A non-wrestling role acting as the top heel of the promotion has been a pro wrestling fixture since 1998. In 2015, it’s the most stale act imaginable. Something every promotion needs to have for whatever reason, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon. Back in 2000, it wasn’t as stale. The problem was, however, that there were McMahons. Lots and lots of McMahons. In 1998, we only had Vince and Shane, by the next year Stephanie and Linda were recurring characters and by WrestleMania they were all pretty much seen on a weekly basis.
The problem with non-wrestling personalities is that quickly they become the most important characters on television, quickly eclipsing anyone they’re trying to get over. That’s why I resent this Authority angle being around for so long — it’s been doing nothing but killing any credibility the heels they have under them had and the faces come off looking even worse. And with no end in sight, it’ll continue being that way, resulting in a flat product.
It wasn’t as bad back in 2000, however. The gimmick for this show was that there would be a McMahon in every corner. Vince McMahon (who turned face the previous fall) aligned himself with the Rock. Shane McMahon backed up The Big Show. Stephanie McMahon, of course, would manage Triple H and Linda McMahon brought back Mick Foley, who had retired for maybe a month before returning to headline WrestleMania.
These were all guys who were going to get over whether or not the McMahons were plastered on the product. Rock is insanely charismatic, Foley connected with people easily, Triple H was the heel everyone hated (and had the pull to do that) and Big Show was tall and still special enough to add to the match. But regardless, it had to be nauseating at the time to realize that the big draw for WrestleMania 2000 was that the McMahons were the biggest thing on the show. Everyone else wasn’t as important.
On a happier note, this was the first show I saw live! I remember watching the Access programs they had on all day before the PPV, and I’ll always remember Triple H calling the Ultimate Warrior a piece of shit for the way he treated him at WrestleMania 12. I guess time heals all wounds, you know?
This year’s opening performance was Lilian Garcia performing the national anthem. She always rocks it.
The Godfather and D’Lo Brown vs. The Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan: Ice T came out with The Godfather, and according to Ice T, pimpin’ ain’t easy. He said this approximately 326 times while they made their entrance, just for clarity I suppose. I thought, for some reason, Bull Buchanan was going to be HUGE. As in, a big star. When he was in the King of the Ring tournament later this year, I thought he had a good chance of winning because he was going to be a STAR. He’s tall, after all. And he had a bicycle kick finisher, that was cool too! 12-year-old me should never book a company, ever. Hey, he did leap to the top rope and came off with a clothesline, so that was cool. Buchanan hit the bicycle kick on D’Lo for a nearfall. Godfather gets the hot tag and hits the HO TRAIN while D’Lo goes for the frog splash but Buchanan pushes him down. Buchanan takes Godfather out as D’Lo hits the Bossman slam and Buchanan hits the leg drop for the pinfall. **1/4
Triple H and Stephanie are backstage and mention how they are both champions and how it doesn’t get better than this. Well, it’s nice to know they cared about titles back then.
Hardcore Title Battle Royal: Participants are Tazz, Viscera, Mean Street Posse, Hardcore Holly, Kaientai, the Headbangers, the APA and champion Crash Holly. This match will go for 15 minutes, and whoever pins the champion wins the title. Whoever is the champion at the end of the match is the champion, for reals. So in fact, there were lots of title changes here. And lots of weapons were used. Crash is busted wide open by…something. Lots of shots to the head, so many that even JR is surprised by it. This is very interesting to witness in 2015. Viscera, current champion, goes to the top rope (!) but the Acolytes throw him to the floor and lay him out. Bradshaw, I guess for laughs, puts Kaientai over and Funaki is crowned the Hardcore champion. Taka immediately turns on him as Funaki bolts backstage. RODNEY then pins Funaki to win this coveted championship. Joey Abs then wins the title, followed by Thrasher. Pete Gas, who is busted wide open because I dunno, uses a fire extinguisher and pins Thrasher for the title. Tazz quickly pins him as he and Hardcore Holly go at it. Crash joins in and soon it becomes a battle over who can pin Tazz. Crash somehow pins Tazz. Imagine protecting Tazz all those years in ECW just to lose to Crash Holly, of all people. Hardcore grabs JR’s candy jar at ringside and smashes Crash over the head with it to win the title right as the buzzer sounds. I like how JR had a candy jar for approximately one match out of his entire broadcasting career just to use a prop for this match. This was a garbage match, but at least a fun one. **1/4
The announcers are confused as Crash’s title is yanked away from his hands and given to Hardcore Holly. You see, Crash was supposed to retain the title, but I guess there was miscommunication in the last few seconds of the match and Hardcore ended up winning the title even though the referee didn’t count to 3. It was rectified the next night on Raw if I recall correctly, but boy was this a big time goof up.
They show footage of WWE Fan Axxess. It looked fun, except for the part where Michael Cole could call commentary with you.
Al Snow was with someone in the toilet backstage. Steve Blackman walked up to him and told him no funny business, tonight’s WrestleMania after all. Al Snow said yeah, of course. Then he told the guy he was hiding to light a match. Toilet humor, literally!
Trish Stratus’ breasts appeared on the screen. They’re making their way to the ring with Trish, Albert and Test. Seriously, half of this was focused on Trish’s breasts. Not that I’m complaining or anything. An OBSERVATION.
Al Snow and Steve Blackman came to the ring. Snow introduced Chester McCheeseyton. His gimmick was that every time people chanted “Let’s go headcheese” he would slap his exposed buttcheeks. This did not go over well with Steve Blackman. Or me.
Al Snow and Steve Blackman vs. T&A: All four guys brawled to start, but eventually Headcheese isolated Albert. Test gets a hot tag to literally zero reaction. Al actually did an asai moonsault on Albert. Huge double team legdrop but Albert breaks it up and hits the baldo bomb on Snow. Snow interrupts one of their counts. Blackman gets distracted by the cheese as Test hits a top rope elbow drop and pins Blackman for the pinfall. *3/4
Al Snow says you’re right, it was a stupid idea, Steve. They then proceeded to destroy the cheese to zero reaction.
Backstage, The Cat was with Mae Young. She had no clothes on. I’m referring to Cat, thankfully. This was basically a bunch of jokes with Mae covering up Cat’s private areas every time she got up.
Dudley Boyz promo. They promise to take things to a whole new level of violence.
Triangle Ladder Match WWE Tag Team Championships – Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz ©: Lots of back and forth to start. First big spot was Jeff Hardy missing a 450 splash onto the ladder. He tries to climb the ladder later, but gets speared to death by Edge. Christian climbs but gets taken down with a 3D. Christian and Jeff Hardy get shoved off a ladder and to the FLOOR. That’s no fun at all. Bubba had a ladder on the outside and Jeff did his spot on the barricade to run after him but instead Bubba throws the latter RIGHT IN JEFF’S FACE as he crumples to the floor. Damn, that looked nasty. Edge sneaks from behind as Matt is pushed off the ladder and to the floor through a table as Edge and Christian grab the titles. This was an amazing stunt show, but at the same time I kind of felt like it was way too choreographed at times, with guys waiting to hit their cues every now now and then. I remember watching this live and thinking how amazing it was. Nothing like this was ever done before, so of course it was amazing. And maybe it’s wrong to judge it all these years later, but still, this was an amazing spectacle. ****
Kevin Kelly is with Mick Foley and Linda. Mick says fairytales do come true, not for them- but for me. Watching this live, 12 year old me rooted for him. I remember being so sad when he lost at No Way Out in the Hell in a Cell match so I wanted him to GET REVENGE.
Val Venis came out to ref the next match. He has a shirt on that says “I AM COCKED” on the front in what appears to be semen inspired font. Who the hell would buy this? He says he and WrestleMania have something in common — they’re both the single largest extravaganza of the year. But there’s differences, you see — WrestleMania only comes once a year, while the Big Valbowski comes every day.
Terri vs. The Kat: Jim Ross outright said if you’re scoring this on the star system, go ahead and turn the page. I don’t know what that meant. Moolah was in Terri’s corner and Mae was in Cat’s. Terri makes out with Val immediately, I guess for brownie points or something. Then Cat does too. A very tough like Sean Morley had for these few years. Cat and Terri go at it but Val is distracted by Mae trying to expose herself. Moolah and Mae roll into the ring and openly interfere. Moolah takes Cat out of the ring and throws in Terri. Then Terri won because, oh who cares, this was horrid. -*
Mae Young then hit Terri with a Bronco Buster and Kat followed by tearing off her clothes, sending her packing. So at least people were happy at the end.
Eddie was talking with Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko backstage. Malenko and Dean were worried about Eddie not being into the match as he was more interested in Chyna. Eddie said don’t worry, she can’t resist my Latino Heat. Chyna then saw what Eddie was saying on a TV and looked repulsed. So people can just see what other people are saying on TV? When did that become a thing?
Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko vs. Chyna and Too Cool: JR made sure to mention that Chyna’s attire was, and I quote, “hot.” Ok? What wasn’t hot was her offense. Eddie was in control at the start and kept making faces at Chyna until she got distracted and he rammed her head into the turnbuckle. Guerrero took a suplex from the ring onto the floor. That’s not smart, or very fun. Eddie avoids Chyna at all costs. Chyna hits a double low blow which allows Eddie to jump her. He goes for a powerbomb, but Chyna blocks it and locks in a sleeper…then just slams his head down on the mat for the pinfall. Umm, that was anticlimactic. But this was fine. **3/4
Some people won tickets to WrestleMania. They seemed pretty happy. I wonder what would happen if someone were offered tickets to this year’s WrestleMania. Well, ok, yeah, they’d probably react the same, but these Raw shows lately..and that Royal Rumble. Eh, I guess we’ll see what happens.
Shane McMahon and the Big Show both cut promos. They were both pretty uninspired. I would never wear a shirt that says “BIG NASTY BASTARD” by the way. You think today’s WWE merch is bad…
Kurt Angle asked for security backstage. He attacked Bob Backlund earlier on Heat, so I guess that’s why.
Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental and European Championships Two-Fall match – Kurt Angle (c) vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho: First fall is for the Intercontinental championship, second for the European. I wonder how long it took people backstage to tell Jericho to stop mispronouncing names intentionally. It never really got over here. I haven’t watched a Benoit match in forever because, well, you know, but everything he did here looked crisp, which is kinda rare these days. First fall was a lot of exchanges between the three. Angle locks in the chickenwing on Jericho but Benoit breaks it up and throws him out. Benoit lands the headbutt and wins the Intercontinental championship. Cool spot after where Angle goes to the top, Jericho follows but Benoit comes in and back suplexes Jericho to the floor. Angle tries the moonsault but misses. Ref bump. Benoit gets the crossface and Jericho taps, but since there’s no ref it’s broken up when Angle comes in with the title. Benoit lays him out with a backdrop but misses the top rope headbutt. This allows Jericho to hit the lionsault and win the European championship. This was pretty good, but it being a two fall match and the triple threat rules bring it down from being anything really great. ***
Michael Cole talked to Vince McMahon. Vince says Rock can do it with or without him. He promises to make it right tonight.
Triple H and Stephanie looked at a TV screen, mad. He said he’d show him who the man is here tonight.
Kane and Rikishi vs. X-Pac and Road Dogg: JR promises that Rikishi will “back that ass up” tonight. Man, what better way for me to become engrossed in this upcoming battle. Tori, who is now aligned with X-Pac after turning on Kane, has some words with Paul Bearer, who is back to manage Kane after the breakup. Rikishi immediately stinkfaces Road Dogg, then tries to do the same to Tori, but X-Pac guides her to safety. Kane makes a hot tag and they go on to destroy everyone, including giving Tori the stinkface and Kane tombstoning X-Pac for the victory. Basically a glorified squash. *
Too Cool come out and get the crowd to start clapping. Suddenly the San Diego Chicken comes out, as remember, last year it was Pete Rose in the costume. Too Cool do their dance, then the music stops as Kane starts to choke the chicken. BUT SUDDENLY, Pete Rose comes to the ring with a baseball bat, only to get stopped by Rikishi. A chokeslam and stinkface later and he’s sent packing.
The Rock cut a great promo, says that after every chokeslam, Mandible Claw and Pedigree, he’s still standing and he’ll get the job done tonight.
Fatal Four-way Elimination Match for the WWE Championship – Triple H (c) vs. Mick Foley vs. The Big Show vs. The Rock: Big Show and Rock squared off to start while Hunter did so with Foley. Big Show lays out everyone because he’s big. Too bad he’s the first one gone as Foley hits Big Show with a steel chair and Show walks into a Rock Bottom. Jerry Lawler points out that Triple H now has the odds stacked against him. Keep in mind he was the top heel at the time. Aside from the McMahons, obviously. How scary is it that this is the SAME EXACT SCENARIO IN 2015? Geez, didn’t even realize this until now. Foley takes out his barbed wire stick but misses a charge, allowing Triple H to use it on Foley. It’s funny trying to see Linda McMahon emote for Mick Foley at ringside. This whole “being in storylines” thing never worked out for her. The three brawl to ringside. They brawl around the stage and the ring, then back to the crowd, then back to the outside. This leads to one long segway where Shane McMahon comes back and attacks Vince after he attacks Triple H. Stephanie is stunned by this turn of events. Rock catapults Hunter into Shane and hits the Rock Bottom. Shane is primed to attack again but Vince McMahon comes back and grabs the chair. In a SWERVE he hits the Rock, Hunter covers Rock, but KICKOUT. Vince pelts him again with a chair to the head and Hunter pins him to retain the title. First half was fine, second half was completely overbooked, but at least had some interesting near falls. ***
Vince McMahon and Stephanie reunite while Shane and Vince converse. An enraged Rock comes back and Rock Bottoms them both. Stephanie gives Rock some lip, and after slapping him eats a Rock Bottom as well. Triple H tries to enter the ring, but Rock punches him back to the floor and lays out Stephanie with the People’s Elbow as the show goes off the air. So while the heel won at WrestleMania for the first time ever, hey, the fans were sent home happy.
This was alright, nothing special. Some of these matches were pretty bad. But the main event was decent, and the ladder match was a crazy spotfest that paved the way for a ton of other crazy spotfests. Take that away though and it’s not much of a show. But at least a lot of people were over! And speaking of over, the Attitude Era would be reaching its climax the following year. Actually, it was a culmination of many things, not only for WWE but for the industry as a whole. And you can point to this next show where everything changed in the wrestling industry, some would argue that it’s not for the better.