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August 24, 1999 / barrylad

The Rock vs. Triple H from WWF Smackdown 1999

Match Analysis by Barry Murphy

Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross

While this is perhaps a nostalgia-loaded statement, the original Smackdown! stage is a thing of beauty, and I’m not saying that with a hint of irony or cynicism. The blue lighting, the unique oval shape — I genuinely miss it. Part of the feeling of sterility of modern WWE stems from the lifeless LED nightmare they erect for every single show these days. Anyway! Triple H was rocking the ‘My Time’ theme, Chyna by his side and his wacky CHAIN MAIL~! during his entrance. Yes brothers, it’s 1999! There was so much going on with the commentary, but not in a bad way. Lawler put Rock over during his entrance as one of the coolest guys around, but he wasn’t in the same league as Triple H. JR, in a way only he can, put over what a vile man Triple H was — but qualified it by saying he’s still one of the best in the game. They were in a league of their own for getting the stories over and not making anyone look foolish in the process. The match was going for all of about 40 seconds before spilling to the floor. Michaels followed suit. His gear was just… very pre-Christ HBK. Triple H attempted a suplex on the steel ramp, but Rock reversed it and hit a suplex of his own. He followed up with a Russian Leg Sweep. On their way back to the ring, Triple H retook the advantage with a knee to the gut and throwing Rock into the steps. Ostensibly, they were working an attitude era PPV main event, condensed into attitude era TV main event time. Triple H threw Rock into the ring, but Rock immediately clotheslined him back out on the other side. Chyna hit a lowblow on Rock, causing HBK to eject her. JR mentioned that Jesse Ventura did the same thing at Summerslam last Sunday. Rock hit his DDT for a “visual pin” (a term I loathe) on Haitch, but Michaels was distracted with Chyna. He ran down but only got a one count. The DDT was Rock’s go-to move that theoretically would ‘win’ if the ref wasn’t distracted. But he never actually beat anyone with it. SHANE MCMAHON ran down because there has to be SOMEONE getting involved at all times, and Chyna just left! Triple H began his Triple H style heat segment. There was a knee drop. There was a headlock. Rock necked Triple H on the ropes, causing the immediate Shane interference. Rock knocked the (former) McMahon heir off the apron, always an easy pop, and hit a Rock Bottom to a HUGE ovation. He went for the People’s Elbow but ate a wonderfully timed superkick from HBK. Triple H scored the pin to retain, much to JR’s outrage.

Match Thoughts

This was a very of-the-time match but it was a fun watch today. Triple H and Rock would go on to have some real epics, and even though this wasn’t one of them, they worked well together and the theatrics were amusing. This was a fun way to conclude the very first episode of a new show. ***

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