Welcome to Wrestling Rewind, a weekly article in which I tackle my not-inconsiderable archive of WWF/WWE material, with a view to cutting through the nostalgia and analysing Pay-Per-Views of years gone by. We will begin with Summerslam 2000, which took place on August 27th of that year. 2000 is considered by the majority of mat enthusiasts to be the zenith of in-ring activity, with a tremendous amount of ‘sports entertainers’ either hitting or reaching their athletic peak, including Triple H, Kurt Angle and The Rock. It was also a fertile time for characters and personas, with experimentation being encouraged and less-restricting scripts written by people with passion and not soap-opera hacks.
Summerslam 2000 was headlined by The Rock, Triple H and Kurt Angle, in an engrossing story involving the gloriously disingenuous Kurt Angle and a budding romance with then-storyline wife of Triple H, Stephanie McMahon. Indeed, Kurt’s character was so believable that it forced Triple H, the imperious villain, into a role resembling the anti-hero. The Rock became involved as he was WWF champion, a title both men also sought. Also on this card was the first ever TLC bout, a highlight of the golden era of WWF/WWE tag team wrestling. The format of HS&D is simple. We will look at the event and pick out six noteworthy moments, featuring three occurrences of an exciting, memorable nature, as well as three portions best left forgotten. I’m a positive person and like to end things on a high note, so let’s explore the doldrums before reliving the high spots.
Road Dogg vs. X-Pac
No matter how strong your sense of nostalgia is, D-Generation X at its worst was base, childlike, cheap humour utterly devoid of satire and rebellious intent. By August 2000, Road Dogg and X-Pac were holding the ship together and this ship was as seaworthy as the Titanic fifteen minutes after hitting the iceberg. X-Pac was always a solid in-ring mechanic, but his character was soiled by continuous cheap antics, and one never got the sense that the audience disliked his character, they just had no tolerance for the real Sean Waltman. As for Road Dogg, his most notable contribution to this feud was having ‘69’ on the back of his jersey.
Stinkface Match: The Kat vs. Terri Runnels
What can I possibly say about this match that the title doesn’t say for itself? The WWE has a long history of hiring women who are either failed actresses or have dabbled in pornography, teaching them the basics and then sending them in front of a primarily 18-25 demographic and inviting the wolf whistles. They still do it now, in the P.G. era, just wearing a shade more than a bra and thong. Attitude era at its most gratuitous.
Undertaker vs. Kane
The feud between these two behemoths peaked in 1998. Unfortunately, it continued until 2010, to the point where it’s worthy of a HS&D piece in and of itself. Unfortunately, this one arrived early in Undi’s tough-guy biker gimmick stage, which coincided with an unmotivated Texan putting on a few extra pounds to his waistline. This, combined with the fact that Kane always had to be guided to his best matches, meant that these two resorted to the dreaded ‘methodical pace’ (re. two guys going at half speed). An unworthy addition to their best-of-4,173 falls feud.
2-3 Falls: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit
If you can emotionally remove yourself from the atrocity of Chris Benoit’s double-murder/suicide in 2007, strength is a trait you duly hold. Unfortunately, the demon had had so many excellent matches that it’s nigh impossible to keep him off lists like these. Y2J Jericho and Benoit had been buddies since the early ‘90s in Japan, and they have had numerous main event-calibre contests. This one falls into that spectrum. A fast-paced, technical encounter that kept the fans interested due to Benoit’s crispness and verisimilitude and the strength of Jericho’s personality, a cheap ending did not violate the good work both men had done; they came out looking like equals, setting the stage for higher-stake rematches.
WWF Championship: The Rock vs. Triple H vs Kurt Angle
The Rock was something of a guest in his own championship match here, with Angle and HHH being embroiled in their own blood feud. In a pre-match brawl, Angle suffered a concussion after the collapsible table he and HHH were stood on disintegrated prematurely. As such, his planned involvement was reduced, and who can say how much this match could have been otherwise. As it happened, Rock and HHH, no strangers to each other, both were able to improvise a middle section which was serviceable, but struggled for pace and inconsistent selling (a sledgehammer spot should really be reserved for the climax and not as a transition). A clearly-dazed Kurt rejoined the match to contribute to the finish and further the storyline, and it allowed Rock and HHH and conclude the match with a blistering end sequence, making up for the middling interlude.
TLC World Tag Team Championship: Dudleys vs. Hardys vs. Edge & Christian
Far from the first, but certainly one of the best matches involving this triumvirate of stables, the TLC matches between this six can be uncomfortable viewing. The Dudleys are plying their trade in less-pressurised environments, but the brothers Hardy were arrested at different times between 2009-2011, for drink and drug abuse-related reasons, Christian has battled injuries to the point where his last consistent run on TV was in 2010, and Edge retired in 2011 after being warned by doctors that if he continued to wrestle, due to past neck injuries, he was one accident away from being confined to a wheelchair. Matches like this, more than a decade prior, full of reckless bumps and classic high spots, certainly contributed to the early deterioration of these men’s bodies, but then and now, they were by far the most frenetic, breathless and relentlessly exciting constructions ever presented by the WWE/WWF. These men, utterly devoted to their craft, would work to emulate and, indeed, surpass the standard they set for themselves, giving fans a number of timeless matches, with this particular effort approaching the pinnacle.
Ryan Collins, Pundit Arena.