Monday, March 23, 2020

The History of WWE WrestleMania: 2000

And we've arrived at a new millennium!

Arrowhead Pond - 4/2/00

The year 2000 saw the WWF freshen up its product in a major way.  The influx of WCW castoffs and new homegrown stars led to tremendous improvements in the in-ring product, and the absence of Steve Austin for most of the year forced the company to elevate several other uppercard talents.

That year's WrestleMania goes down as probably the strangest of the bunch, as the roster had gotten so large that everyone had to be crammed into multi-man matches and tag bouts.  In fact this edition of 'Mania featured nary a traditional singles match.

The main event saw entirely too much focus put on the McMahon Family squabbles, as each of the McMahons accompanied one of the participants to the ring.  Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Big Show vs. Mick Foley was a pretty good if overly long main event match, but sadly the company's owners took way too much of the spotlight.  This show holds the distinction of being the first 'Mania card to end with a heel Champion.

Say what you want about him now, but in 2000 Triple H was a BAMF.

Three of the WWF's newest stars got their chance to steal the show as Kurt Angle defended the I-C and European Titles against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit in a 2-Falls Triple Threat.  The match was nothing amazing, but it was a solid showing by three of the company's future main eventers.

Also on the card was a highly entertaining six-person tag match between the Radicalz (Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn), and Too Cool & Chyna. The wrong team won, but it was a fun, fast-paced bout.

The match that stole the show however was the three-way ladder match for the Tag Team Titles - The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz.  The WWF was in the midst of a tag team renaissance, and these three teams rose to the top of the division, in no small part due to their performance here.  This match took what Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon had done six years earlier and put the ladder match into overdrive.  The action was violent, explosive, and brutal, and 22 minutes later the TLC match was born.  Edge and Christian won the titles and soon after invented the comedic heel personas that took them to the next level, the Dudley Boyz became synonymous with table spots, and the Hardy Boyz established themselves as fearless daredevils for the rest of their careers.

These six men are obviously psychotic.....
While the four aforementioned bouts were all strong showings, the rest of 'Mania 2000 was a rather cluttered mess.  The need to fit as many stars on the show as possible led to multiple throwaway tag team matches (The Godfather & D'Lo Brown vs. Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan, Test & Albert vs. Head Cheese, Kane & Rikishi vs. X-Pac & Road Dogg), a strange Hardcore Title Battle Royal where the time was supposed to expire before Champion Crash Holly got pinned but Howard Finkel accidentally announced Bob Holly as the winner anyway, and a pointless Kat vs. Terri Runnels Catfight with Val Venis as the guest referee.

The overall show just felt overstuffed and too far from a traditional supercard.  The standout matches were all quite good, but in retrospect they probably should've populated the undercard with some plain ol' singles matches to keep things grounded.  It was a decent PPV but didn't seem like WrestleMania to me.

Best Match: Three-way Tag Team Ladder Match
Worst Match: Terri Runnels vs. The Kat
What I'd Change: It's hard to say specifically - Rock vs. Triple H had been done so many times (and would be again) that a singles match between them might have felt unworthy of 'Mania.  I think I'd make the Angle-Jericho-Benoit match one fall for both belts, as the second fall for the lesser championship just seemed anticlimactic.  I'd also leave the Godfather/D-Lo vs. Bossman/Bull Buchanan and Head Cheese vs. T&A matches off the card.
Most Disappointing Match: There wasn't really a particular match that fell significantly short of expectations, but I guess the EuroContinental Triple Threat could've been longer and better.
Most Pleasant Surprise: There wasn't really anything good here that I wasn't expecting to like.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10


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