Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Tables! (but no ladders or chairs yet) Oh my!

Hardy Boyz v Dudley Boyz (Tables Match) (WWF Royal Rumble, 1/23/00)

I haven't revisited any of the other Hardyz/Dudleyz/Edge & Christian propfests in ages and I don't really intend to any time soon, but if I did I sort of figure I'd end up liking this more than just about all of them. By 2018 this ground's been retrodden a million times, escalated to bigger and crazier heights, so I don't think you'd say this felt fresh. It certainly played a part in getting the ball rolling, leading to the multi-team ladder matches and TLC and WeeLC and whatever else, but it's hard going back nearly twenty years after we've seen everything we've seen since and finding the big spots new and unique. Nature of the beast and all that. I thought it stood out in other ways, though. I mean, the big table spots still looked visually impressive and those spots were designed to be and came off as the highlights, but they held everything together with a sense of violence that they'd do away with as time went on. Later matches escalated the scope of the highspots. They went through tables from loftier heights and came up with new ways to get chucked off a ladder. The violence kind of took a backseat. In this, I bought that both teams hated each other. They usually communicated that hatred by absolutely blootering someone in the head with a chair. Bubba Dudley in particular took a couple chair shots that were just hellish, and I liked how he'd sell for the rest of the match like those chair shots turned him into a gibbering mess. He looked like a guy who'd had his bell rung way too many times and if it was a boxing contest the ref' would've stopped it long ago. Everyone was swinging for the fences, but his reactions were the best. I also liked how they worked in those near misses. A couple times someone would save their partner by flinging the table out the way just in the nick of time, then in probably my favourite part of the match D-Von Dudley manages to scoot out of dodge twice in quick succession to avoid being put through two separate tables (which both Hardyz wound up going through instead). Jeff was also at his nutso best here, running along barricades, flying into camera shot from nowhere, being ragdolled through plunder and hitting his note for the big finale (which still looks killer eighteen years later). Not something I'd call a great match, but for better or worse it's an influential one and something that held up better than I'd have expected.

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