed that the two could have a match if they wanted one. Chris Benoit appeared saying that he was more deserving of a title shot. Kane then came out saying he should get the title shot. Foley ordered the Rock to face Taker in a non-title match and Benoit to face Kane later in the show. There was an in-ring segment with Steven William Regal where he tried to teach the American audience about dinner etiquette, but was interrupted by Chris Jericho. Jericho dumped all of Regal’s plates and utensils to the floor, but then was attacked from behind by X-Pac. Bull Buchanon & the Goodfather defeated the Dudley Boyz. Kane defeated Chris Benoit by disqualification. Triple H, Kurt Angle, & Stephanie McMahon defeated Test, Albert, & Trish Stratus. After the bout, Triple H tackled Angle and knocked him out of the ring after seeing Angle enthusiastically hug Stephanie. Rikishi fought Chyna to a no contest when Guerrero interfered and sprayed mace in Rikishi’s face before the match began. WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian defeated Too Cool. The Undertaker pinned WWF World Champion the Rock in a non-title match.
The First Union Center in Philadelphia, PA played host to Unforgiven on September 24th. Steven Richards, Bull Buchanon, the Goodfather, & Val Venis defeated the Acolytes & the Dudley Boyz. Tazz defeated Jerry Lawler in a strap match by submission with the Tazzmission after Raven came out of the crowd, and hit the DDT on Lawler. This was Scott Levy’s surprise return after a 6 year absence in the WWF, and his introduction to the WWF audience as Raven. WWF Hardcore Champion Steve Blackman defeated WWF European Champion Al Snow, Crash Holly, Test (w/ Trish Stratus), Perry Saturn (w/ Terri), and Sho Funaki in a 10-minute hardcore challenge match. Chris Jericho defeated X-Pac by submission. Matt & Jeff Hardy defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian in a steel cage match to win the tag titles. WWF IC Champion Eddie Guerrero defeated Rikishi by disqualification. Triple H pinned Kurt Angle in a No DQ match with the Pedigree after Triple H forced Stephanie to choose between himself and Angle. Stephanie kicked Angle in the groin from behind to show her loyalty to her husband. WWF World Champion the Rock defeated the Undertaker, Kane, and Chris Benoit by pinning Benoit with the Rock Bottom.
The next night, the WWF presented the very first RAW to be broadcast on TNN (Spike-TV) from State College, PA. Kane fought Rikishi to a double. Tazz pinned Bubba Ray Dudley. WWF Tag Team Champions Matt & Jeff Hardy defeated Edge & Christian in a ladder match. X-Pac defeated Chris Jericho in a First Blood Match. WWF IC Champion Eddie Guerrero pinned Val Venis. WWF World Champion the Rock pinned Chris Benoit with the Rock Bottom, after interference by Triple H. After the match, Benoit and Kurt Angle attacked the Rock and Triple H, with Benoit headbutting Stephanie McMahon.
October 22nd was the date for the No Mercy pay per view at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, NY. The Dudley Boyz defeated Bull Buchanon & the Goodfather, Too Cool, D-Lo Brown & Chaz, and Raven & Tazz in a tag team table invitational. The Acolytes & WWF Women’s Champion Lita fought Test, Albert, & Trish Stratus to a no contest. Chris Jericho defeated X-Pac in a steel cage match. Val Venis & Ivory defeated Billy Gunn & Chyna. Steve Austin fought Rikishi to a no contest in a no holds barred match. WWF European Champion William Regal pinned Mideon. Los Conquistadors (Edge & Christian under masks) defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Matt & Jeff Hardy to win the tag belts. Triple H pinned Chris Benoit. Kurt Angle pinned WWF World Champion the Rock in a No DQ match to win his first WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
STONE COLD RETURNS
The build-up to the 2000 Survivor Series centered on who was the mastermind behind running over Steve Austin at the previous year’s Survivor Series. On the October 31st SmackDown! taping, The asked Steve Austin to come out so he could face-to-face tell Austin he had nothing to do with the hit and run. Austin came to the ring and said that the only person he trusts is himself. Rikishi appeared on the stage, and said that, because The Rock’s merchandise sales were dropping, The Rock came to him and asked him to run Austin down. The Rock told Austin that everything he has done has been face-to-face.
On November 6th’s edition of RAW, the mystery was solved. After a tag team match between Steve Austin and Triple H against Kurt Angle and Rikishi, Triple H admitted that he was the man behind the hit and run.
The 2000 Survivor Series took place on November 19th in Tampa, FL. WWF Hardcore Champion Steve Blackman, Crash & Molly Holly defeated Test, Albert, & Trish Stratus. Chris Benoit, WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko, WWF IC Champion Eddie Guerrero, & Perry Saturn defeated Billy Gunn, the Road Dogg, Chyna, & K-Kwick in an elimination match. Kane pinned Chris Jericho. WWF European Champion William Regal defeated Hardcore Holly by disqualification. The Rock pinned Rikishi. WWF Women’s Champion Ivory pinned Lita. WWF World Champion Kurt Angle pinned the Undertaker. Matt & Jeff Hardy and the Dudley Boyz defeated Edge, Christian, WWF Tag Team Champions Bull Buchanon & the Goodfather in an elimination match. Steve Austin fought Triple H to a no contest in a No DQ match.
The final pay per view of the year, Armaggedon, took place on December 10th in Alabama. WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, & Perry Saturn defeated Lita, Matt & Jeff Hardy in an elimination match. WWF European Champion William Regal pinned Hardcore Holly. Val Venis pinned Chyna. Chris Jericho defeated Kane in a Last Man Standing match. Edge & Christian defeated WWF Tag Team Champions the Goodfather & Bull Buchanon, the Road Dogg & K-Kwick, and the Dudley Boyz to win the WWF tag team titles. Chris Benoit defeated WWF IC Champion Billy Gunn to win the Intercontinental title by submission. WWF Women’s Champion Ivory defeated Trish Stratus and Molly Holly by pinning Trish. WWF World Champion Kurt Angle defeated Steve Austin, Rikishi, the Undertaker, the Rock, and Triple H in a Hell in a Cell bout by pinning the Rock after Austin hit the Stunner on the Rock but was prevented by making the cover by Triple H.
As the year 2000 came to an end, the World Wrestling Federation was going strong. They were the clear #1 wrestling promotion in North America. At the time, nobody could have predicted that not only would 2001 be the end of the wrestling war, but the landscape of the industry would forever be changed.
Sources for this article were taken from www.historyofwwe.com