Remember When The Undertaker Pushed Rikishi Off The Hell In A Cell?

To commemorate the end of the year 2020, we decided to look back at a famous WWE moment that took place at the dusk of the year 2000.

Indeed, the Attitude Era itself was also winding down on that fateful Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama. WWF’s acquisition of WCW was just a few months away. As was WrestleMania X-Seven. Some of the seeds that would come to harvest in the bizarre transitional period of post-Monday Night Wars WWF were planted on that day.

It was December 10, 2000. It was Armageddon. The show at which Rikishi was “thrown” off the top of a cell only to land on a conveniently positioned truck full of hay.

Big wheels keep on turning

You probably don’t need an in-depth lesson on this period of wrestling history, but a little context is necessary.

2000 was, of course, a huge year for WWE. They sold a lot of t-shirts and made a lot of money. Thanks in large part to the star power of some guy called The Rock. The Rock carried the company for a large chunk of the year due to Steve Austin’s injury. But by the time Armageddon¬†came rollin’ around, Austin was back. Suddenly, the company had a lot more booking options. The powers that be were spoilt for choice, which is probably why we ended up with the company’s six biggest stars inside a Hell In A Cell at the same time.

The bulk of the pay-per-view is your bog-standard Attitude Era fare. The kind that seemed quite thrilling at the time, but has mostly aged like a bowl of chili made from chihuahua meat.

The main event is a different story.¬†A gimmick match with six competitors was certainly a good way to get all the top guys a payday. But producing it must’ve been an absolute nightmare. It shouldn’t have worked. But it did.

Now we all did what we could do

Kurt Angle came into the match as WWF Champion. He had debuted barely 13 months prior at the 1999 Survivor Series, and had one of the most astonishing debut years in the history of the business.

Leading up to the match, Triple H and Austin has been feuding, but their matches hadn’t really delivered. Their insertion into the title picture livened them up a bit. Austin had just come back from injury and was nowhere near 100%, so putting him in a match where the workload could be divided by six made sense.

The Rock and The Undertaker had been two of the industry’s most recognizable stars in Austin’s absence. Plus, ‘Taker’s Hell In A Cell history meant his inclusion was all but guaranteed.

In a way, the man who took the biggest bump of the match was the odd one out. Rikishi had a solid year back in 2000. He had been getting enthusiastic reactions from crowds all over the country thanks to his goofy antics with Too Cool. But then he was revealed as the man behind the wheel of the car that ran Austin over the previous year. His heel turn never really clicked. For me at least.

Lord, I’m coming home to you

The match itself was way better than it had any right to be. And it holds up. It’s five of the biggest and most gifted stars the industry will ever have (and one mid-carder) brawling inside and outside of a steel structure. The match’s most recognizable moment came when The Undertaker grabbed Rikishi by the throat and launched him off the roof of the cell.

Okay, so there was a truck filled with hay waiting below. But that was there because Vince McMahon was trying to pull the cell down to protect his stars. It all made sense. Kinda.

And yeah, Undertaker didn’t really “launch” Rikishi. He gently pushed him. But we’re talking about a very large man falling off a very high structure here. There’s only so much they could do to make it look good while also making sure he didn’t get seriously injured or worse. And despite the hay, Rikishi landed in the truck with a sickening thud. There’s no way it didn’t hurt like hell.

The match ended when Angle sneakily pinned The Rock after “The Great One” took a Stunner from Austin. Angle won the match, but he got too got a Stunner for his troubles.

Noteworthy tidbits:

  • Armageddon 2000 was the only WWF pay-per-view event to be held in the state of Alabama
  • It was the first time Undertaker made his way to the ring to Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin'”