I’m old. I know that. I saw the first Wrestlemania on tape delay only a month or so after it happened, here, in Australia on Channel 10 (free-to-air television). But that does mean I have seen probably way more wrestling than is entirely healthy for a man fast approaching fifty years of age. That also means that looking back can be done from the perspective of some-one who was actually watching this pseudo-sport at the time.
Now, recently it was brought home to me that it has been twenty years since the year 2000. That year when the world’s computers were supposed to crash (thanks to the Y2k bug), when we were supposed to have flying cars, when the English alphabet was supposed to have shrunk to 22 letters, and when Britney Spears was on the cusp of conquering the world with ‘Oops… I Did It Again’ the earworm song and eye-candy video sensation of the age.
I’d been married for a year but we didn’t have kids yet, and so I still got the chance to watch wrestling. Now, through the 90s, WCW was my preferred promotion. But nWo overload, ridonculous story-lines and crappy wrestling by the guys on top was dragging me away. Meanwhile, over on WWF (as it then was), the Attitude era was in full swing, which I could not stand. And in the land of ECW, they were dying a slow and painful death, only they didn’t know it yet.
Worse, there was little local product to go and see, and my tape trading did not get me any Japanese stuff. So, I was stuck with the American rubbish.
Now, with that in mind, what I’m going to do is each month look at the PPVs that we saw (or, in the case of ECW, I saw a little while later when the tape reached me). And so, let’s start with
We begin on the ninth.
ECW GUILTY AS CHARGED
– We have Cyrus as colour commentator. I never understood that (apart from trying to piss off the TV station); Styles was the best commentator, doing it all on his own brilliantly.
– Even in Alabama, the ECW crowds know how to chant.
– Mikey Whipwreck v CW Anderson. Anderson wins with outside interference helping. Not a good match. And they opened the PPV with this?
– Danny Doring, Roadkill & Simon Diamond v Nova, Kid Kash & Jazz. And there are managers, helpers, seconds and people everywhere. The very definition of clusterf*ck. People everywhere. The best thing about the match? Jazz didn’t look out of place against the men. The rest, though: Crap. Roadkill pins Chris Chetti (who wasn’t in the match) for the win, then the Dupp brothers attack both teams.
– Super Crazy and Tajiri have a feud. Corino gets to pick their partners for a tag match. So Corino picks them to tag together. And they fight Guido and Jerry Lynn. Guido turns on Lynn. Tajiri pins Lynn after a brainbuster. Look, a good match, but it was completely stupid in set-up.
– Angel v New Jack. Weapons, blood, the Baldies attack, 3-on-1 against New Jack. He is killed; Angel wins. There’s 10 minutes of my life I ain’t getting back.
– TV Title: Sabu v Rob Van Dam (c). Well, this match was crappy. Sloppy. In the end it was just a thing to see who could take the nastiest looking bump. No flow. Rob retains after a quarter of an hour.
– Tag Team Titles: The Impact Players (Justin Credible & Lance Storm) v Raven & Tommy Dreamer (c). What is it tonight? Another sloppy, crappy match. Francine and Dawn Marie have a “Catfight! Catfiiight!” (because ECW), showing how far the women had to come to get to their level now (main eventing Wrestlemania, winning the Impact title, not being forced to bark like a dog for Vince). This is just not good. But, in the end, the Impact Players pin Raven when he tries to protect Francine and get the titles.
– Ah, Sandman v Rhyno match was scrapped. Wonder if that threw everyone off as they had to make up for it? Nah, I’m just making excuses.
– Heavyweight Title: Spike Dudley v Mike Awesome (c). For fifteen minutes, Awesome beats the snot out of Dudley. A couple of hope spots, but this was just painful to watch. Needless to say, Awesome wins after his hundredth powerbomb in Dudley.
– Well, this was not a good way to start the year! I liked exactly one match, and even then the set up for it was just stupid.
A week later, it’s the 16th.
WCW SOULED OUT
– This is a match where the backstage crap warrants mentioning: Bret Hart and Jeff Jarrett were both injured and so could not compete. Vince Russo was maybe still involved, but at the least moves were afoot to oust him, and Kevin Nash was gearing himself to be in a position of power. Worse, Kevin Sullivan was back as a booker, and Chris Benoit had stolen his wife because of an angle that became reality a few years earlier. Wrestlers were asking for releases left, right and centre. So the company was in turmoil. A bit.
– Watching Benoit do the diving headbutt from the top of the cage is nowadays eerie…
– We have a Triple Threat Theatre: Kidman v 3 members of the Revolution with stip matches. So we lead off with Kidman v Dean Malenko in a “catch as Catch can” match. Basically, stay in the ring! But after 3 minutes Malenko goes to the floor and is thus disqualified. Judging by everyone’s reactions, this was a f*ck-up. What a crappy start.
– I’ve read a theory that Malenko deliberately screwed up because he was leaving WCW the next day and did not give a shit.
– The recap of the frankly bizarre Flair (David), Crowbar, Daphne, Vampiro, Arn Anderson story is recapped. Leading into a handicap match: David Flair & Crowbar with Daphne v Vampiro. Having said that, the announcers call it a 3-way dance. I am giving this a hell of a lot more typing than the match deserves. It is crap. Okay, Crowbar v Vampiro showed flashes of goodness, but not enough to save the match. Vampiro wins.
– I wonder if David watches Charlotte now and rocks back and forth thinking: Why couldn’t it be me?!
– The Harris Boys (Don & Ron) v Big Vito & Johnny The Bull (with Disco Inferno). Wow. You know, I PAID for this back in the day?! This is just another in the string of opening crappy matches. Look, some nice moves at times, some not good stuff at others, and then Disco’s interference backfires… I need to explain. Disco doesn’t want to be involved. It’s a debt thing. So he tries to push Vitro off the top rope to make them lose, but he pushes Vito onto a Harris and they win. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
– Cruiserweight Title: Oklahoma v Madusa. Okay, more explanation needed. Oklahoma is an unfunny riff on Jim Ross played by writer Ed Ferrera. (look, I like Ed, chatted to him online… but this sucked). He used BBQ sauce and stole the title (I think… maybe he won it?), despite him being wa-a-a-ay over the weight limit. And again, the match does not deserve that. It was awful and Oklahoma won so he’s the title-holder officially.
– People complain about David Arquette winning the WCW Heavyweight Title. I have more of an issue with this. And nothing – NOTHING – is as bad as Vince Russo, WCW World Heavyweight champion. I’ve seen Booker T whine about Tessa Blanchard winning the Impact Title. He lost to Vince f’n RUSSO! No, Booker, you’re still the biggest loser ever in wrestling. VINCE F’N RUSSO!
– Seriously, I paid for this.
– Hardcore Title: Fit Finlay v Meng v Norman Smiley v Brian Knobbs (c). “I hit you, you hit me, we’re a dysfunctional family…” (Sing in a Barney the Dinosaur voice…) Knobbs retained. What? You want more? Why?
– Bunkhouse Brawl: Kidman v Saturn. Finally, a match that is above crappy! It’s not the best (not by a long way) but it’s watchable enough. Some tables get involved, no SSP, Kidman gets the pin.
– Stevie Ray walks some mean streets.
– Booker T v Stevie Ray. The battle of the brothers sees Harlem Heat explode and brings us back to the return of the shitty matches. Like chinlocks? This is your match. Eventually Ahmed Johnson (now “Big T”) comes out. Obviously WWF got to keep his physique when he left the company. This leads to a DQ and the formation of “the new and improved Harlem Heat”. Goody.
– Hey a Sid Vicious promo! And it made some semblance of sense!
– Tank Abbott v Jerry Flynn. Nice pseudo-shoot fight to start. Well, I liked it. But less than two minutes in, Abbott gets a shot in that knocks Flynn out for the win.
-DDP v Buff Bagwell. Last man standing match because Page’s wife Kimberley is hot. (You know, that always got me – Kimberley was really hot and yet e when he went to WWF/E? Stalking Undertaker’s not as hot wife…) Yeah, okay match, nothing great, going all over the place, but Buff wins at the end, just. And the post-match stuff with Kimberley made no sense.
– Caged Heat Match: Kidman v mystery opponents. Mystery opponents rarely live up to the hype, huh? In this case it was the Wall. And Kidman loses a cage match in 5 minutes to him. Waste of a cage, especially the Hell in a Cell cage they used here. And what was the point of Kidman winning the first two matches only to lose the third? That makes no sense from a booking perspective. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Match was crap as well.
– Kevin Nash v Terry Funk. This is for the Commissionership of WCW. So, of course, Nash wins. The match? It had the laziest man in wrestling v the oldest man in wrestling: what do you think it was like? It was shit and it liked it.
– Vacant WCW Heavyweight Title: Chris Benoit v Sid Vicious. Arn Anderson is your special guest referee. In one of the very rare times in WCW history, the best match of the night was the main event. This was possibly Sid’s best match outside of a WarGames. He sold like a champ and Benoit played the plucky little guy under-dog role to the hilt. After 15 minutes of decent back and forth action, Benoit got Sid to tap out to the crossface. Your new WCW World Heavyweight Champion – Chris Benoit! At the time, this was a real feelgood moment. Oh, and the non-nWo locker-room (including refs!) coming onto the stage to watch was brilliant.
– Post-match, Nash comes to Benoit and promises to make his life a living hell.
– More backstage BS. Benoit quit the company the next day, leaving with a few others to turn up on WWF TV (as the Radicalz… because the letter Z means you can trademark it!). The company said Sid’s foot was under the ropes, so Benoit should not have won. Title was held up and Sid eventually won it in a tournament. Benoit was wiped from WCW’s history until the WWF bought them out and re-inserted him. Isn’t politics fun?
Another week later, it’s the 23rd.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE
– We’re in the Attitude Era at this point in time. I did not like the Attitude Era; it was what turned me off WWF in the mid-90s. But I still watched the Royal Rumble every year. And yet, I will say I almost didn’t in 2000… because of who won it in 1999. That made no sense. I did not see any other WWF PPVs from 1997 to June of 2000. Then I did some tape trading and caught up. But I hated WWF, and this PPV occurred at the end of that boycott. So, I didn’t see this until June/July of 2000. I am watching this now through the joys of WWE Network.
– Kurt Angle v a mystery opponent. Unlike WCW’s, this one is great – Tazz! They suplex the shit out of each other, Tazz locks in the Tazmission, and that’s all she wrote. All she wrote? It was barely three minutes long! Ripped off. It felt like the opening three minutes of a great match. Kurt’s first defeat, apparently.
– The Dudley Boyz v The Hardy Boyz – Table Match. This was announced as the first ever tag team tables match in WWF. This is where it started. Tables everywhere, ladders involved, chairs are there. Yep, TLC started here. Ten minutes of goodness. When I saw this some 6 months later, it still felt fresh and incredible; nothing WCW had done even came close. Already this single match makes this the pick of the shows of January! Oh, the Hardys won after both Dudleys were put through tables. The WWF were still working out the rules here as well, which made it a little confusing at times
– Angle thinking he was choked and so is still undefeated was probably funny at the time, but nowadays it has a little bit of the “yeah… well…” factor.
– And the women get to show their stuff by appearing in a bikini contest. Attitude Era… Jerry Lawler goes all horny teenaged boy (or President of the USA) as the announcer for this segment. Ivory (with the best physique) is pissed at being there; Luna won’t even take her coat off; the rest just do stripper impersonations. Mae Young with artificial boobs wins because of course she does. We got this instead of 5 minutes more of Angle v Tazz? Look, if you like it, great. Glad 14 year olds are reading my stuff. But this was shit.
– Intercontinental Title: Hardcore Holly v Chyna v Chris Jericho. Chyna and Jericho were co-holders of the title here. Well, at least we have a woman wrestling. The match was a right mess, and Jericho won. Thank goodness.
– The Rock’s pre-Rumble promo is great. As expected.
– Tag Team Titles: Acolytes v New Age Outlaws (c). Bradshaw/JBL was a boring wrestler. Always. This 3 minute match is no exception. And the NAO win to retain.
– WWF Heavyweight Title: HHH (c) v Cactus Jack. This was the first match I saw HHH participate in that I enjoyed. I mean it. He complained later on in life that no-one ever made him look good. Really? Foley did everything in his power to make HHH’s title reign legitimate. This was a hardcore match with blood, brutal shots, sick bumps and everything ECW wanted their PPV to be. Still one of HHH’s best matches ever. He won to retain, but the match was the story here. Wow.
– The WWF Royal Rumble. This is one of the more average rumbles. Not bad, not great, long patches of dullness, hot ending. Rock wins by last eliminating The Big Show.
All right, 3 PPVs! WWF won hands-down. I mean, there was daylight between the Rumble and the other two, even with the Bikini crap and the crappy matches.
That’s January, 2000, 20 years ago this month!
Tags: 2000, Chris Benoit, ECW, Guilty As Charged, January, Mike Awesome, PPV, royal rumble, Souled Out, The Rock, WCW, WWE, WWF