It’s time for WWE Backlash 2000. This is the pay-per-view that followed WrestleMania 2000 when Triple H retained the WWE Title thanks to Vince McMahon turning heel on The Rock to side with Triple H.
Shane McMahon was the referee of the main event while Steve Austin (who had been out since November 1999 due to a neck injury that required surgery) was in The Rock’s corner and Vince McMahon was in Triple H’s corner. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley was with Triple H as the storyline wife, so Hunter had the support of three McMahons. We didn’t know if Rock could trust Austin, so that was the big storyline going into the show.
Backlash did great numbers for WWE with 675,000 buys on PPV. That means it was second to WrestleMania that year with WM doing 824,000 buys. It’s rare for Backlash to beat shows like Royal Rumble and SummerSlam, but it did in 2000. The big reason why is because Rock got screwed by Vince at WrestleMania and the return of Steve Austin after being on the shelf for about six months.
This review was originally written in March of 2016. My play-by-play writing may not be as detailed as what I currently do, but I covered everything. I’ve tweaked some of the review and I’m also adding in some updated 2019 thoughts in (blue font) as well.
WWE Backlash 2000
April 30, 2000
The MCI Center in Washington, DC
This show has a TV-14 rating and a “V” for Violence on WWE Network.
The opening video summarized the main event storyline that I mentioned above.
The pyro went off to start the show. There was a huge crowd on hand back in the day when the arenas were always sold out for WWE. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show.
Analysis: Lawler was in heel mode at this point. He was of the best heel announcers ever along with Bobby Heenan. Ross is the best play by play guy ever.
The lovely Debra was the ring announcer for the opener. She was dating Steve Austin at the time (they got married a few months later), so she wasn’t appearing regularly while he was rehabbing his neck. When there was a crowd shot I noticed The Rock’s mom and wife Dany (now ex-wife that is his business partner) at ringside.
Prior to the opener, Road Dogg did his pre-match promo hyping up the crowd. He was in DX mode teaming with X-Pac.
WWE Tag Team Championships: Edge & Christian vs. Road Dogg & X-Pac (w/Tori)
Pre-match notes: E&C were the Tag Team Champions that were about to become big heels, but they were not there yet. DX were heels that were cheered at times.
The “X-Pac sucks” chants were pretty loud. Good work by Edge early on and then a tag to Christian for a splash in the corner. Big powerslam by Christian on X-Pac. Dogg cheated behind the ref’s back, so DX started to double team DX. There was a blind tag by DX, but ref Jimmy Korderas didn’t see it. Tori was choking Christian and then X-Pac nailed a Bronco Buster in the corner. More work by DX on Christian for a couple of minutes. Double cross body block by Road Dogg and Christian. Edge did a headbutt off the top on Dogg, which he didn’t do that often. Christian did a double reverse DDT on the DX guys. Hot tag for Edge, who nailed a seated Powerbomb on X-Pac for two. Spear by Edge on Dogg. Tori held Edge, he moved and X-Pac punched Tori by accident to knock her off the apron. Dogg with a clothesline on Christian on the floor and the ref was looking at them. X-Pac nailed his X-Factor finisher. The ref Jimmy Korderas was yelling at Dogg and Tori. Christian got the ring bell, nailed X-Pac with the bell and Christian covered for the win even though he wasn’t the legal man. That was enough for the pinfall win at 9:22. Big pop from the crowd.
Winners by pinfall: Edge & Christian
Analysis: *** It was a good opener full of action with two teams that the crowd was interested in. At this time, E&C needed wins like this to establish them as quality champions for when they went on to face other good teams in the company at the time. The crowd was into that whole thing. It shows how hot crowds were in that year when business was so strong and midcard acts were really popular. The finish was a bit messed up with Christian getting the pin even though he wasn’t legal, but that’s part of the deal where E&C were becoming crafty heels.
Post match, X-Pac came up bleeding. It was hardway and not a blade job.
(It was noted by Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer that the match ended early because X-Pac was getting tired due to asthma issues. It was supposed to go a few minutes longer.)
The Rock was shown arriving in a limo. He’s rich.
WWE Light Heavyweight Championship: Dean Malenko vs. Scotty 2 Hotty
Pre-match notes: Malenko was the heel champion that was part of the Radicalz group. Scotty the popular dancing face that was part of the Too Cool team.
There was a huge blood stain in the ring from X-Pac’s blood in the previous match. When Scotty wanted his bulldog, Malenko nailed him with a clothesline. Scotty got some momentum, but then Malenko slowed him down with a dropkick to the knee. Malenko spent the next few minutes working on the leg of Scotty. After Malenko did a kneebreaker move, Scotty nailed an enziguri kick to the head. Malenko regained control with a hard whip into the corner. Scotty got a rollup out of desperation for two, but Malenko stopped that with a clothesline. Malenko drove Scotty out of the ring and Malenko landed out there too. Malenko nailed a superplex. Each guy got some nearfalls in. Malenko nailed a back suplex with Scotty trying to fight it off. Scotty finally nailed his bulldog leading to a HUGE reaction for the Worm spot. Wow. That’s the fun of pro wrestling. Malenko got a rollup with his feet on the rope, but the ref caught it. A sweet Ligerbomb by Malenko gets two. Malenko powerslam gets two. They did a spot by the apron where Scotty was going to put Malenko to the apron, but Malenko slipped to the floor. Malenko went up top, which was rare for him. It looked like a Superplex by Scotty, but instead Malenko turned it into a DDT! Wow. What an awesome finish that was. Malenko wins after 12:57 of action.
Winner by pinfall: Dean Malenko
They replayed the finish while putting it over as a big deal.
Analysis: **** A four star match that is one of the best LHW title matches in WWE history. This is such a smartly wrestled match that I remember as one of those random awesome matches that is definitely underrated. Great psychology with Malenko working on the knee, Scotty doing a good job of selling it and making the heroic comeback. That finish really made it stand out too. Malenko is one of the best technical wrestlers of this era, but he didn’t have that many memorable matches in WWE. When he was in WCW he had so many outstanding cruiserweight matches. As for Scotty, he never really thrived as a singles wrestler, but this is the best match he had in singles.
(Brilliant match. They had some false finishes that were believable and the finish they went with looked brutal. I doubt you can find another WWE Light Heavyweight Championship match where the crowd was as invested as these fans were.)
There was a meeting of the heel minds backstage with Vince McMahon making sure that Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson were with them. Triple H, Stephanie and referee Shane McMahon were in the room too. Vince told Brisco and Patterson it’s all hands on deck for tonight.
Analysis: The idea was that they were all working together to prevent The Rock from leaving with the WWE Title.
Bull Buchanan & Big Boss Man vs. The Acolytes (Bradshaw & Faarooq)
Pre-match notes: The Acolytes were the faces while Bull and BBM were a tough heel team.
It started with JR saying this was going to be a slobberknocker. Good athleticism by Bull getting a clothesline on Faarooq. Acolytes were working on Boss Man for a few minutes. Weird story for the match because usually the heels will be in control for most of it. The heels got control against Faarooq. JR saying Bull Buchanan is 6’8” is pretty laughable because he was probably 6’4” at best, but that’s what they do. Blind tag for Bradshaw where the ref Teddy Long didn’t see it. The crowd isn’t into the match as Faarooq took a beating. Faarooq nailed a Spinebuster on Bull. Hot tag to Bradshaw who nailed a shoulder tackle. Faarooq went after Boss Man. Bradshaw hit a DDT – his second of the match. Bradshaw went up top for some reason, Boss Man attacked him there and Bull nailed a superplex for two. Boss Man was brawling with Faarooq outside the ring. Bradshaw with a Clothesline from Hell gets two as Boss Man makes the save. Boss Man nailed Faarooq with a nightstick and then nailed Bradshaw with the nightstick while the ref was looking at Bull for some reason. Bull nailed a Scissors Kick off the top for the pinfall win after 7:32 of action.
Winners by pinfall: Bull Buchanan & Big Boss Man
Analysis: *1/4 It was a poor match that probably went a few minutes longer than it needed to be. Cheap finish for the heels cheating behind the ref’s back. There wasn’t a big crowd reaction to anything in this match. The tag division was pretty deep in this era, so this was WWE’s way of trying to put over this Bull and Boss Man team.
(They had high expectations for Buchanan, which is why he got the pin here. His athleticism was impressive, but he was a boring guy.)
The Hardy Boyz were shown talking in the locker room about the upcoming Hardcore Title match. They had an understanding about how they’re going to compete for the title in this match.
Crash Holly, the Hardcore Champion, talked to his cousin Hardcore Holly. Crash wanted to work together as a team. Hardcore said he’ll go after his cousin and he slapped him.
The announcers talked about Steve Austin not being there yet. The whole show has been JR saying “Austin is due to arrive at any time” and he’s not there yet.
WWE Hardcore Championship: Crash Holly vs. Tazz vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Hardcore Holly vs. Perry Saturn
Pre-match notes: Crash was the heel champion that was cheered sometimes too. The faces were Matt, Jeff and Tazz while Hardcore and Saturn were heels. This match will end when Crash wins or when somebody beats Crash.
Saturn with a suplex on Crash, Hardcore with a Powerbomb on Crash and everybody kept going after Crash. Eventually, Crash ran away to the entrance area where he climbed up a part of the set. Matt went after him and jumped down about 15 feet onto the other guys. Jeff did a sweet hurricanrana on Saturn by the entrance. The Hardys double teamed Crash, but Tazz nailed them with a trash can lid. Hardcore nailed Crash with a 2×4. Saturn nailed Tazz with the 2×4. Saturn went for a submission on Crash, but Tazz broke it up and nailed a huge clothesline on Crash. Hardcore with a suplex on Crash on the floor. The match is basically people pinning Crash and others breaking up the pin. Huge German Suplex by Saturn on Hardcore, but no successful pin on Crash. The Hardys each had cookie sheets that they used as weapons. More pin breakups followed. Tazz used an extension cord to choke Matt. Springboard moonsault by Jeff got two. Crash was taking a pounding as he took a brainbuster from Saturday and Hardcore gave him a sitout suplex onto a chair. The Hardys got a ladder. The Hardys whipped Hardcore into a ladder in the corner. Matt hit a Twist of the Fate on Crash and Jeff hit a Swanton Bomb. The Hardys fought eachother because they both wanted the pin. Tazzmission on Crash broken up by Saturn with a Stop sign. Jeff and Matt hit dives off the top rope to eliminate Tazz and Holly on the floor. Crash rolled over, put an arm on Tazz’s chest (he was out from the Stop sign) and that was enough for the pinfall win at the 12:16 mark.
Winner by pinfall: Crash Holly
Analysis: **1/2 A really good finishing sequence helped that match after it was boring for about ten minutes. I don’t really remember the match that well, but it was fun to watch even though it was a little too hectic at times. The stipulation that Crash could either win or get pinned hurt the story since it was so repetitive. As I said, it was all about pin attempts on Crash and every time he did, somebody broke it up. It was a fun title, that’s for sure.
(This was better than the WrestleMania 2000 match that went 15 minutes. It continued Crash’s reign as the “Houdini of Hardcore” that kept finding ways to retain the Hardcore Title.)
Shane McMahon was interviewed by Jonathon Coachman backstage. Shane was the referee in the main event and he’s happy that his dad gave him that responsibility. Shane ended it quickly by saying that he has to g focus because the match is coming up soon.
There was a video package for Big Show’s match with Kurt Angle. It was the start of Show becoming a comedic babyface. He did imitations for several weeks leading up to this with Angle getting frustrated that Show was letting his talent go to waste.
Kurt Angle did one of his arrogant pre-match promos. He said that like George Washington he cannot tell a lie as he said Big Show is waste of talent. Angle said people should be ashamed for re-electing Marion Berry. Look it up. He said some people are liars and cheaters – look at the President (Bill Clinton). He called himself a hero as he usually does.
The “Real American” song played as Big Show walked out to the ring with a “Showster” shirt. The crowd popped huge as the announcers were laughing. There was a huge ovation as he did the Hogan shirt rip routine too. Show did a Hogan style promo although he said, “goes wild on you” instead of “runs wild on you.” The crowd loved this.
Analysis: The Hogan gimmick worked big time for Show.
Kurt Angle vs. Big Show aka “The Showster”
Pre-match notes: Angle was a heel and Show was a comedic babyface.
Angle’s punches didn’t work because Show was no selling it and Hulking Up. Show nailed the punches, the big boot and then the Leg Drop gets two. Angle took out the left knee with a shoulder tackle. Fans chanted “Hogan” as Angle attacked the left leg of Show. Show made a comeback by ripping off the Hogan hair and belt around the waist. Huge clothesline by Show. Chokeslam by Show gets the win at 2:35.
Winner by pinfall: Big Show
Analysis: * It was a comedy match with Show becoming more serious to get the win. This was hilarious back then and it still is. Hogan was in WCW at the time, but they were really fading by this point. It was pretty rare for WWE to take a direct shot at a WCW guy like that although if you’re winning the battle like they were then it’s okay. I can remember some people being mad at the time because Angle was made to look like a fool in this match. I didn’t mind it because it was designed to get Show over more as a face and it worked. Angle continued to rise after this match, so no harm done.
(If you are going to do a parody, keep the match short. I think it was smart that it only lastedabout three minutes. As I noted in the analysis, Angle wasn’t hurt by the loss. He was main eventing SummerSlam four months later.)
A video package aired hyping up the T&A with Trish Stratus vs. Dudley Boyz match. The story was that Trish (who was new to WWE a few months earlier) taunted Bubba Ray Dudley and his love of putting people through tables. She did those “Table Tips” promos that were fantastic while also making sexual innuendo comments. Anyway, Bubba was unable to put her through the table since she kept teasing him, so it was all about hyping that up.
Trish was interviewed by Michael Cole while Test and Albert looked on. She said that in a few moments, Bubba’s going to find out how she feels. Bubba was shown watching Trish on a TV while D-Von gave him a pep talk about how it was time to have their match.
Analysis: I was nearly 20 years old at the time and Trish was very popular with me as well as most guys watching WWE. We didn’t know she would go on to be arguably the greatest diva in WWE history, but she certainly looked the part early on considering this was only her second month on WWE TV.
They showed Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins at ringside.
Analysis: Corgan is now the owner of the NWA that nearly bought TNA/Impact at one point. He’s a lifelong wrestling fan with a lot of money.
Test & Albert (w/Trish Stratus) vs. The Dudley Boyz
Pre-match notes: The T&A duo were heels while the Dudleys were becoming faces.
Trish was dressed in pink showing a lot of cleavage and short shorts with JR saying it was a “spiffy outfit.” Bubba chased Trish outside the ring, but Test met him with a clothesline. Back in the ring, Bubba nailed a clothesline on Albert and yelled at Trish “I’m gonna get ya, you little bitch!” The crowd cheered that. Double suplex by the Dudleyz on Albert. D-Von nailed a headbutt to the groin – this was before they added the “Wassup” yell for it. Boot by Albert on D-Von and then Test got a boot to the face for two. Test with a gutwrench powerbomb as the heels continued to work over D-Von. Nice double tilt-a-whirl slam by T&A gets two. They did a spot where Albert slammed Test onto D-Von for a pinfall attempt. Fans chanted “table” as D-Von connected with a neckbreaker. Ref didn’t see a D-Von tag with JR mentioning third time tonight that has happened. That just shows that WWE tag teams loved that spot. More work by the heels on D-Von. Trish was smiling at ringside. There was a pinfall attempt by D-Von that got two, but Albert nailed a sitout Powerbomb for two. Fans chanted “we want tables” to rally behind the Dudleys. D-Von with a superplex on Albert. Hot tag to Bubba against Test and he nailed a Samoan Drop for two. D-Von sent Test outside the ring. Double team neckbreaker by the Dudleys got two – JR called it 3D even though it’s not. Albert with a slam on Bubba. D-Von moved Bubba out of the way of an elbow drop attempt from Test. The Dudleys wanted to hit 3D, but when Bubba was supposed to hit it, Trish was on the apron taunting him, so he just stopped. What a booty on Trish as Test nailed a boot to knock down Bubba. Test covered and that was enough for the win at the 11:07 mark. Lawler: “Show me the A! Show me the A!” Well put!
Winners by pinfall: Test & Albert
Analysis: *3/4 An okay tag match that was a bit sloppy at times, but the finish worked with the storyline of Bubba constantly being distracted by Trish. If it was a few minutes shorter it probably would have helped.
(The match was just average stuff. The finish was booked well with Trish playing a major factor, which led to the post-match angle.)
Post match, Bubba got up right away, so he no sold that finish. Bubba nailed a neckbreaker on Test and then he went after Trish. The crowd popped huge. The Dudleys hit a 3D on Albert. Bubba grabbed Trish by the hair. The crowd was going wild. Trish grabbed Bubba and kissed him like she had done in the past. Bubba shook it off, grabbed her by the hair again as D-Von set up a table and Bubba came off the top rope with Powerbomb through the table. Huge ovation from the crowd. What a pop! Bubba smiled.
After the table spot, Trish was helped onto a stretcher with a neckbrace on, which was what they did to put over these table spots as a big deal. Bubba: “I got you, you little bitch!” JR said they had fun with the match, but it’s not funny now. It was just an angle, of course. This was a big moment for the Dudleys because it helped them get over more as a popular team.
Analysis: The fans wanting to see a woman go through a table shows what kind of thing got over in the Attitude Era. You could say that she deserved it just because she taunted him so much, but it wouldn’t happen in today’s WWE environment. The match wasn’t anything special, but the angle was a great thing for everybody involved.
(The Dudleys were ridiculously popular with the crowd after this feud. Even though they lost the match, they certainly won the war. Trish took more of a bump than the other women that Bubba put through the table. It was noted in the Wrestling Observer at the time that Trish was willing to take more of a bump because she wanted to prove her toughness and she sure did.)
As Trish was loaded into an ambulance with Test and Albert going into the ambulance, a car pulled up. It was Eddie Guerrero and Chyna. Eddie was informed by ref Jack Doan that he had to go to the ring now to defend his European Title. The story was that Eddie was just at his prom and just got back in time. It was a silly story that they were doing to try to give him more of a character.
Eddie and Chyna drove the Chevy car into the arena and near the ring. A quick video aired to set up the match.
WWE European Championship: Eddie Guerrero (w/Chyna) vs. Essa Rios (w/Lita)
Pre-match notes: Eddie was a heel for a few months, but his relationship with Chyna helped to turn him into a face. Rios and Lita were heels.
Eddie wrestled in his tuxedo pants and bowtie while Chyna had on a dress. Eddie was in control early with a back suplex, but then Rios sent him out of the ring with an arm drag. When Rios went for a dive over the top, Eddie moved and Rios hit the floor. Eddie tossed Rios into the steps. Eddie took control in the ring. The crowd wasn’t into the match at this point. Chyna nailed a forearm uppercut on Rios. Rios came back with a dropkick and then a missile dropkick for two. Nice exchange of holds where Rios nailed a monkey flip that sent Eddie into the ropes. Chyna got in another forearm shot. Eddie with a plancha over the top to take out Rios on the floor. Eddie went for a move on the floor, Lita was on top, Chyna shoved her into the announce table at ringside and Rios capitalized on that with a springboard moonsault onto Eddie by the announce table. That’s a crazy spot to do a move like that. Back in the ring, another missile dropkick by Rios and then he nailed a somersault dive over the turnbuckle to take out Eddie on the floor. Rios was on the top, Chyna tripped him up and Eddie nailed a superplex on Rios. Brainbuster by Eddie. When Eddie went to the top, Rios hit him with an arm drag off the top. Rios went for a moonsault, but Eddie got his feet up to block it. Eddie nailed an airplane spin into a neckbreaker for the pin at 8:37.
Winner by pinfall: Eddie Guerrero
Analysis: *** That was a very good match that was done in under ten minutes. They did a great job of making the most of their time. Essa Rios made all the aerial stuff look so easy. For Eddie, they used Chyna to try to get him over as a comedic face that could also put on entertaining matches. He was showing a lot of good character traits in this story, so it benefitted him that way.
(I don’t recall Eddie using that spin into a neckbreaker very often. Most of the time, he used the Frog Splash as a finisher.)
Post match, Rios nailed a dropkick to Eddie and knocked Chyna down. Lita went in the ring, yanked off Chyna’s dress and that left Chyna in her bra and panties. Lawler was marking out over it while Ross said he had never seen Chyna look quite like this. Eddie was smiling at her. She seemed to be okay with it.
Analysis: It was a newer side of Chyna with WWE wanting her to look more like a sex symbol. Was this around the time when Triple H was cheating on her with Stephanie? I think so although Chyna was in the company for about a year after this.
(Chyna’s Playboy issue came out a few months after this, so this was the WWE’s attempt to portray her as more of a sex symbol as well.)
Triple H and Stephanie were interviewed by Coachman in their locker room. Hunter recited some of his catchphrases and tonight he’s going to prove that he’s that damn good. Vince was there too. He said most of us were surprised that Steve Austin wasn’t there yet. Vince said that Austin may have encountered transportation difficulties.
Analysis: The “Austin’s not there” storyline was pushed by Ross on commentary all night long.
Chris Benoit, the Intercontinental Champion, was interviewed by Michael Cole. He talked trash about Chris Jericho by saying he was going to take a lot of pleasure in beating Jericho.
Jericho did a pre-match promo. He mentioned how Benoit was mad at him for calling him Mr. Roboto and said politicians are like that too. Then he said he’ll beat the hell out of a politician.
WWE Intercontinental Title: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Pre-match notes: Jericho was the face challenger and Benoit was the heel champion that debuted in WWE about three months earlier.
It was pretty even early on, then Benoit took control with two German Suplexes. Jericho gave Benoit a back suplex over the top to the floor. Benoit went for a dive outside the ring, Jericho moved and Benoit hit the floor hard. Benoit hit a dropkick into the steps with the steps going into the ribs of Jericho. Benoit was in control for the next few minutes with a snap suplex that earned a two count. Jericho made a comeback by nailing a Lionsault that earned him a two count. After some Benoit offense, Jericho nailed a spinning heel kick, Benoit got in some chops and Jericho hit a bulldog for two. Jericho missed his springboard dropkick. Benoit was on top, Jericho gave him back suplex off the top, Benoit countered in mid air and got a two count on that. Jericho nailed a double Powerbomb for a two count. Benoit came back with a Crippler Crossface submission hold and Jericho was able to get his feet on the ropes. Jericho came back with his Walls of Jericho submission, but Benoit got to the ropes easy. The crowd was really hot for that sequence of near submission finishers. Jericho went for a forearm, Benoit ducked and the ref was nailed by the Jericho forearm. Benoit grabbed the title and nailed Jericho in the head with it. Benoit woke up the ref, he covered, there was a count and Jericho got up at two. Benoit with a suplex onto the title. Benoit went up top for a headbutt, Jericho grabbed the belt and held it up as Benoit landed the headbutt. The referee saw it, so Jericho took the loss by disqualification at the 15:09 mark.
Winner by disqualification: Chris Benoit
Analysis: **** That was a great match with a clever ending. I know the DQ finish probably upset people at the time, but it allowed them to continue the feud, which they did for the next few months. It’s tough for me to watch Benoit matches today compared to when it was live. He was one of my favorite wrestlers, but his double murder suicide has obviously left a black mark on everything he did in his career. Despite what he did, he’s still one of the best in-ring performers ever and Jericho has written about that in his books several times. They had amazing chemistry together and it showed in this match.
(The feud continued from here with more matches between the Canadians named Chris in the months to come.)
Post match, Jericho put the Walls of Jericho on referee Tim White. Other referees came down to the ring to break it up. Jericho was yelling. The crowd cheered Jericho’s attack. They replayed the finish as the announcers agreed it was the right call by White.
Analysis: Jericho needed more of an edge to be taken seriously as a performer, so doing things like that helped him. The fans loved seeing Jericho do that to the ref. That means that the storyline worked.
(What I wrote back then was right because Jericho was a comedic character a lot of the time. Booking him in a more serious way was needed to really elevate him as a bigger star.)
A video package aired showing Vince McMahon screwing The Rock out of the WWE Title at WrestleMania. They showed clips from WWE TV leading to the match with Linda McMahon saying that Steve Austin would be in The Rock’s corner. Then on the final Smackdown before Backlash, Austin blew up the Degeneration X bus.
Analysis: I loved this storyline. I know that people wanted Rock winning the WWE Title from Hunter at WrestleMania since that’s the traditional thing for the face to do, but the build to this match at Backlash was outstanding. It didn’t bother me that much.
The Rock was interviewed by Michael Cole. Rock said that he’s going to walk out as the WWE Champion. It doesn’t matter who he has to go through – he’ll go through them all and he’s making history now. If you smell what the Rock is cooking.
Analysis: A serious promo from him. He’s not always about the jokes. When he needed to do serious promos he could do them as well as anybody. I think he’s the best promo man in wrestling history.
They did the intros of referee Shane McMahon followed by Triple H with Vince and Stephanie, who had the Women’s Title with her. Huge heel heat as Vince tried to talk. He noted the fine print on the program says, “Card Subject to Change.” Vince informed us that Steve Austin will not be there. Huge boos.
There was a massive ovation for The Rock’s entrance. This crowd was on fire to start the match.
WWE Championship: Triple H (w/Vince & Stephanie McMahon) vs. The Rock – Shane McMahon is Special Referee
Pre-match notes: Triple H was the heel WWE Champion that had the title since the first Raw of 2000. The Rock was the face challenger that last held the title at WrestleMania 15 over one year earlier.
The crowd chanted “we want Austin” to start the match. Hunter looks like he fell asleep in a tanning bed. I don’t remember him being that tanned. Rock countered a Hunter Pedigree attempt with a back body drop. Shane pushed Rock out of the corner, so Hunter hit a neckbreaker. Hunter sent Rock over the top to the floor and then dropped him face first onto the announce table. Vince sent Rock into the ring post. Hunter was in control in the ring with a high knee. More nearfalls for Hunter as Rock kept kicking out even though Shane was counting fast. Chinlock by Hunter that took about two minutes. Hunter kept going for pinfalls with Vince telling Shane he wants faster counts. Rock sent Hunter face first into the turnbuckle. Double clothesline spot put both guys on the mat. Shane wasn’t looking, so Vince hit Rock with the title to the head. Lawler said if Austin was there that wouldn’t have happened. Rock kicked out of a fast count. The fans were chanting “Austin” again.
Rock sent Hunter over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, knee smash by Hunter, but Rock came back with DDT. Shane didn’t count. Rock punched Shane, which led to Shane bumping to the floor. Hunter sent Rock into the steps. They cleared off the Spanish announce table. Rock hit a low blow on Hunter on the table. Shane got on the table, so Rock grabbed him too and Rock gave a Rock Bottom on both Hunter and Shane through the table. Huge move! What a massive reaction from the crowd. Vince had this shocked look on his face that was perfect and Stephanie was shocked too. That crowd reaction was amazing.
Back in the ring, Rock brought Hunter into the ring and Vince attacked Rock from behind. When Rock went after him, Hunter hit a low blow to Rock. Hunter nailed a Pedigree on Rock. Shane was out, so Vince waved for somebody else – it’s Pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco in referee shirts. When Patterson counted, Rock kicked out at two. Patterson and Brisco attacked Rock with kicks and punches. Hunter nailed Rock with punches. Vince had a chair, he nailed Rock in the head with it and Vince fell over after he hit him with the chair. The glass breaks and the familiar music of Steve Austin hit. Holy shit what a reaction! Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold! JR: “Stone Cold! Stone Cold is here!”
Austin walked down to the ring in a chair in hand. He was in a t-shirt and had a bit of a gut because he was rehabbing after neck surgery, so he couldn’t lift a lot of weights yet. The crowd was going wild! Austin with a chair to Triple H in the aisle, chair to the head of Patterson, chair to the head of Brisco. In the ring, Austin hit Shane with a chair to the head and then a chair to Vince. The crowd was as loud as I’ve ever heard them react to anything! Wow. What a reaction! Hunter back in the ring and Austin nails him with a chair shot. JR: “Austin! Austin! Austin!” Austin left to a thunderous ovation as Linda McMahon walked down the aisle with referee Earl Hebner, who was fired in the storyline a few weeks earlier. When Stephanie got in her mom’s face, Linda shoved Stephanie down. Rock nailed Hunter with a Spinebuster and then the People’s Elbow. Hebner went back into the ring and counted the pin…one…two…and three! That’s it. What a moment. One of the loudest ovations I’ve ever heard. The Rock was the new WWE Champion. The match was over at the 19:23 mark.
Winner by pinfall and New WWE Champion: The Rock
Analysis: ****1/4 That was an outstanding match. There was a lot of interference that isn’t what we’re used to seeing in a regular match, but all of it fits in with this story. They were able to incorporate all of the madness into one incredible storyline that led to one of the biggest ovations I’ve ever heard when Austin showed up. Austin wasn’t cleared to bump at this point because he was still six months away from a year long recovery. However, they were smart to incorporate him into this storyline because it led to that incredible finish. Hunter was at his best at this point in his career. The Rock really turned a corner as the top face as well. They had the kind of chemistry that was as good as any two wrestlers in WWE in the last twenty years. As for that reaction when Austin came out, it’s an all-timer. If you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget it.
(This really is one of my favorite matches ever with the return of Stone Cold. It’s not an all-time classic in terms of the action or workrate, but as a match and a story, it’s so f’n entertaining. I just love watching it and marveling at the brilliance of it with Rock finding a way to win thanks to Austin’s help. The crowd was as hot as any crowd as you’re ever going to hear because the story was awesome.)
After the victory, The Rock celebrated with the WWE Title. The fans were going crazy for this. They were so happy.
Austin came back to the ring driving a Stone Cold truck while towing the DX Express bus into the building. Austin went into the ring. Austin had a beer, he toasted with Rock and they drank some beer together. That was the end of the show as Rock continued his celebration.
Analysis: It was one of the best happy endings to a PPV in WWE history. Rock’s title reign only lasted one month, but this was one of the best moments of Rock’s career.
(If this happened at WrestleMania then it would be remembered as one of the best WrestleMania endings ever. Since it was Backlash, I’d like to think that it is still remembered as one of the most fun endings we’ve ever seen. It would have been better at a WrestleMania, but I don’t think it was hurt by being at Backlash.)
Backlash 2000 had a run time of 2:46:33 on WWE Network.
Five Stars of the Show
1. The Rock
2. Triple H
3. Chris Jericho
4. Dean Malenko
5. Scotty 2 Hotty
I rate this show a 9 out of 10. (I originally had it at 8.5 out of 10, but I think it deserves a 9 out of 10 score.)
That was a great show from top to bottom. The ending was incredible and was the kind of crowd reaction WWE could only dream of today. That pop was ridiculously loud. When you have a show with three matches that hit the four-star level that means it’s an outstanding effort all around. Then there were a few other matches above average too. It’s an example of how deep WWE’s roster was at the time.
There were a few slow points, but that’s going to happen on any show. Since there were so many above-average matches, it’s easy to forget about the parts of the show that weren’t as good.
The main event was an example of how good this pro wrestling stuff can be when you have some incredible people out there executing the storyline to perfection. I thought Rock, Hunter, the McMahons and Austin all did a fantastic job. The announcers did their part too. Having one of the hottest crowds ever certainly helped too. A masterful performance by everybody involved in that main event.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
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