Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 16 - WWF Wrestlemania 2000 (2000...duh)

Date: April 2nd, 2000
Venue: Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, CA
Attendance: 19,776

(Note: The following post was written prior to the McMahon lawsuit from January 2024).

Despite early marketing referring to the show as Wrestlemania 2000 - hell, we got a couple video games using that name even - the show itself would simply be referred to as Wrestlemania. Not even Wrestlemania 16, but just Wrestlemania... because this is a reboot or something.

The WWF in 2000 was firing on all cylinders. A new influx of talent from WCW resulted in a group of workhorses that the company desperately needed, we had a new, dominant heel in Triple H as well as an insanely popular top star in THE ROCK to fill the void left by the absence of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and while numbers weren't hitting the peak of the Attitude Era, money was being made hand over fist, thanks to a late-99 decision to turn the privately-owned WWF into a publicly traded company... which ended up being a very smart move in hindsight. With two excellent PPVs preceding this one, there was no doubt that Wrestlemania 2000/16/whatever would continue the hot streak.\

Spoiler Alert: It didn't.

Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan defeated The Godfather and D'Lo Brown in the opening tag match. The first sign that a tag-team is going to lose a match is when they're accompanied by the artists who are live performing said tag-team's entrance music. This was during the time when some Superstars had different entrance music, presumably to promote their Forceable Entry album that contained alternate takes on WWF theme music by actual bands. Maybe get a smaller entourage or stick with just a couple of hos exotic ladies; your chances might've been higher. Also, this match ran ten minutes and was nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds too long. Slow, boring, sleep-inducing... and this is the OPENING MATCH on the card.

Next up is the 15-Minute Hardcore Title Battle Royal thing where a bunch of guys hit each other with stuff and try to pin each other to win the Hardcore title. Whoever ends up with the belt when time is up is the official Hardcore champion. Long story short - Crash Holly went into this as champion and Hardcore Holly was the one who walked out Hardcore champion. I don't mind a good hardcore garbage match every once in a while, but sadly, this was not a good hardcore garbage match. On the contrary, this was boring shit wherever people fight outside the ring and hit each other with random crap in order to play hot potato with the title. How do you make a wacky hardcore brawl boring? I present this match as Exhibit A.

T&A (Test and Prince Albert) defeated Al Snow and Steve Blackman. Also, another sign that a tag-team is going to lose a match is when they're accompanied by a gimmick handler. In this case, it's some guy in a rat costume named Cheesey or whatever accompanying Head Cheese... which is the name of Al Snow and Steve Blackman's team... if I only I could make this shit up. Maybe they should've gotten a hot female in a rat costume; then their chances would've been better. It worked for Test and Albert once they got Trish Stratus, who was still very much in that bodybuilding phase. Fun fact; I knew of Trish Stratus long before she appeared in WWF, because she appeared on one of the old TSN interview shows. Needless to say, she has come a long way since these humble days.

Oh yeah, the match sucked, by the way. We're 0 for 3 so far in this shitshow. How can this show be this bad? They found a way.

Edge & Christian defeated WWF Tag-Team Champions The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz in a triangle ladder match to win their first tag titles in the WWF. This is the precursor to those TLC matches that they'd have later down the road and while this isn't as good as those matches, it was a good showcase of things to come. Also, I can honestly say that after three horrifically boring matches, I finally found one that I can call good... and really good it is.

Terri Runnels defeated The Kat (2:24) in what can be charitably described as a catfight of some sort. Being generous in that regard, I'm sure. Fun fact: this would be the only one-on-one contest on the entire show. It's not good.

Chyna and Too Cool (Scotty 2 Hotty & Grandmaster Sexay... yes, those are actual names) defeated The Radicals (Eddy Guerrero, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko) in a six-man tag match. So you've got three talented workers that left the other company to join yours and the first thing you do is book them in a match against two comedy geeks and Chyna. Not exactly a technical masterpiece, but it was a fun mess to watch if nothing else. I'll take that over boring shit any day of the week and that's the bottom line.

Next up is the Triple Threat match between reigning Euro-continental Champion Kurt Angle (who held both the Intercontinental and European championships at the time), Chris Jericho, and Chris Benoit. Both titles were on the line, but would be defended in separate falls. The first fall saw Chris Benoit pin Jericho to win the IC title, while the second fall to determine the European champion, was won by Chris Jericho, who pinned Benoit. Poor Kurt lost both his belts without getting pinned! What a grave injustice! In all seriousness, while the Benoit factor might tainted this match in some people's  mind, I personally enjoyed the match. You had three extremely talented guys putting together a technical showcase that was unique among the WWF fare at the time. Back in the day, I would've considered this my favorite match of the bunch and even today, I'd still call this the best match on the card, with the ladder match coming in second... and the quality goes to shit from there.

Kane and Rikishi Phatu (see, cause he used to be Fatu and now he's just Rikishi because one name, baby!) defeated X-Pac and Road Dogg in a short and sweet match that saw Kane get his revenge on X-Pac with a tombstone. Then out comes Too Cool with the San Diego chicken and Kane... yes, Kane doesn't trust the chicken. So he goes after the chicken, but it turns out to be a SWERVE! Because Pete Rose runs in from behind to try and whack Kane, but gets chokeslammed and stinkfaced for his troubles. For those wondering, Pete Rose would not attempt this again the following year. Thank fuck for that.

WWF Champion Triple H defeated The Big Show, Mick Foley, and THE ROCK in a four-corners elimination match to retain the title, thus making Hunter the first heel to walk out of Wrestlemania as the champion. The gimmick was a McMahon in every corner. Hunter had Steph. Show had Shane. Foley - who had "retired" at the last PPV but was brought back for this match - had Linda, and Rock had Vince. Eventually, it came down to Hunter vs. Rock. Rock had the match won and Vince turned on Rock, allowing Hunter to win the match. Rock retaliated by giving Steph a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. And that's our happy ending...

First off, when the tagline for the main event puts focus on the McMahons rather than the four stars vying for your top prize, you've already told me that the match doesn't matter. And as it turned out, the match didn't matter because it went long, it was boring, it put me to sleep, and when the very obvious betrayal came about at the end, I was like "What the fuck is this shit?" I can tell you straight up without a hint of hyper hyperbole that watching this ending live was the first time that I felt ripped off and not necessarily in a good way. It's a fucking bad match with a fucking bad ending, even more so considering this was the WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT. Look, I have no problem with a heel walking out Mania as the champ. It would've had to happen eventually, but the way they went about it felt so overthought that it collapsed under its own bullshit. Almost 24 years after the fact and the ending to this show still pisses me off. And I don't say that often about most bad shows I revisit... and spoiler warning; this isn't the first Wrestlemania rewatch that left me with an utterly rancid taste in my mouth.

Here's the thing; had this been a typical B-level WWF PPV show, like a Backlash or a No Way Out card, this would been fairly average fare. I wouldn't rank this show as highly as I would the two PPVs that preceded this one - the first three matches are boring as shit and the main event can go fuck itself, but the three triple-threats are really good matches and does enough to elevate this show to slightly tolerable fare. As a B-level PPV, this would've been fine but largely skippable. But this was the Wrestlemania card for that year. This was the card for what was supposed to be the biggest show of the year. The showcase of the immortals. The show of show and all that jazz. And at no point did I ever get the feeling that this was a card worthy of Wrestlemania.

Sadly, when all is said and done, no matter how many highlights the show may boast, it is ultimately the main event and its conclusion that casts a huge taint over this show. If a great main event could elevate an otherwise ho-hum card and make it worthwhile, then an absolutely wretched main event could just as easily topple an above-average offering. And that is perhaps the greatest sin committed at Wrestlemania 2000; a rather notable blemish on an otherwise fine run of shows.

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