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2000 stands out as one of the greatest feats of booking and promotion in wrestling history: The WWF lost the biggest star in wrestling (Steve Austin) for almost the entire year and somehow their business didn’t suffer. Actually, if anything their business got better. This show demonstrates how they did it, by bringing in new talent to the midcard and letting them wrestle without quite as many over the top storylines as in the previous year. There was still plenty of nonsense (this is the show where we saw Mae Young’s prosthetic breasts) but they reverted to a bit more traditional pro wrestling, as we would see in the Rumble match. 

The Rest of the Card:

-Tazz defeated Kurt Angle

-The Hardy Boyz defeated The Dudley Boyz in a Tables Match

-Chris Jericho defeated Chyna and Hardcore Holly to become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion

-The New Age Outlaws defeated The Acolytes to retain the World Tag Team Championship

-Triple H defeated Cactus Jack in a Street Fight to retain the WWF Championship

The Match

They’re still scraping pieces of Mick Foley’s face off the mat as Fink is announcing the rules.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary.

#1 is D’Lo Brown. #2 is Grand Master Sexay to a big pop. JR is already needling Lawler about Christopher being his son. Not a ton happens before Headbanger Mosh enters #3. Kaientai runs in to interfere and are quickly dragged away. Mosh is wearing gigantic green cones on his chest. Like, massive fur boobs.

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#4 is Christian. Rikishi is #5 and he proceeds to clear the ring. Mosh, Christian, and then D’Lo are all gone within a minute. Rikishi and Grandmaster face off, but they’re interrupted by Scotty 2 Hotty entering #6. He brings the sunglasses and all three men proceed to get down. And then Rikishi double-crosses his bros and eliminates them both. Rikishi gets down some more on his own. All-time classic Rumble moment.

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#7 is Steve Blackman. He lasts about a minute before being tossed by Rikishi. #8 is Viscera and we have a showdown of giants. Rikishi wins the battle and eliminates Vis in about a minute. A Diesel-esque run from the big man here. Big Boss Man is #9. Being smart and an awesome heel, he refuses to get in the ring. Test is #10 to a shockingly big pop. I had forgotten how over he was at the end of 1999. British Bulldog is #11. He looks awful in jeans. Somehow that was supposed to be a period-appropriate update.

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#12 is Gangrel. Kaentai shows up again and get thrown out again. This is where Taka takes his infamous face-first bump onto the floor. #13 is Edge and he gets a nice pop. #14 is Bob Backlund, who gets a huge pop. He was in the midst of a Congressional campaign in Connecticut. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi to eliminate him. #15 is Chris Jericho. Biggest pop for far for him. Jericho Dropkicks Backlund over the top rope and the former WWWF Champion leaves through the crowd. Crash Holly iis #16. #17 is Chyna, who immediately Suplexes Jericho over the top rope and out of the match. But then she gets knocked off the apron by Boss Man.

#18 is Faarooq. The Mean Street Posse shows up to attack Faarooq. That allows Boss Man to toss him. Road Dogg is out #19. He’s supposed to be a heel, but the crowd is still doing his entrance shtick. Al Snow is entrant #20 as Road Dogg eliminates Bulldog.

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#21 is Val Venis. Back to being a face after his heel run didn’t pan out. Funaki returns and is tossed again. #22 is Prince Albert. Edge is eliminated by Venis. #23 is Hardcore Holly. #24 is The Rock to an enormous reaction from the crowd. Rock immediately eliminates Boss Man. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock eliminates Crash. #26 is The Big Show, Rock’s primary competition in the match. He’s turned heel after his title run flopped.

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Big Show knocks Test out of the match with a Big Boot. Gangrel is gone next. #27 is Bradshaw. The Mean Street Posse show up again to attack him, but this time they get their asses kicked. The distraction allows The Outlaws to eliminate him. #28 is Kane. He tosses Val Venis. #29 is The Godfather. Kane eliminates Prince Albert. Funaki shows up again and gets thrown out again. No reaction for that one. King asks for the replay of Taka splatting on the floor again and gets his wish.

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X-Pac is #30. Al Snow eliminates Hardcore Holly with a Clothesline. Rock dumps Snow. Billy Gunn sneaks up behind Road Dogg to eliminate him. Kane tosses Mr. Ass. Just like that, we’re down to four: Rock, Big Show, Kane, and X-Pac. Kane fights with Billy Gunn and Road Dogg on the floor, distracting the referees. That means they don’t see Rock toss X-Pac, who gets back into the ring as if it never happened.

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Kane hits an Enziguri and then Body Slams Big Show, but X-Pac eliminates him with a Spinning Heel Kick. A Bronco Buster on Big Show only makes the giant mad. Big Show Gorilla Presses X-Pac out to the floor. Rock tunes up Big Show, hits a Spinebuster and the People’s Elbow. But Big Show comes back with a Chokeslam. Big Show sets up to dump Rock but ends up tumbling over himself. Rock wins.

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Rating: ***½. Pretty enjoyable Rumble. Obvious winner and not a ton of stars, but they put together a lot of memorable spots and really tried hard. Some of the stuff with Kaientai and the Mean Street Posse got repetitive, but credit for mixing things up.

The Aftermath

Rock’s victory was controversial. Big Show produced evidence showing that Rock’s feet actually touched the floor when he went over. Triple H ordered a match between Rock and Big Show at No Way Out to determine who would be the #1 contender for Wrestlemania. Big Show won that match with the assistance of a returning Shane McMahon.

Triple H defeated Cactus Jack in a Hell in a Cell Match at No Way Out to retain the title and force Mick Foley into retirement. Rock demanded to be put into the main event of Wrestlemania, and was granted a match on Raw against Big Show where if he won he would be added to the match. Rock did win with the assistance of a returning Vince McMahon. However, the Triple Threat Match ended up taking place the next week on Raw, with Triple H winning.

At that point Linda McMahon announced that there would be a Fatal Four Way Elimination Match at Wrestlemania featuring Triple H defending the WWF Championship against The Rock, Big Show, and Mick Foley. Yes, Mick Foley who had retired three weeks before this. Triple H ultimately won the match when Mr. McMahon turned on Rock. For reasons that if I remember correctly were never really explained.

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