Mania Main Thoughts #1 – WM2000 Fatal Fourway

Did I mention these were going to be in random order? (Don’t think I don’t have a random number generator)

So we’re kicking this off with the first Wrestlemania main event of the new millennium.  Wrestlemania 2000 (the 16th Mania, but hey, 2000 only came along once) is not remembered fondly by most wrestling fans. In fact, its biggest historical attribute is the fact that it had zero traditional 1 on 1 matches.  WWF was still in the Attitude Era at the time and, boy, this Wrestlemania shows it. But the worst part is, the man who ushered in that Era – Stone Cold Steve Austin – was out with a neck injury, so he’s not even part of the show.

Personally, I don’t remember the main event of WM2000 being all that interesting – a Fatal Fourway Elimination Match for the WWF Title featuring the company’s biggest heel, Triple H, and its biggest babyface, The Rock, along with a newly-imported-from-WCW Big Show and Mick Foley, who was doing a victory lap after calling it a career two months earlier at the Royal Rumble.

So why wasn’t it a straight HHH vs Rock main event? Well, because the “real draw” of WM2000 wasn’t the men in the ring, it was the fact that there was a McMahon in every corner.  See, Stephanie McMahon(-Helmsley) had just turned heel after HHH drugged her and married her on the eve of her wedding to Test (Relationship Status – Just Go With It). Steph was looking very young here (she was just 23) and you know she was a heel because her hair was all curly. Like this:

triple-h-stephanie-wrestlemania-2000-600x300

One day at my grandma’s, my cousin showed up with her hair all curly and said she was engaged to this guy no one even knew.  She’d turned heel, too.

Anyway, Shane McMahon was trying to take control of the company with his own Giant, The Big Show.  Mr. McMahon was enjoying a face run, backing The Rock to take down his villainous new son-in-law.  And Linda McMahon wanted everybody to just get along, backing Foley, who was back for one night only to seek revenge on HHH, who ended his career.

As much as wrestling fans are indebted to the McMahons for being the creative and business force behind the WWE, they hate seeing too much of them on TV.  In 2000, this had come to a boiling point, and most of the build around WM2000 had to do with the McMahon family drama and not the wrestlers.

Maybe that’s why this Fatal Fourway Match isn’t remembered very fondly.  So imagine my surprise when I went back and checked it out and found it was pretty great.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a five-star classic Flair/Steamboat match.  It’s Attitude Era WWF, which means that most of the match was spent outside the ring brawling and the most technical move was a suplex.

But this match was SUPER fun.  For one thing, The Rock was just hitting new heights of popularity.  The crowd was INSANE for this dude.  Entrance, big moves, comebacks – the crowd is hot for pretty much this entire match, which is saying a lot because it goes over 40 minutes.

The crowd was also loving Foley, who was wrestling for the first time under his real name, not as Dude Love or Mankind or Cactus Jack.  I mean, he was dressed just like Cactus Jack, but in a BLUE flannel, which Jack would never be caught dead (or alive) in.

I can’t say the crowd was too into Big Show, who was just over a year into his run in the WWF (17 years ago, and the guy is still looking at a big marquee match at the upcoming Mania, so you have to give it to him for longevity.)  I can’t imagine his t-shirt, which just read “BIG NASTY BASTARD” on the front, sold a lot of merch either. Between that and his gold chain, he really did look like a big butthole.

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Then you had Triple H, who was really coming into his own as the company’s top heel.  Getting Stephanie by his side (one of the most hateable WWE characters of all time, second only to her dad) completed the package and helped put the guy on top for over half a decade. The crowd hated him partly because he’d just put Foley to pasture and everyone wanted to see The Rock with the strap.

Big Show was eliminated early in the match, but not before an early showing of strength and dominance.  There were some spots where it took all three other dudes to take him down before The Rock took him out with a Rock Bottom. I don’t remember how Big Show’s career trajectory went after this match, but he was in a Hardcore Title Triple Threat match at the next Mania. Not trending upward.

The real fun was between HHH, Rock and Foley, who all had history together.  You got to see the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection reunite, Foley swinging a barbwire 2×4, Mr. Socko.  If Foley had gone up to the top rope to drop a Dude Love-style elbow, you could call the next section of the match Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits.  Come to think of it, Mick did go up to the top for an elbow on Rock on the announce table but MISSED and ate the table, which didn’t break, which totally sucked for him.

At that point, HHH decided that the announce table must die, and stood up on the table to drop an elbow on the Rock – which STILL didn’t break the table.  Clearly, this table went to The Undertaker’s class on selling (cue smark laugh track).  Undeterred, HHH climbed up on the barrier and launched himself onto Rock, which finally killed the table dead.

This left HHH/Foley to fight in the ring, with Foley going down after a valiant effort.  The crowd got to send Mick off the right way, but not before he ran back to take out HHH with the barbwire board.  Unfortunately, the barbwire cut HHH too high over his hairline, so you didn’t get much blood.

wm-16

With Foley gone, we got the real meat of the match, as HHH and Rock started brawling all over the place. They brawled in the ring, around the ring, in the crowd, on the entrance.  Steel steps were thrown, water was poured and no one was loving it more than Michael Clarke Duncan.

Just FYI, Michael Clarke Duncan was not meant to be a part of this show. Michael Clarke Duncan was just a huge wrestling fan, and WM2000 was in Anaheim.  I assume all actors live in Hollywood, so I imagine it was only a short drive for Duncan. He also had ringside seats.  Rock throws Triple H out of the ring at one point and I hear a guy yell, “GET THAT SUCKA!”  I knew who it was without even seeing him.  Turns out, Michael Clarke Duncan is all over the WM2000 show, just having a good time. At one point, Shane McMahon even jaws with him a little bit.  Jim Ross acknowledges Duncan too, noting this isn’t “The Oscars or The Green Mile”.  I have no idea why I just wrote so much about Michael Clarke Duncan just now, but I love that dude. Don’t you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!

mcd

So anyway, Rock and HHH brawl, and the whole McMahon drama finally rears its ugly head.  Shane comes back out and takes down Vince, busting his head on a video monitor from the broken table.  Blood makes everything better.  Vince gets escorted out by his Stooges, and the match continues. Later on, Shane starts interfering in the match, so Vince comes back out, only to drop The Rock with a chair shot.  Interesting historical note, people weren’t covering their heads for chair shots in 2000. In fact, the only person who did in this match was Hardcore Legend Mick Foley, who I guess had finally learned better.

So with Vince’s betrayal, HHH gets the win and becomes the first bad guy to EVER close out Wrestlemania with his hand raised. Vince, Stephanie and Shane reunite as HHH gets to pose in the background with the WWF Title, until Rocky shows back up to hit Rock Bottoms on all three McMahons and send the crowd home happy. Man on Woman violence was also OK in 2000 WWF.

So yeah, the McMahon stuff did show up at the end, but I can’t say anything bad about this match. It was fun and reminded me of the modern Survivor Series matches, which are just lots of big names out there having a long match with fun spots.

If you slept on WM2000’s main event when it happened (or haven’t watched it at all), I would definitely say to go back and have a look. One WWE Hall of Famer and three surefire future Hall of Famers really steal the show from the McMahons for the most part, plus it really does give you a good idea of what was going on in late-Attitude Era WWF.

Final Score: 7.0 (Recommended)

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