Hello! Welcome back to the Royal Rumble series. Today, I will be talking about the 12th annual Royal Rumble. Did you miss any earlier volumes? Links are provided below:
Royal Rumble #13 – New York
With an attendance of 19,231, Rumble 2000 had a larger crowd than previous years while pulling in over $1m at the gate. The 13th Rumble used the tag line, “The Road To Wrestlemania Begins”. For the first time in its history, the PPV aired from Madison Square Garden (the last of the “big four” to do this). There were no dark matches before the show. Usually I only watch the Rumble match, but again (like ’99) I decided to watch the whole show. Also for the first time in UK TV history, a WWE PPV aired on free terrestrial television on Channel 4 (with adverts).
Note: I tried my hardest to find somewhere to watch the show (other than downloading a very old torrent), but it’s incredibly elusive .. so I will not be including any videos/links to watch it. In other words, if you want to see it you’ll have to either 1) buy the DVD, 2) get the WWE Network, 3) watch some very poor quality videos on Dailymotion, or 4) find the same torrent I did and be patient.
Before I go in to the event, there were two noticeable absentees. Due to needing neck surgery, Austin was written off by being hit by a car, later revealed to be driven by Rikishi who .. “did it for The Rock”. After what seemed to many as a drastic change in persona, The Undertaker went on a hiatus in late-99 due to a groin injury. He tried returning in December, but tore a pectoral muscle which forced him out of action for eight months; he later returned in May with the “American Bad Ass” gimmick.
On Sunday Night Heat, Kaientai and Mean Street Posse were shown upset about being dropped from the Rumble match despite originally scheduled. A few other jobbers were nixed from the Rumble and substituted for bigger names. The undefeated Kurt Angle opened the show greeting the New York fans. The undefeated Olympic Gold Medallist resorted to cheap heat before the fans began chanting for his scheduled debuting opponent. Everyone anticipated the debut of one of ECW’s most dominant champions. Now going by the slightly different name of “Tazz”, the Human Suplex Machine set his sights on destroying Angle.
And I really enjoyed it! A great way to start the PPV. Tazz looked a possible main eventer, but sadly his career spiralled downwards as WWE took everything which made him intimidating away. Still, the suplexes in this match were beautiful; especially the one from the top turnbuckle. The submission hold at the end was disputed, because Lawler said it was an illegal chokehold. The referee ended the match after Angle passed out, and he was later shown recovering backstage asking “did I win?”. After the doctor told him what happened, Angle claimed he was still undefeated as Tazz used an illegal chokehold; Jerry Lawler agreed with his sentiment as Jim Ross disagreed by saying it was the referee’s call.
The second match was the early beginnings of the TLC match, with The Hardy Boyz taking on The Dudley Boyz in a Tables match. As the first Tables match ever in WWE, I went in to this trying to imagine I’d never seen a Tables match before. And boy did they not disappoint! Some really cool spots, and the level of carnage even made the commentators uneasy. Lawler was blown away by the Hardys introducing a ladder to an already dangerous affair. Where this match differed to future tag tables matches, was that you needed to put both members of a team through a table with an offensive move. Most definitely one of the highlights of the show.
What came next was a bit of a low point for me for several reasons. Firstly I’m not against sexual segments in wrestling, even more so in those days when they clearly targeted a specific demographic. Secondly, I respect the fact that some women like to be sexy and feel empowered when getting that kind of attention. However, I have a few gripes with this segment which I’m going to bullet point. The next segment was to crown “The first Miss Royal Rumble 2000” .. by showing off the goods.
- Lawler was in heaven, but as always, there’s something creepy about the way he acts in these situations. He was corpsing at times when he probably shouldn’t have too. For no reason at all, after getting the mic off Finkel, he said these girls were “not his type as they’re not inflatable”. Second year in a row he’s embarrassed The Fink.
- All the judges were super old (which at first .. seemed like WWE wanted old men to perv over these women) and got hardly any reaction outside of Sgt. Slaughter and Freddie Blassie; who got a big pop. Moolah was there too, just to give a female perspective I guess. The choice of elderly judges made sense later.
- Despite being clearly against the idea, Ivory eventually revealed herself but seemed reluctant to move too much. There were no women’s matches on the show, so this was it for her.
- Luna Vachon was there too, but simply refused to play along when it was her turn .. so there was no point in her being out there.
- Although Jacqueline was always a good wrestler, she was arguably the sexiest act out there. She was definitely a challenger for the win, although it would always be tough following Terri.
- Reeking of biased intent, “Women’s Champion” The Kat revealed herself last .. only wearing bubble wrap. She was never that hot compared to Terri, Jacqueline or Barbara Bush, but it’s clear Lawler loved the “unique” attire. He probably had a hand in taking it off later. I rank The Kat as one of the worst women’s champions of all time .. it’s a tough choice between her and Kelly Kelly who I dislike more.
- So I’d have been fine if they picked a winner and moved on, but of course, Mae Young had to get involved. Bless her soul, if she wasn’t so crazy I may have felt inspired by her effort to join in. But I wasn’t inspired, and this whole segment was designed to get Mae to “expose” herself on PPV. Mark Henry was there to help cover up, but it was clearly a disturbing moment for all involved. Is this entertainment? In my eyes it never was. I’m sure it was more entertaining to those involved .. than the worldwide audience.
- And of course the winner was Mae Young, because the old guys digged her going the extra mile (I’m guessing .. we never got a reason). Jacqueline did her best to express disbelief while trying not to laugh.
- As a human male who enjoys the female form, Terri, Barbara Bush, and Jacqueline made it worthy .. but without them, I’d have been better off blinding myself temporarily til the next match.
So there was a half-heated argument between Chyna and Jericho before their match over who’d become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion (as they were co-champions). I was left disappointed by the triple threat which also included Hardcore Holly. If you listen closely enough, you can hear Holly tell Jericho “Bulldog her you idiot!” .. after Y2J forgot what he was doing. Although Chyna was meant to be the face in this situation, the crowd were very much behind Jericho. And just to put this chapter to an end, Y2J pinned Chyna after a lionsault. Not the best match, but I guess it put the controversy to bed.
The Rock got time to cut a promo backstage with Michael Cole. He jokingly cited his biggest challengers in the Rumble would be Crash and Headbanger Mosh. After saying it doesn’t matter who he’s against, The People’s Champ reeled off his catchphrases and the fans loved every second. Classic Rock .. before his act grew tiresome.
Next up was a 2 1/2 minute tag team title match between The Acolytes and champions New Age Outlaws. Apparently The Outlaws are the “best tag team of all time” according to Jim Ross. The Acolytes looked set to destroy them and take the titles, but just as they were ready to get the pin, SUPER X-Pac came out and did enough to distract them long enough for Mr. Ass to drop the Fame Asser for the win. But it was just the beginning of a bad night for The Acolytes. This title match felt like another waste.
Easily the best built and executed match of the night was the WWF title street fight between Cactus Jack and Triple H. It’s safe to say Foley put Triple H over something wicked on the night, solidifying The Game as a top heel for years to come. I don’t want to go in to this too much, because it feels like a gem hidden in plain sight. I very highly recommend you to give it a watch so I don’t have to spoil anything. Both men gave it everything, and the finish was exceptional. There’s a few videos of it on Dailymotion if you don’t have access to the PPV. It was their escalation match before the more memorable Hell in a Cell encounter at No Way Out.
Finkel on hand to tell us the rules again, and Lawler did not talk over him this time. D’Lo Brown and Grandmaster Sexay out first. Mosh entered next .. sporting a pair of long green “breasts”. It has to be up there as one of the worst attires in the history of the Rumble, I was struggling to focus on the action til he took them off. The crowd died as they waited for something to happen. Christian out, but still nothing of significance happening. Rikishi’s #5 meaning business picked up. Green tits Mosh eliminated first by Ra’kishi (as JR would say it). He also eliminated D’Lo and Christian before turning his attention to his friend Grandmaster.
He pleaded with Rikishi as Scotty 2 Hotty conveniently entered #6 so Too Cool could dance to their music. First logic fail came when Rikishi eliminated them, leaving him on his lonesome for the rest of the Rumble. Despite this, Scotty and Grandmaster gave a sign of respect as they left the ringside area. Blackman out next with a game plan, which succeeded in getting the big man down on the mat. However, he didn’t last long as Rikishi recovered and eliminated him before the next entrant. Viscera entered, so we got two of the biggest guys colliding for a minute and half before Rikishi got the better of him.
The veteran Big Bossman out next, playing a smart waiting game on purpose so he wouldn’t have to face Rikishi one-on-one. Unluckily for him, Test came out next (to a good pop) and took it straight to Bossman on the outside. No eliminations as the ring filled up with other wrestlers: British Bulldog (his last ever PPV appearance), Gangrel, Edge, and surprise entrant Bob Backlund. All these men plus Bossman and Test swiftly turned on Rikishi and eliminated their biggest threat. The undisputed Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho entered next, eliminating Backlund quickly. Bob decided not to take the conventional exit, instead opting to go through the crowd; a nice touch I thought.
Something I forgot to mention before, displeased with their exclusion from the Rumble, KAIENTAI members Taka Michinoku and Funaki randomly entered the match only to be thrown out in quick succession. It became a running theme throughout, despite never being officially legal in the match.
Crash Holly out .. and again the fans waited for something to happen. And they didn’t need to wait long, as Chyna entered her second Rumble eliminating Jericho, but again was eliminated shortly after by Bossman. Around this time, KAIENTAI hit the ring again, and unfortunately for Taka Michinoku he was thrown out too hard by Bossman and Test. The result was poor Taka smashing his face hard on the mat on the outside, and he was forced to go to the hospital. Funaki kept entering himself in to the match later despite going it alone, and commentators informed the television audience of what happened to his partner. They continued to show the incident over and over, which Jerry Lawler found pleasurable. I understand if you show it once or twice for those who missed it .. but after multiple viewings it came across as callous and disrespectful.
The Acolytes terrible night continued as Faarooq entered and was ambushed by the Mean Street Posse. The distraction helped Bossman to eliminate Faarooq. First DX member Road Dogg entered next, followed by Al Snow. Having had a quiet Rumble, Road Dogg casually eliminated Bulldog and commentators made a reference to the fact they were both “dogs” .. Lawler tried too hard finding insults all night. He was also foreshadowing The Rock’s entrance by repeatedly asking “is it Rock next?”, and counting down like a fan when the timer came up. Every time someone came out who wasn’t The Rock, he’d be disappointed. Val Venis, Prince Albert and Hardcore Holly were victims of this.
Edge was unceremoniously eliminated by Al Snow & Val Venis. And then .. IF YA SMELLLL! The People’s Champ entered the match. One of the longest running entrants Bossman tried, yet failed to hold back The Great One. One of the biggest threats to The Rock .. Crash Holly, mustered up 400 Ibs of courage to take him on, but Rocky was having none of his incredible size before throwing him over the top. Business picked up as Billy Gunn came in and punched hard on Rocks face in the corner. WELLLL! It’s THE BIG SHOW in his Rumble debut! You guessed it, the biggest players are getting in late. And you got to feel for Test, he was the longest running guy in the match (26 mins) before running in to Show.
Show continued his eliminations by ridding us of Gangrel. Bradshaw out next, but this time he’s ready for the Mean Street Posse interference. Still wasn’t enough, as The New Age Outlaws got involved to ensure both Acolytes would be gone. Entering next is the big red machine Kane, accompanied by plenty of smoke from his pyro which lingered around a while. Through the smoke we managed to make out the disappointment of Val Venis and Prince Albert being eliminated by Kane. Al Snow got his second elimination of the night by seeing off Hardcore Holly. *cue Godfather’s music* HOOOOOO TRAIN! As always, the entrance had many fine-looking ho’s being paraded around by The Godfather. Big Show was not impressed and eliminated Godfather quick so he could get back to what he does.
Al Snow had a pretty good Rumble, but taking on The Rock was asking a little much. X-PAAAC! He’s #30 because he cheated to win a match to “earn” the spot. So at this point we’ve got three D-X members plus Big Show plus Kane plus Rock. Ready for logic fail #2? Instead of doing the smart thing and teaming up, Billy Gunn showed his brain must be in his ass by eliminating his tag team partner Road Dogg. WHAAT? I get that it’s “every man for himself” but you got three huge men in the ring and it’s definitely going to take three DX members to get them out. At least his stupidity was rewarded with a quick elimination by Kane. Totally didn’t see what was coming next, and I don’t mean Kane scoop slamming Big Show. What I mean is X-Pac took advantage of that and karate kicked him out of the Rumble! I swear .. this X-Pac is on steroids or something.
Of course, The Rock proved to be too great for Super X-Pac and eliminated him. The go home finish was interesting as it seemed any of them could win; and the crowd response implied it. Big Show went to throw Rock over, but Rock dropped and pulled the top rope down, sending Show flying to the outside. The Rock was declared the winner, and he celebrated as Big Show angrily walked to the back. He grabbed a microphone and thanked the fans. Show must have seen a replay or something, as he came back and threw Rock over the top to the outside. Nothing changed, except the crowd now chanted “asshole” as Rock talked trash. The fallout saw Show claiming Rocks feet had touched the floor, therefore he never won and it should have been he who earned the title shot at Wrestlemania.
I’ve seen other reviews claiming 2000 to be the best Royal Rumble PPV of all time. I’d like to reserve judgement til I reviewed them all, but I do admit it’s probably in the top three. The reason it gets a lot of positivity I think, is due to the winners and how they went about it.
Tazz in his debut beating an undefeated Olympic Gold Medallist in New York? Great start. First tables match paving the way for the TLC? With Jeff’s Swanton? Epic. Cactus Jack and Triple H was intense, and I think Foley took him to school. Foley showed Triple H how to deliver a main event, and it was all in the storytelling. Even Stephanie added to the drama doing very little. The Rumble match? Hmm, it’s not one of the best. Seemed obvious nothing big was going to happen til Rock and Big Show got to square off for the win, and it all ended in controversy which didn’t help the following Wrestlemania.
And there’s the low points, like the embarrassing parts of the swimsuit contest and the tag title match. The triple threat for the IC title totally under delivered too, likely because of the pre-planning due to Chyna’s limitations. Mosh’s green tits will haunt me forever. The repeated callbacks to Taka Michinoku’s fall is representative of this PPV. There’s a lot of good at the surface, but only if you only look at the results. If you look back in detail you see something else.
It smells a bit of desperation and unwarranted seediness. Yet I understand it as they were willing to go places they daren’t go today because they were fighting for survival. Rumble 2000 may not have aged well, but it’s telling that WCW went out of business over a year later. Even without Steve Austin and The Undertaker on the card, the WWF produced a very good (excellent to some) show fitting of the history surrounding the event. It made a bigger star out of The Rock, and solidified Triple H’s status. The natural building of these characters is what lead to the WWF dominating the remaining months in the Attitude Era, as WCW struggled with a lack of direction and reliance on old stars. It was a turning point in the wrestling landscape, and Rumble 2000 played a big part in that. I can try to be critical of it, but it’d feel like I’m trying too hard. It’s definitely worth a watch if you’ve never seen it before.
Thanks for reading everyone! If you would like to see what happened next, you can read my edited, old review on Wrestlemania 2000 here: >>> Wrestlemania 2000