The 2000 Royal Rumble is considered one of the better pay-per-view events in the WWE's history. It ushered in the best year, creatively and in-ring performance wise, the company had ever and has ever seen.
And the most heated, personal storyline leading into the show centered around Triple H and Mankind.
In late 1999, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley had taken control of Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation.
McMahon had taken a hiatus after his daughter aligned herself with Triple H, turning her back on her family.
On a massive power trip, and now effectively known as the "McMahon-Helmsley Era," the newlywed Helmsleys wreaked havoc across the company, doing, saying, and making any match they wanted.
One of those matches would be dubbed a "Pink Slip on a Pole" match between The Rock and Mankind, the loser of which would be fired from the company.
The Rock would leave the match victorious while Mankind was left in the cold, suddenly jobless in what amounted to little more than despicable entertainment for Stephanie and Hunter.
The ensuing weeks saw the McMahon-Helmsley regime go out of their way to poke fun at Mankind. Sketches aired on Thursday's Smackdown program, featuring a fake Mankind begging for jobs while Triple H, disguised as potential employers, humiliated him at every turn.
The mocking of Mick Foley and the Mankind character would continue until the most popular Superstar, and closest thing Mankind had to a friend, took it upon himself to stand up to the dastardly power couple.
The Rock assembled the entire WWE roster around ringside and threatened a company-wide walk-out if Mick Foley was not reinstated immediately.
Fearing the loss of a mega-star such as The Rock, as well as the entire WWE roster, Triple H and Stephanie had no choice but to re-instate Foley.
After a brutal, bloody battle that saw Triple H deliver a Pedigree to Mankind through a table, Foley would admit that Mankind was not prepared to face Helmsley in a Street Fight for the WWE Championship.
Ever the cocky champion, Triple H flashed a grin, feeling as though he had finally put an end to the threat that Mankind had posed to his title reign. Then Foley told Triple H that it would be Cactus Jack, another persona of Foley's, that would take Mankind's place.
Some eleven years later, many fans consider the Street Fight between Cactus Jack and Triple H to be one of the best WWE Championship matches of all-time, as well as one of the most brutal encounters of any kind in sports-entertainment history.
Desperate to retain his title, Triple H would handcuff Jack's hands behind his back and beat him with a steel chair. In retaliation, Cactus would retrieve a 2X4 wrapped in razor-sharp barbed wire and use it to bloody the champion.
The climax of the match, however, would see Cactus Jack introduce a bag of thumbtacks into the contest. Before he could use them on his hated rival, however, Triple H would deliver a vicious, sickening Pedigree onto the tacks, sending Jack face-first into the tacks.
Triple H would walk away the victor and, thanks to his performance in this match, gain the trust and confidence of Vince McMahon and the WWE fans to carry the company as its top antagonist.
The match would also serve as the genesis for several hardcore, "extreme" matches for Triple H in 2000, including a Hell in the Cell rematch against Cactus Jack a mere month later.
The Street Fight at Royal Rumble 2000 was a display in viciousness, a match that was as violent as it was excellent. It's legacy has stood the test of time and is one of the fine examples of storytelling and quality in-ring work mixing to create a masterpiece.