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WWF No Mercy 2000 10/22/2000

October 22, 2000
Pepsi Arena
Albany, New York
Attendance:14,342
Buy Rate: 1.31
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

1) The Dudley Boys win a Table Match Elimination Challenge
Eliminations:

Too Cool defeats Lo Down in 3:54
Raven (Scott Levy) & Tazz (Peter Senerca) defeat Too Cool (7:41)
The Dudley Boys defeat Raven & Tazz in (9:38)
The Dudley Boys defeat Right to Censor in (14:38)

Fun Fact:
Lo Down is a fairly new team consisting of D-Lo Brown and Chaz, formerly Mosh the Headbanger. Neither man had much direction, so in July 2000, they were put together to see if they could gain some momentum as a unit. They got a minor push, mainly on the lower tier shows, and actually gelled pretty well as a team and picked up a few wins heading into this show, including one over Too Cool.

Scott:
The opener is another tag team pile-on. The Dudleys haven’t sniffed the titles since Wrestlemania, but they still are the top badasses to the fans. Now, what the fans wanted to see, they got: plenty of tables and heel teams losing. Too Cool opens with a win over the joke team that is Lo-Down; poor D-Lo Brown. Raven & Tazz, a fresh heel team stemming from last month’s show, beat Too Cool in the second match. Although they were supposed to be heels, they did get pretty good face pops from the upstate NY fans who appreciated their days in ECW. They then lose to the Dudleys, who continue their feud with the RTC, finishing off Bull Buchanan and the Goodfather to win the match. Not much here, just a chance for the Dudleys to get a big pop while waiting for their chance to regain gold. Grade: 2.5

Justin:
Our next PPV outing kicks off with a multi-team match that served its purpose and got the crowd fired up while getting a slew of guys on the card. The action was non-stop and the gimmick allowed for a fast pace. The Dudleys were clearly the most over team, but Too Cool and Raven & Tazz also garnered some genuine face heat. Raven & Tazz were an intriguing team and could have really been a solid heel team in the division if they had been kept together, but they will soon be split up. Lo Down debuted in the summer and was kept mostly on the weekend shows but they actually became quite a good little team. However, similar to teams like the Islanders, Rougeaus and Powers of Pain in the late 80s, Lo Down came around at a time when the tag division was overloaded with great teams and workers so they didn’t stand much of a chance. You would think the same for Goodfather & Buchanan as well, but the bookers seemed intent on pushing the entire RTC, so the team will actually fare quite well throughout the fall. They make it to the end here and nearly steal the win, but the Dudleys get the victory. Overall, the match did what it was supposed to but kind of petered off at the end after a hot start. Grade: 2.5

*** Rikishi is seen waiting near the entrance with a sledgehammer, awaiting the arrival of Steve Austin. ***

2) T&A & Trish Stratus wrestle WWE Women’s Champion Lita & APA to a no contest

Fun Fact: Lita won her first WWF Women’s Championship on August 21, 2000 when she defeated Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley in a red hot title match.

Scott:
T&A & Trish Stratus were slated to take on the new WWE Women’s Champion Lita & APA here, but match is scrapped when APA is attacked beforehand, and it almost becomes 3-on-1, but no biggie. Grade: N/A

Justin:
After Lita makes her entrance, we cut backstage and see that T&A and Trish have laid out the APA, which would prevent them from making it to the ring. Trish then leads her charges out to face off with Lita, but she is saved by the Hardy Boys, who clean house. This was just a way to further the Lita/Hardys relationship and add some additional heat to T&A. Grade: N/A

*** Edge and Christian have a running nuts joke with Lillian Garcia. They also let Lillian know that they decided to bow out of the Table Invitational due to food poisoning from the aforementioned nuts. They let everyone know that they will be rooting on Los Conquistadors in their tag title match tonight. ***

*** Rikishi is now outside the arena with a sledgehammer. ***

3) Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) defeats X-Pac (Sean Waltman) in a Steel Cage match when Jericho escapes the cage at 10:38

Scott: The rematch from Unforgiven is a cage affair, which ten years ago would have been pretty cool. However in the age of Cells, this is just another match. It’s a good match, as these two seem to always have good chemistry. DX is definitely dead, as X-Pac wears silver and black instead of green. I don’t quite remember why they were still feuding, but it led to a decent cage match. X-Pac jumped Jericho after the match at Unforgiven, so maybe that’s why they kept it going. X-Pac was one of the most exciting mid-carders during the beginning of the Attitude Era in 1998 and 1999. However, once the Radicalz, Jericho and Kurt Angle came on the scene, X-Pac was quickly lapped. Jericho wins and moves on to his “treading water” phase. X-Pac is officially a low mid-carder. Grade: 3

Justin: After putting on a good match last month, Jericho and X-Pac go out and do it again inside the confines of a steel cage. Jericho hasn’t had much going on since losing to Kurt Angle, Triple H and Chris Benoit in consecutive PPV events, so they pair him up with another wrestler who was floating aimlessly and send them out to wrestle. X-Pac continued to be a thorn in Jericho’s side since losing cleanly to Y2J at Unforgiven. He even teamed up with Chris Benoit to beat Jericho and Triple H on Raw and then followed that up by laying a beating on Jericho after Y2J he had a match with Eddie Guerrero the next week. The feud was basic as was the match and payoff. Both men worked quite well together and worked stiffly, which is always appreciated in a cage match. One impressive spot was when Chris locked X-Pac in the Walls of Jericho on the top of the cage. Chris escapes the steel and puts this mini-feud to bed as he looks to move on to his storyline. X-Pac will continue to bounce from feud to feud before starting up a new stable as the New Year dawns. Grade: 3

4) Val Venis (Sean Morely) & Steven Richards (Michael Manna) defeat Billy Gunn (Monty Sopp) & Chyna (Joanie Laurer) when Val pins Chyna after Eddie Guerrero hits Chyna with a lead pipe at 7:16

Fun Fact: On Sunday Night Heat before the show, Eddie Guerrero claimed he had an injury and told Commissioner Foley that he wouldn’t be able to participate in his Intercontinental title defense against Billy Gunn. Billy was awarded the title match on the final Raw before the PPV after Eddie got in his face and attacked him on that night. Eddie seemed to be hurt in his match with Jericho earlier that night. Later that week on Smackdown, the RTC intervened in a face-off that Chyna and Gunn were having with Eddie, who had hobbled out on crutches. The RTC claimed that Chyna never paid for baring herself in Playboy and for her total disregard for morality and decency. So, finally, during Heat, Eddie convinced Foley that he was still hurting and was in no condition to compete. Foley agreed to let him out of the match, but decreed that Gunn would now team up with Chyna to battle Steven Richards and Val Venis on the PPV. Mick hits a funny line at the end of the segment, asking Val to get him a Toasted Almond, riffing on Val’s all white outfit

Fun Fact II:
Billy Gunn had been out of action with an injured shoulder since No Way Out. Billy returned on the October 3 Heat when he attacked X-Pac during a match against Test. Gunn attacked X-Pac again later that week on Smackdown, laying him out with the Fameasser. On the 10/9 Raw, Billy saved Chyna from an RTC beatdown after she finally found out about Eddie’s cheating, courtesy GTV. Billy’s first televised match came on the 10/16 Raw when he lost by DQ to X-Pac.

Scott:
Eddie and Chyna’s romance has ended, and Eddie gets the last word in this match. Eddie was upset that Chyna posed nude for Playboy, and Chyna saw Eddie on G-TV cheating on her with two chicks in a shower. So, Chyna gets her old DX buddy, “The One” Billy Gunn, who has the same music, new t-shirt, but is the same crappy wrestler. Chyna was really on a roll with Eddie by her side, but now that storyline ran its course, she now reaches the final chapter of her WWF career, which goes back and forth, ebbs and flows. After getting off to a slow start with an elbow injury in February, Eddie really went on a tear during the year, and held his end of the Radicalz bargain. This match was less than average, with the RTC winning with help from the nefarious Latino Heat. Grade: 1.5

Justin:
This impromptu match is Billy Gunn’s first PPV outing since he lost the tag titles to the Dudleys at No Way Out. The main story within the match would be the RTC working over the surgically repaired shoulder of Gunn. Chyna, now single and heartbroken, does a pretty good job here and is actually still pretty over. The match was basic and pretty standard, but was pretty enjoyable, thanks to the storyline that had been woven in. Eddie gets involved in the climax and shows that he had feigned his injury all along. He smacks Chyna with a bouquet of roses that had concealed a lead pipe, giving the RTC another trip to the pay window. Eddie has been rolling along, but his hot streak and title run are on borrowed time and both would see an unexpected end in the near future. Grade: 2.5

*** Triple H is focused on his own in the dressing room, and Stephanie comes in and begs unsuccessfully to be at ringside during his match with Chris Benoit. ***

5) Rikishi (Solofa Fatu) and Steve Austin (Steve Williams) wrestle to a no-contest in a No Holds Barred match when the match is stopped at 10:15 after the cops arrest Austin

Fun Fact: The moment finally arrived on the 10/9 Raw in Anaheim, when Rikishi, after he and Rock defeated Kane and Kurt Angle in a tag match, was cornered by Foley and finally admitted it was him that ran down the Rattlesnake in the Joe Louis Arena garage at the 1999 Survivor Series. After weeks of accusations and frustrations, Foley finally came through in his promise to find the attacker. Rikishi says he did it for the Rock, and the family of Samoans. Austin had been running down the roster, interfering in matches and stunning guys all over the place to find out who did it. Rock was not too happy to be implicated in the attack, but Rikishi said he did it to help Rock win the World title that night. The case would take another twist in the following weeks, but more on that in our next review. Here is a recap of the reveal (courtesy the impeccable CRZ): The celebration is short-lived, however, as Rikishi’s music is interrupted by COMMISSIONER McFOLEY’s. Foley’s gaze has been fixed on the Rock ever since he emerged from the curtain. “I’ve come out here in the past – I’ve made wild accusations – but that’s not going to happen tonight. I promised to deliver the person who ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin, and I will! Fortunately, my announcement will conclude what has undoubtedly been the worst week of my professional career. Unfortunately, all of the evidence points…to you, Rock. It was your rental car that ran down Stone Cold – only your fingerprints, only your DNA were found inside the car – hell, a pair of the Rock’s sunglasses were found inside the glove box. And as Linda McMahon herself stated, no one else had as much to gain by Stone Cold’s departure, did they, Rock? No! With Stone Cold out of the way, who sold the T-shirts? Who picked up the media appearances? Who’s book went to #1? Who showed up on television? Who got movie roles? You have not fooled me, Rock. And therefore, right here in Anaheim, California…in the case of who ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin at Survivor Series, Mick Foley finds the Rock….not guilty. But if you didn’t do it, who did? And I’m going to tell you who did…he did. I hadn’t quite figured it out until Scotty 2 Hotty said something about hanging out backstage with Rikishi – hell, Rikishi, you weren’t even part of Survivor Series – you hadn’t even debuted on television. Who else is close enough with the Rock to go inside his dressing room? Who else is close enough with the Rock to reach inside his bag and get his keys? The mirrors and the seat were configurated to fit not just a large man but a very large man. That very large man is YOU…the only thing I don’t know is WHY.” Rikishi slowly takes the mic. “Okay. I did it.” Crowd goes nuts. Rock gives a look of shock. “In case you didn’t hear…I admit…I did it. I ran over Austin. And you ask why? I didn’t do it for me..no, I didn’t do it for me. I did it for….the Rock. You see, Rock, I took your keys out of your bag that night when I went to go check in the hotel. And when I jumped into the car, I saw Stone Cold Steve Austin standing in the middle of the parking lot all alone. And suddenly, everything flashed right through my eyes. You see, the WWF has always been all about the Great White Hope. And I’m talking about such people as Buddy Rogers…people like Bruno Sammartino…people like Bob Backlund…people like Hulk Hogan….and now, people like Stone Cold Steve Austin. You see, the WWF has always let the island boys in…but, we were always held back. Now, listen to me, Rock, and I really want you to listen to me. And I’m talkin’ about people like your grandfather – a well-respected man, High Chief Peter Maivia, coulda became a WWF Champion, but no – they held him back. People like Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka…coulda been a WWF Champion, but no – they held HIM back. And people like Afa and Sika…Samu…and the Tonga Kid…they were ALL held back. So you see, Rock, I ran Stone Cold over, and I did this for you. I don’t expect any favours from you, Rock – no, I don’t expect no favours or no payback. Before, I want you people to know all around the world, and set the record straight that the Rock did not have a damn thing to do with this. I take full responsibility. And you know what, Rock, just you being who you are today is good enough for me and our people. And before I go, one more time. I RAN OVER STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. And to tell the truth….I’d do it again.” Rikishi’s music plays…and he walks off. Ross: “I can’t believe this – Rikishi – the assailant – Rikishi – the perpetrator that ran over Stone Cold – ya son of a bitch, ya ran over Austin…what is Rikishi thinking? He almost took a man’s livelihood away! Took a man’s living from him! How is Austni supposed to take care of his family! That son of a bitch is gonna have hell to pay – I promise you – I swear to you – that on SmackDown! Thursday night, Austin is gonna gut and quarter Rikishi!” Out last look is of Foley looking up the ramp at Rikishi…and Rock looking at the ground. Credits are up and that last WWF logo means we’re OUT.

Scott:
The return of the Rattlesnake. After months of rehabilitation from serious neck surgery, and appearances in April to help Rock win back the World Title, the man who was the big shot from 1997-1999 was back in his saddle. I remember the funny “Whodunit” storyline on WWF.com that put up twelve suspects that could have run Austin down last November. From Triple H to Rock to Shane to Billy Gunn, everyone was a suspect. Rikishi admitted to the World Champion Rock that he hit Austin because all the Samoans were being held down. Huh? Sure it made sense, but you wondered if that was strong enough of a reason to end the storyline. Of course they knew Rikishi couldn’t hold this huge storyline by himself. So, the wheels were in motion for who paid Rikishi to do it. Remember, Rikishi wasn’t in the WWF at the time of Survivor Series yet. It really didn’t make any sense for him to do it alone, but more on that in our next review. Here, Austin wants a piece of the driver. They brawl around the arena, but it’s evident that Stone Cold is not at 100%. He’s slow, plodding, and not his normal hard-driving self. Eventually they get to the parking lot, where Austin parks him against a wall. He plans to run him down, but the cops come and arrest him. How does Austin not win this match? Why protect Rikishi? I don’t get it. The storyline is still incomplete, just like I feel after this match. Grade: 2.5

Justin:
A solid brawl that was totally carried by hatred and crowd heat. To start the match, Austin is still not in the building, so Rikishi comes down and is then joined by Commissioner Foley. Rikishi wants the easy forfeit win, but Foley keeps stalling for time. Finally, the glass breaks and Austin drives his way into the arena and right up to the ring and the war starts. The match had a good energy, despite Austin clearly not being in his usual wrestling shape, but that was to be expected after he had been out of the ring for nearly a year. After being pretty high on the card for most of the year, Rikishi does look a bit out of place being involved in such a heavy and deep storyline. I think they should have switched up his wrestling gear to differentiate his attitude a bit. He does bust it here though, and also delivers a great blade job while taking a solid ass kicking. The match was exactly what it needed to be: a non stop brawl that was mainly dominated by Austin. As the match wound down, Austin loaded Rikishi into the back of his truck and drove him out to the building entrance. He yanks Rikishi out and sits him against a cement wall. Austin hops back in his truck and is looking for pure revenge. The tension of the moment is sold well by JR and the King as they plead for Austin to think about what he is doing. Austin couldn’t care less what any consequences are and he revs up the engine and guns it, but just as he gains steam, a police car skids in front and takes the brunt of the accident. More cops swarm immediately and lock the cuffs on Austin, sparing Rikishi’s livelihood. Rikishi was beaten from pillar to post, but the match doesn’t kill him too badly, as it was exactly what would be expected after a year of frustration from Austin. Scott makes a valid point about the lack of ending, but Rikishi had just turned heel and was clearly being lined up for a feud with the Rock, so you can’t totally bury him right out of the gate. He had been protected fairly well as a face and needed to continue to look strong for the coming months. After ten months on the sidelines, Steve Austin returns to the ring with a stiff brawl and gets a modicum of revenge. Grade: 3

6) William Regal (Darren Mathews) defeats Naked Mideon (Dennis Knight) to retain WWF European Title with a neckbreaker at 6:11

Fun Fact: This is Regal’s first PPV appearance since his double-countout match with X-Pac at the 1998 Survivor Series. He was the “man’s man” then, but is now the classy English goodwill ambassador. In reality Regal was suffering through a bad drug problem, so he was taken off TV and sent to rehab in January 1999, and was eventually released from his contract in April. He was rehired by WCW in 1999, but pretty much floated aimlessly until being released in February 2000. He was resigned by the WWF and sent to their developmental territory in Memphis to get back into shape. During that time, he had a legendary match with Chris Benoit at the Brian Pillman Memorial show and was quickly called up to the main roster afterwards. On the 9/18 Raw, Regal appeared on WWF TV for the first time in almost two years. As Raw returned from commercial, Regal was seated at a table in the center of the ring. He let us know who he was and told the crowd that he was there to teach them proper dining etiquette. And he did just that until Chris Jericho appeared and destroyed Regal’s segment and table. It was good to see Regal back on TV, in good health and at the top of his game.

Fun Fact II:
Regal defeated Al Snow on the 10/16 Raw in Detroit to win the European Title. It was his first singles title since defeating Ultimo Dragon for the WCW TV Title in April 1997.

Fun Fact III:
This is Dennis Knight’s final PPV appearance in any capacity (Phineas, Southern Justice, Mideon). His final record is 5-17. The five wins were at: Survivor Series 1996, Badd Blood 1997, Survivor Series 1997, No Way Out 1998, and Backlash 1999.

Scott:
Regal makes his first PPV appearance in almost two years as a champion. He proudly, as a heel, carries the European title, and easily defeats Naked Mideon. It’s nice to see Regal return, as we all know he was a great wrestler but needed to get rid of his demons. Vince paid for his rehab, and now he’s paying dividends. Mideon isn’t naked thank god, as he’s wearing an Undertaker shirt, and getting decent pops from the fans which was unusual to see. I don’t have much more to say. It was a pretty pedestrian match. Grade: 2

Justin:
William Regal is back in the house and it is good to see. After reading his biography, you get a glimpse into the horror that Regal experienced due to drug and alcohol addiction. He was somebody that was close to death but found a way to turn his life around and get another crack at the big time. He is now placed back into a role that he best suited for: the snobby, brash Englishman who looked down at Americans. Mideon was also given a bizarre gimmick, one in which he wrestled and ran around the arena in nothing but a fanny pack. It wasn’t the most visually pleasant gimmick, but he did get a bit over using it. Here, Regal had gone to Mick Foley and informed him that he wouldn’t wrestle Mideon if he was not dressed, so Mideon is wearing a shirt and pants, but he would shed those as the match went on and finished things off in his trademark fanny pack and nothing else. The most disturbing part may have been the kiss Mideon planted on Regal after stripping down to his fanny pack. The crowd was in and out of this one and the highlight was clearly Regal’s reactions and expressions throughout. The finish was funny too as Regal was about to lock in the Regal Stretch, but realized that meant he would have to lie across the naked Mideon, so he snaps him down with a neckbreaker to finish instead. Grade: 1.5

7) Los Conquistadors defeat the Hardy Boys to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Dos pins Matt Hardy with the Unprettier at 10:52

Fun Fact: The night after Unforgiven, Mick Foley gave Edge & Christian one last chance at the tag team titles in a ladder match. The Hardy Boys won and Foley decreed that there would be a new team contending for the titles. The career 80s jobbers made a return on the 10/9 Raw, interfering in a Hardys title defense against Lo-Down. On the 10/16 Raw, the Conquistadors picked up a win on the Dudleys and the proceeded to win a tag team battle royal one week later to earn the title shot at No Mercy. The Conquistadors were then greeted and congratulated backstage by Edge & Christian, which temporarily quelled the rumors that Edge & Christian were under the masks. The original Conquistadors were comprised of Jose Estrada, Sr. and Jose Luis Rivera.

Scott:
The continuing growth of Edge & Christian as bona fide heels is here, as they disguise themselves as career jobbers to unseat the Hardys as Tag Team champs. The whole shtick was that the winners of this match would face Edge & Christian on the next night’s RAW. So, if Edge & Christian win here, then the Conquistadors would forfeit the titles for not showing up. Well, the next night the Conquistadors would show up for their match and the storyline would take another intriguing twist, but we will elaborate next month. The match itself was alright, but not up to the standards of last month’s gem. Grade: 2.5

Justin:
A unique match here that brings the Conquistadors all time PPV record to 1-1. Edge & Christian had been banned from receiving another tag title shot, so they turned to desperate measures. Their antics under the hoods were pretty good, including yelling a Tito Santana “Arriba!” in a backstage interview and then by chatting it up with the Spanish Announce Team before the match. The match is a bit choppy as Edge & Christian had to work within the gimmick and couldn’t really get into their usual style. JR and Lawler were pretty funny here as JR keeps harping on the true identities of the Conquistadors and the King keeps dancing around it. After some pretty good action, Matt is finally able to tear the mask off Dos, but he has a second mask underneath to prevent the reveal. Dos then hooks Matt with the Unprettier and picks up the win. Later in the night, we see Edge & Christian talking up the title change and telling the world that they will take on the champions the next night on Raw. While this wasn’t up to the usual fare between these teams, it was a fun little storyline used to mix things up and keep the feud going. Grade: 2.5

8) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Chris Benoit with a Pedigree at 18:42

Fun Fact: This started on the 9/25 Raw, which was the first on TNN, when Chris Benoit headbutted Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley after Benoit lost a title match to the Rock thanks to interference from the Game. The next week Benoit would cost Triple H a #1 contender’s match against Kurt Angle. The two superstars would go at each other in the coming weeks to lead up to this and Benoit would eventually injure Hunter’s arm.

Scott:
Many wrestling fans who saw Benoit and the Game battle in 2004 and 2005 thought they never met in the ring before the World Title triple threat match at Wrestlemania XX. Alas, they met in this war almost four years before. There’s something about Chris Benoit that brings the best out of anybody. At this time Triple H didn’t need carrying as much as he may need now, but he and Benoit seem to always bring the best out of each other. As for backstory, Triple H went from Kurt Angle to Benoit after they screwed each other out of the World title and Benoit messed with Stephanie, but it didn’t matter. They battered the crap out of each other, with sick suplexes and plenty of reversals to their finishers. Triple H powered out of the Crossface four separate times. Benoit avoided the Pedigree on multiple occasions. Since Benoit was the bigger heel coming out of the Rock feud, Triple H was getting major face pops. It’s evident they dropped the ball on switching sides at Unforgiven. The psychology was off the charts, and the crazy counter maneuvers make this a lost gem. Benoit leaves the main event scene for a while, while Triple H embarks on his strangest but most intense storyline yet. Grade: 4

Justin:
A super stiff and oft-forgotten classic that is buried on this show. Triple H was still pretty over after the whole love triangle fiasco and Benoit was still viewed as the workhorse machine that come so close to World gold but was not able to bring it home. The majority of the match saw each man pick a body part and meticulously work it over. Benoit worked over Triple H’s arm that he had injured prior to the match and Hunter would work the knee of the Rabid Wolverine. This would end up being the peak of Triple H as a top flight technical wrestler. He would still put on really good matches between now and his injury in 2001, but this is about it for this type of match against a guy like Benoit, and by that I mean a purely in ring technical war without the usual brawling spots mixed in. They just build a match based on hate and pure wrestling and get the crowd rocking into it. As the match wore on and Benoit dominated Hunter’s arm, the Game did a great job at selling the desperation he had to stay in the match and keep his chances of winning alive. The tide turned quite a bit towards the end, which I also liked. At the end, Stephanie finally made her appearance and the angle at the climax showed just how important his wife was to his success, which was a nice little touch. After surviving the battle throughout, Stephanie provides her husband that extra something needed to pull out the win as she smacks Benoit for the distraction. The two men trade off finisher attempts in a great finishing sequence and Hunter is finally able to hit the Pedigree for the win and major pop. Benoit adds another hard fought toss loss to his resume, but he put on a hell of a show here and Triple H matched him all the way through. Grade: 4.5

9) Kurt Angle defeats the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) in a No Disqualification match to win WWF World Title with the Olympic Slam at 21:39

Fun Fact: As mentioned above, Angle defeated Triple H, with help from Chris Benoit, on the 10/2 Raw to earn this title shot.

Fun Fact II:
The No DQ stipulation was added right as the match was beginning. The main crux of the match buildup was the emotional state of the Rock after the whole Rikishi/Steve Austin fiasco. Also, in the weeks leading up to this show, Kurt Angle officially announced that Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley was his new business partner. Stephanie had felt slighted by her husband’s recent demands to keep her away from ringside in his matches, so she turned to her old friend Kurt, who quickly made the deal.

Fun Fact III:
Earlier in the night on Heat, Angle edited together a hysterical “interview” where he was asking questions of the Rock. The clips used weren’t of the 2000 babyface Rock, but the 1998-99 heel Rock, who bad-mouthed Steve Austin at every turn. He used the clips to allude to the allegation that Rock was indeed behind the running down of Austin at last year’s Survivor Series. The interview was cut up Weird Al Yankovic style and became a quick cult classic that added to Angle’s legend.

Scott:
What a difference a year makes. At the 1999 Survivor Series Kurt Angle wrestled Meat. Eleven months later and he holds the richest prize in professional wrestling. Angle has had one of the most successful first years anyone has ever seen in professional wrestling. He’s won all the singles titles, except the Hardcore, and the King of the Ring. Now, he goes move for move with the champ. Rock has had his best year ever, with a solid world title reign, and big wins in multiple-wrestler matches. However, he gets screwed here as Triple H interferes and hits both competitors. Then Rikishi, who a few weeks before had admitted to Rock that he hit Stone Cold with the car the year before for him, tries to help. He was doing anything to get into Rock’s good graces, so he comes in to help, and accidentally avalanches and superkicks him instead of Angle. Not one mistake, but two. Angle dropped both with Olympic Slams, and Angle is the new WWF Champion. You can tell he was a favorite of the fans even though he was supposed to be a heel as he got a big pop when the three count went down. Angle’s crying after the match is priceless. He most certainly deserved it, and besides the interference, this was a great match. Angle and Rock would get together a few more times over the next few months including another classic in February. It’s time for a new main event force to test the waters of being on top. Grade: 4

Justin:
Well, our night is capped off with a great main event and a surprising title change. While Angle was on a roll and could be seen as a champion in the future, it wasn’t fully expected that he would taking the belt off the red-hot Rock so quickly. The match is a standard main event brawl that saw the men fight around the arena early on before hitting the ring for the bulk of the match. The crowd stayed into it the whole way through and really bit on some of the well crafted false finishes that peppered the closing moments. One of the key elements to the match was the importance of Stephanie on the outside, as she continuously distracted the Rock to give Kurt an advantage. This played up the story of Triple H taking Steph for granted while Angle used her to gain an advantage. Also adding to the intensity was the nasty cut Kurt got near his eye. In the final moments Steph interferes again and catches a Rock Bottom for her actions. This draws Triple H out to defend his wife by planting Rock with a Pedigree, indirectly helping his other nemesis in the process. After a few false finishes, Rikishi staggers out, covered in dried blood and bandages and slides into the ring. Twice he tries to take out Kurt but twice he lays out the Rock. Angle pops up and takes both Rikishi and Rock out with Angle Slams and picks up the upset and his first World title. Angle’s celebration and emotional exit from the ring was great stuff and it capped off the most impressive rookie year in WWF history. I know Scott mentioned all of the interference in a negative light, but I think it all fit within the elaborate storylines that had been involving. Stephanie proved her worth by aiding Kurt and Triple H took control when it was needed and defended his wife’s honor. The only complaint I would have is that Rikishi’s interference led directly to Rock losing, but I understand why they did it. They didn’t want Rock to be pinned clean and also wanted to add some more heat to Rikishi after he took a decisive beating earlier in the night, especially considering he would be slated to feud with Rock following the show. This was a great title match and it was refreshing to see somebody new take the throne. Grade: 4.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: When I first watched this show, I thought it wasn’t very good. It was part of the whole post-Summerslam doldrums, with boring storylines and mediocre matches. However, watching it a couple more times, it was really entertaining. Two four-star matches and the emergence of a new star make this show very important in hindsight. Kurt Angle is in a big spot right now. With Austin, Rock, Taker and Triple H all relatively healthy and in the mix, this is a very important time for Angle. He’s not just warming a spot over for people injured. He’s in the big time with the big players. A big win for the gold medalist and now is the proof in the pudding? We’ll see. Triple H proves he probably should have turned face. He fights a heel for the second straight month, but wants to stay a heel. I didn’t get the whole thing. Austin’s back, but his return match doesn’t live up to expectations. He’s very rusty, but he’ll shake it off. Rock’s title reign is over, but not his hot run of matches. This show is much more important than anyone remembers. We’re still in the doldrums of autumn, but not as bad as years past. Final Grade: B

Justin:
Well, color me surprised. I always remembered this show as somewhat bland an uneventful, but I have turned my opinion completely and now view this show somewhat of a hidden gem. It was littered with big time moments, great matches and solid angle development. It also had a great crowd throughout, which always makes a show seem that much better. There were no real dogs on this show as even the Regal match was perversely entertaining. While Austin’s return wasn’t picture perfect, it was still met with a tremendous crowd heat and gave Austin some nice momentum to start rolling with. Rikishi was hurt a bit, but he regains that lost heat in the main event when he cost Rock the strap. I also enjoyed watching the evolution of the Angle/Triple H/Stephanie storyline and the new dynamic that was added with Stephanie proving herself by helping Kurt win the belt. I still think they should have pulled the trigger on a Triple H turn but within weeks he becomes an even bigger heel instead. The Conquistadors gimmick was cute and a nice way to keep the tag title feud interesting and simmering on. The show on a whole was a really fun watch and never really felt like it was dragging or filling dead air. If you haven’t checked out this show in a while, take a look and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Final Grade: B+

MVP: Kurt Angle
Runner Up: Triple H & Chris Benoit
Non MVP: Billy Gunn & Chyna
Runner Up: Rikishi

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