January 31, 2011
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
The Place to Be
No Way Out 2000
February 27, 2000
Hartford Civic Center
Buy Rate: 1.2
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Scott's Live Notes noted with **
** After being a fan for almost 17 years to this point, this was my first live PPV. The last PPV in this building was Wrestlemania XI, but I was out of the WWF loop during my last two years of college. I was originally supposed to go with a group of friends, as my girlfriend at the time was slated to go on a cruise. Out of the blue she says she's not going and buys two tickets for us in another section. I was a little surprised and frankly irritated, but what could I do? In any event we arrive at the Hartford Civic Center around 6:30, she with her Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley baby t-shirt, I with my Triple H "Not for the Innocent" t-shirt. As was the case with Justin and the 1994 Royal Rumble, I'll take care of the live feeling at the Civic Center, while Justin tackles the matches themselves. My live comments will be in asterisks. **
1) Kurt Angle defeats Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) to win the WWF Intercontinental Title when he hits Jericho with the IC Title during a Lionsault at 10:13
Fun Fact: Kurt Angle defeated Val Venis for the European Championship on the 2/10 edition of Smackdown.
** My girlfriend Andrea was a big Jerichoholic and was booing Angle vociferously, whereas I was hoping for my first live title change. The closest I ever came to a title change live was the cage match between Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff on Saturday Night's Main Event in January 1987, which also in this building. **
Scott: The opener is a solid affair between two men who are starting to help reshape the mid-card situation in the WWF. Throughout most of 1999, the mid-card was funny with entertaining characters but with not much ability. Things are changing for the better. Angle and Jericho put on a great match, with some nice psychology and counter-maneuvers. Jericho has been lucky facing some good competition in his first few PPV matches, and the year only gets better. Angle cheats, whacking Jericho in the face with the title belt as Y2J was going for the Lionsault, and Angle is now the third person to ever hold both the European and Intercontinental Titles at the same time, following D-Lo Brown and Jeff Jarrett. Angle has done so much since his debut at Survivor Series, and it just gets better. Grade: 3
Justin: Kurt Angle was on fire. Since his debut, Angle has showcased his awesome in-ring skills that everyone knew were coming, but also showed off his uncanny knack for comedic timing and his quick wit. Many fans were beginning to look forward to his hilarious pre-match ravings, and they only helped him in getting over as a heel. And just as he was doing that, Chris Jericho was doing the same for himself on the face side of the spectrum. After finally escaping the Chyna feud, Jericho began focusing his efforts on Mr. Angle, and the two began having memorable verbal jousting matches before matches. It is amazing to go back and watch these guys as they were just starting out, and knowing that they would be the future stars of the company someday. The match itself was as good as advertised and received a solid amount of time, and showed that Vince and Company had the utmost faith in Angle's ability to carry the mid-card just four months into his WWF tenure. Grade: 3
** Andrea was a little peeved as I was excited I saw a title change in the first match of the night. Some kid hi-fived me wishing he had the money for the first Kurt Angle shirt in the concession stands. **
2) The Dudley Boys defeat the New Age Outlaws to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Bubba Ray (Mark Lomonica) pins Road Dogg (Brian James) after the Dudley Death Drop at 5:19
Fun Fact: Billy Gunn tore his rotator cuff on the 2/24 Smackdown when he gave Bubba Ray a Super Fame-Asser. Bubba Ray was standing on a table, and Billy ran the ropes, jumped up and gave Bubba the move through the table. It was a great visual, but Billy came down hard on his arm and blew out the shoulder. He would be out of action until October after this match.
Fun Fact II: The Dudley Boys earned the Title shot when D-Von defeated Matt Hardy and Edge on the 2/14 edition of Raw.
** Andrea and I said the "Ladies and Gentlemen' opening word-for-word, as she liked Billy Gunn?s ass, and I was a big Road Dogg fan. It was also a little bittersweet knowing that my favorite tag team for the past two years was about to lose and probably leave the tag ranks for good. **
Scott: This was the official changing of the guard in the tag team ranks. The New Age Outlaws debuted together at the D-Generation X PPV in December 1997. Since then they have been multiple tag team champions. They were Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Tag Team of The Year in 1998, and regained the titles after being apart in late 1999. However, the winds of change come with the new blood, and the Outlaws' time has ended. New teams are making a charge and time has passed them by. This was an effective squash, since Billy Gunn had injured his shoulder on the previous Thursday's Smackdown. The Dudleys make an impact, and are on top of the tag team world. The Outlaws stay together is over, but what a wonderful ride it was. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Well, with the influx of young, fresh tag teams, the bell has finally tolled for one of the most influential tag teams in WWF history. The Outlaws were seemingly pushed on a whim, and with low expectations, but in early 1998 something clicked, and these two perennial underachievers somehow managed to get over and stay over. They dominated the division in 1998 and again in late 1999, but the days of promo-based wrestlers that were weak in the ring were slowly giving way to strong in-ring performers, and sadly that was the one weakness of the Outlaws. On the other side of the tracks, the Dudleys seemed to be dead in the water in December, as their stale ECW look and gimmick was getting them nowhere. However, as the calendar turned to 2000, a new outlook, a new wardrobe and a new attitude made the Dudleys the hottest tag team act that the WWF had. The two divergent paths these teams were on cross here, as the Outlaws basically pass the torch in a quick squash match. Also, to explain Billy's absence over the course of 2000, Bubba Ray nails him in the shoulder with a lead pipe, which would eventually lead to the end of the match. Grade: 2
** I applauded the victory, but quietly I was crying inside as my team lost and would never sniff the titles again. **
3) Mark Henry defeats Viscera (Nelson Frazier) with a bodyslam at 3:46
Fun Fact: As usual, with the dawn of a new year, came a renewed push for Mark Henry, only this time he was starting to actually get over. Playing off of his "Sexual Chocolate" sex addict persona, Mark Henry found himself in bed with Mae Young one week on Raw and, low and behold, he fell in love and even managed to impregnate the 76 year-old Young. Well, week after week Henry kept telling Young to stay in the back where it was safe, but she kept ignoring him and coming to ringside, where she would routinely be assaulted by various opponents Kurt Angle and Viscera. Things would get much worse from there as a few weeks later Mae Young finally gave birth to a rubber glove. And you thought Vince Russo was gone, silly fans! The best Mae Young beating would occur a few weeks later, but we will save that for Wrestlemania.
**I went to the concession stands to grab a beer during this one. Some guy said I was a dick for wearing Triple H stuff, as I should pay homage to Cactus Jack. That wouldn't be the last time on this night my love for The Game would almost get me in trouble.**
Scott: This reminds me of those great filler matches from the first seven Wrestlemanias. Strictly put in to spell the crowd from the first two matches to the next match. This has something to do with Mark Henry and Mae Young, and the birth of a hand. I don't know. It was one of the leftover storylines from 1999. Whatever, it was crap. Grade: .5
Justin: Mark Henry is out for revenge, as Viscera had squashed his baby momma a few weeks back. I am now out for revenge for being forced to watch this mess. Grade: .5
4) Edge & Christian defeat the Hardy Boys in a #1 Contenders match when Christian (Jay Reso) pins Matt Hardy with an Impaler at 15:17
Fun Fact: Terri Runnels had been out of action since the 1/24 Raw, when she got involved in a tag match between the Hardys and the Outlaws. During the match, the Dudley Boys had come to scout the action but ended up interfering in the match. During the beatdown, Terri got in the ring, and Bubba managed to grab hold of her and started screaming at her. Well, as chants of "ECW" filled the arena, the Dudleys took the next step to stardom by giving Terri a top rope superbomb through a table. A folded up Terri lied motionless as Bubba sat with an orgasmic look on his face. The Dudleys had arrived, but Terri was seriously hurt. She made her return at the PPV, but paid off the Acolytes, who were now offering their services for (beer) money and were calling themselves the Acolytes Protection Agency, to come down to ringside with her to ensure her safety.
Fun Fact II: The Acolytes debuted the very swank "Hell's Henchmen" t-shirts.
** Andrea didn't know who any of these guys were, but I was certainly prepared for a good match. Two guys in the section across from us were dressed like Matt and Jeff which was very impressive. They saw my Triple H shirt and gave me the finger. **
Scott: Now we get back to our tag team situation. We've already seen the Dudley Boyz make an impression, winning the titles and receiving the torch from Billy and the D-O-Double G. Now, here are the other teams that are set to blaze the new trail. This is another of many times that these four blue chippers will get in the ring and raise hell. Here, Terri turns on her charges, pushing Jeff Hardy off the top rope as he was about to go for the Senton Bomb. Matt tries to find out what's going on, but gets slapped and walks right into an Impaler. The Canadian combo wins the match, and are #1 contenders. This growth of great tag team talent takes its first step toward history at the next PPV. Grade: 3.5
Justin: A highly energetic tag match, as was the norm for these four guys. The Hardys were somewhat on the backburner here, as they are dumped by their manager and end up jobbing to Edge & Christian, who were still floating around without solid gimmicks or personalities to help them get over. All that would change next month, however, in a very big way. After she turns on them, Terri orders the APA to enter the ring and assault the Hardys, which they do in a very nasty way. Faarooq pounds the crap out of Jeff and then gives him the dominator. Unfortunately, when doing the move, Jeff flipped too quickly and Faarooq basically slams him hard onto his head and neck. It was quite ugly, and Jeff was very lucky he wasn't seriously hurt in there. The tag division continues to grow, and not only do the Hardys and Edge & Christian look great here, but the APA start to climb back into the picture with a hot and relatable gimmick. Grade: 3.5
5) Tazz (Peter Senerchia) defeats Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) by disqualification when Prince Albert (Matt Bloom) interferes at :48
Scott: This was a continuing storyline involving these two, along with Prince Albert. Due to the excessive lengths of the more important matches on the card, this was probably abbreviated for a reason. Tazz has only been here a month, and already his character has been abused. His pops haven't really deteriorated, but they would soon. Grade: .5
Justin: Nothing much here, as they were trying to get Tazz over as a pugnacious midget who didn't ever quit, no matter how bad he was getting beaten on. With that goal in mind, the resident WWF bully, Big Boss Man, is called in to lay the beating down on Tazz. The point is made, but the angle is kind of stupid, as Tazz was always presented as a killing machine, and now looks like a drunken orange leprechaun who won't stay down no matter how hard he is beaten with a stick. Not a good sign this early in, but Tazz would soon be shoved aside in favor of newer and fresher talent. Grade: 0
6) X-Pac (Sean Waltman) defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) in a No Holds Barred match when he dropkicks the ring stairs into Kane's face at 7:50
Fun Fact: On the 12/20/99 Raw, Tori was lobbying for a World Title match for Kane against the Big Show. Well, Triple H finally relented, but added this stipulation: if Kane lost, Tori had to spend the holidays with X-Pac. Well, after some interference by the Outlaws, Big Show managed to win the match, and Tori was absconded by Billy Gunn and forced to spend the Christmas season with the vile X-Pac. Upon her return, however, something was quite different, and she even began claiming that everything went fine and that X-Pac was a "perfect gentlemen" during their time together. Finally, on the 1/27 Smackdown, the pieces came together during a Kane/Big Show match. After the bout ended, Triple H attacked and tied Kane to the ropes. X-Pac grabbed the mike and this is what followed (courtesy the impeccable CRZ): "Hey Kane! I'd like to tell you a little tale right now, BUDDY. I think I'll call it...the X-Pac/Tori Christmas Story! Now let me fast-forward to the hotel scene 'cause that's where all the good stuff happened anyway. And after all, that's where your girl seduced me. Like, the way she looked at me when she started undressing - taking all her clothes off - piece, by piece, by piece, until she was standing there ... TOTALLY NUDE! And my, what a hotty body this one's got, let me tell ya. And then how she walked over to me, and let me tell ya, this one likes it rough. She ripped all my clothes off, every stitch! And then how you kissed my lips... (Audio replaced - video replaced - wonder what he's saying - clearly not TV-PG and PTC-friendly - so why have it on Smackdown!?)...and yeah, it was a wonderful Christmas for us - Santa had a hell of a sleigh ride that night - (audio replaced - video replaced - slow-mo filler video - commentary we heard before -) - so I hope you liked my little tale - the X-Pac and Tori Christmas Story. And as for you, you can do anything you damn well want." Tori turns to leave the ring - stops - comes back...stands nose to nose with X-Pac - and plants one on him. "THE - END." Kane had been betrayed, and his already fragile ego was now crushed on national TV. Following this humiliating incident, Kane was eventually beaten down and institutionalized for being insane. Then, on the 2/7 Raw, as an awesome ten-man tag match had just ended, and D-X was having their way with Rock, Rikishi, Cactus Jack and Too Cool, the lights went off and the fire exploded and out came Kane with his father Paul Bearer, clad in all red, in tow. It would be revealed that he had released Kane from the institution. The roof blew off Reunion Arena in Dallas and the Big Red Machine was back and ready for war. Then, on the 2/10 Smackdown, Kane finally got his hands on his ex-lover, and planted her head first into the mat with a lethal Tombstone, much to the delight of a jacked up crowd that was popping big time.
** There was a family in front of us, and two of the six kids had Kane masks on. I think only one of the kids had shoes, and the mother was smoking in a non-smoking arena. Classy. **
Scott: I thought this feud ended when Kane beat X-Pac in an exceptional cage match at Armageddon, but alas the writers can't avoid beating a dead horse. Since that win, Tori has heeled out and joined X-Pac in D-Generation X. After kidnapping her, X-Pac tortured Kane with stories of a special Christmas rendezvous. Tori then tells Kane that she enjoyed it and says Kane is a freak. This was doing something very special to Kane's character. We were feeling sorry for him as he was a monster with real emotions. This was one of the things the WWF writers really succeeded in doing. Although I thought this feud should have ended, the storyline swerve was a nice touch to keep heat on what was a fading DX. Grade: 2.5
Justin: This feud continues on, continues to feature good matches, but also continues to feature quick matches, as all three encounters between these two were less than ten minutes, which was a good thing, as the action was non-stop. Kane again gets his hands on Tori here, and again Tombstones her for good measure, but as he turns around, X-Pac levels him with a dropkick through the steel steps and wins the third match in the series. The feud takes a different turn the next month and then is finally put to rest. Grade: 2
7) Rikishi (Solofa Fatu) & Too Cool defeat Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo) & Dean Malenko when Rikishi pins Malenko with the Butt Splash at 12:40
Fun Fact: The 1/31 Raw started like any normal WWF program and featured a tag match between Al Snow & Steve Blackman and the New Age Outlaws. But then, about three minutes into the match, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero started walking through the crowd and took a seat at ringside. Rumors had been flying of their impending arrival in the WWF, and they had apparently been true, as the hottest free agent foursome in wrestling history was now on the scene, and they didn't take long to make an impact. During the match, Road Dogg was whipped over the barricade and into the crowd right at the feet of the WCW refugees. Well, after a staredown, a huge brawl broke out and the WCW Four beat down the Outlaws and made their way to the locker-room. After the break, it was then revealed that Cactus Jack had invited the four men, soon to be dubbed the Radicalz, to be his guests that night at Raw, even going as far as to ask them what its like to see full arenas, especially considering their fans actually pay for the tickets. After Cactus makes a plea for employment on their behalf, Triple H basically blows them off by stating that he will "file the offer in my computer." Later on in the show, Triple H was slated to defend the WWF title against Kane, but Kane failed to appear (most likely because of Tori's deceit), and Cactus came out and volunteered to substitute. This is when the Radicalz made their mark, as they would interfere during the match and, along with Cactus, lay a serious beatdown on the champ. The following Smackdown, Triple H changed his mind and made the Radicalz an offer: they had to win two of three matches against D-X and they would gain employment in the WWF. In the first match of the series, X-Pac used a low blow to pin Dean Malenko, to put D-X up 1-0. Things seemed to be going fine, but then something unexpected happened. During the second match, featuring Guerrero & Saturn taking on the Outlaws, Eddie Guerrero went for his frog splash but when he landed he completely dislocated his elbow. He was in such pain that he couldn't continue, and Road Dogg just rolled over and pinned him, meaning D-X already clinched the series, leading to no importance being placed on the final match of the series: Triple H vs. Chris Benoit. Of course, as expected, Triple H won the highly competitive match-up to send the Radicalz home 0-3 and jobless. The next week's Raw opened with X-Pac in the ring ready for a match, but before we saw his opponent, the Radicalz made their way to the ring to apologize for their performance and admit they weren't good enough to make in the WWF and finally to thank Cactus Jack for the opportunity. Well, after Cactus comes out and the hugs abound, the joy is quickly cut off by Triple H and Stephanie. After some goading, and promises of jobs for the Radicalz, Triple H was able to convince Cactus to give him a rematch at No Way Out and even conceded to Cactus's offer of a Hell in a Cell match. However, if Cactus wanted the title shot and the jobs for the Radicalz, he had to put his career on the line in the match. Cactus accepted and then out of nowhere, the Radicalz started beating the shit out of him, as it was all a setup. After the beatdown, they celebrated with D-X and left the ring triumphant. Later that night, the Radicalz immediately proved their in-ring chops as they were involved in what was one of the fastest paced, exciting and entertaining ten-man tags in WWF history, as Saturn, Benoit and Malenko teamed with Triple H and X-Pac to face off with the Rock, Cactus, Too Cool and Rikishi. That ten-man led to the ill-will that led to this match here.
Fun Fact II: Dean Malenko is from Tampa, trained under his famous father Boris and was in a tag team with his brother Joe for four years. He won his first title on January 24, 1992, defeating The Superstar for Suncoast Pro Wrestling Southern Title. On March 12 of that year he defeated future Heavenly Body Jimmy Backlund to win the ICWA Light Heavyweight Title. From there it was on to ECW in 1994 and his reigns as both Tag Team and TV Champion. His tag partner was his fellow Radical Chris Benoit, but he's most remembered for a great rivalry with another Radical, Eddie Guerrero, for the aforementioned TV Title. They wrestled each other in their farewell match at the ECW Arena to a loud and emotional applause from the fans. Then off to WCW, where Malenko would be known as "The Iceman" Dean Malenko because of his calculating demeanor and was also given the nickname of "The Man of 1,000 Holds". On May 2, 1996 Malenko defeated Shinjiro Ohtani for the Cruiserweight Title. He would hold that title multiple times during his tenure, and would also be a member of the famed Four Horsemen. By early 2000 he was fed up with WCW booking and political nonsense, and took the out when it was offered.
Fun Fact III: Perry Satullo enlisted in the United States Army for four years at the age of seventeen, before eventually embarking on a career in professional wrestling. Satullo began training at Killer Kowalski's school in Malden, Massachusetts around 1988 and debuted on October 27, 1990 in Waltham, Massachusetts, wrestling for the United States Wrestling Federation, where he would later hold the Light-Heavyweight Championship. Satullo also wrestled in Kowalski's International Wrestling Federation as The Iron Horseman. Satullo eventually won the IWF Light Heavyweight Championship, and would also win the IWF Tag Team Championship along with Terra Rizing, another Kowalski student. Satullo began wrestling for independent promotions throughout New England, as well as touring Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1993. He met George Caicuzzo, who also wanted to be a wrestler. Caicuzzo would turn into John Kronus, and they would become The Eliminators. They would win titles in the USWA and WAR promotions before heading to ECW in 1995, where they would become one of the most dominant teams of the era. Saturn went to WCW in 1997 and was part of Raven's flock, before leaving the group and feuding with them. He and Raven would also win the WCW Tag Team Titles together in 1999. Booker Kevin Sullivan told Saturn he wouldn't get over with the fans, so like Malenko he took the out in early 2000 and headed to the WWF.
Fun Fact IV: Chris Benoit was born in Edmonton and became a big wrestling fan at an early age, rooting for the Hart family. His favorite wrestler was the Dynamite Kid, and as he moved up the ranks of Stampede Wrestling in the late-80s he began to emulate Dynamite's moves, like the flying head butt off the top rope. As he won titles and honed his craft learning from the legendary Stu Hart, Benoit headed to Japan and won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title in 1990 as the masked Pegasus Kid. Once he lost the title to Jushin Liger, he lost his mask as well and became Wild Pegasus. Benoit would win the prestigious J-Cup Tournament in 1994, and from that moment became the favorite wrestler of many Indy fans. He journeyed to ECW, where he would win the Tag Team straps with Dean Malenko, but then would also accidentally break ECW legend Sabu's neck in a match, although it turned out to be Sabu's fault. From then on Benoit was given the nickname "The Crippler" by Paul Heyman. He'd head to WCW in 1995 and would join the fabled Four Horsemen. He would also feud with Kevin Sullivan, which almost turned into real life as Sullivan's real life wife Nancy, stage name Woman, would leave Sullivan for Benoit. Benoit, like most of the mid-carders in the late 90s in WCW, would be buried by the NWO machine led by Eric Bischoff. He would win multiple tag titles and the US Heavyweight Title, but never was given a legit opportunity to be a main eventer. He would lose to Bret Hart at Mayhem 1999 for the WCW World Title in the finals of a 64-man tournament, and although he was friends with Bret that may have been the last straw. In a last ditch attempt to keep him, WCW had him defeat Sid at Souled Out 2000 to become the WCW Champ. The next night before Nitro, Benoit said he was leaving and left the belt there. Knowing there was a chance that Benoit would leave, they positioned the end of the Souled Out match so that Sid's foot would be under the bottom rope when he tapped to the Crossface. So the next night Sid was given the belt back and Benoit was not mentioned again. We all know how the Chris Benoit story will eventually end and we are in no way justifying anything that occurred in June 2007. However, we will be reviewing his matches as we go forward with these monthly reviews, as he did exist and take part in many WWF PPV matches over the next seven years.
** I was very excited at the chance to see Chris Benoit live for the first time. Andrea had no clue who any of these guys were either. **
Scott: The time had finally arrived. By the end of 1999 so many wrestlers, very accomplished wrestlers, wanted out of the sinking ship that is WCW so badly, President Bill Busch allowed anyone who wanted to leave a free pass. Four men took advantage of it: Eddie Guerrero, of the legendary Guerrero family; Dean Malenko, former WCW Cruiserweight Champion and son of Boris Malenko; Perry Saturn, former member of the awesome ECW tag team the Eliminators, and a member of Raven's flock; and finally, the crown jewel of this foursome: Chris Benoit, the Crippler, the most talented and respected wrestler in the world. This is not a good marker of his future, as Guerrero is out with a dislocated elbow, and Saturn just isn't as good as the others, so the pace is slowed somewhat. The Radicalz debuted as faces, but turned on their friend Mick Foley as Triple H offered them contracts to heel out on him. Decent debuts for the defectors, but better times are to come. Grade: 2.5
Justin: A really fun and quick-paced match here, as the Radicalz immediately prove they can not only hang with great wrestlers like Too Cool, but also can carry inferior ones like Rikishi to their level. The Radicalz unleash some swank moves and proceed to completely destroy Rikishi's ankle in the process. They probably should have picked up the win here, but this match would eventually set up a rematch of sorts at Wrestlemania, so I guess it was OK for them to lie down, plus Rikishi was still super-over, so it was fine. This was a solid PPV debut for the four men who had finally nailed the WCW coffin shut for good. Grade: 3.
8) The Big Show (Paul Wight) defeats the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) in a #1 contender match after a Shane McMahon chair shot at 9:23
Fun Fact: For weeks, Big Show claimed he had concrete evidence that the Rock's feet had touched first in the Rumble match, and after using various videos and pictures, he was finally able to convince Triple H and Stephanie of the truth, and received a match at No Way Out, with the winner moving on to Wrestlemania.
Fun Fact II: This show marks the PPV debut of Show's shorter hair style as he finally chopped off his trademark ponytail.
** There was a large contingent of Rock fans in our section, and again once my Triple H shirt was noticed the "You Suck" chants were heading my way. This was great. **
Scott: This was one of the biggest shocks in recent memory. There have been two previous February PPVs where the Wrestlemania title shot was up for grabs: 1996 when Shawn Michaels defeated Owen Hart, and 1999 when Steve Austin defeated Vince McMahon. So, popular wisdom would tell you that the Rock rolls here, and goes on to Wrestlemania. Well, this would not be the first time in 2000 that Vince McMahon tinkers with conventional wisdom. Big Show felt he was screwed at the Royal Rumble because Rock's feet hit the outside before his did. Indeed Rock's did, so the McMahon/Helmsley Regime gave Show this shot to get the spot at Wrestlemania. The match is average, but the big shock was Shane O' Mac coming out to lather Rock with his patented flying chair shot, and Show gets the shocking upset. This swerve would be used two years later, and just like here, would be overturned on RAW. It probably happened to add intrigue to the main event. Grade: 2.5
Justin: A decent match that will always be remembered more for the shocking turn of Shane McMahon than anything that preceded it. Shane had been off TV since the Raw after Armageddon, when he and Vince left the scene after they had been duped by Stephanie. Here, he emerges from nowhere, dives across the ring and nails the Rock with a chair, which leads to a Show pin and victory. Things were all screwed up now, as the crowd was in shock that the Rock had lost his #1 contender slot. This was a bright maneuver, however, for two reasons: a) it muddies up the Wrestlemania picture, which adds a lot of intrigue and b) it adds some an element of unpredictability for the Main Event now, which everyone assumed would set up Triple H vs. Rock, but, if Big Show could beat Rock, maybe Cactus could win the title and not retire. It was subtle, but a smooth move by Vince and Crew. Grade: 2
** I was stunned to see the Rock lose, as all the Rock fans that I mentioned were swearing and throwing their signs in disgust. I was getting a little worried now as to who was going to win the next match. **
9) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) in a Hell in a Cell match to retain WWF World Title with a Pedigree at 23:57
Fun Fact: After another full month of excellent build-up between these two, the Main Event stage was set, and the Main Event feel was in the air: Career vs. Title; Hell in a Cell. Cactus Jack had come a long way over the course of fourteen years. He lived in his car and drove hundreds of miles to train each weekend. After being deemed ready for the big time, he plied his trade in small barns and warehouses across America, nearly killing himself in the process, as he always went all out to entertain the fans. He then went to WCW, where he continued to give it his all, but due to the usual politics there, was never given the push the fans wanted or that he deserved. After being driven out of there, he showed up in Japan, where he quickly became known as the King of the Death Match. Upon his return to the US, he latched on to Paul Heyman's burgeoning ECW, where he quickly became a cult hero for his deranged Anti-Hardcore attitude, where he eschewed everything he stood for and began kissing Eric Bischoff's ass, hoping for a job with WCW again, well not really. Finally, after years of calling Pat Patterson, Mick Foley finally received the call up to the big time: the WWF. However, always thinking ahead of the game, Vince McMahon thought the Cactus Jack character was played out and that Foley needed a new look. After some tinkering, Mankind made his debut against Bob Holly on the 4/1/96 Raw, and followed that up with a vicious beating of the Undertaker. After spending a full year as a deranged psychotic, we began to see promos and interviews that shone a new light on Mankind, and reveled his real past. Soon, he transformed to Dude Love and then finally to Cactus Jack. After bopping around the cards in 1997 and 1998 and tweaking his character into a fun loving dolt, he finally stepped to a level he never thought he would reach. On a snowy December night in Worcester, MA Mick Foley finally reached his holy grail, as he defeated the Rock for the WWF Championship. He would remain in the Main Event picture for most of 1999, but as the Millennium came to a close, Foley's shape and overall health were starting to fail him, and his matches became more of a joke than anything else. Finally, he decided it was time to call it quits, but he didn't want to go out as the fat joke maker who wore a sock on his hand and wore ripped sweat pants to the ring, and instead, busted his ass to get into shape for one final run. He now had two goals: a) be in the Main Event of Wrestlemania, something that always eluded him, and b) make Triple H a bon-a-fide star.
** My moment had arrived and, as Triple H's awesome theme music played, I stood on my seat and cheered my favorite wrestler. What followed was the greatest heel heat I ever received, as all the fans I had baited all night started throwing popcorn and empty soda cups at me. It was a fun moment to piss everyone off. Although I love Cactus Jack's music, tonight for me was The Game's night. **
Scott: The sequel to that awesome brawl at Royal Rumble is duplicated here. Both men took a certain role to make the matches legendary: Triple H came in the bad mother fucker champion, who was a grade A prick and pissed off the crowd at every turn. Cactus is the charismatic good guy whose career is going into the sunset, but won't go down without a fight. Many criticize this match for being contrived, and not as emotionally driven as the Rumble match. That's utter bullshit. These two bring it over twenty minutes for the second straight month, beating the shit out of each other, and taking some insane risks. Sure, the spot where Triple H backdrops Mick through the cell ceiling and the ring collapses under him as he hits it was rigged. What the hell do you want Mick to do, kill himself? I don't blame him or Vince and I have no problems with it. Foley's career wouldn't quite end here. Triple H is firmly establishing himself as one of wrestling's biggest players. Grade: 5
Justin: Well, as far as storyline quality goes, this match may have one of the most intense and dramatic backdrops of any WWF World Title match in history, as Triple H was trying to stay on top of his mountain, and Cactus Jack was trying to live his lifelong dream of wrestling in the Main Event of Wrestlemania. The match itself is a vicious, sick brawl that features two determined men kicking the ever living shit out of each other. The match starts slowly, and Foley even admitted in his book that he thought they were quickly losing the crowd, but once they start laying it on hard and began their ascent up the cage, the crowd gets whipped into a frenzy. Now, here is one problem I have with this match, and I may be nit picking, but so be it. I understand why they did the contrived ring-breaking stunt, as it was obvious that Foley could have been seriously injured if the ring wasn?t gimmicked first, and by no means would I want him to take that bump without being fully protected. However, if a bump needs to look that silly in the end, why even do it in the first place? The match was intense and violent enough that that spot wasn't truly necessary, and if you need to go through all that trouble to ensure a man's safety, maybe it wasn't worth doing at all. I do, however, like the tease of Cactus getting up from the fall, only to then destroy the crowd's hopes with a Pedigree and a 1-2-3. The dream is over for Cactus Jack, and the crowd and Jim Ross give him the standing ovation and send-off he truly deserved, as he was one of the greats of all time. This match and story are excellent, but I think the contrived ending takes away from the reality of the situation, and is the main reason why I think the Rumble Street Fight is one notch above this one, as they were able to look just as sick and violent, but without losing that sense or feeling of realism. Grade: 4.5
** I was ecstatic to see my guy retain his title and go to Wrestlemania, but a little part of me was indeed upset that Cactus Jack was done. I gave a standing ovation with the rest of the Civic Center crowd. **
Scott: Two for two on the year for PPVs, as this was a solid show with a really good undercard, a great double main event, and a surprise. There were a few dogs here and there, but the nonsensical storylines of 1999 are starting to weed out, and the real, workrate-driven storylines of 2000 start to take effect. There are still skeptics who think without Steve Austin and Undertaker, the company will tank. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, we missed the Rattlesnake and the Deadman, but they needed the time off badly, and those who are taking the ball are running with it, and running with it well. The biggest show of the year is next, and although things don't make sense, by the time we reach the Pond, they will. Final Grade: A
Justin: A really good PPV, but not nearly as good as some of the praise it receives, and that is mainly due to a weak middle portion of the card. When you have two grades under a one, it is hard to outright praise a show as one of the best ever. However, the rest of the matches pretty much make up for those dogs, and is completely carried by the Main Event. It was a PPV dripping with tension, and the one result everyone knew was coming, but didn't want to see happen occurred, as Cactus Jack was forced intro retirement. On his way out the door, Mick Foley accomplished one of his two goals: make Triple H a star. His second goal now seems out of reach, however, as he was on the sidelines and the Wrestlemania Main Event was now set at Big Show vs. Triple H. Anyway, nit picking aside, this is still a great show, and 2000 is off to about as a hot a start as you could hope for. Final Grade: A-
** As for my evening, I spent too much money on food, and there was that family of people in front of me with about eight kids, almost none of them wearing shoes. Almost like that trashy family Terry Taylor interviews at the 1993 King of the Ring. There were a shitload of smokers in the upper deck, even though you can't smoke in there. My girlfriend, who only liked wrestling because I did, was fine company, even though she originally wasn't supposed to go. As for the show, I saw two titles change, a cool swerve, and a Hell in a Cell match, so you can't do much better than that. It was a memorable show for me, but I would only go to one more show in Hartford, as I never really liked the place for wrestling. Even though it's now demolished, the New Haven Coliseum will always be my wrestling home. **
MVP: Triple H & Cactus Jack
Runner Up: Kurt Angle
Non-MVP: Viscera & Mark Henry
Runner Up: Tazz