Judgment Day 2000
Graham Cawthon
October 17, 2001

Professional wrestling is well known for having brutal and outrageous gimmick matches, usually used to bring an end to a long running feud. Many are barbaric, some are comical, but there is only one that truly puts the athleticism and stamina of the participants to the test. That kind of contest is referred to as the Ironman match…

The rules of the Ironman match are simple. Two men enter the ring. For a set period of time (in this case 60 minutes) they do battle. A fall can be scored via pinfall, submission, count-out, or disqualification. At the end of the time period, whoever has attained the most falls wins the contest.

Although the concept has been around for many years previous, the most famous Ironman match took place at WrestleMania XII in 1996 when the defending WWF Champion Bret Hart faced Shawn Michaels. Those two men fought for 60-hard-fought minutes with neither man scoring a fall. Michaels won the bout and walked out the champion once the match went into overtime.

One of the reasons that so few of these bouts take place is simply because the list of names that could go an hour in the ring and make it entertaining is extremely small.

Four years following WrestleMania XII, the Ironman was finally brought back to settle the score between the Rock and Triple H. This would be a test for both men as neither had ever faced such a physical challenge in their professional careers. Each man had to keep two goals in mind throughout the bout – 1) win the contest and capture the WWF Championship and 2) strive to survive the most physically and mentally draining match in wrestling. Add in guest referee Shawn Michaels (a former Ironman survivor and off-screen friend to Triple H) and you’ve got a potential classic match on your hands.

The date: Sunday, May 21, 2000
The setting: Freedom Hall; Louisville, KY

The show opens with one of the classic WWF pay-per-view intros, always done with top-notch production that does a great job of hyping the main event.

“In one hour…
Their hearts will beat 7,320 times…
They will lose 7 pounds…
They will suffer more hits than a quarterback will the entire season…
Their careers will flash before their eyes…”

The commentary team: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Rikishi and Too Cool vs. Kurt Angle and the WWF Tag Team Champions Edge and Christian

“So…for the benefit of those with flash photography…we will now unveil a brand new pose which should be near and dear to all your hearts. We feel that it’s your greatest cultural achievement to ever come out of Kentucky. We call this one…THE JUG BAND! … Hope y’all enjoyed it.” – Edge

This is a pure filler match to open things up. Rikishi and Too Cool were big fan favorites and Angle, Edge, and Christian were great at getting heel heat – but the Olympic Hero and the tag champs clearly carry the match from my point of view. You can’t have great ‘good guys’ without some great ‘bad guys’ and these bad guys were great.

The heels begin the match by jumping their opponents from behind – but are quickly sent to the floor to regroup. Rikishi’s power and size combined with Too Cool’s flashy (or idiotic) tag team moves prove to be too much for Angle, E & C throughout the bout. However, it’s the illegal tactics and great tag team continuity of Angle, E & C that puts the momentum back on their side.

Late in the match, Christian nails Rikishi with the timekeeper’s bell. As Edge goes for the cover, Grandmaster Sexay comes off the top rope with a legdrop and gains the pinfall for his team. Within days, Too Cool would upset Edge and Christian and hold the tag titles for a short time. Angle would go on to be the most decorated wrestler in WWF within a 12-month span as he would eventually hold the WWF European, IC, and World Titles in addition to winning the King of the Ring tournament the following month.

Winners at 9:47: Rikishi and Too Cool … 2 stars (the match wasn’t good but the pre-match promos were hilarious)

WWF European Championship – Eddie Guerrero © (with Chyna) vs. WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Perry Saturn

Guerrero vs. Malenko is a proven great match but when you add in Perry Saturn (who is another good wrestler) and make it a 3-way, the match loses something. Most of the bout sees two of the men double team the other until one man turns on his ‘partner’. There are some creative moves that I personally haven’t seen before but it’s not their best work overall.

Guerrero gets the majority of cheers while Malenko and Saturn get almost no reaction at all (typical WWF crowd; most fans can only appreciate a wrestler if he’s great on the microphone). I hate the vast majority of these type of matches because they are so predictable…wrestler 1 hits his finisher on wrestler 2…wrestler 3 breaks the pin attempt…the scene repeats itself.

After taking out Malenko and Guerrero with a double suplex, Saturn rolls to the floor where Chyna immediately nails him. Chyna and Malenko tussle on the ring apron, where Chyna’s bouquet of flowers (with a steel rod hidden inside) is dropped in the ring. Malenko is tripped and falls headfirst onto the rod. Guerrero applies a simple Oklahoma side roll and gets the win.

Winner at 7:56 and still champion: Eddie Guerrero … 3 stars

No Disqualification Match – Big Show vs. Shane McMahon

Big Show had recently come to realize that his ‘mentor’, Shane McMahon, was merely using him to further his own goals. Show was angry, he was huge, and he was powerful but Shane McMahon, being the boss’ son, was cunning and agile. However, it would take more than speed and being smart to survive an angry giant.

Shane begins the match by diving to the floor onto his opponent – but is caught and immediately put exactly where he didn’t want to be – that being in close range to the Big Show. The former WWF and WCW Champion dominates his smaller opponent throughout the early moments of the match by simply knocking Shane to the mat time and time again. Show calls for the chokeslam but is attacked from behind by the Big Bossman and his nightstick.

After taking care of the Bossman with a powerbomb, T&A arrive in the ring with steel chairs with the intent of attacking Show. Show easily gets rid of Test and Albert and sends them to the floor with ease. Trish Stratus soon feels the effect of the Big Show as he flings her to the floor onto her tag team.

Show then turns his attention to McMahon, who had begun crawling back to the locker room. Shane uses a last ditch offensive move to knock Show to the ground – where he is quickly attacked by Bossman, Test, and Albert. Despite a strong offense by Show, Bull Buchanon’s surprise attack with a nightstick puts the big man down long enough for Shane to drop a stereo box onto Show’s leg – trapping him and possibly breaking his leg in the process. Shane busts a cinder block over Show’s head and gets the easy win.

Show’s ‘injury’ would put him out of action until January 2001 where he would make his surprise return during the Royal Rumble match.

Winner at 7:11: Shane McMahon … 3 stars

WWF Intercontinental Championship – Chris Benoit © vs. Chris Jericho … Submission Match

Since WrestleMania, these two had put their bodies and careers on the line in a series of bouts over the IC title. Two young, extremely talented, tough Canadians out of the famed Stu Hart Dungeon that were without a doubt two of the finest on the WWF roster. They had done battle in Japan and now their rivalry would continue on to the WWF.

Adding the submission-only rule to the match only intensified the tension in the ring. Both men are well adept at mat and technical wrestling and they each use a submission hold as their trademark finisher (Benoit with the Crippler Crossface and Jericho with the Walls of Jericho).

The early moments show how evenly matched these men are as each man uses a reversal to gain the advantage, at least for a short period of time. Within minutes, each man attempts to apply his finisher with no success. When you see a match between these two you are seeing not only a newer style of wrestler – who is much more adept on the microphone – but you are also seeing an old school style of intensity. These guys truly tell a story in the ring.

Midway through the bout, Jericho locks on the Walls of Jericho on the ring ropes (much like he would later do with a ladder at the 2001 Royal Rumble). Benoit eventually powers out of having his arms hooked and punches Jericho until the challenger releases the hold. The champion comes back with a series of his trademark German suplexes. Jericho again attempts the Boston Crab finisher but is nailed in the face with the champion’s knee brace that had been taken off earlier in the bout. Benoit quickly applies the Crippler Crossface near the ropes. The champion lets go of the hold, pulls the challenger into the middle of the ring, and reapplies the move. Benoit stretches back on the face and shoulder of the challenger (and basically chokes him) until Jericho passes out.

This was just another battle in perhaps the best rivalry of 2000.

Winner at 13:26 and still champion: Chris Benoit … 4 stars

Tag Team Table Match – The Dudley Boyz vs. DX (with Tori)

How can X-Pac and Road Dogg use the name DX when they were the only surviving members of what was at one time the hottest thing in wrestling? Oh, I know why! Because without that name attached to these men, they have no drawing power…that’s probably why they got a hot chick to use as a manager and got new music by Run DMC. Hot women and catchy music tends to get people to notice you. Honestly, who does X-Pac and Road Dogg think they are? Lynard Skynard? Journey? CCR?

The winners of this match would be the team to put both of their opponents through a table. This was a fairly new idea for the WWF but ECW was using it 5 years prior (therefore reinforcing my theory that today’s more vulgar and violent WWF is a watered-down Disney version of what ECW was years ago).

I didn’t find this match to be too entertaining (mostly because Road Dogg is a crappy wrestler and X-Pac just has something about him that makes me not want to watch his matches). D-Von Dudley takes a pump-handle slam into a table by Road Dogg at about the 7:30 mark. X-Pac is powerbombed through a table a minute later to even the score at one man apiece. If either Road Dogg or Buh Buh Ray Dudley were to go through a table, it would end the match.

Road Dogg takes a 3-D through a table, but since the referee had been knocked unconscious the contest continued. WWF Hardcore Champion Gerald Brisco pulls the broken table out of the ring to help DX while Tori is caught in the ring by the Dudleyz. X-Pac and Brisco save Tori and an X-Factor face buster from X-Pac sends Buh Buh Ray from the top rope through a table to win the match for DX. Brisco suffers a 3-D through a table for his troubles.

The winners at 10:55: DX … 2 ½ stars

Following this match, we are shown a short dark and disturbing vignette with no explanation given as to what it means. Several little girls, dressed up like something out of ‘The Shining’ or ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ appear, almost ghost-like.

“As I lay me down to sleep … I pray my soul is mine to keep … and never step outside this bed … into all the evil …”

HIS JUDGEMENT DAY IS COMING (while ‘American Badass’ by Kid Rock plays in the background)

WWF World Heavyweight Championship – The Rock © vs. Triple H … 60-Minute Ironman Match … special referee – Shawn Michaels

It would take a supreme effort for Triple H and the Rock to pull this match off. It would take perhaps a miracle for it to surpass the famous HBK / Hart bout from WrestleMania XII.

Before the champion makes his entrance, Triple H asks Vince, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon to go to the back so he can prove how good he is against the Rock when it’s one-on-one. They hesitantly agree and leave ringside.

The opening moments see the two men attempt a power advantage with a simple collar and elbow tie-up. It’s pretty obvious that neither man wants to use a lot of energy to begin the match, knowing that they will need to conserve all they have to merely survive the grueling hour inside the ring. There are several headlocks and a lot of stalling in the first 10 minutes of the bout before the contest starts picking up steam.

Some might argue that these matches are ‘boring’ because the action isn’t always fast-paced. However, to be fair to those inside the ring, it’s nearly impossible to keep up a non-stop pace in the ring for a straight hour. And at the same time, these men are telling a story…to make it fast right from the onset would upset the later part of the match. It has to be built up slowly and in a logical fashion.

The Rock catches Triple H with a surprise Rock Bottom to pick up the first fall.

Winner of the first fall at 10:44: The Rock (1-0)

Triple H soon injures his knee on the outside and after suffering a brutal beating at the hands of the steel ring steps, is trapped in the champion’s figure-4 leg lock. Triple H escapes the hold and regains the advantage on the floor. Although the challenger was now in control, the injured leg would later be a target of the Rock for much of the match. The Rock attempts a second figure-4, is kicked into the turnbuckle, and gets hit with the Pedigree to even the match at one fall apiece.

Winner of the second fall at 25:30: Triple H (1-1)

The challenger rolls up a still-dazed Rock and picks up another victory.

Winner of the third fall at 26:31: Triple H (2-1)

The battle soon goes out to the floor and the entranceway where both men knock themselves into a barely conscious state. As they stagger back to the ring, the champion hits a back suplex – but it is clear that the pain and fatigue is beginning to set in as he scarcely makes it connect. Once inside the ring, Triple H hits a great looking piledriver to increase his lead.

Winner of the fourth fall at 32:27: Triple H (3-1)

The Rock soon regains his advantage, or at least evens the advantage, by arm dragging the challenger off the top rope. He comes back with a flurry of offense to the challenger, almost putting Triple H away with a side roll. Triple H catches the champion off guard with a knee lift and almost increases his lead even further. The challenger hooks on a sleeper out of nowhere (a perfect move for this style of match). Shawn Michaels notices Triple H’s feet on the ropes while applying the sleeper and breaks the hold. The Rock comes back with a belly-to-belly suplex to leave both men lying motionless in the ring.

The Rock botches an attempt at a jumping DDT, tries it again successfully, and is able to put the challenger away.

Winner of the fifth fall at 40:38: The Rock (2-3)

The battle again goes to the floor where HBK saves the Rock from an attempted chair attack from the challenger. Triple H is quickly tossed into the steel steps by the champion and is hit with a neck breaker on the floor. Moments later, Triple H again tries for a chair shot and is disqualified for it.

Winner of the sixth fall at 43:43 via disqualification: The Rock (3-3)

The challenger easily pins the unconscious Rock and regains the momentum by gaining another fall and leaving the Rock bleeding from the head.

Winner of the seventh fall at 44:10: Triple H (4-3)

Triple H quickly locks on a sleeper hold but the champion courageously fights back, however, soon passes out.

Winner of the eighth fall at 47:29: Triple H (5-3)

The challenger keeps the hold applied in an attempt to further his lead but Michaels pulls him off – creating a confrontation that the fans eat up. The Rock comes back with a surprise offense and tosses Triple H to the floor like he was nothing. With 11 minutes to go, the Rock is down by two falls. With two falls under his belt, he can tie the match and go home the champion.

At 8:45 to go, the Rock hits a superplex on Triple H – leaving both men motionless inside the ring. The champion tries for a pinfall but the challenger escapes the cover. The effects of the lengthy battle are obvious as both men can barely stand as the struggle again goes to the floor. Triple H pounds the Rock on top of Lawler and Ross’ commentary table and tries for the Rock Bottom…but the champion comes back and uses the Pedigree to smash Triple H’s head into the table top. The Rock rolls back into the ring to get the count-out victory.

Winner of the ninth fall at 56:09 via count-out: The Rock (4-5)

Almost immediately, the McMahons return to the ring to aid Triple H. The challenger barely avoids a second count-out and rolls back into the ring where he is met with a Hulk Hogan-like offense from the Rock. Shane and Vince attempt to interfere but are knocked to the floor. Triple H walks into a spinebuster and is hit with the People’s Elbow.

Winner of the tenth fall at 58:04: The Rock (5-5)

With less than 2 minutes remaining, the score is tied at five falls apiece. Shane gets in Michaels’ face on the floor and is punched out for his troubles – with Vince getting the same treatment. Road Dogg and X-Pac make their way down, Michaels takes a bump to the floor, and all of a sudden that dark and disturbing vignette shown earlier plays again as the Rock is getting triple teamed in the ring.

“As I lay me down to sleep … I pray my soul is mine to keep … and never step outside this bed … into all the evil … NOW BACK FROM THE DEAD …”

The Undertaker, who had been off of WWF TV for nearly a year, makes his return driving a motorcycle to the ring while Kid Rock’s ‘American Badass’ plays. Wearing a full-length trench coat, a bandanna, and sunglasses, he stalks the ring and once inside lays waste to each member of the McMahon faction – while the crowd is standing in excitement.

The bell rings during all the commotion – signaling the end of the 60-minute time limit – but once Taker chokeslams Triple H, HBK calls for the bell. Triple H is awarded the deciding fall on a disqualification.

Winner of the eleventh and deciding fall and NEW champion: Triple H … 4 stars

The Undertaker stalks Michaels backstage while DX and the McMahons help Triple H, the new champion, to the back.

The show as an overall:

This is a worthwhile show for 2 simple reasons… 1) Benoit vs. Jericho and 2) Triple H vs. The Rock. The rest of the show is average and you wouldn’t miss much by fast-forwarding through most of the matches.

However, for those 2 simple reasons alone, I would recommend you check this show out. True, HBK / Hart didn’t rely on outside interference – but Rock / Triple H is still entertaining despite that flaw. To see another Ironman match go 60 minutes with not one fall scored would be rehashing the past. Both men showed me something in what was a brutal yet well thought out contest.

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