Remember When: Chris Jericho vs Triple H – Fully Loaded 2000

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.

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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.

In Memoriam: Vader

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I saw a Vader squash match live back in 1996, but not in the way you’d think.  My mom, her boyfriend at the time, my sister, and I went to the post King of the Ring 1996 taping of Monday Night Raw.  We had pretty decent seats and I can pick us out on the hardcam pretty easily.  We didn’t realize that it wasn’t just the episode that was airing live, but the next three weeks’ worth of episodes were being taped as well.  It made for a long night.

The matches were okay and there were a few Austin 3:16 signs in the crowd, but not nearly as many as there would be in the coming years.  The big angle they were building up to for the next pay-per-view  was a 6-man tag team match that would pit Camp Cornette, which consisted of Owen Hart, British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, and Vader, against Ahmed Johnson, the Ultimate Warrior, and Shawn Michaels.  There was an angle midway through the tapings where Owen Hart took on Warrior and it ended in Warrior getting beaten down by all of Camp Cornette.  This would actually be the last time Warrior would be in a televised match with the WWF/WWE.  Warrior was taken to the back and later on there was an announcement that he had been taken to one of the local hospitals.  Vader was advertised to wrestle him in one of the main events of the show so my sister and I were really bummed out that the match wasn’t going to happen.

What we didn’t realize was that after the tapings the matches that were advertised as main events were “dark matches” that wouldn’t air on television.  We got to see Undertaker and Mankind brawl a few feet away from us and Michaels put down Goldust with one superkick.  We did get to see that Vader/Warrior match as well.  Warrior came charging out from the back like a bat out of hell wearing a hospital gown and hit Vader with three clotheslines and  splash to pick up the win to send everyone home happy.  It was so strange seeing the guy who took Sting to his limit and could take a beating from Cactus Jack get squashed, but it made sense the older I got.  All of us in the crowd were tired after being there for 4+ hours of wrestling and just wanted to go home.  It was, unfortunately, the only time I ever got to see Vader wrestle live.

That squash also sums up Vader’s stint in WWF pretty well where it was something you were looking forward to, but they never got it quite right.  But honestly, he didn’t need a WWF run as by the time he got there he was already a legend in Japan and had carved out a spot in WCW’s history as well.  His stiff brutal style, quickness, and ability to go to the top rope inspired so many other “big men” wrestlers over the years.  It’s hard to watch a Keith Lee match and not spot a little bit of Vader’s influence.  If you’ve got the time and inclination, I would strongly suggest checking out more of Vader’s work.  A lot of it still stands up today.  His matches with Sting never disappointed and his feud with Cactus Jack was a brutal one.  If you can though, his match with Ric Flair at Starrcade 1993 is a great David vs Goliath type match and may be one of the best matches that tells that kind of story.  He’ll be missed by many, but his work will live forever.

How Did You Become A Fan?

When I tell people I’m a wrestling fan they usually ask one of two things.  If they’re not a fan themselves, they’ll ask why I like something that’s fake.  I really hate that question because being a fan of wrestling is really no different than being a fan of a comic book, movie, or TV series.  It’s storytelling done in an entertaining format.  If they’re a fan, they’ll ask me how I became a fan.

I remember watching wrestling pretty early in my childhood, but it was never for very long.  I know I watched old episodes of World Class Championship Wrestling and I even remember seeing the old Piper’s Pit segment where Andre turned on Hogan.  It wasn’t until about a year later that I got hooked.

It was a Saturday morning episode of either WWF Superstars or WWF Challenge, I can’t remember which, but they were spotlighting a recent episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event.  They were highlighting a recent match between the Honky Tonk Man and this man:

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Macho Man Randy Savage and his manager Miss Elizabeth

They showed some highlights from the match, but mainly the end of it.  Macho Man had the match won and Honky’s buddies, The Hart Foundation, broke up the pin and the three of them beat the Macho Man down.  Honky got his guitar and was about to smash it over Macho Man’s head when his manager, Miss Elizabeth, came in to prevent him from getting hit.  She eventually left and Macho got smashed anyway.

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Ouch

A few minutes later Miss Elizabeth came back with reinforcements:  the current WWF champ, Hulk Hogan.  The two of them cleared the ring and faced off.  Eventually they shook hands and this led to the creation of the Mega-Powers.  This was also the angle that absolutely hooked me: the rise, fall, and redemption of the Macho Man Randy Savage.

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The formation of the Mega-Powers

To this day I still don’t know why this particular moment was what hooked me, but it did.  I became a huge fan of the Macho Man and this led to me being a lifelong wrestling fan.  What keeps me hooked and what keeps me coming back varies over time.  It might be a killer storyline that draws me back in, like the several years’ long feud and friendship of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn or Kevin Steen and El Generico as they were formerly known.  It might be something like finally discovering how cool an indy promotion is like Progress Wrestling.  All I know is I love it and I’ll probably always be hooked.  So now I’ll ask you, how did you become a fan?