WrestleMania 2000 took place at kind of the midpoint of the Attitude Era in that the in ring action would get demonstrably better after this show than it had been before, thanks to an infusion of talent from WCW (Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guererro, Perry Saturn) and their own ranks (Kurt Angle, The Hardys). The booking strategy of crash TV where you just did whatever you could to get people to turn on stay with RAW and not switch over to Nitro remained in place, often with irritating results like invalidating title match finishes the night after a pay per view show.
But they got away with it because WCW was doing so much worse and because they had the most compelling and most compelling performer in the business in the Rock. He, and Steve Austin before him, were so damn good and popular that their presence on the show allowed the writers and match bookers to do damn near anything to pop a rating no matter how awful it was. Well this show was the culmination of all that. With both Austin and Undertaker out with injuries, they had to rely on the Rock and set the table for him to reclaim the title as a face that he’d last held as a heel. Beyond that they were going to use their guys that had popular acts that went beyond actual wrestling to distract us all.
Opening Match: Godfather and D-Lo Brown vs Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan.
Godfather and D-Lo come to the ring with Ice-T rapping ‘Pimpin Ain’t Easy’, his song from the CD WWE released of various recording artists doing renditions of entrance themes. This match pretty much was booked as an excuse to plug the CD with a live performance. The match was good for what it was, all four guys got their stuff in. Not a bad match by any means but without the Ice-T intro you could have just had this on RAW any given Monday.
And as always, Jerry Lawler was at his mysogynistic worst when talking about the Godfather’s……escorts. Thank God he isn’t there to call any of the women’s matches now. Bossman & Buchanan win, which made zero sense. It’s not like they got a big push after this or anything. Having the vastly popular guys win your WrestleMania opener seems like a no brainer. I guess not…..
Hardcore Battle Royal
This was a different style battle royal in that instead of throwing people over the top rope and eliminating them the object was to pin someone and thus become the new Hardcore Champion. The match had a 15 minute running clock so whoever scored the last pin before the clock ran out was your Hardcore Champion. There were 13 guys in this one: Hardcore & Crash Holly, Taz, Viscera, The Mean Street Posse, The Headbangers, both members of Kaientai, and the Acolytes. Lots of foreign objects and weapons came into play – trash cans, street signs, pipes, sticks, a tennis racket, metal sheets, and a fire extinguisher, and the action spilled all the way to the back and then to the ring again. One thing that hasn’t aged well is the number of straight on headshots guys were taking with all the stuff out there. Given what we know now about concussions and all, watching this stuff can be extra cringeworthy sometimes.
Hardcore matches were often dumpster fire awful but this one was actually pretty good and entertaining, enough to warrant a spot on the card. The finish was strange, though. After a bunch of pins and title changes Crash Holly, who came in as champ, was pinned by Hardcore Holly as time ran out but Crash looked to be kicking out before the three count. And then Hardcore grabbed the belt and climbed to the second rope to hold it up as if he’d won even though it sure looked like he didn’t. I don’t know, man…..
Test and Albert vs Head Cheese (Al Snow and Steve Blackman)
Test and Albert, not so cleverly named T&A as a double entendre of sorts with respect to their manager Trish Stratus, got the win here in what was another match that was fine for RAW but a head scratcher for WrestleMania other than to just get everyone on the show. And that’s fine but like with the opener there was zero build up for this match so it looked kind of pointless other than for Lawler to get in some more pervert takes about a woman on the show, and to give us some eye candy for a few minutes.
World Tag Team Title Match: Edge & Christian vs The Dudleys (c) vs The Hardy Boys
This was a triangle ladder match, a precursor of sorts to the TLC matches that these three teams would participate in on future shows.
This was probably the best match of the show, second best at the worst. We got a diet version of a lot of the crazy spots that we would come to expect from these guys, but all in all it was pretty spectacular in itself.
By this time a year later they would have this down to a science. A match truly worthy of WrestleMania.
Catfight Match: Terri Runnels vs The Kat
If you’ve read of my retro recaps, you know I skip these kind of trash matches. I like seeing lovely ladies and all, but this stuff is garbage. When you want to complain about the 2018 Women’s division, think about this stuff first. I didn’t watch it. Sorry not sorry.
Chyna and Too Cool vs The Radicalz (Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko)
The setup was based around Eddie’s lecherous advances towards Chyna, and her resistance to them. Decent match here. Too Cool was at the height of their popularity here so everything they did was way over. For a WCW fan like me to see Eddie, Dean, and Saturn defect was a big blow; to see them get shunted so quickly into a six man tag match was another bummer. Thankfully Eddie would soon be getting the kind of work he deserved in the company. Speaking of Eddie, major posthumous props for the finish. A lot of the guys were not too keen about selling for Chyna and took three major bumps from her and did the job. That doesn’t seem like much in today’s world of intergender matches and all, but in 2000 taking standard stuff from a woman and eating the pin was a pretty big deal.
Triple Threat, European and Intercontinental Title Match: Kurt Angle (c) vs Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho
The was a two fall match, one fall for the European Title and the other for the Intercontinental Title. Angle came into the match with both titles and would leave with none. It was interesting place for all three men in that Jericho was finally figuring out how to work WWF style, Angle had gotten his legs under him as a pro, and Benoit was excellent as always. The match was a foreshadowing of what we’d be getting from all three of these guys starting in just a few months after this show and was good in it’s own right, albeit a bit short (13 minutes). There’s no reason why hey couldn’t have shaved a few minutes off some other matches or not just have the stupid catfight at all to give these guys some more time.
Kane & Rikishi vs Road Dog & X-Pac
This was for all intents and purposes the last stand of Degeneration X. Billy Gunn had been kicked out already while HHH and Chyna had moved on to other things. Rikishi was really popular and Kane was in his physical prime here. The match was another throw in, added so that Rikishi’s post match dancing act with Too Cool would get on the show and baseball player Pete Rose could reprise what had become a yearly ritual of running in on Kane and getting tombstoned for his trouble. That’s really all there was and no more. The match itself ran all of six minutes and some change.
Main Event: Fatal Four Way WWF World Title Elimination Match – Triple H (c) vs Mick Foley vs The Rock vs The Big Show
The kicker here was that each competitor had a McMahon in his corner – The Rock had Vince, Big Show had Shane, HHH had Stephanie, and Mick had Linda.
If it sounds like an overbooked mess waiting to happen, you guessed correctly. First up never mind that Foley had lost a retirement match to HHH a month prior and was inserted into this match by Linda just because. Or that Big Show was still being badly misued (despite being in the main event here) to the point of being high ranking cannon fodder when he could have been dominating with the title.
Anyhow, as to the match itself it wasn’t bad or anything, but wasn’t an all timer either. All four got as much of their stuff in as they could, you had the customary exchanges between everyone, etc. But the finish ruined it all. What should have an obvious title victory for the Rock after months of chasing the title as the newly minted number one face in the company was instead a title retention for HHH after a horribly overbooked finish that saw Vince turn on the Rock and help HHH win, after he’d just tossed Shane from the ring himself, for no good reason whatsoever. Afterwards the Rock got a temporary spot of revenge by hitting the Rock Bottom on Vince, Shane, and Stephanie then hits the people elbow on Stephanie. WTF?
If there was ever a time to play it straight and do the obvious finish, this was it. But to end this in such a way that the McMahon’s were put in the spotlight was just terrible, and the actions taken against Stephanie are at the top of the list of things that would not fly in 2018. Sheesh………once again before you fire off that tweetstorm of disdain towards today’s product go back and look at crap like this. If after watching this show you still prefer the Attitude Era, I got nothing for you.
The show was a mess, but at the same time it properly encapsulated the first half of the Attitude Era more than anything out there. You had matches that booked for every other reason other than the match itself, a ridiculous catfight in the middle of the show, a real wrestling match that didn’t get the time it should have, a hardcore battle royal, and a main event with a convoluted finish whose primary purpose was to get you to tune into RAW the next night. And to make things worse the next night on RAW saw Chyna reverse course and succumb to Eddie’s advances, screwing Jericho out of the European he’d just won, and Crash Holly win back the Hardcore Title he lost in weird fashion at the end of the battle royal. And if that wasn’t bad enough the Rock would win the title at the very next pay per view……good grief.
This show was Vince Russo style booking months after Russo had jumped ship to WCW. Because of the talent involved it wasn’t bad per se, but it was an example of how overrated the Attitude Era is in hindsight. This kind of main event finish followed by what happened the next night on RAW and at Backlash a month later would have been the fodder for millions of bad takes on twitter and other places on the internet. What had become common practice for all their other pay per views repeated at their biggest show of the year, the one where things are supposed to be wrapped up in a bow to send people home happy. And they had all the pieces in place to do just that. The Rock was the hottest thing in the business, as big as Stone Cold Steve had been a year before, and was an easy choice for a title victory here. Instead we got a wait and see finish designed to goose TV ratings.