Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2000)

In a year when the company was white-hot and creatively kicking ass, this show was a wasted opportunity....

Survivor Series 2000 - Ice Palace - 11/19/00

The 2000 edition was a very frustrating one for me.  I had really gotten fed up with the lack of emphasis on elimination matches and how chintzy they had become.  The roster in 2000 was so stacked they could've effortlessly put together a good old-school Survivor Series card, but instead they went with a slew of regular matches and only two rather short elimination bouts.

The opening match was a six-person tag that could've easily been turned into an intergender elimination match by adding a member to each team.  Steve Blackman, Crash Holly and Molly Holly faced T&A and Trish Stratus.  This went only five minutes and was a rather vexing inclusion to the lineup.

The first elimination match was next as The Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn) took on Road Dogg, K-Kwik, Billy Gunn and Chyna.  It was a fairly one-sided affair mostly designed to give the Radicalz something to do.  Benoit and Saturn won the match, but this wasn't great.  Benoit would regain some footing the following month by capturing the I-C Title from Billy Gunn.

Third was one of the few bright spots on the card as Kane and Chris Jericho had a very entertaining midcard match.  I say this a lot, but they probably should've just captained opposing teams.  Still this was a solid outing which was sadly followed by a lame Last Man Standing match the next month.

Another pointless match was next as William Regal defended the European Title against Bob Holly.  Since the opening match featured six people and this match featured two, and both matches sucked, why couldn't they have been combined into one elimination match, hmmm?

The midway point featured the first bout of the "triple main event," as The Rock faced turncoat/cousin Rikishi.  The background of this rather ill-conceived feud dates back to Survivor Series 1999.  Remember how Steve Austin was run down by a mystery driver to explain his year-long absence from TV as he received spinal fusion surgery?  Leading up to his return they finally revisited this angle to establish a payoff.  There was a two-episode RAW arc where Commissioner Mick Foley questioned everyone who was in the building the night of the incident, and it was established the driver of the car had blond hair.  Now it seemed like all signs were pointing to Shawn Michaels being the culprit, which had me all in a tizzy (I discounted Triple H since he was far too obvious a choice - more on that later).  But as it turned out, Rikishi was the mystery driver.  Incidentally, Rikishi had literally just debuted on television the day before Survivor Series '99.  So this guy who had just joined the WWF decided to run over the top star in the company, to help out his cousin The Rock, who was the company's number-two star?  I mean in a way it makes sense, but it was pretty effin' thin.  Plus, no one wanted to boo Rikishi.  He was an amusing babyface character who generally lightened the mood with dancing and occasional comedy spots, but could still hold his own in a good stiff match.  There was no business reason to turn him heel, and doing so undermined his whole persona.

So Rikishi fought a returning Steve Austin at No Mercy 2000 in a brief no-contest, then later in the night attacked The Rock, costing him the WWF Title.  Ummmm, wasn't your whole motivation supposed to be to HELP The Rock?  Shortly thereafter on RAW it was revealed that Rikishi was working for someone else, who paid him to run down Austin (the result of the company panicking when Rikishi's unwanted heel turn didn't light the world on fire).  That someone else?  Triple H.  The most obvious guy to want Austin out of the way in 1999.  Really?  Has no one in this company ever watched a murder mystery?  This was so poorly written it was actually comical.  So now Rock wanted revenge against Rikishi, and Austin wanted revenge against Hunter.
The Rock-Rikishi match was not great, and Rikishi lost clean in eleven minutes.  So much for that main event heel push, huh?  Rikishi had one more big moment at Armageddon when he took a bump off the top of the Cell onto a flatbed truck, but by January 2001 he was back in the midcard and was soon a babyface again, albeit one who seldom appeared on PPV.  So essentially this heel turn ruined what had been a very over babyface character.

Before we get back to Austin vs. Triple H, let's watch Ivory and Lita have a throwaway Women's Title match.  Lovely.

Angle was already starting to become awesome.

The second part of the "triple main event" featured new WWF Champion Kurt Angle defending against The Undertaker, in the first of several good matches these two would have over the years.  Angle played the unproven, cowardly heel champ, in over his head with the veteran brute.  The ending to this match was perfect, as Angle pulled the ol' switcheroo with his lookalike brother Eric to cause a distraction and pin Taker with a rollup.  Good match, great booking.

The other elimination match was next and ONCE AGAIN featured two teams vs. two other teams.  The Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz faced Edge & Christian and Right to Censor (one of the worst gimmicks ever - the Parents' Television Council had targeted the WWF as inappropriate for children and tried to get them kicked off TV, so Vince created a stable to parody the group).  This match featured some good action (given the inclusion of the company's three best tag teams, how could it not?) but was too short to be great.

Finally we come to the actual main event of the show, where Austin would get some revenge on Hunter for paying another guy to run him over.  This match went a staggering thirty minutes and mostly featured pretty nondescript brawling.  Eventually the action spilled out into the arena, backstage, and finally into the parking lot.  Austin was attacked by the Radicalz allowing Hunter to escape to his car, but suddenly disappeared.  After a seemingly endless few minutes Austin reappeared in a forklift, picked up Triple H's car with Hunter still inside, and dropped it from about thirty feet in the air.  The car landed on its roof which should surely have killed him.  So the top babyface in the company was, at the very least, guilty of attempted vehicular homicide.  That's super booking.  The next night Hunter appeared on RAW virtually unscathed.  Seriously.  In case it wasn't evident, I hated this whole situation.

Hunter's fine though.  Really, just a scratch.

As with wrestling matches meant to settle real-life legal disputes, a wrestling match should pretty much never involve car crashes, falls off rooftops, or any other scenario that would in real life result in a person's death.  Not only does it strain disbelief to the point of shattering (surely Austin would go to jail for such an egregious offense, otherwise why not use a gun next time?), but it simply doesn't have a place in this type of sports-related escapist entertainment.  This didn't work for the same reasons the Brian Pillman gun angle didn't work.  These characters exist in a self-contained universe where the ultimate retribution for a hero to seek against a villain is a one-on-one contest inside a 20x20-foot ring (or some variation thereof).  When you start incorporating real-world methods of actually killing a person it kinda cheapens the whole idea of a wrestling contest having any weight or consequences.  "Forget trying to pin your shoulders to the mat for three seconds, I'm just gonna push your car off a cliff with you in it!  Hell, there's no disqualification, so why not?"  So this Austin-Triple H feud began with a stupidly written whodunit angle and for the time being ended with the hero trying to murder the villain.  That's just swell.  At least Austin and Triple got one great match out of this whole ordeal, at No Way Out 2001.

Survivor Series 2000 was a pretty crappy show overall, with only a few good matches and a main event that completely crossed the line.  Had they taken the traditional approach this could've been really great, but it was still the Attitude era, so stringing together a card of good elimination matches was soooooo uncool.

Best Match: Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker
Worst Match: William Regal vs. Bob Holly
What I'd Change: For Chrissake, how 'bout a Survivor Series card?  The main event should've been Austin/Rock/Dudley Boyz vs. Triple H/Rikishi/Edge & Christian.  That would've been amazing, and worthy of a 30-minute running time.  Then add Jericho/Bob Holly/Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Kane/Regal/Goodfather & Buchanan, and you'd have three big elimination matches, a World Title match, and a women's match.  Done.
Most Disappointing Match: Austin vs. Triple H
Most Pleasant Surprise: Angle vs. Taker
Overall Rating: 4.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 2000 and/or SummerSlam 2000? - That's a negative.

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