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WWE WRESTLEMANIA COUNTDOWN - 2000 PPV Report (WM 16): Rock vs. Hunter vs. Foley vs. Big Show, Angle vs. Benoit vs. Jericho

Mar 19, 2010 - 12:00:50 PM
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Leading up to WrestleMania 26 on March 28 in Arizona, we will be publishing a daily WrestleMania PPV flashback report going back to 1992 at WrestleMania 8. We'll be publishing one PPV flashback report around 12:00 p.m. CST every afternoon until this year's WrestleMania.

-- Thursday, Mar. 11 - WrestleMania 8 (1992): Hogan vs. Sid, Warrior run-in
-- Friday, Mar. 12 - WrestleMania 9 (1993): Hart vs. Yokozuna, Hogan wins title
-- Saturday, Mar. 13 - WrestleMania 10 (1994): Razor vs. HBK, Bret vs. Owen
-- Sunday, Mar. 14 - WrestleMania 11 (1995): LT vs. Bigelow, Diesel vs. HBK
-- Monday, Mar. 15 - WrestleMania 12 (1996): HBK-Hart Iron Man match
-- Tuesday, Mar. 16 - WrestleMania 13 (1997): Hart vs. Austin, Sid vs. Taker
-- Wednesday, Mar. 17 - WrestleMania 14 (1998): Austin vs. HBK, Taker vs. Kane
-- Thursday, Mar. 18 - WrestleMania 15 (1999): Rock vs. Austin I
-- Friday, Mar. 19 - WrestleMania 16 (2000):
-- Saturday, Mar. 20 - WrestleMania 17 (2001):
-- Sunday, Mar. 21 - WrestleMania 18 (2002):
-- Monday, Mar. 22 - WrestleMania 19 (2003):
-- Tuesday, Mar. 23 - WrestleMania 20 (2004):
-- Wednesday, Mar. 24 - WrestleMania 21 (2005):
-- Thursday, Mar. 25 - WrestleMania 22 (2006):
-- Friday, Mar. 26 - WrestleMania 23 (2007):
-- Saturday, Mar. 27 - WrestleMania 24 (2008):
-- Sunday, Mar. 28 - WrestleMania 25 (2009):
-- Sunday, Mar. 28 - WrestleMania 26 Live Coverage

***

WM16_150_1.jpg
WrestleMania PPV Flashback Report - WM 16 (2000)
April 2, 2000
Anaheim, Calif. at the Anaheim Pond
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


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TORCH NEWSLETTER COVER STORY

HEADLINE: WrestleMania 2000: Triple H retains title
SUBHEADLINE: Benoit captures IC Title, Jericho captures European Title, Edge & Christian capture WWF Tag Titles

WrestleMania 2000 could have been the night of Mick Foley. It could have been the night of The Rock. It could have been the night of Triple H. Instead, it was the night for the McMahon family.

The four-way main event seemed to exist mostly so each of the McMahon family members could share credit for being part of perhaps the most successful WrestleMania ever. The McMahon family has been a vital ingredient in the rise of the WWF to the level of success it has reached over the last two years. Still, there is a potential for overkill or self-indulgence. The finish to the WrestleMania main event straddled that line.

McMahon's character has turned so many times - or at least it seems that way - that he may experience the same diminishing returns Eric Bischoff did during his last year on camera for WCW. Major turns should be years apart, not just six or nine months.

Triple H retaining the WWF Title could be seen as a big endorsement by Vince McMahon that he wants to build around Triple H. But Triple H didn't win because of the Pedigree, he won because Vince knocked out Rock with a chair. Granted, heels usually cheat to win, but in this case, because Rock is such a strong character and could survive a clean job, why not have Triple H's win be a little more related to his in-ring abilities rather than McMahon's interference. Why not let Triple H deliver the chairshot, even if McMahon was the one who handed him the chair?

The answer is because Vince McMahon wants to be a central character, not a background character. When there are no other options, that makes sense, but when Triple H is doing such a good job as the top heel, why have him play a back-up role to McMahon?

The main event itself is getting mixed reviews, with many disappointed that WrestleMania wasn't Rock's coronation. Traditionally the WWF gives a big win to the top babyface at WrestleMania. In this case, the big pop came for McMahon's turn. Rock was given a chance to get revenge by delivering the first physical beating that Stephanie McMahon has received. But that wasn't enough to shift the focus to Rock and away from Vince.

Vince has been burned before by wrestlers who felt Vince needed them to be successful. It almost appears that as a defense mechanism - perhaps not even consciously - McMahon is making himself the top star and making sure major angles and storylines involve him. He'll never jump to WCW, demand ownership in the company, refuse to work with other wrestlers, or refuse to do the job.

Mick Foley's return to the ring was a virtual afterthought by the time WrestleMania had ended. It's a good thing No Way Out was built around Foley's retirement because even though it wasn't his last match for a very long time like Foley insists WrestleMania is, at least it was built around Foley until the show went off the air.

Foley's departure from the ring after getting pinned half way into the 36 minute main event was nice, but not memorable. The crowd stood for him, but if Foley stayed around too long, he would risk looking like a spotlight hog. But for all Foley has meant to the WWF, shouldn't he be able to hog the spotlight on his final night in the ring "for a very long time?" He should have, but Foley's return happened for two reasons: Foley wanted the payoff and McMahon wanted the increased buys for the PPV that Foley's participation may have prompted. He did not return at WrestleMania because he made the match or the event better.

Foley favored his ribs early in the match, looked out of shape and uninspired (perhaps even a bit ashamed to be back in the ring so soon), and wasn't able to put in a memorable performance in the ring. In fact, the memory from his last match that might stand out now is his leap off the ring apron toward the announcing table and coming up short, landing on his face instead of his opponent. If nothing else, at least WrestleMania cemented in Foley's mind and the minds of his fans that now was the right time for him to retire.

The main event was the tale of two matches, the first half being the four-way and the second half being a one-on-one match between the WWF's top two stars. The McMahon family ended up borrowing the spotlight during the action, but Rock and Triple H delivered a strong performance that only dragged for a minute or two, which for a 17 minute performance isn't bad. Still, the reliance on brawling in the crowd rather than putting together a masterful performance mostly in the ring is a disappointing shortcut. When Steve Austin relied on crowd brawling (e.g. creating the illusion of action by covering great distances without actually taking any bumps) in the latter months before his surgery, he had an excuse because of the degenerative condition of his neck. Still, Rock and Triple H delivered a very good match. It was one of those matches where something was stirring the pot every second and the match rarely got monotonous.

WrestleMania is often seen as the event where a number of storylines end and the next night on Raw new ones begin. The way this event was booked, it appears Vince McMahon doesn't want to end a good thing and roll the dice on new feuds. WrestleMania was just one stop along the road of the ongoing storylines. Even McMahon's heel turn doesn't cause a major shift in the storylines. The McMahon family is still the center of attention and Rock and Triple H are the two standout contenders for the WWF Title.

The undercard showed that the WWF has great mid-card depth, but that doesn't necessarily result in great chemistry or standout matches. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho won singles titles (IC and European, respectively), but it didn't mark the start of a huge push for either. Titles mean less than ever because of the rapid fire pace of title changes (Jericho lost it the next night on Raw).

WrestleMania was a good show, but not an event that changed the course of the WWF. Had Foley advertised WM as his final match without the No Way Out tease five weeks earlier, his final performance would have been what WM was remembered for. Maybe WrestleMania 2000 will be remembered as the peak of the WWF's hot run where they failed to make the necessary moves to keep things fresh and bring fan interest to a new level.

KELLER'S MATCH REPORT & ANALYSIS

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the program...

(1) Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan beat Godfather & D-Lo Brown when Buchanan pinned D-Lo at 9:08. Not a bad effort, but certainly a flat match. Ice T's monotonous introduction droned on much too long. Godfather showed more energy than usual, but it wasn't enough to bring this to an even average match. The match was so bland, Ross had time to talk about Pete Rose and all of the countries that were represented by fans in the crowd. A top rope legdrop by Buchanan finished off D-Lo who appears to still be paying the price for reports that he shot his mouth off backstage at Nitro a few months ago about how he would get out of his WWF contract and join Russo in WCW. (*)

(2) Hardcore Holly won a Hardcore Battle royal by being the last champion at the 15:00 mark. Participants were Tazz, Pete Gas, Rodney, Joey Abs, Crash Holly, Taka Michinoku, Funaki, Bradshaw, Faarooq, and Hardcore Holly. There were several official title changes within the match. Tazz pinned Crash at 0:30 after a Tazzplex to win the title. Viscera pinned Tazz at 1:00 to win the title. Funaki pinned Viscera after help from the APA at 7:15. Rodney pinned Funaki at 8:10. Joey Abbs pinned Rodney at 8:34. Thrasher pinned Joey Abbs at 8:55. Pete Gass pinned Thrasher at 9:30. Tazz pinned Gass at 11:15. Crash pinned Tazz at 14:26. Hardcore pinned Crash seconds later, just as the 15 minute time limit expired. The finish was messed up since Crash appeared to lift his shoulder and the pin came after the time limit expired. Mostly it was just weapons being used somewhat indiscriminately throughout the match with little long-term selling, yet it was watchable most of the time. (*3/4)

(3) Test & Prince Albert (w/Trish Stratus) beat Al Snow & Steve Blackman when Albert pinned Blackman at 7:04. Snow brought a small person dressed up as a block of cheese to ringside. The crowd was dead for the mascot and for the match. Test, Albert, and Stratus have no chemistry together. (*)

(4) Edge & Christian beat The Dudleys and The Hardys to capture the WWF Tag Team Titles at 23:30. Very good highspot ladder match. Jeff hit a 450 degree flip splash onto a chair when Buh Buh moved out of the way. Buh Buh hit a senton on a ladder that was laid across the chest of Jeff. Buh Buh failed his IQ test. Why would you back splash a ladder even if it's on top of your opponent? The spots with the ladders continued with the ladder used as a prop and a weapon. Christian dove off a ladder onto the floor. At 7:00 in one of the best moves of the match, Edge came off the top rope and speared Jeff off of the ladder. Buh Buh gave Christian a 3D off a ladder. The overhead camera gave an awesome view of the move on a replay. The Hardys double-suplexed D-Von off of a ladder. The crowd stood for that move. There were three ladders and at 12:00 all six wrestlers climbed the ladders at once. Christian and Jeff bumped off the ladder over the ropes to the floor. Edge and Matt bumped off the ladders a second later and ended up straddling the top rope. The Dudleys then sandwiched Christian between two ladders and gave Edge a 3D at 13:45. The Dudleys put a table on top of two ladders and began to climb. The Hardys stopped the Dudleys from climbing to the top. Buh Buh powerbombed Matt off of the ladder through a table below. In the end, a table had been set on top of two ladders in the ring. Matt was about to grab the tag belts hanging from the ceiling when Edge and Christian knocked him off the platform. Matt crashed through a table onto the mat below as Christian and Edge grabbed the tag belts. This was a better than usual stunt match because there weren't as many convoluted pauses to set up moves and those long, slow, awkward climbs of the ladder were absent. A thoroughly enjoyable athletic showcase. (****)

(5) Terri (w/Fabulous Moolah) pinned Kat (w/Mae Young) at 2:24. Val Venis was the special referee. Before the match he said, "WrestleMania comes only once per year, but the Big Valbowski comes once every night." (Hmmm, only once per night?) Val made out with Terri early in the match. Kat got jealous and kissed Val. Lawler seemed a bit jealous during commentary at that moment. Mae stood on the ring apron and tried to show her puppies. Val struggled to keep her top on. Kat threw Terri out of the ring to win the match, but Val was preoccupied with Mae. Moolah threw Terri back into the ring. Mae entered the ring and tried to interfere. Val tried to stop her, so Mae kissed her. Moolah then dragged Kat out of the ring. When Val escaped Mae's suction, he saw Terri in the ring alone and awarded her the match. Terri wore a skin tight black outfit. After Moolah interfered and cost Kat the match, Kat ripped off Terri's tights revealing a skin colored, barely existent thong. Entertaining for what it was. (NR)

Backstage Eddie Guerrero bragged about Chyna being enamored with him and his Latin heat. Saturn told Eddie to calm down because "you're not the only good looking guy in this group." Funny line and delivery by Saturn. In another room, Chyna saw Eddie's gloating on the monitor and told Too Cool he was disgusting.

(6) Chyna & Too Cool beat The Radicals when Chyna pinned Eddie Guerrero at 9:38. Eddie pretended Chyna had a crush on him, yet frantically avoided locking up with her early in the match. Chyna danced during the match with Too Cool which got a good pop. At 5:00 Scotty did the worm which got the fans on their feet. Guerrero is starting to get his confidence back as it's clear the WWF is giving him a chance to shine as a heel. At 6:45 Saturn went for a top rope elbow that looked really good except for the fact that he overshot Scotty and missed almost entirely to the point that Ross had to acknowledge it. Chyna didn't do a lot in the match, but what she did do looked solid. Chyna finished off Guerrero with a testicular claw, a press slam, and a sleeper stunner for lack of better term. More of a spot-match than a match with any sense of building momentum. (**)

(7) Kurt Angle lost both of the title belts in a three-way match with Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho: Chris Benoit pinned Chris Jericho at 8:13 to capture the IC Title after a top rope headbutt; Chris Jericho beat Chris Benoit with the Walls of Jericho at 13:52 to capture the European Title after Benoit missed a top rope headbutt and Jericho hit the springboard moonsault. The match slowed to a crawl early with low crowd heat. Benoit is a world class worker with few faults in the ring, but Angle and Jericho are stronger personalties than they are workers. Angle executed a surprisingly graceful (and uncharacteristic) moonsault off the top rope; it missed, but it looked good. Angle can now complain about losing both belts even though he didn't get pinned or submit. The three-way format killed any chance the match had of building steam since wrestlers were preoccupied with avoiding tripping over each other most of the time. (**3/4)

(8) Kane (w/Paul Bearer) & Rikishi beat X-Pac & Road Dogg in 4:20. This was the match that was sandwiched between the two top matches that could be cut down if time constraints dictated. The show was running long, so this was all about ring intros and the post-match fun. Bearer and Tori got in each other's faces at ringside before the match. Rikishi (or "Rawkishi," as Ross would say) teased shoving his butt in Tori's face in the corner early in the match. DX dragged her out of the ring before it happened. At 2:00 X-Pac hit the Bronco Buster on Rikishi and followed up with a series of kicks. Rikishi made a comeback and did a somersault into the corner to tag in Kane. At 4:00 Bearer threw Tori into the ring at which point Rikishi rubbed his butt in her face in the corner of the ring for a big pop. Kane then gave X-Pac a tombstone for the clean win out of nowhere. (*)

After the match, Too Cool came to the ring and got the crowd to stand and clap. Before anyone could dance, the Famous (San Diego) Chicken came to the ring to dance with Too Cool and Rikishi. The fans chanted "Ri-ki-shi." After they danced, Kane began to choke the chicken. Pete Rose made the save with a baseball bat. Kane chokeslammed Rose again. Rikishi then sat in Rose's face. Rose seemed to have a smile on his face, actually.

Kevin Kelly interviewed Rock who said, "Finally, The Rock has come back to WrestleMania." He said he would do whatever it took to win the title for his fans.

(9) Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon) retained the WWF Title against Big Show (w/Shane McMahon), Rock (w/Vince McMahon), and Mick Foley (w/Linda McMahon). Foley came out first. Ross said Linda brought Foley back because it was the right thing to do. Big Show came out second, followed by Rock and Triple H. Big Show was eliminated first at 4:50 after a Rock Bottom. Mick Foley was eliminated second at 19:43 after a Triple H Pedigree onto a chair. Triple H finally pinned Rock after Vince McMahon turned heel by hitting Rock with a chair. Triple H hit a Pedigree and scored the win. Big Show got in early offense which indicated he was doing an early job - and he did, to a Triple H Pedigree. Rock was going to hit Triple H with a People's Elbow, but Foley intervened and gave Rock the Mandible Claw. It was an interesting experiment to see whether the crowd would cheer or boo. They booed. Rock was more popular than Foley, or at least The People's Elbow is more popular than the Mandible Claw. Foley injured his ribs early in the match which hampered his performance. When he dove off the ring apron, he came up short and failed to drive Rock through the Spanish announcing table. Triple H hit two elbowdrops before the table would collapse. Foley went down for the pin after a sloppy Pedigree on a chair by triple H. Foley saluted the crowd, and for a moment the crowd's attention shifted to Foley's departure from the ring. Foley did return to the ring to get in one last shot on Triple H. The Triple H vs. Rock battle spilled into the crowd and toward the entryway, resembling last year's Rock vs. Austin WM main event. There was too much brawling in the crowd late in the match. The McMahon family got involved including a Vince vs. Shane brawl that saw Vince gig his forehead after a chairshot. In the end, Vince returned to the ring and hit Rock with a chair instead of Triple H. Rock kicked out, but Vince followed up with another chairshot and Triple H hit a Pedigree and Rock stayed down for three. (****)


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