Wrestlemania’s 2000 – X8

Per last week’s post I am beginning my snap shot reviews of what I consider the modern Wrestlemania’s (from 2000 on) in preparation for this year’s Wrestlemania 31:

Wrestlemania 2000 – This was an overall solid show that kicked off the 2000’s quite well. One of the things I notice when watching shows from this period of time is how over every single wrestler was. From the lowest spot on the card to the main event, the crowds are in to everything and it seemed as though every match had a storyline of some sort which the WWE really needs to get back to.

One of the key matches was the first every triangle ladder match for the tag titles featuring Edge/Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz. Simply WOW. This was very early in the long running rivalry between these three teams and this match was simply amazing. High spot after high spot and not a move seemed wasted. Edge and Christian left with the titles and us fans saw the beginning of an industry changing rivalry.

The main event was a four way for the WWF title with a McMahon in every corner. Triple H with Stephanie, Mick Foley with Linda, Big Show with Shane, and The Rock with Vince. The McMahon gimmick was definitely a bit overboard and unnecessary and four way matches can be disasters, but with four good workers this match came off very well. Triple H retained the title and the match was well paced and the wrestlers themselves did a great job making this a worthwhile main event.

Wrestlemania X-Seven – Possibly the best, or at least close to the top, of all the Wrestlemania’s. Edge/Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz in a TLC match somehow managed to surpass their match from a year back and ended with Edge/Christian winning the tag titles again. With interference from Lita, Rhyno, and Spike Dudley this match never slowed down and was simply amazing.

The main event with Stone Cold Steve Austin beating The Rock for the WWF title was well worked even though most people did not like him turning heel at the end of the match and working with Vince McMahon. Even the Vince vs. Shane McMahon street fight was solid with a lot of great moments. Overall, an amazing show with the WWE being at a high point creatively and talent wise.

Wrestlemania X8 – Notable since this is the last ‘WWF’ labeled Wrestlemania and the first one after the WCW buyout by Vince McMahon the year prior. The Undertaker and Ric Flair had a brutal and bloody match that was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Stone Cold and Scott Hall had a match that has been lambasted for many years but watching it again it was much more solid than people give it credit for. Triple H won the Undisputed Championship in the main event which was a very well worked match.

The highlight though is Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. This match was well paced and worked to perfection. Clearly, this match was heavily planned out beforehand since Hogan was past his prime, but still came off as a viable threat to The Rock with both men having an incredibly historic match. This match alone makes this one of the most memorable Wrestlemania’s of all time.

So far a nice start to the modern Wrestlemania’s. Since this is the WWE’s biggest event every year it is usually a good, solid show with not too many disappointments.

I’ll be back next Wednesday with the next batch of Wrestlemania’s which will lead to what could be one of the best Wrestlemania’s yet in this year’s 31st edition.

NWO

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The NWO was a phenomenon. The angle/wrestling stable started in 1996 when Scott Hall made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro. This was before the internet was a huge part of our everyday lives and most fans did not know that the artist formerly known as Razor Ramon had left the WWF and signed with WCW. Many fans, myself included, thought it was the long dreamt of cross promotion between WWF and WCW. World Championship Wrestling even played it that way. Scott Hall sold this ‘invasion’ angle very well and a couple of weeks later he was joined by the second ‘invader’ Kevin Nash, formerly known as Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Due to a lawsuit from the then WWF for false advertising, WCW made it clear both men were not a part of the rival wrestling organization and were working ‘independently’. Nash and Hall became known as The Outsiders and began dismantling the WCW roster. Even though the NWO was the key to launching the Monday Night Wars into the stratosphere and helping to make wrestling the biggest form of entertainment at the time, the cracks in the storyline could already be seen. Two men who made their careers in the WWF were beating the hell out of WCW staples which made the promotion look bad, but it did not seem like the higher ups in WCW realized this or perhaps did not care.

Overall, the angle was entertaining and got over with the fans big time. They started branding some of the PPV’s as NWO run and their t-shirts and other merchandise were big sellers. The NWO angle gave WCW the edge in the Monday Night Wars which they had for a little over a year and a half. Then things started getting convoluted. By late 1998 the NWO split into 2 rival factions (NWO and NWO Wolpac) with the majority of the WCW roster being allocated to either group. It seemed as though they forgot that the big draw was NWO trying to take over WCW, not actually succeeding and having approximately 30 members. The angle became too big for its britches and overwhelmed the creative team with all of the individual egos they had to appease. Slowly but surely the NWO fizzled out as did WCW as a whole. Without the NWO storyline it seemed as though WCW’s creative team had nothing left. In 2001 WCW went under and was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWF seceding the Monday Night War to the most well known wrestling promotion in the world.

In 2002 the WWF/E brought back the original three members of the NWO (Hall, Nash, and Hogan) mostly to show they were no match for the WWF/E roster. Besides Hogan having a very memorable match at WrestleMania that year against The Rock, the NWO was gone shortly after and despite a forgettable quasi-reunion in TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) in 2010 they became another memorable past wrestling angle.

The NWO storyline was initially highly entertaining and kept me interested, but over time it became very predictable which can, and will, doom any angle. If handled correctly, this group could have lasted a good 5 years, but instead lost its momentum in just 2-3. During all of this the WWF kept plugging away and introducing the world to now legends and household names like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Degeneration X, etc… Individuals and storylines that kept things fresh and interesting while WCW put all of it’s eggs in one basket called the NWO.

The New World Order was a great idea that was initially executed fairly well, but egos and weak creative teams could not maintain it.