The Law Reviews: WWF Backlash 2000

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April 30, 2000
MCI Center
Washington, D.C.

Sometimes I review shows solely for the purpose of having the pleasure of watching them again, and this is one of those cases. This is a phenomenal show from top to bottom that really exemplifies the best of the Attitude Era.

We’ll see six championships decided on this night, the biggest of which would be the WWF Championship match between Triple H and Rock. Triple H retained the title at Wrestlemania when Vince McMahon turned on Rock and joined up with his daughter and son-in-law to form the “McMahon-Helmsley Faction (/Regime).” Rock was granted a rematch, but the odds were clearly stacked against him with Triple H having an army in his corner. To balance the odds, Linda McMahon made the announcement on Raw that there would be a special enforcer for the match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin went down with a neck injury in the fall of 1999 and hadn’t been seen since. Austin showed up on Smackdown prior to this and destroyed the tour bus that Triple H had been traveling in.

Lots of combustible elements in that main event. Let’s take a look:

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are our hosts.

This is the classic set with the giant swinging hooks. Could those come into play at some point?

Debra comes out to start the show, which is random. She serves as the ring announcer for this match. I don’t think she had been on TV since the fall, as she had been at home with Austin helping him recover. She’s an awful ring announcer, you can barely hear her.

World Tag Team Championship: Edge & Christian (c) vs. Road Dogg and X-Pac

DX has their awesome Run DMC theme here. Debra is a pretty terrible announcer, you can barely hear/understand her. Edge and Christian were in the midst of a slow burn heel turn at this point, whereas Road Dogg gets big cheers for his shtick. But the crowd’s “X-Pac Sucks” chants are deafening. So it’s a little weird.

Edge and Christian play the face role, controlling the early action until DX cheats to take over. DX’s double teams and Tori’s interference get impressive heat from the crowd. JR just said X-Pac was “riding bareback” during the Bronco Buster. Christian hits a Double Reverse DDT and is able to make the hot tag to Edge. His comeback is shut down by a Tori destraction, allowing X-Pac to hit the X Factor. While the referee is distracted, Christian grabs the ring bell and blasts X-Pac with it. That allows Edge to get the pin.

Rating: **½. Solid tag team match. Good choice for the opener. I was surprised by how big the crowd popped for the finish.

Turns out the bell hit X-Pac wrong, and he’s gashed deep. Yikes, that looks rough.

We go backstage to see that Rock has arrived.

Light Heavyweight Championship: Dean Malenko (c) vs. Scotty 2 Hotty

Malenko and his friends, The Radicalz, had been involved in a rivalry with II Cool and Rikishi since they were on opposite sides of a big ten man tag match on an episode of Raw in February. Malenko and Scotty had actually flipped the title back and forth in advance of this show, which I have no memory of. The Light Heavyweight Title is so small it looks like a kid’s toy.

This match is a throwback to WCW’s Cruiserweight Division, with two quality wrestlers putting on a great match in the undercard. Scotty is quicker than Malenko, but the “Man of 1,000 Holds” is able to ground him and damage his legs to balance things out. I’m impressed by Scotty’s selling, as he really gets the crowd behind him. Scotty eventually comes back with a Bulldog and The Worm. Malenko gets a quick roll-up and puts his feet on the ropes, but the referee spots him. Malenko previously beat Scotty with a Flair Pin, so that’s nice continuity. Malenko hits a big Tiger Bomb, which looks beautiful. Powerslam by Malenko only gets two.

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Malenko goes to the top, but Scotty catches him. Scott goes for a Superplex, but Malenko somehow catches him and turns it into a sick Super DDT for the win. Unbelievable finish.

Rating: ****. Great match. Dean Malenko was the man, and Scotty more than held his own here. Unfortunately, this was basically it for the Light Heavyweight division. I don’t remember for sure, but this might have been the last time the title was defended on pay-per-view before it was merged with WCW’s Cruiserweight Championship.

We see the McMahon-Helmsley Regime hanging out backstage. Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco show up, making their return from an absence of several months.

The APA vs. Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan

This is some pretty major filler. Pretty dull and basic tag match ends with Buchanan hitting Bradshaw with the Scissor Kick for the win. Weird decision for Bossman and Bull to win.

Rating: *. Nothing but filler.

Hardcore Championship Invitational

Everbody gets a title shot,  as champion Crash Holly defends against Matt and Jeff Hardy, Saturn, Tazz, and Hardcore Holly. The only way to win the title here is to pin Crash. Everyone fights everyone, then Crash makes a run for it. He ends up climbing the giant hook on the stage, leading to Jeff jumping off it onto everyone. Jeff then uses the hook to propel himself into a Hurricanrana on Saturn.

They go back to the ring, where people get hit with weapons. Everyone tries to pin Crash and the pins get broken up. It’s not terribly interesting, they probably should have saved the Hardy spots for the end of the match. Crash ends up pinning Tazz after after he gets leveled with a stop sign by Saturn. Yeah, that was probably the end of Tazz ever doing anything in the WWF.

Rating: *½. Not a fan of these kinds of matches.

Jonathan Coachman interviews Shane McMahon, who is the referee for the main event tonight. He promises to be a fair official.

Big Show vs. Kurt Angle

One month after being in the main event of Wrestlemania, Big Show is relegated to a comedy gimmick. He did a great job with it, doing impersonations of a bunch of different people. “Shonan the Barbarian,” Fat Bastard from Austin Powers, “Showkishi,” and a few others.

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Here he breaks out a hilarious Hulk Hogan impersonation as “The Showster.”

In his pre-match promo, Angle makes like the fifth Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky joke of the night. Vince just couldn’t let that one go, apparently. This is 2000, the Clinton Impeachment saga had ended with acquittal in February of 1999.

This one is a squash, as Show gets the win in less than three minutes. Angle kicks out of the Leg Drop, but then gets Chokeslammed and pinned.

Rating: *. That was pretty fantastic.

The Dudley Boyz vs. T & A

Bubba is fixated on the idea of putting Trish Stratus through a table. And the crowd loves the idea because it’s the Attitude Era and everyone was terrible back then.

The Dudleyz control early, then D-Von gets worked over for a few minutes. He got tags in Bubba, leading to the 3D…but Trish jumps up and distracts Bubba, allowing Test to hit the Big Boot for the win.

Rating: *½. Pretty generic tag match, much more focus given to the storyline that anything else.

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The Dudleyz bounce back and Bubba ends up putting Trish through a table. And that’s great, I guess?

EMTs load Trish into an ambulance. Meanwhile, Eddie Guerrero and Chyna arrive. Apparently they were at prom for Eddie’s GED class. Speaking of Attitude Era storylines that don’t hold up well…

European Championship: Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Essa Rios

Chyna couldn’t resist Eddie’s Latino Heat, so she turned on Chris Jericho and helped Eddie win the European Title the night after Wrestlemania. I feel like the more interesting rivalry here was between Chyna and Lita, as Essa Rios didn’t last long after this. Eddie rolls into the arena in his lowrider. Yes, this was the birth of his classic entrance.

This proves to be a fun lucha-style match. Rios is sloppy and misses a few spots, but Eddie is so good that he’s able to cover up most of it. Chyna gets in plenty of shots behind the referee’s back. She also throws Lita off the top rope when she goes up there. Rios tries an Asai Moonsault and ends up hitting the announce table. Rios gets crotched by Chyna, then hit with a Superplex. Eddie hits a Brainbuster, but gets taken off the top rope with an Arm Drag. Eddie gets his knees up to block a Rios Moonsault attempt, then follows up with some sort of Airplane Spin Neckbreaker for the win.

Rating: **½. Fun little match.

Lita and Rios get revenge as Lita rips off Chyna’s dress. Trust me, I was very excited by this development when I was 11.

Intercontinental Championship: Chris Benoit (c) vs. Chris Jericho

Benoit pinned Jericho to win the IC Title from Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania, then Jericho pinned Benoit to win the European Title in the second fall of that match.

These two are extremely evenly matched. That’s the story of this match. Benoit smashes Jericho’s ribs into the steps, which allows him to control most of the match. But Jericho is resilient and keeps fighting back. Every time he hits a big move, his ribs are too hurt to make the cover in a timely fashion.

Jericho escapes the Crippler Crossface and is able to lock in the Walls of Jericho, but Benoit fights to the ropes. Jericho accidentally levels the referee with a Forearm, allowing Benoit to grab the IC Title and nail Jericho. That only gets two. Benoit goes to the top and comes off with the Diving Headbutt, but Jericho moves. Benoit sort of hits the belt and the referee calls for the bell. Not sure if that’s supposed to be because of Benoit hitting the title or because Jericho hit the referee.

Rating: ***¾. Damn fine match. Exactly the quality you’d expect. Finish was a bit weird though.

Jericho beats up referee Tim White and locks him in the Walls of Jericho after the match.

Rock says he doesn’t give a damn that Austin isn’t at the arena, he’s laying the smack down on everybody tonight.

WWF Championship: Triple H (c) vs. The Rock

Triple H has Stephanie and Vince in his corner, plus Shane as the referee. And DX, Patterson, and Brisco can’t be far behind. And Steve Austin is nowhere to be found. The odds are stacked heavily against The Great One.

Rock does his best, but he’s hampered by Shane’s biased officiating and Vince’s interference. For some reason, Shane doesn’t quick count Rock at multiple opportunities. JR references internet speculation that Austin was going to screw Rock over. That seems like something that people would have predicted. This was the era of the swerve. Triple H cuts off Rock’s comebacks in truly brutal, soul-crushing fashion. Rock gets up from a double knockdown and gets leveled with a belt shot by Vince. Now Shane breaks out the quick count, but Rock gets his shoulder up before three.

Rock comes back with a DDT and has the match won, but Shane won’t count. So Rock levels him with a right hand. Rock and HHH go to the floor, where Rock blocks a Pedigree attempt on the announce table, then proceeds to Rock Bottom both Triple H and Shane through the announce table! And the table just explodes!

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Back in the ring Vince gets in Rock’s face, distracting him for long enough for Triple H to hit a Pedigree. Vince calls for help, and Patterson and Brisco run down in referee shirts. Rock kicks out at two despite the quick count, at which point The Stooges go to work on him.

And then the cavalry arrives.

20000403_aus316_retuurn02Austin lays out everyone with chair shots. Brisco, Patterson, Triple H, Shane, Vince. He arrives, raises hell, and leaves.

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Linda McMahon and unjustly fired referee Earl Hebner stroll down the aisle.  Linda shoves Stephanie to the ground.

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Rock catches Triple H with a Spinebuster and The People’s Elbow. And Hebner runs in for to count the three.

Rating: ****¼. That was so great. I mean, there was almost nothing in there resembling a classic wrestling match. But it was the epitome of what made the Attitude Era great. Big personalities, tons of run ins, chaos, and an amazingly hot crowd.

Rock celebrates with his newly won title. Austin drives back into the arena in his pickup truck, towing the destroyed DX Express behind him. He toasts Rock with a beer.

Overall: Great show, one of the best of the time period. Definitely can’t call it the best pay-per-view ever, but that’s pretty weak criticism. The show succeeded on every level, drawing one of the highest non-Wrestlemania buyrates ever. If you wanted to explain to someone why this was a great time to be a wrestling fan, this would be a good choice to show them. Look at the talent here: Rock, Austin, Triple H, Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho, Malenko, Edge and Christian, The Dudleyz, The Hardyz, Tazz, Road Dogg and X-Pac, Big Show, Kurt Angle. The WWF’s roster was stacked, and they made good use of it.

Grade: A

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