Memorable Matches: Triple H v.s. Cactus Jack, Street-fight – Royal Rumble 2000
By Richard Llewellyn
As a die-hard pro-wrestling fan, I often ask myself that most ultimate of questions: “What’s my favourite match or angle of the last 25 years?”
Now this isn’t an easy one to answer, but there is one angle and match which sticks longest in the memory and that was the 2000 Royal Rumble Street-fight WWF(E) title match between Triple H and my most adored of Mick Foley’s three alter-egos, Cactus Jack. BANG, BANG!!!
At the beginning of 2000, we had just survived the fear of Y2K, but more importantly we were in the midst and at the height of the WWF Attitude era, and the Monday Night Wars made pro-wrestling must see TV each week. The bad news however, was that Stone Cold Steve Austin was out with a long-term injury and so it was up to the other top tier WWF stars to carry the company in its ongoing battle with WCW. Enter one Triple H, the Game, whose star and big push was for all to see and the Hardcore Legend, Mick Foley.
Leading up to the Rumble match itself, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were in the process of creating what would be the McMahon/ Helmsley era, with the desire to make Triple H the dominate WWF champion and top heel in the company. Who better to legitimately get Triple H to that next level as a believable champion than the Hardcore Legend. So the stage was set, and that magical moment on Smackdown when a put upon Mankind confronted Triple H and transformed into Cactus Jack: Yes, I know by just taking of his mask and taking of his white shirt to revel the familiar Wanted: Dead Or Alive T-shirt, with the crowd popping and the look on Triple H’s face priceless. The challenge for the title was set, and Jack was indeed back!!!
Now, it can be argued at this time, both WWF and WCW, were aping ECW’s extremely hardcore-style in the quest for increased ratings and buy rates, so it was a common stable during the Attitude era to be served up these kinds of stipulation matches: However, this was different as we had a larger than life hardcore legend such as Foley running the show in the ring. On the other hand, Triple H had a lot to prove, as now he was pivotal in the company’s plans with the Texas Rattle Snake now on the shelf at the time.
Like most fans, I was firmly rooting for Foley, who in my opinion, deserved another longer, more sustained run with the WWF title, as Foley’s Mankind was always used as a stop-gap champion, keeping the title warm for the ultimate chosen ones in WWF, in this case The Rock and Triple H.
It was a tense affair from the introductions and finally the sounding of the bell to beginning the match proper. The match had everything a hardcore match needed, we had chairs, barbed-wire baseball bats, a lot of out of the ring brawling, a run in by the Rock (on Triple H while outside the ring) and of course thumb-tacks, one of Foley’s favourites featured in many of his previous PPV matches. Plus, there was plenty of blood, which would have kept Count Dracula watching to the end. Also, the top quality commentary by JR was some of his best during that match, his support for Foley as Cactus Jack was just incredible that evening. The high point was near the end, where after a couple of close falls, Triple H hits Foley with another pedigree on the thumb-tacks with Triple H going for the pin: Ross pleads with Foley by saying: “Kick out, Mick!!!” But that proved to be the one-two-three, bringing to an end a brutal, exciting and well-planned piece of organized chaos from the WWF.
The reasons for not going into absolute detail regarding the match is that I’d love fans to experience this match first hand on the WWE Network or on-line as it is in my estimation a PPV Attitude era classic, and one of the last truly great matches for Mike Foley before his semi-retirement from the squared circle. Triple H on the other hand got labelled a “Tough Son Of a Gun” by JR after the match, but it all started here at the Rumble and defeating Foley again in a Hell In A Cell match in the next PPV, that helped to make him a genuine main event star after this feud with Foley in early 2000. The Game had truly arrived after this baptism of brutal fire against the maniacal Cactus Jack.
In finishing, this match and angle epitomised the type of must-see wrestling that WWF was presenting us with on a weekly and monthly basis. We must thank in part the Monday Night Wars, ECW and without a doubt two top tier professionals in Foley and Triple H – with the support of JR’s exceptional commentary for such an overlooked treasure from the WWF’s Attitude era.
Catch the return of Cactus Jack in that year, below!
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