This week we’re looking at what I like to call a “Heels Over Show”, which is basically a show where the heels win most of the matches because it’s what the current storylines of the day call for so sufficient heat can be built for the eventual blow off. Normally you get a mixture of Heel and Face wins, but occasionally a show comes along where everything just aligns that you need to have a heavy dose of heel victories in order to keep things cooking.
Of course if your company is on a hot streak, like the WWF was in 2000, then you can have a few Heels Over Shows now and then because the fan base will have faith that the Faces will eventually rally and will thus put up with a depressing evening or two now and then in order to get the satisfaction down the road. However, if your company is cold then Heels Over Shows can sometimes be absolute poison to a fan base who is already starting to get a bit tired of things, especially if the Faces are a bunch of chumps who the fans don’t believe in. This is a trap WCW fell into and it ended up contributing to their eventual demise.
Coming in to this show, the WWF had just blown the roof off the joint at Backlash by having Rock finally dethrone Super Heel WWF Champ Triple H. It was time for Triple H to finally look at the lights after solidly dominating the top of the card for as long as he had been, but he was due his rematch and the WWF decided to up the ante by making it a 60 Minute Iron Man match.
Meanwhile, Big Show had gone babyface post WrestleMania and was doing a decent stab at being a fun loving Giant. However, former manager Shane McMahon had taken umbrage with this, setting up a match between them. The Dudley Boyz had started doing a gimmick early in the year where they had put women through tables, which had got them hugely over with the misogynistic Attitude Era crowd. However, Heel valet Tori had currently eluded them thus far, so they were looking to rectify that here.
The other big match on the under card is Chris Benoit defending his Intercontinental Title against Chris Jericho. The two had traded the belt post-Mania and this was another chapter in that feud. Aside from that we’ve got a mostly thrown together six man tag opener and an all Heel triple threat match for the European Title.
So yeah, if seeing bad guys get their day in the sun is something you like the sound of, settle in and enjoy the show!
I’m still on my physical media kick at the moment due to being a bit sour on the WWE Network, so I’m watching the official Silver Vision release of the show that was released over here in the UK back in 2000 (Main Event aside, which I’ve reviewed before and am just pasting in) so if there are any particular differences between my review and what’s up there then that’s why.
The event is emanating from Louisville, Kentucky on the 21st of May 2000
Calling the action are Jim Ross and Jerry lawler
There’s a good opening video where they list all the things you can do in an hour. It’s both entertaining AND educational!
The McMahon-Helmsley Faction is hanging out backstage. Gerald Brisco shows up and goes off to get them some coffee. He was the WWF Hardcore Champ at the time though, and the belt has 24/7 rules, so that might come up. And indeed, The Headbangers jump him along the way and he has to flee from them.
Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels is backstage walking around.
Edge, Christian and Kurt Angle Vs Rikishi and Too Cool
Edge and Christian were the Tag Champs at the time, and were doing a gimmick where they would pose in the ring so the fans could take pictures. Angle is happy to join in with them this time, and they do a good old fashioned Jug Band, complete with wacky teeth for Edge, who tells the crowd “hope ya’ll enjoyed it”. That was genuinely hilarious, and succeeded in getting the fans to boo E & C when they initially got cheered during their entrance.
Seeing as we’re getting a Heels Over Show tonight, this is the one match where the crowd get something to cheer, as Rikishi and Too Cool were a popular babyface act at the time, and indeed Too Cool would soon defeat E & C for the tag belts on an episode of Raw thanks to interference from Little Joe C. They start this one hot, with Rikishi and Too Cool shining on the heels and the crowd is into it. It’s fun action too, as both of these units had some good chemistry by this stage and they know exactly what they need to do in order to have an entertaining opener.
Grandmaster Sexay’s pants seem to legitimately fall down at one stage, which leads to Rikishi having to stifle a laugh, as his whole gimmick was that he was the stoic big man who happened to do wacky dancing when wearing a magical pair of sunglasses. Look, I know that sounds bizarre but it made sense in 2000 okay? Anyway, Rikishi manages to get a grip just in time, otherwise I would have had to stick a certain song on and call for the man.
The heels eventually manage to cut Scotty off, just as he’s about to the deliver The Worm, thus drawing maximum disconcertion from the audience. Scotty is excellent at selling, so he does a good job taking the heat and the heels are all solid workers who know what to do in such a situation. They don’t work the heat for long and Scotty eventually makes the HOT tag to Rikishi, who runs wild on the heels and looks like a star doing so.
Man, this crowd have been fantastic. I’m genuinely sad for them that they’re going to have their spirits crushed as the evening progresses. Edge manages to Spear Rikishi and goes for his own version of The Worm, but Scotty cuts him off and delivers the genuine article, with the crowd losing their minds over it. It’s incredible how they got a simple chop to a downed opponent over like that. The finish looks a little botched, as Grandmaster comes off the top with a leg drop to Edge and Rikishi makes the pin, but Angle gets super close to breaking it up and it looks like he was supposed to. He doesn’t though and referee Teddy Long calls it as a shoot, which is what you’re supposed to do in such a situation, and thus that’s the three count.
WINNER: RIKISHI & TOO COOL
Awkwardness of the finish aside, this was a great opener, as the Faces did all of their trademark spots to pop the crowd and looked good doing so
Rikishi and Too Cool dance following that, and the crowd loves it.
Shawn Michaels is backstage with Michael Cole. Shawn is the ref in the Main Event tonight, and says he’s here to do a job, but doesn’t make it clear whether he’ll be unbiased or not.
Meanwhile, on Sunday Night HeAT, Eddie Guerrero and Chyna promise Dean Malenko that Chyna won’t get involved tonight, but they don’t seem to be very sincere.
WWF European Title
Champ: Eddie Guerrero w/ Chyna Vs Perry Saturn Vs WWF Light-Heavyweight Champ Dean Malenko
Eddie, Dean and Saturn had all been in a faction together, but Eddie got together with Chyna following WrestleMania and that led to the group combusting due to the other two not getting on with her. Eddie and Chyna weren’t officially Faces yet at this stage, but they are the most fun of the four in this programme so they have essentially become babyface by default and would be firmly on the Face side of things once the summer began.
Malenko and Saturn team up to put a whupping on Eddie in the early going, seeing as they hate him more than they hate each other, but that’s obviously not going to last, and indeed they soon start going at it as well. The actual wrestling in this one is really good, but the lack of a pure babyface means it suffers a bit when it comes to crowd reactions. Eddie looks great for the most part, getting some hot moves and drawing some cheers as a result.
All three guys do some very nice stuff in this actually, with Malenko’s offence having a great snap to it, especially as both Eddie and Saturn know exactly how to bump and sell for it in order to make it look good. Malenko even busts out the top rope gut buster at one stage, which has always been the coolest move in his arsenal. Sadly the crowd still doesn’t really get on board with the match, certainly not as much as they did in the opener.
They do some really cool sequences, such as Malenko and Saturn stealing one another’s submission moves, but the crowd doesn’t seem to recognise the significance of it and don’t really react. I got a kick out of Malenko going for the Rings of Saturn on Saturn himself though. Chyna does indeed prove to be decisive, as she takes out Saturn with a lead pipe hidden behind some roses and then trips Malenko so that Eddie can get a roll up for the win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: EDDIE GUERRERO
Cracking action, but the crowd didn’t really bite
Eddie and Chyna mug for the camera following that, as Chyna just seemed to be having so much fun in this gimmick and it’s a shame they ended it in the autumn when it felt like it had some more mileage.
Meanwhile, Brisco is still trying to sneak his way to safety, with Lawler even whispering on commentary in a funny gag.
No DQ, Falls Count Anywhere
Shane McMahon Vs The Big Show
Shane got sick of Big Show being fun loving, so he started antagonising him, thus turning Show back into being a Big Nasty Barstool once again. Big Show has his song from the WWF Aggression CD here, but I’m not sure if that was the actual theme he was using at the time or if they just dubbed it in to try and shill the CD. This goes about exactly how it should do, as Big Show decimates Shane and flings him around for fun. Shane sells it all really well and the crowd is into the idea of Show giving him a good thrashing.
Shane has a plan to save himself from disaster though, which shows itself in the form of Big Boss Man, Test and Albert, who all run down at different points to try and help him. I like how they haven’t even attempted to portray Shane as any kind of a physical threat to Big Show. These days they’d probably have Shane actually cut Big Show off and work some heat for a bit before having Show make the comeback, which wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever but would allow a McMahon to look better than one of the wrestlers.
Big Show manages to fend off the hired help for a bit and drags Shane down to the entrance way, where it looks like he’s going to finally put Shane away for good with a piece of the stage itself. Shane manages to get one desperation shot to stun Show momentarily, which opens the window for Test and Albert to come over and beat Big Show down long enough that Shane can ram a metal case into him for two. Big Show keeps coming, looking like an unstoppable monster in the process, but Bull Buchanan becomes the FOURTH man to help Shane, and that ends up being decisive as Shane traps Show’s leg under a speaker and then hits him with a cinderblock for three.
WINNER: SHANE MCMAHON
They did everything they could to protect Big Show there, with it eventually taking Six people (Trish was out there helping too) to finish him off, and even then it was only because they were able to trap Big Show under something first
People rush out to help Big Show after that and carry him to the back. Big Show would be back a few weeks later where he (brace yourself) turned heel and joined Shane’s side. Yeah, Big Show doing a nonsensical Heel turn, how unexpected. It didn’t end up going anywhere though, as the WWF was unhappy with Show for a litany of reasons and sent him down to OVW for the rest of the year.
Brisco is still on the run, and asks the refs if he can hide with them in their room. They welcome him in, but they play a prank on him and he storms off.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels are chatting backstage and are being very chummy together.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Chris Benoit Vs Chris Jericho
Jericho gave Benoit a wicked shiner, so an angered Benoit challenged him to this match so they could pit their respective submission holds against one another. We see that on the Smackdown prior to this event, Hardcore Holly destroyed Benoit’s knee with a chair, although not before blasting him with a disgusting chair shot to the head that probably didn’t help Benoit’s eventual pickled brain very much. As a result Benoit has a bad wheel here tonight. Jericho is also walking wounded due to a bad shoulder.
This one is good action right from the off, as these two had excellent chemistry together and they’ve only got 13 minutes to work with here, so they mostly throw caution to the wind and go all out to have the most hard hitting submission based match they can. We see that Val Venis is watching on, as he’s apparently challenged the winner for a match on Raw. Both men go after the opposing wrestlers injured appendage, with the metal ring steps coming into play for both of them as well.
We of course get the stiff trading of knife edge chops between the two men, with everything having a good snap to it. It’s become a bit harder to watch Benoit work these more vicious matches since his death, but there’s no doubting that he was excellent at playing the meticulous brutal technician-striker role. The selling is on point for both men too, with Jericho in particular really getting across the idea that his shoulder is in a great deal of pain, especially when Benoit targets it with a slew of punishing submission holds like arm bars.
We see that Hardcore Holly is watching too, as the IC Title division had a decent collection of solid workers at the time. Jericho gets a chance to show off his own vicious streak at one stage by taking off Benoit’s knee brace, which is legal due to the match having No DQ’s. This also allows Jericho to bust out a version of The Tarantula at one stage, with the lack of rules meaning that the ref has no authority to break it up. Benoit then gets a chance to sell, and shows that he’s no slouch in that department either.
The heat for this hasn’t been quite what you’d want it to be, owing to the fact that a lot of the submission moves used aren’t really over with the crowd outside of the two men’s finisher holds, so a lot of the teases fall flat. The crowd does pop big when it looks like Jericho is going to get THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB, but Benoit clocks Jericho with the knee brace from earlier and locks Jericho in the cross face, which leads to Jericho passing out after a brave struggle.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRIS BENOIT
This was two guys battering the fudge out of one another and the finish worked really well because it made Benoit look vicious and dangerous as a submission wrestler whilst also making Jericho look gutsy for refusing to tap.
Benoit won’t release the hold at first following the match, but a group of referees eventually manage to pull him off. Jericho gets to leave to his music following that, with his pride intact even though he got beat.
Michael Cole interviews Brisco backstage. Cole doesn’t want to challenge for the belt, but some concession guys sneak up and plan to win it. Brisco sees it coming though and attacks them before they can pull the trigger.
Meanwhile, Rock throws some threats Shawn’s way if he doesn’t call the match fairly later on.
Double Tables Match
Road Dogg and X-Pac w/ Tori Vs The Dudley Boyz
Tori gave Bubba a bit of his own medicine by splashing him through a table, so now The Dudleyz want to make her pay. I do love the Run-DMC entrance song for the D-X team and it remains one of my favourite Attitude Era themes. This one is Double Tables because you have to put BOTH members of the opposition team through tables to win, as opposed to just one of them.
This would fall into one of my least favourite match types, as the two teams actually work a standard tag match with tags and whatnot, complete with the referee enforcing the tag rules, which makes no sense as it’s a table match and those matches have no rules. The Dudleyz Vs Hardyz match from Royal Rumble 2000 is the way I think you need to do one of these matches, and they didn’t even try to work it as a tag match and just did a brawl right from the off.
Instead we get The Dudleyz doing a babyface shine and then D-X working some heat on D-Von, which just feels so out of place to me in a match like this. All four guys work the formula well for the most part, but I just don’t think the formula is actually relevant in a match with stipulations such as this. D-Von eventually gets the hot tag and that leads to Bubba doing a good segment with the Heels, as everyone knows exactly how to do a hot tag, in that Bubba waits in the middle and the Heels come to him to get bumped rather than Bubba chasing them around like a headless chicken.
D-Von is the first to go through a table, as Road Dogg slams him through one from atop the ring steps outside of the ring, as the match has now finally descended into the wild brawl it should have been all along. Bubba soon fires back for The Dudleyz though by powerbombing X-Pac through a table back inside, which leads to Bubba and Road Dogg both attempting to fling the referee through a table in the corner because he’s trying to spoil their fun. The table doesn’t break though, which means I have to post this.
Sorry, but it just had to be done guys. Anyway, with the ref out cold we get Road Dogg going through a table, but of course there’s no referee to call it. Bubba has no one to blame but himself there. Gerald Brisco joins us to help out the D-X team, whilst Bubba grabs hold of Tori in preparation for giving her a good tableising. Brisco rescues her though and X-Pac gives Bubba an X-Factor through the table and that’s enough for the win.
WINNERS: ROAD DOGG & X-PAC
Once they finally gave up on having a tag team match and just went into the brawl it became fun, and the finish protected The Dudleyz whilst also delaying Tori’s tableisation for a later date so that they could build up to it some more
Brisco gets 3D’ed through a table following that so The Dudleyz can pop the crowd and get their heat back.
We get a promo video with creepy girls, which was a tease for the return of a certain somebody. Not to spoil it just yet, but Kid Rock’s “American Badass” plays once the video ends.
Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels
Champ: The Rock Vs Triple H
Rock beat Triple H at Backlash for the belt, but it was to only be a momentary reprieve for the fan base, as they quickly decided to get it back on Triple H. This has always been a result that I’ve questioned, mainly because Rock won it back a month later anyway, so the quick fire change really made no sense and took a bit of lustre off the belt for nothing. Thankfully Rock was such a huge star that losing the belt so quickly didn’t hurt him too much, but he has always been kind of amazingly bullet proof in regards to doing high profile jobs.
The McMahon Family actually joins Triple H for his entrance, but he requests that they leave so that he can do this himself. The crowd is really jazzed for this one, with even the opening lock up getting a pop. There was some concern at the time as to whether these two guys would be capable of going for an hour and keeping it interesting. What they smartly do is split the hour up into different segments with the falls put in to break one section of the match up from the other. As a result they are telling a story for the full hour and hit story beats throughout it, which keeps it interesting.
The opening section is both men working a standard match, with work on the mat and liberal use of holds. This not only helps both men pace themselves but it also allows them to show that they can each hold their own against the other. The work is good, owing to Rock’s penchant for bumping and selling along with Triple H’s solid mechanical skills. This segment comes to an end quite abruptly, as Rock catches Triple H with the Rock Bottom on about the 11 minute mark to go 1-0 up.
The nice thing about that opening fall is that by giving Rock the pin in the length of what a normal match would be, you establish that he’s a deserving Champion. However, because of the stipulations the match must go on, which allows Triple H to smartly roll outside so that he can’t be pinned again. Following a quick fight outside, Rock actually controls things back inside and works over the leg, eventually busting out a Figure Four in the process. I think that was actually Rock’s ground leg finisher in WWF No Mercy for the N64 actually.
Triple H manages to fight back and beats Rock up outside the ring before going for pins back inside the ring. Triple H has been working so hard here that his elbow pads have started slipping down his arms, which is akin to Big Bossman’s shirt becoming gradually more undone the further into a gruelling effort he goes. Rock continues to show off his better than you’d think technical acumen though by applying further leg holds, which makes sense as he’s leading and can afford to bide his time. However, just as he won the first fall out of nowhere, Triple H does similar with the second by getting a Pedigree to even it up at 1-1 with about 26 minutes gone.
I like how that second fall mirrored the first one, as it shows that both men are evenly matched foes with powerful finishing moves that are capable of catching the other at any time. Rock is still groggy after that but, rather than rolling outside to get his bearings like the heel Triple H did, he keeps fighting like a good babyface and it costs him when Triple H catches him with a sloppy small package to make it 1-2. Now that he is leading, Triple H smartly takes the fight outside so that Rock can’t immediately reply with a flash pin of his own. Hey look, an example of Triple H actually being cerebral that doesn’t involve him clocking someone with a weapon (Although I’m sure we’ll get there)
Having the falls really helps the match flow better due to each one almost being the end to a chapter in the overall story, which is something the Ironman match from WrestleMania XII was lacking. Rock does manage to fight back during the brawl outside the ring now that he has his bearings back, only for Triple H to deliver a piledriver back inside to go 1-3 up. This teaches the crowd that moves which aren’t traditional finishers for either man can lead to a fall due to both men being so worn down. Therefore, any big move can conceivably be a fall now, which keeps the crowd on their toes. It’s a smart way to structure a match.
The score now gives Rock a mountain to climb, which works for a babyface. Jim Ross is great on commentary, putting both men over as studs battling it out. Triple H tries a sleeper next, but Rock manages to fight out of it and catches him with a DDT, which becomes the next non-finisher move to get a pin to make in 2-3 to a great pop at the 40 minute mark. Rock drags Triple H outside next, which Lawler attributes to his tiredness leading to him not entirely thinking straight, in a good bit of commentary that helps avoid making the wrestlers look dumb. However, that ends badly for Rock when Triple H brains him with a steel chair back inside to make it 3-3 thanks to a DQ. However, in one of the smarter moments in Triple H’s career, he simply just pins Rock straight after to restore his 3-4. Thus, he’s no worse off but Rock has now suffered a lot of damage. That’s brilliant!
Rock is bleeding following that as we hit the 45 minute mark. Triple H goes back to the sleeper hold again, and this time it works to put him up 3-5. Some of these falls have been fantastic, as they’ve subverted expectations and caught the crowd out more than once. Shawn and Triple H have a bit of a row when he won’t let go of the sleeper, which pops the crowd after a real downer of a fall and gives Rock time to recover. Every time Rock hits a big move of any kind now the crowd goes nuts, as they have been conditioned to expect a fall at any time due to the previous falls.
We head outside again, where Triple H tries to put Rock through the announce table, but Rock fights him off and then Pedigree’s him onto the table to win the fall by count out to make it 4-5. The McMahon’s decide to join us now that Rock is within 1 fall of tying it up, but they are unable to stop him delivering a People’s Elbow, which leaves it at 5-5 with 58 minutes gone. DX join The McMahons at ringside, which leads to Shawn getting bumped and the heels storming in to beat up Rock.
That however is Undertaker’s cue to return with his new “Biker Taker” gimmick. He destroys DX and The McMahons, but Shawn wakes up just in time to see him drop Triple H with a Tombstone Piledriver, which leads to Shawn calling for a DQ to give Triple H the 5-6 win. Personally, I would have had the score at 5-4 at the end, with Taker’s interference causing it to be 5-5. That way you get around Triple H losing whilst also allowing Rock to retain, and then you can do the Triple Threat match between the three at King of the Ring, with Rock being mad at Undertaker that he ruined his chance to defeat Triple H once and for all.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: TRIPLE H
Another classic between these two. Possibly the best 60 Minute Ironman match I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those matches that truly is “must-see”. It has good wrestling, fantastic storytelling, a good crowd and big surprise return for the closing section. Fantastic stuff!
The crowd doesn’t really know what to make of all that, as they are clearly happy to see Taker back but also gutted that Rock lost.
Based purely on match quality this is a really good show, with nothing being bad and the Main Event being one of the best matches the WWF had from this particular hot streak. All the Heels winning is a bit of a downer, but most of it led to something as Rock got his belt back at King of the Ring and The Dudleyz finally managed to get some revenge on Tori too, so it was an instance where drawing the HEAT actually led to the fans getting something back in return, so it’s easier to be lenient on it.
If the Heels winning five matches on a six match show sounds like too much of a downer for you then I totally get it, but if you do decide to watch this one then you’ll at least get a great wrestling show to enjoy if nothing else.
If you’d like to get in touch to suggest shows to review, ask questions, share your love of those wonderful Royal Blue Toffees, or just generally chat the grapple game, then feel free to hit me up at [email protected]