Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2000)

The WWF kicks off the new millennium with a BANG BANG!

Royal Rumble 2000 - Madison Square Garden - 1.23.00

Night and day.  That's how I'd compare the WWF product from 1999 to 2000.  After Vince Russo left, overly contrived angles, abbreviated matches, and a lack of focus on in-ring all went out the window.  In their place were excellent matches, a blossoming talent pool, and storylines that made sense.  The 2000 Royal Rumble was the perfect way to kick off what was probably the best single year in the company's history.

The first match saw new WWF star Kurt Angle against a mystery opponent.  The roof came off MSG as the surprise was revealed to be former ECW Champion Tazz.  While I hated, HATED the extra "z" in his name, Tazz made short work of Angle with a dominant three-minute win.  Sadly this was the last time Tazz was used correctly as a WWF wrestler.  He faded into the midcard almost immediately after this and transitioned into an announcer role.

An unlikely Match of the Year candidate was next as The Hardy Boyz faced The Dudley Boyz in the first-ever Tables Match.  These two teams cut the most blistering pace I'd ever seen, assembling a dizzying array of death-defying high spots which climaxed with Jeff Hardy performing a Swanton off the loge entranceway onto Bubba Ray, and through two tables.  This match would be the prototype for the TLC series.

Shit's about to get real.

An ill-conceived bikini contest took up ten minutes of valuable airtime and culminated in Mae Young taking her top off, to the delight of no one.

The I-C Title was next, as co-Champions Chris Jericho and Chyna (such a dumb angle, don't ask) faced Bob Holly in a Triple Threat to determine the Undisputed I-C Champ.  Not sure why Holly was included - surely the co-Champs should've settled their feud one-on-one.  Anyway, Jericho prevailed.

A throwaway Tag Title match was next, as The New Age Outlaws had a quick two-minute win against the Acolytes.

The semi-main went to the WWF Title match.  New heel Champion Triple H, whose main event run had thus far been shaky at best, set out to prove that he did indeed belong at the top of the roster by taking on Cactus Jack in a Street Fight.  Much as he had done to establish The Rock as a main event heel in 1999, Mick Foley went above and beyond to cement Triple H as a new headliner worthy of carrying the company into the next decade.  Triple H himself proved he was more than just a cowardly heel Champion by taking vast sums of punishment over the course of this 27-minute bout.  This match featured one of the more grotesque endings I've seen, as Foley took a Pedigree face-first onto a pile of thumbtacks.  This was the match where I became a full-on Triple H fan (until mid-2002 that is).  Also a Match of the Year candidate (though I think their Hell in a Cell match at No Way Out was even better).

Dude.  Thumbtacks in face.
The Rumble match itself once again pointed to a very obvious winner, but as with the 1998 edition it was a lot of fun to watch.  Though mostly populated with midcard acts, the match featured tons of very over wrestlers who were able to captivate the crowd for over fifty minutes.  Predictably the match came down to Rock vs. Big Show, and some creative booking cast doubt on who had actually won the match.  This wasn't the best Rumble match ever but it was a fun who's-who of early 2000 stars where just about everyone seemed to have purpose.

Hold up Rock, I gotta sneeze.....

Participants: D'Lo Brown, Grandmaster Sexay, Mosh, Christian, Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, Steve Blackman, Viscera, Big Bossman, Test, British Bulldog, Gangrel, Edge, Bob Backlund, Chris Jericho, Crash Holly, Chyna, Faarooq, Road Dogg, Al Snow, Val Venis, Prince Albert, Bob Holly, The Rock, Billy Gunn, Big Show, Bradshaw, Kane, The Godfather, X-Pac
Final Four: The Rock, Big Show, X-Pac, Kane
Long Man: Test (26:17)

The 2000 Royal Rumble event set the bar very high for WWF PPVs that year.  It would overshadow all of the other "A" PPVs and remain one of the best shows of 2000.  With two MOTYCs and a solid overall lineup, this remains one of the best Royal Rumble PPVs of all time.

Best Match: Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz - I'd simply never seen anything like this at that point.
Worst Match: New Age Outlaws vs. Acolytes
What I'd Change: Not much.  Given that Steve Austin was missing, there wasn't much they could do to stack the Rumble match.  I'd certainly skip the bikini contest and give that time to Angle-Tazz and the Tag Title match.
Most Disappointing Match: Outlaws vs. APA
Most Pleasant Surprise: Hardyz vs. Dudleyz
Overall Rating: 9/10
Better than WrestleMania 2000, SummerSlam 2000 and/or Survivor Series 2000? - Yup.

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