Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 6 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: NWA Starrcade '83: A Flare for the Gold

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold Review - Event poster
November 24, 1983 
Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina

"Folks, we've come a long way since Ric Flair vs. Harley Race at Starrcade '83."

That was Tony Schiavone, commenting at the end of a Bunhouse Street Fight between Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Brothers and The Filthy Animals at Starrcade 2000.

That one single line sticks out to me more than anything else that happened on that show. It stuck out partly because of how bewildered and bemused by the state of then-modern pro wrestling that was evident in Schiavone's voice.

After all, he was there at the very beginning. He'd seen it all -the good, the bad, and The Yhetti. So if anyone knew how much things had changed, it was Tony.







It also stuck out to me because it made me realise that I'd never actually seen Starrcade 1983. Not once had I sat down to witness the birth of an event that would often be referred to in later years as 'WCW's answer to Wrestlemania.'

Of course, that simply wasn't true. If anything, Wrestlemania was the WWF's answer to Starrcade, an event which proceeded Vince's annual spectacle by a good two years.

Without further ado then, let's head down to the Greensborough Coliseum for the debut of the NWA/WCW's flagship event.


Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold

Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle host the show, but there’s no opening gambit, no video package or special welcome, just straight to the ring for our opening match.

The Assassins (w/Paul Jones) vs.  NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Rufus R. Jones & Bugsy McGraw.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - The Assasins beat on Rufus R. Jones
If you ever find yourself in a pro wrestling trivia contest and are asked to name the participants of the first-ever Starrcade match, don’t feel too bad if you don’t remember it.

After all, there was nothing particularly memorable about tonight’s opening contest.

Sure,  NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw were entertaining in their own unique way, throwing their arms around a lot and doing the whole ‘crazy babyface’ thing, but much of the actual action was nothing to write home about.

After minutes, the masked Assassins pulled a switch-a-roo to score a win that this writer did not see coming.
Your Winners: The Assasins

After the official welcome from Caudle and Solie, we went backstage to a fresh-faced Tony Schiavone. One thing I will say, I love how Solie pronounced Tony’s name as Sch-Phoney.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone hangs out backstage as Roddy Piper talks to Ric Flair and Mark Youngblood
Anyway, out in the back, the NWA/WCW mainstay told us that tonight he would be conducting exclusive backstage interviews from inside the locker room, something Schiavone claimed was a first in pro wrestling.

Whether it was or not, I couldn’t say, but I did enjoy this segment. As the company’s future lead announcer spoke, we saw Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper talking in the background.

At one point, Charlie Brown from Outa Town (Jimmy Valiant in a mask) walked by and then Ricky Steamboat came up to say hi to Flair and Piper, all showing us that the wrestlers -at least the babyfaces- all shared one dressing room.

If you ask me, that was far more realistic than pretending every wrestler had his own dressing room like the major companies would eventually do.

Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (w/Gary Hart)

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (w/Gary Hart)
Our second tag match of the evening was a decent contest but again, not something that anybody would remember or be in any hurry to rush out and see.

Scott McGhee played face-in-peril for a while before finally making the hot tag to Johnny Weaver, but neither man was any match for Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin on this night.

The nefarious heels used multiple quick tags to get the better of their opponents before picking up the win with - of all things- a flying knee to the arm courtesy of Mark Lewin.

Well, come on, it was 1983.
Your Winners: Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin

Post-match, Garry Hart gave his men some kind of spike that Sullivan and Lewin used to stab McGhee in the face multiple times until he bled like the proverbial stuck pig.

Angelo Mosca eventually made the save, but the damage had already been done.  After a brief struggle, Mosca sent the heels packing then lifted McGhee over his shoulder and carried him out of the arena like a baby.

Harley Has Done his Homework

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone interviews Harley Race, with Greg Valentine and Gerry Brisco
Somewhere on the front row, Barbara Clary interviewed a family of fans who were all excited to see Ric Flair win his match with Harley Race later on in the show.

Meanwhile, out in the back, Tony Schiavone had words with the World Heavyweight Champion himself. Flanked by US champion Greg Valentine and tag team champions The Briscos, Race took his time and cut a deliberate, almost sinister promo in which he claimed to have spoken to people who knew his opponent well and had learned everything he needed to know about Flair's flaws and weaknesses.

Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah The Butcher

The announcers told us that this match had been banned in Puerto Rico, presumedly for being too violent.

To be honest, there wasn't much to this match. I've never really seen the appeal in Abdullah The Butcher and this did little to change my mind.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Carlos Calon attacks Abdullah the Butcher
Early on, Abby got Carlos Colon in the corner and discretely stabbed him with an International Object out of view of the referee.

A little while later, Colon managed to seize control of the object and stab The Butcher repeatedly with it. It was done in such a way that we were supposed to believe he was hiding the weapon, but the referee had to be a blind idiot not to see it.

Eventually, the official got knocked down by Carlos and inadvertently squashed by Abby. Colon applied a figure four, but future WWF Spanish Commentator Hugo Savinovich ran in and hit him in the head with something.

One three-count from a groggy official later and this was all wrapped up.

As I say, there wasn't much to this match and I can't really rate it all that highly, but to give them their credit, something these two did really got the crowd fired up.
Your Winner: Abdullah The Butcher

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Angelo Mosca cuts an angry promo about Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin
Backstage, Angelo Mosca was nursing a wound he suffered while rescuing Scott McGhee from the hands of Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin.

With a battered, bloody McGhee slumped by his side and looking like he might die at any moment, Mosca cut an impassioned promo in which he scolded Lewin and declared that even if he had only one arm, he'd still be on hand to referee tonight's tag team championship match.

Out in the crowd, Barbara Clary interviewed two young women with awesome 80s haircuts. Both girls were looking forward to seeing Ric Flair take the title later on in the show.

Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr. vs. Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood

If you like tag team matches, this is the show for you. We're currently on three tag matches out of four matches total, and there's at least one more to follow in the form of the tag team title match.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood faced Dick Slater and Bob Orton Jr.
Fortunately, this one was far superior to the other two and proved to be highly enjoyable from beginning to end.

Not from the very beginning, you understand - at the very beginning, the ring announcer decided that this was the most appropriate time to tell us that Dusty Rhodes was in the house, but his mic cut out so it was all kinds of awkward and weird.

But after that, the two teams went at it in a really solid bout.

Mark Youngblood did almost all of the work for his team, throwing dropkicks around like candy and playing face-in-peril before making the crowd-popping hot tag to Wahoo McDaniel.

Alas, his efforts were for nought.

Dick Slater and Bob Orton Jr. -both of whom looked awesome throughout this match- got the win when Orton drilled Youngblood with a second-rope superplex.
Your Winners: Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr.

Afterwards, Slater and Orton took turns attacking McDaniel's arm like the dastardly heels that they were.

Flair is Ready for Race

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Ric Flair chats to Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat backstage
Backstage, a sombre Ric Flair told Tony Sch-Phoney that he was ready for Harley Race before wishing his friends, Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat, luck in their upcoming tag team title match.

In response, Jay Youngblood mumbled his way through an ill-advised promo in which he talked about training with Flair at Steamboat's gym.

This was not good at all.

Dusty Rhodes Says it All...


...well, at least he tried to.

Out in the crowd, Barbara Clarey attempted an interview with The American Dream only for the show to suffer audio difficulties once again.

Dusty didn’t care one bit that nobody could hear him. He went off on what looked like a very impassioned promo, but honestly, you couldn’t hear a word of it.

‘Dusty Rhodes said it all there,’ said Sollie said with a level of sincerity that made the whole thing hilarious before adding... 'well, if you can read his lips, you can tell what he’s saying’

Title vs. Mask Match for the National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World TV Champion The Great Kabuki (w/ Garry Hart) vs. Charlie Brown

True story:

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - The Great Kabuki defended the TV title against Charlie Brown
Once upon a time in the early 90s, I found an old VHS tape on a market stall that featured a few NWA matches. Many years later, the only wrestler I remember being on that tape besides Ric Flair was Charlie Brown from Outa Town.

If you’re not familiar with Brown, he was better known as Jimmy Valiant doing a Masked Rider/Mr America ‘everybody-knows-who-I-really-am-but-I’m-denying-it’ gimmick.

The story was that The Great Kabuki’s manager, Gary Hart wanted to prove that Brown was Valiant, so he put Kabuki’s TV title on the line against Brown’s mask for the first fifteen minutes of the scheduled sixty-minute time limit.

The actual match was pretty captivating in a way that you don’t see all that much of these days.

The challenger spent the first half of the match applying sleeper holds to the champion. Every time he did, Gordon Solie would remind us how ironic this was because the sleeper was invented in Kabuki’s home country of Japan.

In the second half of the match, the man from the Orient clamped a claw on his masked nemesis and held it there for as long as possible.

Nothing much happened, but both the competitors and the announcers sold each hold like it meant something important, and that was enough to get this fan fully invested.

After a decent contest, Charlie Brown from Outta Town hit a basic elbow drop on the legendary Great Kabuki to capture the TV title.

Ah, the 80s. Such a simpler time.
Your Winner and NEW TV Champion: Charlie Brown

Cutting to the announcers, Bob Caudle interviewed some guy from the radio who I’m pretty sure they said was called Dude Walker.

Dude Walker. Seriously.

Anyway, like everyone else on the show, the dude abided by the script and told us he was sure Ric Flair would win, though Sollie was adamant that we couldn’t count out Harley Race just yet.

After all, said Sollie, he was the only man in history to be a seven-time world champion.

Meanwhile, Flair was only a two-time world champion. What a chump.

Race Reveals His Game Plan

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone hangs out with Harley Race, Bob Orton, and Dick Slater
Out in the back, Tony Schiavone interviewed Dick Slater, Bob Orton, and Harley Race.

Slater and Orton bragged about previously taking Flair out on orders of the champion, but now that the Nature Boy was at Starrcade, Race revealed that he was gunning for the champion’s neck.

I don’t know about you, but I would’ve kept that information to myself so that my opponent didn’t have time to plan a defence, though I’m not a seven-time champion so what do I know?

Rhodes Wants the Winner

Elsewhere, they tried again with Barbara Clarey interviewing Dusty Rhodes and this time got a better result.

In a short promo, the ever-charismatic ‘Dream predicted a win for Race and declared that he was coming after the champ’s title once Starrcade was over.

Dog Collar Match
NWA US Champion Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Greg Valentine hurts Roddy Piper in their classic Dog Collar Match
There’s a reason why this match is so legendary:

It was really, really good.

You know how some matches look a bit too polished with spots which, though they look impressive, are clearly well-choreographed?

This wasn’t one of those matches.

This was two men who hated each other battering one another to a bloody pulp until neither one could stand.

It was violent, it was brutal, and the creative use of the chain linking the two dog collars made it all the more engrossing.

By far the best match on the card up to this point, this one came to an end when Piper smashed his opponent’s face in and got the three count.
Your Winner: Roddy Piper

Afterwards, Valentine avenged his loss by beating Piper senseless. At least he kept his belt as this was a non-title match.

Flair is Ready

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Another Ric Flair promo, this time with Wahoo McDaniel
Backstage, we got another interview with Ric Flair because why not?

I get that they were going all out to make the main event a big deal, but two promos a piece from champ and challenger seemed excessive, especially when neither man had much to add in their second segment.

To be fair to Flair (TM Bobby Heenan), he did address a beat-up Wahoo McDaniel who was sitting next to him and thanked Daniel for helping get him ready for tonight because, if you didn’t already know, he really was ready.

Out in the crowd, Barbara Clary interviewed former tag team champion, Don Kernodle, for his tights on the upcoming tag team title match.

Kernodle also predicted a win for Flair.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions Jack & Gerry Brisco vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood

Special Referee: Angelo Mosca

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Jack Brisco takes down Ricky Steamboat
If you’re only familiar with Gerald Brisco as a figure of fun from the Attitude Era, this one might surprise you.

He and his brother Jack Brisco were great wrestlers who put on an absolutely excellent tag team title match with Steamboat and Youngblood.

I know I complained earlier about there being too many tag team matches on the show, but honestly, when they’re this good, it’s not a chore at all.

No frills, no fancy gimmicks, just a solid back-and-forth wrestling match that ended with a win for Youngblood and Steamboat.

Very good indeed.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood

Post-match, the booking committee once again ran the heel-attacks-the-face angle they’d run after like 80% of tonight’s matches.

This time, however, the good guys prevailed and proceeded to indulge in a lengthy celebration with their newly-won titles.

As the champs paraded through the crowd, the credits came up on the screen with Gordon Sollie trying in earnest to put over each member of the production crew.

It was kind of sweet, but also strangely very funny.

Of interest, one of the cameramen listed was none other than future WCW Head of Security, Doug Dellinger.

A Word With the Victors

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone interviews new TV Champion, Charlie Brown From Outta Town
Out in the back, Nature Boy Ric Flair paced up and down while Schiavone interviewed some of tonight’s winners.

First up, Charlie Brown raved like a wild loon about how good it was to be the new TV champion.

In a complete contrast in tone, Piper then talked about Greg Valentine busting up his ear before challenging Valentine for the US title.

Finally, Youngblood and Steamboat addressed their unprecedented (for the time) fifth tag team championship reign.

Jay Youngblood had way more charisma than his brother Mark, cutting a convincing promo about his and Steamboat’s success.

He was even more charismatic than Steamboat himself, who tried his best to inject a little passion into his speech about competing with the best in the world and coming out on top.

Hey Look, It's Dusty Again

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Barbara Clary interviews Dusty Rhodes with some fans
I don't have too many legitimate complaints about Starrcade '83, but this insistence on constantly interviewing the same guys was getting pretty old.

Race had two promos, Flair had two promos, and now Rhodes had three promos and he wasn't even booked in a match.

This time, Barbara Clary interviewed him while he hung out with three girls who predicted that Flair (who else?) would take home the gold. After that, Dusty cut another promo in which he excitedly said his own name a lot and not much else.

Look, I love 'Dream as much as the next fan, but this was unnecessary.

After that, a performer called James 'Tiny' Weeks sang the National Anthem.

Steel Cage Match National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair

Though it looked slow compared to the modern fast-paced-workrate-rules-all style of pro wrestling and featured none of the insane spots you'd probably find in a cage match today, this was a classic old-school battle which more than deserves its legendary status.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Ric Flair battles Harley Race in their classic cage match
After some grand entrances that made this one stand out as a really huge deal, and after both men received a somewhat overly long address from the referee and former world champion Gene Kiniski, champ and challenger went at it in an intense, bloody war for the ages.

Flair started off wrestling methodically, taking the champion to the mat and attempting to wear him down. Reversing a front face lock into a suplex (or *suplé* if you're Gordon Sollie), Race then took control and stayed true to his word, beating down on his opponent's neck with brute force.

What followed was a brilliant seesaw battle in which both men got progressively more violent as time ticked on.

Of course, given that the whole show was built around Flair as the hero, the outcome was never really in question, but it sure was a joy to watch it unfold.

After an excellent match, Flair scaled the top rope and hit Race with a crossbody block. Referee Kiniski had taken a tumble and was on all fours, waiting for Flair to knock Race and Race to go tumbling over him, school-boy style. However, somebody was out of position so it didn't quite come off right, but it still led to the cover, the count, and the fall.

I'm not certain, but I wonder if that's the only time Flair has gone to the top and not been immediately thrown off. Still, given that it earned him a world title in one of his most legendary matches, it's no wonder Nature Boy would spend the rest of his career trying to hit that move again.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

Post-match, the babyface locker room spilt out into the ring to lift Flair on their shoulders and celebrate with the new champion as a defeated Harley Race looked on in shock and frustration.

After a kiss from his wife, Flair took to the microphone to address the crowd and thank them for their support.

Usually, this is where a show would end, but this was the NWA in 1983, so we got another ten minutes of promos.

First, we went to the back, where Ricky Steamboat congratulated the new champion. Flair was grateful for Steamboat helping him train and promised that if Ricky ever needed anything, he'd be there. It was interesting watching these two be such close friends after reviewing the epic battle they'd have at Wrestlewar '89 a few years later.

Dusty Rhodes then arrived on the scene and warned Flair that he was coming after his title. Unperturbed, Nature Boy insisted that he wasn't going to worry about that right now, and was only focussed on celebrating his big victory.

Then, after a lengthy summary from the announcers, we went to Harly Race's dressing room. With Barbara Clary holding the mic, the fallen champion insisted that despite losing the title, he wasn't going away.

Funnily enough, that's exactly what he did. Race would leave for the AWA the following year before showing up in the WWF in 1986 so that he could pretend to be a king and have that ridiculous brawl with Hacksaw Jim Duggan at the 37th Annual Slammy Awards.

Still, at the time, Harley insisted that he was gunning for his eighth world title and told the new champion to enjoy it while it lasted.

After more chatter from Caudle and Sollie, we went back to the babyface locker room once again were two funny things happened.

1: Flair said that tonight wasn't just about him, but was about people like "Roddy Piper Jimmy Valiant, and everyone who participated in this event" - thus blowing Valiant's 'Charlie Brown' cover.

2: The babyfaces had a champagne celebration. In the background, Jay Youngblood clearly got some champagne in his eye or had some other unfortunate incident and was seen stumbling around and having a bad time. I can't tell you why, but I found that hysterical.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the first-ever Starrcade, a great show that was a far cry from the last event some 17 years later.







I mean that, too.

Although the first half of the show was nothing too special, the last three matches alone make Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold must-see viewing.

It's a testament to Piper and Valentine that in an age when we've seen just about every act of violence and creative spot under the sun, their barbaric and bloody dog collar match remains as compelling today as it ever did.

The tag team title match was a pure joy to watch, featuring some of the crispest, solid wrestling you're likely to come across.

Then, there's the main event. Often regarded as a passing of the proverbial torch from Race to Flair, this was an utterly gripping title match that more than earned its legacy.



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Thursday, 30 July 2020

PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 2000

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Event poster
December 17, 2000 
MCI Center, Washington, D.C.

Before there was Wrestlemania, there was Starrcade. 


Originally promoted by Jim Crocket Promotions as a National Wrestling Alliance event and was one of the first major events of its type, pre-dating the WWF's use of closed-circuit TV by a good 18 months.

Headlined by a brutal and bloody steel cage match between seven-time World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race and his arch-rival Nature  Boy Ric Flair, the show had been a critical success and was heralded as their premier event ever since.

17 years later, the company that had become World Championship Wrestling had been in a rapid decline for some years and was now just a few short months away from closing its doors, but not without presenting Starrcade just one last time.







Here's what went down when the last ever WCW Starrcade show came to us live from Washington, D.C.

Tonight’s the Night

And so the last ever Starrcade got underway with a rather unremarkable video package highlighting some of the ten matches we’d see on tonight’s show.

Heading into the arena, we got fireworks galore and a greeting from Tony Schiavone, all of which did at least try and make the show sound like it was a big deal.

Cruiserweight Time

Cameras then panned to an envelope suspended from the rafters which the announcers told us contained a guaranteed shot at Chavo Guerrero’s Cruiserweight championship.

On cue, that awesome theme music Eddy Guerrero used to use came on and his nephew Chavo sauntered to ringside to do commentary.

Triple Ladder Match
3 Count (Sugar Shane Helms and Shannon Moore) vs. The Jung Dragons (Kaz Hayashi & Yang w/ Leia Meow) vs. Jamie Noble & Evan Karagious
Winner Receives a Cruiserweight Title Match

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Leia Meow led The Jung Dragons into battle against 3 Count and Knoble & Karagias
This was a spotfest with over-complicated booking, a few blown spots, and a few timing issues, but despite all that, it was awesome.

It was complicated in the fact that it was a three-team match with a shot at a singles title but it was never explained if the three teams were supposed to work together or if it was every-man-for-himself.

The botched and timing issues took you out of the moment temporarily, but there was always something more exciting and elaborate to immediately sweep you back into the action.

Though I get that not everyone is a fan of these type of stunt shows, this writer found it to be a gloriously fun opener that everyone involved in should be immensely proud of.

After the better part of twenty minutes, Shane Helms and Shannon Moore both retrieved the contract, much to the chagrin of guest commentator Guerrero.
Your Winners: 3 Count

As was becoming the norm in WCW, we got multiple backstage segments crammed into about 45 seconds:

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Jeff Jarrett confronted Commissioner Mike Sanders backstage
A sombre-looking Hacksaw Jim Duggan was polishing his 2x4 (seriously) when Lance Storm came in and told him that the office had been thinking of firing Duggan before he joined Team Canada. Besides, claimed Storm, the American fans would never take Hacksaw back after he turned on them at Fall Brawl 2000, so sticking with the Canadians was his only option.

Jeff Jarrett complained to Mike Sanders that while his opponent wanted a street fight, he wanted a bunkhouse match. Double J then convinced Sanders to combine the two into one match even though they were pretty much the same thing anyway.

Finally, Kronik for some reason had brought a camera to film them sitting naked (except for a towel) in a steam room.

The two agreed that the job they’d been hired for tonight was so special that they wouldn’t even demand cash up front.

“Man, am I baked,” said Brian Adams.

And people wonder why this company went out of business three months later.

Lance Storm (w/ Major Gunns & ‘Prime Time’ Eli’s Skipper) vs. The Cat (w/ Miss Jones)

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Lance Storm cuts a pre-match promo before facing Ernest 'The Cat' Miller
Lance Storm was awesome so, naturally, WCW completely misused him.

Back at Mayhem, Ernest Miller cost Storm the US title and the two had been feuding ever since. Meanwhile, Duggan -a member of Team Canada- had cost his teammates a mixed-tag against Miller and Major Gunns.

Tonight’s match was surprisingly good, though more so because of the rampant overbooking and general chaos than any of the actual wrestling.

At one point, they teased having Major Gunns and Miss Jones go at it in the ring, but this went nowhere.

After more chaos, Hacksaw came down and reluctantly cost The Cat the match after what was overall a fun encounter.
Your Winner: Lance Storm

Post-match, Storm snd Elix Skipper thanked Duggan by beating him up until Miller came back and saved the man who’d just cost him the match.

More Backstage Stuff

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Buff Bagwell interviews The Filthy Animals
Out in the back, Buff Bagwell revealed himself to be WCW’s new interviewer. Please don’t tell me this means no more Pamela Paulshock. I really liked her.

Anyway, after proving that he had so little value to the company that he wasn’t even booked in a match, Bagwell interviewed The Filthy Animals.

With Tygress and Rey Mysterio Jr. standing by, Konnan and Billy Kidman insisted that they weren’t scared about the upcoming Bunkhouse match because they didn’t even know what it was.

Way to make that seem important, guys.

Elsewhere, Reno and his former-rival-turned-partner Big Vito were walking backstage with a woman named Marie when The Natural Born Thrillers confronted Reno and mockingly urged him to rejoin them.

This went nowhere.

World Championship Wrestling Hardcore Championship
WCW Hardcore Champion Crowbar (w/ Daffney) vs. Terry Funk

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Terry Funk challenged Crowbar for the Hardcore title
Could it be? Was WCW’s last show of 2000 really shaping up to be the best one of the year?

OK, so the bar was so incredibly low for the company that even their best wasn’t all that great, but if you got rid of all the annoying backstage stuff, this was shaping up to be a fun show.

Not fun in the sense of watching an all-time classic, you understand, but more in the same way that you might consider watching a mindless half-hour of Family Guy to be kind of fun.

Anyway, this match was a blast.

It started backstage, where Daffney criticized Crowbar’s 70s gimmick for making him soft.

Before he could properly respond, the Hardcore champion was attacked by Terry Funk.

The two proceeded to beat the crap out of each other throughout the backstage area, even hopping up onto the back of a truck for an enjoyable few spots.

After a somewhat lengthy (by Hardcore standards) battle, the two made their way to the ring where Funk hit the champion with a piledriver on a discarded car door to claim the title.

As with everything on this show, it wasn’t amazing, but it sure was enjoyable.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Terry Funk

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Team Canada
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Team Canada.

Lance Storm told Gene that Hacksaw’s dismissal from the group had been a long time coming before horny old man Okerlund invited Major Gunns to raise her flag up a different pole.

Ahem.

Elsewhere in the arena, Lex Luger started to get ready for his No DQ match with Goldberg and revealed that he was packing a set of brass knuckles, just in case.

Big Vito & Reno (w/ Marie) vs. Kronik (Brian Adams & Bryan Clarke)

Reno and Vito were both stocky bald men so that made them brothers in WCW’s eyes.

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Big Vito & Reno (w/ Marie) faced Kronik
They came out with their sister Marie, an attractive young woman who Brian Adams accused of paying them to take out her brothers.

Marie protested this, and pretty soon it turned out you had to be as gullible and naive as a pro wrestling announcer not to realize who was the real mastermind.

Vito wrestled almost the entire match, playing the race in peril for a really long time. When he finally made the hot tag, Reno turned on his brother and rejoined The Natural Born Thrillers because HA! SWERVE!

The actual match was OK at best, but the story was vaguely compelling enough just to keep you interested.

Reno then pinned his brother, but even WCW knew this was dumb and the match was declared a no contest.
No Contest
Afterwards, Reno paid Kronik while a theme tune that was a straight rip off of Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ played.

WCW Starrcade 2000 - General Rection cut a backstage promo on Shane DouglasIt's All Kicking Off Backstage 

Backstage, Mean Gene tried to interview 3-Count but they were interrupted, and then beaten up, by Chavo Guerrero.

Across the way, Buff Bagwell wanted to know the MIA’s thoughts on their former member’s actions, but General Rection was only concerned with letting Shane Douglas know that he was no stepping stone for the Franchise.

Neither of these segments were very interesting.

Ambulance Match
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Mike Awesome

So far, this had been a decent show from an in-ring perspective, but this one really sucked the life out of Starrcade.

That’s a shame because you could tell that Awesome was trying hard to get the crowd invested, but sadly nobody cared about this match at all.

It was lifeless and uninspired, with the most interesting thing to happen coming from the announce team, who casually referenced Bam Bam Bigelow’s Wrestlemania 11 match with Lawrence Taylor.

Mike Awesome win by dropping Bigelow through the roof of the ambulance.

Blah.
Your Winner: Mike Awesome

Out in the back, Mean Gene interviewed The Natural Born Thrillers. Reno gloated about turning his back on Vito to rejoin his ‘real family,’ the Thrillers. After that, The Perfect Event gloated about how much they were going to kick ass in their match later.

Credit where it’s due, these guys were pretty good at playing the cocky young jocks.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW US Champion General Rection vs. Shane Douglas

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Shane Douglas blamed General Rection for Torrie Wilson leaving
Before the match, Shane Douglas blamed General Rection for Torrie Wilson not being by his side, but never fully explained why.

Once the bell rang, both champ and challenger worked a solid match that was met with nigh-on silence by the crowd.

That’s a shame because you got the feeling that had this been a contest between two men the audience actually cared about, it would have even the most cynical of fans giving it some kudos.

Even when Rection looked to have a bloody Franchise beaten and called for his signature moonsault, the crowd responded with little more than a half-hearted whimper.

As it happened, Douglas moved out of harm’s way and tried to blast the champion with a steel chain, but Rection blocked it and the match continued.

At that point, Chavo Guerrero came down and at first looked as though he was helping Douglas out by throwing him the chain and distracting referee Charles Robinson, though he did then alert Lil Naitch as to what was going on so that he could turn around and disqualify the challenger.

Dumb finish aside, this was a solid effort between two men who, sadly, the crowd didn’t seem to care about at all.
Your Winner by DQ and Still US Champion: General Rection

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Mean Gene interviews World Champion Scott Steiner & Midajah
Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund asked World Heavyweight Champion Scott Steiner to address his upcoming title defense against Sid Vicious. Big Poppa Pump, however, was more concerned with talking about ‘hitting switches on b**ches’ and getting it on with his freaks after the match.

A vignette then aired to hype the return of Glacier to WCW.

This time around, the gimmick would be played for laughs and was treated as little more than a comedy gimmick.

The Insiders are In Their Prime

Back in the arena, Kevin Nash goofed around with his former nWo buddy Buff Bagwell while his current partner, Diamond Dallas Page got serious.

Page stared down the camera as he addressed The Natural Born Thrillers, insisting that he and Nash had both aged like fine wine and were still in their prime and that tonight, they would reclaim the tag team titles.

Dallas looked like he was committed here, but it was quite funny to see that Nash had clearly given up any pretence of giving a damn about anything.

Bunkhouse Street Fight
Jeff Jarrett and The Harris Brothers (Heavy D & Big Ron) vs. The Filthy Animals (Konnan, Rey Mysterio, and Billy Kidman w/ Tygress)

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Jeff Jarrett puts Billy Kidman to sleep
Before the match, Jeff Jarrett once again gloated about having a bunkhouse match and a street fight rolled into one.

Even the announcers struggled -and eventually gave up on- trying to explain the difference.

The actual bout was surprisingly fun for a basic weapons-filled garbage match, the main highlight of which was Rey Mysterio Jr. getting powerbombed from the ring into a dumpster outside the ring.

After that, the referee then inexplicably began enforcing tags, turning what had previously been a tornado-style free-for-all into a standard six-man, albeit with weapons and such.

I suppose you could argue that this was the transition from bunkhouse into street fight, but you’d probably lose that argument pretty quickly.

After a fun contest, Jarrett destroyed Kidman with The Stroke to claim victory for a team Mark Madden referred to as The Nashville World Order.
Your Winners: Jeff Jarrett & The Harris Brothers

A promo video then aired to promote the company’s next PPV, Sin before Buff Bagwell tried to interview The Sarge, Dwayne Bruce.

The Power Plant Head trainer has been brought in to talk about his most successful protege, Goldberg.

Before he could say much, however, The Sarge was attacked by Goldberg’s opponent, Lex Luger.

Killing time while the ring was cleared of its plunder, we got some discussion among the announcers.

“We’ve come a long way from Ric Flair and Harley Race in 1983,” said Schiavone.

Yes Tony, yes you have.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Perfect Event (Shawn Stasiak & Chuck Palumbo w/ Mike Sanders) vs. The Insiders (Diamond Dallas Page & Kevin Nash)

WCW Starrcade 2000 - The Natural Born Thrillers protest CEO Ric Flair's decisions
This was tremendous, not because it was a five-star workrate classic or anything, but because it was the first thing on the actual show that felt legitimately super over.

The crowd loved Page and Nash and were genuinely invested in every moment of the match while Shawn Stasiak & Chuck Palumbo were -as I said earlier- starting to nail the cocky jock heel role.

The only sore spot was Ric Flair, who came out before the match and told Mike Sanders that if he went anywhere near the ring, The Perfect Event would be stripped their titles.

He then repeated his insistence that Sanders was to go nowhere near the ring before realizing he had it wrong and changing to Sanders being allowed in the ring as long as he didn’t put a foot inside it.

It was stupid, but even that couldn’t take away from what was a thoroughly enjoyable match.

After a good show, Nash obliterated Palumbo with the Jackknife and this one was all over.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Insiders

Post-match, Kevin Nash grabbed a microphone and gave us a ‘hey yo,’ an obvious shout-out to Scott Hall.

No Disqualification Match
Lex Luger vs. Goldberg
Goldberg’s career on the line

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Bill Goldberg's career was on the line against Lex Luger
This won’t be the first time I’ve said this about something on a WCW show and, with three more PPVs to go, it certainly won’t be the last,  but this was dumb.

In the opening minutes, both men gave us the best match that they were capable of giving us.

Granted, that was nothing too special, but if you were watching Goldberg vs. Luger and expecting dragon screw leg whips and tope con hilos, you were only setting yourself up for disappointment.

No, the match was as good as it could have been until The Sarge came down with Buff Bagwell trying to urge him not to get involved.

Honestly, the moment Bagwell stepped out, it was incredibly obvious that he would turn heel at any moment.

Sure enough, after first pretending to ‘accidentally’ hit Goldberg with his Buff Blockbuster, he turned on Sarge and beat him up outside the ring.

On a few occasions, Goldberg looked directly at this happening but completely ignored it and carried on while the announcers tried to convince us that he had no idea Buff had attacked Sarge.

Seriously.

An eventual jackhammer gave us the predictable result.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Afterwards, Bagwell destroyed Goldberg with a chair to cement his turn. Quite why he couldn't have done this in the actual match and helped Luger end Big Bill’s career is anyone’s guess.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Scott Steiner (w/ Midajah) vs. Sid Vicious

WCW Starrcade 2000 - Scott Steiner defended the World Heavyweight title against Sid Vicious
I don’t care what you say, I enjoyed the heck out of this match.

On paper, it looked to be a thoroughly underwhelming match, but both champ and challenger played to their strengths to give us a captivating big man match with a thrilling ending that really kept you in suspense and made it look as though either man could’ve won at any moment.

One thing I will say, people gave John Cena crap over the years for his weak-looking STF, but Scotty’s Steiner Recliner never looked like it hurt much at all.

Still, Big Poppa Pump applied it multiple times before Sid finally passed out, bringing this surprisingly awesome match to an end.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Scott Steiner

Post-match, Steiner, and Midajah posed with the title to end the show.







And so, with less than four months of their existence left, World Championship Wrestling had put on one of their best shows of the year, if not the last several years.

Ok, so there was still a lot of stuff that made you roll your eyes, and none of the matches were must-see classics, but Starrcade 2000 didn’t suck, and for WCW that was a pretty big achievement in itself.

It almost seems a shame that the company were finally getting their act together so close to the end but alas, even a fun show like this one was too little, too late.



For other year 2000 pro wrestling reviews see:
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Thursday, 23 July 2020

GAME REVIEW: Legends of Wrestling - PlayStation 2 (2001)

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Game Cover
Confession time: I've been meaning to write this review of Legends of Wrestling for at least three years, if not more. 

I picked up a second-hand copy of the game back in 2016, sold on the excitement of being able to play a game featuring a huge collection of wrestling heroes from multiple decades and promotions. I mean seriously, how cool is that, right?

It turns out, not very.

After spending a good, solid weekend playing characters such as Hulk Hogan, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Terry Funk and Ricky Steamboat I came away feeling so disappointed that I couldn't face playing it again -let alone writing about it- for years afterwards.

That's a shame too, because this really could have been one of the greatest games of all time.

Released in the wake of World Championship Wrestling's demise and featuring a roster of stars who weren't signed to the WWE at the time (Jerry Lawler gave his likeness to the game during his time away from the company in mid-2001), the game's premise is flawless:

Harkening back to the territory days, you go around the various pro wrestling hotbeds competing as -and against- some of the most recognizable names from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s. All this is presented in a unique visual style that really does look like the game is going to be a whole lot of fun.

Then you press the start button and...well...see for yourself.





First Impressions 

Turn on Legends of Wrestling and you'll see why I originally thought this was going to be one of the best wrestling games ever.


A music-hall version of Rookie by BoySetsFire kicks crackles over an old radio as polaroids of wrestling greats float onto a table where a championship title glistens. It's all sepia tones and nostalgic vibes until...Until the batteries on the radio die and the real Rookie kicks in, a raucous post-hardcore track that slams every bit as hard as the moves you see the game's stars performing in all their full-color, high-octane glory.

From there, you're taken to rich, colorful menus which, though basic, do continue to tease you that you're in for a good time.

Roster 

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Roster selection
Again, it's the cast of characters that really makes Legends of Wrestling so appealing. Not only is there a lot of them, but there's also a wrestler (or wrestlers) to suit the tastes of just about every wrestling fan.

Prefer the larger-than-life superstars of the 80s and 90s? Then along with Hogan and Hart, you've got The Road Warriors, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and Superstar Billy Graham. 

Prefer classic technical wrestlers and high-flyers? Do as I did and spend most of your time playing as Brian Pillman, Dynamite Kid, or Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.

Want to go back to the territory days? You've got the entire Von Erich family to play with, Terry and Dory Funk Jr, The Rock 'n' Roll Express and yes, the King of Memphis himself, Jerry Lawler.

Prefer the modern superstars (or at least modern as it was in 2001?) Rob Van Damn and Sabu are there for you.

Elsewhere, there's a veritable who's who of recognizable names from wrestling's past, with everyone from Iron Sheik and Ivan Koloff to Ted Dibiase, Tito Santana, and Rick Martel

All in all, there's a roster of 40 playable characters (including managers like Captain Lou Albano and Jimmy Hart), though some you have to unlock by playing tournaments and 'career' mode, more of which later.

Legends of Wrestling Create-a-Wrestler Mode 

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Create-a-Wrestler
Since the late 1990s, Create-a-Wrestler has become commonplace in pro wrestling games. Unfortunately, this is where this particular game starts to slowly fall apart.

Though it's not necessarily bad, it's certainly far from good. 

On the positive side, there are are plenty of attire options and recorded wrestler nicknames (announced during the ring introductions) that will help you create genuine wrestlers missing from the game like Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper

On the downside, however, there isn't an awful lot of flexibility in terms of what you can actually
Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Voodoo Cowboy Created Wrestler
customize, and even if you spend hours on this, your created wrestler is still going to look pretty crappy compared to the ones officially in the game.

Case in point, here's my created character, a pink-haired, green-bearded, zebra-print wearing, flamboyant pimp-like character that I called Voodoo Cowboy simply because the game gives "Cowboy" as one of the recorded entrance names you can use.

Again, it's OK, but plenty of other games do this kind of thing far, far better.

Match Types 

Back in the day, there was a rumour floating around that Legends of Wrestling was going to feature barbed wire and scaffold matches.

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Match types
Sadly, neither of those materialized, and what we're left with is a pretty limited match selection. 

As well as the obligatory singles and tag team options, you're can also choose either a three-way or four-way dance.

That's it. 

No special gimmick matches, no novelties, just standard one-fall-to-a-finish bouts with your choice of two to four competitors.

Arena Choices 

Legends of Wrestling (PS2) Review - Arena choices
To make up for the lack of match options, the game does at least offer multiple arena choices. 

In career and tournament modes, these are selected at random, but for exhibition matches you can pick your own.

Most of these arenas are styled to represent different territories (Mid-West, South-East etc), though at least one (FABER Gymnasium) has a decidely ECW feel to it -at least in terms of the logo- while the Iguana Hotel & Casino brings back haunting nightmares of the Heroes of Wrestling PPV.

It's a nice touch, admitteldy, but it doesn't exactly make or break your gaming experience.

Game Play



And right about here is where Legends of Wrestling completely falls apart. 

Make no mistake about it, this is just not a fun game to play. 

Sure, there's an impressive selection of moves and, when you pull them off, the animation makes them look just as impressive, but actually pulling them off is a frustrating experience.

Sometimes, you'll press a button and nothing happens, or it happens after a pause. Add up enough pauses and this becomes a slow, cumbersome game to play. Sometimes you'll hit a strike and your opponent doesn't even finch. Othertimes your opponent will throw an uppercut that goes nowhere near you and yet you fall down anyway.

Sometimes going to the top rope works and sometimes it doesn't. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to this. You can put your wrestler in one position and press the right controls and he goes up and hits a move. Other times, you can put him in exactly the same position and hit exactly the same moves and he just stands there like a goof.

With so much going for it otherwise, this frankly piss-poor gameplay really lets the whole thing down in dramatic fashion.

Career Mode and Tournaments 


If you get bored of playing in exhibition mode (and you will, pretty quickly), you can always try your luck at the career mode.

This sees you going from territory to territory competing in matches until you reach maximum popularity in that area. In between each match, your manager will give you some advice, and then it's on to another match. Once maximum popularity is hit, you simply go on to another territory and repeat the whole process.

If the game play was decent, this might be a decent way to get a lot of life out of a fun game, but since it's such a chore to play, career mode gets very tiresome very quickly. 

If you want to unlock all of the hidden characters then this is the only way to do it but, honestly, I really don't think it's worth it.

Elsewhere, there's a tournament mode, but again, this is just another way to give you something different to look at in between endless, repetitive singles matches.

A big thumbs down on this part.

Graphics and Appearance 

On this plus side, this is a cool looking game in its own way. Eschewing the realism of the WWF-branded games that were out around this time, Legends of Wrestling takes a cartoony approach with wrestlers looking more like over-the-top comic book characters than real human beings.

A lot of people said that the wrestlers look a lot like action figures and the more I look at it, the more I have to agree. In particular, they look a lot like those old rubber WCW figures you used to get back in the day.

While this does produce some funny results (King Kong Bundy, for example, looks how you'd imagine Bundy would look if he ate Yokozuna) it creates a fun aesthetic which, as I said at the beginning, lures you into the false sense of security that you're actually going to have a good time playing this game.

Sound and Commentary 

Unlike most wrestling games, this one has no commentary track even though I'm sure Akklaim could have roped in one or two notable names to yell out various soundbites.

Meanwhile, most of the music is Generic Stock Rock Music Track #1 - #150. Honestly, it's not very interesting and I only mention it here to follow the same formula as the rest of our Retro Pro Wrestling video game reviews.

Final Impressions 

If you've read this far, then you no doubt know my take on this game:

It isn't very good. 

However, the worst part about it isn't that it isn't good, it's that it had so much promise and yet failed to deliver on such a spectacular scale that it's almost heartbreaking.

The nostalgia trip works really well as a game concept. The fun, cartoony, action-figure-style graphics work really well too, but the lousy, frustrating gameplay, repetitiveness, and overall half-assed approach make Legends of Wrestling a total letdown.

Amazingly, two more games in this series were produced, Legends of Wrestling II and Showdown: Legends of Wrestling. 

After this experience, I'm vary wary to give even one a go.





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More WWE Wrestling games from Retro Pro Wrestling. 

Thursday, 16 July 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Armageddon 2000

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - event poster
December 10, 2000, 
Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center, Birmingham, Alabama

I've said it before that the World Wrestling Federation's annual December PPV often felt like an off night for the company and its roster; a chance to slow it down a gear before things picked back up in the run towards the Royal Rumble.


Tonight, however, something just felt different.

Armageddon 2000 was to be headlined by a multi-man Hell in a Cell match which the company were promoting as the biggest thing to happen in the WWF since...

..Well, since ever.

That alone made the show feel important right from the outset.  At a time when Hell in a Cell is basically just another match, it's refreshing to find a show where the 'demonic steel structure' is still held in some reverence.

Yet for all the hype, would the World Wrestling Federation really be able to deliver? Or would this be yet another lacklustre December PPV in which everyone took a night off?







Let's head to Birmingham, Alabama to find out.

The End is Here

Tonight’s show began with an awesome video package that interspersed scenes of war, violence, and general-Armageddon-things with shots of the WWF’s top stars.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the show
On its own, it wasn’t too impressive, but it was the song that accompanied it that really made it work.

An obvious nod to The Doors’ track of the same name, The End was a Jim Johnson original with Jim Morrison-esque vocals that really made for a compelling introduction to tonight’s show.

What wasn’t so great was the take on Sweet Home Alabama which accompanied the opening crowd shots and introduction from Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.

On its own, the music was annoyingly repetitive, but the worst part was that it’s cheery, upbeat tone was totally at odds with the general theme of doom that you’d want for a show called Armageddon.

With the Hell in a Cell hanging seriously low over the ring, Ross and Lawler told us that Mick Foley had promised to resign if anyone was seriously injured in tonight’s match.

Vince Don’t Want No Coffee

Backstage, a limousine pulled up. Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe argued over who was going to open the door to allow Vince McMahon to step out of it.

For some reason that I can’t be bothered to look up, Vince was limping with a cane as he pushed onto into the arena, refusing an offer for coffee because he wasn’t in the mood for it, damnit.

That was a mostly odd and pointless segment.

Six Person Inter-Gender Elimination Match
Team Xtreme (Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and Lita) vs. The Radicalz (WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn w/ Terri)

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Lita teamed with The Hardy Boyz to face The Radicalz
Before the bell, a video recap told us how this match came about:

Lita challenged Dean Malenko to a Light Heavyweight Championship match, lost, and had to go on a date with the champion.

She then tricked him into taking her to a hotel room for some nookie, reminded him that he was a married man, then had Matt and Jeff Hardy attack him.

The actual match was pretty good even if it was entirely predictable.

Busting out the kind of entertaining spots that you’d want from a PPV opener, this fun, fast-paced elimination match obviously came down to just Malenko and Lita.

After a good bit of back-and-forth, the former put the latter in the Texas Cloverleaf and this one was done.

All round, an enjoyable effort, and not just because Terri got involved and flashed her ass at one point.
Your Winner: Dean Malenko

Afterwards, Malenko hurled Lita out of the ring. The Ice Man showed more personality in this one little bit then he had done for his entire career.

Eventually, The Hardyz came to Lita’s aid while Michael Cole got a ringside interview with her.

Clearly in agony, the former women’s champion insisted she could beat Malenko.

Angle is Ready

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Lilian Garcia interviews WWF Champion Kurt Angle
Backstage, Lillian Garcia interrupted Kurt Angle’s workout routine to get an interview.

As excellent as he ever was on the microphone, the WWF Champion admitted that there was no way he could properly prepare to face five other men inside Hell in a Cell, but that he wasn’t worried anyway because he was an Olympic Gold Medalist who was sure to win.

The promo was followed by a flashback to No Way Out 2000, when Triple H backdropped a battered and bloody Cactus Jack through the cage roof to the ring below.

Man, it feels like such a long time ago that I reviewed that show.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion William Regal vs. Hardcore Holly

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - William Regal defended the European Championship against Hardcore Holly
This was a better match than William Regal had with Hardcore Holly’s cousin Crash a week earlier at Rebellion 2000, but it still wasn’t Regal’s finest hour.

Before the match, the European Champion took to the microphone to insult the Alabama crowd, labeling them all as overall-wearing, beastiality-loving rednecks.

He was great at this part, but when Alabama’s own Bob Holly came down and the match got underway, it never really went past being inoffensively decent.

After a short encounter, Raven inexplicably ran in and destroyed Holly with an Even Flow DDT.

The champ capitalized and, one three count later, this was all over.
Your Winner and Still European Champion: William Regal

On Smackdown, Kurt Angle had broken an alliance with HHH and Rikishi by blasting the latter with the world title.

Backstage at Armageddon, ‘Kishi cut a convincing promo in which he told Kevin Kelly that it didn’t matter who else turned on him because he had sacrificed his heart, body, and soul for a shot at the WWF title and would take advantage of that shot tonight.

I may be in the minority, but I enjoyed main event ‘Kishi.

Chyna vs. Val Venis (w/ WWF Women’s Champion Ivory)

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Val Venis bodyslams Chyna in their singles match
Right to Censor were upset with Chyna for appearing in Playboy, so Val Venis was tasked with taking her out in this short, uninteresting match.

I’m usually a fan of Chyna and tend to give her more credit than some reviewers, but there was nothing about this match that made me want to pay attention.

Val won after Ivory interfered.
Your Winner: Val Venis

Post-match, Chyna went to attack Ivory but Venis returned and planted The Ninth Wonder of the World with a powerbomb.

Steph is Scared

Afterward, we once again flashed back to No away Out, where Cactus Jack set a barb-wire wrapped 2x4 on fire and blasted HHH with it.

Back live in the arena, Stephanie McMahon told Vince that she was scared for her husband’s safety in the upcoming main event.

For his part, Vince replied that he’d had enough of Commissioner Foley and would put a stop to him and his actions.

The Animal Within

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Undertaker gave a compelling interview to Kevin Kelly
Earlier in the day, The Undertaker met Kevin Kelly inside Hell in a Cell to about his history in the sadistic cage.

Talking about how he felt more like an animal than a human Inside Hell in a Cell, ‘Taker went into graphic, gruesome detail about the violence he’d inflicted on both Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley, and promised to do the same to someone here tonight.

This was excellent stuff that really sold how brutal the Hell in the Cell match was, as well as how wicked the American Bad Ass could be.

Vince Hates the Main Event

With The Stooges by his side, the Chairman of the Board took to the ring to express just how much he was opposed to tonight’s main event.

The backstory here was that Vince didn't want the main event to go ahead because it contained all of his top stars in one violent match. If any of them -or many of them- got injured, then he was down a lot of money.

It was a smart backstory, but despite Vince being a genius on the microphone, he struggled to get that message across, not even in a subtle way.

Last Man Standing Match
Kane vs. Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Kane puts a submission hold on Chris Jericho in their last man standing match
At Fully Loaded 2000, Chris Jericho was involved in one of the greatest Last Man Standing matches ever against Triple H.

This was nowhere near on a par with that one, but it was still a pretty solid effort by all accounts.

Kane destroyed Jericho, but the plucky Y2J continually found a way to fight back, eventually dropping The Big Red Machine in an awkward table spot before burying him under a stack of fake toxic waste barrels that were made up the set.

At the last possible second, Kane’s arm shot through the barrels but it was too little, too late.

Teddy Long called for the bell and this gripping Last Man Standing match was over.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Jonathan Coachman had to get past Debra’s boobs so that he could have a word with Commissioner Foley.

In a good promo, Foley insisted that he knew how dangerous tonight’s main event was, but that he was committed to seeing that it went ahead anyway.

Live from New York, it’s The Heart Break Kid

Dancing around on the stage at WWF New York, Shawn Michaels was asked if he had any advice for tonight’s Hell in a Cell competitors.

Despite being in the first-ever cell match back at Badd Blood 1997, HBK declared that there was nothing he could say as literally anything could happen tonight.

We then flashed back to Hell in a Cell 2 at King of the Ring ‘98, where Undertaker chokeslammed Mick Foley onto some thumbtacks.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Fatal Fourway Match
WWF Tag Team Champions Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan & The Goodfather w/ Steven Richards) vs. Edge & Christian vs. Road Dogg & K-Kwik vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Dudleyz do 'Wassup' on Edge
This was a solid effort from all involved, even if the first half of the match seemed to matter very little.

Things started with all four teams taking to their corners as in a traditional tag team match.

It was fine, and the actual wrestling that took place during this portion of the match was good enough, but you knew that it would eventually break down into a free-for-all, and so did the crowd.

From very early on, they got loud with their ‘WE WANT TABLES’ chants, making anything going on in the ring seem like it was killing time until they eventually got them.

Inevitably, The Dudley Boyz went through a crowd-popping burst of offense, taking out everyone in their path and reaching under the ring for the furniture.

'I think Bubba Ray’s got wood.....on his mind!’ Yelled JR, who clearly knew what he was doing.

The actual tables never really came into play in the match, but the whole chaotic closing minutes of the match were still very enjoyable.

Eventually, Christian hit Bubba with the Unprettier, Edge made the cover and Right to Censor lost the tag team titles without even being beaten.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - HHH told his wife that the WWF Championship was the most important thing in the world to him. What a jerk.
Backstage, Triple H told his own wife that the WWF Championship was the most important thing in the world to him.

Honestly, with that kind of attitude, it’s a miracle their relationship lasted so long.

The Game then cut a scathing promo in Steph’s face, promising that nothing would stop him from getting the title back tonight.

We then flashed back once again to HHH/Cactus from No Way Out, with Hunter sending Jack crashing off the cage through the announce table.

Curiously, both HHH and Steph had referred to that match as taking place ‘last year,’ even though it had only been in February.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion ‘The One’ Billy Gunn vs. Chris Benoit

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Chris Benoit puts the crossface on Billy Gunn
If you’re the kind of fan who hates Billy Gunn, you’ll probably love this match.

The intercontinental champion got his ass handed to him in what was, admittedly, a thoroughly satisfying contest.

After getting destroyed for most of the contest, The One submitted to the Crippler Crossface snd relinquished his title.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Chris Benoit

And that was about it for Billy Gunn’s push as a major star in the WWF. He’d do nothing of note until Chuck Palumbo turned up, eventually turning up in TNA as The Outlaw and, um...Cute Kip.

100% Coffee Fuelled

Earlier in the day, Stone Cold Steve Austin had hung out in some kind of random kitchen, telling Jim Ross that he’d been drinking coffee all day and was now ready to go stomp a mudhole in his opponents.

Austin didn’t care that Hell in a Cell had shortened Shawn Michael’s career, or that it had ended Foley’s, all he cared about was becoming the champion again.

As all the main event promos had been so far, this was very compelling stuff from Stone Cold.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - Trish Stratus faced Molly Holly and Ivory in a three-way for Ivory's women's championshipWorld Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship Triple Threat
WWF Women’s Champion Ivory vs. Molly Holly vs. Trish

It would be years before the women were putting on matches that consistently rivaled the men’s and tonight was no exception despite having competent workers in the form of Ivory and Molly Holly in there.

This was an incredibly short match that barely lasted more than two minutes.

The actual action was OK for what it was but, really, what can you do in two minutes?

Ivory won. Very few people cared.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Ivory

Afterward, Test and Albert came down to get Molly after she cost Trish the match, but Crash came down and challenged them to a brawl.

This led to the return of the APA, who came after their rivals.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Rock silences Kevin KellyFinally, The Rock has Come Back...to Hell

Backstage, The Rock cut a captivating promo in which he promised Kevin Kelly that he would sweat and bleed and beat everyone’s candy asses when he walked straight into hell to become our six-time WWF Champion.

The Great One was on fire here, and I’m glad he cut a serious promo rather than goofing around for laughs, an approach which only added to the gravitas of our main event.

Six-Man Hell in a Cell for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Kurt Angle vs. Triple H vs. Rikishi vs. The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

I love HHH’s theme here, by the way, it’s a mix of My Time and The Game, and it sounds epic.

The Undertaker came out to 'Rollin’which was surprising because they had to edit out American Bad Ass on the WWE Network but somehow Limp Bizkit was still ok.

In between them both, Kurt Angle was the third man to make his way to the ring, an odd position given his status as the reigning champion.

Regardless, this match met every exception.

A glorious celebration of pro wrestling violence, the match was essentially a three-act story.

WWE / WWF - Armageddon 2000 - The Rock silences Kevin Kelly
In the first act, all six men brawled wildly around the ring until Vince McMahon and The Stooges came down with a flatbed truck carrying a bunch of kennel bedding that you immediately knew somebody would take a bump on later.

McMahon had his cronies attach a chain between the cage door and the truck to rip the door off. The Chairman’s aim was to use the truck to tear down the cage completely, but Foley came down, beat a bunch of people up and had McMahon escorted away by security.

This led to act two, an even wilder, bloodier brawl in which all six men made their way to the junk cars that made up the entrance set and annihilated one another. Everyone except Rikishi got busted open.

It was chaotic, it was fun, and it was as brutally brilliant and brilliantly brutal as you might hope for.

Eventually, the match wound up on the top of the cell where Rikishi almost caved Angle’s skull in with a chair before -somewhat predictably- being the one to take the big bump off the top of the cage to the truck courtesy of an Undertaker chokeslam.

Back in the ring for the final act, only HHH, Angle, The Rock, and Austin remained, and even they could barely stand.

After a gripping climax, Angle barely got a hand on The Rock’s chest to pin him for the three count.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Afterward, Austin delivered one last stunner to Angle, but that was all he was capable of.

Battered, bloodied, and absolutely broken, nobody could stand. Nobody could move.

Hell in a Cell had delivered everything the WWF had told us it would.







And that’s why I love this show so much.

From an in-ring standpoint, only the main event stood out as anything special, but man did it ever stand out.

The story throughout the night was that this was one match so brutal and diabolical that it would forever change the lives of those who entered it, and then they came through by really selling us on the fact that it really had done that.

The story and the sell may have been better than most of the matches, but it made for compelling viewing.



For other year 2000 pro wrestling reviews see:
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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.