WrestleWatch- WWF Armageddon 2000
Welcome back to another edition of WrestleWatch as we go through the holiday season! As I write this, it is Boxing Day. I had one of the busiest Christmases I've ever had and I'm very, very tired today. That said, I can always find the energy for watching wrestling and writing about it. In a weird way, these reviews are how I relax. So here we are.
Hitting you with a retro review today, it's WWF (not E) Armageddon 2000. The title might have given that one away. It occurred to me that I've been working my way through the Attitude Era on the WWE Network, and I haven't done a review on an event in the year 2000 in that time. I did write a Royal Rumble 2000 WrestleWatch some time ago (read it here), but that was in preparation for that year's Royal Rumble event itself, and it's one of my all time favourite PPVs, so it wasn't really part of that Network journey.
The main event is a massive one, as six of the top WWF Superstars vie for the WWF title, inside Hell In A Cell. Long before the Eliimination Chamber was a thing, we had this bad boy. It featured several feuds between the different competitors, and Commissioner Mick Foley decided to deal with all the Christmas chaos. It happened this month 21 YEARS AGO, goddamn.
At the centre of all this mayhem was WWF Champion Kurt Angle. The Olympic gold medallist shocked the world when he beat The Rock to win the strap a couple of months prior at No Mercy. Naturally, the Brahma Bull wanted to get his title back. At the same time, he was entangled in an issue with his cousin Rikishi, who claimed that he ran down Stone Cold Steve Austin "for The Rock", but really it was Triple H who was the mastermind behind the hit and run that took Austin out at Survivor Series 1999 (in reality, the Rattlesnake needed neck surgery). While all that was going on, the American Badass, the Undertaker, set his sights on Angle and the title, but the young champion wriggled out of Survivor Series 2000 with the gold by using his look-alike brother, Eric, to pull a fast one on Taker. So yeah. Hell In A Cell, baby!
Also, did I mention that Angle was just over a year into his pro wrestling career at this event? Not enough people talk about what a phenom Kurt really was when it came to pro wrestling. On to the action!
Sunday Night Heat- Scotty 2 Hotty (w/ Grandmaster Sexay) def. D'Lo Brown (w/ Chaz & Tiger Ali Singh) (at 2:25)
Thoughts: Very quick bit of action to get the show started, but the crowd were into it with Too Cool being super over, and we had some extra-curricular activity between Sexay, Chaz and Singh on the outside as well. Impressively, D'Lo was able to keep a headdress on his head throughout the match- at least until he missed a Lo Down from the top rope, allowing Scotty to hit the Worm for the win! (*1/2)
The WWE Network doesn't have Sunday Night Heat from the year 2000, but I was able to find the episode on YouTube. It was cool seeing some of the pre-PPV hype, including a Limp Bizkit video package that revealed that Undertaker will be coming out to Rollin! I'm assuming that was the first time- I know the Network dubbed over Taker's Kid Rock theme, I wonder if the same goes for our boy Fred Durst? I think I've seen other shows past this time period with the "You're Gonna Pay" dubbed over instead, but my memory is admittedly shocking. We will see...
Apocalyptic/wartime imagery is shown interspersed with WWF footage in the opening PPV video package as the iconic "The End Is Here" music plays. WWF was so cool back then!
Match 1: The Radicalz (Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn) def. The Hardyz & Lita (at 8:06)
Thoughts: This match suffered from the common problem in elimination style matches, where wrestlers lose in much quicker fashion than they typically would in a regular tag or singles match, but the wrestling was smooth and well done. The story behind this one was that self-professed ladies man Dean Malenko was trying to woo Lita, but she wasn't for it. The match came down to Lita vs. Malenko, and although Lita had some nice hope spots (after looking far too scared of Dean given her prospenity for getting involved in matches), like a hurricanrana and a moonsault for a near fall, Malenko ultimately put her away with the Texas Cloverleaf. Decent way to open the PPV, you can always rely on the energy of the Hardyz to fire up a crowd. (**1/2)
Post-match. Michael Cole interviews Lita with the Hardyz. Lita struggles to speak, but vows that she can beat Malenko.
Backstage, Lilian Garcia interviews Kurt Angle. He tries to ignore her because he's training. He insults her than boasts about his Olympic win where he beat wrestlers of all different nationalities to win his gold medal. So he's not sweating any of his opponents tonight. He calls the Cell "barbaric", and calls the Alabama crowd "inbred hicks". JR believes that Angle is more concerned than he's letting on.
Throwback video shows highlights of Cactus Jack vs. Triple H in the Cell at No Way Out 2000.
Match 2: WWF European Championship- William Regal def. Hardcore Holly (at 5:00)
Thoughts: Holly beats the hell out of Regal after he insults Alabama in his pre-match promo. Holly goes up top but flies into a boot from Regal. Holly got possibly the biggest pop of his career from his home state crowd after hitting his picture-perfect dropkick, but fell victim to a DDT from Raven behind the referee's back. Regal retains with some shady shenanigans. Nice intensity in the action, but not much story behind it to invest in beyond "yay Alabama:, which means nothing to this Aussie. (**)
Backstage, Kevin Kelly interviews RIkishi. He doesn't care if alliances stay intact in the Cell or not. He's given his mind, body and soul for the chance to become WWF Champion. Nice passion from the big man.
Match 3: Val Venis (w/ Ivory) def. Chyna (at 4:59)
Thoughts: Chyna went right for Right To Censor member Val Venis, given her issues in recent months with the faction that wants to censor her, her issue of Playboy, and everything else in the WWF. Val takes control of the match and dumps Chyna to the outside, allowing Ivory to get some cheap shots in. Chyna gets an opening after Venis misses with the Money Shot, but Ivory trips her up. Chyna gives chase, and the distraction allows Val to hit a fisherman suplex for the win! Decent stuff with the limited Chyna- you can very clearly hear Val calling spots to her throughout the match. (**)
Backstage, Stephanie talks to Vince McMahon. Vince assumes she wants to talk about his impending divorce with Linda, but no, she's worried about Triple H inside Hell In A Cell. She recalls the toll the No Way Out match took on her husband, and that was only against one man, and tonight there's 5 opponents. Vince promises to put a stop to it.
Earlier today, Kevin Kelly interviewed Undertaker, standing inside the Cell. He recalls his history in HIAC with men like Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley. They're really going all out to sell the dangers of the Cell and making it seem important and career-changing.
Mr. McMahon comes to the ring, accompanied by Pat Patterson & Gerry Brisco. He says he's there as a concerned humanitarian, not as a billionaire or WWF owner. He implores the crowd to join him in stopping Commissioner Foley in stopping the HIAC match from happening. Lots of boos. He says the carnage of the Cell will be on the conscience of all the fans, to massive cheers as Vince leaves to his music.
Match 4: Last Man Standing- Chris Jericho def. Kane (at 17:16)
Thoughts: The match started with a brawl in the entrance way, and they went backstage with it for a few moments to really get the bad blood over. Two pros in a heated feud, and even though Jericho was the smaller man, he managed to be believable against Kane with his aggression. Of course, Kane's power and size had Y2J fighting from underneath at various points. Jericho is apparently an avid Donkey Kong fan, as he buries the Big Red Machine under a stack of barrels to get the 10 count and the victory! Fantastic battle. (***3/4)
Backstage, Coach interviews Mick Foley. He feels responsible for everything that's going to happen inside the Cell, and seeing Kane trapped under a stack of barrels isn't a good omen for later tonight.
Live from WWF New York, it's Shawn Michaels. JR interviews him about the first HIAC match and asks for advice. Shawn says he was a "guinea pig" and he felt fear getting in the Cell with the Undertaker.
Match 5: WWF Tag Team Championship- Edge & Christian def. The Dudley Boyz, Right To Censor (Bull Buchanan & The Goodfather) & K-Kwik & Road Dogg (at 9:42)
Thoughts: Fast-paced with a lot of bodies flying around, this was a smart choice to follow the somewhat methodical Last Man Standing match. Very glad it wasn't an elimination match as well. Crazy to think Edge and K-Kwik (now R-Truth) are still active wrestlers 21 years later. Bubba stole the show with a fiery hot tag which saw him pinball everyone in sight. Clearly in the Christmas spirit. Dudley Device on Edge. 3D on Bull Buchanana. Another 3D on Goodfather. Dudleyz rolling hot... but when D'Von goes outside to get the tables, Stevie Richards hits him with a DDT, and in the ring, Edge hits the Spear for a great near fall. Moments later, Christian gets involved and hits the Unprettier... and this one's done! (***1/4)
Backstage, Stephanie tells Triple H her concerns about the Cell. HHH doesn't give a shit, he just wants the title. He's fired up!
Match 5: WWF Intercontinental Championship- Chris Benoit def. Billy Gunn (at 10:03)
Thoughts: Even the "best technical wrestler" Benoit isn't immune to the brawling shenanigans we've seen earlier on this show, as they wind up outside in the early going, with Billy throwing Benoit into the ring post. The Rabid Wolverine turns things around a moment later by hurline The One into the steel stairs. Back in the ring, the action does get technical and Benoit works the knee to slow down Gunn, who is noted as "the best pure athlete in the WWF". Billy can't hit his signature moves properly with his busted knee, and eventually Benoit gets the submission with the Crossface. New champion! (***)
Earlier today, Good Old JR was hanging with Stone Cold. JR talks about how the Cell has shortened careers, and Stone Cold says he hasn't slept, because you can mutiply everything the Cell has done by 6 tonight. JR asks if the presense of Triple H & Rikishi in the match is a distraction or motivation, and the Rattlesnake confirms that it motivates him. But he's got his sights set on the title, and he's gonna whip somebody's ass.
Match 6: WWF Women's Championship- Ivory def. Trish Stratus & Molly Holly (at 2:12)
Thoughts: This match was shorter than the Heat match, and shorter than every other match on the PPV card by a considerable distance, but they still made the most of the time they had. Trish showed a few moves, displaying the early evolution from a valet to a wrestler, and we were at a little seen part of the Trish/Molly rivalry- where Trish was a heel and Molly was a face. We get a brief Ivory/Trish alliance, but Molly wipes them both out with a top rope crossbody. Molly hits a running powerbomb on Trish, and Ivory knocks her out of the ring to pick up the scraps and retain the title. (*3/4)
Post-match, T&A (Test & Albert) come out, presumably to check on Trish, but then set their sights on Molly Holly. Crash runs out to defend her honour, which the big men laugh at... but then the APA's music hits! We haven't seen Bradshaw & Faarooq for a few months, and they get a great reception here. Faarooq with a spinebuster on Test. Bradshaw with a Clothesline from Hell on Albert. The Acolytes stand tall to end the segment.
Backstage, Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock. "Finally, the Rock has come back to Birmingham. If he has to bleed and put his career on the line in the Cell, he'll do it. He's gonna sweat, he's gonna bleed, he's going to kick all their asses. Prime Rock in action here. He's going to walk into Hell, and walk out WWF Champion. If you smell what The Rock is cooking.
Main Event: WWF Championship- Hell In A Cell- Kurt Angle def. The Rock, Stone Cold, Triple H, The Undertaker & Rikishi (at 32:12)
Thoughts: Taker comes out to Limp Bizkit! "This man doesn't have a Limp Bizkit, I can guarantee ya!" says JR. What the hell, Jim. I felt bad for the cameramen here, trying to cover the six men fighting around the Cell. Very little in the way of wrestling holds, suiting the match and the feuds involved. With all the talk of the dangers involved, and throwback clips throughout the night, we needed a big spot in this match, and Taker delivered by chokeslamming Rikishi off the Cell into the back of a truck... which was covered in sawdust and padding, but still a very cool visual. The titans of the WWF hit all their biggest moves on each other... and through the carnage, Angle squirmed in and got a 3 count. Somehow surviving again! (****1/4)
The WWF hyped the hell (pun intended) out of the main event Cell match. If WWE today put that level of promotion behind their main event matches today, I think the product in general would be in much better shape. We had some pay-off here, but ultimately the chicken-shit champion lived to fight another day. This was a show that delivered despite being in that typical December lull for the company. The WWF was at the height of its power in the year 2000. With six top stars in the main event, this was close to a one-match show, but the Last Man Standing and the fun and frenetic tag title match were highlights as well. The rest of the undercard was decent as well, with nothing standing out as outwardly bad.
Overall Score: 7/10
Until next time, take care.
By Mick Robson