It was a good time for WWE. They were winning the Monday Night Wars. The product was in the midst of its largest pop culture influence since the mid 80s. Wrestlemania 2000 was supposed to be huge. It was going to be an event of epic propotions. They scheduled “Wrestlemania All Day Long” on PPV which was a look back at the first 15 Wrestlemanias. And then someone made a left turn at Albuquerque.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was out with a neck injury. It was only a year before when Austin and the Rock looked like the future of the company. It was only two years before when Austin took the torch from Shawn Michaels and looked destined to become the biggest star of all time. And now, he was hurt, missing the biggest show of the year.
Early in 2000, Mankind and Triple H were tearing up arenas and making for some intriguing TV. Late in 1999, Triple H beat the Big Show for the championship and was without a contender. Mick Foley, fresh off his success of putting out the most successful wrestling autobiography in history, decided that he had one last run in him. Triple H started making fun of Foley’s success as an author, and played your basic a-hole heel perfectly. When Foley, as Mankind, decided that he’d had enough, he simply changed t-shirts and transformed into Cactus Jack. Triple H sold it as if he’d seen a ghost. Cactus Jack was back. He had two great matches with Triple H and at No Way Out, retired after losing a Hell In A Cell match.
The Rock won the Royal Rumble making him the number one contender for Wrestlemania. Rock vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania 2000 was interesting, but without Austin, I think Vince McMahon thought it needed more. He added the Big Show to the match, which actually hurt it more than helped it. Finally, Foley was asked to come back out of retirement to make it a four-way. To give it even more of a wrinkle, there would be a McMahon in every corner. Would’ve The Rock vs. Triple H have been enough to headline Wrestlemania 2000? In hindsight, yes. But this was such an event, and the McMahons were stars in their own eyes as well, that they had to make the match bigger. But in the end, it was probably a mistake.
There were two matches that made this show watchable. The first was a triangle ladder match between The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian. The match wouldn’t be as good as their TLC match a year later, but it still did things to make it original in it’s own way. Who can forget Jeff Hardy doing the senton bomb on Bubba from the top of a ladder and onto a table? Just like a year later, Edge and Christian won the match, and won the belts.
The other match that helped make the show was a triple threat match between Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho. It also had an interesting stipulation. Kurt owned the European and Intercontinental championships and called himself the Eurocontinental champion. I guess it sounded better than the Interpean champion. However, at Bob Backlund’s urging (who can even remember Backlund was involved?), Angle put up both belts in a double fall triple threat match. The IC belt was to be wrestled for during the first fall. And the Euro belt, during the second fall. As it came to be, in a really good match, Chris Benoit pinned Chris Jericho during the first fall, and Jericho pinned Benoit during the second. Kurt Angle lost both belts and wasn’t pinned once. The match saw Kurt go toe to toe in his rookie year with two of the best ring generals in the WWE at the time. Kurt didn’t miss a step with those two guys and looking back on the match today, while it wasn’t the best Kurt Angle match, it might’ve been the match that cemented him in the eyes of the fans as a star.
One of the main problems with the card is that there was only one singles match and that was The Kat vs. Terri Runnels in a Sumo Style match where whoever was thrown out of the ring and on to the floor would lose. How that is similar to sumo wrestling is beyond me. It was awful and the only reason it was on PPV is because The Kat was wearing a thong and her ass cheeks were hanging out. Having only one singles match meant that guys were thrown together in tag team matches that weren’t really logical based on feuds and storylines that were going on at the time, and it hurt the card. There were memorable things about some of the matches, but not necessarily because of things that were going on inside the ring.
D-Lo and The Godfather vs. The Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan opened up the show. It was a bad match that was only memorable because Ice-T performed. Too Cool and Chyna faced off against The Radicalz (Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn). It was a bad match even with the Dean and Eddie in the ring. It might be most memorable because Chyna’s pants broke and she had to hold them up the rest of the match while showing peaks of the smallest thong ever known. Kane and Rikishi wrestled X-Pac and Road Dogg. It was another bad match that was memorable because Pete Rose was tombstoned again by Kane and then was given the stinkface by Rikishi. T&A (Test & Albert) had a match against Al Snow and Steve Blackman. It was an average match, only watchable because Trish Stratus was at ringside, and only slightly memorable because Snow and Blackman were once called Head Cheese.
There was also a weird Hardcore Battle Royal where it resembled a battle royal, but there was no elimination factor. Basically the rules were anything goes and whoever held the belt last won. You simply had to pin the champion at the time and then try not to get pinned for 15 minutes. The finish ended with a screw up as it seemed like Crash Holly either forgot to kick out of the last pin attempt or Tim White, the referee forgot the finish. Bob Holly walked out of the match the champ. The belts changed hands 7 times in 15 minutes. Did anyone care? Not really.
The main event was a mixed bag. Part of what hurt the match is that you knew the end would come only when a McMahon was involved. So instead of truly paying attention to the match, you were waiting for the interference.
The Big Show (seconded by Shane McMahon) was made to look extremely weak in this match and was the first guy eliminated. Mick Foley had Linda McMahon in his corner. She was a regular Grand Wizard. Before being eliminated, Foley went for a flying elbow drop from the apron to the announce table and came up short and looked like he broke some ribs. He was then eliminated by Triple H, though he got to kick out of his finisher once. The rest of the match was Rock vs. HHH and it wasn’t as good as you’d seen from them before. Vince McMahon was in Rock’s corner and Steph was in HHH’s corner. Shane McMahon came back to ringside simply to sucker punch his dad who no sold a shot to the head with the monitor. Vince then gave three of the worst punches I’ve ever seen in my life and Shane sold it like he was hit by George Foreman. Vince came back into the ring to hit HHH with a chair, but instead hit Rock and HHH kept his belt and won the match. Swerve~! How could we ever have guessed that one? Vince and Steph embraced and Shane looked like he was cool with Vince afterward too. Rock did give Steph the Rock Bottom, but even that couldn’t save the match or the show. They were both let downs.
The Big Bossman & Bull Buchannan beat the Godfather & D-LO Brown.
Hardcore Holly earned the final pin in the 13 Man Battle Royal to earn the Hardcore Title.
Test & Albert (w/ Trish Stratus) beat Al Snow & Steve Blackman.
Edge & Christian beat the Dudley Boyz and Hardy Boyz in a Triangle Ladder Match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Terri Runnels beat the Kat in a Catfight.
Too Cool & Chyna beat the Radicalz.
Chris Benoit pinned Chris Jericho in a three-way match also involving Kurt Angle, winning the Intercontinental Title. Jericho then pinned Benoit, winning Angle’s European Title.
Kane & Rikishi beat X-Pac & Road Dogg.
Triple H defeated the Rock, Mick Foley and the Big Show in a Fatal Four-way Elimination Match, retaining the WWF Championship.