Anatomy of a Disaster: Head Cheese vs. T & A (WrestleMania 2000)
By Jabroniville on 3rd November 2023
ANATOMY OF A DISASTER: HEAD CHEESE vs. T & A:
-It’s time for another Anatomy of a Disaster! And those one stems from a WRESTLEMANIA of all things! WrestleMania 2000 was during a huge hot streak for the company, as they had peaked during the Attitude Era and ran successfully pretty well until the drop-off following next year’s show. But this match was one that earned a lot of hate on that card (which also wasn’t that beloved, featuring a disappointing main event that saw Triple-H as the first ever heel victor at WrestleMania, defeating The Rock, Mick Foley and the Big Show in a “McMahon in Every Corner” match that kind of showed how bad the McMahon thing had gotten. While this match was low on the card, it does have the distinctive of getting Jim Ross’s patented “bowling shoe tendencies” insider remark of how shitty the match is.
THE STAGE: WWF WrestleMania 2000 (April 2nd, 2000)
Al Snow: Al Snow had been one of those weird indie guys who farted around for years on small shows, swiping moves from Japan and being highly capable in the ring, bouncing around for other dudes and making people look good. This went well enough that he got a WWF job in the mid ’90s during one of their worst eras, ending up as ’70s-obsessed dweeb Leif Cassidy as part of the “New Rockers”, a dead on arrival gimmick that was super bush-league. He was popular enough with the boys (translation: funny; good bumper) and so got sent to ECW for a repackaging, and they hit on a wild gimmick that actually got him over- joking “you’ve got to give a little head to get ahead in the wrestling business” and carrying around an actual mannequin’s head that fans would mimic in a headbanging motion with heads of their own. And joking about his jobber role in wrestling, he formed the J.O.B. Squad. HAW HAW, right? I mean it was fine for a midcard deal.
He got carried to a great match by Chris Benoit on PPV and it convinced a lot of people he was actually incredibly good, and he was finally over enough to return to the WWF, where he used all the same stuff. It did get a little bit over (in a midcard goof sort of way), though the J.O.B. Squad was short-lived (with guys like Bob Holly, Gillberg & 2 Cold Scorpio joining- most either split off or got fired soon). Al had feuds with Mankind (based off of their real-life friendship & prank war), Holly and others, but by this point had mostly worn out his usefulness as a pushed guy and was just farting around.
Steve Blackman: Blackman had started wrestling in the ’80s, but a bad case of MALARIA of all things nearly killed him, and he didn’t return until much later. He suddenly reappeared in the Attitude Era using his real-life bad-assedness as a gimmick, using martial arts and cool weapons (like light-up sticks). But he famously had a total lack of charisma, just being some bland killer. So he was paired up with the charismatic but dorky Snow, who now wanted to teach Steve how to be charismatic. Thus was born “Head Cheese”, a classic “Yeah, we got nothing” booking idea that just pairs some spares and gives us a random undercard tag team. Steve had been resisting the name-change, naturally- they’re just announced by their individual names here.
Test: Test was a brand-new rookie in 1998, given a fake angle as a bodyguard for Mötley Crüe, which led to him appearing as a wrestler, the “Corporation’s Hired Gun”. With huge height, magnificent hair and an ass-ton of steroids, he was Vince’s dream guy, and did the usual 3-minute Attitude Era sprints with fast, decent-looking offense and the infamous “Test Sell”, where he’d sell pain like crazy, only to immediately snap into hitting his moves with standard agility, then going back to selling injury. He turned babyface and got a seriously good push for a while, but was left out in the cold when his storyline fiancée, Stephanie McMahon dumped him for Triple-H, becoming a Main Event Heel in the process. A hurt & angry Test was done away with so quickly and brutally, with such little fanfare, that it came off like a personal dig or a deliberate attempt at burial, and he was never the same. He’d now been turned back heel himself, turned into a tag wrestler.
Albert: Albert was similarly as new as Test (only 2-3 years in wrestling) and was brought into the WWF as Darren Drozdov’s giant henchman, helping him pierce guys. He had debuted only the previous April and teamed with Droz until the latter’s tragic accident in October, being paralyzed. Albert was left without a gimmick or angle, and had mostly been the Big Boss Man’s pal for a bit until being repackaged as a tag guy.
Notably, T & A had only debuted in the month before this, with fitness model Trish Stratus introduced as their manager. Their name, obviously, is a Russo-esque pun in “tits & ass”. This match, following a D’Lo Brown/Godfather vs. Big Boss Man/Bull Buchanan on the same card, was your classic “just pair off some tag teams” card-filler, and obviously an establishing bit for the new monster heel tag team.
Al starts us off in the bathroom, talking to an unseen partner, while Steve professes the importance of today’s show, and for Al not to do anything dumb. T & A does their walk to the ring, and you can tell it’s 2000 because the camera starts off with a massive close-up of one half of the team’s namesake, via Trish Stratus.
AL SNOW & STEVE BLACKMAN (w/ Head & Chester McCheesington) vs. T & A (Test & Albert, w/ Trish Stratus)
* Aaaaaaaand Al horrifies Steve by introducing his surprise, a dwarf in a cheese costume with dumb circus music. Chester slaps his ass (which helpfully has round cut-outs on the outfit in that spot) to the sound of “Let’s Go Head Cheese!”. How much you wanna bet Al convinced Vince to give him a WrestleMania payday by pitching this idea? Jim Ross: “I don’t think this is getting over with Blackman”. You can tell it’s the year 2000 because every single guy in the ring is wearing long black pants.
We start off with the classic lightning-fast Test opening as he lights up Blackman, misses a clothesline, ducks an enzuigiri, misses another clothesline and gets kicked down while Jim Ross’s headset cuts out and Lawler has to cover for it. Test gets the unwanted splits, but quickly reverses a whip by Snow, who I think gets nailed by Albert from the apron and Test finally gets that clothesline. Al gets whipped to the corner and eats an avalanche and Test’s boot- Blackman saves. A distracted Albert gets decked by Snow, who works him over with the standard punchankick offense of the era, then clotheslines him down (lol why is Albert dropping from clotheslines from AL SNOW?). Albert at least no-sells him, laughing as he catches a kick but taking a big one as a result. Snow gets two and Test saves, then Blackman adds some punches and a big shoulderblock as the fans are just DEAD for this. I listened to an earlier match while typing all the previous stuff out and believe me, Godfather’s match got a TON of fans into it and I frequently saw the fans jumping up and down for spots.
Albert slowly gets up and counters a whip with a shoulderblock of his own, does a throat thrust, then charges in and gets tripped from the front- Snow adds a slingshot legdrop but gets another big boot from Test, and Blackman stops a pin attempt to throw some shots and then toss Test to Al, who backdrops him to the floor while Albert pummels Blackman down. And then Jim Ross hits his first subtle dig, pointing out “Nobody’s gained any kind of ADVANTAGE here, it’s just-“. Translation: It’s just guys doing random shit with no plan. Al charges in and gets gorilla pressed, but Blackman sweep-kicks Albert down so Al falls onto him… for one, as Al just randomly gets up and dropkicks Test off the apron and Head Cheese double-clotheslines Albert for two. Wow what a shit-ass clothesline- they just take a couple steps away then turn back and nail him with no grip between them.
I should note we’re 4-5 minutes in and neither Trish nor Chester have done anything. Chester is just standing there looking at the ring with a furrowed brow (even though his guys are winning) and Trish just looks annoyed. Jump the fuck on the apron! Distract somebody! Al Snow hits a vertical suplex on Albert (WHY!? Have him reverse it! He’s so much bigger!) and stomps away, then awkwardly walks around and brings in Blackman for a double-back elbow. Blackman hits a headbutt off Bret’s rope for two as Ross desperately tries to find things to talk about. Chester walks too close to Trish and comes dangerously close to causing a fan reaction so they nip that in the bud while Blackman just walks around throwing the occasional shot and poor Albert keeps having to do these retching bumps bouncing up and down on his front. Blackman with a headbutt to the balls and Al comes off the top with a “sledge” that the camera catches as a totally nothing move (barely draping his arm across Albert’s back). Albert makes a sudden comeback with punches and Jon Moxley’s finisher (butterfly suplex, woo!) and Test, the heel, gets the motherfucking HOT TAG and starts nailing guys with clotheslines, boots and a side slam for two. Blackman saves and gets dumped so T&A can hit a double choke-lift powerbomb for two- again Blackman saves. He dropkicks Albert, who does the classic “is supposed to get shitcanned but hits the ropes and so has to awkwardly slam into them and drop, then roll out” thing.
Jim:“These two styles certainly are conflicting here. This match has those bowling shoe tendencies- somewhat UGLY!” and Lawler laughs.
Al thank god realizes the match needs SOMETHING and hits a Quebrada on Albert, and they set up Demolition Decapitation on Test for two, as Albert saves right away while Al is celebrating, then hits Al with the Baldo Bomb (sit-out chokeslam-powerbomb), to which Al just POPS UP like it was only mildly annoying and limps up so Albert can clothesline him over the top (the Bomb was Albert’s finisher! Just sell THAT!). Albert punches Blackman a bit, then headbutts him down and press-slams Test onto him- Al pulls Test out at “2” and JR goes “This match might unfortunately go on all night if the referee can’t get a three count!”– Al trips up Albert so Blackman can hit his standing side kick. Al & Test have an obvious chat on the floor while Al “chokes” him and Blackman has to shoo Chester away from Trish again, and this delay results in the loss- Albert hits him with a press slam into Test’s Flying Elbowdrop and it’s finally thank god over at (7:04). Wait, I got four paragraphs out of this 7 minute clusterfuck?
Al gets on the mic after the match and admits to Blackman that “Alright, alright- it was a stupid idea”. Then brings Chester into the ring and smashes him in the head with the microphone and sets him up for Steve Blackman’s Pump Kick! Yes, we end with the babyfaces beating their innocent dwarf sidekick down because they lost a match. Al does his “heeheehee I’m CRAAAAAAAAAZY” face to help justify it I guess, and we’re out.
hahahaha oh my god I was hesitant on this one because I was like “hey, it was an era of weaksauce matches- how bad could it BE?” and “all I remember is Jim Ross’s shoot comment” but HOLY SWEET JESUS this was bad.
It’s not like all-time bad or a botch-fest or anything, but it’s just shittily planned out to the point of stupidity. Like I would assume Al, a respected veteran, laid out the plan or something beforehand and they didn’t call it in the ring with two giant kids with 5 years experience between them, but THIS was it? It was just guys DOING STUFF. Ideally you start hot, then T&A takes the lead and starts beating the shit out of the much smaller Snow & Blackman, then the babyfaces make a comeback. Maybe with their weapons or the dwarf. But instead you have the 300-lb. Albert taking falls, being knocked down and having to get back up again (which benefits the huge, unathletic guy ZERO, as it creates this big delays in the match where nothing happens because Head Cheese has to wait him out and just stand there).
And who books the burly huge Albert to be taking all these shoulderblocks and clotheslines? He should be NO-SELLING those and just drilling the babyfaces down for their impertinence! But… that’s the Attitude Era for ya. Their “Bump & Feed” style insisted the heels bounce around like pinballs for babyface strikes, even in cases like this where there’s massive weight differentials. Albert should have 100% have ignored that shitty double-clothesline and ripped their heads off for it. THAT gets people over.
AND WHY DID THE HEELS GET A HOT TAG? That was Albert eating all these boring, plodding offense and selling, and then Test, a HEEL, gets the tag and comes charging in with his lightning-fast strikes and a slam for two- a 100% babyface spot.
Also what’s with the dwarf? Like I get the whole “Vince probably thinks this is hilarious” aspect but he doesn’t actually DO anything. He kind of walks near Trish sometimes and gets shooed away by Blackman. For like eight minutes he doesn’t add anything to the match- why have a dwarf in a cheese outfit if you’re not going to get the fans into it? Have Trish jump on the apron to distract the ref and get pulled off by Chester! Have him do his ass-slap dance in front of her to make her mad! Have her slap him or something- use the gimmick if you’re gonna use it! If he costs Head Cheese the match, it should be because he charged the ring and distracted everyone- instead, he’s just out there sorta walking by Trish, Blackman shoos him off, and then walks over to Albert and THEN gets hit- at least make it a distraction move!
Rating: DUD (one of the most clueless, droning-on WWF PPV matches ever- I swear to god I thought it was 12 or so minutes until I read the official match time)
The Fallout: I don’t think there was too much, really. Though this WAS close to the end of Head Cheese, as Al & Steve went their separate ways. T&A kept going till the end of the year and Trish, thank god, learned some charisma and became a better manager before she became a half-decent wrestler. If Al got shit on for this terrible match, it was short-lived, because he was made European Champion for a while, doing another goofy schtick with something (coming out to various nations’ themes sung by himself, while dressed as a stereotype of those nations).
Mitigating Factors: Test & Albert were fairly green, had been brought up in the simply HORRENDOUS “Attitude Era Style” (which benefited workers so poorly that most guys had to be dumped by the next era as match times increased), and had only been teaming for one month. Also everyone was incredibly un-over, doing shitty gimmicks. Test & Albert had been ice cold only months beforehand and reheating guys takes WORK and they hadn’t done that yet. And that matters because the crowd was just TOTALLY dead for this, which likely caused the wrestlers to be unable to feed off of them and even have a hope of getting stuff over. Essentially, shitty booking had handicapped the guys from the start.
Now that doesn’t diminish the horrendous bit of business they did in the ring that much- but it would work against even the best guys and it’s probably hard for these dudes (3 of whom are pretty bad) to figure out how to “win the fans back”, and as we’ve learned most of Al’s great showings are carry-jobs, too.
Overall: This match is one of the worst WrestleMania bouts ever- Jim Ross completely shit all over it on commentary and rightly so. If you’re gonna have a match this bad on a showcase this large, you deserve to have your commentator burying it. The match plan was completely done all wrong- Albert doesn’t have a lot of experience, but sitting there eating offense and getting the heat and Test getting the hot tag? THEY’RE HEELS! Heels shouldn’t be getting hot tags! But most of all it’s just… disjointed and they’re not meshing at all. Blackman, Test & Albert were all pretty bad at this point, but is also exposed Al, who a lot of people were tricked into thinking he was good when he probably peaked as a 6/10 worker and was much worse by this point. Honestly it should have been Al eating a lot of heat, Blackman doing some damage, Trish distracting the ref or faces, Chester probably humiliating her a bit, and maybe a distraction finish so T&A can win. Not THIS.
So the match was booked and agented badly- the angle sucked and whatever plan they had was either horrible or not followed. Al was totally incapable of winning the fans back, pretty well ignoring them entirely, and not putting over either Chester or his opponents (if anything, he made them look bad by having these 300-pounders bouncing around for his near-Cruiserweight stuff). Blackman was so bad at winning the fans over that it was made his entire character. Test had come off the rookie push of a lifetime but was never very good and had been buried by the booking and honestly never really tried again. Albert was green, unathletic and shitty, looking bad. So add all of this together and you have an all-time bad WrestleMania match.