In the year 2000, the WWF would make more money than any year in their history. While that dividend was probably pissed away with the XFL debacle the next year, the product was still very compelling in 2000, in part due to Vince Russo’s departure. Organized storytelling was in vogue, led by the late Chris Kreski using storyboards in meetings. The Royal Rumble kicked off what is the best PPV year of the monthly PPV era.
There was a lot of action other than the actual Rumble match on that January night at Madison Square Garden. Kurt Angle saw defeat for the first time at the hands of the debuting Tazz, which is really strange to think about since Tazz was not taken seriously as a commodity in WWF due to his height. Angle would manage just fine. Triple H and Cactus Jack had a hellacious war in a street fight match, won by Triple H like all the other matches. At this point as a fan, I was very weary of Trips because he was pushed so heavily. While he was fine in the ring, he was taking up too much of the oxygen in the room. That all sounds oddly like the current never-ending Authority storyline.
The Foley-HHH war would impact the Rumble match because the world title match was over immediately before the Rumble and the crowd didn’t have much time to digest everything. Some very neat tricks would be pulled to get the crowd involved.
Our hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, thank God. Welcome back JR, we missed you.
The 1999 #1 star D-Lo Brown is #1 and Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Ross kept calling him Sexay with the A in there so I’ll go with that. D-Lo has a strange looking power bomb countered into a ‘rana by Sexay. Brown had to still be shaken from the Droz incident the prior year, which wasn’t his fault but left Droz paralyzed. D-Lo never got back to that level he was at about a year before.
I really am amazed at how many Rumbles #3 Mosh of the Headbangers was in. They must have liked what he could do or something. Mosh is wearing furry green cones over his chest, like he’s forming the bridge from Madonna to Lady Gaga or something. The Japanese group Kaientai rush the ring and are put out quickly. This is the sort of thing that got people’s attention and woke up the crowd after having seen a classic Foley-HHH match. Christian is #4 but he’s not a totally huge deal yet, but he hits Mosh with the Scorpion Death Drop.
If there’s one thing I have learned about these matches, there are usually 2-3 points where a guy will come in and clean house, usually when you have a bunch of disposable midcard guys. Enter Rikishi at #5 who they were dying to push. See ya, Mosh. Belly to belly on Christian, then he’s dumped. D-Lo gets some offense, but his leg drop is no-sold and Brown is sent packing. This leaves Grandmaster Sexay and Rikishi, who are allies in Too Cool and they have a truce for now.
Time to dance with #6 Scotty 2 Hotty. I used to hate this garbage and I can still be a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to wrestling. Hell, I HATED the Seth Rollins MITB cash-in at Mania 31 as one example. In any event I can now see the value in the comedy stuff of these guys now and this was a fun moment. After the dance is over, Rikishi clotheslines both of them and tosses both because winning isn’t everything, but losing isn’t anything. That last thing was one of my two high school yearbook quotes.
Steve Blackman is going to challenge at #7 and gets a “Blackman sucks” chant in no time. He gets a few kicks in, but gets caught with the Rikishi Drive and says goodbye. Viscera at #8 sets up our yearly Fat Guy Fight and it’s a slugfest early before Big Vis hits a belly to belly. He follows with an avalanche, but misses a second try. Rikishi scores with three crescent kicks and a shoulder block puts Viscera over the top with a push the assist.
The Big Bossman is #9 and he’s hesitant to enter. He goes to enter, then backs off almost like he has an ally coming out next. Because he has Attitude, Bossman flips off Rikishi as he enters. Test is #10 and not an ally of Bossman. Test got a nice pop even if he was totally castrated in the HHH-Stephanie angle. I loved Test’s look and thought he could be a more proactive Kevin Nash, but the personality never really came out. He looked like a total jackass at the 1999 Survivor Series just standing in the background like a jamoke while we had to watch Stephanie kvetch over Austin getting run over.
Welcome back British Bulldog at #11 in his very forgettable “wearing jeans” run. He’s been good in other Rumbles in the past. He hits Rikishi in the nuts while the big Samoan was up on the second rope. Lotta ball shots in this match. #Attitude
Gangrel and his cool music hit at #12 but here’s Kaientai again with a run-in and this one is kind of famous. Taka Michinoku is sent flying by Bossman and literally lands on his face and sustains an obvious concussion. Because it is 2000, Lawler makes light of it and asks for replays of it every 10 minutes like its the traffic report on 1010 WINS.
Lucky #13 is Edge and he almost is eliminated right away but he gets a thumb to the eye on Bossman. Rikishi has been running around, ramming into Test and Gangrel, and now hits the Yokozuna-style Bonzai drop onto Bossman as well.
Here’s Bob Backlund at #14 in the legends spot. He was running for Congress in Connecticut but didn’t win, giving Linda McMahon a template to live by a decade later. Backlund avoids Rikishi in the corner and everyone in the ring decides to gang up on Rikishi to put him out because he’s the largest threat, literally and figuratively. Hey, if you get 1/7th of an elimination, you are ineligible for the Morrison Award.
Chris Jericho is no longer a Rumble virgin and enters at #15 as IC champion, having defeated Hardcore Holly and Chyna earlier in the night. That would not be the last time Chyna would be linked with the term Hardcore. Jericho eliminates Backlund, starting his legend disrespect gimmick some 9 years before the Wrestlemania 25 build. Poor Y2J was going to be in the main event of Wrestlemania in 2000 but was replaced by Mick Foley. Bossman is cracking me up in this match by spitting water or something to sell heavy blows. I’m wondering where all that liquid is coming from. Does he keep a bottle of spring water in the Shield getup he wears? Crash Holly is #16 and he survives a double team early from Edge and Bulldog. The ring is starting to fill up and that means Crash is going to take some big moves from the others.
Chyna is #17 and she gets Test off Jericho so she can set him up for elimination. No wonder why Jericho “lacked the star power to be in the Mania main event” when a woman is knocking him out of the Rumble in no time. She vertical suplexed him over the top from the apron, and Bossman just elbows Chyna off to send her home too. I loved that because Bossman was such a prick in the way he did it.
Farooq is #18 but here comes the Mean Street Posse! Oh what a year it would be for those guys, especially Pete Gas. Bossman not only gets rid of the Posse intruders, but Farooq as well. The man from Cobb County is on a roll here. At this point, everyone in the ring takes turns hitting their moves on Crash Holly, like he’s a Wrestle Buddy or something.
Road Dogg is #19 as the normally good NYC crowd does a “we want puppies” chant. Oh well, I guess it was the style at the time. This is the match where Dogg would later hang out under the bottom rope in the corner for long periods, similar to CM Punk in 2014 but without the concussion, staph infection, and generally poor disposition. Al Snow is #20 and goes after Test. The Bulldog is eliminated by the Road Dogg in a canine matchup. Snow had issues with everyone because he was doing a “crazy man” gimmick, but go after Bossman, he killed your freaking dog! I think Scott Tenorman would have gone after Cartman in a Royal Rumble even if time had passed, right?
Val Venis is #21 and he also goes after Test. Funaki from Kaientai invades the ring again and is summarily dismissed with prejudice. And I mean actual prejudice as Lawler keeps perjoratively calling him Chinese instead of Japanese. Venis eliminates his future real life brother-in-law Edge, and Prince Albert is #22. We’re waiting for the Rock at this point as there is not much star power in the ring now.
Hardcore Holly is #23 and like everyone he goes after Test. What was the deal with that anyway? I think they just smelled weakness in the guy or something. Funny moment as Snow goes to toss Crash Holly, stops, but Holly just keeps going up and over but stays on the apron.
Finally the Rock has…entered the match at #24. After unceremoniously getting rid of the Bossman, he gets worked over by Venis and Test, then by Hardcore Holly. That doesn’t make the Rock look very strong at all. But then again, he was pretty much bulletproof. Mr. Ass Billy Gunn is #25 and gets a pop for some reason. Didn’t his 1999 push fail so miserably? Rock reverses a whip on Crash Holly, and gets a DDT and sends the alleged 400 pounder to the floor.
A real 400+ pounder The Big Show is #26 and he’s going to be cleaning house. Test gets the boot literally, then Gangrel. He’s after Rock for a bit and does a huge press slam on Hardcore Holly, holding him way up but keeping him in the ring.
Bradshaw is #27 as JR points out he’s gotta be pissed about losing to the New Age Outlaws. But here’s the Mean Street Posse again! Pete Gas is so amazing here and I love how he’s just an everyman. First, he hits his head on the bottom rope and is delayed getting in the ring. Then when he gets tossed immediately, he’s nearly decapitated in the ropes. Just wait until that blade job at Mania. Road Dogg gets off his ass to eliminate Bradshaw while he was distracted.
The lights go out for a bit to signal Kane at #28 who is with Tori. Kane is the only person in the match with a manager or valet, a far cry from a decade earlier. Val Venis tries the Big Red Machine and gets a chokeslam over the top. Kane and Albert slug it out in a battle of future key WWE employees, kayfabe or otherwise.
Albert is eliminated before the arrival of the Godfather at #29, accompanied by some of Scores’ finest no doubt. Funaki comes back out again so Al Snow can throw him out again. They should have let that be with the last one.
The final entrant is X-Pac at #30 and people aren’t totally sick of him yet. Elimination spree ensues: Kane dumps Holly, Big Show erases the Godfather, and Rock does the same to Al Snow. Mr. Ass sneaks up and takes out his tag partner Road Dogg, but Kane lands an uppercut to Gunn so the Outlaws can walk out together.
Suddenly it’s down to the Final Four: X-Pac, Rock, Kane and Big Show. Kane ends up outside and fights with the Outlaws which is funny because in 14 years they would be a six man team against the Shield at Wrestlemania 30 and get destroyed. The brawl between the NAO and the returning Acolytes outside distracts the referees, who miss X-Pac’s elimination by Rock in a callback to Austin’s “elimination” in 1997. X-Pac scores with a spinning heel kick on Rock. Meanwhile Kane, a man almost 7 feet tall, lands an enziguri on Big Show. Then he picks up Show and slams him just for the hell of it. Wow! What a nice little gem that is. Too bad he gets a heel kick from X-Pac and goes up and out. Pac gets a Bronco Buster on Big Show, who regains control and military presses X-Pac over the top and dumps him to the floor.
Rock and Show, one on one to finish. Spinebuster is followed by a People’s Elbow. Big Show elimination is teased, but Show gets a chokeslam and gets Rock up on his shoulder to slam him over the top. But the People’s Champ grabs the rope and hangs on while Show falls over and hits the floor, leaving Rock as the winner. I am very glad they didn’t go the dual winners; that is rumored to be what they may have wanted since Show ended up in the Mania main event anyway.
Rock tries to cut a promo post-match but Big Show comes back to throw him over the top. Uh ok. That was weird. I watched this match a year ago and probably liked it a bit more then, as this suffered from stars being elsewhere on this card. Would have loved to see Kurt Angle here instead of jobbing in three minutes to Tazz. As guys like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guererro are added to the roster, that problem would be addressed. Onto the awards, which of course are at my discretion:
1st star: Rikishi – This match started very slow and dull, and he helped lift the thing out of those doldrums. The dance thing was quite funny and I like just about everything he did here.
2nd star: Kane – Anytime a guy that size does an enziguri and slams a guy the size of Big Show, he’s getting a star. Not bad for a guy in just more than six minutes.
3rd star: Big Bossman – Loved his stalling to face Rikishi, and also hit spitting of water. The fact that he’s been in Rumbles before probably helped him as he was kind of a ring general, at least as much as one could be in this type of match.
Morrison Award: Crash Holly at 14:54; because so many guys helped on Rikishi there were not many with zero eliminations who lasted a while. Crash was there to get beat up.
WWE Hall of Famers (3): Farooq, Rikishi, Bob Backlund
Deceased (5): Viscera, Big Bossman, Test, British Bulldog, Crash Holly
Summary: This match could have used a bit more name guys, especially in that middle period between Rikishi’s departure and Rock’s arrival. Jericho could have filled that bill but for some reason he had to be fed to Chyna, even if that wouldn’t do very much for her. This is a middle of the pack Rumble in terms of quality, in part because the most memorable thing was seeing a guy get concussed when he wasn’t even in the match. So this gets 2 1/2 Martels out of 5.