I was a little bored today, so I checked out WWE Armageddon 2000 on the WWE Network. Armageddon took place in December of 2000, about a month or so after Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to the ring after almost a year out of action. And things had changed a lot during his absence. The Rock went from being a future main guy to someone that Austin had to share top billing with. Triple H and Kurt Angle were now full fledged main event level talents. Chris Jericho was no longer trying to figure out how to work a WWE style match, he’d gotten it down. And there was in influx of newcomers like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and the Dudley Boyz that were adding a new element to everything in the ring. At the same time their competitor WCW was on life support. The Monday Night Wars were all but over, so now the WWE (then WWF) could really just do their thing without wondering what was going on down in Atlanta. So how did this show go? Let’s see.
Opening Match: The Hardys and Lita vs Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn
This was an intergender tag team elimination match. There was a storyline where Malenko was trying to hook up with Lita only to get rebuffed. Yeah, this was the Attitude Era for better and worse. The eliminations went: Eddie, Jeff Hardy, Perry Saturn, Matt Hardy. Dean and Lita were the last two left for each team, which of course was going to happen. Lita dodges a few times, then gets in a few licks, before Dean gets control. This is where the man vs woman action doesn’t look very good in hindsight. Dean is a good 100 pounds heavier than Lita, is stronger, etc. and the watching him manhandle her and put her in a submission hold (the Texas Cloverleaf) isn’t very easy for me now. Glad they’re not doing this kind of thing now. Match was decent overall.
European Title Match: William Regal vs Hardcore Holly
Regal gets in some good digs at the Alabama crowd. Holly is the hometown favorite here. Short match, Regal wins when Raven interferes while the referee is distracted (Raven and Holly were feuding at the time). Why have Holly job, in his home state? You can do the run in and have it lead to a DQ win for Holly so Regal can keep the title.
Val Venis vs Chyna
Another man vs woman match here. The difference is that Chyna was built more like one of the men so her man vs woman matches didn’t look as problematic. Venis had one of the stupidest gimmicks in history, a porn star turned wrestler, that gave way to him becoming a member of the Right to Censor, a stable that was created as a dig at the Parents Television Council (PTC was locked in a media feud with the WWF over it’s risque Attitude Era content). Venis was actually a pretty good wrestler. Chyna was actually feuding with the WWF Women’s Champion Ivory (also a Right to Censor member), making this whole thing even more confusing. Chyna had been wrestling men for a while, going as far as to wrestle for men’s titles – why feud over a women’s title if you’re already competing against bigger and stronger competitors? Anyhow, short match won by Venis after Ivory distracted Chyna.
Last Man Standing Match: Chris Jericho vs Kane
Second longest match of the night here. They fought all over the place and made good use of the chairs. Classic big man-little man match, with Kane going for power stuff while Jericho used speed and aerial tactics. Given the way the match was going it was hard to picture Jericho actually knocking Kane down and out for the necessary 10 count, but they came up with a very inventive way to rectify that. Very good match here.
Fatal Four Way Tag Team Title Match: Bull Buchanan and the Goodfather (c) vs The Dudley Boyz vs Edge and Christian vs Road Dogg and K-Kwik
K-Kwik is now known as R-Truth; he was teaming with Road Dogg at the time. Buchanan and Goodfather were part of Right to Censor. For a match with all these guys involved it ran pretty short (nine minutes and some change), but everybody got some work in. The overall vibe to this match was indicative of where the Attitude Era had evolved to; the in ring work was on the upswing but the more cartoonish characters were starting to lose their luster. Edge and Christian won here and took the titles but it wasn’t the big deal that it used to be. By then they’d held the titles more than once. Match was good for what it was.
Intercontinental Title Match: Billy Gunn (c) vs Chris Benoit
The WWF tried on more than one occasion to make Billy Gunn – singles star happen, to no avail. This was one of those times. No longer ‘Badass Billy Gunn’ he was going by ‘The One’ Billy Gunn. Without a mouthpiece like the Road Dogg to help him get over, Gunn was pretty much a nothingburger. Benoit carried the match here; all the important spots were his doing and what little Gunn tried to do was pretty sloppy. Match ended when Benoit got the Crippler Crossface on Gunn for the submission victory.
Women’s Title Match: Ivory (c) vs Trish Stratus vs Molly Holly
This match was a distant precursor to the two minute specials we used to get on RAW in diva’s matches. Trish was just starting out as an in-ring performer here and it showed. The match ended pretty abruptly and seemed to exist for no other reason than to set up a post-match run-in by the APA (Farooq and Bradshaw) to confront Stratus’ cronies Test and Albert.
WWF Championship Hell in the Cell Match: Kurt Angle (c) vs The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Rikishi vs Triple H vs The Undertaker
This was before the days of a Hell in the Cell pay per view event every year; it was only the fifth one on a major show. Austin was a few months into his in-ring return after almost a year out of action. Triple H, Undertaker, Rock, and Angle were obvious participants. Rikishi was only in it for two reasons. One, to finish up the really bad angle where he was revealed as the man who ran down Austin with his car to put him out of action (and cover for Austin’s real life injuries) in an ill-advised attempt to better position his cousin the Rock for a run at the title. And second, to take the obligatory big cage bump (seen here).
The match itself was an all out war that spilled outside the cage and on top of it, and saw lots of blood being spilled by several of the participants. There was also a lot of overbooked interference by Vince McMahon, Jerry Brisco, Pat Patterson, and Mick Foley. That kind of thing was par for the course back then. But it was definitely worth watching.
This show was a footnote in WWF lore, to be honest. This was the beginning of the final stretch of the Attitude Era proper, running through WrestleMania X-7 and into June. That summer we would be onto the InVasion angle then then to the year long phasing out of Austin and Rock from 2002 to 2003. This was a brief period where you had two Mount Rushmore performers going at the same time at the height of their powers. It was also a period of flux. The early days of the Attitude Era were held up by a few performers (Austin, D-X, the Undertaker) and a lot of trash TV characters (Venis, the Godfather), Hardcore matches, and mic work. But with bonafide ring studs like Benoit, Guererro, Angle, and Jericho on board there was more space for great matches to be had. But for a time the two were awkwardly shoved together on the same stage, resulting in shows like this one. It’s not a bad one off viewing but nothing you need to make it a point to see.
I live tweeted this one while I was watching it. Check out my storify here.