– Welcome to my first ever Best And Worst Of WWE [Insert Older Pay-per-view Show Title Here] report. I asked the column’s regular readers to decide which time-appropriate pay-per-view event I’d cover first, and this show, one of the highlights of WWF’s epic 2000, won with over 42% of the vote. So here we are, getting you ready for the 2012 Royal Rumble with a look back at the year 2000’s.
– Comments are appreciated. Clicking “like” is appreciated, tweets and retweets are appreciated, showing and sharing this to and with the people you know are appreciated. One of the reasons I haven’t done older show reports so far is that nobody’s googling for them, so our traffic goes way down and they take like 80 hours to write, so why bother? But I WANT to write them, so if you support them and make them a success, I’ll keep cranking them out. At least get me to Wrestlemania 23, so I can write about Ashley Massaro.
To make things even better, we’ve added some features to our comments section, like badges for unlockable achievements and image/gif posting privileges for top commenters. Our first With Leather badge debuts tomorrow night with the Royal Rumble Open thread. Here’s a hint: >=(
– Don’t forget to come back on Sunday and participate in our open discussion thread for Royal Rumble, happening live. I’ll make sure to update with results and everything. It’ll be fun. YOU’LL ENJOY IT.
– If you read the column earlier and were missing a few pages, be sure to go back and give it a re-read. Everything is up now.
– A.J. was not born when this show originally aired, so she will not be featured in the report.
But for now, please enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWF Royal Rumble 2000.
Best: Pre-WWE Kurt Angle And Taz Before The Extra Z
A running theme of this report, somewhat against its own will, is how good or bad someone used to be in comparison to how we see them now. Arguably, no two wrestlers fit that theme better than Kurt Angle and Taz(z).
This was Taz’s WWF debut. That’s what a lot of people remember from this show. Before, he was the Oompa-Loompic king of ECW, a guy who was maybe four feet tall and had the Taco Bell Ingredients of movesets (the same five basic things in different combinations) who seemed like the most bad-ass and important person in the world because Paul Heyman, at least for a few years, remembered that what we’re given in wrestling isn’t important … it’s how we’re convinced to see what we’ve been given. Not tricked. Convinced. WWE does a thing now where they introduce a guy and say “HE’S SO TOUGH OH MAN” and all he does is powerslam guys or whatever and nobody believes it. Taz was doing sh*t like shoving barbed wire into Tajiri’s mouth to choke him out on the reg. There is arguably no greater unpraised ECW moment than Taz getting powerbombed by Bam Bam Bigelow five seconds into a match, completely no-selling it and flipping him off. We were convinced. That’s why Madison Square Garden is chanting WE WANT TAZ while Kurt is doing his “hey guys, how about that Local Sports Team” act.
And Kurt. Poor, baby Kurt Angle. When people look at current, emaciated, bad-on-Twitter ostrich-pitcher Kurt Angle, they compare him to that post-Benoit Angle, the guy throwing rolling German Suplexes and countering 75 of your finishing holds before grabbing you in a grapevine ankle lock and tapping you out. That Angle had worth, despite what he inadvertently did to main-event WWE wrestling (how many more times do you want to see Cena escape something and lock in the STF?), but the Angle I love is the one that came BEFORE that. Before the change. The one who showed up as the only real athlete in WWF history, stopping his armdrag fest with Shawn Stasiak to calmly take the microphone and point out that you don’t boo an American Hero. I liked the Kurt who seemed like Captain America — a shoot nerd who just happened to be imbued with a super serum that made him nigh-impossible to beat at wrestling. The Kurt who would tell you the Knicks have trouble winnning a championship because that’s the only way he can think of to insult you. With sports.
Kurt and Taz are together again in TNA, but it’s not the same. Shortly after this, Taz was Tazz for good, took a candy dish to the face from Jim Ross and devolved into a mob extra whose most marketable skill was going LOOK AT DIS COLE~ as someone was falling. He parlayed that into a career of saying “Velvet Sky, tomater” and then rambling under his breath for five minutes. Kurt’s insides kept f**king up until they were on his outside, and now a guy who seemed like he had the best reason ever to brag about being great (winning a Gold medal with a broken fricken neck) hops on Twitter to passive-aggressively bitch about Randy Orton using an Angle Slam as a transitional move.
Life is weird, and sort of sad.
Worst: Cotton Candy GuySubscribe to UPROXX
hey asshole, down in front
Worst: The Debut Of Stupid Kurt Angle Suplex Spots
To my knowledge, this is the first time Kurt Angle took a German Suplex by backflipping onto his face. In fact, he loses the match via Tazmission and there’s “extra footage” on the DVD of Kurt backstage having a penlight shined in his eyes, mumbling through unconsciousness about how chokes are illegal and he’s still undefeated. Is there any possibility that it is canon that Taz’s illegal choke did something harmful to Angle’s brain, which led to his inflated ego becoming megalomaniacal (see: Eurocontinental Champion, saying D’Lo Brown didn’t matter) and forever damaging his ability to discern fantasy from reality? It’s not a huge jump to think “I lost, but I’m still undefeated” could one day translate to “I’m the greatest wrestler ever and Jack Swagger stole my move”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love stupid Kurt Angle matches, at least from that Royal Rumble ’03 time period when he was just going full speed nonstop, throwing himself shoulder-first into every ring post he could find. But in the same way that Toy Story’s greatness begat A Shark Tale and Hoodwinked, Kurt Angle’s excessive Germanic Suplexing begat Jeff Jarrett MMA matches and 30 minutes of Mr. Anderson crawling around in a cage.
Best: So The Internet Knows. So What?
I’ve written for wrestling op boards for years (shout out to Macbeth from Wrestling Uncensored
and Dusty The Fat Bitter Cat), but I’m starting to get old and have forgotten what dirt sheets were like back then. One way or another, everyone watching the 2000 Rumble on pay-per-view was ready for Taz. We knew he was here. We expected it, because the Internet (and other wrestling companies) told us. The unnamed opponent’s music started, and it was Taz. Taz wrestled as Taz, and for one night it was pretty glorious.
So … what’s the problem there?
There’s a huge thing now where WWE has “plans” for something, but the Internet finds out about it through a source or just makes up news that comes too close to being what they had planned and things change. I remember that happening with Edge and Christian. Christian was supposed to turn on Edge and the Internet found out about it, so instead of just following through with the logical thing that should happen they turned Matt Hardy on Jeff, a swerve that in retrospect may have been the worst idea in the history of wrestling. I’m not being hyperbolic, I seriously think “giving Matt Hardy a solo push where he feuds with Jeff” is at LEAST as bad as a dancing turkey mascot or a save from RoboCop and in the ballpark of making Brad Armstrong dress up like a f**king colorblind Spider-Man.
Sometimes we know what’s going to happen because we’re paying attention. We read these dirt sheets because we, at least in that moment, really care about what you’re about to do. That’s not a bad thing, jerks, so the next time you’re gonna put the belt on Dolph Ziggler or whatever and Big Dick Johnson or some low-level ROH Program Girl With Her Tits Out-quality WWE employee types “Dolph Ziggler is winning the title” to Meltzer or GrapsNewz.edu or whatever just f**king do it anyway. It was a good idea when you came up with it. We will like it, Especially if you convince us to.
Worst: TERREH NOOOOO
Do you rullize how violent this is gonna be? NO.
Oh man, the Hardy Boyz on the microphone. This is one of my favorite, inconsequentially bad WWF promos ever, and revisiting it after a decade or so of quoting it I’m noticing all sorts of weirdness. Why is Matt’s shirt soaking wet? Is it because they’re about to wrestle the Dudleys, and everyone knows that the Dudleys are “a-stream?”. Is Matt Hardy really Air Marshall 50 Cent from Soul Plane 2: The Blackjacking? Why is Michael Cole dressed like a gambler from Red Dead Redemption?
Best: Still The Best Tables Match In WWE History
I love this match, and watching it again, it really holds up. What it does differently from most WWF/E gimmick matches is that it exists outside of the Money In The Bank style “everybody wait while we set this up” thing. The IDEA was to put your opponents through tables, so when they were down, you set up a table to put them through it. There was a reason for the ridiculous construction. Also, it seems like it’s always moving from point A to point B … the wrestlers have a reason to have chairs, they have a reason to go outside. They have reasons to be constantly flying around and jumping off things. It all makes sense, even if “I’m going to put you on a table and then the table will break” is one of the least understandable things pro wrestling saved from ECW.
Everything still works. The Dudleys do all the construction because it’s their game … they stay overconfident as the Hardys, clear underdogs, always fight up from underneath. All of the Hardys major bombs in this match are from out of nowhere… Jeff is only put into a position to jump off the top of the set because the Dudleys took him up there for a spectacular finish. Hubris. My two favorite moments come back-to-back:
1. Matt Hardy setting up a ladder to dive off onto D-Von, jumping off and then OH WAIT SH*T GOD HERE COMES JEFF HARDY FROM ABOVE US. It’s cool, claustrophobic, and the kind of thing that made us go “yeah okay your respeck knuckles are stupid but let’s enjoy the good wrestling match” with the Hardys for years.
2. D-Von’s SUSPENSE DODGE~ of both Hardys. He manages to roll out of the way in time to dodge a leg drop from Matt Hardy, then (with another great off-camera moment) spins out of the way to let Jeff come tope con hilo’ing brain-first through a second table. The match continues, and we’ve found a way to milk two more broken tables out of the story without ending it or being stupid. It makes sense… the Hardys have to give it everything they’ve got or they’re gonna die. So what’s the problem with dying? Air Marshall 50 Cent!
Best: “There’s Only One Jeff Hardy In This World”
Confession: Jeff Hardy was my favorite wrestler in the world for a while.
That’s a REALLY hard thing to admit in 2012, when you’re a guy with a respected-ish wrestling column. I thought he was the best. I had trouble with my weight and self-confidence when the Hardys first became vampires, and here’s this extremely handsome dude wearing skin-tight Gadzooks shirts with crazy-colored hair from more or less where I came from reinventing dangerous North American pro wrestling in the big leagues by flying around with an effortless grace and falling more convincingly and dangerously than anyone I’d ever seen. I thought the Swanton was cool. I didn’t even care that they called it the “Swanton”. At the time, Jim Ross was right — there was only one Jeff Hardy in this world, folks, and he was in the WWF.
And I’m going to pretend he died at some point in late 2001. R.I.P., Jeff, you died and left a beautiful corpse, and it doesn’t change colors when someone turns on a black light.
Worst: Matt Hardy’s Frosted Hair
On the flip side, Matt Hardy can f**k right off. Who has ratty, stringy brown hair and thinks “you know what, this would look better if I sprayed a bunch of fake f**king Christmas snow in it”. It looks like Alvie Singer accidentally sneezed on him before he went out to wrestle.
Man, to think that this goofy cornbred motherf**ker got to sleep with a series of beautiful women with no self-esteem.
Worst: The Reality That Everyone You Like Will Eventually Bail On Life And Disappoint You
I’m gonna try not to dwell on this much longer, but since this is my first Old Show Best And Worst report, I’m allowed a little bit of wistful “man, all these people sure do suck now, huh” time. It’s not true … Bully Ray is the f**king bomb right now. Jeff went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship, and at the very least gave CM Punk a drug-laced reason to worm his way into the main-event. Matt Hardy’s ECW reign led to Mark Henry being taken seriously for the first time in… ever. D-Von shakes like an electrocuted fish when he falls down and runs a wrestling school, so now random people like Robbie E. do the “D-Von sell”. It’s not so bad. The matches are still good.
At least this PPV happened before The Radicals showed up. Jesus.
Best/Worst: Jesus Christ With These Chairshots
I’m the last guy who needs to preach to you about the dangers of unprotected chair shots, and yeah, I’m going to take every opportunity I can to defend blood in pro wrestling as an important cog in telling an emotional sports fighting story, but at some point between the “I Quit” match at Royal Rumble 1999 and Bubba Ray Dudley caving in Jeff Hardy’s skull with extreme prejudice at Rumble 2000 it got pretty f**king ridiculous. Watch ANY of the chairshots in this match. They are NOT COOL.
A little later I’m going to mark out about a guy getting faceplanted in thumbtacks and everything, but there’s a crazy, tangible difference in stabbing yourself with a tiny prick and having a fat guy hit you in your head so hard your mind stops working. Don’t believe me? Ask Reby Sky. She’s familiar with both.
Best: Fred Blassie And Andy Richter Constituting The Same Amount Of Celebrity Judge
The celebrity guest judges for the Miss Rumble 2000 start off terrible and gradually improve until they’re great — things start off with Sgt. Slaughter, but not “Sgt. Slaughter” really, that backstage “third stooge” Sgt. Slaughter who looks just a little too old and is wearing just one too many black items of dress clothing and sorta looks like a guy you’d bump into fleeing a porno theater. Up next is Tony Garea, quite possibly the most forgettable successful pro wrestler in history, looking like a dude who’d try to sell you a Kia on television. Then we get Johnny Valentine, making as secret an appearance as he can make in public as “Johnny V” before quickly moving on, never to be seen again.
But then, “Classy” Freddie Blassie. I don’t care how old you are, if you like pro wrestling haven’t made an effort to cultivate as much knowledge as possible about Classy Freddie Blassie, you’re doing it wrong. Blassie is one of the rare guys who sort of exists as and died peacefully as a Big Important Wrestling Thing without all the dragging through the mud most wrestling legacies get. You can’t remember Hogan without what he’s doing now. You can’t remember Flair without the post-retirement match bullsh*t he’s put us through on Impact. But Blassie … you can remember Blassie however you want. All of it is great.
When everyone sits down, we find out that Andy Richter from Conan O’Brien is also there, and it’s the year 2000. That’s basically the full scale of humanity’s excellence.
Worst: Say What You Will About Hiring Models Instead Of Wrestlers, But…
Okay, so, bikini contests.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about modern WWE women’s wrestling is that they don’t hire actual wrestlers, they hire Hawaiian Tropic models and teach them how to wrestle. This is true. Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres get hired because John Laurinaitis saw them flipping through an issue of Hooters magazine at the grocery store or whatever while women like Madison Eagles and Jessie McKay get passed over and have to work day jobs. It’s bullsh*t, sure, but consider this: What does WWE DO when they have real wrestlers who happen to be female?
Please consult this bikini contest, wherein Ivory, Jacqueline, Luna Vachon and so on wear bikinis and do booty dances or whatever and really cross that line from being respectable people I enjoy to gross looking things I don’t want to see move. Jacqueline in particular is a Brazzers ad on the side of a live pay-per-view. Man, I hate those things. I try to peacefully masturbate to the first five minutes of an Allie Sin video where she’s just kissing or whatever and RIGHT in my peripherals is a guy just smacking the sh*t out of a big nasty beige fake tit and then it’s starwipe to brutal anal. That’s Jacqueline.
I guess the weird thing is that when they employed real wrestlers they put them in nonstop bikini contests, and now that they have bikini models, they put them in nonstop tag matches.
Best: The Kat, Holy Sh*t
The Kat. Miss Kitty. She wasn’t much of a television character, but oh man, as a guy who finds trashy women from the Bible Belt attractive she was as good as it got. Her bubble wrap bikini is the highlight of this, an image that would be both visually and tactilely enjoyable if I hadn’t had the frontal lobe of my brain scorched off by the monster that is fleshtoned Terri Runnels going vag-up on the ring ropes.
True story: I ran into The Kat a few years after this when I was working at an Applebee’s in Naples, Florida. She was super nice, and even brought me a signed picture the next time she was in.
Also a true story: I could’ve married her if I’d put a slaughterhouse hook through my nuts and added a bunch of Zs to my words, or whatever.
Worst: That One Disagreeable Diva
Oh, before I forget, in relation to what WWF/E does with Divas, the very worst thing they do is when they have one of the Divas get “upset” about what’s happening so they can have a talking point for anyone watching who might think “hey, this is bad to women”. Here it’s Ivory, who says she doesn’t want to do this and eventually strips down, and Luna, who refuses to participate even though she’s in the ring in a string bikini and a see-through negligee. They always write in the one “bitch” Diva who doesn’t want to have fun and “entertain the fans”. Molly Holly was that scapegoat for YEARS. And Molly was prettier and better and bettier than any number of Torries Wilson.
Worst: Pre-Crisis Mae Young Is CRISIS Mae Young
Here’s what happened: Because WWF thinks Mae Young being sexual is funny (a thing they still do now and will assumedly do until Mae is cold in the ground… and possibly AFTER that, if they can figure out a way to CGI her into anniversary shows), they put gross prosthetic “saggy boobs” on her and made her “strip” in a sexual frenzy for the enjoyment and/or lulz of the crowd. Mark Henry tried to cover her up, but the old man judges (and Andy Richter, I guess) preferred her nudity to Jacqueline’s interpretive gangbang and awarded her Miss Rumble 2000.
What happened when I watched it originally: Rumble 2000 happened when all my friends were still into wrestling (thanks a lot for reorganizing our priorities, stupid 9/11), and I remember watching it with them live and turning my head to the side when I saw Mae was stripping. I heard them all going OHHHH and UGHHHH and BLEGGHHHHH and so on, but didn’t see it. I didn’t actually see what happened until I rewatched the show yesterday, over a decade later.
What I thought about it: It was sorta like that opening scene in Ghostbusters. When I was a kid, I always covered my eyes so I wouldn’t be scared, because that was the scariest part. I watched it a few years ago and thought, “oh, that’s not so bad, it looks like a gay ape”. So what I’m saying here is that Mae Young’s boobs look like a gay ape.
Best: lol mark henry
Young Mark Henry is so adorable here. I remember Sexual Chocolate and all that horrible stuff, but actually seeing him as a small, helplessly ineffective loser who may or may not be able to bench 2,000 pounds is so confusing and charming. I want to go back in time and hug him and tell him It Gets Better.