From The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA
April 2, 2000
If the WWF could be declared winners of the Monday Night Wars just one year prior to WrestleMania 2000, then the current time period would be akin to smashing WCW’s corpse into powder with a shovel. In August 1999, WCW let one of their best talents slip through the cracks, as Chris Jericho arrived in the World Wrestling Federation to much fanfare, almost immediately rising to a high profile level that he never got to sniff in Eric Bischoff’s dwindling circus.
Five months later, in January 2000, after a booking shake-up and a rash of upper card injuries, chaos reigned in WCW at one of the company’s weakest thresholds. In the turmoil, beleaguered man-in-charge Bill Busch granted releases to four men that helped salvage the horrible booking with their in-ring work: Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero. The four men would appear in the WWF two weeks after their exodus, and would be dubbed “The Radicalz” upon entry.
The two formed a power couple, running roughshod over the WWF. As they and the rest of DX thrived, the fans still had The Rock, Foley, tag team sensations like The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian, Too Cool, and a new star in Rikishi (the returning Fatu).
WWF Attitude yet reigned supreme.
Triple H narrowly survived two encounters with Cactus Jack (one a street fight, the other in Hell in a Cell where he “retired” Foley) to carry the WWF Championship into WrestleMania 2000. The Rock also won the 2000 Royal Rumble, eliminating the Big Show in controversial fashion in the closing moments.
While logic would dictate that Rock vs. Triple H was the sensible main event for the biggest card of the year, that controversial ending would rear its ugly head. Show protested for weeks, using scores of evidence to convince Triple H (running the show after Vince McMahon “walked out”, distraught over Stephanie’s turn) to give him a match with The Rock to determine the true #1 contender.
At No Way Out 2000, Show defeated Rock, after Shane McMahon interfered on Show’s behalf. Rock would work his way back into the title picture by getting yet another match with Show, this time with the seething Vince McMahon himself prodigally returning. McMahon took his own son out, took over as referee, and counted Rock’s pin.
The following week, Linda McMahon came into the picture, supporting Mick Foley in his bid to finally headline WrestleMania, unretiring him for that one night.
So the final picture was Triple H (with Stephanie) vs. The Rock (with Vince) vs. Big Show (with Shane) vs. Mick Foley (with Linda) for the WWF Championship.
While the main event was somewhat tempered by this development (even dubbed as “A McMahon in Every Corner”), the rest of the card shaped up to accentuate the fresh faces.
Kurt Angle, an Olympic gold medalist, had made his in-ring debut in November 1999, and he hit the ground the running. Taking on the persona of an oblivious goody-goody who brags about his accomplishments while being unable to figure out why the world finds him so obnoxious, Angle ascended the WWF ranks swiftly, capturing the European and Intercontinental Titles with three weeks of each other.
Also on the WWF’s “must fly list” were three tag teams that were on the cusp of being made true stars. The WWF World Tag Team titles resided with the Dudley Boyz, fairly fresh from a groundbreaking run in ECW. They would be paired together against Edge and Christian, who ditched their “Lost Boys” visage in favor of being self-deluded bro-ski’s, and the Hardy Boyz, who became teen idols for their youthful flair, as well as their daredevil antics.
The match would attempt to raise the bar set by Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon ten years prior: a triple threat ladder match, with plenty of other weapons handy.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler brought the action from ringside, while junior ring announcer Lillian Garcia kicked the show off with “America the Beautiful”. Rapper Ice T was on hand for a live performance before the opening match, while Pete Rose made his third consecutive appearance. Not only did he eat a chokeslam this year, he also ate a stinkface.
Big Bossman/Bull Buchanan def. The Godfather/D-Lo Brown in 9:05
(This might be the most random opener in the history of WrestleMania. I have nothing nice to say about this match, so I’ll just say that the “ho” that resembled Li’l Kim was quite stacked)
WWF Hardcore: Hardcore Holly won a “duration challenge” over Crash Holly, Bradshaw, Faarooq, Tazz, Viscera, Mosh, Thrasher, Taka Michinoku, Funaki, Pete Gas, Rodney, and Joey Abs in 15:00 to win the title
(This is notable for Tim White screwing up the final count (Crash was initially supposed to win), and for Funaki winning a belt. Everybody move your lips randomly………..IN-DEED!)
T&A def. Head Cheese in 7:05
(Two teams with the worst names for tag teams have one of the worst matches that two teams with those names could possibly have. But hey, twas the PPV debut of Trish Stratus. Woooo!)
WWF World Tag Team/Triple Ladder Match: Edge & Christian def. The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz in 22:29 to win the titles
(And thus, a new standard was born. Crazy spotfest that was ahead of its time, although repeat matches of its type would blow this out of the water in terms of pacing. Slow as it was in hindsight, it was still an incredible match that elevated six young talents to a new level. See WCW? See TNA? Elevation! And besides, it spawned Edge and Christian’s “reeking of awesomeness”. So we have that)
Out of the Ring Challenge: Terri def. The Kat in 2:25
(What’s worse: Val Venis getting stuck reffing this, or the fact that this was the ONLY singles match of the show?)
Chyna/Too Cool def. Eddie Guerrero/Dean Malenko/Perry Saturn in 9:38
(Eleven years later, in order: a Howard Stern running gag, a burnt out 40 year old Dolph Ziggler lookalike, a forgotten “worm” guy, a dead legend, a fat and retired legend, and a man who was recently homeless. Yeesh)
Two Fall Euro-Continental Title Match: Chris Benoit won fall won over Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho to win the Intercontinental Title; Jericho won the second fall over Angle and Benoit in 13:35 to win the European Title
(And that was the story: Angle losing both belts without being singularly defeated for either. Good match, although Jericho hated it with a passion, as per his new book. Crowd was dead, but it’s Anaheim. You don’t expect fireworks in Anaheim)
Rikishi/Kane def. X-Pac/Road Dogg in 4:16
(Historical note: Tori became the first woman to ever take Rikishi’s stinkface. It was good payback for her lousy efforts one year earlier)
WWF World Heavyweight: Triple H def. The Rock, Mick Foley, and Big Show in 36:28
(An absolute shocker; Vince turned on Rock with two chair shots and realigned with his daughter and son-in-law. The match was WAY too long, and it dragged to a finish that satisfied no one, even if Rock did take out Hunter and the McMahons at the end)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
Clearly, with the bizarre booking, Vince McMahon either decided that a good swerve would shake things up, to defy fan expectations, or he no longer feared WCW and figured that such a non-pleasing set of events wouldn’t hurt his company any. In fact, Nitro was pre-empted the following night for retooling, so it seems Vince didn’t fear losing much of his audience.
While WrestleMania 2000 is often remembered for the changeover of talent (those in the ladder and two fall matches, especially), the main event stands out most as the “portrait” of the show. While the wrestlers did the work, it was the McMahons, namely Vince and Stephanie, that took hold of the spotlight.
In a sense, you can’t blame them. It was a self-congratulating moment when Vince embraced his daughter with a hug at the show’s conclusion, but the picture spoke in a clear tone. It said “We run this company, and we dominate this business. If we want to end the biggest show of the year by making the parting shot ours, then we will.”
Sadly, this would just be the beginning of a McMahon “overdose” that would occasionally worsen well after the death of the Attitude era.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
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