Before each Vintage Vault edition of the Place to Be Podcast, Chad Campbell will select one match from the show and give an analytical breakdown of the action.
The Rock vs. Rikishi vs. Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin vs. HHH vs. The Undertaker – Armageddon 2000
It is tough to describe the excitement you feel knowing that a WWF PPV is coming within a two hour radius of where you live. Fans in the Atlanta metro area did get the 7/6/98 Goldberg title win Nitro and some good Raws but we also were privy to such amazing segments such as Roddy Piper’s tryouts and the fingerpoke of doom. No PPV had been in Atlanta since Slamboree 1993. Armageddon 2000 taking place in Birmingham, Alabama was around two hours from where I lived, but it was so close that I had to beg my dad for us to go see it. Using the ruse of an early Christmas present we made the trek out to witness this event. The PPV is pretty hazy for me overall. I remember it less than most of the Raws/Nitros I saw in the Georgia Dome and a lot less than the first WWF PPV in Atlanta, Royal Rumble 2002. Today I am going to discuss the main event from this show. I will mostly use this feature to stray away from the main event matches and examine some of the lesser known matches that comprise these PPVs but I wanted to discuss this match for a bevy of reasons. This match took place when the Hell in a Cell concept was still at a primitive level. This match also featured six of the biggest competitors at the time competing in the same stipulation match. We see that as common within a WWE year now both with the Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank. I wanted to go back and refresh my memory as to whether the novice factor of this occurrence clouds the quality of the match of it is one of the more under looked gems in WWF/WWE history.
I am happy to report that the latter is the case. This is a 30 minute war so a blow by blow account is not possible without it taking away from some of the intensity of the match and it sounding just like a punch/kick affair. The structure of this match overall is what really brings it over the top along with some great violence and developments for the future. I separate the match into three sections: beginning portion in the cell until Vince rips the door off, everything outside of the Cell around the cars, and the finishing stretch that begins when Triple H climbs the cell.
The beginning segment is good but feels like a continuation of Survivor Series. We get all three big matches paired off with each other and they each take turns ramming each other around the cage and being spotlighted inside the ring. Both the camera work and the commentary in this match are excellent in making the match seem frantic but not out of control enough that they couldn’t tell the narrative of the match. Triple H gets busted open and raked across and we see a wrinkle in the pairings a little with Undertaker facing Triple H while Rikishi and Angle are going at it.
Mr. McMahon then makes his way down the aisle on the back of a flatbed with Patterson and Brisco in tow. He is going to tear the cage down to ensure that this violence won’t continue. He is able to get the door out of the way but is interrupted in his proceedings by commissioner Mick Foley. Foley is able to knock out Patterson and Brisco and he has Vince carted off by Birmingham’s finest. This allows the action to spill to the outside and the competitors berate each other with the cars that are a part of the set. Many spots here are reminiscent of Over the Edge 1998. My favorite is Austin slinging the camera at Triple H and Hunter giving the pedigree to the Rock on top of a car. Now both Austin and the Rock are busted up. Angle and Undertaker go back to the ringside area and have a very intense brawl around the timekeeper. The end result is Taker getting pasted with a chair and now he is busted open. Triple H makes his way back to the Cell and begins to ascend as a buzz grows in the crowd.
The action certainly escalated with the competitors outside of the cell which is surprising to me because most cage matches excel with the action intensified on a confined space. I think with this many competitors it needed to go for the more out of control, interesting pairing tone it executed. Triple H and Austin scale the cage and have a great battle on the top that electrifies the crowd and is the best stuff they have done in ring wise up to this point. Taker and Angle follow suit and eventually Taker gets a receipt on the earlier chair shot busting Angle open for the first time in his career. The title really felt in jeopardy at this moment. Rikishi then scales the cage in a sight to behold and then we all know the spot that follows with Taker chokeslamming Rikishi on the back of the flatbed truck. I of course lost my shit live when this happened as I was on the opposite end of the arena and I still think this looks impressive even now with Rikishi having obvious padding to break his fall. The reaction shots from Austin and the Rock inside the ring really sell home the damage. However, the best sequence of the match happens next. Rock and Austin had not interacted at all throughout the first 25 minutes of this match but now they found themselves alone inside the ring. This encounter reminded me of Warrior vs. Hogan at Royal Rumble 1990 and was all sorts of awesome giving us a glimpse of what was to come. The finishing sequence overall is very intricate and good with the finishers staying protected and unique saves. The end result finally occurs when Angle is Rock Bottomed but then The Rock gets the count broken up by Austin. Ross gives a great call at this time about how this “son of a bitch live up to the hype.” Austin then gives the stunner to The Rock but as he crawls over Triple H intervenes and hits a neckbreaker neutralizing both of them. Angle is able to put a faint hand over The Rock and get the pinfall victory ending this classic.