Wrestler of the Day – July 30: Triple H

Time to play the Game. It’s HHH.

No timeline of course.

We’ll start with HHH’s first Wrestlemania main event at Wrestlemania XVI.

WWF World Title: The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. HHH vs. Big Show

There are no tags here, no disqualification and you have to win by pin. Why there are no submissions is beyond me but whatever. Rock and Big Show fight as do the other two with the champion being punched down. Allegedly Foley was told a week before this match that he would be participating so he isn’t in the best of shape. Granted that’s normal for him so maybe it won’t be that big of a deal.

Big Show runs over everyone and gorilla presses HHH and Rock. Foley gets a headbutt but tries to jump on Show’s back, only to have the giant crush him against the mat. Rock comes back with right hands on Big Show but walks into a side slam for no cover. HHH jumps into a chokeslam attempt but Foley breaks it up with a low blow. Everyone triple teams Big Show to a big reaction and a running clothesline from Rock puts him down. They all stomp away at the giant but HHH and Foley just can’t work together that long.

Foley blasts HHH in the ribs with a chair and hits Show in the back with it as well, allowing the Rock Bottom to get rid of the biggest guy in the match. We’re down to three now and Shane is ticked off. HHH offers Foley an alliance against Rock but Foley says no. Instead HHH offers Rock an alliance against Foley but we get a Rock and Sock Connection reunion as HHH gets beaten down. HHH gets punched down and dropped with a double clothesline.

The champion is sent to the floor but the Connection won’t fight each other. Instead they head to the outside and beat up HHH even more to the fans’ delight. Rock picks up the bell but accidentally blasts Foley in the head. Foley gets up quickly and finds a barbed wire 2×4. HHH saves himself with a low blow and a shot to Foley’s ribs with the board. Rock comes back in and is backdropped to the floor, allowing Foley to hit the double arm DDT on HHH. It’s Socko time and Rock adds a belt shot to take HHH down.

Rock loads up the Elbow but Foley puts the Claw on him to break it up. HHH hits them both low to put them both down but Rock gets back up first and pounds away on the champion. Foley gets in a shot to Rock for two and a double arm DDT gets the same. Vince slides in a chair for no apparent reason but Foley gets it first. It gets kicked back into his face by Rock for two as HHH makes the save. Why would he do something like that? A running knee lift gets two on Rock but HHH doesn’t save this time. Interesting.

HHH and Mick start working together for a bit and a knee drop gets two on Rock. They head to the floor with Mick’s knees being sent HARD into the steps. Mick picks up said steps and cracks Rock in the head with them as Stephanie yells at Linda. HHH puts Rock on the table for the Foley elbow through it….but Mick can’t jump that far and crashes ribs first into the edge of the table. HHH hits about three elbows of his own to put Rock through the table as the match continues to drag.

Back inside and HHH Pedigrees Foley for two and a big eruption from the crowd. A BIG chair shot to the head puts Foley down and Linda is panicking. HHH Pedigrees Mick onto the chair and the career is over again. We’re down to two now and HHH is somehow even more hated than he was before. Foley gets a big standing ovation but turns around to come back to the ring. He picks up the barbed wire and blasts HHH in the head to give us one last BANG BANG moment.

We’re finally down to HHH vs. Rock after twenty minutes of glorified preliminary stuff. Rock gets two off the barbed wire stuff and they head up to the stage for the required main event brawling. Rock suplexes HHH down on the concrete and does the same with a clothesline. They head into the crowd for even more “fighting” which means walking with the occasional punching. A backdrop puts HHH back at ringside where Rock picks up the steps, only to have HHH knock them onto Rock with a chair. He pounds on the steps with the chair to crush Rock even further underneath them.

A piledriver on the steps keeps Rock down even longer before we head inside again. The piledriver only gets two and Rock is somehow up again to slug away with right hands. Rock Bottom and Pedigree are both countered with HHH being backdropped out to the floor. Rock hits a kind of spinebuster to put HHH down and there’s a suplex through the table for good measure. Both guys are basically dead now but it’s Rock up first.

Vince can’t handle the lack of the spotlight anymore though and rams HHH into the post. Cue Shane again to take out Vince with a monitor shot to the head but Papa gets up a few seconds later to beat up his son. Shane comes back with a chairshot as we’re ignoring THE MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA to see Shane and Vince fight. As a bleeding Vince is taken out, we cut to a shot of Stephanie with the most vapid look you’ll ever see on her face.

We’re allowed to return to the match now with right hands from Rocky. A DDT gets two on the champion as does a tilt-a-whirl slam. HHH comes back with a facebuster and a barbed wire shot to the head of Rock. At least he’s nice enough to loudly ask “ARE YOU OK” before being catapulted into Shane. There’s the Rock Bottom but Rock can’t cover. Instead here’s Vince for the 87th time tonight to slap Shane around. Then, as if you would expect anything else, he turns on Rock with a chair shot. Stephanie still fails at acting as HHH chairs Rock down again for the pin to retain and kill the crowd even deader.

Rating: D+. And that’s being VERY generous. This was the definition of McMahon overkill as it was ALL about them with the match literally being ignored at times while they had their repeated drama. On top of that the match sucked with the first 20 minutes being there to get us to the last 20 minutes which doesn’t do anyone any good. The rest of the match was just a big mess with no real story to it as we were all at the mercy of the McMahons. Instead of focusing on HHH vs. Rock, we had to wait 40 minutes for Vince to turn on Rock for no apparent reason. Also Rock would win the title at Backlash, making this entirely pointless.

Post match Vince and Stephanie reunite in the ring. Shane gets back in but before we can get more of McMahon World, Rock comes in with Rock Bottoms for all three McMahons. You might notice that HHH, the FREAKING WORLD CHAMPION, is nowhere in sight for all this. Oh wait he pops up on the apron to get punched down before Rock hits the People’s Elbow on Stephanie (who doesn’t even move an inch when it hits). The last shot of the show: the McMahons recovering of course.

Now we’ll jump way ahead to Wrestlemania XXVIII for the End of an Era.

HHH vs. Undertaker

This is inside Hell in a Cell with Shawn Michaels as guest referee. Undertaker basically became Batman in his cave and wanted a rematch to prove he could beat HHH. As in like he already did. This is also billed as End of an Era, but what era that was never actually became clear. The announcement of the Cell was perfect as HHH said he wanted one more thing, which was presumed to be Streak vs. career. It’s a good lesson in letting the feud set the stipulations, not the calendar. Undertaker debuts his new mohawk here to a gasp from the crowd. The Cell is lowered to Memory Remains by Metallica.

Taker pounds away into the corner to start with “carcinogenic” right hands according to JR. HHH pounds away as well but gets thrown out to the floor soon thereafter. HHH is sent into the Cell a few times and a backdrop puts him down on the floor again. Taker sends him into the steel over and over as it’s one sided so far. Now it’s the steps instead of the Cell with Taker in full control. Back in and a facebuster is no sold and down goes HHH again.

Old School connects and we head back outside again. Shawn isn’t a factor yet. The steps go upside HHH’s head and set up the apron legdrop. Back in and HHH hits a DDT, which somehow makes us completely even. The steps are in the ring now so HHH slams Taker’s head into them a few times. A Pedigree onto the steps is blocked with a backdrop but HHH comes back with a spinebuster onto the steps, only to get caught in the Hell’s Gate. In an impressive power display, HHH lifts Taker up into a powerbomb to break the hold and get two as well.

HHH throws in a pair of chairs and cracks one of them over Taker’s back. Taker is whipped into the steps in the corner before they’re sent to the outside. JR says there are no laws in the Cell. Other than you win by pin or submission and all that. HHH goes off with the chair, DESTROYING Undertaker Austin/Rock style. Shawn takes the chair away and tells HHH to cover Undertaker because he’s not going to quit. Trips takes the chair back and shoves Shawn down before pounding on Taker even more. He tells Shawn to end it before he does.

Taker says do not stop it as he’s getting back up. He turns around though and is hit in the ribs and back by the chair but it only gets two. HHH is starting to get frustrated so he hits Taker in the back with another chair and it’s time for more pathos with Taker saying don’t stop it. Cue the sledgehammer for a shot to the head for ANOTHER two. HHH (who is cut over the eye) has no idea what to do now.

The Game pulls up the hammer to slam it down onto Taker’s head but Shawn pulls it away to prevent the murder. Shawn is ready to stop it as Taker can barely move. Michaels raises his hand but Taker pulls him into the Hell’s Gate to stop him. Trips breaks it up with a hammer shot but Taker comes back with a low blow and Hell’s Gate on HHH. There’s no referee though and Taker lets it go from exhaustion with his opponent out cold.

Another referee comes in as Taker hits a last effort chokeslam for two. Taker chokeslams the referee (I believe that’s the same referee he beat up in 2001 against HHH as well) but walks into the superkick into the Pedigree…..FOR TWO! I lost my mind watching that live because I really thought it was over. Now HHH shoves Shawn to the floor and Taker sits up to scare the life out of HHH. Taker erupts on HHH with a big boot and running clothesline, setting up snake eyes and another boot.

The Tombstone connects but HHH is up at two. Shawn has no idea what to do as both guys are slowly getting up. They slug it out from their knees before getting to their feet for more HARD punches. Another Tombstone is countered into the Pedigree for a VERY close two. HHH goes for the hammer but Taker steps on it to stop him. A HARD chair shot to the back puts HHH down and another one keeps him down.

Some more chair shots get two on HHH so Shawn screams at them to end this. HHH tries a hammer shot to the face but Taker easily blocks it. They stare each other down and HHH gives Taker a crotch chop. Trips walks out of the corner into a hammer shot to the head. HHH tries to climb up Taker’s body but the strap comes down, the throat is slit, and the Tombstone makes it 20-0.

Rating: A+. This is another reason why I’m not so wild on last year’s match: they’re capable of SO much better and this is proof. This match told a great story with both guys destroying each other with Shawn being stuck in the middle and trying to figure out what do do in each situation. It’s a great match, it’s a great fight, and it’s pure emotion the entire time. Great stuff here, and most importantly of all: there were moments where I thought it was over. I never bought that as a possibility last year.

After a few moments on the mat, Taker sits up but falls right back down. He pulls himself up on Shawn and they embrace. HHH is still out cold. Shawn and Taker lift him up and carry him out of the ring. They embrace on the stage in one of the most iconic images you’ll ever see. You don’t often get to use that word, but it’s true in this case.

Another jump forward, as HHH has reformed Evolution to help him fight the Shield.

Evolution vs. Shield

No special rules here. It’s a big brawl to start even though I didn’t hear a bell. Shield quickly clears the ring and now we get the bell. Rollins hammers away on HHH to start and a running dropkick drops the game. A clothesline sends him to the floor and Rollins hits a big dive to take him out. Back in and HHH hits the running knee to the face, allowing for the tag to Batista. The booing is immediate as he drives a bunch of shoulders into Seth’s ribs.

Orton comes in and stomps away in the corner. A pose is enough work for Orton though and it’s back to HHH for a facebuster and two. Batista takes him to the apron and drives an elbow into the chest followed by a hard kick to the side of the head. Back to Orton for a chinlock but Rollins drives him into the corner to escape. Batista and HHH break up a hot tag attempt but Rollins spins to his feet and kicks Orton in the head.

Now the hot tag brings in Ambrose to clean house by stomping on Orton in the corner. Batista gets knocked off the apron and Dean puts Orton in a Figure Four. HHH makes the save but draws in Roman Reigns to chase him off. The spear hits steps though and it’s Ambrose getting triple teamed in the corner. Ambrose is sent to the outside as the BOO TISTA chants start up. A powerslam from Orton gets two and we hit the chinlock. The dropkick gets another two count and it’s back to HHH for the spinebuster. Another tag starts up the BOOing and we hit a rear naked choke of all things.

Dean finally jawbreaks his way to freedom but turns around for a bit boot to the jaw. A DDT plants HHH and the hot tag brings in Reigns to destroy everything in sight. Clotheslines take out every member of Evolution but Rollins’ springboard knee has to break up a Batista Bomb attempt. The Superman Punch and Triple Bomb plant Batista but Orton and HHH make the save. Rollins misses a suicide dive and HHH hits the Pedigree on Reigns, but Batista can only get two.

There’s an RKO to Reigns but it’s Rollins with another save. Rollins and Orton fight on the floor with Seth getting the better of it. We lose a cameraman as HHH helps Orton. They double team him for a few seconds but Ambrose runs across both announce tables to take both of them out. Ambrose, Rollins, Orton and HHH brawl into the crowd as Batista and Reigns are still down.

We miss something loud but see Orton shove Ambrose down some steps. The camera stays on the outside as Rollins is nowhere in sight. Orton and HHH double team Dean but Rollins dives OUT OF THE BALCONY to take all three down. Back in the ring and Batista counters the spear with a spinebuster. The Bomb is countered and there’s another Superman Punch followed by the spear for the clean pin at 19:50.

Rating: A. It’s not quite Shield vs. Wyatts but man alive this was fun. I have absolutely zero problem with Evolution reforming to put people over and that’s what they did here. Shield looked like they were on totally equal footing with three former World Champions and one of the most successful units of all time. This was a great match and told multiple awesome stories. Great stuff.

Back in time a bit now with HHH facing Jeff Hardy for HHH’s Smackdown World Title at No Mercy 2008.

Smackdown World Title: HHH vs. Jeff Hardy

After the big match intros we’re ready to go. Jeff shakes his hand and is immediately sent into the buckle and rolled up for two. They fight over wrist control and Jeff grabs a headlock. It’s just a feeling out process for the first 90 seconds or so. They keep fighting for control and Jeff gets his headlock on the mat. Back up and HHH hits an elbow but walks into a headscissors to send him to the floor. Jeff hits a running clothesline off the apron to take HHH down.

Back inside and back to the headlock. HHH pops up and tries a quick Pedigree but gets backdropped to the floor. Jeff tries a flip dive over the top but HHH steps to the side to make Jeff crash onto the floor with a great thud. That gets two for HHH inside, as does a wicked backbreaker. HHH punches him a bit more and it’s abdominal stretch time. HHH doesn’t have a ton of torque on it so he grabs the rope, forcing a break.

Off to a sleeper instead but Jeff escapes pretty quickly and hits his wrap around clothesline. Legdrop between the legs gets two. Hardy throws Trips into the corner and out to the floor. Now the flip dive works and both guys are down on the floor. Back inside Hardy gets two off a middle rope clothesline. This is starting to get good. Twist of Fate is countered and HHH takes him down with a clothesline of his own for two.

They slug it out and Hardy goes up. I think Jeff was trying a dropkick and I think HHH tried to counter into a spinebuster but it completely missed. Miscommunication, not a botch. Spinebuster with no miscommunication puts Hardy down and it’s Pedigree time. Hardy slingshots him into the post and the Whisper in the Wind gets a VERY close two. Slingshot dropkick to the back sets up the Swanton but HHH moves. Pedigree is countered again into a Twist of Fate and Jeff goes up. Swanton hits perfectly but Hardy lays on top of him, allowing HHH to cradle him for the pin to retain.

Rating: B+. INCREDIBLE ending sequence which had me into it both back in 2008 and now as well. Hardy would keep getting closer and closer to the title until he FINALLY won it (from Edge) in December. HHH and Hardy had some mad chemistry together and this is probably their best example of it. Great match and once it gets going, it never stopped being awesome.

One of HHH’s best matches ever was the street fight with Cactus Jack. Here’s the rematch from No Way Out 2000.

WWF Title: Cactus Jack vs. HHH

In case you’re a little slow, remember that this is Hell in a Cell. Seriously, why does Fink have to announce that? Here’s a hint: BIG FREAKING CAGE! The cage coming down over them is just epic. Oh there’s a subplot here: Cactus swore he would jump off the top of the cage but the Cell is HEAVILY locked. Here we go. Jack starts off in control here and hits a running jumping forearm. Yeah I was shocked too.

It should be noted that the crowd is kind of into this but not really at all. In his book, Foley mentions this and thought it was a sign that no one cared about him possibly being gone forever. Foley’s shirt is really torn already. On the floor, HHH gets the steps ready for the running step spot. However, he doesn’t hit it. HE FREAKING THROWS THEM AT FOLEY! That was just AWESOME looking.

The fans think Stephanie is a slut, but still are relatively quiet. Chair time. In a funny moment, HHH takes a shot to the balls with a chair and Lawler says STEPHANIE! Double Arm DDT on a chair for a long two and….NO REACTION. Spinebuster on the chair and HHH gets two.

Foley said he was panicking here as he thought they were just failing in the eyes of the fans. They’re not dead silent but one of Jack’s finishers on a chair got a whimper. On the floor Foley gets a nice slingshot to send HHH into the cage. And now it’s Foley cranking it up. It’s been a very back and forth match and HHH is busted.

Foley does the chair dive off the middle rope to the floor and the fans are waking up. Seriously we’re about ten minutes in and they’re just NOW waking up. Foley picks up the steps and throws them at HHH (nice bit of continuity there) and HHH ducks (nice psychology there). He misses though and it hits the cage, breaking it. The roof is officially blown off. In his book, Foley said it hit him all at once: the fans were smart.

They knew the match wasn’t ending in the cage. They knew Foley and HHH were going to fight all over ringside including likely going to the top of the Cell. That makes a ton of sense. If you know the match isn’t going to end in the ring, why really care that much? In short, they didn’t. They were just waiting for Foley to find a way out of the cage and he just did.

We hit the floor and Cactus hits a piledriver on the table. A huge Foley chant starts up and Cactus starts climbing with HHH still on the table. Fans are WAY into it now. Stephanie makes the save just before Foley finds the 2×4 in barbed wire. Oh yes. A quick shot to the head and Foley is dominating. And HHH is climbing the cage out of fear of Foley. The crowd is losing it. Oh and the 2×4 is up there too.

Foley has his hands on top but HHH slams Foley’s head into the 2×4, and we get AIR FOLEY as he falls through the, say it with me, SPANISH ANNOUNCE TABLE! He gets up before HHH can get down the cage. HHH is STUNNED. Foley tries to throw a chair up top but he can’t get it up. That’s an odd segment but for some reason it’s interesting. He gets to the top but walks into a barbed wire shot. Everyone is just waiting for the big spot here. Everything up there is terrifying as you never know what’s going to happen.

The corner of the cage breaks and HHH nearly falls through. We get a suplex on the top of the cage. Dang. Foley gets the 2×4 again, and in the words of Bubba Dudley from Rise and Fall of ECW, “Why don’t we just light it on fire?” The fans have NO idea what to think of this but they love it. He lays it on the Cell and gives a sign for a piledriver. It’s reversed and Foley goes through the Cell and THROUGH THE RING.

Remember, that’s from a good 12-15 feet up. HHH gets down and CACTUS GETS UP. HHH loses his mind over that and beats him down again. Pedigree hits and that’s finally it. DANG. Back in the day, especially after Show won, there was NO predicting who would win this. Epic match. Foley gets the big sendoff, and while he would get a reward of being in the main event of Mania, not even he knew that at the time. If I remember right he found out a week before the PPV, so it was a legit shock.

Rating: A+. It never ceases to amaze me how they find new ways to use the Cell. First it was Taker stalking Shawn, then it was a total eruption, and now a hybrid where Foley is this unstoppable monster in there with HHH afraid to fight but it’s a massacre anyway. Either way, this was a great match with Foley going out in a classic, jobbing like he did better than anyone else. Excellent match with a great ending and some GREAT spots. The pops were off the charts and the whole thing is just great.

After tearing his quad, HHH would return in early 2002 and main event Wrestlemania XVIII for the Undisputed Title.

WWF World Title: HHH vs. Chris Jericho

HHH won the Rumble to get this shot. Drowning Pool does HHH’s entrance and it SUCKS. That’s meant to be an old school rock song, not a bad metal version. The big story here is that HHH got tired of his wife Stephanie being all annoying and saying she could do whatever she wanted because anyone that opposed her would have to deal with HHH so he yelled at her, sending her over to Jericho. If you actually believe Jericho has anything resembling a chance here, I feel sorry for you. He does get a face pop though. Oh and HHH’s repaired quad is “hanging by a thread”.

Stephanie starts screeching as soon as the bell rings. Jericho takes him to the corner to start and bends the leg around the rope to a bit of an effect. HHH fires back with some right hands and the fans don’t seem to care. A backdrop puts Jericho down as does a clothesline. HHH comes back with the jumping knee to the face but hurts the bad leg in the process.

Jericho hits a backdrop to send HHH to the outside as they’re getting close to plodding territory. The champion spends too much time posing and is sent into the barricade for his troubles. A suplex on the floor lays out Jericho but HHH takes too much time loading up the announce table, allowing the champion to kick the bad leg out. Back inside now and HHH gets all CEREBRAL BABY and goes after Jericho’s leg.

After a good look at Stephanie’s rocking cleavage, there’s a figure four by HHH. Stephanie digs her nails into HHH’s eyes to break it up though, causing HHH to go after her. Jericho charges into Stephanie by mistake and into the ring she goes. HHH loads up the Pedigree on his wife but Jericho hits a missile dropkick to break it up. HHH’s leg is wrapped around the post a few times and Stephanie kicks him in the leg for good measure.

Back in again and Jericho cranks on the leg. The match isn’t bad so far but it’s doing nothing to draw my interest. The leg is wrapped around the post again and there’s the Figure Four around the post (on the correct leg and everything!) for good measure. Back in and HHH is taken down to the mat to stop a comeback bid before Jericho puts on an Indian Deathlock. HHH finally kicks Jericho away, sending him shoulder first into the post.

There’s a neckbreaker to Chris but he’s up first anyway. A clothesline gets two for HHH as Stephanie cheers for Jericho. The facebuster puts HHH down but he hurts his own leg again. The spinebuster gets two for HHH but Jericho is still up first. HHH is sent over the corner and out to the floor where Jericho loads up the announce table again. Jericho tries to put him in the Walls on the announce table ala the night HHH tore his quad but HHH fights out. Instead he loads up a Pedigree but Jericho backdrops him through the other table.

Back in and Jericho hits the Lionsault for two and there are the Walls for good measure. Jericho pulls him away from the ropes so HHH crawls again to make them. Stephanie offers a distraction so Jericho can bring in a chair but HHH counters with a DDT onto said chair. The crowd is DEAD for this. Stephanie comes in for no apparent reason and we finally get to see HHH Pedigree her. A chair shot to the head puts HHH down for two so Jericho loads up a Pedigree of his own. That gets countered into a slingshot and the real Pedigree gives HHH the title back.

Rating: C+. The match itself was ok but the crowd really drags it down. The problem with this match is that it went on after EVERYTHING else tonight and everyone is so freaking tired that no one cared. It didn’t help that HHH might have been a more obvious winner than Austin four years ago so we had to sit through 19 minutes until we got to the clear finish. The match itself was nothing special either. It was Jericho kicking him in the leg for the whole match before HHH escaped the Walls and hitting the Pedigree to win it. The match isn’t bad, but it’s completely lacking anything memorable.

Here’s the aforementioned street fight from Royal Rumble 2000.

WWF World Title: Cactus Jack vs. HHH

Street fight. It should also be noted that Foley lost about 30 pounds inside of a month and a half and is by far the slimmest you’ll ever see him look here. HHH does the long slow walk to the ring which makes things feel even more epic. Stephanie heads to the back which is probably a good thing. Dang I miss that big title. It’s SO much better looking than the stupid spinner version. Even now when it doesn’t spin it doesn’t look like something special but rather something like a toy. The belt on HHH looks classy.

Cactus looks like and animal and HHH looks terrified. Jack wins a quick slugout and pounds HHH down into the corner. We head to the floor for a swinging neckbreaker on HHH and a legdrop onto the apron knocks the Game back to the floor. HHH is rammed into various metal objects but comes back with a bell shot to take over. NOW we get to the fun part as the first chair is brought in.

Back in and Jack charges right into a chair shot like an idiot. Granted for him, that’s playing the character right. HHH goes to unhook the buckle instead of covering for some reason and Jack pops up to clothesline the champ down. There’s a legdrop onto a chair onto HHH’s head for two and we head outside again. HHH gets backdropped into the crowd and the beating begins again. JR: “They’re out in the sea of humanity.” Jerry: “Humanity? JR we’re in New York.”

HHH gets rammed into something made of metal that we can’t see and they head into the aisle. Cactus sets up a wooden pallet and suplexes HHH onto it before screaming in his face. This isn’t falls count anywhere mind you. There’s a trashcan to the head and HHH gets rammed into the steel doors. The fans chant for Foley as he gets suplexed onto the trashcan. The crowd is just RUTHLESS against HHH here as they head back to the ring. The aisle is really short so it’s not a long walk.

Jack rams a knee into HHH’s head to drive it into the steps and it’s back inside now. This is almost all Jack so far. There’s the 2×4 in barbed wire but HHH hits him low to get the board away. Some shots to Cactus’ ribs and back have him in trouble and HHH looks at the board as if to say “did I just do that?” Cactus blocks a shot to the head and hits HHH in the balls with the board. The double arm DDT puts HHH down as the referee takes the board out of the ring, drawing the loudest booing of the ngiht.

Cactus wants the board back and beats up the Spanish announce team who the board was left with. He gets a board (clearly not the same one but that’s likely for safety reasons) and after the referee is crushed, HHH gets hit in the forehead with the wire. The board is driven into HHH’s forehead and he’s busted something fierce now. The referee is back up now and we get the most famous spot of the match with Jack ripping the wire across HHH’s cut to make him scream.

Cactus tries to piledrive HHH through the announce table (same thing he won the 97 match with) but HHH counters with a backdrop. JR: “The champion is bleeding like a horse.” When does a horse bleed? HHH is bleeding from his leg which is a rare sight to see. The place LOUDLY cheers for Foley and we head back inside. The Pedigree is countered into a slingshot into the post and a bulldog on the wire gets two.

HHH has a spot called to him about the steps before the Cactus Clothesline takes them both to the floor. Cactus charges but gets hiptossed into the steps, banging his knee in the process. You know a Flair disciple like HHH knows how to work on a knee. Back inside and HHH clips him down before picking up the barbed wire for another shot to the knee. HHH pulls out some handcuffs in a flashback to last year.

Cactus fights back and hits HHH in the head with the cuffs in a smart move. The cuffs are locked up a few seconds later though and HHH starts pounding away. The steps are brought in but Foley comes out of nowhere with a drop toehold to send HHH face first into the steel. A low blow keeps HHH down and Cactus bites away. HHH gets back up and grabs a chair which he literally BREAKS over the back of Cactus. They head outside again and Cactus takes some shots to the head from the chair.

Cactus says hit me again but before HHH can crush the skull, Rock pops out of nowhere and blasts HHH in the head with a chair of his own. A cop comes in and unlocks the cuffs, freeing Cactus. HHH starts backpedaling fast but gets caught on the Spanish Announce Table. The piledriver hits this time but the table DOESN’T BREAK.

We haven’t gotten violent enough yet, so here’s a bag of thumbtacks. Stephanie comes out (complete with snakeskin choker in a nod to Cactus) and HHH comes back with a backdrop onto the tacks. There’s the Pedigree but Cactus kicks out at two to blow the roof off the place. It doesn’t last long though as a Pedigree ONTO THE TACKS finally ends Cactus.

Rating: A+. FREAKING OW MAN! If there’s a match that made a guy into a legitimate force better than this one made HHH, I’d love to see it. This was an absolute war with both guys destroying each other for about 27 minutes. The place never gave up on Foley and it’s easily one of his best matches ever. This is one of the best brawls ever and yet again it’s well worth checking out.

HHH is taken out on a stretcher but Cactus pulls him back into the arena. There’s a barbed wire shot to the head and the place cheers like crazy for Mick some more.

Back to 2008 for a showdown at Night of Champions.

WWE Championship: HHH vs. John Cena

Cena gets mostly a face pop. Cole says if you aren’t excited about this then you should go home. Wouldn’t people hearing his voice be at home for the most of the time? Is he saying go back to live with your parents because it’ll make the world better? I hate when these shows get all preachy. We get big match intros and Cena is booed LOUDLY. Yeah HHH is the face here. Lillian sounds like she’s sneezing when she says H.

They even check the boots and tights. This really is a big match so they’re treating it like one. They feel each other out a lot to start and HHH hits a hip toss and throws in a crotch chop because DX is AWESOME right? They both show each other up and then are like screw this and start throwing bombs. Cena hits move #4 and gets two. He goes for the flying tackles and HHH uses that incredible mind and ducks to send Cena flying. I love basic counters like that.

The crowd seems a bit confused but they’re certainly interested in this. Cena takes FOREVER to set up You Can’t See Me and gets kicked in the chest for his efforts or lack thereof in this case. The standing around here is getting pretty stupid as they’re just waiting on moves to be done to them. The top rope Fameasser is more or less just a boot to the back of the head since HHH messed it up pretty badly.

STFU doesn’t hook but you know it’s coming. He takes too long AGAIN on You Can’t See Me and gets kneed in the face for his troubles. Pedigree doesn’t work and HHH is thrown to the floor where he hurts his knee. At least it’s not his quad. Cena acts a little heelish and goes for the knee. It’s smart strategy but because of the circumstances it’s making him the heel in this match. That my friends, is basic heel/face psychology.

He wraps HHH’s leg around the post as this is pretty solid stuff. They fight over the STFU which looks sloppy but cool at the same time. Pedigree hits out of nowhere but his knee is hurt so it’s only two. BIG pop for the kickout. FU hits for two also. HHH is selling the heck out of that knee. They slug it out with nothing but right hands and Cole has completely stopped talking for some reason. Ah there he is.

Cena hits the Protoplex and finally hits You Can’t See Me (yes I know that isn’t the proper name). It gets two of course, probably because it’s a fist drop. STFU is locked WAY in as I’m pretty sure the knee isn’t supposed to go like that. HHH counters into a Crossface that looks like crap. In a cool counter, Cena stands up into the FU but it doesn’t hit. A Pedigree ends it.

Rating: B+. Solid match here but by no means as great a match as they would want us to believe. It felt like two guys trying to have a great match rather than a great match. That’s not the best wording but that’s how it came off. HHH should have won to even up the rivalry but they’re REALLY overhyping this. It’s good but it’s not that good.

One of HHH’s biggest feuds was with Batista. Here’s their final showdown from Vengeance 2005.

Raw World Title (World): Batista vs. HHH

Apparently the Cell is now the Devil’s Duplex. Seriously, what is JR on because I want some of it. Also it’s now a sentient being as it has something like emotions I guess. The Cell is still half up as Batista’s music hits. I didn’t realize he had I Walk Alone this early but apparently he did. He also had the gun pyro which is rather cool. He’s also embarking on his maiden voyage inside Hell in a Cell. Is he a boar captain all of a sudden? You can never accuse JR of using basic language.

The Cell being lowered really is a cool moment as you know you’re about to see some violence. Lawler says there is no way out. Today that would likely get him yelled at by Vince for bringing up memories of a defunct show. Why is he so freaking paranoid about so many things? Batista is in the white tights here so you know he’s serious. They point out how fairly stupid it is to give HHH back to back shots by more or less saying this is the last chance for him.

HHH goes to the arm by sending it into the post. That’s smart I guess as it’s hard to Batista Bomb someone with one arm, although you would think the leg would be smarter. Then again he married Stephanie so he’s smarter than we are. And now HHH gets a tool box. This cannot turn into another Home Improvement match like it was vs. Nash. Well if nothing else Batista is better than Nash so I can live with that.

There’s a big chain, which at least is something that I guess you could understand having in a tool box assuming you could use it to secure something or to get a grip on something. I should host a tool show. Batista manages to survive about a minute of being choked by a chain which is being pulled by a 6’4 270lb man. What? You don’t see how that makes sense?

I love fans that encourage violence that could potentially kill a man. Well to be fair HHH is supposed to anger the fans so he’s getting that right. Batista hits four spinebusters on the floor. Not really as he just rammed HHH into the post but whatever Ross says goes I guess. HHH mimics Flair and is busted open. The white boots are working for Big Dave. HHH hits a real spinebuster to get us back to even.

He gets a barbed wire steel chair from under the ring which is there to cover any and all of their barbed wire steel chair needs. Batista takes a SICK shot of it to the back. I know it’s rubbed tipped or fixed to an extent, but DANG it looked great. The face of Batista more or less says a combination of OH CRUD, OW and DANG I COULD GO FOR A POPSICLE. He gets the chair and DRILLS HHH in the head with it. That sounded and looked great.

I love the raking of a person’s face into the cage. That just looks awesome every time they do it and it never gets old. It’s ALL Batista at this point. HHH takes a powerslam onto the barbed wire. Ok so it landed on his hips but whatever. I guess those Buns of Steel videos helped a lot there. HHH counters with a DDT onto it as this is getting very good. Both guys are bleeding now. See, this is a great example of using blood to make a match better.

Instead of just randomly bleeding in every match, this has been a brutal fight that has built up to this moment and it feels epic. Rather than having blood in every match where it becomes clichéd, the blood here is a sight that makes you think about how brutal this is. A sledgehammer shot to the face gets two as we’ve reached epic. Batista kicks out of a punch wrapped in chain to a HUGE pop.

A lot of people that that was it apparently and I can’t say I blame them. In a cool spot right after that, HHH jumps at Batista with the chain but Batista holds up the hammer so that it slams into HHH’s jaw/throat. He stands there for about 8 seconds before just collapsing. I love that visual. Dang HHH got thrown over the corner. After this long of a match I’m surprised he can take a bump like that. Batista busts out some steps and gets them in the ring with HHH down.

HHH is just getting destroyed here as Batista is just in a zone here. Batista Bomb is countered with a low blow and the Pedigree for a LONG two. The steps are set up in the middle of the ring and Batista is in trouble. Pedigree is blocked into a spinebuster onto the steps and a Batista Bomb for the pin.

In a nice move, HHH picked up the hammer but gets dropped before he can hit it. When he’s pinned it’s still in his hand which is like the scene that ends a movie, or in this case a great match. HHH would be gone four months for this as Cena became top dog on Raw. I’m sure HHH’s diminishes spotlight had nothing to do with his absence at all.

Rating: A. This was a WAR. This is what Hell in a Cell is supposed to be like: two guys that absolutely cannot stand each other beating the tar out of the other person for a single prize. The blood was great, the violence was great, and both guys were great. See this match for sure as it’s awesome and I’m pretty sure it’s on the Hell in a Cell DVD. Great match and it made Batista look unstoppable.

Here’s possibly the best triple threat match ever, from the main event of Wrestlemania XX.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit

HHH (and his big white boots) bail to the floor as the other two chop it out. They head to the mat with Benoit bridging up into a backslide attempt but Shawn blocks. The Crossface doesn’t work but Benoit gets two off a northern lights suplex. The Game comes back in to take over and he slugs both guys down. Shawn is thrown over the top rope for some skinning of the cat but comes back in to pound away at the champion in the corner.

The high knee takes Shawn down for two and a less high knee puts Benoit on the floor. Benoit has his back rammed into the barricade but Shawn baseball slides both of them onto the concrete. That is followed up by a big moonsault to the floor to take out all three guys and wow the crowd a bit. Shawn and HHH go back inside but Benoit has to come in with a clothesline to break up a Pedigree. Shawn goes shoulder first into the post at the hands of the Canadian but HHH ties Benoit up in the Tree of Woe.

Michaels whips HHH into Benoit and rolls up the champion for two before nipping up, only to be clotheslined out to the floor by Benoit. Chris rolls some Germans on the champion but Shawn comes back to break up the Swan Dive. HHH DDTs Shawn down and superplexes Benoit for a pair of two’s. Benoit gets a weak Crossface on HHH but Michaels makes the save. Now Shawn tries to roll Germans on Benoit but you can’t do that to a Canadian (without being Kurt Angle of course), and Benoit reverses into Germans of his own on Shawn.

The Swan Dive hits Shawn for two as HHH makes another save. HHH low bridges Benoit to the floor and it’s time for DX to fight again. Shawn drops the top rope elbow on HHH and there’s Sweet Chin Music for good measure but it only gets two. Benoit makes the save and it’s time to chop a Canadian. Michaels has to fight off the Sharpshooter but can’t avoid a catapult into the post. There’s the Crossface on Shawn but HHH grabs Shawn’s hand to prevent tapping. That catapult into the post busted Shawn open too.

Out to the floor they go with HHH whipping Benoit into the steps to put him down. HHH loads up the announce table but Benoit fights him onto said table. Benoit fights out of a Pedigree attempt but here’s Shawn on the table as well. A double suplex/slam sends Benoit flying through a table and it’s down to one on one for all intents and purposes. HHH pounds away on Shawn in the corner but gets backdropped out to the floor, taking out the referee in the process. Shawn sends him into the post to bust the champion open too.

Back in and HHH hits a Pedigree out of nowhere but he’s too exhausted to cover. Eventually he does but Benoit pops in to break it up at the last second. Shawn falls out to the floor as Benoit chops the champion. The Pedigree is countered into the Sharpshooter but Shawn comes back in with Sweet Chin Music to break it up, but only for two. Michaels tunes up the band again but misses the superkick and gets backdropped to the floor. Benoit hooks the Crossface on HHH and holds onto it even as Benoit rolls into the middle of the ring until HHH taps out, giving Benoit the world title.

Rating: A+. I can’t stand triple threat matches but this is a masterpiece. They were so crisp with everything and while Shawn didn’t need to be there at all, it was still an excellent match. Benoit winning was the absolutely right decision (and would have been the year before as well) but it was the feel good moment they needed.

Speaking of Benoit, here he is in a pretty famout tag match on Raw, from May 21, 2001.

Tag Titles: Steve Austin/HHH vs. Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho

Here we go. Austin vs. Jericho gets us going and one of the belts is laying in the ring. Austin takes over with pounding boots but Jericho snaps off a cross body for two. A top rope elbow to the head scores for Jericho and he works on Austin’s arm. HHH comes in and the Canadians take over. Benoit chops Austin HARD and then hits a snap suplex for no cover. There’s a superplex for two as HHH saves.

Jericho comes in to even things out but it lets the champions take over. Benoit is like screw that and pounds them back, hooking the Crossface on Austin. HHH comes in with a big chair shot to break it up but Benoit kicks out to a big pop. Benoit goes into the steps for no count as he kicks out before the one. Austin pounds away on him and it’s off to HHH who hooks a cheating abdominal stretch.

Make that a sleeper as Benoit is in big trouble. Benoit manages to fire off a suplex to put both guys down and an enziguri is good enough for the hot tag to Jericho….but the referee doesn’t see it. The fans don’t like that at all. Jericho goes off with Austin on the floor as HHH hits the Pedigree. There’s no referee though so Jericho goes up and takes HHH’s head off with a missile dropkick.

There’s your hot tag to Jericho and he takes on the now legal Austin and HHH at the same time. Thesz Press is countered into a spinebuster and then the Walls but HHH makes the save. That right there, that save, resulted in HHH tearing his quad off the bone and would put him out of action until January of 2002. You could see HHH’s leg just stop moving. His leg is dead weight now.

HHH is like screw this potentially career ending injury and goes to set up the announce table. HHH loads up the Pedigree but Jericho counters into the Walls on the table, and remember that HHH has a torn muscle. FREAKING OW MAN!!! Benoit hits the swan dive on Austin but there’s no referee. Stunner to Benoit gets two as Jericho pulls the referee out. Lionsault gets knees and HHH finds the sledgehammer from somewhere. The second Lionsault hits but the hammer hits Austin and Jericho gets the pin and the titles as the place erupts!

Rating: A+. WOW this match holds up really well. After Jericho gets that hot tag, this is full speed ahead the rest of the way. The energy in this is great as they did everything they could to keep the Canadians down but in the end, HHH messes up to end it. Notice one very important thing here: Jericho had Austin (presumably) beat with the Lionsault, so it’s not like they got dominated the entire time and won on a mistake by the other team. That’s huge and it makes Benoit/Jericho look far stronger as the new champions.

HHH and Shawn would hook up again as D-Generation X to feud with Legacy. Here they are closing the show at Hell in a Cell 2009.

D-Generation X vs. Legacy

Seriously, THIS goes on last? The fight starts on the floor and it’s DX beating on Rhodes. Oh the match hasn’t started yet. Oh joy indeed. Keep in mind: DX is CONTROVERSIAL. Keep that in mind. HHH is in the crowd. We haven’t been in the Cell yet. Legacy and HHH are up by the freaking entrance and Shawn is down at ringside. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE FREAKING CAGE???

HEY Ted went into the cage. And now he’s back out and I didn’t even get to finish typing that sentence. Cody is mostly in it now. HHH is down on the ramp by the way. Shawn’s foot is in. Ok, so now everyone but HHH is in the cage now. So in other words, the match hasn’t actually started yet still because it’s supposed to be the two teams IN a HIAC match. This is a handicap in a Cell even though the bell rings. My head hurts.

Aww Shawn looks like a sad puppy. HHH is laying on the ramp with his arms at his sides, likely saying he can be a better messiah than anyone else can. So in case the first 40 times didn’t make it clear, IT’S TWO ON ONE! Naturally Legacy isn’t capable of the idea of you hold I’ll hit. Oh the Cell makes it 3-1 apparently. Keep that in mind: Shawn is against INSANE odds.

Shawn finds a chair and pelts it at Cody. That looked painful. HHH is back up again. Shawn, on a bad knee, does the RVD Spider Man thing. Sure why not. HHH still can’t get in. Shawn kicks DiBiase and I hate this match quite a bit. This would be THE GREATEST WIN OF SHAWN’S CAREER. Cole do you even think before you talk? Shawn takes the crucified position for awhile now. HHH tries using a chair to get in. WHY NOT JUST USE FREAKING BOLT CUTTERS!

He’s stood there like ten minutes just trying to get in while Ted yells at him. The idiocy here astounds me. Hey, let’s just stand here talking while the most resilient wrestler ever is down. That won’t be a bad idea at all will it? HHH finally grows a brain and leaves. Legacy, DO SOMETHING. Seriously, they hit him like twice and then stand around more.

This is another match like Mania 25’s main event where they tried to do something cool and it failed miserably. The do kind of a Van Terminator. How interesting. They use the double submission that they won with at Breaking Point which of course they let go of after about 4 seconds. Oh and look: HHH is back WITH BOLT CUTTERS!

He gets in and you know the rest. Only took 20 minutes to actually start the match. Apparently he had to go to an equipment truck to get them because you know, there weren’t any around in case they needed to get into the Cell or anything like that right? The Cell isn’t locked anyway so the match isn’t as advertised anyway. OK!

Now it’s locked with all four in, so the advertised main event begins with five and a half minutes to go in the show. Halloween Havoc 98 anyone? In a stupid spot, they wrap the chair around Ted’s NECK and Shawn drops a top rope elbow on it. Yep he should be dead. Sledgehammer time. Ted is outside now as I guess they threw him out. He’s back up 8 seconds after something that in storyline terms should have broken his neck. They easily pin Cody. Big old celebration ends the show.

Rating: C-. Ok, here the cage actually came into play so BIG points for that. Even still though, a Cell match should be at least a B-/B simply due to it being in the Cell and it being so RARE. More on that later. This was an actual 2-2 match in the Cell for about 2 minutes. They tries here so I can give them that, but still this was just not that good and really underwhelming for a Cell match.

Here’s one of my all time favorites, from Wrestlemania XVII.

HHH vs. Undertaker

Taker gets to do his long bike ride down the aisle, meaning he can speed it way up, which looks pretty awesome. I use that word a lot in this but it’s true. The fight starts on the floor with HHH losing a slugout. They break ANOTHER Spanish announce table with Taker still pounding away. We get in the ring for the opening bell where HHH hitting the jumping knee to the face. Taker has no interest in selling that though and pounds on HHH in the corner even more.

A big backdrop puts HHH down as do some clotheslines in the corner. Taker powerslams the Game down and there’s the jumping clothesline to do it again. HHH breaks up Old School though and hits a neckbreaker for two. A few elbows to Taker’s neck have him in even more trouble and there’s a neckbreaker for two. See what psychology is like? It’s not that hard. Taker comes back with rapid fire punches but gets caught in a facebuster.

HHH goes to the floor and gets the sledgehammer but the referee takes it away from him. Instead HHH loads up a Pedigree but gets catapulted into the referee, crushing him in the process. There’s a chokeslam to HHH but the referee is slow to count, meaning it only gets two. Taker beats up the referee to knock him out cold before throwing HHH out to the floor. HHH is backdropped into the crowd and the brawl is on. Taker punches him up to the tech area which is a very rare sight.

HHH tries to climb away to escape, but he climbs up higher and higher. Taker catches him anyway and pounds him in the head before sending him up to the next level. HHH finds a chair and blasts him ten straight times about the head and body. He loads up another shot to the head but Taker grabs him by the throat and chokeslams HHH off the tower onto something we can’t see. It winds up being a crash pad but the throw looked GREAT. Taker wants more and drops an elbow off the tower down onto HHH for good measure.

Before HHH can be taken to the back by EMTs, Taker beats him up even more and even knocks down the medics. We head back to the ring where the referee hasn’t moved for six minutes and hasn’t been looked at whatsoever. Back to the ring with HHH basically dead. Taker picks up the sledgehammer but HHH kicks him low to save his life. A big boot to the face of HHH takes him down though and it’s time for a slugout.

HHH loads up a Tombstone but since he’s not Kane (or Sid apparently, Taker easily counters into one of his own. There’s STILL no referee though as he’s been out cold for ten minutes (from a kick in the back and an elbow drop mind you). Taker finally shakes him back to life before loading up the Last Ride. HHH grabs the sledgehammer though and knocks Undertaker silly with it…..for two. I lost my mind on that kickout back in the day.

Taker is busted open and HHH is having a fit. The Game pounds away at the cut in the corner but makes the fatal mistake of going to the middle rope for more leverage, allowing Taker to grab the Last Ride to plant HHH and make himself 9-0 at Wrestlemania. Taker lays on the ropes after the match and the shot of him busted open but smiling is sweet.

Rating: A. This is one of the great matches that no one talks about for various reasons ranging from their rematches to the match that immediately followed it. It’s absolutely great though with both guys beating the tar out of each other and some excellent drama on the near falls. This was the match that made sure you knew Taker was still a player while keeping HHH strong at the same time. Great fight.

It’s been too long without a Rock match, so here’s an Iron Man match from Judgment Day 2000.

WWF World Title: The Rock vs. HHH

Iron Man match and if there’s a tie Rock keeps the title. HHH comes out with all three McMahons. He actually sends the McMahons to the back to fight on his own. Wow indeed. Rock gets a great reaction. Remember this is an hour long so expect a lot of writing for this one. Here we go. There’s a clock in the upper left hand corner of the screen so we have an idea of what’s coming here. And never mind as it’s gone.

Staredown and trash talking to start us off here. Huge pop for the lock up. No one can get an advantage but they have a ton of time in this. Rock is swearing a lot in this. We’re about two minutes in and there hasn’t been any real offense by either guy yet. Rock grabs a headlock to get a tiny advantage early on. Top wristlock battle goes to the Rock and it’s back to the headlock.

Rock gets a trio of twos on rollups so HHH hits the floor to clear his head. They talk about playing the clock which is very true indeed. The smart thing to do would be to bring handcuffs and chain a guy up outside and get like 100 ten counts. Back in and we hit the headlock again. Big punch sends HHH back to the floor again. Back in and back to the headlock, which makes sense here.

HHH tries a leap frog so Rock hits him in the face. He avoids the Rock Bottom and takes Rock down via a clothesline. HHH works on the arm as we haven’t had the clock since the very beginning so it’s kind of hard to say how much time last gone by. Rock starts fighting back but walks into a DDT on the arm to be put back in trouble. Ah there’s the clock and we have just over 50 minutes to go.

More right hands by Rock and HHH hits the ropes. ROCK BOTTOM OUT OF NOWHERE and Rock is up 1-0! Crowd pops huge for the first fall as that was incredibly sudden. HHH isn’t up yet and we have 49 minutes to go. Jerry points out that Rock is more or less up 2-0 as HHH has to beat him, not tie him.

We head to the floor and brawl up the aisle with HHH going into the railing. Rock suplexes HHH back in to get two. Shawn has been a nonfactor so far. Rock wraps HHH’s leg around the post and is dominating at the moment. A lot more knee work by the Rock and HHH is in big trouble. Rock goes back to the knee even more.

Here comes a Figure Four and HHH is screaming OH CRAP OW! We get into the always interesting debate over should HHH give up to break the hold or try to fight out of it. Rock gets three two counts here as HHH needs a break badly. There’s a reversal so he managed to get said break. His leg is almost destroyed though.

Out to the floor and HHH can barely walk. We fight into the crowd for a bit with Rock landing in some big shots. Back to ringside now with HHH in control. We’re past 20 minutes in now. Sorry for the lack of time details but they don’t put it up so I can’t keep up with it that well.

An elbow gets two for HHH. Actually he gets a bunch of twos here. HHH hammers in the corner but Rock gets some kicks to the knee as he’s using some psychology. He gets thrown to the floor for his efforts though and the count is on. HHH breaks up the count and gets thrown knees first into the steps to reinjure them.

Back in and Rock stays on the knee. HHH hammers away but Rock gets a knee crusher to break that up. Rock wants another Figure Four but HHH shoves him off and gets a Pedigree out of nowhere (that’s been happening a lot in this match) to tie it up with 34:30 to go. Instead of covering again he chokes Rock for no apparent reason. Rock is mostly dead on his feet so HHH ducks down into a small package to get his second pin in 67 seconds to take the lead! 33:23 left.

We hit the floor and Rock is sent into the barricade. Rock walks up the aisle as HHH follows him in an attempt to get some breath. HHH catches him but Rock whips him into the set. Rock tries a suplex but HHH counters into one of his own to take Rock down. Both guys are down in the aisle and we pass thirty minutes. This is the longest match either guy has ever had apparently.

Rock whips him into the apron and gets a backdrop to go after his back a bit. Shawn is yelling at the announcers, saying there won’t be any BS countouts. Rock sends him in but puts his head down, getting caught by a facebuster. A Piledriver of all things (Lawler loves it) gives HHH a 3-1 lead with 27:30 to go. Shawn screws up as HHH is still laying on Rock but Shawn doesn’t count.

Rock gets a huge clothesline out of nowhere but HHH takes his head off for two. The guys are starting to get tired but it’s nothing serious yet. HHH goes up but Rock slams/arm drags him off the top. Both guys down now with 25 minutes left. Rock is up first and he SMACKS HHH with some rights. The Rock: laying out justice with his fists.

La Magistrol (a Mexican cradle that Eddie often used) gets two for Rock. Rock might have a small cut on his forehead. There’s a sleeper by HHH which as JR and I agree on, is a smart move. Rock gets his arm up before the third drop so HHH channels his inner Flair and puts his feet on the ropes. Repeat the last sentence but this time Shawn catches HHH and breaks up the hold.

Rock fights up and gets some right hands. Another sleeper is blocked into a belly to belly but both guys are down. Rock tries the spinning DDT that he used as Rocky Maivia. That is botched to heck and back as instead of a DDT Rock loses his grip. He settles for a regular DDT instead and it’s 3-2 with HHH still in the lead at 19:20 to go. They’re mixing things up here as we’ve had five falls and two have been off finishers.

Out to the floor again and Rock drops him on the barrier. HHH grabs a chair but Shawn grabs it away from him. Rock sends him shoulder first into the steps. Back in the ring and HHH blasts Rock with the chair for the DQ to tie it up at just over 16 minutes left. Since Rock is out cold, HHH throws out a rollup to go up 4-3 at just under 16 minutes. That my friends, is psychology.

Rock is busted open now. 15 minutes left and Shawn looks at the cut which is nothing bad at all. HHH throws on a sleeper again which of course gets two arm drops. Rock fights back with punches but the sleeper goes on again and this time it actually gets a fall, giving HHH a 5-3 lead with about 12:30 to go. HHH won’t let go so Shawn makes him break the hold. Shawn gets in his face and HHH doesn’t like that in the slightest.

The argument lets Rock get to his feet and it’s time for more punching. HHH gets sent over the top rope, landing on a cameraman to give us the eternally funny view of the camera flying everywhere. Ten minutes to go and HHH goes up top. Being a heel he gets crotched and it’s a superplex by Rock to get the crowd right back into it. 8:45 to go.

Both guys are down and the count is on. Rock drapes an arm over but can only get a long two. 8 minutes left. HHH gets knocked to the floor and Rock lands a slingshot to put HHH into the post. The Great One gets sent into the steps and both guys are down with six minutes to go. And now, for the announce table.

Five minutes left and HHH wants the Rock Bottom on the table. Rock counters into a Pedigree and the table doesn’t break! FREAKING OW MAN! HHH is more or less dead so Rock slides in and it’s a countout for the Rock to make it 5-4 at 3:50 to go. HHH is bleeding now too. Here come the McMahons! Shawn starts the count again and HHH beats it by a second.

Rock is all fired up and they crank this up again. DDT gets two as Rock drills both McMahon men. Spinebuster sets up the People’s Elbow and we’re tied up with 2 minutes to go! DX is here too. Shane pulls Shawn to the floor so Shawn beats up both McMahon men as well. There’s a strange noise in the arena and DX is in the ring. Shawn gets knocked to the floor, and a video appears on the screen.

It’s the nursery rhyme video from earlier and Rock gets a Rock Bottom. DX and Shane beats the tar out of him and Shane gets a big chair shot. The funny thing about the video at this point is someone was covering up the letter I in “Is NOW” so I thought the video said Snow, making me wonder why Al Snow was here.

Anyway in case you’re a moron, it’s the Undertaker and the debut of the American Tough Guy. The song saying “He’s here!” just as we got the first shot of Taker on the motorcycle couldn’t have been more perfect. The crowd loses their freaking minds as Taker annihilates DX and the McMahons, including the BIGGEST CHOKESLAM EVER to X-Pac. Serves you right you little pest. Everyone gets drilled including Vince.

Stephanie tries to be the hero but Taker grabs her by the throat too. HHH makes the save and gets a chokeslam for his troubles. Now this is where they screw it up. The clock shows about 5 seconds left as HHH is chokeslamed. Shawn sees this but Taker gets a Tombstone as well, clearly after the time (the clock disappeared with 3 seconds left) expired and the buzzer sounded late. Taker waited for the buzzer to go off to hit the Tombstone, but Shawn calls a DQ anyway and HHH wins the title. The chokeslam would have been enough for the DQ, but the way they ended it kind of screwed things up.

Rating: A. This was FUN. They realized they screwed up in 96 so this time they made it all about can you top this with the fast pace and most importantly, NO REST HOLDS! I have zero problem with guys being out there for 40 minutes and needing 60 seconds to catch their breath, but in 96 the match was probably 20 minutes resting.

This was a fast paced match between two stallions and the whole thing came out great. The ending was a bit botched but it was insane enough that the fans ate it up with a spoon. Another important thing was the lack of finishers. It wouldn’t make sense for them to be able to kick out of everything after such a war so they didn’t insult our intelligence by having them do it. Excellent match that flew by.

From a few months earlier, at Backlash 2000.

WWF Title: The Rock vs. Triple H

HHH is champion, Vince is in his corner, Shane is guest referee, Stephanie is HOT in a little dark blue dress. Vince points out the card subject to change line in the program, which means that Austin isn’t here. Slugout to start and Rock knocks him down after a delay into the spit punch. Rock stomps him down in the corner but Shane drags him off. Brahma Bull charges at HHH but gets sent to the floor.

HHH sends him into the steps and then the announce table. Vince posts Rock and throws him back in as the odds are stacked very high already. That only gets two, as do the suplex and knee drop. HHH hooks on a long chinlock and puts his feet on the top rope. Shane has been leaving his eyes elsewhere of course. Rock finally gets up and drops HHH onto the buckle to escape. He fires off right hands and they clothesline each other.

Rock knocks him into the corner but Vince pops up with a belt shot to put him down for a very close two. Rock gets up and throws HHH to the floor where he may have hurt his arm. Back in the ring Rock hits a spinning DDT but Shane won’t count. Rock goes after Shane and they head to the floor where HHH gets in a shot to take over. Pedigree through the table is countered by a low blow but Shane doesn’t DQ him for some reason. Instead he gets up on the table too and it’s a DOUBLE ROCK BOTTOM through the table.

Both guys are half dead but Rock gets up first. There’s no referee, but it doesn’t really matter as Shane wouldn’t count a pin anyway. Vince gets in the ring with the guys and hits Rock in the back. That goes badly as you would expect because HHH gets back up and hits a Pedigree. Here are Patterson and Brisco to count but Rock kicks out. The Stooges pound on Rock and HHH gets in some shots too. His arm is clearly hurt.

Vince hits Rock in the head with a chair so hard that he falls down too. CUE GLASS SHATTER! Austin, to a MASSIVE pop, comes out with a chair and murders everyone in sight. Everyone is down so Austin leaves as Linda and the recently fired Earl Hebner come out. Stephanie gets shoved down and it’s a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow to give Rock the title back.

Rating: B+. Why this didn’t happen at Wrestlemania I’m not sure. Either way, it happened here and it was GREAT. This was the Attitude Era formula of throw EVERYTHING out there but give the fans what they want in the end. That makes the wild brawling ok and it gives Rock the title back, which is how it should be. Austin’s pop was incredible and thankfully for Rock’s time on top, Austin wouldn’t be back to action for about six more months.

We’ll jump forward again to Taboo Tuesday 2005. HHH has recently turned on mentor Ric Flair, setting up this war inside a cage.

Intercontinental Title: Ric Flair vs. HHH

Flair is champion here and while HHH said it was mediocrity for Flair, he doesn’t mind trying to win the title. Some have called this Flair’s last great match, although I think that was before the Shawn match at Mania. It’s pin/submission/escape here. HHH sits on top of the cage to do the water spit. For some reason I can’t take this serious as a blood feud considering Flair is all in pink. Ah good the tights are black and the boots are red. I can live with that.

Flair drops a very audible F Bomb and says give me your best shot. Chops vs. punches begin here and HHH is in trouble, although it’s a minute in so far. Flair can really only throw chops here but then again it’s relatively early in it. He’s the first one to go into the cage and he’s of course busted badly. I love when he’s on the mat and screaming for mercy. It’s hilarious for some reason.

HHH rakes his face across the steel and is in complete control here. With Flair leaning against the cage, HHH hits a running splash. Yes that’s correct and it looked painful. Flair is bleeding a gusher and the fans begin to cheer for him. Both guys get crotched as Flair stops HHH from leaving. HHH gets a chain from somewhere which I think he had stashed on the cage.

It’s been about 80/20 HHH in control thus far. Flair can curse with the best of them. HHH gets the Figure Four on Flair as this is probably going to go for a long time. The third F Bomb in about twelve minutes is uttered and Flair gets to the ropes for the break. Yep in a cage match. I can’t stand rules like that at times. HHH gets busted open and it wakes Flair up somehow.

This is a bloodbath for the most part and some idiot has to chant boring despite this being a good match so far. Flair goes after the bad knee of HHH that was torn up in 2001. Flair gets the Figure Four and HHH is in trouble. There is blood EVERYWHERE. Flair looks horrible as the hold is broken. He hits the top rope shot, which is a jumping chop/punch.

Flair almost gets out but is stopped, not before he gets a chair though. He did this last year and I never got why. Flair grabs HHH by the balls to stop a beatdown though. That’s always an odd move. Some chair shots to the head of HHH and Flair actually wins this clean. He looks mostly dead but he won it.

Rating: B. I can’t go higher than that for some reason but this was a great match. It was old school Flair here as he just went insane to beat HHH here which isn’t something you see out of him in this era. This was a very old school style match where it was more about violence than escape or anything like that. The idea was for Flair to get one last hurrah, but it kind of makes HHH look pathetic that he can’t beat Flair at this age. Still though, by far the best match of the night. HHH gets cheered as he’s carried out.

Time for something modern, as HHH faces Daniel Bryan in the culmination of months of HHH saying Bryan wasn’t good enough.

HHH vs. Daniel Bryan

The winner goes into the triple threat later tonight. Cole says this should be a mismatch, even though Bryan is a Triple Crown winner and a three time World Champion. The YES chant was awesome in person and the place went absolutely nuts when Bryan’s music hit. Oddly enough he wasn’t announced at all and just came to the ring with his music. No Big Match Intros either. Bryan’s left shoulder is taped up after the attack a few weeks ago on Raw.

They stare each other down for a good while to start as a bunch of fans have YES written on pieces of paper. HHH offers a handshake and is quickly kicked down for two. Daniel fires off more kicks in the corner but HHH bails to the floor to avoid a big kick. Back in and HHH goes for the bad arm like a smart wrestler would but Bryan takes him down with a headlock takeover. A hard shoulder block drops Daniel but it’s right back to the headlock.

HHH drives shoulders in the corner but Daniel comes back with his kicks, only to have HHH take him down by the leg in a nice counter. Bryan gets away before HHH can wrap the arm around the post and hits a running tornado DDT off the apron. The running knee off the apron puts both guys down as Stephanie is freaking out. Back in and Bryan goes up but gets crotched. Stephanie: “B+ AT BEST!”

A big right hand knocks Bryan out to the floor and it’s table time. Bryan fights out of a Pedigree attempt through the table but gets his arm slammed into the table. Stephanie: “YES! YES! YES!” Bryan is back in the ring at seven and HHH drives knees into the shoulder. We hit the armbar for a bit but Bryan is able to backdrop HHH to the floor. HHH is able to get up and block the FLYING GOAT with a big right hand, which looked like a slegehammer shot on the big screen.

HHH gets him back to the apron and drops him arm first onto the apron. Stephanie is still yelling at Bryan as she’s just perfect in this role. Back in and we go old school with a crossface chickenwing on the bad arm. HHH shifts into a regular Crossface and the fans aren’t sure what to think of it. Daniel makes the rope and they slug it out until Bryan drops him with a running forearm. Bryan loads up the moonsault but HHH wisely stops and tries a German, only to be reversed into three straight German suplexes for three straight near falls.

The Game counters another into a chickenwing attempt but HHH reverses into a tiger suplex of all things, putting Bryan down on his shoulder again. HHH’s superplex attempt is countered into a sunset bomb but Bryan can’t cover. The running dropkick in the corner has HHH in trouble but he comes out of the corner with a wicked clothesline. Stephanie: “YES! WOO!”

The Pedigree is countered into a rollup for two and a big kick to the head drops HHH again. Bryan loads up the flying headbutt, only to dive head first into a knee. Back to the Crossface and HHH rolls Bryan away from the ropes ala Benoit in 2004. Daniel is able to counter into the YES Lock out of nowhere but HHH gets a rope. HHH rolls outside and it’s the FLYING GOAT to send him into the barricade.

Bryan hits it again before firing off the YES Kicks to the chest. Back in and there’s the missile dropkick into the nipup followed by more YES Kicks. JBL: “Something isn’t right about this!” The big kick to the head gets two as the fans think this is awesome. Daniel loads up the running knee but is caught in a spinebuster. The Pedigree gets two and Stephanie is shocked.

A small package gets two on HHH so he hammers away in the corner with some heavy right hands. Another Pedigree is countered with a backdrop for two but HHH holds on to the grip. Bryan won’t get up though so HHH drives knees into the shoulder. HHH still can’t hit the Pedigree so Bryan kicks him in the face. With both guys spent, Daniel backflips out of a suplex and nails the running knee dead on to send himself to the main event at 25:58.

Rating: A. Oh yeah this was awesome. They played the underdog card perfectly and the fans ate it up with a spoon. I’m surprised they went with the clean pin instead of the fourway but that’s the better move at the end of the day. It’s definitive and clean with Bryan beating HHH in a fair match despite being injured coming in. Outstanding opener, even if most people knew Bryan was going to the title match anyway.

Now we get to the big stuff, with HHH facing Shawn Michaels for Shawn’s first match in nearly five years at Summerslam 2002.

Shawn Michaels vs. HHH

Shawn is in jeans tonight to hide the knee braces. Michaels comes out with right hands but HHH sends him to the outside. Not that it matters as Shawn is right back inside with more right hands. HHH is tossed to the floor and Shawn hits a nice dive to take him out. Remember that this is Shawn’s first match since March of 1998, or four and a half years ago.

A clothesline puts HHH down again and it’s garbage can time. HHH gets in a shot to the ribs and drops Shawn face first onto the barricade to get a breather. Shawn comes back in and is tossed over the top again but he skins the cat to a big pop. A trashcan shot caves in HHH’s head and a top rope fist to the head puts him down again. Shawn tunes up the band but HHH counters into a backbreaker to get to the meat of the match.

Another backbreaker has Shawn in agony and flopping like a fish as only he can. HHH gives a crotch chop and kicks Shawn down with ease. It’s chair time but a shot to the back only gets two. Shawn escapes a suplex into an O’Connor Roll for two but walks into a facebuster. A DDT onto the chair is only good for two but Shawn is busted open. HHH takes off Shawn’s belt and whips him in the back as the screaming continues.

And now it’s sledgehammer time. Shawn gets in some shots to the ribs to escape and HHH drops the hammer. The fans are behind HBK but he gets whipped into the corner and it’s off to the abdominal stretch. HHH gets caught holding the ropes and Hebner physically breaks the hold before yelling HHH into the corner. They slug it out again and HHH loads up a superplex but Shawn shoves him off, only to get crotched. HHH blasts Shawn’s wide open back with the chair and the crowd is somber.

A backbreaker onto the chair has Shawn lying motionless but HHH only gets two. He covers a few more times and HHH is very frustrated. A side slam onto the chair gets another two as JR screams for a fast count. Shawn counters a Pedigree onto the chair with a low blow and both guys are down. The HBK chant starts up again and HHH has the chair superkicked into his face. Now HHH is busted open too and Shawn slugs away before hitting the forearm and the nipup to blow the roof off the place.

Shawn backdrops him down and cracks HHH in the head with the chair. HHH is whipped over the corner and out to the floor where Shawn gets to beat on him with the belt. Shawn knocks him onto the announce table and hits him in the head with Hugo Savinovich’s shoe (Lawler: “A heel for a heel!”). HHH is sent into the steps and here’s a ladder being slammed into HHH’s face.

Some shots to the ribs have HHH screaming and the ladder is placed against the post with HHH being catapulted face first into the steel. That’s only good for two so Shawn heads outside again to get the ladder. HHH baseball slides the ladder into Michaels and pounds away at the cut head. For some reason HHH tries to come in off the top and gets caught in a superplex for two.

The crowd is losing their minds off these kickouts. A sunset flip gets two for Shawn but he gets caught by the knee to the face for two. HHH brings in the steps but Shawn drop toeholds him face first into the steel. A clothesline puts HHH on the floor and Shawn puls out a table. Well why not since we’ve used everything else.

Shawn puts him on the table and splashes him from the top rope in the big spot of the match. Both guys are DONE and the fans are in awe. Shawn sends the ladder back inside, says he loves us all, and drops the elbow from the top. Michaels has that look in his eye and tunes up the band but HHH catches the kick coming in. He loads up the Pedigree but Shawn sweeps the legs and rolls HHH up for the pin to blow the roof off the place again.

Rating: A+. Anyone who has read my stuff over the years knows I do not like a lot of things about HHH. For tonight, forget all that because this is one of the best matches of all time. I’ve seen this match several times and it still had me smiling to see Shawn make comeback after comeback and give HHH every single thing he deserved. It goes to show how great Shawn is as he came in after being gone nearly FIVE YEARS and does this. That’s remarkable when you think about it and is one of the greatest performances of all time.

Let’s talk about the match a little bit. It’s an excellent example of how to book a comeback, which is probably Shawn’s greatest strength. Shawn had the people believing that he was DEAD but he kept hanging in there time after time and made the huge comeback just like the crowd wanted. The other thing that works so well is the ending which a lot of people overlook.

The crux of this match was the destruction of both guys and seeing how far they could take it. At the end though, Shawn uses a basic wrestling counter and a cradle to win, totally shifting gears and beating HHH, the Cerebral Assassin, by thinking. That’s INCREDIBLE psychology and the perfect way to end this match. All in all, it’s a masterpiece and arguably the best performance of all time, all things considered.

Post match HHH becomes the universal evil by hitting Shawn square in the back with the sledgehammer and leaving him laying. Shawn is taken out on a stretcher.

This might be his best match ever. From No Way Out 2001.

Steve Austin vs. HHH

First is a regular match, second is street fight, third is cage. MASSIVE pop for Austin, but the crowd has been white hot all night. I’m surprised that this is in the middle of the card but you know it’s going to get some time. Maybe they want to do this so the crowd isn’t spent at the end? Naturally it’s a slugfest to start. Mudhole is stomped 30 seconds in. Big old AUSTIN chant as he dominates early on.

Modified hot shot to take down Austin though as this is fast paced for the most part. Pedigree is blocked into a DDT on the arm which I need to learn the name of. We head to the floor as Austin works the arm. This is a regular match but Austin ramming HHH’s arm into a post about 6 times is perfectly fine? HHH can’t do the Pedigree because of his arm, which is SELLING! Simply shaking your arm is passable, but having it prevent you from doing your moves is SELLING.

Thesz Press and Austin is dominant so far. HHH gets his foot up when Austin is coming off the ropes, but for once Austin actually has his arms up to look like he’s doing a move. I hate when people just jump into it for the sake of jumping into it. Neckbreaker takes HHH down but it doesn’t do much due to the weak arm.

HHH goes after the knee which is Austin’s weak point as well. He goes for the leg into the post thing but Austin counters and HHH and the nose of doom hit the post. Back to the knee as HHH takes over with a figure four. Austin gets out and does a nice move where he gets HHH n the mat and beats on him with his leg. Cooler than it sounds. Thesz Press and the elbow get two.

Everyone counters everything and we slug it out. HHH gets a kick to the knee and goes to the middle rope. He jumps into the boot though and Austin hits the Stunner for the completely clean pinfall.

No rest period between falls and we’re right back at it again. It’s a street fight now and we hit the floor. Austin’s knee is ok I guess as he hits some suplexes on the floor. Monitor connects with HHH’s head and apparently it’s broken. Naturally we head into the crowd and it’s all Austin. Back in the ring and Austin destroys HHH Rock-Style with a chair.

After nearly murdering HHH we head back to the floor where Austin finds a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire for no apparent reason. A low blows allows HHH to blast him in the face with it though and Austin is bleeding. HHH sets for the Pedigree on the table but Austin counters and sends him through the other table which EXPLODES. Awesome stuff so far if you can’t tell.

Back in the ring a bell shot (Austin brought it in earlier) gets two for HHH. This is a war with both guys hitting all these big shots out of desperation. Back to the neck with a neckbreaker onto the chair for two. Backdrop by Austin sends HHH free falling over the top. Cool looking drop. More weapons stuff on the floor but the intensity and selling is making it work.

You can barely hear Lawler here as his mic is messed up or something. HHH finds a sledgehammer and Lawler accuses JR for putting it there. Back in the ring again and a Stunner is blocked by a sledgehammer shot to Austin’s head. Pedigree follows that and thankfully that ties us up at 1-1. I would have rolled my eyes very heavily if Austin had kicked out of that.

The cage is lowered as we get a quick break. It’s been about 30 minutes so far and nothing but awesome. Austin is more or less dead and eats the cage again. HHH gets the barbed wire 2×4 and rips Austin’s face open a bit more with it. The sledgehammer and at least one chair are also in there with them. Make that two chairs, one of which saves Austin as he blasts HHH in the head with it.

HHH gets it in the face (I would have thought that would have been Stephanie but whatever) for a long time but gets a DDT out of desperation onto the chair but it only gets two. The crowd is a bit silent but it’s pretty clear that the fans know nothing is going to end without something huge. Austin comes back and goes OFF on HHH who just collapses face first out of the corner.

Game tries to bale but he Austin makes two saves, culminating with an old school slam off the top rope. Stunner is blocked but the Pedigree hits for TWO. The place erupts on the kickout and HHH is shocked. Another is blocked and HHH gets hit with a slingshot into the cage. Stunner hits and both guys are out. After the break Austin covers for two as this is awesome. HHH gets the hammer and Austin gets the 2×4. Both swing with everything they’ve got and connect, but HHH falls on Austin for the pin. I think I need a cigarette.

Rating: A+. Without question, this is awesome. Any of the three falls is great to say the least and the ending was perfect. Both guys are protected but not in a way that makes it look like they’re being protected. HHH got lucky and won it, as Lawler says that it’s not fair to say either guy really won. Just an absolute WAR with these two beating the living heck out of each other and making the crowd love every minute of it. With 40 minutes of these two beating each other to death, how is it not a perfect match?

We’ll wrap it up with one of my all time favorite matches and the match that made HHH. From Summerslam 1998.

Intercontinental Title: The Rock vs. HHH

Rock has held the title since December and there hasn’t been a longer reign since. The DX band plays HHH to the ring. Chyna and Mark Henry are the seconds here. The referee takes a long time to get the belt ready which is why it’s usually above the ring when the match begins. Rock talks some trash and the fight is on. A quick clothesline takes the champion down and a facebuster does the same. HHH escapes the Rock Bottom but gets punched down in the corner.

A quick Pedigree attempt is countered with a backdrop to the floor and Rock goes for the ladder. As is the custom, there’s a fight over who gets to bring the ladder into the ring. HHH takes the fight back to the ring before going after a ladder. This time it’s Rock’s turn to stop the attempt and they fight in the aisle again. Rock gets a ladder up against the ring and whips HHH HARD into the steel.

The champion starts his climb but HHH flies in off the top to break it up, but the ladder falls on him to keep both guys down. A hard ladder shot puts Rock down again and HHH drives the top of the ladder into his ribs. Rock pulls HHH off the ladder and the future Game lands on his knee, legitimately injuring it and requiring several months off to heal up. Some elbows to the knee make the pain even worse but the ladder being dropped on it is far more painful.

Rock puts the leg between the ladder legs and crushes it with the chair for good measure. Now the leg is wrapped around the post and the fans are split. Rock bridges the ladder between the steps and the barricade so he can drop the knee across the steel. The ladder is barely in one piece so Rock’s climbing is very slow, allowing HHH to make a last second save. He also shoves the ladder down until his knee can recover a bit.

Rock is shoved to the floor but he catches HHH in a catapult face first into the ladder. The champion tries to slam the ladder onto HHH but a kick to the ribs makes him drop the ladder. A clothesline puts Rock down but he counters a Pedigree into a backdrop onto the ladder. Mark Henry throws in another ladder but Rock does the slowest climb in recorded history, allowing HHH to shove it down again. HHH baseball slides the top of the ladder into Rock’s face to send him to the floor, busting him open bad.

Now it’s time for HHH to climb up but Rock makes another save to send HHH crashing to the mat. Rock puts a ladder on top of the corner and plants HHH with a DDT. Both guys slowly climb for a slugout on top but it’s HHH being shoved off into the ladder in the corner. With one last rush he shoves Rock’s ladder over to get us back to even again. Chyna slides HHH a chair and knocks the ladder into Rock before beating the chair into the ladder over and over again.

HHH can’t follow up so Rock slams him down onto the ladder and hits a People’s Elbow to get the crowd on his side again. HHH somehow gets up again and tries a climb but makes the mistake of diving onto Rock for a Rock Bottom. Rock goes up but HHH pulls him back down for a Pedigree as JR is losing his mind on these big moves. HHH tries to get up but Henry throws powder in his eyes. A blind HHH goes up but can’t see the belt. Rock goes up as well but it’s Chyna with a low blow, allowing HHH to pull down the belt for the win.

Rating: A+. This was a history making match as these two are officially the future and it was time for Rock to ascend to the top of the company. The match is one of my all time favorites and it’s an overlooked masterpiece because of the series these two had in 2000. These two went to war and had Madison Square Garden, the smark capital of the world, eating out of the palm of their hand. That’s only happened a handful of times ever and this was one of the best ever.

As for the match itself it worked for a variety of reasons. More than anything else though it was due to the ladder being a prop for the guys rather than the focus of the match. The story built around the leg injury and the drama instead of the big spots. It’s very rare that you get a ladder match like this anymore and the match is absolute required viewing as a result.

HHH is a very interesting subject and one of the most controversial wrestlers of all time. Yes he’s caused a lot of headaches over the years with his ego and hogging the spotlight (A YEAR OF BROCK LESNAR WASTED for example), but at the same time, good night can the guy have a great match. He’s wrestled against everyone and it’s very rare to see a bad HHH match. I can understand people complaining about his place on the card and some of his booking, but anyone suggesting that he can’t go in the ring doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

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