20 years ago this weekend marks the anniversary of Armageddon 2000 which saw the first and, to date, only six-man Hell In A Cell Match between the Attitude Era’s biggest names. Come with us on a trip down memory lane to relive one of the hottest events in WWE history.
2000 is often regarded as the apex of WWE’s creativity. Chris Kreski had big shoes to fill replacing Vince Russo, but he did an amazing job and brought a soap opera vibe to the product that delivered huge success. Sadly, he was no longer head writer when Armageddon rolled around as he lost his job to Stephanie McMahon. The rest, as they say, is history…
Anyway, onto the PPV which was hosted by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, aka the greatest announce team of all time. The first thing we see is a backstage skit involving Vince McMahon, Gerald Brisco and the late, great Pat Patterson. Odd to kick off a pay-per-view with this sort of thing but it was the Attitude Era after all. Expect the unexpected. Vince was furious that six of his top stars were putting their careers on the line in such a barbaric main event, and planned on making sure it didn’t happen. A nice little hook to keep people wondering what plan McMahon would come up, and ultimately fail with.
The opening contest saw Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Latino Heat himself Eddie Guerrero defeating The Hardy Boyz & Lita in six-person action. Man on woman action, this was definitely the Attitude Era. This was around the time where Malenko was playing a James Bond lothario type who had a thing for Lita. Talk about being miscast. The bout was fast-paced, with Malenko winning it for his side after brutally attacking Lita. Too rushed to be enjoyable, but nonetheless solid. The Hardys and Lita, in particular, were so over here.
Backstage, Kurt Angle was preparing to defend his WWE Championship inside the Cell, and claimed not to be worried at all. More comedy gold from the Hall Of Famer. Next, we see William Regal successfully defend the European Championship against Hardcore Holly in a throwaway contest. The crowd were dead for this one. Would’ve been more at home on Heat.
Rikishi, fresh off a mini-feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin after being revealed as the guy who ran him over (I did it for The Rock), had an interview backstage, claiming there are no alliances inside the Cell despite his friendship with Triple H. Rikishi looked so uncomfortable as a heel. He was one of the most over babyfaces in the business when WWE decided to turn him. His career never really recovered from it.
Val Venis defeated Chyna with a little help from Women’s Champion Ivory in a dreadful encounter. As important as Chyna was for women in wrestling, she wasn’t actually very good between the ropes, and Venis was arguably worse. Very skippable content. Chyna continued feuding with the RCT (remember those??) until WrestleMania where she finally dethroned Ivory. Sadly, Chyna was gone from the Federation in June for an array of reasons.
Stephanie McMahon was seen to be concerned for the safety of Triple H. We were only a year into the McMahon-Helmsley era at this point so it was still pretty entertaining. Not so much twenty years later. The Undertaker cutting a lengthy taped promo inside the Hell In A Cell structure is riveting viewing. This man is so underrated on the stick. Following that, Vince McMahon and The Stooges strutted down to the ring to urge the fans in attendance to protest against the main event from taking place. Obviously, that fell on deaf ears. Odd timing with this one considering we just had a long Undertaker promo, but McMahon getting animated is always good viewing.
The next contest saw Chris Jericho topple Kane in a boring Last Man Standing Match. These two had zero chemistry, not helped by their rivalry starting over a cup of freaking coffee. That may have actually been one of Stephanie’s first acts as head of creative. Jericho has always been very hit and miss. Sometimes he can look like genuinely the best in the world, other times he doesn’t even look like he belongs at the elite level. This encounter featured the latter. As far as Kane goes, awesome character but a lousy in-ring worker. Can’t recall one good single bout he’s ever had. This one ended with Jericho withstanding way too much punishment to keep Kane down by tipping several barrels on top of him. Disappointing from both men.
Commissioner Mick Foley said he had no regrets about booking the main event, despite the jeopardy the six superstars were facing. He was so entertaining in this role, but it sadly couldn’t be replicated in 2016. The legendary Shawn Michaels was at WWF New York (what a blast from the past), to hype the main event. He looked incredible.
The popcorn match of the night saw Edge & Christian capture the Tag Team Championship for the fourth time by defeating RCT, The Dudleys and K-Kwik (R-Truth) & Road Dogg in a passable effort. The Dudleys were the only team the fans were truly interested in, but they had very little to do in this one. It was okay for what it was but too rushed to be anything more. Edge & Christian were tremendous together, and I still think they broke up prematurely.
Stephanie McMahon tried talking Triple H out of participating in the Cell, but he refused to listen. This was the badass Game which suited him much better than the chickenshit heel he would play in later years. The guy is freaking huge, he shouldn’t be running from anyone.
I’ll be quick on this one as it involves a murderer I’d rather not talk about. The man in question beat Billy Gunn to win the Intercontinental Championship in a sloppy bout. Why WWE persisted with Gunn as a singles star is beyond me. He failed time and time again. Amazing tag team wrestler though.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was pumped up for the main event, putting over the severity of the Cell structure. In the penultimate contest of the evening, Ivory held onto the Women’s Championship by toppling Molly Holly and Trish Stratus in a two-minute Triple Threat battle. Too quick to get into, but fun to watch Trish learn the ropes. Within two years she would become the best female worker of her generation.
The Rock was his electrifying best backstage with his interview. The guy could sell snow to an Eskimo. No surprise he became Hollywood’s biggest star.
Finally, we come to the main event which saw Kurt Angle surprisingly come out on top against Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Rikishi, The Undertaker and The Rock in a classic six-man Hell In A Cell war. This was excellent stuff. A little tricky to keep track of the action as they all brawled everywhere and the cameraman were working overtime to keep up. Although it did make it more realistic. Today’s participants of multi-man matches should take note.
Almost everyone bled, which adds a nice touch to the Cell gimmick. Vince McMahon ended up making things more chaotic by bringing a truck down to the ring and ripping the door off the structure, attempting to bring the entire thing down. Mick Foley had a police escort, McMahon, out of the ring while the Superstars fought out of the Cell and on top of it which brings us to the big moment of the match – Undertaker chokeslamming Rikishi off the roof into the truck bed below. This fall doesn’t get talked about nearly enough for how awesome it was.
In the ring, Austin nailed Rock with a Stunner and Angle capitalized by pinning The Great One to retain the gold. A surprising result at the time, but made sense in hindsight. A true classic. One of the best Cell matches in history. I’m surprised WWE haven’t tried this one since, although maybe the Elimination Chamber concept negates the need to.
Overall, this is a one-match PPV, but what a match it is. The biggest names were all in the main event, so the rest of the card was nothing more than filler. It’s a long night to get through so I suggest skipping until the last bout, except for Undertaker’s promo. You can watch the entire event on the WWE Network for a fee I can’t recall. WWE really should promote the price more…