TJR Review of WWE Untold: I Am The Game (Triple H vs. Mick Foley Feud in 2000)
A new episode of WWE Untold premiered on WWE Network today. It’s a documentary series featuring comments from the key individuals talking about whatever the subject is. For this episode, the focus is on Triple H’s legendary feud with Mick Foley as Cactus Jack in early 2000. That’s one of my favorite years in WWE history and I covered every episode of Raw, Smackdown and PPVs from the early WWE 2000 already on TJRWrestling. Since I’m such a huge fan of the rivalry and their matches, I decided to write a review of it. Please note that I’ve also included my in-depth reviews about the Royal Rumble 2000 and No Way Out 2000 matches between Hunter and Cactus.
This is the longest WCW Untold episode so far. Most of them run around 30 minutes (give or a take a few minutes) with some earlier episodes running about 15 minutes. This episode is 51 minutes.
The synopsis on WWE Network looks like this:
“I am The Game
At the dawn of the new millennium, a pair of brutal bouts against Cactus Jack and a game-changing interview propelled Triple H to the top of WWE. He, along with Mick Foley and others, look back at the untold stories behind the rise of The Game.”
The show began with highlights of the Royal Rumble 2000 PPV match between Triple H and Mick Foley. It was a preview of the comments that were coming up later.
There was a promo from Triple H on September 29, 1996 referring to himself as Triple H – Hunter Hearst Helmsley. They showed highlights of a show at Madison Square Garden. Hunter said he was trying to be the anti-Austin or Rock and he wanted to be that. Hunter said he had fun moments doing comedy with DX, but he knew he needed that serious side to come out. Hunter said he wanted to be a marquee guy, not just a top guy and he thought there were a few guys that hit marquee status. Hunter said that this is the moment that got him there referring to the 2000 feud with Mick Foley.
There was a clip of a Triple H interview with Jim Ross on the July 25, 1999 episode of Raw that was about one month before Hunter’s first WWE Title win. It was Triple H talking about how this was about him, it’s not about DX anymore. Hunter said that The Game was so invested in the business, so it literally was him – he was The Game. Hunter said that this was him saying that this industry should be his because it is about him. Hunter said it was a pre-taped interview and when he said the line, it was all done in one piece. They showed the clip of Hunter saying: “I am the f**king Game, JR.” Hunter thought it would be edited out, but they left it in and it made it more powerful because it was real in that moment. You could hear Vince McMahon off-camera saying: “Good. Good stuff.” Hunter said it was about a week later when he saw signs in the crowd saying “Triple H is the Game” and Hunter thought he had hit something gold.
Analysis: I’m surprised they didn’t even show the footage of Triple H winning his first WWE Title against Mick Foley on Raw in August 1999 on the night after SummerSlam.
Stephanie McMahon said she was an account executive in the New York WWE sales office and she was straight out of college. That’s also when they showed a clip of Stephanie on Sunday Night Heat with Vince from April 4, 1999 on Sunday Night Heat. Hunter said that when they did the stuff around the wedding in November 1999 and Hunter breaking up the wedding with Stephanie and Test. That led to the Armageddon 1999 match with Hunter beating Stephanie and Stephanie turned on Vince to help Hunter win.
Stephanie said that listening to Vince’s ideas with wrestlers and being under the benefit of learning from Triple H was great for her. Stephanie said that what she didn’t realize at the time was that maybe Hunter had an ulterior motive at the time, which she said as a reference to Hunter and Steph becoming a couple. Hunter said that the Stephanie relationship storyline into the Foley matches, he thought the big shift happened in early 2000. I agree.
Stephanie said that there is nobody in wrestling that is willing to do more and give up their body more than Mick Foley. Stephanie said that Mick did it for the fans because he wanted to over-deliver for them in every way he possibly can. Hunter praised Mick for being one of the most unique characters and performers that he’s ever been in the ring with. Hunter talked about how Mick’s ability to do the crazy stuff and he could do comedy stuff too. Hunter felt like they always had this chemistry right off the bat and they gelled off eachother really well. Hunter said that he felt like everything they did together always worked.
It was noted that by the end of 1999, Mick Foley was contemplating retirement as years of physical risks had taken their toll.
Building to Royal Rumble 2000
Mick Foley talked about how he had written some pretty large checks and his body was cashing them in all at the same time. They showed clips of crazy Foley spots. Foley said his body was breaking down and he didn’t want to be seen doing less than he was capable of. He thought it was the perfect time to retire even though he was one of the biggest stars in the company and his book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 26 weeks. Foley said he was a top star and Vince McMahon was willing to let him walk away because of Mick’s health. Foley mentioned the wildcard of Steve Austin’s health because Austin missed nearly one year of action from late 1999 until late 2000 due to neck surgery. Foley said when Steve was out with the injury, they knew they had to pull together to help the team since Austin was the number one attraction that was out. Foley said they knew The Rock would be a WrestleMania main eventer, but they had to create a new top tier star. Foley said that Vince McMahon had a meeting with him and Hunter to fill in that gap, so they were all for it. Foley said they did amazing things together going back to their 1997 feud and that led to a clip of the Three Faces of Foley days.
Hunter talked about how he worked with most of Foley’s unique characters. Foley said that Triple H already proved himself as a main eventer with DX, but could he hang at the main event level as a certifiable top level draw? Foley commented on how there are thoughts out there that Triple H needed Foley, but Foley needed him too. Foley didn’t want to go out as the guy with the sock and he loved being the guy with the sock, but he wanted to end his career by going down swinging. Foley said that he wanted to be that guy and he credited Triple H for helping him and bringing Cactus Jack back for that feud.
They showed a clip of a memorable Mick Foley promo from January 13, 2000 on Smackdown as Mankind and then he became Cactus Jack. I thought it was one of Mick’s best promos ever. It’s still remembered by wrestling fans to this day. Foley said that this moment is still talked about 20 years later and people will put it up there as the best thing he’s ever done. Foley credited Hunter for having a shocked look on his face and said that if Hunter had a dismissive look on his face then this match would be dead in the water, but instead Hunter reacts as if he’s seen a ghost. Mick said it was an effective way of advancing a character for those that remember what Cactus Jack and they knew he was somebody that Hunter didn’t want to tangle with. Hunter said that Cactus was known as a sadistic destroyer.
Foley said that he was literally moving faster than he has in years and he couldn’t believe he was moving that fast. Foley said he had to catch his breath while putting over the great crowd and Triple H bringing out the best in him. Foley said that one of the intangibles in wrestling is bringing out the best in your opponent and that’s the difference of being a superstar and a legend. They showed the end of the promo with Foley talking about how they will bleed and he will take the WWF Title.
TJR Thoughts: I loved the way they broke down that segment because it was so important in terms of building up the Royal Rumble 2000 match. I really enjoyed Mick’s insight into it, which I’ve read about in his book covering the match. His point about Hunter’s reaction was so true too. If Hunter doesn’t sell the promo the right way with his face then it comes off as just another wrestling promo, but when Hunter sold it like he was terrified of this guy, that made Foley look like a badass as Cactus Jack.
The WWE Championship Match at Royal Rumble 2000
They talked about Royal Rumble 2000 in Madison Square Garden on January 23, 2000. I’ll post my full review of the match at the bottom of this review.
Foley talked about how special the Garden was and Hunter said he knew they would make something special. Stephanie said that she walked Hunter in the entranceway, then he kissed her and she said that was the first time he kissed her on the lips. I don’t think that’s true because they did at Armageddon 1999 and maybe on TV before this, but I guess it makes for a good story. Stephanie said that the kiss took her back a bit because she knew it was in character, but was it really in character because she kind of had a butterfly moment? Stephanie said that the kiss sent “bolts of electricity” through her. Hunter smiled and said: “Well, look at it.” He laughed.
They showed highlights of the Royal Rumble 2000 match. Hunter said that this was a proving ground. Foley said that they were trying to have the best match they could and to create something. Foley said when you went brawling into the crowd, you had to be cautious of them and have great faith in the WWE security team. Foley said if he could go back he wouldn’t suplex Hunter on a pallet of sharp wood. Hunter said that he didn’t realize the wound in his leg was really bad until later. Hunter saw the piece of wood in his leg, he thought it was a sliver and when he pulled it out he realized it went in really far. Hunter said that he didn’t think it was that bad, but then after the match he realized there was a pool of blood.
Analysis: It was a nasty gash in Hunter’s leg. I’m sure he earned a lot of respect for working through the match with a leg that was cut open. He definitely earned my respect for it.
Foley talked about how “Bang Bang” had the most humble of wrestling origins during a match earlier in his career. Foley said he dropped an elbow and he looked up to the camera saying “Bang Bang” because of the popular song “Love Shack” at the time. Foley said that the more he believed in that gesture, the better the match will be.
They showed the clip of Foley bringing out the barbed wire 2×4 piece of wood and the crowd popped huge. Hunter said that the only time he experienced that moment in a shift in the crowd was Undertaker/Shawn Michaels in the first Hell in a Cell match. Foley said that some things are risky that don’t pay off and reactions make that risk worth taking. Hunter beat on Jack with the barbed wire. Jack came back with a punch and a low blow which led to the bat being put under the announce table. Foley talked about how Hugo Savinoch loved being part of the matches and he was the guy that got out of the way of the Hell in a Cell match of Foley with Undertaker in 1998. Jack punched Hugo, then Jack was given the 2×4 barb wire and hit Hunter with the barbwire. The fans loved it when Jack beat on Hunter and this is what busted open Triple H leading to a two count. Hunter said he watched some Japanese deathmatches, then he asked Mick about them and Mick told him they were terrible, which Hunter agreed because they didn’t have a story. Hunter thought they could incorporate some of that in the match to tell a story. Foley commented on how we (meaning the fans) can tell when the emotions are real. I agree with that.
Hunter talked about how this was one of the first times where he brought his parents to a show for a big match. Hunter got them set up with tickets and they showed a clip of Hunter giving Cactus a back body drop on the announce table. Hunter didn’t warn his parents other than to say this match will be pretty aggressive. They showed some of the big bumps and spots in the match. Hunter said that his parents were in the front row and noted that when Cactus hit him with a clothesline over the top to the floor, Hunter was up against the security wall. Hunter was a bloody mess, he looked up and was face to face with his mom, who was “blubbering” meaning crying. Hunter laughed about it saying it’s horrible as a parent, but it’s funny to him as a son. Stephanie said that hearing Hunter’s mom’s reactions to it was that she felt so bad about that and then the other side was that it was awesome. Foley said that if it looks like he was overjoyed it’s because he was. They showed Foley hitting a piledriver on the Spanish table, which did not break.
Foley said Vince McMahon told him no thumbtacks, but then Foley got a bag of thumbtacks and brought them into the ring. Hunter said that pouring those thumbtacks out told the fans that there was going to be more. Hunter said that they’re thumbtacks, but it’s not like it’s going to kill ya and he said it didn’t feel good. Hunter gave Cactus a back body drop onto the thumbtacks, which drew a huge reaction from the fans. Hunter hit a Pedigree after that and Cactus kicked out to a thunderous ovation. Foley said that kicking out of the Pedigree was unheard of at the time and he didn’t know if he was the first to kick out of it, but the reaction by the crowd was huge. Foley said he knew they had to do that same move with thumbtacks and he knew they would catch hell for it. Foley said that he closed his right eye as tightly as he could and he thought to himself: “I could lose an eye, but think of the pop!” Hunter hit that Pedigree again on the thumbtacks and Hunter covered for the pinfall win. Hunter said that he could remember the thumbtacks on Mick’s face with some of them above the eyebrow. Foley said that it doesn’t get any better than that as fans chanted “Foley” for him.
Foley talked about the physical toll of the match. They showed a clip of Vince McMahon asking Foley if he was okay and Foley said he was. Foley spoke about how Triple H took such a pounding in that match and he really took a beating. Mick said you’ve seen some bloody feuds in wrestling, but you were not ready for the level of suffering that Hunter went through. They had a clip of Triple H getting looked at by doctors with Hunter telling somebody to go in the crowd and tell Hunter’s parents that he was alright. Hunter said that he had a gigantic turban of gauze and a towel on there to keep some weight on his head. Stephanie said that she was worried about this man even though they weren’t dating and they weren’t together, but she was worried about him and she was still thinking about the kiss.
Building to No Way Out 2000
Foley said that in his mind, he thought the Royal Rumble was the last match of his career. Foley mentioned things like Eddie Guerrero dislocated his elbow. Foley got a call from Vince McMahon, who asked him to do one more match, so there was a finality to do it with Mick pulling his career on the line. Hunter said it was tough to digest with Mick retiring and it’s hard to put words to Foley wanting to retire. They showed a promo setting up the Title vs. Career Match at No Way Out 2000.
Hunter talked about how at that point in time, the Hell in a Cell match was still almost mythical. Hunter said it was like a gasp from the crowd when they heard it. Hunter spoke about how when you’re in a storyline where you’ve done everything with eachother and the only way to settle it is Hell in a Cell then it feels like a big deal. Hunter spoke about the first Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels in 1997 and Hunter said it blew his mind. A clip aired of some of Shawn’s big bumps in that match and the Foley/Undertaker match in 1998 in Hell in a Cell with the famous table bump.
Foley said that he was excited to get the call because the chemistry with Triple H was there. Foley talked about how Vince McMahon attributed the huge buyrate for Royal Rumble 2000 to the Rumble match and Foley said that he and Triple H “had some words” with Vince about that. Foley said they wanted to try to top it at No Way Out.
Stephanie talked about the Hell in a Cell structure that was set up at a warehouse in Brooklyn. She was shocked when she heard about the plans for the match and thought: “You guys are going to do what?”
The WWE Championship vs. Career Match at No Way Out 2000
Hunter said that when you’re in that moment, it feels real and you have to have that mindset. Hunter noted that sometimes you can tell when a performer is just playing wrestling and he even mentions that to people in NXT. Hunter said you can tell what separates the ones that are great from the ones that are pretty good.
Foley said you had to become a different human being, so he had to become somebody that could fare well inside Hell in a Cell. Foley said that having the perfect opponent helps.
They showed highlights from the Hell in a Cell match with Foley saying he liked to start matches with something big. That led to a brutal bump on the steel steps and he would be jolted to help become Cactus Jack. Foley said that physically he couldn’t do a fraction of what the other guys on the roster could do, but if he could wrap his mind around the concept then he would give it a try and if it worked out how he hoped, but if it didn’t then sometimes that was even better.
There was a clip of Cactus Jack hitting Triple H with nut shots and Hunter said that it’s an art form because what you’re trying to do is not get hit in the nuts. Hunter then joked that there’s no art to it and it’s just trying to avoid getting hit in the nuts.
Jack sent Hunter into the cage leading to Triple H doing a blade job just like in the Royal Rumble match. Foley talked about how in a HIAC match, you didn’t have the space to the do the elbow off the apron, he jumped off the middle ropes with a chair elbow attack and Foley broke his own nose in the process. Foley said maybe that’s a timeout in some places, but not in their business. Foley threw the steel steps, Hunter moved and it broke the cage. When he broke the cage open, the building came alive and that led to them going out of the cell.
Foley said with the benefit of previous failures from climbing the HIAC structure in 1998, the good thing was that WWE put some climbing foot holes in the cage to help get up the cage. Foley put over Stephanie’s role in the feud. Stephanie said that she was so worried when they climbed up to the top of the cage. Triple H used barb wire to the head of Jack and said that rubbing barb wire is bad, but pulling off the barbed wire isn’t comfortable. Foley took a big bump off the side of the cell through an announce table. Foley talked about trying to throw a chair up to the top of the cell, but when he failed a few times, he decided to climb up.
They were on top of the cell for a big spot. Hunter talked about how it is important to get where they needed to go, but how do you get there in a way to tell the right story and where you don’t see the right story? Foley said that the match was exciting and they had to find a way to create a memory. Jack lit the 2×4 barb wire on fire and the fans came alive again. Jack teased a piledriver on the fire, but that didn’t happen because Triple H gave Jack a back body drop through the top of the cell and that led to Jack breaking through the ring. Hunter said it was crazy to see that visual of Jack with the fire barbwire bat and then the next thing you know is he’s falling through the cage. They did not air any comments from Foley about the big cell bump.
TJR Thoughts: It was not mentioned here, but WWE gimmicked the ring to have it break Mick’s fall at least in a way where he was okay after the landing. It was smart to do that because of the rough landing Mick had inside HIAC in 1998. They obviously didn’t want to mention that it was gimmicked for this spot. It was odd that there were no comments from Foley talking about that big bump.
The match continued after Mick’s big fall with Jack crawling around. Triple H hit a Pedigree and pinned Jack to win the match. The loss meant that Mick Foley was retired as a full-timer.
Closing Thoughts from Triple H, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon
There were a few minutes left for some final thoughts. Foley said that the idea that when it happened that they’d still be talking about it 20 years later is crazy. Stephanie spoke about how you only have a handful of moments that really stick out. Stephanie said she’s been lucky to have been part of moments like that. Hunter said that there’s nothing more in his career that elevated him to a different level than those two matches at Royal Rumble and No Way Out in HIAC. Hunter said that those matches solidified Triple H as a main eventer.
They talked about WrestleMania 2000 with Foley saying that he did come back and he smiled about it. It was a Fatal 4-Way with Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Big Show vs. Mick Foley. Mick said that Big Show asked him if something was really going on with Hunter and Stephanie, but he thought absolutely not. Mick said he didn’t realize it was a real-life thing.
Hunter said it’s hard to think of a moment where he realized that Stephanie was “the one” for him. Hunter said it was ridiculously against all intelligent choices. Stephanie said they were goofy around eachother, she would think she sounded stupid around him and Hunter said they were constantly around eachother. Stephanie spoke about how her heart would race when she was around him and it still does. Stephanie said she was more in love with him every single day and they have three beautiful daughters while adding that Hunter is an incredible father. Stephanie said that Hunter was her knight in shining armor and the man she dreamed of her entire life. Hunter said that everything in his life stems from WWE in some manner.
Hunter said the most important thing in his life by far are Stephanie and their three daughters. If everything else went away, it would be okay as long as he still had that. That was the end of this edition of WWE Untold.
This episode of WWE Untold had a runtime of 51:51 on WWE Network.
This was a great episode with the highlights being the insight provided by Triple H and Cactus Jack. It was nice to get their perspective on the build to those matches and then what they thought about the matches. The little stories like Hunter taking a bump in front of his mom and she was right there to see his bloody face was a cool story. I also liked when Mick Foley talked about how it was so important for Triple H to react to his Cactus Jack reveal promo in the right way. What I appreciate about shows like this is that we get the perspective of the wrestlers that we may not have heard before and that’s why it is worthwhile to watch, in my opinion.
I am not surprised that they went through this whole show without mentioning that Triple H had been dating Chyna for several years when he was paired with Stephanie on screen. Maybe Hunter and Chyna were never going to get married and that’s fine, but this was a messy situation no matter what Stephanie says. Here’s a link to Chyna talking about it if you want to get her perspective and Bruce Prichard chimed in too. I didn’t bring this up to talk bad about Hunter or Steph. I like them both. I just felt like it’s foolish to ignore the actual history that existed. I’ve always felt terrible for Chyna and then she lost her life way too early.
This was one of my favorite episodes of the WWE Untold series. I really liked the episode of Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon at King of the Ring 2001 as well if I had to pick another favorite. This one went even more in-depth into the Triple H/Foley story, so it made it very enjoyable to watch.
I have reviewed previous episodes of WWE Untold as well:
* Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon at King of the Ring 2001
* Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan)
* That’s Gotta Be Kane (Kane’s Debut at Badd Blood 1997)
There have been other episodes, but I have not reviewed them all. I prefer to review the ones that interest me the most.
Now it’s time for the match reviews.
Cactus Jack is introduced first to a pretty big face pop. He’s wearing the usual ‘Wanted’ shirt along with black pants and snakeskin boots. Triple H comes out next with Stephanie McMahon, and he is in his black shorts along with kneepads and black boots. He’s also got a big white bandage on his left leg. Interesting that he gave Howard Finkel a black bag telling him to hold it for him. Triple H didn’t have the water spit as a regular part of his act at the time. He sort of walks on the apron and spits it out without a huge pose. Triple H sends Steph away before it begins.
Street Fight for the WWF Championship: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack
Pre-match notes: Triple H was the heel WWF Champion while Cactus Jack was the babyface challenger.
After a staredown won by Cactus, he starts with punches to the head. Hunter bails to the outside, and Cactus catches him with a neckbreaker on the floor. Hunter tries to climb back in, but he is hit with a leg drop to the back of the head. Cactus nails him with the ring steps followed by the ring bell. Hunter recovers with the bell to the head. Back in the ring, Hunter’s got the chair and Cactus charges him only to get drilled in the head with a SICK chair shot. After Hunter stalls a bit, Cactus takes him down and drops a leg on his face that is covered by the chair for the first two count of the match. As they head to the outside, JR calls Triple H “maybe the greatest technical WWF champion of all time.” Bret Hart who? On the floor, Cactus backdrops HHH over the railing sending him into the crowd. They brawl through the crowd making their way over to the entryway. Cactus stacks two wooden palettes (about eight pieces of wood on each) and suplexes HHH on them. This is where HHH gets a huge gash in his left calf. It was pretty disgusting. When I watched it in slow motion, you can see his leg hitting hard against the wood. Trashcan to the head by Cactus followed by some head slamming into the door. Hunter reverses a move into a back suplex that makes Cactus land with the back of his head on the trashcan. Hunter’s leg is bleeding like crazy now, and he’s touching it trying to see if anything is sticking out. Don’t watch this after you’ve eaten. Clothesline by Triple H but Cactus recovers to whip him headfirst into the steps. That’s followed up with the patented running knee by Cactus, this time on the steel steps. Bang! Bang! That’s what Cactus just said.
Cactus rolls HHH back in and finds the barbed wire 2×4 under the ring to a huge pop from the crowd. Low blow by HHH. HHH nails Cactus to the stomach and the back. One more time. He waits too long so Cactus gets a gutshot followed by the 2×4 into HHH’s nuts. The referee gives the 2×4 to the Spanish announce team while Cactus nails HHH with the double arm DDT for a very long two. Cactus wants the 2×4, Hebner says no and then says, “the Spanish guys stole it.” What a racist! Okay, maybe he didn’t say exactly that, but Cactus punches the announcer and gets his sacred piece of barbed wire. Back in the ring, Hunter runs into Hebner, and Jack nails him in the face with the 2×4 to a thunderous pop. Cactus nails the elbow drop with 2×4 in hand while the camera closes in on HHH’s damaged face. The blood is flowing now. What an excellent blade job. Cactus covers, Hebner comes to for the 1, 2, no. Just two. The crowd thought that was it. Cactus grinds the wire in HHH’s face in a cool spot that the crowd loves. Outside, Cactus works over the wound with more fists as we get more shots of HHH’s face. His hair is covered in red now, most of it anyway. Cactus clears off the English announce table. He is going for a piledriver, but Triple H reverses it into a backdrop through the table. Another sick bump. Foley is God.
In the ring, Hunter goes for the Pedigree that Cactus reverses into a slingshot to the turnbuckle. Hunter bounces off leading to a facebuster into the barbwire for two. That was a cool spot. I think I just heard Cactus say “clothesline” to HHH. Yep, there it is sending them to the outside. Cactus charges at him like an idiot, which leads to a DISGUSTING hiptoss that Cactus takes legs first into the ring steps. Foley! Foley! Foley! You damn right. Since that wasn’t sick enough, Hunter throws him into the ring steps knee first and Cactus takes the bump over the steps landing on his back right in front of the announce table. What a freak. Hunter chop blocks (shoulder block to the back of the knee) the left knee. Meanwhile, Jim Ross calls HHH a stud. Who told him to say that? Pat Patterson? Triple H tells Finkel to give him the bag, and we soon discover that there are handcuffs in there. We are reminded of the previous year’s Rumble where Mick Foley took twelve chair shots to the head after being handcuffed by the Rock. He tries to cuff him but is knocked down. Hunter goes back to the knee with a kick, and then he handcuffs him. That’s the last time he focused on the knee. My only gripe in the match is that they forgot about the injured knee. Ah, who the hell cares about the knee? This match rules! The crowd is going nuts now.
Hunter brings in the ring steps. In another perfect spot, Cactus reverses the charge with a drop toehold that leads to HHH eating the steps. Cactus gets a boot to the face and headbutt low blow. After some biting by Cactus (in the head, not in the low blow region), HHH gets in control with a clothesline. Chair to the gut bends Cactus over, and those are followed up by two shots to the back that sends him rolling to the outside. Near the entryway, Triple H gets a good shot to the head. As HHH is winding up for another swing with the chair, The Rock emerges from the entrance and hits HHH in the head with a chair to a thunderous pop. That was such a cool moment and a cool way of remembering the year before. A cop comes out to unlock the cuffs, freeing Cactus. Good work, Chief Wiggum.
Cactus gets his second wind now by throwing Triple H onto the Spanish announce table. He nails him with a stump piledriver (that’s when he pulls the trunks for more impact), but the table does not break. Viva Espanol! Somewhere a Spanish guy is probably saying that the English are not as strong as the Spanish. Cactus rolls him in the ring and grabs a bag from under the ring. We don’t know what they are until he dumps it revealing hundreds of thumbtacks that he litters in the corner of the ring. Steph comes out to overact. I mean she comes out to show concern for her husband. After some punches, Triple H is standing right in front of the tacks. Like an idiot (again), Cactus charges at him and gets backdropped straight onto the thumbtacks in another SICK moment. What was cool is that the crowd started to gasp as soon as he charged at Hunter because they knew it was coming. Cactus rolls around in the tacks for a disgusting visual. Triple H hits him with a kick and Pedigree for 1…2…2.999999. Ooh, the crowd thought that was it. Good false finish. This time Triple H does the Pedigree with Jack landing FACE FIRST ON THE TACKS! Man, Foley is nuts. He rules. 1…2…3. Two Pedigrees, the second one on the tacks, and that’s it. Foley has tacks all around his face that were actually cutting him open a bit. This was one of the best finishes of a big match that I’ve ever seen. Match time was 26:48.
Winner by pinfall: Triple H
Analysis: ***** What an incredible match this was. A five-star performance from both men. A great story mixed in with all the violence and a match where Triple H raised his game (pun intended) to compete at the highest level with Mick Foley, who was a master at brawls like this. A lot of times when there are great matches we can point to one person being in control most of the time. We call it a “carry job” most of the time. This match did not have that. This was about as even a match that you can have. If somebody were timing how long each person was on offense during the match, I’d venture to guess that it was pretty even, or Triple H was slightly ahead. Both guys worked their asses off. Both guys bumped hard. Both guys got the crowd to react to them in the way they intended. Both guys sacrificed their bodies to put on a special match. Both guys deserve praise for this performance. By the end of the match, both guys looked a lot better than when they entered the ring. Sure, Triple H had blood all over his face, and Cactus Jack had tacks in his face, but I don’t think either of them complained too much. Triple H gained a lot of credibility as World Champion because he defeated a man cleanly in his specialty match. Cactus Jack proved that he could hang with a hungry, young champion. Even though he lost, Cactus came out of the match looking like a champion. This match had everything that makes wrestling great: A lot of heat, tremendous psychology, a high level of workrate, a rabid crowd and two men that did a wonderful job of making the other guy look good.
Post match, Triple H is on a stretcher. Cactus gets up in time to chase him down, take him off the stretcher, roll him back into the ring and beat him up some more with a barbwire shot to the face. The crowd was still going nuts. They had them in the palm of their hands the entire time. Jack posed towards the crowd, which drew cheers. After Jack left, Triple H was helped to the back.
Analysis: That post match attack by Jack let us know that the rivalry was not over even after Triple H’s win. There would be one more singles match between them, which was perfectly fine with me.
(For even more of my thoughts on this match, please check out my in-depth column dedicated to Triple H vs. Cactus Jack at Royal Rumble 2000 RIGHT HERE because it’s one of my favorite articles I have ever written. It also features comments from both guys talking about the match, which lets you know that they loved the match as much as most of us did.)
Triple H entered as the WWF Champion with his storyline wife (and future real life wife) Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley by his side. Hunter had perfected his water spit while on the apron entrance by this point. Hunter’s left leg was taped up a lot because of the cut he dealt with at the Royal Rumble. He bled a lot from the leg on that night.
Cactus Jack entered to a very good ovation. He had on the “Wanted” t-shirt and the red flannel shirt as usual. The Hell in a Cell structure lowered while both guys were in the ring. In future years, that would change with the structure lowered before the wrestlers entered the ring.
WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon Helmsley) vs. Cactus Jack
Pre-match notes: Triple H was the heel WWF Champion that I’ll refer to as Hunter when I write about the match. Jack was the face challenger that was putting his career on the line at just 34 years of age.
The match began with Jack going over to the cell door and realizing that there were several locks on the door, which will make it difficult to open the door. Jack was in control with a running forearm. They battled on the floor with Hunter sending Jack into the side of the ring apron. Back in the ring, Hunter worked over Jack with punches. Hunter slammed his knee into Jack’s face and Jack sent Hunter over the top to the floor. Hunter kicked a chair of Jack’s hand and sent him into the cell. Jack was on the apron, so Hunter hit a running knee that sent Jack into the cell. Hunter whipped Jack knees first into the steel steps, which was a bump Jack did all the time. Hunter remained in control as he whipped Jack into the ring post. When Jack got back up, Hunter whipped the steel steps into Jack’s head. Hunter used the chair to hit the steps while Jack was underneath them. Back in the ring, Hunter with a stiff chair shot to the back and a hard chair shot to the head. Hunter with a DDT for a two count. Jack got his hands on the steel chair, he hit Hunter in the groin with it and then a DDT onto the chair by Jack. The most shocking thing about this match so far was that nobody was bleeding yet. Jack with a Russian legsweep that put the back of Hunter’s head onto the steel chair. Jack unloaded on Hunter with punches while putting him on the chair, but Hunter came back with a drop toe hold onto the chair. Hunter with a clothesline that sent Jack over the top to the floor. Hunter sent the back of Jack’s head into the cell. They battled outside the ring again with Jack hitting a catapult that sent Hunter into the cell. Triple H came up bleeding after blading himself, so he was busted open with the bloody head. There’s the expected blood in the match.
Jack continued on offense as he whipped Hunter into the cage repeatedly. Jack grated Hunter’s face against the cage. Jack whipped the back of Hunter hitting the cell with JR saying that Triple H’s face was the “proverbial crimson mask, which was a phrase JR liked to use. Stephanie had a concerned look on her rich face. Jack went to the second turnbuckle, he had the chair in his right and jumped off with an elbow smash using the chair. That looked brutal for Hunter to take. Jack threw the steel steps at Hunter, who moved and the steps busted open the side of the cage. The crowd cheered wildly because they realized the cage was busted open. Jack went running into the cage and then bumped into the barricade at ringside. Jack whipped Hunter through the cage. Jack was bleeding from the left arm.
Analysis: I thought that was a creative way to get out of the ring. Prior to this, nobody did a spot like that to break open the cell, so give them credit for being creative with it.
Jack hit a pulling piledriver onto the announce table, but the table did not break. Jack tried to climb the cage, but Stephanie grabbed his legs to stop him. Jack grabbed the barbed wire 2×4 piece of wood and hit Hunter in the head with it. Hunter tried to leave through the crowd, but Jack left him. Hunter climbed up the cell, so Jack climbed up after him while bringing the 2×4 barb wire with him. Hunter grabbed the barb wire wood while on the cell and grated it against Jack’s head. Hunter stepped on the hands of Jack and Jack bumped off the side of the cell through the announce table. Jack was about 3/4 of the way up the cell, so that was a nasty fall. It was a higher bump from what Shawn Michaels did at Badd Blood 1997. JR said “Cactus is broken in half” and called for help for Mick. Hunter posed on the cell with the barbed wire 2×4 as if he won the match from that with fans chanting “Asshole” at Hunter. Jack was moving again and got back to his feet. Jack was bleeding from the head after the barb wire shot to the head. Jack tried throwing two chairs on top of the cell, but three times he tried and it failed. Jack went up on the cell again where Triple H was waiting with the 2×4 barb wire to the back. Hunter hit Jack two more times with the barb wire. Jack with a low blow kick to the groin. Jack with punches while on the cell. Jack punched Hunter on the cell again and Hunter broke three a corner part of the cage. Jack with a suplex on Hunter on the cage. Jack with a double arm DDT on the cell. Jack grabbed the barb wire 2×4, he lit it on fire and he hit Hunter in the head with it. Jack put the barb wire 2×4 on the cell and Hunter hit a back body drop that sent Jack through the cell and it led to Jack breaking part of the ring for his fall. The fans chanted “holy shit” for that. It was a gimmicked spot that we had never seen before. JR was freaking out asking for somebody to help this man. Here’s an image of what it looked like with Jack in the ring.
Hunter crawled his way down the broke part of the cell and got into the ring with Jack. JR told Hunter to get it over with. Fans chanted “Foley” as Hunter looked at the crowd with a shocked look on his face. Hunter kicked Jack’s hand leading to Jack moving back to his feet. JR: “That crazy son of a bitch is moving.” Hunter decked Jack with a couple of punches to the head. Hunter picked up Jack and hit a Pedigree in the center of the ring. Hunter covered and Hebner counted the one, two and three. Triple H retains the WWF Championship at 23:57.
Winner by pinfall: Triple H
Analysis: ****1/2 That was an outstanding match full of violence and it’s one of the best Hell in a Cell matches in WWE history. They followed up on the Royal Rumble match well by using some of the same spots that worked in that much, but then they cranked it up even more by having Jack light the barbed wire bat on fire. The battle on the cell was really cool because the previous HIAC matches didn’t have that much action on top of the cell, so it made this match stand out a lot. I don’t think it was a five-star match because it was slow at times and I just feel like it was a notch below what they did at the Royal Rumble. It’s still one of the best WWF Title matches ever. I was not surprised by Triple H getting the win.
After the match was over, EMT’s went down to the ring with a stretcher. Hunter called for the cell to be raised, so it was and a bloody Hunter left with his wife Stephanie smiling at the sight of a fallen Cactus Jack.
Replays aired of the crazy fall that Cactus Jack took through the cell and into the ring that was gimmicked so that it broke when he went through it. That was smart of WWE to set it up that way. It’s still an impressive bump.
Jack was getting helped by The EMTs, but he threw a neckbrace away because he didn’t want the help. JR said that there are a lot of jerks and asses in this business, but Foley is one of the finest men he has ever known. JR said that Foley’s career was over. In theory, I guess. Not in reality.
The fans gave Mick Foley a standing ovation as he slowly walked to the back with fans chanting “Foley” for him. Foley turned to face the crowd and the cheers got louder. JR thanked him for the great memories. The show ended with Foley walking away.
Analysis: It was a great sendoff for Mick Foley. Yes, he wrestled in the main event of WrestleMania one month later and wrestled several more times after that over the next decade, but this was the end of his career as a full-timer.
That’s where I’ll wrap it up. Thanks for reading!