Review for WWE (WWF back then) Royal Rumble 2000, January 23, 2000, Madison Square Garden, New York
Triple H was running the show as the WWF champion, and Cactus Jack was back because Mankind had been beaten up too many times by Triple H and wasn't ready to take him on in a Street Fight. You have to love the way Triple H sold the annoucement of Cactus Jack, because it's really the same dude but his fearful reactions when Foley announced it (and also back in 1997 when Jack first appeared) really put him over as huge deal. We've also got an incredible undercard, and of course the Royal Rumble match (which would have to be tied with 1998 and 1996 for most obvious Rumble winner ever).
Hosted by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Kurt Angle vs Tazz
Kurt Angle is gracious and willing to be New York's hero. Tazz was supposed to be the mystery opponent but MSG knew who was coming with a solid "We want Taz" chant. Monster pop for the debut of Tazz. Tazz beats the shit out Angle to start. Outside Angle comes back with a suplex. Back in a belly to belly and Angle takes over. He goes up top and gets crotched. Tazz with a belly to belly off the second rope for 2 as Angle gets the ropes. Taz celebrates but the ref corrects him. Angle gets a cradle for 2. Bridged german gets 2. Tazz slides out of an angle slam attempt and takes Angle to suplex city. Sick overheard german and Angle lands on his face. Overhead suplex and Tazplex and he locks in a choke "his version of a sleeper" and Angle goes at 3:19. Angle does a stretcher job and JR admits it "might have been a choke". Decision would be overturned on Raw.
Hell of a debut for Tazz. This was really good, considering the length. Super hot, short match. Too bad this was the peak of Tazz's wrestling career in the WWF, as he was a foot too short to be worth anything to Vince. (**1/2)
TABLES MATCH: The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz
Cheap heat for the Dudleys in their pre-match promo. Brawl to start and the Dudleys go for the tables. Bubba tries to put Jeff through a table but Matt saves. Jeff hits a somersault plancha onto Bubba. Matt and D'Von try to put each other through the table in the ring, and outside Jeff creams Bubba with a wicked chair shot. He sets Bubba up and tries running down the barricade but Bubba recovers and throws the table onto Jeffs head. Bubba and Matt go at it in the ring. Jeff in and they try a superplex through the table but D'Von moves it out of the way. Matt gets a ladder out. They send Bubba out with a ladder clothesline. Matt follows him and hits a couple of brutal chairshots. He puts Bubba on a table out there and sets up the ladder but D'Von cuts him off. He gets rid of D'Von and hits a leg drop from the ladder on Bubba though the table. D'Von gets blasted with a chair shot and they crowd chants "holy shit". Matt sets up the stairs outside and levels D'Von again. Matt tries a guillotine leg drop off the top rope but misses and eats a table. D'Von escapes to land on another table and Jeff tries a suicide dive but he misses and goes through the table. This is insane. Bubba recovers and kills Matt with a chairshot. Dudleys set up a table with the assistance of the stair. Bubba powerbombs Matt through the table. They all head up the aisle and Bubba nails Matt with a chair. Bubba sets up a table in the aisle and they make it a set of three. Low blow for Matt and he's set up on the table. Jeff takes D'Von out with a chair but Bubba grabs him and takes him up in the crowd. Up on the balcony Bubba gets a low blow and he's sent crashing through three tables. Matt sets up a table in the aisle and puts D'Von on it and Jeff nails a swanton through it to win at 10:22.
This was about the only good tables match ever. Hell of a spotfest, this was all action, but very much forgotten due to the TLCs. (****)
ROYAL RUMBLE SWIMSUIT COMPETITION: Ivory, Terri, Jaqueline, BB, Luna and The Kat
Oh, not this. This whole thing is infamous and had to be someones idea of a colossal rib. Terri, Kat and Jackie look good. BB looks ok. Ivory and Luna protest. Ok that was pointless, but Mae Young crashes the party and disrobes and then exposes herself and scars the eyes of everyone who saw it while a "censored" sign tries to cover it up, but isn't fast enough (it was just a proshetic boob job but that didn't make any difference).
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Chris Jericho vs Chyna vs Hardcore Holly
This was a stupid angle where both Chyna and Jericho were co-champions. No one cares about Holly or Chyna, thankfully they'd be out of the division soon as the Radicalz were about the debut. Jericho gets a good pop. Holly piefaces Chyna and squares off with Jericho. Jericho with a hiptoss and Holly smacks him down. Jericho fires back and Chyna goes for both of them. Holly whips her outside and squars off with Jericho again. Holly takes control and poses. Jericho comes back and they exchange chops. Holly tries a rana but Jericho applies with Walls. Chyna breaks it up and gets booed. Back elbow and she dumps Holly. Jericho with a springboard plancha on Holly. Chyna throws Jericho back in and goes for a handspring elbow and a DDT, but Holly breaks it up and dumps her. He sends Jericho off the ropes and Chyna lowbridges him. Holly clotheslines her and gets a chair. He threatens to use it but Jericho distracts and it gets dropkicked back in his face. Back in, Jericho and Chyna both cover Holly for 2 and argue. Jericho tries a back suplex but Chyna hits a low blow. Pedigree for Holly gets 2. She goes up but Holly sets her up for an electric chair. Jericho goes up and crossbodys for 2. Holly hits Jericho with a boot and goes up but he's cut off, he sets up a superplex but Chyna crotches both. Chyna now gets a superplex for 2. She gets a chair and waffles Holly with it, and puts him in the Walls but Jericho isn't having that and hits a bulldog and lionsault to unify the belts at 7:17.
This was something of a train wreck, it was pretty sloppy at times and dragged a lot. This was the end of Chyna as a serious competitor against men for the most part, she wasn't good and her offense looked weak and the crowd had had enough (she'd been booed in the previous matches with Jericho as well). (*1/2)
Rock gives a classic interview where he thinks if he can get past Crash Holly and Headbanger Mosh he might have a chance of winning the Rumble. Michael Cole thinks he should be worried about The Big Show so Rock tells him to fix himself a nice, tall glass of shut up juice.
WWF TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: New Age Outlaws vs The Acolytes
Major league ass whooping by the Acolyes. Referee gets pulled out when Faarooq has Road Dogg pinned. X-Pac runs in with the referee preoccupied and gives Bradshaw a spin kick and Billy Gunn hits the fame asser for the win at 2:36.
I had no problems with this but it was too short to be worth anything. I guess something ran long (because the world needed that Mae Young rubbish) because this was a total rush job. (*)
STREET FIGHT FOR THE WWF TITLE: Triple H vs Cactus Jack
Staredown to start and Jack trashtalks, HHH looks bewildered. Jack wins a slugfest and takes over so HHH bails. Jack follows him out with a baseball slide and swinging neckbreaker. He sends HHH into the stairs and timekeepers table. HHH grabs the bell and nails Cactus with it. Back in HHH has a chair and he's challening Cactus to come in. Cactus comes in and eats a brutal chair shot. HHH celebrates but Cactus gets up and takes HHH down with a clothesline. Legdrop on a chair gets 2. Back outside HHH comes back but gets backdropped into the crowd. They brawl into the entrance way. Cactus gets a couple of pallets and suplex's HHH on them. Cactus continues to control out there, the crowd actually start a brief boring chant because they're just fighting out of sight in the entrance way. HHH gets a back suplex and tries to come back, but Jack continues to hammer away and knees HHH into the stairs. He grabs a 2x4 wrapped in barbed wire. The ref tries to reason with him, allowing HHH to go low. He steals the 2x4 and nails Cactus with it in the gut and back. HHH goes for the head but Cactus comes back with a low blow and the ref takes the barb wire away and hides it under the Spanish table. Double arm DDT and Jack has the cover, it gets 2. Cactus wants his barb wire and the ref stooges and tells him where it is. Jack nails Hugo and gets it back (pretty effective way to swap between the real one and the gimmicked one). Cactus goes for HHH's head and busts him open, and he's bleeding like crazy. Cactus grinds the barb wire into HHH's face. On the floor Cactus continues dominating. HHH has a gash on his leg, no idea where that came from. Jack tries a piledriver through the table but gets backdropped. Back in HHH goes for a pedigee but gets slingshotted into the turnbuckle and then bulldog'd on the barb wire for 2. Cactus clothesline and they're both outside again. Charge and HHH hiptosses him into the stairs knee first. Back in HHH clips the knee and goes after it with the 2x4. HHH rolls out and gets some handcuffs from Finkel, why does Finkle have handcuffs? I don't want to know. Cactus struggles back up but HHH goes back for the knee and handcuffs him, ala Royal Rumble '99. Nice callback and a very effective one. HHH hammers away with free shots. HHH grabs the stairs but Jack gets a drop toehold, and hits a low blow. He bites away. Same sequence as last year but what else can you do when you're handcuffed? HHH gets a few chairs in. Cactus heads up the aisle and dares HHH to hit him and psychs HHH out and The Rock waffles HHH with a chair, and a cop sets Cactus free. Cactus fires back and takes over. Cactus sets him up on the Spanish table and piledrives HHH on it. HHH is dead and Cactus throws him back in. He grabs a bag of thumb tacks and heads in and spreads them in a pile in the ring. He hits HHH with some rights but gets backdropped on the tacks. Pedigree gets 2 and the kickout gets a monster pop, apparently that was a audible and a damn good one. Pedigree no. 2 this time it's on the tacks, oh my god, Jack has tacks sticking out of his head. That's enough for the win at 26:51. After the match, Jack goes after HHH and brings him back to the ring and nails him with the barb wire again for a good pop.
Pretty much the best street fight you'll ever see, a brutal and perfectly booked brawl. The drama was off the charts, especially with the 1999 callback (which was done perfectly) and the home stretch capped it all off perfectly. These guys probably should've gone on last because there was no topping this, not even from a Rumble match. (*****)
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH:
D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and get tossed out quickly. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Scotty 2 Hotty is #6 and brings Rikishi's glasses and we dance, that gets a huge reaction. Rikishi turns on Too Cool and dumps both, just business he says and no hard feelings. Awesome sequence turning a goofy comedy spot everyone loved into establishing Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously. Blackman is #7 but he doesn't last long. Rikishi is super over here, man if he could've stayed motivated... Viscera is #8 and Rikishi gets rid of him. Bossman is #9 but he won't get in and stalls. Test is #10 and forces him to get in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hit the ring again and Taka takes a ridiculous bump outside hitting his head on the mat, which would be a running gag through the match (it wasn't that funny). Edge is #13. Rikishi finally does hit a Banzai Drop on the Bossman. Bob Backlund is #14, making a surprise return. Everyone teams up and eliminates Rikishi. The crowd is not happy with that. Chris Jericho is #15. He dropkicks Backlund out. Backlund leaves through the crowd. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and Jericho and her eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse come back and go after Faarooq, Bossman tosses him out. Road Dogg is #19, he jumps Test. Holly stomps away on Bossman. Al Snow is #20, Road Dogg tosses Bulldog. Val Venis is #21. He goes after Test. Funaki of Kaientai runs out again and gets tossed for the third time. Prince Albert is #22. Val backdrops Edge over the top. Road Dogg has attached himself to the bottom rope and isn't moving anytime soon. Hardcore Holly is #23 and goes after Test. Rock is #24 and blows the roof off. He gets rid of Bossman. Billy Gunn is #25 and goes after the Rock. Rock DDTs and Crash and sends him out, there goes one of the big threats to him. Big Show is #26 to huge heel heat, despite him trying to be a babyface. Test and Gangrel don't last long. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and Bradshaw it out. Kane is #28 and tosses Val. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert out. Funaki tries to interfere again and gets tosses again. X-Pac is #30. Snow sends Hardcore out. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs and Billy Gunn dumps him. The Outlaws argue so Kane dumps Billy. Rock tosses X-Pac and sends him flying, but the refs don't see it because they're busy with the Outlaws. Kane and Big Show choke each other and Kane hits an enzuigiri and a slam, nice. X-Pac hits a spin kick on Kane, though and that sends him out. Big Show launches X-Pac out and the refs see it this time so he's gone. We're down to The Rock and The Big Show. Spinebuster and people's elbow but Big Show hits a chokeslam for monster heel heat. Show casually parades Rock around deciding where to dump him. He dumps him but Rock hangs on and flips Big Show out giving him the win at 51:50. Rock cuts a promo post match but Big Show returns and attacks him and dumps him out.
This was a well booked Royal Rumble. Rikishi was awesome, but after he was gone it dragged a bit until The Rock came in to liven things up. The Bossman and Road Dogg stood out through the middle part actually, no one else really did. The match got really good towards the end and the final 10 minutes are really good. As a whole, this was a good Rumble, though not in the top tier. (***1/2)
Best Rumble PPV ever. 2000 starts off with a bang and the WWF were in for an incredible run of PPVs (two notable stinkers in March and June aside). The undercard is amazing, from Tazz's debut, short though it was, to the tables match, to one of the best brawls ever for the WWF title. The Rumble itself is the icing on the cake. Just skip the swimsuit competition and pretend it doesn't exist. Huge thumbs up.