WADE KELLER PODCAST - Royal Rumble preview with Sam Roberts
(Search "wade keller" to subscribe in podcast app or CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)
WWF NO WAY OUR 2000
FEBRUARY 27, 2000
HARTFORD, CONN. AT THE CIVIC CENTER
Report by Kelly Wells, PWTorch Specialist
Greetings, gang. My last Lookback at WrestleMania VI took a lot out of me, so I thought it might be a good idea to take a glance at a show that definitely delivered at the time – No Way Out 2000. Let’s see just how good it was, and just how sickening the violence in the main event looks with fresh eyes.
Cactus Jack-Triple H promo.
We come at you from Hartford Civic Center on Feb. 27, 2000. Jim Ross, with Jerry Lawler, says this will be the most emotionally charged night in the history of the WWE. Normally this blather is overblown, but it’s title vs. career in the main event, so it’s hard to quibble.
Kurt Angle is here! We get a “Kirk Angel” sign from a fan. This is when Jericho would just mispronounce the names of his enemies, and the new names would immediately get over. Angle is developing quickly on the stick, though this is cheap heat based on the loss of Hartford’s beloved Whalers. Chyna is introduced next, followed by Chris Jericho. Chyna and Jericho have, in the past month, formed an alliance following a feud. Those are some righteous mutton-chops on Jericho. Jericho gives Kurt Angle three new “I’s” – an idiot, an imbecile, and an ignoramus.
(1) Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho (champion) vs. Kurt Angle
Lockup. Angle with the early advantage, but he’s hiptossed. He returns with a slap and Jericho responds in kind. Clothesline from Jericho, and some chops. Angle baits Jericho into a drop-toehold into the bottom rope. Significant heat from the revved-up crowd. Angle is dumped. Springboard dropkick from Jericho keeps him outside. Jericho follows but Angle gets the advantage outside, as heels are oft wont to do. Referee Tim White, instead of counting, is out of the ring with them and just letting them do their thing. Jericho hits a quick moonsault off the steps before they head back in, and Angle crotches Jericho on the turnbuckle. Angle hits a belly-to-belly off the top for a two-count.
Angle with punches in the corner. Suplex gets two. Chinlock. Jericho escapes and hits a backbreaker for one. Belly-to-back suplex for Angle gets two. Chinlock again. Armbar takedown for two. Angle goes at Jericho in the corner. Jericho finally gets back into it with a spinning heel kick, then hits a big bulldog ride. Flying fist gets two. Angle goes for a huracanrana, blocked into a powerslam for two. Angle transitions into a cross-armbreaker and Jericho reaches the ropes. Angle hits the Olympic Slam out of nowhere (it was his finisher at this point) but it only gets two. Angle grabs the title and goes after Jericho out of frustration, but Jericho drops Angle into a Lion Tamer. Angle reaches the ropes and they head outside. Jericho beats Angle around the ring, but a face rake gives Angle the advantage. Angle goes for another title, but Jericho throws Angle toward the steps, which knocks Chyna into the steps. As Tim White checks on Chyna, Angle uses the belt to gain the advantage in the ring long enough for White to return and count three. Angle already had the European title, and this would be where he coined the term “EuroContinental Champion.” Earl Hebner tries to explain what happened to Tim White, but White reinforces his own authority and doesn’t reverse the decision. Nice touch, since things like that are usually ignored as if only the fans saw them. Angle was imperfect on a couple of transitions, but this is still very good and could’ve gone much longer.
Backstage, Michael Cole is with the Dudleys. D-Von is decent, but Bubba’s silly southern dialect is still holding him back.
(2) Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws (champions) vs. The Dudley Boyz
Road Dogg with some frat boy humor. There are some scattered boos, actually. This was starting to run its course.
Pier Four brawl to start. Road Dogg and Bubba Ray start. Bubba Ray with the Bubba Bomb early, not yet called this. Wazzzup spot, not yet called this. D-Von covers for two. Dudleys make a few more tags and dominate Dogg. Dogg rolls into a surprise two-count but D-Von clotheslines him after. Bubba’s in again with a couple of stiff chops. Elbows and punches. Tag to D-Von after a two count. Spinning elbow. Bubba’s back in. The tag count is something like 10-0 in favor of the Dudleyz. Dogg, ever the babyface, fights back into it with a low blow. Eh, it was a different time or something. Hot tag and Billy Gunn cleans house. Cover on D-Von but Bubba yanks him from the ring. Dogg drops a knee for two but Bubba hits Billy Gunn with a pipe on the outside. 3-D in the ring on Road Dogg and the finish is academic. Gunn must have been nursing something at the time, as he wrestled for all of thirty seconds. Outlaws argue in the ring.
Out by a concession stand, Kurt Angle celebrates with a bunch of fans. Not very heelish with all those fans going nuts around him.
No Way Out is sponsored by PhoneFree.com…free long-distance phone calls over the internet! Huh, I should probably use that.
Earlieer on heat, Viscera and Mark Henry fought backstage over Mae Young, setting up this impromptu match. I could have named a lot of the matches on this card without looking, but this wasn’t one of them.
(3) Mark Henry vs. Viscera
Viscera wasn’t the world’s biggest love machine yet, but he was getting there. Ugly punches to start. Shoulderblock by Viscera. Shoulderblock by Henry. Punches. Viscera with a spinning heel kick. Huh, didn’t think I’d be writing that. Clothesline by Viscera. Henry gets dumped, and Viscera hits a tope con hilo. Not really. Viscera tosses Henry into the steps, then sets the steps on top of Henry and stomps them into him. Back inside. “Boring” chant. Viscera covers for two. Samoan Drop by Viscera. Mae Young trots to the ring and tries to keep Viscera from hurting Henry. Vis shoves down Mae and goes for a big splash, but Henry recovers and we get the rare pin from a bodyslam. Very bad, but very short.
“Legalize Scalping” sign in the crowd. That hardly seems necessary as I’ve seen hundreds of scalpers operating with nobody bothering them over the years. Backstage, Chris Jericho threatens Kirk Angel and dares him to keep celebrating. Elsewhere backstage, Billy Gunn sells a shoulder injury with EMTs.
Here come the Hardy Boyz, with Terri looking disturbingly thin.
(4) Tag Team #( Contender Match: The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian
The Acolytes, now working as the APA, are at ringside, retained by Terri to protect them during this match. Edge and Jeff start. Hardy misses a corkscrew moonsault and Christian tags in. Clothesline by Jeff, and Matt enters. Tandem legdrops by the Hardyz, and they rip off their shirts for the cheap pop. Matt backdrops for Christian for two. The two trade chops. Jeff tries to get involved from the outside and gets chopped as well. Matt tosses Christian to the outside, where Jeff takes advantage and then tosses him back in. Jeff’s back in. Bodyslam and Jeff springs off the ropes onto Christian for two. Matt’s back in and we get more tandem offense for two. Matt goes for a powerslam but Christian slips out and hit a neckbreaker. Jeff tags in and goes high, but jumps into Christian’s feet and Christian makes the tag to Edge. Spinning heel kick sends out Matt. E&C double-team Jeff and Edge covers for two. Christian’s back in and he puts the boots to Jeff. He faceplants Jeff and tags Edge. Christian drop-toeholds Edge into Jeff. Fun. Edge with a rear chinlock. Jeff sneaks out, Edge misses a dropkick and Jeff covers for two.
After a few reversals, Edge hits a piledriver for a long two. Jeff comes back with a huracanrana, weirdly no-sold by Edge as it wasn’t clear if he reversed or not. Christian is in. One loud guy is chanting “boring” but nobody’s playing along. Admittedly, this isn’t a classic between these two. Edge and Jeff take each other down with their hair in the middle of the ring and both partners get involved. Matt gets the better of it and Jeff covers Edge for two. Edge goes up and jumps into a missile dropkick. Both sell on the mat, but both make the tag. The crowd’s kind of out of this one. Neckbreakers by Matt and he covers Christian for two. Schmoz erupts and nobody knows who’s legal, including referee Jimmy Korderas. Hardyz hit a couple of flying headbutts on Christian and Edge saves. Spear for Jeff. Matt with the Twist of Fate on Edge, which JR calls a “high-impact move.” Had he not named it yet? Matt and Christian are legal. Terri involves herself and shoves Jeff off the turnbuckle, then administers the worst slap ever on Matt, allowing Christian to hit the Impaler for three, called “face first, driven to the canvas” by JR. Edge and Christian sell confusion as Terri struts around the ring, and they head out. Matt tries to go after Terri, but the APA earn their money by laying out the Hardyz. So…we play the APA’s music. Kind of silly in this application. The match itself is kind of a letdown considering the talent.
Edge and Christian disagree backstage about how they won the match. Edge is the more heelish one. My wife chuckles and goes, “Is that Michael Cole?!” Elsewhere, Lillian Garcia strains her arm to reach a microphone up to The Big Show. Show is calmly explaining how he actually should have won the Royal Rumble a month prior when Rock’s feet hit the floor. This was a really odd storyline, as Show didn’t act all that heelish, and moreover, he was right.
(5) Tazz vs. The Big Bossman
The announcers highlight the issue with Tazz’s presentation, painting him as a “lifetime overachiever” and a guy with a lot of guts and heart, when the reality of the character is that he’s a dominant, destructive badass. Tazzmission within a minute, and Prince Albert, a Bossman crony at this point, runs in for the disqualification. Glad this went to Pay-Per-View. Double-team after the match. The intention is to show that Tazz keeps coming back, but the audience is pretty well out of it once the finish happens. Maybe the extracurriculars should have happened before the match and not after. Nightstick breaks over Tazz’s head. That might not be standard issue.
Rundown of the X-Pac-Kane feud. I ate this up completely at the time, silly as it was. Tori had previously become Kane’s first love, before ditching him for X-Pac. Paul Bearer returned and joined Kane. Bearer convinced Kane to hit the Tombstone on Tori. Triple H said Kane could have a No Holds Barred match with X-Pac if he beat The Big Show and himself in a handicap match on Raw, and he did. Then X-Pac used a flamethrower on Kane at SmackDown, leading into this one. Good thing there wasn’t another week of TV for these two to raise the stakes even further.
(6) No Holds Barred: Kane vs. X-Pac
Tori is heelish in leather. They use leather a lot for female heels, right? Or am I imagining things? Kane jumps in and X-Pac puts the boots to him. No-sold. Kane with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Clothesline to the outside and X-Pac and Tori attempt to leave. Kane catches them, because they elect not to run for some reason. X-Pac climbs the chain-link fence at the entryway and Kane pulls him off of it, and the two trade trashcan shots. Kane throws X-Pac’s head into a barricade. And another. Kane tosses X-Pac back toward the ring and drops him on *that* barricade. Kane rips off some ring steps, misses X-Pac and throws the steps into the ring. X-Pac hits Kane with the ring bell, but Paul Bearer attacks X-Pac to a big pop. Bearer then chases off Tori and the crowd’s all in for this.
Kane tosses X-Pac back in the ring and goes up, but X-Pac dropkicks Kane to crotch him and then he follows with the Bronco Buster. Kane sits up and clotheslines X-Pac. Big boot misses and X-Pac works Kane’s legs with martial arts kicks. X-Pac takes Kane down and attempts a Sharpshooter or some such, but Kane flips him from the ring and follows, then throws X-Pac back in. X-Pac comes back with a spinning heel kick but Kane catches him from the top. Low blow and X-Factor. Kane revives as Bearer hangs up X-Pac and he hits the big boot. Kane goes high and hits a clothesline. Tori tries to get involve and JR begs Kane to give her the Tombstone. Chokeslam for X-Pac. Tori jumps in and Kane indeed hits the Tombstone. Kane picks up the steps, but X-Pac dropkicks them into his head and covers Kane with the steps for a surprise three. That finish probably sounded cooler than it looked, so the crowd is pretty deflated. Okay match to that point.
Act now, and get this incredibly generic-looking No Way Out t-shirt!
The Radicalz, newly signed and immediately given a terrible name with yet another unnecessary “Z,” are interviewed by Cole. Eddie Guerrero’s arm is in a sling, so he won’t be wrestling. Unsurprisingly, he does the best mic work of the four.
(7) Rikishi & Too Cool vs. Chris Benoit & Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko
JR makes a point to say the Radicalz were “invited” to the WWE. First of all: invited? Like, were they not aware, while working for a dying wrestling promotion, that there was another? Second: why give the impression that the Pay-Per-View’s top babyface convinced four heels to join the company? Eh, whatever. Schmoz to start and Rikishi takes down Malenko. Eddie tries to jump in with a lead pipe but Rikishi beats him down and sends him off. Perry Saturn and Grandmaster Sexay enter to start the match. We go to the top rope and Sexay throws Saturn from the turnbuckle and follows up with an enzuigiri. Bulldog ride by Sexay on Benoit after he tags in. Scotty 2 Hotty is in and Too Cool drops elbows on Benoit. Benoit drops Scotty on the top rope, but Scotty pops back in and gets the advantage and makes the tag to Rikishi. After all these years, I still can’t stand JR’s pronunciation of “Rikishi.” Stinkface to Benoit. He sets up his finisher, but Malenko jumps in to clip Rikishi’s leg. Benoit tags Malenko in but here’s a quick tag to Saturn. Saturn continues working Rikishi’s leg, though he comes back with the thrustkick and tags Scotty. He sets up the Worm and Malenko knocks him out, out of nowhere, to boos (and my cheers). Benoit tags in and covers for two. Snap suplex. Malenko tags in and they double-team Scotty. Double-arm suplex but Sexay makes the save. Saturn tags in with some tag offense and Sexay saves again. I’d love to see fewer saves from faces.
Saturn hits a huracanrana on Scotty and tags Malenko. Quick tag to Benoit. Chops. Suplex countered into a rollup for two. Another counter for two and Malenko saves again. Saturn tags in and flips onto Scotty for two. Scotty’s isolated in the corner. Reverse chinlock and Malenko tags in. Perfect dropkick. Kneedrop. Benoit is in with a short clothesline. Man, these guys look leagues ahead of so much of the roster upon their arrival. Scotty fights back and makes the hot tag to Rikishi, who cleans house. Splashes in the corner for everyone. Rikishi Driver to Saturn. Grandmaster calls for the Worm, which Rikishi reluctantly goes along with. The Worm hits, but JR reminds us that Malenko is legal (is he? I’ve forgotten). Everyone’s involved. When it shakes out, Grandmaster Sexay flies off the top for the Hip-Hop Drop on Saturn, but referee Jack Doan is distracted and Benoit hits the flying headbutt. A mess ensues and Malenko ends up in the ring with Rikishi. Malenko keeps working the leg until Rikishi hits the low blow. Rikishi Driver on Malenko. Rikishi goes for the Banzai Drop for three. Rikishi’s injury seems like it was entirely conceived to give them an out for the loss, but here we are. Too Cool and Chyna would beat the three Radicalz who aren’t Benoit at Wrestlemania a month after this, to add insult to injury.
The Big Show battles The Rock for a WWE Title Shot at Wrestlemania next. Let’s take another look at Big Show petitioning Triple H to get this title match. I had forgotten the whole story of Triple H having executive power as a wrestler. Jim Dotson, head of security, gets some screen time. I like the Rock and everything, but he really comes off as kind of a shank in this storyline, and the WWE never goes out of their way to suggest the heel is lying to get his way.
(8) For a WWE Title Shot at WrestleMania 2000: The Rock vs. The Big Show
Good pop for The Rock, of course. Staredown to start. Big rights from Rock. Clothesline in the corner. Big Show returns offense but gets hit with a DDT for two. Rock Bottom attempt is blocked and Show sends Rock to the outside. Rock tosses Show into the stairs. Big Show’s head hits the English announce table. Let’s head into the crowd, where Big Show gives Rock a short clothesline and JR reinforces the fact that the ref will “let them fight.” Seems like Show should be more desperate to win the match outright. Back out to ringside. Show with a press slam onto the barricade. We finally go back in. Big Show with a headbutt. JR explains the silence as the audience being in awe just before a “Big Show sucks” chant. Show powerslams Rock for two. We head outside and Rock temporarily gets back into it by spitting water into Show’s face, but Show puts Rock into the ringpost and throws him back in the ring.
Big Show sets Rock up for a…Russian leg sweep? Maybe? Rock blocks it and hits an actual Russian leg sweep. DDT for two. Rock walks into a sidewalk slam that gets two. Show goes outside for a chair, which Hebner allows. He misses and Rock gets tossed into Hebner, who gets bumped. It’s just as well considering he hasn’t enforced a single rule in this match. Big Show chokeslams Rock and Tim White runs in to make the count. Hebner yanks out White because it’s his match, and we officially have a referee feud. Shane McMahon’s music plays and Rock gets the advantage. Rock goes for the People’s Elbow, and Shane hits Rock with a chair for the “shock” heel turn. Big Show covers for three. The match was ridiculous, as it was billed as a regular one-on-one but played out like a Falls Count Anywhere match. This would set up a three-way match for the Wrestlemania main event, which would become four eventually.
Up next, Cactus Jack and Triple H will do battle in Hell in a Cell. Triple H’s title and Cactus Jack’s career are on the line. We get a lot of shots of the guys in previous Hell in a Cell matches. Leading up to this match, Triple H allowed Jack to pick the stipulation, but Trips said the tradeoff is that Jack’s career had to be on the line. Cactus Jack’s mic work really drives home why a lot of people didn’t know he was leaving at the time – he really speaks as if this will be the beginning of a new chapter in his career and in the WWE.
Backstage, Kurt Angle is caught celebrating for the fourth time, and Chris Jericho and Chyna shove him into the trunk of his own car.
Triple H is introduced. Stephanie is with him, for some reason dressed as a mechanic except for the high heels. It’s the wrestling equivalent of how George Seifert would coach the 49ers in his old ratty sweaters. That’s not a criticism – I place comfort above most all things. It’s just surprising.
Cactus Jack is introduced, and in all seriousness looks like he’s been crying backstage, with the benefit of hindsight. Triple H is still selling the Cell by staring at it, like he did during his entire introduction. Lawler mentions that Jack promised to jump from the top of the cage.
(9) WWE Title vs. Career: Cactus Jack vs. Triple H (champion)
Jack tries to get through the locks to climb the cage early, but Steph yells from the outside that there’s NO WAY OUT! What a trooper, still selling the show when it’s almost over. Cactus Jack beats Triple H around the outside of the ring, using the chain-link fence as a weapon. Triple H retaliates by pounding Jack’s head to the mat and tossing him in the ring. Punches in the corner, but Jack fights out of it until Trips hits a kneelift. Jack backdrops Triple H from the ring. Jack goes under the ring and grabs a chair. The crowd, somewhat hot throughout the night, is a bit muted. Jack attempts to bring the chair in the ring and Trips hits a knee to put a stop to that. They go outside and Triple H throws Jack into the ring steps. He continues by charging Jack into the next ringpost, then hurling the steps at him. Trips sets the stairs on Jack and drives the stairs onto them repeatedly.
Triple H goes back into the ring and Jack follows, but Trips has the chair and beats Jack with it, finishing with a chairshot that gets two. DDT gets two. Jack begs Trips to come at him with the chair, and when he does, Jack hits a low blow. DDT on the chair for two. Russian leg sweep on the chair for two. Jack sets up the beleaguered chair in a corner and sits Triple H on it for a series of rights, then charges into a drop-toehold onto the chair for two. Triple H clotheslines Jack rom the ring and drives him into the Cell a few times. Triple H wants a piledriver, or the Pedigree, on the steps but Jack monkey flips him into the cage. Trips blades while he’s down, and Jack whips him into the ring a few times and slaughters him around the ring. Jack gets the chair from the ring and heads back out. He climbs to the second turnbuckle and flies down on Triple H. “Foley” chant.
Cactus grabs the steps and throws them to Triple H, who ducks. The stairs rip a hole in the cage, and the crowd erupts because they know what this might mean. Jack throws Triple H through the cage to the outside and puts him on the English announce table. Piledriver doesn’t break the table. Jack climbs the Cell to a huge pop but Stephanie keeps him from ascending. Triple H attempts to interfere but Jack is on fire. Jack tosses the timekeeper out of the way and grabs a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire. He takes it right to Hunter’s face. Bang bang!
Triple H climbs the Cell and Jack follows with the weapon. Triple H fights him at the top and takes the weapon to Jack’s face, then throws him down through the Spanish announce table, which of course breaks. Both guys are bleeding all over. Jack has a hardway cut on his arm that’s at least as bad as his face. Jack tries to toss a chair to the top of the cage three times but can’t manage it. Awkward. He finally just climbs up, where Triple H attacks with the barbed wire. Low blow by Jack. That’s five low blows on the show, all by babyfaces. Oh well.
The two trade punches on the cage and Trips almost falls through a gouge in the cage. Jack suplexes Trips on top of the cage. Cactus grabs the barbed wire and sets in fire. Let’s go out with a bang (bang), man. He hits Trips with it and sets it down. Cactus Jack sets up a piledriver, but Trips reverses to a backdrop, the ring breaks and Jack falls through. Finally, we get our “holy shit” chant. Triple H crawls down into the ring to where Cactus has fallen into the ring and caused a deep crater to form. Jack hasn’t moved. Triple H moves toward Jack, and Jack fights to his feet to a huge pop. He has nothing left, though, and there’s a Pedigree for three. No kickouts – might as well put someone over strong on your way out. Triple H advances to a Wrestlemania title defense, in which Rock and Big Show would challenge…but of course, Cactus Jack himself would return from “retirement” to allow him to be in a WrestleMania main event. A lot of fans were annoyed, but hell, tell me you wouldn’t do that in the same situation.
Triple H exits so Foley can have his moment. JR puts Mick Foley over huge as a man as he fights to his feet on the apron. Foley is emotional as he walks up the ramp. Honestly, this segment is too brief, as the emotion was really just hitting me as we faded out. Then again, I already knew Foley was losing, so maybe that tempered my reaction.
Legacy of No Way Out 2000
With a few exceptions, this was Mick Foley’s last match. I’m still fine with counting this as his retirement match, as he didn’t come back full time like Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, or Roddy Piper. This was a very strong retirement, as Mick left at the top of the card, and had a pretty good match to boot (which I remembered as outdoing the Royal Rumble match, but after seeing them anew, it didn’t; I’m sure I was affected by the emotion at the time). Triple H would become the first heel champion to hold his title through WrestleMania, as the rules of the WWE were changing at the time, and possibly largely due to Triple H himself and his budding relationship with Stephanie. Trips would become the rare heel who would just win over and over and over through domination rather than cheating, and for all Triple H has done for the company in recent years, you could have a healthy debate about whether this sent the WWE down a road that would stifle babyfaces for decades to come.
The Rock-Big Show match was pretty blah, and served only to get another guy into the WrestleMania main event. Although Foley and Big Show were also-rans in the eventual WrestleMania match, I’m sure the fact that they were there – even just once – is a big deal to them. The Rock would lose at WrestleMania, as he’s done fairly often, in a match and event that probably would’ve been remembered more fondly if he’d won.
The Radicalz would only act as a faction for a short time. They would still find reason to team together fairly often, but thankfully, the horrible “Radicalz” name would be dropped before long and the quartet would become a huge asset to the company until tragedy would strike.
Tazz won this match, but his odd presentation would leave him dead in the water before long. I think Tazz would be booked successfully these days, but at the time, the WWE just didn’t know how to use him to his fullest capabilities. It also didn’t help that he was never in matches of any respectable length.
I expect to brave WrestleMania 2000 in the next few weeks, because as a booking experiment I find it fascinating, so I’ll save some of it for later. In the meantime, this was a mostly-strong show with a few memorable matches and moments that would help to make 2000 one of the best in-ring years for WWE to date.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE: PPV LOOKBACK – WrestleMania VI (1990): Hogan vs. Warrior, Savage & Sherri vs. Dusty & Sapphire, Rude vs. Snuka, Jake vs. DiBiase