Started watching some WWE stuff from the decade, thought I'd write a bit about one of the matches I never properly got around to watching before...
The Rock vs. Triple H - Iron Man Match (WWF Judgment Day 05/21/00)
Holy fuck, Triple H was so badass in 2000. Seriously, his entrance is one of the most awesome things…ever. Looks like a boss walking down followed by Steph, Vince and Shane. Reminds me of how much I used to mark out for him despite hating him at the same time. Also forgot just how insane Rocky’s pops were, jesus, every single time he comes out it’s ridiculously loud, gives all of his matches from this time period a great atmosphere imo. Anyway…
Stare dwon at the start is great, they hate each other. Rock was always great at that kind of thing, talking shit to his opponents and looking angry before his matches. Absolutely loved the start of this, seeing stuff from these two we’ve never seen before because of them adapting to the match type. Rock going for the pin attempts early off the shoulder blocks and the roll ups was cool, and Trips’ going to the outside out of frustration was great. Already this feels like a really different type of match completely to what we’d usually get from these two, or any main event style match from the time, and I really dig it.
I really liked the first fall for The Rock, put over how Hunter will try and strategize but Rock is more full on with his offence so him countering the arm work Trips was going for into the Rock Bottom was great. The missed knee on the barricade was a good transition spot into the next portion of the match. Rock controlling the match and working over the leg is something I didn’t expect (never actually seen first half of this before, and what I have seen I can‘t really remember), but it’s really good, and Trips is great selling everything. Figure Four is a good spot, actually expected one of them to tap in the hold. The first two falls for Triple H are fine and dandy, he hit’s a desperation Pedigree out of nowhere for the first, sells the leg really well, and then small packages Rock for the second. The thing about this is, it’s really putting over both guys finishers as certain match enders, and having Rock remain out of it after the Pedigree for ages was a great touch and not being able to escape even a roll up for Trips’ second fall ruled.
I really dug them going to the outside with Rock still loopy from the Pedigree, and walking around like a drunk while Hunter goes on the attack. Rock hitting desperation stuff up the entrance isle, especially the back suplex was great. It didn’t look smooth, and it was kind of sloppy, but JR’s “Rock’s heart was in the suplex, but his head was not” really put over how groggy he still is and him not hitting the move smoothly really added to the match. JR fucking rules, not like I have to tell anyone that. When Rock comes back around he’s back in control, but Trips hits another huge desperation move for another fall, this time it’s a piledriver. Piledriver getting a fall was awesome to see. Triple H is selling the leg all the time, and both guys sell the fatigue and the effects of the match really well too.
The match kicks into higher gear after that fall and the arm drag off the top rope by Rock. Trips going for the sleeper could easily have been seen as trying to kill time, but it totally worked and it wasn’t even locked in for that long either, but it was a logical spot for Hunter and in the context of the match. The next fall for Rock seemed a little anticlimactic because Rock kind of fluffed the float over DDT, but who the hell is complaining there, for a guy who never wrestles these long matches it’s always going to happen. I like that all the falls up until this point have been desperation spots with big moves.
The next part of the match completely rules. Rock is on the advantage after the DDT, and Trips gets desperate and sacrifices a fall by cracking Rock with a chair, but it’s ok because he can gain a fall straight back because Rock is out cold. I adore spots like that in these kind of matches. Trips then using the sleeper to get another fall was again, awesome stuff. Rock is totally dead now.
Loved The Rock getting back into it and hitting the Pedigree on the table which looked sick! Another great way to end a fall (by countout), and then followed by the McMahons coming back down and getting involved only for Michaels to get involved and allowing Rock to hit the People Elbow to tie things up. Crowd is molten by this point and it’s amazing. Rocky getting back into it after being down and out was a great baby face comeback moment. The crowd was testament to how good it was. Then DX gets involved and Taker’s video package starts playing in the background while everyone beats down The Rock. It’s an awesome moment and still had me freaking out like a child on this viewing. Crowd is insane, they really think Rock has it in the bag now because Taker has come to kill everyone and help him out and it makes for an amazing atmosphere. But it wasn’t to be. The swerve ending was great, pretty sure everyone knows how it ends. Crowd are pissed, but not in a ‘this sucks’ way, in a ‘I hate that bastard and I hate that he won’ way where they are just mad that the heel won.
Yeah, it got a tad overbooked towards the end (just like the backlash match), but it was hella fun, and the match that preceded it was absolutely superb on pretty much every level. Never felt like anything was done to kill time, everything felt logical and important, and all the falls were worked very well. Both guys put on brilliant performances too. I seriously loved this. ****1/2
Great review for a great match. ***** imo, even with the slightly botched ending, but who cares, it was the Attitude Era. Very little made sense, but it was incredible TV.