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The History of the WWE Hardcore Championship (Part One)

by Scrooge McSuck

WWE Hardcore Championship

- I think it's a sign of how deep those in charge of their physical media releases have to dig to produce something that hasn't been featured a thousand times before... of course, I'll pretend they didn't release something similar back in 2001 when there was a VHS and DVD released covering the exact same thing (and that DVD was one of the first to feature a butt-ton of bonus content, mostly random Hardcore Title matches). With the 2-disc set running at nearly 9-hours, I'm going to split the review up into three parts. With what looks like 60 matches featured, there's no way in hell I'm cramming that into 2 recaps.

- Mick Foley (the 1st Hardcore Champion), Rob Van Dam (the last Hardcore Champion), and Raven (the most reigns as Hardcore Champion) are our hosts of the main feature, in what is probably a left-over set from one of those classic WWE produced films (or from "Network Original Series" Table for Three). I suspect Tommy Dreamer is doing their introductions. They talk about the soft-style that the WWF had in the early 90's (insert clip of Johnny Polo). RVD mentions there were rules, likely for the ECW newcomers during the Invasion, about what they couldn't do (basically the ECW "in the crowd" brawls). We get a clip of Jerry Lawler bashing Duke Droese with a garbage can on Monday Night Raw, and calmly mentions how mad the USA Network was for it and forced them to make a public apology. Did you know Foley was on the same high school wrestling team as actor Kevin James (insert picture of them here)?

- From the November 2nd, 1998 episode of Monday Night Raw. Vince McMahon gifts Mankind the "Hardcore Championship", a broken, taped together belt that was clearly meant to be a joke, and symbolized how low of an opinion the Mr. McMahon character had for Mankind. Did anyone expect it to be treated as a real Championship, moving forward? The segment is capped off with Mankind calling Vince "dad", and Vince giving a great double take.

Mankind © vs. Ken Shamrock:

I'm not going to list every match as a Hardcore Title Match. I assume that it's obvious, so I'll only mention special gimmick matches, if there are any. From the November 9th, 1998 episode of Raw, and the 1st ever defense of the Hardcore Championship. Mr. McMahon, the stooges, and his "security" (the Boss Man) are watching from the top of the ramp. Mankind is working the match after getting a corporate makeover, complete with three-piece suit and loafers. Shamrock is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, but his title isn't on the line. Shamrock attacks before the bell with rights. Whip to the ropes and he connects with a jumping heel kick. Mankind uses his shoe to turn the tide and chokes with his jacket. He traps Shamrock in the tree of woe and connects with the running axe-handle smash. To the floor, Shamrock counters a suplex with an inside cradle for two. Shamrock uses the shoe and rams the Hardcore belt into Foley's face. Mankind ducks a clothesline and back drops Shamrock onto the announcers table. Back in the ring, Shamrock back drops Mankind onto a chair. Mankind sends Shamrock into the steps for two. Shamrock bocks the Mandible Claw and throws Foley into the steps with a belly-to-belly suplex. Shamrock sends him into the apron and takes him down with another belly-to-belly. He "snaps", but Mankind goes low before the Ankle Lock is applied. Mankind with a chair shot across the back, followed by a DDT onto the chair for two. They make their way to the top of the ramp, with Shamrock rolling away from repeated chair shot attempts. Shamrock with a back suplex on the steel for two. Shamrock with the chair, but Mankind ducks and dumps him over. Shamrock recovers first and smashes the chair over Foley's head. Boss Man nails Shamrock with a nightstick, and Mankind falls on top for three at 7:58. **1/2 Entertaining match that didn't rely too much on goofy props and comedy.

Ladder Match: Mankind © (w/ The J.O.B. Squad) vs. Big Boss Man (w/ Shawn Michaels):

From the November 30th, 1998 episode of Raw. We're a couple of weeks removed from the Survivor Series where Mr. McMahon screwed Mankind out of the WWF Title, so now he's going to screw him out of being the Hardcore Champion. After several years of nothing in WCW, it's a surprise that Boss Man was pushed as well as he was after his return in October. Boss Man attacks before the bell with the nightstick, knocking Mankind into the ladder. Meanwhile, Michaels dismisses the J.O.B. Squad from ringside (Snow, Bob Holly, Scorpio, and DUANE GILL). Mankind sends Boss Man into the steps and throws the ladder into his face. Mankind sets up the ladder, but dives off to take out the incoming Boss Man. Mankind sandwiches him between the ladder and drops an elbow. Mankind climbs, but Boss Man magically recovers to knock him down. Whip to the ropes, Mankind with a boot and the double-arm DDT. Boss Man pulls Mankind off the top of the ladder before he can get a grip of the belt. Both men climb the ladder, with Mankind getting the better of a slugfest via use of Socko and the Mandible Claw. Rock shows up to push the ladder over and hang Mankind across the top rope. Mankind goes low on Rock and pulls Boss Man off the ladder. Rock knocks him over again and plants him with the Rock Bottom, allowing Boss Man to make the easy climb to become the 2nd Hardcore Champion at 6:11. ** Decent action with the predictable, but logical, conclusion.

[Title switch not featured: Road Dogg defeated the Big Boss Man on the December 21st, 1998 episode of Raw, taped on December 15th.]

Road Dogg © vs. Al Snow:

From the January 4th, 1999 episode of Raw (taped December 29th), and we all know the more historic part of that evening from both sides of the Monday Night War. Al Snow is sporting a "blood" soaked shirt, courtesy of a blood-bath from the Brood. He leaves a gagged "Head" on the ramp and hides behind the curtain. Road Dogg comes out, falls for the decoy, and Snow attacks from behind. They make it to ringside, with Road Dogg in control. He pulls out a table and throws a chair at Snow in midair. Snow takes control with a pair of chair shots, followed by a jumping heel kick, using the chair as a springboard. He lays Road Dogg across the table, but misses a moonsault, putting himself through it, instead. Road Dogg bends a baking sheet across Snow's head until it's broken mess. They make their way down the ramp to the production area. They set up another table, and Road Dogg sends Snow crashing through it with a hip toss. Flying axe-handle from the stage steps. We go backstage, with Snow tossing Road Dogg into a wall in the janitor's station. He slams a box of toilet paper on Road Dogg, followed by breaking a broom across his back. Still not as good as a bag of popcorn. Road Dogg slams Snow into a cart cover with potted plants. Snow smashes one across the head of Road Dogg and whips him into random steel poles. Road Dogg recovers and whips Snow into three perfectly stacked beer kegs. What is this, a Carnival game!? The fire extinguisher doesn't work, so Road Dogg knocks him into a security door, setting off the alarm. They wander outside into the snow. Road Dogg with a snow shovel, knocking Snow into a wheel barrow, and sends him crashing into a steel shutter. Snow with a road cone to the midsection. Road Dogg goes low and hits a piledriver onto a stack of crates, and that's enough for three at 8:30. *** Entertaining nonsense, but Michael Cole's commentary was terrible, almost bad enough to knock the rating down.

Al Snow vs. Bob Holly:

From the IYH: St. Valentine's Day Massacre PPV. Road Dogg was stripped of the title due to (insert reason here), so the winner here becomes the 4th-ever Hardcore Champion. Bob Holly is yet to be named Hardcore, officially, but it's a revived push for the former Sparky Plugg, so anything is better than that. Snow kicks things off with a chair shot. They wander through the crowd, with Holly gently dropping Snow onto a pair of steps, followed by a blast from a fire extinguisher. Snow turns the tables and uses the extinguisher, too. They go backstage, with Holly throwing Snow into random plunder. Snow makes a cheap joke before bopping Holly with a payphone, followed by a launched garbage can. Holly smashes Snow with a pair of floor tiles and a large (empty) cooler. Snow breaks a few brooms across the back of Holly for two. They make their way outdoors, trading blows. Holly rams him into a concrete wall, followed by a parking sign. Snow with a series of strikes as they make their way further from the arena. They take turns throwing each other into a chain-link fence. Lawler informs us they're heading for the Mississippi River, giving us something to look forward to. Holly with a stop sign across the back. There's a wheel barrow to act as transportation, but it doesn't follow the script. More random brawling. Snow dumps Holly into the river, so now we can wrap things up. Snow misses a body press and gets rammed into a tire. Holly breaks a large stick over Snow's back for two. They fight over some rolled up chain-link fence until Holly wraps snow up in it and pins him to become the 4th-ever Hardcore Champion at 9:59, kicking off the Era of Hardcore Holly. *1/2 Standard action that went too long for a quick joke. The match gained minor notoriety for doing a spot in the river, but that's all it had going for it with lots of down time just wandering around.

- Foley, RVD, and Raven talk about doing innovative spots, like the Cactus Elbow from the apron, RVD's split-leg moonsault, and the Van-Daminator (that Shane McMahon ripped off and called the "Coast-to-Coast"). We move on to talking about guys like Al Snow or Bob Holly who kind of floundered without much to do before being put in the Hardcore Division, which segues into the next match that Foley says is a "great match." Remember that in a few minutes...

Bob Holly © vs. Steve Blackman:

From the February 15th, 1999 episode of Raw, only 24 hours removed from St. Valentine's Day Massacre. They're still referring to Holly as "Bob Holly", so the name change must be coming soon. Blackman has been mostly directionless, but for the life of me I can't remember when and how long the stuff with the Blue Blazer lasted. I do know his entrance music generates zero pop. Holly rushes to the top of the ramp and gets taken over with a snap suplex. They wander backstage to a chorus of boos. The camera crew eventually catches up, with Blackman accidentally hitting a super-kick on a refrigerator. Holly throws a television monitor, but misses. Attempted homicide, ladies and gentleman. Blackman reverses a whip, sending Holly into more strategically placed beer kegs. They work their way outside, because every hardcore match needs to leave the building. Blackman with a bicycle kick, knocking Holly into a dumpster. Here's Droz to bash Blackman with an oversized tool, and Holly retains at 2:47. Remember that Droz vs. Blackman feud? Me neither. Post-match, Holly officially calls himself Hardcore Holly and picks a fight with former partner Bart Gunn. DUD Yeah, what a great match, Mick. Lying shill...

Hardcore Holly © vs. Bart Gunn:

From the February 22nd, 1999 episode of Raw, a direct result of what happened following the last match featured on this set. Gunn hasn't done much since winning the infamous Brawl For All, and wouldn't do much until getting knocked out by Butterbean at WrestleMania XV. The NEW Midnight Express EXPLODES! They trade blows and take it to the floor. Holly smashes a water pitcher across the head of Gunn and bashes him with a chair. Gunn recovers and breaks a glass over Holly, followed by a shot with the ring bell. Gunn with a clothesline, knocking Holly into the crowd. Gunn peels off the protective pad of the security wall and drops Holly across the steel. Holly finds a fire extinguisher and does the obvious, then does the same with a random bucket of water that was under the ring. Holly sends him into the steps, but a suplex on the ramp is countered. Lawler defending the Sparky Plugg gimmick as "A-list material" is always great. Gunn with a reverse DDT, whip to the steps, and a blast from the extinguisher. Holly leads Gunn to the top of the ramp and throws him into the Titantron™ structure. Gunn finds a watermelon and smashes it over Holly's head. I'm sure that was added as a weapon into the 1st Smackdown game on Play-Station solely because of this spot. Gunn finds a crate of bananas and it's on like Donkey Kong. Holly finds a garbage can from behind the curtain and adds that to the list of weapons used. Gunn with strikes and a sack of flour cross the back of the head. Suddenly a man dressed as a kabuki attacks Gunn with some goofy strikes and tosses him off the ramp, through a table. Holly recovers from the failed baking class and covers to retain at 8:19. **1/4 Harmless fun, but a couple of minutes too long. The masked man turned out to be "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, who had Jim Ross denounce the attire the next week and was just another example of having nothing for him to do.

[Title switches not featured: Billy Gunn defeated Hardcore Holly on the March 15th episode of Raw, Hardcore Holly regained the belt in a Triple-Threat with Gunn and Al Snow at WrestleMania XV on March 28th, Al Snow defeated Hardcore Holly at IYH: Backlash on April 25th, then enjoyed the longest reign as Champion before losing it to the Big Boss Man at Fully Loaded on July 25th. Yes, we jumped over quite a bit of stuff happening.]

Big Boss Man © vs. Al Snow:

From SummerSlam, August 22nd, 1999. Road Dogg is doing guest commentary for the match, and instantly reminds us about Pepper, Al Snow's Chihuahua that was eventually killed off... and fed to Snow. Maybe Mr. Fuji was on speed dial to give suggestions on how to pay off a storyline involving an annoying dog and a douchebag. Snow ambushed Boss Man with a body press from the top of the entrance set. Road Dogg decides to do running commentary as the action moves behind the curtain. Boss Man with rights and a bulletin board across the back. Boss Man grabs the traveling case with Pepper allegedly inside it and tosses it. Boss Man with a crutch across the back and uses Snow as a battering ram into a Pepsi-brand cooler. Boss Man's attempted murder via beer keg misses. They make their way into the street outside the arena. Snow with a super-kick to the midsection for two. Boss Man tosses him into some outdoor plastic chairs and tables for two. They move inside a local establishment and the yellow pages are used as a weapon. They take turns using a broom. To the bathrooms and Snow rubs a urine cake on Boss Man's face. Snow with a beer bottle across the head, followed by chain choking. Snow hops onto the bar and misses a moonsault through a table that broke a bit too easily. They fight into the pool room and Boss Man decides to get in Road Dogg's face. Road Dogg clocks him with the nightstick, Snow bops Boss Man with a couple of billiard balls, and covers for three at 7:25. Snow returns to the arena and fights off Stevie Richard and the Blue Meanie for trying to dognap Pepper. *1/2 This was mostly walking around with some odd weapon choices. Basically, more of the same, and watching so many matches in a row like it begins to have an effect.

[Title switches not featured: Big Boss Man regains the Championship from Al Snow on the August 26th episode of Smackdown (the 1st non-pilot episode of the series), The British Bulldog defeated the Boss Man for the belt on the September 9th episode of Smackdown (taped on September 7th) then immediately handed the belt over to Al Snow because he's a nice guy and in no way was going to screw over the Rock or any other good guys and help Triple H become the WWF champion.]

Al Snow © vs. Steve Blackman:

From the October 9th, 1999 episode of Jakked. Yes, footage from JAKKED is being featured on a DVD set. I feel like this is a special occasion in need of celebration. Since we last saw Blackman on this set, he's turned heel and become even more boring than he was before. Blackman attacks before the bell, a trend we've seen often. Whip to the ropes and Blackman bails. Snow follows with a plancha. Blackman reverses a whip, sending Snow into the barricade, and clotheslines him into the crowd. Snow recovers and lays Blackman out with a clothesline of his own. You know you're watching a C-show when the match is background noise to the goofy storylines going on (Mark Henry's sex therapy, for one). Snow shows off his ninja skills and gets a boot to the midsection. Blackman snaps a stick over his back and gives his own martial arts demonstration. Whip to the ropes and Blackman clotheslines him with a piece of the stick. Snow goes low with the other piece and mocks Blackman. Blackman blocks a chair shot and drops Snow face-first onto it for two. Snow counters a suplex and connects with a DDT onto the chair for two. Snow sets the chair up as a springboard and hits a jumping heel kick in the corner. He tries it again, but Blackman nails him in mid-air with a clothesline. Blackman wastes time going for a table. Snow sends him into the barricade and whips out his bowling bag for the 7-10-split. The J.O.B. Squad has dissolved for nearly a year and Snow still has "Pin Me, Pay Me" on his tights. Snow sets the table up in the ring and Blackman kicks a baking sheet into his face. Blackman climbs the ropes, but head of security Jim Dotson hops on the apron, causing a distraction, and Snow slams Blackman through the table to retain at 6:54. Yet another angle that was dropped suddenly. Dotson had the look of a wrestler, but didn't want to make the switch to in-ring performer, and unfortunately suffered with various health issues before passing away in December of 2015. *1/2 Standard random Hardcore Title Match.

[Title switches not featured: Big Boss Man becoming the first 4-time Champion, winning the belt on the October 14th episode of Smackdown, and held it through the rest of 1999. Test defeated Boss Man for the belt the week before the Royal Rumble PPV on the January 17th episode of Raw.]

Test © vs. Gangrel (w/ Luna):

From the January 27th, 2000 episode of Smackdown. Test took quite a quick fall from grace, going from potential Main Event player to "guy with the Hardcore Title." Gangrel gets to make a rare appearance on a WWE DVD set, nearing the end of his WWF run where he spent the better part of a year on the injured list before being released. I almost forgot they paired him up with his (then) real-life wife. They brawl on the ramp. Luna spits the "red liquid" in Test's eyes and Gangrel lays him out with a clothesline. Test recovers quickly, sending Gangrel into the security rail and does a comedy spot on Luna with a miniature hard hat. Luna prevents Test from using a table as they make their way backstage. Buy Smackdown for the Play-Station, available in stores now (assuming this is the year 2000). They make it outside and Test no-sells a 2x4 shot to throw her into a snow-filled bed of a pick-up truck. They fight into the payphone section for bad comedy. They do an Irish whip spot that defies physics. Gangrel with a fire extinguisher blast and they seem to be making their ways back to the Gorilla position. There's a piano backstage for some reason. Gangrel goes for the inverted DDT, but Test blocks it. Luna accidentally whacks Gangrel with a shovel, Test gives her a gentle Powerbomb onto the piano, and a flying elbow finishes at 4:23. ½* The spots with Luna were fine, the rest was not so good.

Test © vs. Crash Holly:

From the February 24th, 2000 episode of Smackdown, days away from No Way Out. Hardcore Holly is backstage to dress down Crash, but he's not taking any of that and is going to prove he's more Hardcore than him. Test greets Crash before the bell with a big boot. Whip to the ropes and Crash bails. Test follows as the crowd chants "Elroy" at Crash. In modern topical conversation, the WWE is doing a Jetsons cross-over... hurray. Test places a trash bin over Crash's head and smacks it with a chair. Crash pulls out a fire extinguisher from under the ring and does the obvious, then sends Test into the post. He comes off the apron with a sloppy hurricanrana. Hardcore Holly shows up at the top of the ramp as Crash smacks Test in the junk with a stick. Crash sets up the ring steps and dives into a chair shot. Test sets up a pair of chairs in the ring for a Powerbomb, but Crash escapes, hops over them, and jumps right into a big boot. Crash avoids the Pump-Handle Slam and sends Test to the floor with a low blow. Crash follows with a plancha as Hardcore comes to ringside. He teases hitting Crash, but accidentally nails Test, and Crash covers for the victory at 3:57. Thus begins the Houdini of Hardcore Era. * Some cute spots, but too short. I'm not knocking the fluke victory because it defines the Crash Holly character.

- We talk about the transformation of Thurman "Sparky" Plugg to Hardcore Holly. I can't tell if Rob Van Dam is too stoned to know whether or not he's serious about not knowing that Holly was actually Sparky Plugg (fun fact: Mankind's TV debut was a victory over Bob Holly on the post-WrestleMania episode of Raw in 1996).

Crash Holly © vs. Tazz:

From the March 2nd, 2000 episode of Smackdown. They brawl on the floor to kick things off, with Tazz getting the better of the exchange before dumping him into the crowd. They quickly make their way backstage, trading blows. Crash gets thrown against the wall from a slam position. Suddenly, Prince Albert charges and hits Crash. Tazz whacks him with a lead pipe. Boss Man runs in and gets hit with the pipe, too. Albert gets locked in a freezer and Boss Man gets a bottle smashed over his head. Crash with a fire extinguisher to the face. Bottle shot and 2x4 shot across the head finishes at 1:52. That was chaotic. I forgot all about the go-nowhere rivalry between Tazz and Boss Man & Albert.

- Later in the show, Crash Holly announced he will defend the title 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as long as somebody has a sanctioned referee. It can happen anywhere, like a shopping mall, library, or strip club. I half expected Lillian Garcia to attack him. Rodney shows up outside with a referee, but the rest of the Posse won't allow the cover and bicker, allowing Crash to speed away in his car.

- From the March 13th episode of Raw, the Mean Street Posse attacked Crash in the baggage claim section of the Airport. Prince Albert show up, but Pete Gas pinned Crash for the Hardcore title. The celebration is short lived, as Crash blasts him across the back of the head with his giant scale, and pins Pete Gas to regain the Hardcore Title, and uses the conveyor belt to escape.

- From the March 16th episode of Smackdown. The Headbangers arrive with a referee at Funtime USA, where Crash seems to be enjoying his time off. Mosh fishes him out of the Arcade, while Thrasher waits for him downstairs. Mosh pounds away on him and slams him on the floor, but the referee is nowhere to be found. Crash slams him onto one of the games and throws balls at him before escaping down the slide, complete with Jerry Lawler's colorful commentary. Thrasher greets him with a trash can blow, but Mosh breaks the cover. They team up to drop Crash across a barricade and whip him with a belt. They fight over another cover and Crash makes his way through the ball pit maze. The Headbangers follow, but Crash surprises one of them with a flying clothesline and Tarzan swings into the other with a hurricanrana, then escapes with the belt still in his possession. Yeah, this was entertaining.

[For some reason, they didn't include the Hardcore "Battle Royal" from WrestleMania 2000, featuring nearly a dozen title switches! In order of the switches, we got reigns from Tazz, Viscera, Funaki, Rodney, Joey Abs, Thrasher, Pete Gas, Tazz (again), and Crash Holly, before a blunder at the end with a timing issue had Hardcore Holly standing as the last Champion.]

Hardcore Holly © vs. Crash Holly:

From the April 3rd, 2000 episode of Raw, the night after WrestleMania. I wonder if we'll see some beach balls and waves going on. Crash attacks before the bell and levels Hardcore with the belt, but he barely sells it. Crash with a cooking sheet across the head for two. Whip reversed and Hardcore drops Crash face-first across the sheet. Holly pulls out a push broom and smashes the stick across Crash's back. The fire extinguisher makes an appearance for a near fall on the arena floor. Hardcore brings a chair in the ring, but Crash boots the midsection to force a fumble. Crash counters a suplex and drops Hardcore across the chair with a gourd buster for two. Crash with a clothesline to send Hardcore out of the ring. The Acolytes come to ringside as Hardcore smashes the candy jar across Crash for the second night in a row. Bradshaw with a Clothesline from Hell to Hardcore and they plant him with a double team spine-buster before tossing Crash on top for three at 3:02. Crash must've bought the services of the Acolytes. They should open a business for that kind of stuff. * The usual hardcore brawl. Post-match, the Mean Street Posse attack and the Acolytes don' save, because they were only paid for one service.

[More title switches between matches featured! Perry Saturn defeated Crash on the April 13th episode of Smackdown, lost it to Tazz, who then lost it back to Crash.]

Crash Holly © vs. Tazz vs. Perry Saturn:

From the April 17th, 2000 episode of Raw, and a natural follow-up to the shenanigans that happened a few days earlier. Tazz is the reigning ECW Champion, winning it from Mike Awesome in what was basically a "former ECW guy working for WWF beating a ECW guy ready to leave for WCW" in an issue that needs more room to cover it than one sentence. J.R. makes sure to note Tazz won over the bum in less than 3-minutes. Crash attacks Saturn on the ramp with a cooking sheet. Saturn recovers and lays both out with a double clothesline. Tazz with a hip toss on Saturn and clotheslines Crash coming off the middle rope for a two count. Saturn with a modified Samoan drop on Tazz. Crash hop on his shoulders but gets taken over with a German Suplex. Tazz hits both men with the cooking sheet. Whip and Crash with a drop toe hold into the ropes. Frankensteiner on Saturn gets two. Double Russian Leg Sweep, with Saturn getting the better of it. Crash gets Double Goozled, but the crowd doesn't pop for it. Harrdcore Holly shows up, attacking Crash on the floor while Tazz and Saturn continue to fight in the ring. Hardcore gets sent to the ring post. Crash interrupts the Tazzmission with a cooking sheet blow. Hardcore hits Saturn with the Falcon Arrow, but Crash steals the pin at 3:25. DUD This was a mess.

- They talk about the concept of the 24/7 rule.

- From the April 20th episode of Smackdown, the Mean Street Posse attack Crash after leaving the circus. Pete Gas is dressed as a clown and the referee is incognito. Crash throws him into the side of an 18-wheeler, but another clown (Joey Abs) attacks and hits him with a bucket. Rodney finally shows up, helping throw Crash into a fence and whacking him with an oversized shoe. Crash escapes while they fight, and for some reason, Pete Gas continues talking in his clown voice.

[Title switches not featured: Matt Hardy defeated Crash on the April 24th episode of Raw, then lost the title back to Crash on the April 27th episode of Smackdown.]

- From the May 4th episode of Smackdown, Crash is hanging around backstage shooting hoops... horribly. He doesn't have a title defense tonight, or at least not one sanctioned. Dean Malenko attacks from behind, knocking him into a bounce house. The drop toe hold backfires and they do a bunch of spots that end with them landing on their feet. Crash with a jaw breaker before making his escape and heads to the ring area. Malenko follows, but gets school boy tripped and covered for two. They take it into the ring, with them fighting over a trash can. Crash kicks it out of Malenko's hands, but gets taken over with a Super-Plex. Saturn shows up to break the cover. Malenko with a brain buster, but this time Malenko breaks the pin attempt. Crash rams a trash can into Malenko, knocking Saturn out of the ring in the process, and pins Dean to retain.

-Title switches not featured: The British Bulldog defeated Crash at the UK exclusive Insurrextion on May 6th, then lost the title back to Crash on the May 11th episode of Smackdown. On the May 15th episode of Raw, Crash lost the title to one of the Godfather's Ho's (identified as Bobcat from their developmental territory), but won it back moments later.]

- From the May 18th episode of Smackdown, Crash shows up at the offices of the Acolytes Protection Agency. He pays them off for an hour's rest. They mock him for needing some sleep, but take his wad of cash anyway. Former Champion BOBCAT THE HO shows up to try and steal the title, but Bradshaw sends her away. The hour runs out, so the APA leave him sleeping. Gerald Brisco arrives with a referee and pins the sleeping Crash, with the referee giving a quiet three count. Brisco even celebrates in silence, but the referee trips, waking Crash up, but Brisco escapes with the belt with the help of Pat Patterson.

- The Trio of Hardcore Legends put over Steve Blackman and what he brought to the division. [Long list of title switches that take place between matches featured: Crash Holly won the belt back on the June 12th episode of Raw. Gerald Brisco won it back on June 19th's Raw during a match between the Holly cousins, then lost it later in the night to Pat Patterson. They did their infamous Evening Gown Match at King of the Ring, where Crash ran in and won the belt for a 10th time. Steve Blackman defeated Crash on the June 29th episode of Smackdown, lost it back to Crash at a House Show July 2nd, but won it back moments later.]

Steve Blackman © vs. X-Pac (w/ Road Dogg):

From the July 27th, 2000 episode of Smackdown. That's a two-plus month jump between matches, but I'm thankful we didn't have to witness the disaster from King of the Ring 2000. Road Dogg joins the commentary team for the match, but don't be surprised if he runs in and accidentally costs X-Pac the match. D-X EXPLODES! Blackman avoids a leg sweep and hits a chop. X-Pac with kicks and whips Blackman with a belt. Blackman comes back, but the camera is too focused on the commentary team. He gives X-Pac a receipt, but gets laid out with a spinning heel kick. X-Pac brings in a trash can lid and smacks Blackman with it. Blackman kicks it back in his face and hits X-Pac in the knees coming off the ropes. Blackman with a back-handed lid blow to the head. He pulls his bag of goodies from under the ring, including kendo sticks and nunchakus. He tosses a pair to X-Pac to make it a fair fight. X-Pac shows off his skills and Blackman goes to work with his sticks. Assisted back suplex for two. X-Pac slips out of the ring and blasts Blackman in the face with a fire extinguisher. He goes for the Bronco Buster, but Blackman slips a trash can between them for maximum effect. Blackman with a kendo stick across the head for three at 5:17. Post-match, Road Dogg attacks from behind with the kendo stick. **1/2 This was fine.

[Shane McMahon defeated Steve Blackman on the August 21st episode of Raw, with just a little bit of outside help from T&A and E&C. Mick Foley, the WWF Commissioner at the time, deactivated the 24/7 rule until SummerSlam, when McMahon would be forced to defend the belt against the former Champion.]

Shane McMahon © vs. Steve Blackman:

From SummerSlam 2000. Lillian Garcia's interview with Shane is quickly interrupted by a stalking Blackman. Blackman offers a kendo stick to Shane, but sidesteps the sneak attack and sends Shane running. Blackman gives chase, picking up a trash can along the way. Blackman follows him into the crowd and smashes him over the head with the trash can. Back to ringside and Blackman hits a bicycle kick from the security wall. Whip to the ropes and Blackman clips knee with a trash can lid. He wedges Shane inside the trash can and goes to town with his sticks. Blackman side-kicks the can to add insult to injury. Blackman with the assisted back suplex, but no cover. He wraps a leather strap across Shane's neck and pounds away in the corner. Whip across the ring and Blackman yanks Shane off the turnbuckle by the neck. Test and Albert run in to help even things out for McMahon. Albert with a modified Baldo Bomb. Albert with an avalanche and Test follows with his signature flying elbow. Shane finally gets up and does his dancin' jabs. Blackman kicks the trash can lid back into Shane's face, but T&A continue to help out. Whip and Shane with a diving road sign blow to the head. Albert accidentally hits Test with the kendo stick, opening the door for a Blackman comeback. Shane escapes, climbing the structure at the side of the set. Blackman follows with the kendo stick strapped to his arm. He whacks at Shane's legs and back until Shane falls through a nearby crash pad, and Blackman follows with an elbow drop to regain the belt at 10:02. *** Best match we've seen on the set in what seems like forever.

Final Thoughts: It's a bunch of Hardcore matches, so you get what's advertised: mostly lower/mid-card workers having wild matches with various weapons. The earlier matches featured (Fall of '98 through Spring '99) gave us a decent amount of quality matches, and featured more over talent than usual (yes, Road Dogg was over). The belt kind of had a lull throughout the second half of 1999, especially with the weak rivalry between Al Snow and the Boss Man, but the Crash Holly era and the 24/7 rule gave it some life again. Steve Blackman's reign made up for the comedy, and we'll continue in Part 2 with Blackman on top of the division.

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