Looking back at WrestleMania 2000
In early 2000, the World Championship was the focal point for four top wrestlers. Entering the year, Big Show was the champion but lost the belt shortly to Triple H. With Triple H becoming champion and having Stephanie McMahon as his wife, the duo had power over the WWE roster known to fans as the McMahon-Helmsley regime.
The regime played games with many top babyfaces in the WWE, but Mankind suffered the most from the regime in late 1999 and early 2000. At the end of 1999, Mankind lost a career vs. career ladder match against the Rock. The retirement didn’t last when the Rock led a mutiny to get Mankind reinstated. With the entire WWE roster supporting the reinstatement, Mankind got a title match at the Royal Rumble 2000 pay-per-view. Mankind ended up losing a classic street fight encounter to Triple H. However, Mankind got another shot at No Way Out 2000 inside a Hell in a Cell, but this time under his Cactus Jack persona. However, Triple H managed to retain the championship in another brutal encounter, and Mick Foley was forced to retire this time.
Also, at the Royal Rumble, the Rock won the 2000 Royal Rumble match to earn a championship match at WrestleMania XVI. However, the finish of the match was botched, the Rock’s feet hit the floor first, and Big Show had a rightful claim to the championship match. Big Show and Rock squared off at the No Way Out 2000 pay-per-view for the number one contenders spot. With help from Shane McMahon using a chair shot to hit Rock, Big Show claimed an upset victory over the Rock to head to WrestleMania.
A MCMAHON IN EVERY CORNER
With Shane McMahon getting involved, the main event for WrestleMania remained in question. The Rock, determined to main event WrestleMania, put his career on the line on the March 13th, 2000 edition of WWE RAW to challenge Big Show for the spot. Shane McMahon was the referee, but Vince McMahon made his return to the company and helped the Rock win the bout. However, on Smackdown, Shane McMahon put Big Show back into the title match, making the contest a three-way dance.
However, the triple threat match instead occurred on the March 20th, 2000 edition of RAW where Triple H retained the championship. After the contest, Linda McMahon returned to WWE television and revealed that at WrestleMania 2000, Triple H would defend the title in a four-way elimination match. HHH’s opponents would be Big Show, The Rock, and the returning Mick Foley.
The main plot point for the WrestleMania 2000 main event was that there would be a McMahon in every corner. In the main event, Stephanie McMahon would be in the corner of WWE World Champion Triple H, Vince McMahon in the corner of the Rock, Shane McMahon in the corner of the Big Show, and Linda McMahon in the corner of Mick Foley.
Foley and HHH worked over each other early on while the Rock and Big Show battled each other. Show had the first moment of shine, displaying his power by tossing the other three men around the ring. Show gorilla press slammed Rock and HHH to maintain his dominance in the early moments of the bout. However, it wouldn’t take long for the other three men to work together and beat down Big Show. Foley introduces a weapon by jabbing HHH with a chair on the floor and hitting show over the back from the floor. That led to the Rock hitting the Rock Bottom and pinning Show for the first elimination of the match.
The history between Rock, Foley, and HHH made for an intriguing three-way bout. HHH tried to reason with Foley and Rock to work with him, but neither man agreed. Instead, Rock and Foley briefly reunited the Rock n’ Sock Connection to double team HHH. On the floor, Foley held HHH after tossing Rock the ring bell. However, HHH ducked the ring bell shot, and Rock accidentally hit Foley. HHH gained control over his rivals as a result. Foley recovered and brought a barbed wire 2×4 into the mix, which terrified HHH. HHH managed to get the 2×4 after a low blow and hit Foley in the midsection. Foley battled back with a double-arm DDT and signaled for Mr. Socko. HHH struggled to his feet and got Mr. Socko shoved down his throat. However, The Rock entered the ring and nailed HHH with the championship.
Rock signaled for the People’s Elbow, but Foley jumped on Rock and put Mr. Socko on his friend, showing desperation to realize his WrestleMania dream. HHH stopped both men with a low blow. Rock nailed HHH with a clothesline, and Foley almost pinned Rock with a strike of his own. The match’s pace has picked up as all three men look to be champion. Foley dropped Rock with a double-arm DDT for a near fall. Rock responded by kicking a chair into Foley’s face and almost pinning Foley after a DDT.
In a wild turn of events, Foley initiated a partnership with HHH to try and eliminate Rock and allow them to settle their rivalry on the biggest stage of all. Foley and HHH showed good teamwork, but Rock’s constant kicking out showed his heart and desire to be a champion. Rock fought back by sending Foley knees-first into the ring steps. Foley recovered to ram the ring steps into Rock’s face as Rock was choking HHH with a camera cord. Next, Foley jumped off the middle rope, trying to elbow drop Rock through the announcer’s table but came up short and smashed his ribs on the edge of the table.
The union between HHH and Foley came to an end when they returned to the ring, where HHH delivered a pedigree, but Foley kicked out. HHH whacked Foley with a vicious chair shot to the head and connected with another pedigree onto the steel chair to eliminate Foley and end Foley’s career for a second time. Foley returned to the ring and hit HHH over the head with the barbed wire 2×4.
Rock attempted to pin HHH but failed to get a three-count. They battled to the floor, where Rock hit a suplex on the aisle and sent HHH into the stage. After brawling in the crowd momentarily, Rock grabbed the ring steps, but HHH hit the steps with a chair and whacked the steps on top of Rock several times. HHH spiked Rock with a piledriver onto the steel steps. Rock refused to stay down and backdropped HHH over the top to the floor. They brawled into the crowd and ringside for several moments. Finally, Rock put HHH through the announcers table with a suplex. HHH responded with a drop-toe hold, sending Rock face first into the ring steps.
Vince McMahon gets physically involved sending HHH into the ring post-face first. However, Shane McMahon comes down to the ringside area and attacks Vince with strikes. Shane grabs a monitor and viciously smashes Vince on the head with it. Vince recovered quickly from the blow and punched Shane several times until a low blow stopped Vince. Shane whacked Vince over the head with a chair shot, leaving a bloodied Vince on the floor. Vince is helped backstage by Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco.
Rock gets adrenaline and plants HHH with a DDT for a near pin. HHH stops Rock with a knee strike and nails Rock with the barbed wire 2×4. Rock catapults HHH into Shane in the corner and hits the Rock Bottom, but he can’t make the cover. Shane remained in the ring when Vince McMahon ran down and attacked his son. Vince grabbed the chair, and instead of hitting HHH, Vince whacked Rock with the chair. However, Rock refused to stay down on the cover. Vince smashed Rock with a second chair shot over the head, allowing HHH to cover Rock and retain the title in a nearly forty-minute match.
The Anaheim crowd showed their displeasure by throwing trash into the ring as Vince reunited with Stephanie and Shane McMahon. Rock spoiled the reunion by hitting Rock Bottoms on all three McMahon family members. To end the program, Rock delivered the People’s Elbow to Stephanie.
The Rock continued his feud with Triple H over the WWE World Championship as they fought for the gold at the next pay-per-view, Backlash. At Backlash, Rock won the WWE World Championship with help from the returning Steve Austin. Rock and HHH traded the championship over the next two pay-per-views, Judgement Day and King of the Ring. Rock held the title until October losing to Kurt Angle at No Mercy. HHH focused on Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit following his feud with Rock.
After WrestleMania, the McMahon-Helmsley regime remained strong and controlled television for months. However, after King of the Ring, Mick Foley returned as the commissioner of RAW to be a thorn in their side for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, Big Show turned into a comedy character shortly afterward and was taken off television by the summer.
WrestleMania 39 is a two-night event on April 1st, and April 2nd live on Peacock.