The SK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2001
– Greetings, children, as I’ll probably be on a plane for British Columbia for my vacation by the time you read this. In the meantime, I’ve got about two weeks left before the release of my book, Buzz on Professional Wrestling. It’s out on Feb. 1, apparently at a Barnes & Noble near YOU. If you’re in Canada, you’re hosed, but we’re used to that by now. For those curious, there is in fact an excerpt up at Slam!Wrestling. Please note, I did NOT do the timeline at the end of it, and in fact I have no idea where it came from.
– Live from New Orleans, LA.
– Your hosts are JIM BY GOD ROSS and JERRY THE BY GOD KING LAWLER.
– Earlier tonight on Heat, Lo Down beat Kaientai in a match to determine which of the four would enter the Royal Rumble.
– Opening match, WWF tag team titles: Edge & Christian v. The Dudley Boyz. Brawl to start. Dudleyz quickly take over on Christian. D-Von gets an elbow for two. Buh Buh’s elbowdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. D-Von takes a cheapshot from the outside and gets suplexed to play brother-in-peril. Edge neckbreaker gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK to slow things down. D-Von rams them into each other and rolls Edge up for two. Conchairto, but D-Von ducks it, and makes the hot tag to Buh Buh. Hotshot for Edge, full nelson drop for Christian. They hit the Wassup Drop on Edge, and D-Von GETS THE TABLE. Whoops, Christian is there to prevent it and they brawl as Buh Buh rolls up a distracted Edge for two. They try 3D on Christian, but Edge spears Buh Buh as Christian DDTs D-Von. Edge and Christian try their own version of the Wassup Drop, but Buh Buh rolls Christian onto the bottom and he takes the headbutt to the nads, leaving Edge alone with the Dudleyz for 3D, and we have NEW champions at 10:10. Well, they had to job the champs here, because if they won this match then it would have been the New Age Outlaws situation all over again, where the champs are SO dominant that only a super-team like Rockertaker can beat them. This match, though, was VERY good and got the crowd right fired up. ***1/2
– Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Jericho gets a clothesline and some wicked CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner to start. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho. Eh, that spot is played. Benoit posts him and hits a shoulderbreaker, and Jericho comes back with a forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit moves out of the way. They head for the ladder, but Benoit sends him headfirst to the post and grabs the ladder. Jericho goes to the stairs for good measure and Benoit sets up the ladder for the first try. Jericho stops him with an electric chair drop off the ladder. Before you even write me, an electric chair drop is where a guy is sitting on your shoulders in chicken-fight position, and you fall back, dropping the guy on his back. Jericho grabs the ladder and rams it into Benoit’s head, and then again to the abs. He sets the ladder onto the top turnbuckle, but Benoit whips him into it to return the favor. Jericho bails and Benoit chases with a tope suicida, but Jericho absolutely DESTROYS him with a chairshot in mid-air. Benoit is insane to do that spot. Jericho suplexes him on the railing and tries to ride the ladder down onto him, but Benoit moves and rams the ladder into Jericho’s face for fun. Back in, Benoit gets a lariat and retrieves the ladder. He rams Jericho into it, shoulderfirst in the corner, but a second try is reversed. Dropkick puts Benoit down, and Jericho crotches him in the ladder’s rungs in the corner. They both fall backwards, with the ladder on top of them. Jericho grabs it first, but Benoit dropkicks it on him and hits a backdrop suplex. He puts the ladder on the top, but Jericho whips him into it again, then see-saws the ladder into Benoit’s jaw. Jericho pushes the ladder at Benoit and missile dropkicks it into him, then climbs for the belt. Benoit suplexes him right out of the ring! Yeah, that’s some quality Alberta-grade hurting. Benoit climbs, but Jericho pushes him backwards so he’s balanced on the top on his lower back, and then applies the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder! Big reaction from the crowd for that one. Benoit kicks the ladder over with his last bit of energy and we have a double-KO spot. Jericho gets the ladder first and flattens Benoit, but Benoit yanks him off it and puts him in the Crossface on the way down to further damage the shoulder. Back to the post, but Jericho hotshots him onto the ladder. Jericho rams him into the corner with the ladder, and they both climb it. Jericho falls off, but Benoit misses the swandive headbutt from the top of the ladder. Jericho tries putting the ladder right ONTO Benoit to hold him down, but Benoit powers it off and pushes it over. He climbs, but Jericho gets a chair and goes to town, knocking Benoit silly, and then right out of the ring, leaving Jericho free to climb the ladder (bad shoulder and all) and claim his fourth Intercontinental title at 18:48. Nothing does my heart good like two Canadians pounding the shit out of each other with hardware. ****3/4 Would have been a bit higher with a faster pace and less of the slow-climb nonsense.
– WWF Women’s title: Ivory v. Chyna. Chyna goes all Ultimate Warrior to start, treating poor Ivory like a jobber and bumping her all over the place. She stomps a mudhole, then sends her over the top. Into the crowd, Chyna press-slams Ivory back to ringside and back in we go for a crappy-looking powerslam. Steven Richards comes in and is forced to sell for Joanie Hellwig, too. She goes for the HANDSPRING OF DOOM, but the bitter hand of irony strikes her down, as the shock of actually making physical contact on one of her moves causes a relapse of that miraculously healed neck injury, and Ivory gets the pin at 3:33. So the WWF is trying to tell me here that she can do three backflips with a bad neck, but brushing against Ivory causes a stinger? DUD They haul her ass out on the stretcher, with Ross doing his whole “Fans, this is a SHOOT, and a tragedy Ã¢â‚¬Â shtick just to cheapen the impact even more the next time a REAL injury occurs and then the muckity-mucks are forced to wonder why no one buys it. I’m shocked Chyna didn’t try to sell the EMTs a copy of her book on the way out. Hey, remember Droz? Apparently the WWF doesn’t. We were personally hoping for them to load her into the ambulance, only to see the Undertaker turning around to go “WHERE TO, JOANIE?Ã¢â‚¬Â in that menacing tone of his, but alas, it didn’t happen. Final note: I’d bring up the last time Jerry Lawler ran into the ring to check on the victim of a bad injury while Jim Ross got all choked up at ringside, but then I’d be forced to vomit all over my keyboard and point out what a socially diseased piece of garbage Vince McMahon really is under all the PR fluff for doing such an angle right after settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit and destroying an entire family in the process. And that would just break up the great groove this show is getting into.
– Just to catch y’all up on some stuff, there’s about a million backstage skits throughout the show, the point of which are to establish Drew Carey is at the show, and he hit on Trish Stratus at the urging of Stephanie, and Vince is thus pissed at him and “rewardsÃ¢â‚¬Â his loyalty to the WWF by offering him a slot in the Royal Rumble. Drew runs into Kane while changing and makes a wisecrack, and meanwhile Vince then informs Lo Down that Drew has their spot in the match. And Trish and Steph hate each other. A lot. I still think if the WWF really wants to hit the sleaze-merchant jackpot, they’ll have them start a torrid love affair with each other (I assume Trish would be the femme), but I guess the world isn’t ready for a lesbian angle yet. Speaking of lesbians, I was watching a crime-analysis show on TLC (normally the domain of Bill Kurtis on A&E) that was hosted by crime novelist Ed McBain, talking about the famous Lizzy Borden trial (and acquital). After bandying about several conspiracy theories about who REALLY killed the Borden family, McBain put forth his own theory: Lizzy in fact did it, because she was a raging homo inside and got caught in bed with the maid one day, thus prompting her father to write her out of the will and triggering Lizzy’s murderous rampage with a hatchet. I hear Jerry Springer wants to exhume the bodies of everyone involved and have them on an upcoming show: “My Lesbian Daughter is Sleeping With the Maid and Murdered Me With a Hatchet!Ã¢â‚¬Â So there you go, all caught up.
– WWF title match: Kurt Angle v. HHH. Wristlock sequence to start, and Angle gets a hiptoss. HHH bails. Back in, HHH pounds him down in the corner, but Angle backdrops him and goes back to the arm. Three suplexes get two. Brawl outside, which HHH gets the best of. Backin, HHH drop toeholds Angle into a Native American deathlock. This political correctness stuff is going too far. I hear Bill Maher got in trouble for comparing the mentally retarded to dogs. Now, I can see where certain pinko liberalists might get their panties in a knot over this comparison, and certainly I don’t think people should go start referring to them as dogs in an off-hand manner, but can anyone honestly tell me whose good is being served by standing up for the feelings of people who probably wouldn’t even be watching the show in the first place, and likely wouldn’t get the analogy if they heard it? And is there some scientific inaccuracy here? I mean, the truth hurts, but there are some VERY smart dogs out there on the average, and it’s not exactly an unfair analogy for Maher to state that, like a dog, the mentally retarded people he has known had limited intellect, but were loving and loyal. I mean, what, if he had compared them to a cuter animal it would have been okay? And where are these same tree-hugging morons to stand up for truth, justice and the American Way when someone lumps all the wrestling fans together as knuckle-dragging neanderthals on a national broadcast and laughs about it? Maybe the energy spent protecting us plebes from free thought would be better spent improving the conditions and treatment in the mental hospitals and institutions where most of those afflicted with mental retardation are sent to rot, hmm? Or is just easier to pretend that they have no problem and are happier with a child’s IQ and no hope for surviving past 50, as long as we call them “Mentally ChallengedÃ¢â‚¬Â or “Vince RussoÃ¢â‚¬Â or whatever the PC name is this week? Ah well, the world is going to hell, what can ya do? Oh yeah, the match. Hunter gets a legwhip, but Angle gives him an enzuigiri on a second try and gets two. HHH goes back to the knee as the announcers’ conversation veers to Andy Kaufman and how little money Man on the Moon made. HHH bails, but an attempt to post Angle from the outside backfires. Brawl outside, HHH meets the stairs. Back in, Angle misses a blind charge and gets posted, and HHH adds a chairshot to the knee for good measure. He drops Angle kneefirst on the stairs, then back for a clip. He pounds the knee, ala Ric Flair. I apologize in advance to any HHH advocates out there for comparing him to an aging, semi-retired ex-star currently wrestling in WCW. I further apologize in advance to any Flair advocates out there for comparing him to a gassed up, egomanical manipulator with a limited moveset and bad music. If, in the body of the previous two apologies I have offended either HHH or Flair advocates while apologizing to the opposite number, I apologize in advance also. Man, this political correctness stuff is complicated. Is there some kind of “Spirtual Enlightenment For DummiesÃ¢â‚¬Â book out there I can brush up on so I too can find my inner child, move to Florida and vote Democrat? I hear Chyna’s book is a good start. On second thought, I think I’d rather just poke my own eyes out. HHH goes into a weird deathlock variation, and Angle fights out, but walks into a facebuster. HHH slaps a figure-four on him and uses the ropes, but Trish gets involved and suddenly a HUGE catfight with Stephanie erupts, drawing about 100x more heat than the match. They’re impressively banging each other around outside the ring and seem to ready to move onto clawing each others’ eyes out, but Vince struts out to stop them. They continue fighting right around him, drawing a big pop from the crowd. Vince finally resorts to putting Trish over his shoulder and carrying her out, but Steph knocks them over and goes to town again, before everyone eventually makes it back to the dressing room. Everyone suddenly remembers the match ongoing, as Angle gets a small package for two. He shoves HHH to the post on a figure-four attempt, and they slug it out. DDT gets two. Atomic drop & german suplex get two. Russian legsweep sets up a trip to the top, which HHH prevents via a Razor’s Edge (!!!) for two. The conspiracist in me would go “HmmmmÃ¢â‚¬Â right about now. Pedigree attempt is blocked with a slingshot, which is in turn blocked by HHH, which in turn accidentally countered by Angle with a lowblow. Moonsault gets two for Angle. Hunter dumps him and the ref is bumped. Hunter posts Angle and goes to the top? Angle armdrags him off, no ref. Angle goes to help him up, but the poor sap gets bumped AGAIN. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle meets him with a belly-to-belly. HHH comes back with the Pedigree, no ref. Steve Austin runs in, tosses the ref back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER and Angle gets the pin to retain at 24:12. See, now that’s the finish that Austin-Angle from RAW should have had. Although a clean finish on a PPV is infinitely preferable, especially when Angle is turning into Honky Tonk Man 2000 with all the cheap wins and frequent non-title jobs. Overbooking stupidity and crowd apathy aside, this was much better worked than the Unforgiven match. ***3/4
– Royal Rumble: Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan is #2. Bull pounds Jeff, who comes back with a headscissors. Jeff escapes a press slam, but gets pounded in the corner. They to put each other out, as Matt Hardy is #3. They bounce Bull in short order. Matt and Jeff go at it, as Jeff hits a jawbreaker and tries to put him out. Faarooq is #4, and he misses the Dominator and takes the Twist of Fate/Swanton finisher and goes over the top quickly after. Matt then dumps Jeff, who sneaks back in under the ropes. They square off again as Drew Carey is #5, and hangs out around the ring for a couple of minutes. The Hardyz eliminate each other and Drew celebrates. Until Kane comes in at #6, at which point he craps himself. He tries a bribe, then resorts to cowering until Raven comes at #7, allowing Drew the chance to graciously eliminate himself and get the hell out. Kane kills Raven, so he bails and starts tossing weapons into the ring in desperation. Al Snow is #8, as he nails Kane with the bowling ball and hits the SEVEN-TEN SPLIT OF DEATH on Raven. Raven & Snow put aside their differences to pound on Kane with trashcans, and ram him headfirst into one. Perry Saturn is #9, as he joins in and makes it 3-on-1. Kane fights them off, but a Raven sleeper puts him down. Steve Blackman is #10, and he blows the entire plan by attacking the other guys and allowing everyone to pair off. Grandmaster Sexay is #11, and he gets some shots in before Kane whacks him so hard with a trashcan that he flies right over the top. Kane then dumps Snow, Raven, Blackman and Saturn for good measure, ending the hardcore segment and leaving him alone. Honky Tonk Man is #12, and he stops to thank the crowd and sing his song. Kane of course destroys him and tosses him out. Funny stuff. Rock is #13. He lays the smack down, but can’t toss Kane. Kane pounds him and hits the big boot. Goodfather is #14 or, I mean, he WAS #14, leaving in about that many seconds via the Rock. Kane suplexes Rock and chokes him out, then hits a sideslam. Tazz is #15, and lasts even less than Goodfather. Kane continues beating on Rock. Bradshaw is #16. He’s more than happy to go after Kane, Rock and anyone else. Rock hits a spinebuster, then Kane lariats him. Albert is #17, as everyone pairs off and plays “You lay on the top rope and I’ll try to push you outÃ¢â‚¬Â for a bit. Hardcore Holly is #18, and takes the brunt of the punishment. Rock dumps Kane, but can’t get him off the apron. K-Kwik is #19 and looks lost. Match slows down a LOT here as the ring is filling up with too much deadwood. Val Venis is #20 and adds nothing. William Regal is #21, match still drags. Test is #22 and he tosses Regal, but there’s about 10 guys in there and nothing’s going on. Big Show makes his return at #23, which must indicate how many boxes of Ho-Hos he ate that morning, because he’s still pretty goddamned fat and slow. Remind me not to look up OVW for any weight-training solutions. He disposes of Test and K-Kwik, then hands out chokeslams like candy. Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane! Rock no wait, Rock in fact blocks it and dumps Big Show. Crash Holly is #24, as Big Show drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Oh, GOODIE, another Big Show-Rock feud. Maybe we can get another four-way at Wrestlemania, with Austin taking Mick Foley’s place. Wouldn’t that be KEEN? Everyone suddenly gets smart and goes after Kane, to no avail. Undertaker is #25, and thank god because maybe he’ll thin out all the extra bodies. Bradshaw, Albert, Crash, Hardcore and Venis all exit stage left, leaving the Brothers Grim alone to compare hair-care notes. Scotty 2 Hotty has the misfortune of being #26, and he dies without putting up much of a fuss. The crowd, possibly expecting him to make a big comeback and hit a double-Worm on both guys, seems more bummed than usual to see him tossed. Rock struggles back in as Steve Austin is #27, and right on cue HHH runs out and beats the bejesus out of him. Billy Gunn is #28, and he holds off UT & Kane as the refs drag Hunter away from Austin. UT gets a DDT on Rock, and THE MONSTERMENG (re-dubbed Haku) is #29. You know, it’s so funny and darkly ironic when WCW spends tons of money smugly stealing all of Paul Heyman’s uncontracted talent, only to put a singles title on a guy with a day-to-day working deal and then expect the WWF NOT to make him a solid offer to jump ship at the earliest possible opportunity. Strike One on Uncle Eric right off the bat. Not a good sign. Anyhoo, he blitzes UT and Kane, but gets double-teamed, and everyone pairs off. Rikishi is #30, and we’re one sibling away from an Islanders reunion, and two away from a Headshrinker reunion. Throw Barbarian in there, and you’ve reunited the Headshinkers 2.0 AND the Faces of Fear at the same time. Spooky, huh? Rikishi stops to brawl with a bloodied Austin, and this awakes the giant. Austin enters the match and beats the hell out of Billy Gunn, then dumps Haku. Rock goes out, under the ropes, and back in again. Rikishi superkicks Undertaker out, nonchalantly. He tries the same approach with Rock on a banzai drop, but gets dumped over and out for his troubles.
– Final Four: Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Billy Gunn. Gee, I wonder who goes first here? Austin disposes of Rockabilly soon enough, leaving Kane to take a breather and THE MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE! So I guess Kane is Akeem and Undertaker is Big Bossman? But who’s Elizabeth? Slugfest and the crowd is torn. Rock Bottom is blocked, KICK WHAM STUNNER. Kane goes after Austin, but gets Thesz-pressed. Austin walks into a Rock Bottom, and Rock tosses Kane THROUGH the ropes, so no go. Austin and Rock pound each other, but Kane sneaks up to dump both, only getting Rock out in the process (!!!). Man, there goes my sure-fire pick. Chokeslam for Austin and Kane gets a chair, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER again, and a bunch of chairshots send Kane to the floor at 61:38 after an admirable 55-minute performance, and Steve Austin will be YOUR challenger for the WWF title at Wrestlemania 17. Good Rumble, with a bunch of very noticeable slow spots. ***1/2
The Bottom Line: Everyone in the entire world save the WWF seems to know that Austin turning heel, winning the title, and losing it to Rock at WM is the way to sell out the building and make billions on the PPV, but they seem to going about it in the opposite direction, building to another Rocky job to Austin. I would personally question Austin as a long-term babyface given his health issues, but if they have confidence in the guy, that’s good enough for me.
At any rate, booking qualms aside, this was an AWESOME PPV, the best they’ve done since Summerslam 2000. We’ll ignore the Women’s title debacle and point out the sheer awesomeness of all the other matches, and I heartily recommend ordering the replay and watching Benoit and Jericho do inhumane things to each other with a ladder. Good effort all around here.
Thumbs way up.