Wrestling Recap: A McMahon in Every Corner! (WrestleMania ’00)

The Date: 2 April 2000
The Venue: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim; Anaheim, California
The Commentary: Jim “J.R.” Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler
The Referee: Earl Hebner
The Stakes: Fatal-four-way elimination match for the WWF Championship

The Build-Up:
On March 31st, 1985, Vince McMahon changed the face of the wrestling landscape forever by bringing together the biggest names in wrestling (alongside a number of celebrity guests) for the very first WrestleMania, a pay-per-view extravaganza that became the hottest event of the calendar year for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and what better way to celebrate than by looking back at one of the event’s most historic matches. By the late-nineties, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was clawing back to prominence after being beaten in the weekly ratings by World Championship Wrestling’s (WCW) Monday Nitro for nearly two years. Amidst the adolescent antics of D-Generation X and the violent rivalry between the Undertaker and Kane, fans were caught up in the rivalry between the loud-mouthed, anti-authority “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. Unfortunately, Austin was written off television using a hit-and-run angle so that he could get much-needed neck surgery, and the main event scene of the WWF came to be dominated by Triple H. Triple H became an extremely powerful figure, both on- and offscreen, after marrying McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, and throwing his weight around as WWF Champion, crushing those with either his political power, his trusty sledgehammer, or his buddies in D-X. After Cactus Jack failed to unseat Triple H, costing the man behind the persona, Mick Foley, his career in the process, the people’s last chance laid, fittingly, in the People’s Champion himself, the Rock. However, the Rock’s path to the WrestleMania main event was disputed by the Big Show following a botched finish to the Royal Rumble; the Rock’s attempts to regain his championship match were further thwarted when the Big Show aligned himself with Vince’s son, Shane, so Vince returned to the Rock’s corner to get a measure of payback against his children. Although Chris Jericho was initially scheduled to be added to the WrestleMania main event, Linda McMahon entered the fray and announced that she would accompanying Mick Foley to the ring at the Showcase of the Immortals and the sage was set for a fatal-four-way with a member of the McMahon family in every corner!

The Match:
I should say that, while many fans and critics out there don’t think too much to this match (or this WrestleMania, there’s a very good reason that I’m choosing to review it; this was the very first WrestleMania I ever watched, and I had just started really getting into wrestling just prior to the Royal Rumble, so I was all about Mick Foley, Triple H’s dominating run as champion, and the intrigue surrounding these larger-than-life competitors. As such, considering the emotional ending to their Hell in a Cell bout at No Way Out, I was fully onboard with J. R.’s call that Foley was the “sentimental pick” for this match and had absolutely no qualms about seeing him added to the contest so close to his “retirement” because it just added a lot more emotional stakes to the match after seeing him push Triple H to the limit as Cactus Jack and knowing it could very well be his last shot at reclaiming the WWF Championship. Arguably, if there’s anyone that people didn’t seem too interested in seeing in this match, it’s the Big Show; the mammoth Paul Wight had already switched alignments a handful of times by this point, and been the WWF Champion himself and, despite the allure of his size and strength, just wasn’t as beloved, hated, or revered as the other three competitors so he kind of stands out a little bit. Once the Rock comes out, it’s pretty clear who the crowd is really behind; despite being accompanied by the hated Vince McMahon, the Rock was firmly entrenched as the most popular star on the roster at this point and the people had been begging to see him dethrone Triple H ever since he won the Royal Rumble. And then, of course, there’s the champion himself; Triple H’s big run at the top wasn’t quite as self-serving as his later reign of terror, but he had gone out of his way to make sure that he was the most hated man in the WWF at that point; from throwing his weight around, stacking the deck at every turn, to firing and the retiring Mick Foley, Triple H had every advantage at his disposal, to say nothing of being physically capable of going toe-to-toe with any man, especially each of his opponents in this match.

Despite his size and strength, the Big Show is the first to go after the others team up against him.

With no count-outs, time limits, or disqualifications in effect, and three former World Champions gunning for him, Triple H was at a distinct disadvantage here; not only did he not have to be pinned to lose the belt, he could also be eliminated from the contest entirely if he wasn’t careful, and the four wasted no time in pairing off for a slugfest that saw the Game renew his rivalry with Foley and the Rock and the Big Show go at it in the other corner. Hyped up on adrenaline and emotion, Foley was able to beat Triple H down in the corner and hit his running knee spot, but both men were soon floored by a double clothesline from the Big Show, who showcased his physical dominance in the early going by manhandling each of his opponents indiscriminately with headbutts, tosses, and huge Gorilla Press Slams. Foley’s attempt to choke out the Big Show left him crushed beneath the giant’s weight, and he easily shut down the Rock’s offense with a sidewalk slam, but surprisingly Foley saved the Game from falling victim to the big man’s patented Showstopper chokeslam with a kick to the nuts. Triple H, the Rock, and Mick Foley then got on the same page to pummel the Big Show and finally knock him down for a group stomping. It’s Foley who breaks up the alliance, attacking Triple H and sending himself and the Game to the outside with his Cactus Clothesline; while the Big Show overpowers the Rock on the inside, Foley attacks Triple H with a steel chair in front of the announcers, then wallops the big man across the spine in retaliation for Shane tripping the Rock. Stunned by the shot, the Big Show lumpers right into a Rock Bottom and is summarily eliminated from the match.

It wasn’t long before Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection were battling for victory.

Triple H offers to join forces with each of his two opponents to take out the other, and ends up getting suckered in by the Rock as a result; the former WWF Tag Team Champions stomp the shit out of Triple H, smacking him back and forth between them and flooring him with a double clothesline before dumping him to the outside. Every time Triple H attempts to mount a comeback, the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection shut him down, but Triple H is wily enough to duck a shot from the Rock that sees Foley get blasted in the head with the ring bell! Triple H follows up by running the Rock into the steel ring steps to turn things around, dropping the Rock chest-first on the barricade, but he’s left cowering in ear with Foley pulls out his trusty barbed wire 2×4! Thanks to a kick to the dick, Triple H fells the former Hardcore Champion and then uses Foley’s own weapon against him; thankfully, the Rock interrupts before Foley can get too shredded, giving Mick the opportunity to hit the Double-Arm DDT and pull out Mister Socko for the Mandible Claw. The Rock then smashes the WWF Championship over Triple H’s face, but Foley interrupts the People’s Elbow by slapping the Mandible Claw on the Rock (which a vocal majority of the crowd are not happy about) and this dissension allows both men to fall victim to a double low blow form the Game. The Rock and Triple H make it to their feet first, and Vince surreptitiously slips a steel chair into the ring for the Rock to use, but nearly has a heart attack when Foley attacks the Rock and almost scores a pin fall off the Double-Arm DDT. Foley’s momentum is cut off, however, when he charges at the Rock with the chair and gets a face full of steel for his efforts, but Triple H breaks up the Rock’s pin attempt (which the announcers question and hastily try to explain as the Game wanting to personally eliminate Foley from the match).

After injuring himself on a risky move, Foley is eliminated and Triple H focuses his wrath on the Rock.

Triple H then clotheslines the Rock down and he and Foley agree to team up to eliminate the Rock and then settle their score, which the crowd also isn’t happy about. Suddenly fending off two men at once, the Rock is pummelled by the unlikely duo’s attacks and double teams but refuses to let himself be pinned to the mat. Foley knocks the Rock to the outside, smashing the Brahma Bull in the face with the steel stairs and leaving him helpless as Triple H lays him across the Spanish announce table. Foley ascends the nearest turnbuckle and absolutely crashes and burns on a diving elbow drop, momentarily taking himself out of the match and leaving Triple H to quickly cover up by smashing the Rock through the table himself. With the Rock incapacitated at ringside, Triple H is infuriated when the injured Foley still manages to kick out of a Pedigree s he smashes the former King of the Death Match over the head with a steel chair and finally puts his dreams to rest with a devastating Pedigree to the chair. The crowd is a sea of boos at seeing their beloved hero eliminated, but applaud his efforts, continuously respectful of his tremendous effort and the sacrifices he made not just throughout his career, but also in this match. Before he leaves, though, Foley clocks Triple H in the head with the barbed wire 2×4, busting him open in the process and allowing the match to boils down to, arguably, the two men who should’ve had the main event to themselves all along: The Champion, Triple H, and the people’s last, best hope, the Rock. After kicking out of a pin fall attempt, Triple H gets decked by the Rock’s signature right hands, and then clotheslined to the outside after a brief miscommunication; the Rock forces Triple H up the aisleway for a brawl on the concrete and, naturally, out into the crowd and back over to the announce table. Triple H uses a steel chair to smack the ring steps into the Rock’s face and pin him to the floor, attacking the steps with the chair to increase the pressure, and then plans the Rock with a piledriver onto the other steel steps! Despite J. R.’s pleas to stop the match, and that such a spot probably should’ve been the finish, the Rock not only kicks out of a pin attempt but even fires up enough to go for a Rock Bottom! Triple H countered out of it but was toss over the top rope and back to the outside when the Rock countered the Pedigree!

Vince screws the Rock out of his victory, but the People’s Champ gets the last laugh on the McMahons.

The two brawl at ringside and through the crowd a bit more, an exchange that sees the Rock slam Triple H to the padded floor with a spinebuster and then smash Triple H through the remaining announce table with a beautiful suplex! When Triple H trips the Rock into the ring steps with a drop-toe hold, Vince attacks the Game and ends up being smashed in the head by a television monitor courtesy of his son. The two McMahons brawl at ringside and Vince gets busted open from a chair shot to take the focus off the ring and give the competitors a chance to catch their breath; this results in the Rock exploding with a series of punches and scoring a near-fall off a DDT and that cool twirling powerslam he used to do around this time. Triple H turns things around with Foley’s 2×4, but the Rock is able to slingshot the Game into Triple H and then plant the champion with a Rock Bottom. Unfortunately, the Rock is too fatigued to capitalise, but is saved from Shane’s chair shot by a returning Vince, who slaps his son around to thunderous applause. Vince grabs the chair and prepares to hit Triple H, but psyche! The WWF Chairman stuns the crowd, and Stephanie, and smashes the chair over the Rock’s head instead! When the Rock kicks out of the pin fall, Vince is infuriated and hits the People’s Champion again, harder this time, and Triple H finally snags the three count, becoming the first heel to ever successfully defend the WWF Championship at WrestleMania. The Rock is left a quivering, beaten mess, the crowd is so pissed off that they’re throwing trash in the ring, and Vince embraces Stephanie and Shane to birth a new alliance in the WWF. Angered at the betrayal, the Rock hits the ring and plants all three McMahons with Rock Bottoms and then hits the People’s Elbow on Stephanie to placate the crowd somewhat.

The Aftermath:
Naturally, the Rock wasn’t finished with Triple H following the end of this match; over the next few weeks, the People’s Champion was continuously on the backfoot as the combined forces of the McMahons and D-X conspired to beat him down at every opportunity. Although the Rock was able to earn a one-on-one shot at Triple H at Backlash, the McMahons stacked the deck against him by naming Shane as the special guest referee and Vince’s stooge, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, in supporting roles. This led to Linda announcing that Steve Austin would be in the Rock’s corner at the event; although the Texas Rattlesnake wouldn’t show up until literally the very last minute during the match, his appearance not only helped the Rock to defeat Triple for the WWF Championship but also result in one of the most lauded and financially successfully pay-per-views of the year. The Rock’s issues with Triple H and the McMahons continued for a few months, with Triple H regaining the belt thanks to the return of the Undertaker, and the Rock continued to be pestered by Shane even as he faced new challengers like Chris Benoit.

Each competitor continued to play a pivotal role in the wrestling for years to come following this match.

The Big Show slid down the card after this and was reduced to a impersonator gimmick before being taken off TV completely so he could lose weight; he would make a dramatic return at the 2001 Royal Rumble, languish in the Hardcore division for a while, before finally getting renewed push to the top when he was paired up against rookie Brock Lesnar. Triple H saw out the rest of 2000 feuding with Kurt Angle and the Undertaker, before a horrific injury saw his power team with Austin disrupted. He returned to the ring to main event WrestleMania X-8 and remained in the main event picture scene for years thanks to his time in Evolution and feuds with Shawn Michaels and John Cena and transitioning into an authority figure. As for Mick Foley, he was soon back on TV as a beloved authority figure and mainly acted as a comedic figurehead or special guest referee. Foley returned to the ring in 2004 to team up with the Rock against Randy Orton, Ric Flair, and Batista of Evolution; Foley’s in-ring return was specifically to help sell Orton’s “Legend Killer” gimmick but he had a number of notable matches in the years after this against the likes of Edge, Ric Flair, and Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer in WWE, and against such names as Scott Steiner, Sting, and Kevin Nash during his time with Total Nonstop Action (TNA).

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

Did you enjoy the main event of WrestleMania 2000? What did you think to the a McMahon being in every corner? Who was your pick to win this match at the time? What did you think to Mick Foley returning to the ring so soon after his retirement? Would you have liked to see Chris Jericho in this match? Did you agree with the finish? How are you celebrating WrestleMania’s anniversary this year and what’s your favourite WrestleMania moment? Drop your thoughts below by signing up or leave a comment on my social media to let me know what you think about WrestleMania 2000 and check back for more wrestling content throughout the year.

Wrestling Recap: Elimination Chamber Match (New Year’s Revolution ’05)

The Date: 9 January 2005
The Venue: Coliseo de Puerto Rico; San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Commentary: Jim “J.R.” Ross, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Jonathan “The Coach” Coachman
The Referee: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels
The Stakes: Six-man Elimination Chamber match for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship

The Build-Up:
By 2005, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was the undisputed top dog in the sports entertainment industry; having bought their competition and become an indomitable multimedia juggernaut, the company decided to split their now bloated roster into two distinct brands, with both Raw and SmackDown! receiving their own exclusive wrestlers, belts, and creative teams. Under Paul Heyman, SmackDown! became known as the “wrestling show” and delivered quality matches and storylines thanks to the efforts of the fabled “SmackDown! Six”, rising stars like John Cena, and the brand-exclusive Cruiserweight division. In contrast, Eric Bischoff’s Raw was more about over-the-top storylines and was largely dominated by Triple H’s “Reign of Terror” that saw him maintain a stranglehold on the World Heavyweight Championship, backed up by his Evolution allies (“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista). Though this led to a fondly remembered feud against Triple H’s former D-Generation X running buddy Shawn Michaels and saw Chris Benoit finally capture the big one on the grandest stage of them all, it also included controversial storylines involving Kane and a disastrous main event run for Randy Orton that would lead to him adopting a “Legend Killer” gimmick but also saw his big WrestleMania coronation being usurped by Evolution’s enforcer, Batista, who gained unanimous fan support around this time. After a championship match between Triple H. Chris Benoit, and Edge ended in a double pin, the World Heavyweight Championship was declared vacant and Bischoff had the six top challengers vie for a place in an Elimination Chamber match to battle for the belt. This was only the third Elimination Chamber match so the concept was relatively new in the WWE; it debuted at the 2002 Survivor Series and forced four men to waiting in “bulletproof pods” as two others fought in the ring, with each participant joining the match at random at regular intervals, with wrestlers being eliminated by pin fall or submission until only one is left standing. The two main storylines heading into the match revolved around Triple H; Batista was showing signs of independence and had earned himself the final spot in the match, which angered The Game as he’d already been slighted by Orton and was concerned about Batista’s loyalties. Shawn Michaels being named the special guest referee also threw Triple H of as he wasn’t expected to be impartial given his bloody history with The Game. Chris Benoit’s presence was another thorn in Triple H’s side since The Game had suffered numerous losses to him and Triple H’s years of domination and oppression meant he had few allies heading into this bout.

The Match:
I remember this period of wrestling; I gather many look back on Triple H’s time with the belt more fondly now and it’s true that he eventually made some of the WWE’s biggest stars, but at the time it was absolutely frustrating to watch. What made it worse was that Chris Benoit had already knocked him off the perch (well, technically HBK and Goldberg had also beaten him for the belt but that’s neither here nor there…) and it seemed we were due some fresh faces in the Raw main event scene, but Triple H kept getting involved, basically meaning that the story leading up to WrestleMania 21 was basically the same as the previous year’s WrestleMania XX, only this time it would be the up-and-coming Batista rather than the veteran Benoit finally getting his due. The Elimination Chamber concept also hadn’t been run into the ground; the massive, dangerous steel structure had a real ominous feel to it at this point and the match is still perhaps the most inventive and interesting of the modern era despite becoming an annual event, often without any real storyline justification for it. Edge was the first man to enter a ring pod; this was the start of Edge’s push towards the top of the card and I was all for it. He had proved himself in tag team matches and runs with the Intercontinental Championship and was a much-needed fresh face in the main event scene, but he was edging into tweener territory here due to his problems with HBK. Triple H was out next and was practically livid at having to be locked into a pod by one of his worst enemies and then got into a slanging match with his former protégé, Randy Orton, when he came to the ring looking to regain the championship, though it was pretty clear that he’d lost a lot of the bite and appeal he’d had before turning against Evolution. In comparison, the crowd was much hotter for Batista, who had not only won the right to be the last man to exit his pod but had also vowed not to let the championship slip through his fingers if push came to shove. With the four sealed in their pods, it was up to Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit to kick the match off; these two were no strangers to each other by any means and could always be relied on to put on a clinic. I’ll give this to the creative team, they certainly had a lot of bad blood and crossover going on in this match; everyone had issues with each other and a reason to fight beyond just wanting to be the champion, which made for quite the powder keg as the match got underway.

What started as a wrestling clinic soon broke down into a brutal brawl using the steel trappings of the chamber.

Benoit and Jericho locked up with a series of takedowns, reverses, and tentative holds; Jericho’s attempts to take control were emphatically shut down by Benoit’s patented knife-edge chops and, when Y2J returned the favour, Benoit responded by tripping him into a Sharpshooter attempt. After fighting off the Walls of Jericho, Benoit landed a massive German Suplex, but Jericho managed to slip out of a Crippler Crossface attempt and score a couple of near falls. Benoit cut Jericho off when he went to the top rope and brought the first-ever Undisputed Champion crashing to the mat with a Superplex that saw both men struggling to recover as Triple H entered the match. Triple H went right after Benoit, beating and stomping on him in the corner and wiping out with a couple of hard whips into the corners for a two count while also taking out Jericho with his signature jumping knee strike. Jericho soon laid in the chops to The Game, though, before being taken down by a clothesline; Triple H brutally tossed Benoit out onto the steel platform surrounding the ring and ran him face-first into the thick steel chains that made up the chamber’s walls, busting him open and creating a gaping target for Hunter’s assault. Regardless, Benoit was still able to kick out at two so Triple H went for the Pedigree but, oddly, Jericho interrupted the move rather than potentially remove an obstacle from the match and then reversed another Pedigree into a back body drop that sent Triple H to the steel on the outside. Another slam continued to work over Triple H’s back and a suplex brought him back into the ring for a near fall before Edge joined the party. Edge wasted no time in taking advantage of his wounded opponents, hitting Spear-like moves on Jericho and Triple H before planting The Game with the Edgecution for a close two count and even planting Benoit with an uncharacteristic belly-to-belly suplex! Jericho tried to steal a pin, but Triple H kicked out, then Edge took a tumble to the outside courtesy of a Jericho dropkick but Y2J’s momentum was summarily cut off when Edge raked his eyes and launched him into the chain wall with a catapult and then did the same to Triple H after The Game tried to hit him with a Pedigree out on the steel!

As the match escalated, even HBK fell victim to the competitors and unlikely alliances emerged…

A diving clothesline to Benoit scored Edge a two count, then he feverishly fought out of a Crippler Crossface attempt before being knocked down by an enziguri from Jericho that was also only a two count. The bloodied Jericho and Triple H then went at it, with The Game landing his patented spinebuster for a near fall and Benoit getting the same result with a lovely Northern Lights Suplex to Edge. Triple H finally nailed the Pedigree on Jericho but was too out of it to capitalise; Orton then entered the match like a house on fire, smacking Edge’s head off the chain and leaped at Triple H with a crossbody off the top rope. Orton continued to beat Triple H down to a fair amount of applause (though they mainly chanted for his finisher…), tossing him to the outside and running him into the chain wall, slamming him with his beautiful snap powerslam, and even planting Jericho with an RKO out of nowhere! However, when he tried that shit on Benoit, he got tied up in a version of the Crippler Crossface; Triple H taunted Orton as he struggled in the hold, so Benoit hit ‘Select’ to change targets and locked a Sharpshooter on The Game, only to be hit by an RKO! Edge then tried to take Orton out with a Spear but the future Legend Killer dodged out of the way and caused HBK to take the attack instead! Consequently, there was no referee to count the pin when Edge did hit the Spear on Orton; incensed, Edge manhandled HBK and slapped him, which earned him a dose of Sweet Chin Music and left him wide open for a Lionsault from Jericho and a subsequent elimination. Benoit then saved Jericho from another Pedigree by blasting Triple H with three German Suplexes in a row; Benoit then clambered on top of a chamber pod to land a humongous diving headbutt to Triple H! He and Jericho then called back to their days as a tag team by locking in both the Walls of Jericho and the Crippler Crossface on The Game but, luckily for him, the timer ran down and Batista finally emerged from his pod after an awkward delay that I can only assume was unintentional.

Batista’s path of destruction was cut off by Orton but he was still instrumental in Triple H winning the match.

Batista’s first act was to save his mentor; he fought off Jericho and Benoit with ease, launching them out of the ring and drilling Orton with a spinebuster. He then went face-to-face with Triple H in a tense showdown that had the crowd absolutely begging for them to go at it but the two were jumped by their opponents before they could come to blows. Batista took out a camera man by Military Pressing Jericho into the poor bastard then hoisted Orton up in a wonky looking chokehold before Benoit attacked his knee and brought him to the mat. Orton and Benoit then temporarily joined forces to put the pressure on Batista before Triple H got back into the thick of it by picking each man off; he launched Orton into the chain but then got slammed into the platform by a facebuster courtesy of Jericho that properly got the blood gushing. After a bit of brawling, Benoit was emphatically shut down with a spinebuster from Batista, who then hit a spinebuster on Jericho onto Benoit that allowed him to eliminate the Rabid Wolverine. Jericho was next to go after being decimated by the Batista Bomb, meaning the match came down to a contest between Evolution! Orton struck first, tossing Triple H to the steel platform and smashing Batista off the steel before being launched into the chains from a Triple H catapult that busted him open. Triple H and Batista worked over the bleeding, helpless Orton relentlessly; despite the merciless beating, Orton continued to kick out of their pin attempts, frustrating both men. Although a lengthy onslaught clearly designed to pain Orton as a resilient underdog, this actually worked for the crowd, who were fully behind Orton as he mounted a comeback with some strikes and, indeed, when he hit a low blow and a huge RKO to eliminate Batista, the crowd came unglued! Triple H and Orton then fought on the outside, where Orton repeatedly threw him into the chain wall before hitting another massive RKO. Unfortunately, HBK was busy trying to get Batista and Ric Flair out of the ring so there was no pin fall. In the chaos, Batista blasted Orton with a clothesline; this was enough to leave Orton prone for a Pedigree that awarded Triple H yet another championship victory.

The Aftermath:
J.R said that Batista “dominated” the match but that wasn’t quite true, though it should have been; since the match went so long without any eliminations, I would’ve had Batista be the one to eliminate everyone before being upset by Orton to better paint him as this unstoppable force. Although Evolution celebrated the win, with Batista hoisting Triple H onto his shoulders, it was clear from the footage that The Game could’ve prevented Batista’s elimination and chose not to, a wrinkle that only added fuel to their issues going forward. Orton would win the right to challenge Triple H at the Royal Rumble but, where he came up short, Batista (eventually) emerged as the winner of the Royal Rumble itself. Although Triple H and Ric Flair tried to convince him to challenge JBL, Batista dramatically revealed that he’d had enough of being Hunter’s lackey and their manipulation; Batista went on to capture his first World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21 and begin his own ascension to mainstream success that remained intrinsically linked to his former mentor. Despite the good reactions he got here, Orton’s time as a fan favourite was largely a dud; to get himself back on track, he decided to challenge the Undertaker at WrestleMania 21. Although unsuccessful and injured in the bout, he did score victories over the Deadman thanks to help from his father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, during the feud, which took up most of his 2005. Blaming HBK for his loss, Edge got into a short feud with Shawn Michaels that was over with by WrestleMania 21; there, HBK battled Kurt Angle in a dream match and Edge won the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match, which also included Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit; Edge cashed in the briefcase at the following year’s New Year’s Revolution to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. Although the WWE would continue to produce Elimination Chamber matches, there would only be two more New Year’s Revolution events; the pay-per-view was cancelled in 2007, though the branding was briefly revived for a series of house shows in 2020.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

What did you think to the third-ever Elimination Chamber match? What did you think to the match concept? Were you a fan of Randy Orton’s face turn and would you have liked to see him win it? Did you like the narrative surrounding Batista and were you excited to see him break out on his own? What did you think to Triple H’s reign with the World Heavyweight Championship What’s your favourite Elimination Chamber match? Were you a fan of the New Year’s Revolution event and would you like to see it revived? Whatever your thoughts on the 2005 Elimination Chamber and its participants, share them below or leave a comment on my social media.

Game Corner: WWE 2K18 (Xbox One)


As may already be evident, I have a long-standing preference for the WCW and WWF videogames released by AKI/THQ back in my youth; however, another WWF videogame series I have been particularly fond of and spent many hours and days of my childhood playing has been the WWF SmackDown! series released by THQ and Yuke’s on Sony’s PlayStation in 2000. Eventually, this series evolved into the WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw franchise, which was released on multiple consoles between 2004 and 2010. I believe I came into this series with WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 Featuring ECW (Yuke’s/Amaze Entertainment/THQ, 2007) and bowed out with WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2011 (Yuke’s/THQ, 2010) as, by this point, it was pretty clear to me that I was simply purchasing the same videogame every year with additional wrestlers, some new match types, and minor improvements to the graphics and gameplay. As a result, I decided to buy a new title every two years or so and, after enjoying WWE ’13 (ibid, 2012) and deciding that WWE 2K15 (Yuke’s/Visual Concepts/2K Sports, 2014) was far too stripped back on features to justify the price tag, I settled on getting WWE 2K14 (ibid, 2013) and biding my time.

WWE’s videogames eventually aped the yearly formula of the FIFA series.

As a result, I have not bought or played a new videogame in 2K Sports’ WWE 2K series for about four years now, and with good reason; as the series made the jump to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, reviews and feedback ranged from resoundingly negative to mediocre displeasure as 2K Sports apparently removed many expected gameplay mechanics and features in what was nothing less than a blatant attempt to sell features seen in previous PlayStation 3-era titles as being “new”. Despite the additions of never-before-seen superstars such as Sting, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe, I decided to wait it out until the release of WWE 2K18 (ibid, 2017) to give the series a chance to iron out these kinks and to create an ironic sense of symmetry given that the last title I played was WWE 2K14. As such, it took me a little while to become accustomed to WWE 2K18’s control scheme; previously, these titles allowed you the option of controlling your wrestler with the directional-pad (or “D-pad”) and taunting with the analogue stick, which is my preferred control scheme given how it mirrors that of the AKI/THQ titles.

WWE 2K18 loves these little wheels of death!

However, WWE 2K18 does not allow you to change the control scheme, meaning that I was forced to control my wrestler with the left analogue stick and taunt using the D-pad which, for an old school player like myself who dislikes change, took some getting used to. One of the other main reasons I prefer D-pad control is that I find it easier to direct and aim my opponent during running attacks or Irish whips; I find the analogue stick makes such aiming harder as the stick is more sensitive. WWE 2K18 also features some new mini games which replace the ones I had grown accustomed to in WWE 2K14; when being pinned, for example, you now have to press X on a little wheel rather than stopping a little bar that bounces back and forth. This is actually a lot trickier than it sounds as it seems the videogame is set up to make kicking out of pins harder than before to, I guess, allow for more “realistic” matches. Additionally, there is no longer the “Breaking Point” submission system; instead, there’s either a tricky mini game involving the analogue stick or you must mash one of the four action buttons when they appear onscreen. I went with the button mashing option but have found that winning a match by submission is not as easy as it used to be, potentially because you can no longer select a match to be either quicker, normal, or epic; this, and the improved attribute system, means that you are forced to work for your submission victory.

Suffer enough damage and you’ll roll from the ring to take a break.

Other gameplay changes can be seen in multi-man match; now, when you or another player receives enough damage, they automatically roll out of the ring and you must mash buttons to fill up a bar and re-enter the match. It sounds good on paper and, again, appears to be tooled towards making matches more “realistic” but I found it more annoying than anything else as you could end up stuck on the outside and lose the match. This mechanic carries over into ladder/TLC matches as well, making them considerably more frustrating than usual as you incur far more damage much faster in these matches so you’ll spend a lot of time mashing buttons to get back into the matches. Also, in ladder/TLC matches, you no longer pull down the belt of briefcase using the right analogue stick; instead, you have to play a little mini game where you must fill up segments of a circle by rotating a ball into a small hole using the right analogue stick. It’s fun but quite distracting; I found myself concentrating more on the mini game than the match and, if you get interrupted with only a couple (or, even worse, one) segments left to fill, you are almost guaranteed to lose the match as the next wrestler to play the mini game will probably complete the circle while you’re busy mashing buttons to get back into the match.

Multi-man TLC matches are still the worst.

The Royal Rumble match is also noticeably different and, technically, more difficult; rather than hitting buttons in a quick-time event as in WWE 2K14, you now have to mash a button when trying to eliminate an opponent. Honestly, I’ve played a couple of these matches and never once eliminated anyone using the button-mashing mini game no matter what their health and stamina. I found the best way to eliminate wrestlers was the tried-and-true Royal Rumble finisher, clotheslining them out of the ring or countering a run attack, or by exploiting a glitch where, if you whip the opponent onto the apron and quickly punch them repeatedly, they simply fall from the ring.

I struggled to legitimately eliminate anyone in the Royal Rumble…

As I always found ladder, TLC, and Royal Rumble matches tedious any way, these gameplay changes don’t bother me that much; you are not forced to play these matches and, on the whole, I would just avoid them. Some good changes have been made to tables matches, though; every time you hit your opponent with or into a table, it fills up a break meter and, once it’s full, you can smash the opponent through it using some new and expanded options. 2K Sports have also introduced a carry system, similar to the one from WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2007 (Yuke’s/THQ, 2006), which allows you to smash your opponent off the ropes, turnbuckles, apron, and other objects. They’ve also brought back in-crowd fighting, to a degree, allowing you to smash your opponent through (or hit them over) the barricade at ringside or toss them from the stage area to fight in little areas near the crowd.

Universe mode is back, bigger and better than ever.

Although create-a-story and create-a-finisher are no longer options, WWE 2K18 is still full to the brim with creation options. I honestly spent maybe five days or so setting everything up the way I wanted it and creating wrestlers, entrances, victories, shows, and teams in the expanded Universe mode. As before, Universe mode allows you to create a show, place wrestlers and championships on the show, and then create monthly pay-per-view events for that show. I like to recreate the product as closely as possible so I created a Raw, SmackDown! Live, and NXT brand (with 205 Live and Main Event as minor shows) and, for all the Legends and duplicate wrestlers, a WCW Monday Nitro brand (with some crossover between them all). You can create more than one Universe at a time but I prefer to have it all in one place rather than jumping backwards and forwards all the time; I then moved every pay-per-view event to their correct calendar month and also created some additional pay-per-vews for my NXT and Nitro brands; this is extremely in-depth, allowing you to choose from a whole bunch of preset or created arenas (with scene transitions, an array of screen filters, a bunch of different referees, and more).

There are loads of colour and customisation options.

You can still create your own championship belts as well, if that’s your thing; given how many old school belts are in the videogame, I don’t tend to do much with this, though. Instead, my focus was on the massively deep create-a-wrestler mode; created wrestlers look more realistic than ever before and you can choose from a whole bunch of options, from wrinkles to scars, facial and body hair, eye colour, veins, muscle definition, and even how much body oil your created wrestler has! There are also a whole load of attire options, including blank attires that you can customise as you desire and also pre-set attires worn by the featured roster; you can change not only the colour of these attires but also the material type, which allows shirts and jeans and the like to be leather, take on a metallic hue, or even glow in the dark! Finally, there are far more options for names for your created wrestler this year and the in-game commentary team will refer to your created wrestler by these throughout their matches.

Apparently you can put a price on greatness.

Although there are many WWE and superstar-related images available to you in this mode, there are noticeably less options for body tattoos this years, unfortunately. This is where the Community Creations option will come into play; you are able to upload images to the 2K Sports website and transfer them into the videogame, meaning you can search in the WWE 2K18 for a whole bunch of professionally-designed images, logos, and tattoos to apply to your created wrestler. You can also download created wrestlers created by others to account for those wrestlers omitted from this years roster, though you are limited to twenty downloads a day and cannot download created wrestlers that feature aspects from wrestlers you’ve yet to unlock or purchase. Speaking of which, WWE 2K18 features an in-ring store mode, as is the norm for this series now. As you play matches, you are awarded virtual currency based on how many stars your match scored; the more stars you get through move variety, countering, and such, the more currency you earn. You can then spend this in the store to unlock Legends, and additional arenas and championships and, make no mistake, this is the only way to unlock this extra content. Previously, in WWE 2K14 at least, you could unlock new wrestlers by playing the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode but, here, you can only do this by purchasing them.

You can do this by playing any match in any mode and, also, through the MyPlayer mode, which is the career mode of the videogame. You have to create a wrestler, using far more limited tools and options, and work your way through training and wrestling on NXT before being called up to the main roster. You can make some limited decisions to decide whether you are a Company Man (a heel) or a Fan Favourite (a face). In my playthrough, I was initially called up to Raw and forced to lose a bunch of matches, so I jumped to SmackDown! Live, where I won the United States Championship, Money in the Bank ladder match, and Royal Rumble match and am currently feuding with Triple H and the Authority on the path towards the WWE Championship. Along the way, you can partake in side quests to earn rewards (new moves, attire, and currency), make a signature t-shirt to earn some extra cash, and perform in-ring promos and run-ins.

You’ll need to pay to get the most out of MyPlayer mode.

Overall, this mode is quite enjoyable but, honestly, it’s a poor substitute for a Road to WrestleMania-type of mode. There are a lot of load times and some noticeable frame drops; you are also forced to walk/run from the garage to the producer and back every single week, which begs the question why they bothered putting in the free-roaming backstage area at all rather than just have a set-up similar to the PlayStation 3-era titles where you had a locker room with a phone and just did everything through text. There are some inconsistencies; I was regularly teaming with Sami Zayn then, randomly and with no explanation, my partner suddenly became Fandango. I was also once asked by Tius O’Neil to attack Primo Colón one week but, when I couldn’t find him, ended up attacking Kassius Ohno. There are also a lot of times when you do more promos than matches, when the match objectives aren’t completely clear (the Money in the Bank match springs to mind), and when your matches end due to interference more often than not but, these issues aside, it’s a pretty decent mode, though I found it more enjoyable and profitable to play Universe mode more than anything.

It’s interesting that the load times for the MyPlayer mode are so atrocious as, normally, they’re not that bad; matches in Universe mode load much faster than in WWE 2K14. I learned from some of my mistakes in WWE 2K14 and don’t have nearly as many custom arenas or created wrestlers, which may help with this, and also towards limiting crashes. WWE 2K14 would crash all the time, usually after a match but sometimes before one, and it was very frustrating. I have had a few crashes in WWE 2K18 but, as the matches and the videogame loads up a lot faster, it’s not as annoying. One bug that is annoying is, when downloading a created wrestler, attached logos and images will sometimes not download, meaning you’re left having to either find them separately or with an incomplete created wrestler/attire.

I haven’t played WWE 2K18 online yet, mainly because I don’t have Xbox Gold or whatever you need to do that but also because online players are trolling, move-spamming sons of bitches; also, the learning curve for timing reversals and having competitive but enjoyable matches that I actually won was quite steep. Sometimes, you’ll have a match and be in complete control and all the opponent has to do is a couple of moves and you can’t recover, then you get hit with one finisher and its over. A good feature, though, is that miss-matched opponents (like Braun Strowman against Kalisto) often trigger a squash match, where you gain full momentum and a finisher after your first hit and win the match in seconds for a decent payday.

All the Sting you could ever want!

The roster in WWE 2K18 is as deep as you could want; there are some noticeable omissions from NXT but, otherwise, everyone you could want and more is in the videogame alongside some decent and surprising Legends. Hulk Hogan and Yokozuna are gone but Vader and the Big Boss Man are back; there are some crazy instances of numerous duplicates, such as five (five!) versions of Sting and separating Finn Balor and his Demon King attire (though the Demon King does still act as an alternative attire to regular Balor) but, mostly, there’s some good inclusions this year. The soundtrack, apparently “curated” by the Rock, is mostly miss rather than hit, with the only decent track being a radio edit version of Disturbed’s Down With the Sickness, though a similarly-edited version of Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ is used as the entrance theme for Undertaker ’00 despite this particular version of Undertaker’s biker gimmick actually being more associated with You’re Gonna Pay. The in-game commentary is all-new, at least for me anyway, including the three-man team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton; mostly, it is far better than what I experienced in WWE 2K14 but there still times when they refer to women as “guys”, talk inanely about things not even relevant to the match in progress, or ask each other questions that are never answered.

Graphically, WWE 2K18 is very impressive.

Overall, WWE 2K18 is a challenging and enjoyable affair; Universe mode is bigger and more expansive than ever, with shorter load times and significantly less crashes and glitches (so far), and the star rating system does make it feel as though each match is important and worth something. MyPlayer suffers a bit (though admittedly this may also be because I don’t want to waste my virtual currency upgrading the MyPlayer character unless I absolutely have to as I want to unlock the Legends) but is, otherwise, fun enough for what it is. I would have also liked to have seen, at least, Showcase matches similar to previous titles or themed around a wrestler (this year’s pre-order bonus, Kurt Angle, for example, or Shawn Michaels, or even the cover star, Seth Rollins) to assist with the unlocking of extra content. Creation options are deep and versatile; you can waste hours and even days crafting the perfect created wrestler (I know I did!) or downloading extra attires and wrestlers to fill out the already impressive roster. I am glad that I waited for 2K Sports to add in many of the features they previously omitted and refine their current-generation gameplay engine as it seems to have paid off; matches are far more realistic and challenging than in WWE 2K14, where I could win with a minimum of effort, which is good once you’re used to the control scheme and what is expected of you, if admittedly somewhat detrimental to those who just want to pick it up and play a quick match without any obligation to simulating a real-life WWE match. Based on my experience with this title, I will probably wait until WWE 2K20 for my next entry into the series as I would never recommend anyone buys these titles on a yearly basis but, if like me, you’ve been away from the series for a while, I would definitely recommend picking this one up.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff