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Sunday Night Heat's 10 hottest moments
For a decade, Sunday Night Heat served as the WWE Universe’s entry point into a week of exciting action. Before a new week of in-ring madness kicked off, Heat recapped the past seven days, while providing fans with several exclusive, hard-hitting bouts featuring both established and up-and-coming Superstars.
While the program didn’t always get the same attention as Raw or SmackDown, the Sunday night staple played host to a major WWE Title change, the debut of a WWE Hall of Famer and a Rock interview that was so shocking it changed the trajectory of a Superstar’s career. Relive these gripping moments and seven other incidents that made Heat Sunday’s hottest show.
Mr. Perfect takes on Mr. Monday Night
After Mr. Perfect made his triumphant return to WWE at the 2002 Royal Rumble, the WWE Universe was dreaming of all the bouts the skilled technician could have with a new generation of Superstars. They got one of their wishes on a March 2002 edition of Sunday Night Heat, when Mr. Perfect tried to regain the Intercontinental Title from Rob Van Dam.
The crafty technician tried to keep Mr. Monday Night from taking flight, trapping him in an abdominal stretch. Though the champion tried to scale the ropes, Mr. Perfect kept him grounded for most of the bout.
The WWE Hall of Famer got a little too cocky when he tried to use the ropes for leverage while pinning RVD. When the referee caught him, Perfect made the costly mistake of getting into an argument with the official. Van Dam leveled him with a spinning kick, then finally got to the top rope for a picture-perfect Five Star Frog Splash to retain his title in a thrilling bout.
Triple H hunts in the Lion's Den
You may have thought The Game’s intense rivalry with Brock Lesnar was his first foray into MMA-style combat. That’s not the case. Triple H took on Big Boss Man in a Lion’s Den Match on an early 1999 edition of Sunday Night Heat.
Brought to WWE by MMA icon Ken Shamrock, the Lion’s Den was a high-walled, cramped cage, designed to bring out the most animalistic grappling and brawling in Superstars.
Unfortunately for The King of Kings, he didn’t get much of a chance to show off his ground and pound abilities. Sunday Night Heat announcer Shane McMahon interjected himself into the proceedings, tossing the former corrections officer’s nightstick into the cage. Boss Man bludgeoned Triple H with it, ending the bout and setting off a heated brawl between DX and The Corporation.
The Acolytes brutalize The Public Enemy
Longtime wrestling fans will remember The Public Enemy, Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge, for their groundbreaking stints in ECW and WCW. The pair left countless foes lying amid the wreckage of broken tables. Their extremely brief turn in WWE, however, didn’t go so well.
The Public Enemy joined WWE in early 1999 and quickly earned the ire of their fellow Superstars. That was never more obvious than when the party-loving table smashers took on The Acolytes on Sunday Night Heat.
From the opening bell, Faarooq and Bradshaw brutalized The Public Enemy for several uncomfortable minutes. The match barely got in the ring before The Acolytes bashed Rock and Grunge with chairs. After a Clothesline from Hell, a powerbomb and a big boot that sent Grunge crashing through a table, the carnage was called off by a referee unable to control it. The Acolytes, not done yet, destroyed The Public Enemy with the remnants of the table and the steel ring steps. Rock and Grunge were left in the wreckage and disappeared from WWE soon after.
Stevie Richards presents "Stevie Night Heat"
To say Stevie Richards wasn’t playing with a full deck of cards would be an understatement. The ECW standout was a mainstay on Sunday Night Heat after the brand split in 2002. Unable to break through the glass ceiling, Richards’ fragile psyche cracked.
With the equally unstable Victoria at his side, Richards dubbed himself the General Manager of Sunday Night Heat. Stevie ran around backstage, barking orders at confused WWE employees while trying to make sure that “Stevie Night Heat” went off without a hitch.
Of course, Richards’ power was completely imaginary. Until its end in 2008, Sunday Night Heat fell under the auspices of the Raw General Manager. That much was clear to everyone on the show, who simply rolled their eyes and pretended to acknowledge Stevie’s authority.
Mankind and The Rock turn up the Halftime Heat
Super Bowl Sunday is the one night where nearly every household in America is tuned into one thing: the NFL’s championship game. Rather than run Sunday Night Heat directly against the game’s opening moments, WWE smartly waited until halftime to kick Heat off.
Anything and everything came into play. No bag of cotton candy, popcorn or loaf of bread was safe during this hardcore battle throughout the barren arena. The WWE Title contest eventually made it out to the arena’s loading dock. After incapacitating The Great One with the Mandible Claw, The Hardcore Legend commandeered a forklift and lowered a palette of kegs onto his foe’s chest, pinning him and winning the WWE Title.
Raven explores the seven deadly sins
After he was banned from Raw in 2002, the sadistic Raven’s only battleground was Sunday Night Heat. The hardcore brawler made the final show of the WWE week his own demented sandbox for most of the year.
Raven became obsessed with the seven deadly sins, using his fellow competitors as examples in his “masterpiece.” While the former ECW Champion’s reasoning may have seemed a little flawed to some, the havoc it caused was undeniable.
A local competitor named Mike had his propensity for greed tested by Raven. Thinking he was being treated to a boxed lunch by the brawler, Mike was offered $500 to eat a sandwich from beneath Raven’s sweaty, disgusting foot.
Mike took the offer and ended up $500 richer. But Raven, having proven Mike as a “sinner,” offered him “salvation” by breaking his fingers. Many of Raven’s foes on Heat ended up the same way.
Kurt Angle gets lost in The Big Apple
When Sunday Night Heat began airing on MTV in 2000, the show was presented from WWE New York, the company’s restaurant in Times Square. New York’s finest wrestling fans packed the eatery every week to get a glimpse of their favorite Superstars, and most competitors were happy to get face time with their fans.
Kurt Angle, however, wasn’t. The Olympic gold medalist seemed miserable from the moment he got in his limo to Times Square. Declaring The Big Apple to be full of “freaks and weirdoes,” the American hero ended up with a driver who wasn’t too familiar with midtown Manhattan.
After getting lost in some of New York City’s seedier areas and getting up-close and personal with the freaks and weirdoes he derided, Angle finally found a “normal” person who could direct him to WWE New York. A hard of hearing old lady pointed a shivering cold Angle to the restaurant, where he was finally able to send a heated message to Triple H.
The Rock disarms Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn’s first run as a singles competitor after The New Age Outlaws split up probably didn’t turn out as well as he would have liked. Though he won the King of the Ring Tournament in 1999, Gunn set his sights on The Rock shortly after. No one in the WWE Universe could have imagined the verbal tirade The Great One had ready for the former World Tag Team Champion.
On Sunday Night Heat in July 1999, The People’s Champion hit the ring with Gunn in his crosshairs. He grabbed the microphone and gave the WWE Universe his insight on Billy Gunn’s nighttime prayers, insisting that Billy begged God for a little recognition while the audience howled with laughter.
The Rock’s infamous monologue made it nearly impossible for Gunn to gain any traction in this rivalry. The Great One had beaten the former Intercontinental Champion without putting a hand on him.
Light Heavyweights take flight
While the big men brawled and battled on Raw, WWE’s light heavyweights often took to the air on Sunday Night Heat. There was no better example than when Taka Michinoku and Dean Malenko tried to take the Light Heavyweight Title from Scotty 2 Hotty in an enthralling Triple Threat Match.
The super serious Malenko felt he had been embarrassed when the breakdancer beat him for the championship. Michinoku, on the other hand, was looking to regain the title he put on the map.
The bout was fast-paced from the get-go, with Malenko trying to tangle his opponents in knots, while Scotty and Taka attempted to outrun the technician. The Man of 1,000 Holds looked to have the title back in his clutches with Taka trapped in the Texas Cloverleaf. However, Scotty slammed Malenko face first into the mat to set up The Worm, then pinned Michinoku following a breathtaking leaping DDT from the top rope.
Trish makes a Stratusfying debut
With a stacked roster of hungry Superstars jockeying for spots on Monday Night Raw each week, WWE’s newer Superstars often made their debuts on Sunday Night Heat during the Attitude Era. Vampires, luchadores and even WWE Hall of Famers first popped up on Sunday evenings.
Every jaw in the WWE Universe dropped on March 19, 2000, when Trish Stratus walked down the ramp to scout Superstars to bring under her tutelage. The blonde bombshell was highly impressed by Test in a victory over Gangrel.
Later that night, Stratus emerged from backstage to get a closer look at a match between Albert and Joey Abs of The Mean Street Posse. Abs may have thought he had an advantage with his Greenwich pals, Rodney and Pete Gas, at ringside. However, his bumbling buddies were distracted by Trish’s beauty, leaving Joey Abs to fall and Stratus with T & A, a team that would help propel her into instant Superstardom.