As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania 2000 – April 2, 2000
It seemed like the WWF could do no wrong in 2000 and WrestleMania would certainly put that theorem to the test. Triple H’s rise to the main event was the focus for a good portion of 1999. And anyone who may have questioned his position was silenced by the champ’s series of matches with Mick Foley in January and February.
Of course, Triple H’s rise to the top was tied to his on-screen relationship with Stephanie McMahon, which led to Vince and Shane getting involved in the build to WrestleMania. And then, finally, Vince’s wife Linda made her way into the story to make the WrestleMania main event as much about the McMahons as it was the four athletes competing. And 16 years later, very little has changed. Well, at least Linda’s not on TV anymore.
This was the first of three WrestleManias that I did not get to see live as it happened because of a lack of money (stupid college/post-college poverty), but I did pick up the DVDs shortly after release so I could get caught up.
Best Match: Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian – Tag Team Title Triangle Ladder Match. This was a tough call, because there were three matches that I thought were really high quality in terms of enjoyment. It’s rare to have that many in one show. In the same way that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon innovated the ladder match at WrestleMania X, these three teams brought their A Games in this match and perfectly encapsulated the era. Lots of broken furniture, a lot of painful spots and a lot of excitement all the way through. It’s hard to believe that they would actually improve on the formula after this match, but amazingly over the course of the next year they did. Still a great precursor to the TLC concept.
Worst Match: The Kat vs. Terri – Catfight. Any match that gives Mae Young an opportunity to do the Bronco Buster – or any real screen time – is going to compete for something bad. This was a complete waste of time and I now consider it the worst WrestleMania match of all time (up until this point).
Missed Opportunities: The Rock should have won the WWF Title in the main event. I know, they built up to the Backlash 2000 main event that popped a great buyrate, but it would be nice to have given The Rock a big WrestleMania moment at this point. The main event was a great match that came close to getting best match this time around and I have no problem with the Fatal Four Way elimination format. The match went the way it should right up until the end. Triple H winning also means that he is the first heel to walk out of WrestleMania with the WWF Title.
Triple Threat: Rounding out the three best matches at WrestleMania 2000 is the two-fall triple threat for the Intercontinental and European titles, both held by Kurt Angle, defending against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. This match could have used an extra five minutes or so to really get going, but all three knew how to bring it in the ring.
Gimmicks Are The Gimmick: Other than the Kat-Terri match, there were no classic one-on-one matches at WrestleMania 2000. Five tag team matches, a hardcore battle royal, a triple threat and a fatal four way made up the show, which was very much a sign of the times in the WWF.
Hardcore Screwup: For 15 minutes, the WWF’s Hardcore Division beat the living hell out of each other for the Hardcore Title in a “battle royal” where the title changed hands as many times as possible in the allotted time. The finish, as legend goes, was supposed to be time expiring as Hardcore Holly pinned his cousin Crash, the Houdini of Hardcore. But they went home two seconds too soon and Hardcore Holly walked out with the title. And they couldn’t fudge it, either, since the time of the match was counting down on screen the whole time. The old saying applied here, “Anything CAN happen in the World Wrestling Federation.”
The Top Ten
We are at a point where it’s going to be tough for anyone to crack the Top Ten, but we’ll get close in the next few years. Just not this time around…
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
4 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
5 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
6 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
7 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
8 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
9 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
10 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
The MLB Hit King’s third WrestleMania appearance was enough to bring him up from three to two, mainly for the San Diego Chicken Psych-out!
Top Ten Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Top TEN Musical Performances
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
DX Band, DeGeneration X theme – WrestleMania XIV
Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania VII
Ice-T, Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy – WrestleMania 2000
Robert Goulet, O, Canada – WrestleMania VI