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20 years ago this month...


HarmonicGenerator
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Those who still watch WWE have been engrossed by the current Roman Reigns / Jey Uso family drama.

But, lest we forget, it was 20 years ago this month when the family had their greatest crisis.

October 2000...

He did it for The Rock.

How do you view the resolution to the 'who ran over Stone Cold' mystery - and the Rikishi heel run that followed it?

I remember enjoying the episode of Raw where Mick Foley went around as the detective trying to find the culprit, but not being that bothered by the Rikishi reveal at the end. As long as it put a stop to 2000-Austin ruining every show by running in and Stunning all my favourite midcarders, I didn't mind who it was.

Their match at No Mercy didn't do much for me - Rikishi's interference in the title match was more interesting, as him vs. Rock was much more what I wanted than Austin vs anyone - but I was happy to buy Rikishi as a main eventer during that period. There was just something about that 2000 period where they could put someone up at the top of the card and it almost always felt right to me because everyone was a star - Benoit, Angle, Jericho, Rikishi, hell, even The One Billy Gunn for some reason.

It'd be interesting to watch the Rikishi vs. Rock match from Survivor Series 2000 and compare it to Reigns vs. Uso in 2020. Haven't seen the latter yet but can't remember anything much about the former which leads me to believe it wasn't that memorable.

Finally, this moment from 20 years ago led us to a piece of music I dearly hope they bring back for new bad guy Roman... which someone on YouTube has already combined...

 

Anyway, 20 years since Rikishi Did It For The Rock. When Rock wins an Oscar or gets elected President, he'd better thank him.

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I've said on here before that I stopped watching wrestling some time in 1997, and picked back up in mid-2000, just after King of the Ring, my first PPV was Summerslam 2000 (I still don't think I've ever watched KOTR or Fully Loaded 2000). As a result I missed the bulk of what I would consider the Attitude Era, most of Austin's run on top, and my "default setting" for what the WWF main event scene looked like didn't involve Stone Cold, so I wasn't particularly invested in him as a character.

That said, this story was superb, and perfect for the kind of wild bullshit ideas that come from playground conversations - everyone was certain they knew who it was, and picking up on every little clue, with none of the smarky "insider" knowledge as to how likely any of these people being given a main event run was. The big one was a reveal of the driver having blonde hair, which everyone at school thought pointed to it being Billy Gunn. Not really having any idea of wrestlers' relative levels of fame or credibility, I feel like I'd have bought almost anyone as responsible.

Anyone, that is, but Rikishi. Largely because of the stink-face gimmick, I just didn't give a shit about him. And I felt insulted at the suggestion that an eyewitness would see Rikishi driving a car, and the thing that would stand out is that he was blonde. 

The motivation was pretty solid, in retrospect - The Rock became the top guy in Austin's absence, but was too big a babyface to risk making him the one responsible, so it was a way to still tell that story with a potentially dominant heel. Except he didn't become a dominant heel - he was soundly beaten by Austin and The Rock, and then Triple H was retconned as really being responsible, and Rikishi fell into a forgettable tag team with Haku, which also could have been a bigger deal than it was, but Haku fell into irrelevance almost immediately.

It's weird - Rikishi was massively over in '99/'00, and this felt like an attempt to give him credibility to break through as a top level guy, but it had the exact opposite effect, and he never troubled the main event scene again after Armageddon 2000. 

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This was a stinker of a time period for me. I only started watching wrestling when Rock and Triple H were the kings, so my nine year old brain felt oddly territorial when the Texas rattlesnake came back at Unforgiven. I saw him as the crass, bullying oldie we didn't need anymore because he's what was going on before I came to the party. Only years later did I realise there was also a genuine school of thought out there that his act was getting lethargic towards the end of 1999 and he came back on the scene in much the same manner.

Even now I watch it back and there's a definite sense of dullened WWE business as usual in the fall of that year, with Vince's main man back. Triple H was getting massive face reactions against Angle and an exciting tweener run looked possible for him, but he was quickly reverted back to denim and hammer scumbag to be foil for Austin. Rikishi's turn in retrospect is good fun but at the time it was one of those proper messing with the fabric of an on fire WWE moments. Kane and Jericho were pissing about with each other with absolutely no momentum at all despite being massively over. 'Taker was...what the fuck was he? It took about two Raws for the sheen to come off his big return and the snakeskins were lying in wait for Survivor Series. 

The fall was definitely a huge downturn. Then they done the awesome Hell in a Cell and went on to do another three or four months of their best shit ever, before everything changed forever. 

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My abiding memory of this angle will always be diligently avoiding spoilers of the reveal all week long, only to walk into the chippy on Friday lunchtime and  immediately hear one of the lower sixth lads in the queue say "can't believe it was fucking Rikishi that ran over Stone Cold".

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26 minutes ago, JNLister said:

I got the impression it was less about building Rikishi and more about not wasting Austin's return to PPV match -- which would draw in itself -- against anyone important.

That's probably a really good point. I'd always figured it was a bit of a Hornswoggle as Anonymous GM moment, where they backed themselves into a corner and hadn't any idea who they actually wanted when they started writing the angle.

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It should have been Jericho. He fit the profile they'd built, would have made sense and would have carried his end of it. I get that once they decided HHH was going to be the mastermind, it would have shit on Jericho, but without that, he should have been the one.

I popped for it being Rikishi at the time because I really liked Kish throughout 2000. But with hindsight, as well as him not being the right guy, it was also a shame that they threw away a genuinely beloved babyface. He was ace in 2000. He should definitely have beaten HHH in that great little WWF title match they had. Alright, that might be pushing it, but he was bloody great.

Steve Austin ruined 2000. It was great until he came back. Wrestling has never been as good since. Steve Austin ruined wrestling.

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5 hours ago, Joe Blog said:

Wasn't Sweet Billy G out injured when Austin came back? I'm sure DX was HHH, Road Dogg and X-Pac at that point. 

I think Billy is a good shout. King made a point of saying the driver was blonde at one point. 

I thought he was - did his shoulder doing the Fameasser through the table at No Way Out and I thought that was it until he came back as The One in 2001 - but Wiki suggests he came back in October 2000 to feud with Right To Censor (who ended up censoring Mr Ass, hence the name change) so right around the same time as Austin.

Guess they could have gone with Billy being revealed & returning at the same time but obviously chose not to.

I remember the blonde thing too, seem to recall Jericho & Trish being interrogated by Foley as a result. Always thought that was a fairly clever red herring as your mind wouldn't immediately go to someone of Rikishi's ethnicity - although he was obviously blonde at the time!

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I'm in the camp with a few of you that I didn't watch mid 96-early 2000. Rock was the top baby face when I came back and I never took to him. Austin was fresh and hit with me immediately.

At the time the whole story and reveal was perfect for me. Loved it being Rikishi.

Looking back and with amazing theme aside he was never going  to work in that role.

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At the time I thought it was terrible. Rikishi had gone off the boil over the summer and it was underwhelming as anything that he was going to be involved in a major storyline with Austin. The heel turn was a secondary concern but I recall thinking they were getting desperate with all the biggest guns as babyfaces - Rock, Austin, Undertaker and HHH had started getting cheered opposite Angle and they were keeping him the babyface for his Benoit program. Even the “I did it for The Rock” stuff didn’t work for me as it seemed unnecessary to build tension between Austin and Rock since Stone Cold had enough reason to go after the WWF Champion regardless, and even both as babyfaces they clearly were never going to be friends. Just really seemed an odd direction to go in.

Looking back, it served a purpose. Something for Austin to get his eye back in before pulling the trigger on Hunter reverting to type. But aside from the Armageddon six way Cell there’s no part of the run I’d bother to go back to.

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As said Austin felt like a man out of time by the time he came back. I don't know how you slot him back in but the whole Rikishi did it was shite in my opinion, they could have used it to build Rikishi into a bit of a monster heel but failed to do so after Austin and Rock both smacked him about. It did nothing for Kishi, Rock or Austin.

Who does Austin feud with when he comes back though? I guess having Austin make his big return only for Jericho to wrap a chair around the back of his head would have generated huge heat. Jericho could have done the whole "I never ran you over but I wish I had."

Have austin and jericho feud for a while to elevate Jericho and ease Austin back in.  

 

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