Retro Spotlight: WWF on Channel 4 – Royal Rumble 2000

Welcome back to Retro Spotlight here on Turnbuckle Daily. In an ongoing series we will be looking at the short run of WWF pay per views that were hosted by terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4 in the United Kingdom……first up is Royal Rumble 2000

Why is this show so significant for UK fans? It was shown on free TV.

The WWF and one of Britain’s biggest terrestrial broadcasters Channel 4 brokered a deal that would see 5 of the WWF’s ‘pay per view’ events shown for free on the channel. The deal was struck in December 1999 and began with the Royal Rumble the very next month.

The deal was the biggest that the then WWF had ever agreed to in the United Kingdom, Channel 4 was/is one of the ‘big 4’ channels in the UK alongside BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV. Unlike modern television habits these four channels boasted impressive viewing figures as for many homes in the country it was all that was available. Channel 4 would also use their Sunday afternoon T4 programme to host WWF’s Sunday Night Heat show, this proved to be extremely successful as for many young fans this was the only source of weekly wrestling content that was available at a viewer friendly time of 4pm (remember that UK viewers would have to watch Pay Per Views between 12am – 3am live).

Channel 4 and the World Wrestling Federation’s partnership did not get off to a great start. Allegedly Channel 4 were expecting a ‘World of Sport’ styled presentation without the gratuitous violence, sexual content and profanity that the WWF were using to boost their viewing figures and eventually defeat rivals World Championship Wresting. If these claims are substantiated (and to be quite honest it would not shock me if they were) all Channel 4 had to do was watch Armageddon 1999 on Sky Sports box office only A MONTH BEFORE.

One of the biggest bones of contention for Channel 4 was the infamous ‘bikini contest’ where Mae Young appeared to expose herself on camera, it was evident that she was wearing a body suit but just the idea of an elderly woman revealing herself on camera was enough to make heads roll at the station. If they were expecting Big Daddy and what they got was this I can see why they’d be just a little bit shocked.

Some of the more violent aspects of the show were also off putting for the broadcasters. Particularly the Street Fight between Triple H and Cactus Jack…..

Now as a young fan who had only seen glimpses of the WWF Attitude Era from 1998-99 onwards I JUMPED at the chance to see a real proper pay per view event on free TV. The aforementioned match between Cactus and The Game absolutely enthralled me, I had never seen such violence in a pro wrestling ring but what truly gripped me was how Cactus came across as a true underdog who had to beat almost insurmountable odds against the young thoroughbred Triple H. If anything was going to get me in to wrestling for the rest of my adult life then it was this match.

Another bout that really turned heads was the first ever tag team tables match between the Dudleys and the Hardy Boys. Both teams represented a changing of the guard in professional wrestling, evolving from the likes of the Acolytes to a more risk taking, high-flying approach to in-ring competition. This was be the catalyst for the more famous TLC/Triangle Ladder matches that would take place at Wrestlemania 2000, Summerslam 2000 and Wrestlemania 17 later down the line, but if you have never seen this table’s match between the Hardys/Dudleys then it is certainly worth checking out.

If you’ve never seen the Royal Rumble 2000 then you can check it out on the WWE Network now.

Look out for our next Retro Spotlight column were we will be talking Channel 4’s next PPV offering: Backlash 2000.

Were you a fan of the 2000 Rumble? What was your favourite match? Let us know in the comments:

 

 

 

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