Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the court jesters to the rumble royals, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight, as we review the Royal Rumble! Ah, ah, ah, not so fast. Not THIS year's Royal Rumble. That comes later this week. No no, tonight we go back in time and review what some consider to be the very greatest Royal Rumble ever held, WWF Royal Rumble 2001. Consider this a warm up for our review of the whole shebang itself, and to make sure we're up to tip top Rumble reviewing shape, i've summoned the Rumble monster from his tomb early and will be unleashing MichaelC on the unsuspecting populace in a continuation of what we are now calling The Royal Week of Rumbles.
Now then, let's focus in on one of the most beloved shows in WWE history. We have all the Attitude Era greats at their peak here as they catapult down the road to Wrestlemania 17. Steve Austin is a desperate man, the Undertaker and Kane have united to lay waste to the world and the Rock is out to prove he's the top man in WWE. Along the way there will be bowling balls, an unexpected Hall of Fame entrant and a whole lot more. So what the hell, free the chains on MonsterC and let's get this rampage started.
So without any further ado, and on behalf of our awesome reader Don, let's do a motherfucking review!
MichaelC: So naturally when Cewsh asks me to compile notes for a retro Royal Rumble review, I immediately assume it's for a reason.
MichaelC - It's got Mr Perfect in it...
Cewsh - No.
MichaelC - Owen?
Cewsh - No.
MichaelC - Bossman?
Cewsh - Uhm......no.
Michael C - .........Bam Bam Bigelow?
Cewsh - Hahahahahaa no.
MichaelC - Davey Boy?
Cewsh - How about no?
MichaelC - Who then?
Cewsh - Billy Gunn.
(Cewsh laughs evilly)
This doesn't feel like the greatest trade in the world, and yet here I am. Must be all that voodoo he uses.
2001 was an interesting year. Fresher than 2000, not quite 2002 yet. It was a year of earthquakes and disasters (and certain terrorist actions we all remember). It killed off Joey Ramone, Stanley Kramer, Jack Lemmon, Nigel Hawthorne, Douglas Adams and George fucking Harrison. What a sod of a year. In wrestling, it killed off WCW and ECW. Which lead to the epic Invasion angle which died a swift and fiery death once Chris Kanyon got injured.
Because god knows, you can't have an epic angle without Chris Kanyon.
So it was a year of big epic changes in this sport we call pro-wrestling. Massive. Changes that make John Cena losing a match once in a while look miniscule. The Monday Night War was over, long live the... well, we weren't sure. Brand Extensions, Bischoff on RAW, Moolah not being mortal, exploding limos, drafts, Kurt Angle getting released, Shawn Michaels returning and then retiring, the NwO, Johnny Parisi...
But in sleepy January 2001, in a city to be hit by a massive hurricane a mere few years later, none of us knew this.
MichaelC: This one focuses on the thirty men in the Royal Rumble. Steve Blackman could win the Royal Rumble! "To have been to Eden and tasted the fruit is worse than never having been there again!" It sets the scene, focuses on the six men who are the big threats, and mentions the possibility of an underdog. Everything it needed to do.
MichaelC: WWF New York. It was a restaurant/entertainment venue the WWF had in Times Square, which they promoted heavily for about two years, having lots of superstars show up there on PPV night for fun. The Big Show got stuck there, the night of WrestleMania X8, picking up kids, instead of getting a Mania paycheck. Poor sod.
It got shut down sometime in 2003 and is now a Hard Rock Cafe.
Cewsh: I remember hearing that it had closed down and being DEVASTATED that I would never get to eat a cheeseburger next to a full size replica of Gene Okerlund. If I just did it at my house now, i'm pretty sure that would qualify as creepy.
MichaelC: Ah, back to the feuds of lore. The triple threat tag feud between The Dudley Boys, the Hardy Boys and Edge and Christian helped cement all three teams as solid players in the WWF, and is the era modern fans immediately think back to when they think of tag team wrestling. Edge and Christian were once members of The Brood, silent moody goths. To cut a long story short, they won the tag titles in a ladder match, were given the mics, and took off. They were ostensibly heels but their geek references, five second poses, ability to weasel out of any title match possible and infectious ability to show how much of a great time they were having made them hard to boo. So they'd resort to the cheap heel pop, insulting the local towns sports franchises. Even then, their eventual face turn in 2001 (mere months after this match) was effortless. It's hard to boo an act which entertains.
Then they turned Christian heel, and split the team up, giving Edge a singles run he wasn't ready for. Oh well. But that's in the future.
The Dudleys were meant to be heels. They beat up everyone, broke rules, threatened faces and put women through tables. Then the fans started cheering, and loudly. So the Dudleys played to the crowd, then beat up everyone, broke rules, threatened faces and put women through tables. Large "We Want Tables" chants would echo through Dudley matches, often within seconds of the bell ringing for it to start.
Edge and Christian had won the tag titles at the previous PPV, Armageddon, from the Right to Censor. Then they'd lost them to Rock and Undertaker on RAW, before winning them back (with a massive assist from one Kurt Angle, WWF Champion) on the following Smackdown.
The Dudleys were to win the Number One Contendorship, and these teams had spent so much of 2000 beating each other up that the story filled in easily. The Dudleys were more popular, and had more momentum going in (an undefeated run going back several weeks) but they had NEVER beaten Edge and Christian by pinfall in a tag title match.
Standard tag match of the likes we see little of these days. D'von Dudley is the lamb to the slaughter, cut off from his partner by the wily tactics of Edge and Christian. Fans chant for tables. D'von goes for a run of steam and is swiftly cut off. Then the heels miscommunicate, there's a double knock down, and Bubba gets the tag in, but the referee never saw it. So in comes the ConChairto, but Dvon misses, takes down both tag champs and tags in Bubba to clean house. We even get the "WAASSUP" headbutt, a move dedicated to an old ad campaign for Budwieser. Heels try to cheat, get caught, there is a few false finishes (Bubba speared during the 3D attempt in a notable one.)
But then in true Edge and Christian fashion, they take the piss out of their opponents moves, and it backfires hideously. One 3D later, and the crowd goes nuts as the Dudley Boys win the tag titles.
This was the first time the Dudleys won the tag titles as faces, and first time since WrestleMania the year before, so the crowd love it.
This match managed to condense all the classic tag tropes into a seven minute match, and the crowd got to start the night happily, as one of their favourite teams finally got their hands on the belts.
The Hardys/Dudleys/Edge and Christian would swap the belts between then and WrestleMania, before another triple threat ladder match. After that, the teams drifted apart for the most part, and within 2 years, two of them had broken up.
Cewsh: I hesitate, when watching these older shows, to say things to give off the illusion that things were better just because they were during a time in wrestling where most of us were just growing up and everything seemed cool. This phenomenon of thinking things are better than they are because you remember them fondly (or Attitude Era Syndrome, as I call it) is really, really easy to slip into, especially in matches like this where everything is just so fondly remembered. Luckily for me, though, in this case the thing I remembered fondly really was quite good and this match may well hold up better than any other on the show.
It really can't be overstated how much it helps matches like this when the midcard guys are so incredibly over. These four cant do any wrong, and they all bust their asses to earn it, making this just a hugely enjoyable opening match. And, it must be said, Edge shines so bright as a star here that its astonishing that it'll be another 4 years before the main event comes calling. The man looks like the next big thing here. How did we not see it?
81 out of 100
Cewsh's Seal of Approval
Cewsh: Backstage, Drew Carey is here for some reason. He introduces himself to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and hypes that he's here to plug his Improv Comedy pay per view special coming up.
Before we continue, let's point out that this appearance on this show would wind up being better for his career than that comedy show, which was a miserable disaster. So now you can put your mind at ease and stop beating yourself up for missing out on that whole thing.
Anyhow, Stephanie decides to use Drew as a pawn in here game with Trish Stratus, because I know my first reaction to meeting a celebrity is instantly to try to frame them for a crime. In Sweden, that's how they say hi.
MichaelC: Even a blind man could see this trap, Drew. Even Triple H tries not to corpse.
"Let me introduce you to Trish Stratus"
"She's not seeing anyone, is she?"
Trish was involved in one of the less savory angles of the year, as Vince McMahon's mistress after he announced the plans to divorce Linda, who was in a catatonic shock in a nursing home.
As unsavory as that sounds, it was actually worse. So let's draw a curtain over it for now.
Cewsh: A smart choice. If Mrs. Cewsh finds out that we even brought it up she might put a brick through the tv.
MichaelC: The Acolytes bait online NEWZ. The day of this Rumble, it was on worth news sites that the Acolytes were probably going to start off as one and two in the Rumble match, as this "hadn't happened in some time." As you may soon find out, this doesn't happen.
I can't help but feel this scene, where Bradshaw and Faarooq show each other their numbers and comment about how interesting that'll be, were put in solely to troll these NEWZ people, for it makes no sense otherwise.
Elroy Jetson (AKA Crash Holly) then shows up, and points out he'll beat up both Acolytes if its down to him and them later on. Awww, look at little Crash, he's so cute.
More on Crash and Acolytes later.
For the record, this scene takes place in the APA Office. Yes, its blatantly a set in the middle of a storage facility. People knock on a door set and walk in through it, despite ability to walk in from any angle. It's not insane (though it is), it's deliberately meta, and one of the many things which turned the APA from future endeavors to one of the most over tag teams in the WWF, and gave one John Bradshaw Layfield a springboard to becoming one of the great WWE heel characters in recent memory.
MichaelC: These two feuded through most of 2000. Anytime they got in the ring together, we got a great match out of it.
Most of the spots in this match which made it memorable go as follows: Benoit misses the headbutt, Benoit gets a chair to the head, Benoit falls headfirst over the top ropes. It was at the time a classic in the making. And we all know what happened to that head, and that wrestler.
I believe this is what TV Tropes calls Harsher in Hindsight. Because what was once a great match is now twenty minutes of a man who wound up with brain damage suffering head trauma. Yeah...
Benoit won the IC title off Billy Gunn. Yes, Billy Gunn was IC Champion once. I know, I can barely believe it either.
Cewsh: This is one of those matches that any smark worth his Triple H hate can reference as a landmark in wrestling history. In fact, if you cut open the internet wrestling community, this match may very well be running through its veins. A ladder match? Jericho? Benoit? Midcard title? SPOTS?! MUAH!" That's not to say that they wouldn't be right to feel that way either, because this match was hugely lauded at the time and was one of my favorite matches for a long time. So coming back to it now, I expected to be totally blown away by a great match between two great wrestlers.
And I wasn't.
Don't get me wrong, this is a fun match. Jericho seems to be trying so hard to channel Shawn Michaels here that he may as well have come out with jingly mirrors on his pants and Benoit shows off his selling ability, which is often lost in the praise that was always heaped on the man. But watching it now, it becomes clear that this is not the right kind of match for these two people to be having. Benoit seems uncomfortable with the ladder spots, Jericho seems a step too slow and comes off a bit too flat to be the spark plug, and very quickly into this match things just become a rote rattling off of spots. Though, and this must be said, there are some incredibly memorably spots here, from the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder (which may be the most contrived move in wrestling history) to the stiffest chair shot I have ever seen in my entire life, which promptly turned Benoit into a pile of goo.
But at the end of the day, when these two totter off to the back and head on to get get ready for the next in the line of 1,000 matches they had that year, what they left in the ring here was good. Not great. Just good. 16 year old me is so disappointed.
78 out of 100.
MichaelC: Vince catches Drew with Trish (ooer) and inserts him (I say!) into the Royal Rumble match, so he can show his improv skills in the heat (snigger) of the big show (guffaw!).
MichaelC: Poor Ivory. No one ever talks highly of her anymore, so let me. Ivory drew one of the shortest straws in WWF womens history. When she became the Womens Champion, her opposition was Debra, the 76 year old Fabulous Moolah and Terri Runnels. What a division! She held the division together, managing to get heel heat easily against useless opponents, and kept it going till Lita and Molly Holly showed up. After a brief moment out of the spotlight, she came back as the female wrestler in the Right to Censor, and played the massively evil heel against Lita, cementing Lita as the sympathetic never say die heroine of the female division we all know or hate (your mileage may vary). Without Ivory, the division would have died a swift death as soon as Sable walked out. Instead it kept going, and had a precedent for being brought back in the Trish/Lita/Victoria/etc era.
I say this now, because Chyna destroys her. Chyna no sells everything. She was at the end of her tenure, no longer Triple H's girlfriend, and in the womens division after so long fighting the men only. So she no sells everything and kills people. And the women she was to kill in the few months before she took a huff and left (Molly, Ivory, Lita, Trish) were all either far better wrestlers than Chyna ever was, or would become them. Then she decided she wanted a contract the equivalent of Steve Austin and walked out. Good riddance.
Ivory bumps all over the place to make Chyna, who can barely string two sequences together, look great. (One of the things noticeable on this marathon has been just how bad Chyna was. I remembered him being really good, and she is woeful for a womens wrestler. It's to the great credit of several folk who had memorable matches with her, Jericho, Foley, Jarrett et all.)
Then we have an injury angle. Played seriously. Lawler gets in the ring, with deliberate shades of the Owen Hart incident. Sickening. Hideous. Horrible.
Cewsh: I'm going to level with you. This storyline is despicable, bordering on outright offensive, and I don't really want to talk about it. Chyna makes Ivory looks worthless, puts on a terrible display of offense and then promptly sells an injury angle like she's dying, not 2 years after SOMEBODY DIED ON ONE OF THESE SHOWS.
But hey kids, don't worry! Because she'll be all better in time to single handedly murder the Women's Division for a solid 2 years by burying Ivory at Wrestlemania in the worst way possible and then promptly getting fired for being a crazy person. So, you know, bright side!
Cewsh: Its subtle. Very subtle. But i'm a master of reading body language.
Cewsh: Imagine, if you will, that you are in a big building full of threatening people, who are generally nice. They are all much bigger and stronger than you, and have to this point already attempted to frame you for girlfriend stealing and have used you as a pawn in various sexual politics. Then you come across a giant man in a mask who breaths heavy and regards you curiously, as if puzzled that he hasn't killed you yet.
If you attempt to make friends with the monster by cracking jokes, turn to page 168*.
If you remain in the room, turn to page 168*.
If you run away screaming, turn to page 168*.
MichaelC: Kane is one of the few people though who can portray a look of disdain through a full mask. Heh.
MichaelC: Lo Down are in the Rumble! No they're not, Drew Carrey got that spot instead. This D'lo fan is not amused. D'lo Brown was the first ever Eurocontinental Champion, Chaz was once a Headbanger, and Tiger Al Singh once beat Gillberg, and now they were laughing stocks.
Poor D'lo. And Headbanger.
Tiger Ali who?
He sued the WWF, you know.
Cewsh: That's funny, after watching him wrestle, you'd imagine it would have gone the other way. Is it too late for me to sue him?
MichaelC: Kurt Angle is the WWF Champion, who shocked the world by beating The Rock in October 2000 for the belt, then continued to stun everyone by beating The Undertaker, Kane, Jericho, Austin and Rikishi to retain the belt to this date. By hook or by crook he'd sneak out a victory, then proclaim himself the greatest thing since sliced bread. The fans would be incensed, as their favorites would clearly have the title in their grasp, but Kurt would find a way, be it right place right time, or right twin right time. I like goofy Kurt. Far better than our more insane Kurt Angle.
Stephanie is Stephanie. She is angry with her dad (for now) for his treatment of her mum, but is more furious with Trish Stratus, who has edged into her dads affections - complete with spanking (!) - and is trying to engineer herself as the dominate women of the WWE, which threatens Stephanies position.
After months of her offering her services (as dodgy as it sounds, but it went right over Kurt's head) Kurt Angle took her as manager for this match just to piss off Triple H and Stephanie. Kurt Angle had been thwarted in his attempts to steal Stephanie off Triple H in THE feud of 2000, but Angle got the title in the end.
And Triple H is Triple H. You may have heard of him. He is the most overwhelming favorite for a title match we've seen in some time. Creatures from Pluto expected him to win, as the rumors of HHH fitting into the projected Rock/Austin match continued apace. The "dream" HHH/Rock/Austin match. Which we never actually got.
Mind you, Kurt Angle was also definitively losing to The Rock at No Mercy, absolutely losing to Undertaker at Survivor Series, and had no chance of walking out of the Armageddon six man Hell in a Cell as WWF Champion. Yet four months on, here he was, still Champion. Somehow.
Triple H tries to play heel in this match to get the crowd on Angle's side. It doesn't work. The fans side with Triple H, so he works even more as a heel to try and stop them, but it's not working.
Stephanie and Trish brawl (oh my goodness, it's like it was foreshadowed!) and Vince drags them to the back.
Then comes the Rattlesnake. On 8/1/01, in San Jose at the end of a riotous RAW, Stone Cold Steve Austin took on Kurt Angle for the WWF title. The crowd expected Austin to win, but were stunned as Kurt Angle - daft, joke Champion Kurt Angle - went one on one with the man in the WWF as equals. Sure, he went down to the Stunner, and his title was only saved by Triple H's return to attack Austin, but the match changed people's opinions on Angle. So Austin returns here to cost Triple H the title.
2001 would cement Angle as a top star. Without even changing that much of his personality, by the Summer he was the biggest face on the roster, getting standing ovations for the actions once jeered before, and getting a crowd to chant for "MILK". Having absolutely no clue what to do with this unexpected superstar, the WWF swiftly turned him heel and lost all the momentum he suddenly had.
Even so, 2000 showcased Angle as someone to keep around. 2001 made him a superstar.
Cewsh: The entire Triple H/Kurt Angle/Stephanie McMahon love triangle prior to this is one of the greatest pieces of booking that the WWE ever pulled off. This match isn't, but as Michael said, if nothing else it serves as another marker on the astonishing rise to prominence of Kurt Angle. Let the record show that this show isn't even 3 years into Kurt Angle's wrestling career and suddenly the fact that he's here doing this at all seems totally insane and ridiculous, much less doing it as well as he does.
Now unfortunately this match doesn't have as much to recommend it as you would hope at first glance. Angle and Triple H have had chemistry before, but it doesn't show through here and they proceed to go through the motions for an extended period of time while the ladies bicker on the outside of the ring, and are clearly the real storyline here. Finally Vince comes down to break up the shenanigans and Kurt takes advantage of the moment to retain his title thanks to some Stone Cold interference in a short and very hot ending sequence that seems like it should be a part of a better match altogether. Angle retains and moves himself right along to a brief feud with the Rock which will teach him how invigorating it is to be mean to people for a change, and Triple H moves on to...well we'll see.
When you put two wrestlers of this caliber together, you always have to expect and hope for better than this. They were capable of more, and did more elsewhere, but here they fell victim to being parsley on the plate next to a feud between women.
Man, imagine that.
77 out of 100
MichaelC: The Rock is interviewed, and gets the crowd going for the Rumble. 2000 was a big year for The Rock, with his longest WWF Championship reign, finally beating his eternal rival Triple H, and finding out his cousin Rikishi had betrayed him.
"It could come down to The Rock and Bull Buchannan, The Rock and Perry Saturn....The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin."
In alternate universe, this rumble came down to Saturn and Rock, and was a classic.
Rock promos are usually bombproof and this was no different.
MichaelC: I love this. It does focus on five stars over everyone else - Rikishi, Kane, Austin, Rock, Taker - but then, that's better than focusing on one like 98 or 09, and it meant watching it live as a kid I had no idea who was going to win this one. Whereas the previous year was bloody obvious Rock was winning.
Rikishi, the man who ran over Steve Austin, is number 30 in the Rumble. A massive advantage, and he was on the roll of his life. I think he's probably going to win it.
But Kane and Undertaker are killing everyone. Ok, Taker's winning it. My markdom speaks.
The Rock quotes MLK and is on a roll. Ok, he's winning.
Austin is destroying everyone to get in the Rumble. Ok, he's winning.
Over the period of a month, they booked five men as credible threats to win the Rumble. More of that, please.
Cewsh: My money here is on Hardcore Holly. Its his year.
MichaelC: #1 is Jeff Hardy. We get our obligatory Shawn Michaels reference. That has aged rather badly, since both Hardys have turned into Jannettys. Heh. Dean Malenko could have been in this match, but the Hardys injured him shortly before. Damn you, Hardys. Also MIA is Eddie Guerrero who got injured three weeks before and had to miss the Rumble.
Can Jeff win the Rumble from Number One?
#2 is Bull Buchanan, who first came to fame as a member of the Truth Commission. Who were the Truth Commission, you say? Shame on you, fancy not remembering The Truth Commission. Ok, I admit it: only six living people remember The Truth Commission's run now, and four of them were IN the stable. Bull got put on ice afterwards for two years, before coming in as Bossman's evil henchman. Just as soon as that got going, Bossman got injured (and the world sobbed), so Bull was on his own. After a month of looking overconfident and losing to Crash Holly in one of the great King of the Ring shocks, he joined forces with Steven Richards as the first Right to Censor recruit. A brief Tag Title run later, and he's in the rumble as one part of the most over heel stable in the WWF.
A very agile big man, Bull would be much better remembered if he'd been given any chance to show his skills off. This rumble lacks the greatest finish off all time - the jumping off the second rope flip axe kick - sadly.
Michael C: They ought to stand about and wait for Number 4, once they oust Bull, but instead beat each other up instead. Don't they remember 1989, when Demolition did that only for Andre the bloody Giant to come out? That's the problem, these people never remember Rumble history.
Batista did in 2005, and you know what happened? He won the Rumble. There is a lesson for everybody there. Be genre savvy.
Cewsh: Lesson 2 - Be Batista.
MichaelC: #4 is Faarooq. Well, I'll be damned. One half of the APA, The Acolytes decided in 2000 that since they liked beer and beating people up, they should create the Acolyte Protection Agency, where people would pay them to beat folk up, giving them money for beer. This was, as you could imagine, very popular. Faarooq doesn't last long, and it should be noted that Ron Simmons comes from the Jake Roberts/Owen Hart school of being utterly rubbish at battle royal type matches.
Cewsh: No matter what anyone else does here tonight, Drew Carey is the only person in the Rumble who would go on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame solely for his performance here. So yeah, take that PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS.
MichaelC: The Hardys eliminate each other. Idiots. Does no one recall history?
MichaelC: #6 is Kane, who slowly walks down to the ring, circling it and scaring the shit out of Drew. Foreshadowed! Kane spent most of 2000 changing heel and face alliances by the week. He ended his decade long feud with X-Pac (who stole his girlfriend), Paul Bearer came back and left, he turned on The Undertaker, became friends with The Undertaker, turned on The Undertaker and became friends with The Undertaker. He had some badly booked feuds, and managed to have some good matches with Jericho in between. A typical Kane year, in other words.
Cewsh: The performence of Drew Carey here, all jokes aside, is absolutely point perfect. First he's so happy and proud of himself when he's in the Rumble and all alone in the ring. Then, when Kane's music hits, he doesn't really understand at first. Then as Kane comes out and it starts to dawn on him, he immediately tries to get the attention of anyone at ringside to ask them what he should do. Then when Kane gets in the ring, Drew Carey sells terror better than Kate Upton sells cheeseburgers. And seriously, the moment where he actually offers Kane cash not to kill him is probably my fondest Rumble memory of all time.
Cewsh: Raven to the rescue for no real reason! And, given a pardon by the governor, Carey promptly gets his ass out of the ring. He wasn't in the match longer than 3 minutes, but i'd still chalk him up as one of the best celebrity performances of all time.
MichaelC: #7 is RAVEN. In his only Rumble. Carrey sods off and we wont see him again till the Hall of Fame.
Raven came back to the WWF - he was Johnny Polo, manager extraordinaire in the mid-90s - in September 2000, when he DDT'd Jerry Lawler during a Strap Match with Tazz. The Raven/Tazz team didn't last long, and soon after surviving a Hardcore Match with The Undertaker (it went as well as you can imagine for Raven) he decided to take on Steve Blackman for the Hardcore title. Only, unlike everyone else, he won. Later in 2001, he was to become massively over, and the WWF blew it. Quell surprise!
MichaelC: #8 is Al Snow, who jumps the gun to attack Raven. Snow had been out of action for nearly two months, after Raven had smashed a cinder block over his head. This begins the heated feud which was building all the way to Mania, until, shortly before the PPV, they decided to nix the match. Probably one of those classics. Well, we'll never know.
Al Snow had a fairly enjoyable run as European Champion in 2000, after an enjoyable run as half of Head Cheese with Steve Blackman. In 2001, he was to disappear off the map, though he would become Head Trainer for Tough Enough.
The match has turned into a Hardcore match. No one tries to pin Raven though, despite the 24/7 rules.
MichaelC: #9 is Perry Saturn, and I like all four men in the ring just now. Saturn was the forgotten Radical - he had Hardcore title reigns and a forgettable European title reign but little of note to recall in his 2000. His old friendship with Raven wasn't mentioned in the WWF, so Raven and Saturn sharing the ring now was just an added bonus for old WCW fans. A few months later, he would stiff up a jobber, Mike Bell, and be punished for the rest of the year by dating a Mop, Moppy, who was later murdered by Raven. It kind of killed his career.
References to the ring looking like a hurricane hit it. In New Orleans. Yeah.
Cewsh: YUS. Blackman jumps in and grabs his special sticks that someone has thoughtfully left right there in the ring for him. Seriously, that's a major oversight on you guys' part. You don't just leave a guy's specialty weapon lying around unwatched.
MichaelC: #10 is Steve Blackman. In 1999, he had no heat whatsoever and jobbed to everyone. In 2000, his straight man tag partner to Al Snow's uber goofiness made him fans, and his second half of the year, as the only Hardcore Champion in the history of the 24/7 rule people were too scared to take on, cemented him as very over. Where others would be beat on for the title, Blackman would murder four men at once if need be. His match with Shane McMahon at Summerslam 2000 cemented his position as very over midcarder. Sadly, just as Blackman was finally getting over, he suffered a horrid head injury, and Post Concussion Syndrome had to call off his career that year. A crying shame.
MichaelC: #11 is GrandMaster Sexay of Too Cool. He is in and out. Later that year, he got arrested for drugs and released.
Everyone beats on Kane, but he then tosses Blackman, Sexay, Raven, Snow and Saturn.
MichaelC: #12 is The Honky Tonk Man, one time IC Champ. He sings his song, gets bashed with his guitar, and eliminated.
MichaelC: The crowd is quite awful by the way, only Kane, Rock, HHH and Austin get much of a reaction once Chyna got "injured".
MichaelC: #13 is The Rock. The crowd go absolutely mildly nuts.
Cewsh: Good god, the crowd just woke up from a dead sleep for Rocky.
MichaelC: #14 is The Goodfather. Once proprietor of the Ho Train, now a member of the Right to Censor. He doesn't last long.
MichaelC: #15 is Tazz, brought in as a big deal but neck issues and attitude issues stopped that. He doesn't last long either. About five seconds in fact. Seven eliminations for Kane so far.
Cewsh: I could swear that Tazz lost 6 inches and 100 pounds on his way from ECW to WWE and then gained it all back when he went to the announcer's desk. He looks like a Cabbage Patch doll here.
MichaelC: Actually, ignore what I've said about the crowd, this copy has had the crowd noise edited. There was definitely booing when Tazz went out so soon back in the day, which people commented on. Utterly missing here. So why mute the audience cheering Blackman? Weird editing decisions of the WWE.
MichaelC: #16 is Bradshaw, who gets to come in and beat up the two main eventers. You could tell they want to push Bradshaw into the main event even then. The Clothesline from Hell on The Rock makes the crowd gasp.
MichaelC: #17 is another perennial up and comer, Albert. TnA the tag team didn't last long, as he turned on Test, and Trish went to other positions. TNA had taken out the Acolytes in October before the APA returned to kick their asses in December, so Albert and Bradshaw had history too.
MichaelC: #18 is Hardcore Holly, who spent a good chunk of 2000 on the shelf after Kurt Angle's botched moonsault broke his arm. He nearly won Regal's European title in December but Raven cost him the match, in a rare case of instafeud which went nowhere.
Cewsh: My pick to win it all, baby! Let's do this!
MichaelC: #19 is K-Kwik, better known these days as R-Truth. He was brought in as Road Dogg's tag partner, except that Road Dogg was swiftly released for drugs, so K-Kwik was left floundering.
Cewsh: I still have K-Kwik's theme song stuck in my head. "D-O-DOUBLE G WITH K-KWIK AND ROAD DOGG GETIIN' ROWDY!"
Yeah, that's the good stuff.
MichaelC: #20 is Val Venis, now also a member of the Right to Censor. His feud with Rikishi, including the epic Cage Match at Fully Loaded 2000, was the highlight of Val's career, as he would never hit those heights again.
MichaelC: #21 is The European Champion, William Regal. In 1998, he was fired from WCW for shooting on Goldberg, so had a cup of tea in WWF as the Real Mans Man (see Cewsh Reviews Survivor Series 1998). He was then fired, went back to WCW, was fired again for drugs, and sent to WWF rehab. A great showing against Chris Benoit at the Brian Pillman memorial show in 2000 showed he was back on form, and within weeks he had shown up on RAW as the UK's GoodWill Ambassador, and within months he was European Champion, a massive heel, McMahon henchman and WWF Commissioner.
He was meant to face Test here for the European title, but was injured, so had to stick in the Rumble instead.
MichaelC: #22 is Test, who swiftly throws out Regal.
Cewsh: Test is one of the great sad stories in wrestling. He's one of the guys its hard to watch in old matches.
MichaelC: Next night on RAW, he won the European title in 30 seconds in what Lawler called "the fastest besmirching in history", and allowed Regal to take some time off to heal. Test would then lose that title to Eddie Guerrero, flounder, join the Alliance, gain immunity, become an UnAmerican, be punished for refusing to cut his hair, team up with Stacy Kiebler, get released, go on the roids, come to ECW, get released, go to TNA, get released and die. Poor Test. He was pretty decent at one point.
MichaelC: #23 is The Returning Big Show, who was last seen six months previously. He was sent to Ohio to lose weight, so comes back looking bigger than ever. He throws out Test and K-Kwik, then gets involved in a bit of an old feud.
MichaelC: In 2000, Rock and Show had problems over the Rumble and who got to face the Champion. Here, Rock tosses Show, and Show puts Rock through the announce table. Sometimes, you just never forgive someone. It's like Martel v Tito. Except... unlike Tito, people actually cared about Rock! Hehehe.
MichaelC: That was the obligatory Tito Santana joke.
Cewsh: Another Super Heavyweight!
MichaelC: #24 is Crash Holly. He was one of the most over people on the roster in 2000. I am not joking. He invented the 24/7 rule for the Hardcore title, leading to such epics as Crash v the Mean Street Posse in an airport, and Crash v the Headbangers at Playland. He got his ass kicked by everyone, and somehow always escaped with the title. He would produce massive upsets, like the time he beat Viscera clean, or his run to the Semifinals of the King of the Ring. He also believed he was actually a superheavyweight, weighing well over 500 pounds, despite being the tiniest of crusierweights. So crowds would ROAR in approvement as Crash would sneak off upset wins, or win back his Hardcore title for the thousandth time.
In 2001 he lost his way, and drugs were the death of him. In 2003, he was released for those drugs and, unable to deal with his release, was to tragically take his own life.
But for a few months spanning 2000, he was one of the Kings of the WWF, and will be remembered fondly by all who witnessed it.
MichaelC: #25 is The Undertaker. Taker and Kane toss out everyone, except Rock is still out on the floor.
Cewsh: Holy shit, that's the entire midcard! Then they go face to face, and silently agree to not fight each other at all. Oh good gravy, that is not good for everyone else.
MichaelC: They are working together this month!
Undertaker returned from a long absence at Judgment Day 2000 at the end of the best Iron Man Match ever. Still trying to find his groove, he had few great matches - Taker/Benoit at Rebellion being the stand out - but in time would find his groove, and went on to become even better than he was in the 90s. That was all to come, but just now he's a massive threat to win this thing.
Cewsh: Oh, poor, poor, poor, poor Scotty.
MichaelC: #26 is Scotty 2 Hotty. At the time, I was ticking people off on my list watching live. I just knew Scotty would come out here, and the WWF didn't disappoint. Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude, how I love you. As did the crowd. Scotty looks like he could piss himself he is so scared.
He is swiftly destroyed by Kane and Taker and tossed.
MichaelC: This is one of my favorite Rumble moments ever. He never stood a chance.
MichaelC: #27 is AUSTIN. He makes a beeline for the ring, but Triple H is there to attack him and make him a bloody mess. Triple H/Austin were to fight in the first ever Three Stages of Hell match the next month. Austin is a bloody mess on the floor.
Cewsh: Triple H doesn't just assault Austin, he apeppers him with punches to the face too.
That's right, this is my blog and I just made the worst joke ever. DEAL WITH IT.
Cewsh: Oh yeah, I didn't do so well picking Hardcore Holly, but Billy Gunn is my new pick. Its his time to shine.
MichaelC: #28 is Billy Gunn. Oh dear. His main event push is nearly over, after his injuring Val Venis and Eddie Guerrero late last year, and dropping Chris Benoit on his head. This all happened during his IC title reign which was only a fortnight long. The Mr Kennedy of his day!
Benoit/Gunn at Armageddon 2000 is pretty much a burial by the way, in the proper sense. Everything Gunn does is either proven to be an error or easily beatable, Benoit kicks out of the FameAsser, and the commentary is all about how much of an idiot Gunn has become.
MichaelC: #29 is HAKU! HAKU! One of the all time greats. A man who once won a bar fight against twenty marines with a fork sticking into his eye. Genuinely considered one of the legit toughest men in wrestling history, a hell of a worker in the 1980s/90s, and a very nice man in real life to boot.
He gets no reaction here, as people hadn't seen him since 1992.
He was WCW Hardcore Champ too. He won at the PPV the weekend before. Then walked out. He gave his pal Barbarian the title to go and defend it in WCW. Except Barbarian had already been released. So the title went bye bye.
Giving people without contracts titles. Any wonder WCW went bye bye?
Haku was the last jump from company during the Monday Night Wars, incidentally.
Cewsh: Back in 2001, I had no idea who Haku was. Judging by the crowd reaction, I really wasn't alone.
Cewsh: HE'S A BAD MAN.
MichaelC: Haku goes out. Shame. Thanks for the memories, big man.
MichaelC: Then Taker is out. Damn, there went my pick. He wound up facing Triple H at WrestleMania that year.
MichaelC: Rikishi was swiftly eliminated after that, as The Rock got the ultimate revenge for his betrayal. Rikishi, when revealed as the driver, claimed he did it for The Rock. He then cost Rock the title to Angle, and it turned out he was trying to be Iago to Rock's Othello, only he snapped when Rock saw through it.
He was injured here, which saw him out most of 2001. Hence his 30 position.
We now have our suitably epic final four:
- Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the two or three biggest stars in wrestling history.
- The Rock, one of the all time greats. A star that has accomplished world wide fame outside wrestling. Multi-time world champion. THE rival to one of the second or third biggest stars in wrestling history.
- Kane, one of the longest running successful main event big men in WWF history, and always seen as a legit threat even if he didn't wind up with as many World titles as one would have thought (through his own request, apparently).
Billy Gunn is still in it, but Austin gets rid of him. Thank you Austin!
MichaelC: It's down to Kane (6), Rock (13), and Austin (27). We get Austin/Rock foreshadowing, then Kane tosses Rock.
Cewsh: Oh shit, Kane might have a chance! He takes it to Austin, even though he's clearly exhausted, but a totally beaten to shit Austin rocks him with 3 nasty chair shots that fail to even knock Kane off of his feet. Finally Austin just clotheslines the dazed, exhausted monster over the top, ending perhaps the greatest run in Royal Rumble history.
MichaelC: Great match. Not my favorite Rumble, but it has a lot of great moments.
Kane lasted 53 minutes, and was made forever as the big threat.
Rock lasted 40 minutes.
Cewsh: I really enjoyed this Rumble thoroughly. There have been better Rumbles, there have been more memorable Rumbles and there have been Rumbles I liked more. But fuck if this one wasn't just tons of fun from start to finish.
Well that'll do it for us this week, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed revisiting Rumbles past, and since it sort of hard to cover Rumbles future, later this weekend we'll be rolling out Rumbles present with our review of WWE Royal Rumble 2012. Will Johnny Ace screw CM Punk? Will Chris Jericho punch his ticket to Wrestlemania? Will Zack Ryder be bludgeoned into paste by the end of the first hour? We're cumulatively excited to find out as we welcome not just our Rumble historian MichaelC, but also guest reviewers Psycho and Kyle to tackle the beast. So until then, remember to keep reading and be good to one another!