This is a first installment of what I hope to be a monthly thing. I want to reminisce about something a match, angle, or moment that happened in this month in the past. My first one is a match that I love quite a bit that happened on July 23rd, 2000.
All images are courtesy of WWE Network.
The first half of 2000 was pretty good for WWF. WCW was in decline and I don’t think was seen as much of a threat any longer. However, they were starting to lack star power at the top of the card. Mick Foley had retired; Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker were both out with injuries. This really only left Triple H and the Rock at the top of the card and boy did it get repetitive. Undertaker eventually returned with his American Bad-Ass gimmick and that injected some new life, but these were three men that had been in the main event scene for quite some time. This is where Fully Loaded 2000 comes in. The event had three main event matches that were meant to introduce new blood. The Undertaker was feuding with Kurt Angle, the Rock was defending his WWF Championship against Chris Benoit, and in the match I want to spotlight we had Triple H taking on Chris Jericho in a Last Man Standing match.
The build to this match was kind of a long-term one. Chris Jericho challenged Triple H months prior to a WWF Championship match and actually beat him. The decision was reversed due to the referee admitting that he administered a fast count. Later on down the line Triple H would go on to defend his title against a mystery opponent that was revealed to be Jericho. The match, like the previous one, was a good one and Jericho almost walked away with the championship again. Each match the two of them had only highlighted that these two should eventually lock up on Pay-Per-View because they could tear the house down.
The lead in to this match was that Jericho had kissed Stephanie McMahon, Triple H’s wife, at the previous PPV King of the Ring. This led to the rest of D-Generation X involving themselves in one of Jericho’s matches which in turn led to Jericho costing Triple H a shot at the WWF Championship. Jericho would further involve himself in Triple H’s business by causing him to get a stinkface from Rikishi and losing to legendary jobber, the Brooklyn Brawler. Things would escalate even further when Jericho came out to interfere in a match where it looked like DX was about to break up, but it was actually a set up. The assault ended with Jericho being left battered and bloodied. Jericho would go on to demand a Last Man Standing Match against Triple H.
This match was pretty important to Jericho’s career going forward. While he was able to showcase his charisma, humor, and technical ability in previous feuds and matches, he hadn’t quite shown the toughness needed to be taken fully seriously by the fans. He started this one off with a flurry of fast paced offense. When Triple H went on offense Jericho absorbed a great deal of punishment to his taped up ribs but he wouldn’t stay down. A wicked DDT, a sleeper with body scissors, a pedigree, and a few chair shots wouldn’t keep him down either. He would keep getting up and asking for more. Eventually Jericho was able to turn things around and bloodied Triple H with a chair shot. Jericho would be ruthless after this by bulldogging Triple H onto a chair and locking in the Walls of Jericho for a lengthy period of time. He only broke the hold when Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley involved herself in the match and was also put in the Walls of Jericho. The finish would see Triple H laid out on an announce table with Jericho about to attempt a Lionsault but Triple H would hit a low blow and back-suplex Jericho and himself through the table. Triple H would make it up right before the 10 count, but collapsed after the referee called for the bell.
This match really felt like Triple H paying forward the toughness that he got to show in his matches against Cactus Jack. I know Triple H gets a lot of (justified) flack for burying talent back in the day, but his main event run in 99-01 was solid. Jericho made the most of this match and Triple H made him look like a million bucks throughout by selling his ass off. Even in defeat Jericho looked strong as Triple H needed to be helped to the back. I highly recommend this match as it is one of the best Last Man Standing matches WWF/E has ever done.