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[2000-02-27-WWF-No Way Out] HHH vs Cactus Jack (Hell in a Cell)

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WWF World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs Cactus Jack - WWF No Way Out 2000 Hell In A Cell

 

I am actually pretty surprised this match is not fondly remembered. It is at the height of WWF's peak in terms of quality and popularity. It is a high stakes match (yes, Foley returns the following month). I totally think Royal Rumble street fight smokes this match, but this match has INSANE fucking bumps and that is enough for Taker/Foley to get over. Though I guess that has THE Bump to end all Bumps. I think Foley returning does kinda kill the solemnity of the moment. The Royal Rumble match being a lot better does hurt this one. I guess I argued why it is pretty much forgotten, but still I think this match has a lot to offer in terms of insane violence. It is definitely more of a stunt show. HHH delivers his more customary milquetoast performance. Foley overly indulges his masochistic tendencies. Since it was his "last" match, I guess he wanted to go out in the style he innovated.

 

Cactus is obsessed with getting out of the cage, but it is padlocked like super, Fort Knox-style padlocked. Disappointed, he takes out his frustrations on the face of The Game. Triple H is more willingly to have his standard match which means a ton of knee-related offense, not much selling and just a generally passionless performance. It is mostly because Foley wants to take a bunch of sick bumps because it is his last match.The first nasty bump is HHH kneeing him off the apron into the cage. HHH throwing the steel steps into his crazy!!! What's weird is that match really has no heat until they get out of the cage. I think Foley declared he was going to do that so no one really bought into any of the nearfalls until they made it out. Double Arm DDT into chair is pretty damn sick and barley a murmur when Cactus went for the cover. Declarations like that can backfire. The steps-assisted catapult that sent HHH into the cage was nuts. HHH taps a gusher. He is always good for that. Cactus wants revenge and chucks the steps at HHH, but he dodges and the steps going flying through the cage. Light bulb goes off. Then in one of the sickest things I have ever seen, Cactus hurls his body into the damage cage wall and RIPS HIS ARM OPEN! OW! OW! OW! HHH is a fucking trooper. There would be no way I would agree to to this bullshit, but Foley sends him through that cage wall. Foley has his Barbed Wire 2x4, which has a handle on it. Good thing as we find out he had a hard time chucking a chair up there. Cactus takes a smaller, but still HOLY SHIT bump off the top of the cage through the announce table. They fight on the cage and we get a flaming barbed wire 2x4 and tons of blood. The final bump is BATSHIT INSANE! Foley is backdropped through the roof and lands SPLAT on the mat CAVING in the ring with the imprint of his body. HHH scales down and then is horrified when Cactus is still moving. Pretty much the only good heel thing HHH does in the match. PEDIGREE~! Foley's Wrestlemania is dashed against the rocks or is it? The Wrestlemania 2000 main event coming out of this PPV was scheduled to be HHH vs Big Show. LOL! I cant believe they did not trust Rock's drawing power.

 

It is a stunt show. Foley had matured as a competitor and delivered some classics, but this match represented the core essence of who Foley is. HHH did not add much. Very entertaining stunt show. Just shy of greatness. ***3/4

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I think this match's reputation was hurt by the sheer height of everyone's arguably-unfair expectations. It's a rematch to their insanely great war at the Rumble, which wasn't ever going to have a chance to recapture that match's alchemical magic. And worse, it's the first time HELL IN A CELL had really been built up as this huge a deal, and this match's fine effort was almost lost in the shadow of the legendary bouts that preceded it. If Shawn/Taker was Star Wars and Taker/Mankind was The Empire Strikes Back, then poor HHH/Cactus might not even count as Return of the Jedi; it's more like The Force Awakens, with every moment in the narrative self-consciously calling back to some previous happenings in the Cell which had become mythical in hindsight. Then tack on Foley's retirement lasting about five minutes and the fact that No Way Out 2000 was otherwise a completely meaningless and forgettable show, and yeah, it's a perfect storm for this damn good match to be sadly underrated by too many people.

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The hype was also part of the problem. Foley promised repeatedly in the build that he was going throw HHH off the Cell, then jump off onto him, and they never did anything of the sort. So parts of the match that were technically very good weren't getting over because people were just waiting for the big moment.

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So I may be the only one in the world but I prefer this to the Rumble match. I really liked how they used the weapons around the ring and the cage and still had a lot of intensity matched around that. HHH really focuses in on the steps and that leads to a nice moment where Cactus tries to get revenge by throwing the steps but he ends up gaining much more than that as it opens up a hole in the cage. HHH’s punches were better here than I can remember looking. I get the sentiment that the crowd kept waiting for the big bump in how this match was prepared but I thought that was built up well and I’m never going to complain about a stunt bump looking overly safe. HHH running when he sees the barbed wire board was a great heel stooge spot. With no where to escape, HHH has no choice but to start climbing. Foley ends up taking a good sized bump from near the top of the cage which was as bad as the one HBK took in the first HIAC. I did think this gave HHH some good heat too as the asshole chants reign down. With no 2X4 switcheroo this time, it was impressive with how HHH took the shot right to the face. HHH staggering and almost falling through the cage gives a good sense of scope as we reach the climatic peak of the match. A suplex and a double arm DDT are good moves on top of the cage from Cactus. The burning 2X4 is a good way to amp up the stakes and I do think it deserved a bigger pop than it got from the Hartford faithful. The big bump from the wide angle makes it look dangerous and a big fall. Foley chants rain down on HHH now as he goes into the ring. I liked HHH kicking away and then Cactus moving making him look supernatural. A couple of more stiff punches and a Pedigree and that is it. Even the cover worked for me because besides some early covers in the early going, HHH never went for another one. He went for three in a row and showed extreme frustration knowing it was going to take something sadistic to put Cactus away. ****1/2

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I think I side with Chad on this actually. I think both are all-time classics, but I do think No Way Out is the slightly better match, if only because from the very beginning it's a super intense fight with a lot of great intensity and action, whereas I think the Rumble really struggled to get in a groove for a while and had the crowd actively turning on the crowd brawling at the beginning. When I've watched brawling matches around this time, I have really grown to appreciate tight brawls that can keep most of their stuff in the ring, so that made me appreciate this more than the Rumble. I also think this was the climax of the feud that really officially secured HHH's place on top for good. He retired Mick Foley. He showed a new and even more violent side we hadn't seen from him before, literally playing with fire and remaining the champ. Foley shot for the moon in what was intended to be his last match, both in terms of the big bumps and props and the wrestling. I thought the fundamentals -- the punching, suplexing, kicking, DDTs and other wrestling base stuff he used looked really snug. I don't want to get in too much of an argument over which one was better, but I do think this one deserves to be talked about as an all-time classic just as much, and I'm not sure it is. I was pretty captivated by this from beginning to end. ****3/4

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Then tack on Foley's retirement lasting about five minutes and the fact that No Way Out 2000 was otherwise a completely meaningless and forgettable show, and yeah, it's a perfect storm for this damn good match to be sadly underrated by too many people.

 

I agree with this. If Foley had actually "retired" here and instead came back 3-4 years later for the Orton feud, this would probably be remembered more. The immediate return at the next event negated the effect of the finish and the stakes.

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I remember seeing this PPV when it aired live. I remember being in awe of the sheer violence in a WWF match. I've seen ECW and FMW by this point so seeing fired and more barbed wire was a treat. I did like that they contained the match mostly in the cell and when they did eventually go outside, there was a feeling of anxiety as it looked like they might just kill each other. I miss this time period when the HIAC was something important like War Games.

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This took a while to get going but once it did it was pretty good. You can put me in the camp that doesn't think it's half as good as the Street Fight, though. The Hell in the Cell gimmick was far too restricting in terms of what they could do in and around the ring and the expectation for what sort of bumps Foley would take off the cage was too great for him to deliver on. I mean, the final bump through the roof is insane but it doesn't have the impact of those King of the Ring spots. Which isn't to say that I wanted to see Foley hurt himself, it's simply the result of choosing to use the HITC gimmick. What's more, Hunter's performance isn't as good as the Street Fight. He bleeds again and does a nice job selling shock at what he did to Foley, but you know he's not going to take a bump off the cage or threw the cage (aside from the door that Foley made), and that he's not going to get hit in the face with a burning barbed wire bat. He ate a couple of nice looking moves but nothing that really upped the ante from the Street Fight, which you'd expect a retirement stip to do. The call from JR was decent and Foley walking off at the end for the "last time" played out all right, but a combination of unrealistic expectations and Triple H not really being able contribute a hell of a lot to a match like this made this seem weaker than the Rumble match. I don't think it's a MOTYC or even a match of the month, to be honest. I definitely liked Aja/Kaoru more as a garbage brawl.

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A match with a first half of this and a second half of the Royal Rumble match would be an easy ***** match. The stuff inside the cage is really great, though once they get outside the match becomes to gimmick-y for what the story behind this was. Some stuff on top of the cell looked dangerous as hell, especially the part where the cage roof was breaking unplanned (the thing where HHH's foot gets stuck). At least the big spot with Foley going through the cage again worked out fine. I did not remember that Foley got back up after that to get pedigreed one more time.

The finish might have been a bit flat, but this match totally made HHH (disregarding of the retirement stipulation), more so than the Rumble match.

My favorite spot of the match was the catapult from Foley that made Triple H's face smash hard into the cage.

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I felt that this match is hit and miss. You have Foley taking those huge bumps are always fun, but the drawn out Triple H epic is a constant in his career and it's present here in this match with the gimmicky outside work. Knowing the direction of the match I felt the finish was flat and boring.

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No Way Out 2000 - Triple H vs. Cactus Jack - WWE Title HIAC Match

 

I am with OJ and Marty here in that I feel that the Rumble match is far superior to this one. My biggest problem stems from the sense that this was the first match I came to when working through the network chronologically that had a decidedly "self-conscious" element. The steps through the cell wall; Triple H nearly falling through the roof in the corner; the flaming 2X4 - that had a bleeding handle on it! - to me it comes across like they were trying to recreate the "magic", or at least the spectacle of the KotR 98 version, but categorically fell short in delivering any tangible surprises.

Also, I admit to not knowing how they pull of any of the mat tricks, but surely it was intended for Foley to cave in the mat, no? I seem to have a great chasm between my reaction to this bump and the second big one from 98, and I have to credit that to how staged this one felt. So that's another negative.

 

GOOD (3-3.5*)

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This wasn't nearly as special as the Rumble match, where everything just clicked. I quite enjoyed the first 2/3 of it, which featured intense brawling and some brutal spots around ringside. It's a minor shame that Foley's stunt bumping overshadowed his facility as a toe-to-toe fighter. Anyhow, the whole thing lost steam once he broke through the side of the cage and they did the inevitable climb. I get why they felt the need to do it, but the fall through the cage and the crashing through the mat came off as such a gimmicked attempt to recapture the magic of the Foley-Taker match. And there was no way they could do that. The actual pin, which was supposed to carry such storyline weight for Foley, felt anti-climactic. I don't know. It was still an above-average cell match, just not a classic.

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This is one that Ill need to watch again. Ive seen it before but its structured in such a way, or maybe its just my interpretation (thats why I need to watch it again) that its building to one big spot, and that big spot is a disappointment with the gimmicked mat. I found myself not paying attention to the action that was happening and just waiting for the end. Not sure if thats my fault or the match.

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I love this match, I don't think it was better than the Rumble match but definitely an all-time classic in my book. The story with Cactus desperately trying to get out of the Cell but the door has been padlocked by Stephanie and HHH is awesome, considering Foley's threats to jump off the cage onto HHH. Only to get out of the cage later when the steps go through the side. Cactus Jack pulling out all of the stops to destroy HHH and win the title but HHH just has too much in him and finishes Cactus off by putting him threw the Cell.

 

I remember watching this live at my buddies house years ago and I couldn't believe that Cactus was done and HHH was clearly the best Heel in the world after this. Just great stuff.

 

****1/2

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I hadn't seen this in a long time, in general I've watched it much less than the Royal Rumble match. I do think it suffered slightly from a crowd that knew it was getting some sort of bump off of the cell, so they didn't really react to that much beforehand. That said, this was a bit more compact than the Royal Rumble match, although I don't think it peaked as high. I like that the pedigree came pretty soon after the bump through the cage, but it still felt like a bump so gigantic almost turned into just another spot in the match. Still, a fitting hatred filled yet somewhat epic brawl to end the feud and Cactus' career.

 

****1/4

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I haven't watched this match since it occurred. I loved it at the time but I was also 12. I'm glad to report that for the most part it held up, at least until the end.

The opening in the cell was very good/great. I thought Cactus and Hunter worked one of the better "inside the Cell" portions that I remember. At times it was very hard to watch due to the brutality. Mick's knee first into the steps bump makes me cringe every time he does it. I liked that they kept returning to Cactus wanting to take things outside the confines of the Cell but didn't ever spend a ton of time on it. 

Once they went outside of the Cell, my enjoyment decreased. I'm just not a fan of the outside the Cell stuff in any of these matches and really, KotR set a precedent for Cactus in the Cell that I didn't want to see topped. The brawling on the top of the Cell was light (by necessity I'm guessing but still) and the gimmicked mat kinda killed the ending bump for me. 

A big aspect that doesn't hold up is the commentary. King never bothered me as a kid but was nearly unbearable here. JR's call was the kind of "forced epic" that kind of sounded like a "greatest hits" re-recording of his 1998 Cell call. 

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