Reliant Astrodome – Houston, TX – Sunday, April 1, 2001
Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Intercontinental Title Match – Chris Jericho vs. William Regal
Jericho has been the Champion since 1.21.01, and this is his eleventh defense. They start off hot and heavy and that’s a pace that favors the Champion. Jericho hits a leg lariat that sends Regal to the floor, and he follows him out with a house show dive. Back in the ring Jericho hits a reverse elbow from the top rope for two. They take it down to the mat and Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho. Regal blocks it, and you can already see his chest reddening from the few chops Jericho gave him. Perhaps that’s Regal’s motivation, as he hurls Jericho shoulder-first into the ring post, twice. Regal works Jericho over for a bit, and when Jericho fights back and tries the Lionsault Regal gets his knees up. The challenger continues with the assault, wearing the Champion down. Regal removes one of the turnbuckle pads and throws Jericho’s shoulder into it twice. Jericho fights back with an enziguiri and then another one. He goes to the second rope and hits a dropkick for two. They battle to the top rope and Regal hits a Butterfly Superplex for a two-count. Jericho comes back and tries the Walls of Jericho again, but Regal counters it into the Regal Stretch! Luckily Jericho reaches the ropes. Back on their feet Jericho tenaciously attacks Regal with chops but gets cut off with a kick to the shoulder. Jericho reverses a whip and sends Regal into the exposed turnbuckle. He hits the bulldog and a vertical suplex. Jericho follows with the Lionsault to get the pin at 7:08. I thought that would have been longer, but it was good while it lasted. They kept up a brisk pace and got the crowd into it, setting a proper tone for the rest of the show.
MATCH #2: Six Man Tag Team Match – The APA & Tazz vs. Bull Buchanan, The Goodfather & Val Venis
Steven Richards of course accompanies the RTC, while Jacqueline is with the APA and Tazz. RTC runs into the aisle to attack but Tazz, Bradshaw, and Faarooq are ready for them. Richards tries to interfere before the bell even rings and Jacqueline hits him with a DDT! Buchanan and Faarooq start the match proper, and they trade control. The RTC isolates on Tazz for a bit and work him over in their half of the ring. After a brief time Tazz makes the hot tag. Bradshaw is in and he’s a house afire. The referee loses control and it turns into a big brawl. Bradshaw hits Venis with a belly-to-back superplex. The ring clears out and Goodfather is left with Bradshaw. Goodfather tries the former Ho Train but Bradshaw moves and hits the Clothesline from Hell for the pin at 3:54. That was fine for the time they got.
MATCH #3: Hardcore Title Match – Raven vs. Big Show vs. Kane
Raven has been the Champion since 3.19.01, and this is his second defense. It’s hilarious to hear JR say about Kane that “this young man may be the future.” Raven attacks Kane before Show even makes his entrance. Show makes his way out and starts using his size and power advantage right away. The fight quickly spills into the crowd and all the way to the backstage area. Kane throws Raven into a wall, creating a hole. Show comes in and slams Kane on some wooden pallets. A variety of weapons are used as they continue making their way through the backstage area. Kane chokes Raven with a garden hose and then throws him through a window! Show and Kane take it to each other and crash through a wall. Raven reappears and realizes what a bad idea it is to get in between Kane and Show, so he tries driving away on a golf cart. He doesn’t get very far. Kane commandeers his own golf cart and runs Raven down with it. Finally, they make their way back out by the entrance ramp. Show picks Raven up in a press slam and Kane boots Show in the face to knock them both off the stage and through a piece of the set! Kane then follows them down with a huge elbow drop on Show to get the pin at 9:19. That was quite ridiculous, but it was also a great deal of a fun and I love variety at WrestleMania. This match was a pretty good summation of the Hardcore Title as a whole.
MATCH #4: European Title Match – Test vs. Eddie Guerrero
Test has been the Champion since 1.22.01, and this is his ninth defense. Guerrero is accompanied by Perry Saturn. Eddie tries a sneak attack to start but Test is ready for him. Test uses his strength advantage and hits the falling powerbomb for a near-fall. Eddie wisely rolls to the floor, but Test follows him. The brawl continues back in the ring and Test continues to throw Eddie around, hitting a huge Snake Eyes and a hard clothesline for two. Eddie fights back and tries a top rope rana but Test blocks it and then flies down with a reverse elbow for a near-fall. Test charges with a big boot and Eddie ducks, causing Test to get tied up in the top rope. He legitimately gets stuck, and the match comes to a standstill as Eddie and the referee work together to free the poor European Champion. Eddie wisely attacks the injured leg, wearing Test down. He locks on a sleeper and Test is fading. Test fires up and hits a tilt-a-whirl slam. He follows with a spinning tilt-a-whirl powerbomb for a close near-fall. Eddie hits an undetected low blow, and then he distracts the referee so Saturn can sneak in and hit the Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Gradunza. That only gets two. Eddie hits a brainbuster and goes up top. He misses the Frog Splash and Test connects with a big boot and the Pumphandle Slam. Saturn distracts Test so he can’t cover right away, and Eddie kicks out at two. Saturn tries to interfere again but Test kicks him in the face, and then delivers a huge boot to Eddie’s face. Test covers but Dean Malenko runs out and pulls him off. An angry Test pulls Malenko up on the apron, and as the referee tries to break them up Eddie grabs the European Title belt and clocks Test with it to get the pin at 8:06. That was a solid match, with Eddie cheating at a high level, and Test looking good in losing by having to fight off three men. Probably one of Test’s better matches.
MATCH #5: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
They immediately start with mat wrestling, and Angle gets frustrated when Benoit keeps up with him. The crowd appreciates both men’s efforts, which is cool of them. Benoit goes for the Crossface early and Angle avoids it, but Angle is clearly frustrated. Angle does not like the thought of anyone being on his level when it comes to mat wrestling. He takes a powder to collect his thoughts. Back in the ring Angle takes a cheap shot and then dump Benoit to the floor. Angle follows him out and throws him into various pieces of furniture around ringside. Back in the ring Angle starts dissecting his opponent. Angle unleashes the first belly-to-belly suplex and gloats about it. He hits another one and is now in the driver’s seat. Just as I type that Benoit fires off a clothesline and both men are down. Back to their feet Benoit absorbs some of Angle’s attacks and goes to work on him. Benoit takes Angle to the top rope to hit a beautiful superplex for a two-count. And now it’s time for the rolling German Suplexes, which Angle counters into the Ankle Lock. Benoit reaches the ropes, and then counters into his own Ankle Lock! Angle kicks his way out of it. They continue to trade finishers, this time exchanging versions of the Crippler Crossface. Benoit reaches the ropes. The referee accidentally gets bumped, and thus does not see Angle tapping out to the Crossface! Benoit tries to revive the referee, and Angle grabs him in the Angle Slam for a two-count. Angle slams Benoit down and goes for the moonsault but Benoit gets his knees up. Benoit goes up top and nails the diving headbutt for a near-fall. He tries to follow up with a German Suplex, but Angle hits an undetected low blow. Angle cradles Benoit with a handful of tights to score the cheap pin at 14:02. That was awesome stuff, great back and forth from two of the greatest mat wrestlers the WWE has ever seen. I like the cheap finish because this was not at all a main event match and the feud was to continue, so it works. This was great stuff.
MATCH #6: Women’s Championship Match – Ivory vs. Chyna
Ivory has been the Champion since 11.2.00, and this is her thirteenth defense. Chyna looks confident, but the Champion strikes first with a belt shot before the bell. Ivory takes it to Chyna, trying to keep her off her feet. It doesn’t last long though, as Chyna catches a boot and begins dominating. Chyna throws Ivory around a bit and then flattens her with a powerbomb. She follows with an Ultimate Warrior press slam to get the pin and win the Women’s Title for the first time at 2:39. Not a good match or anything, but it made sense in the context of the feud. Plus, it was short so overall, I’d call it a win.
MATCH #7: Street Fight – Shane McMahon vs. Mr. McMahon
Mick Foley is the special guest referee here. Vince has Stephanie accompanying him to the ring. They trash talk each other and Vince slaps his own son and takes him down with some awful looking punches. Shane fights back and takes his dad down with a spear. Stephanie gets in the ring to plead with her brother to stop, and she slaps him! She wisely runs and then the battle spills to the floor. Shane abuses his old man with one of the “keep off” signs and then throws him into the steps. He continues beating Vince up, even using a kendo stick. Shane has been dominant thus far. He takes apart the Spanish Announce Table and cracks Vince with a monitor. Shane goes up top for the big elbow, but Stephanie pulls Vince out of the way and Shane crashes through the table. Now Trish Stratus brings the catatonic Linda out in her wheelchair. Trish goes over to help Vince but then slaps him in the face! Stephanie objects and we have a cat fight on our hands! Foley breaks it up and receives a slap to the face for his troubles. Trish chases Stephanie up the ramp and to the back. Vince recovers and notices his wife at ringside and calls her a “bitch.” Foley stops him from going after her. He tries to move Linda away from the action but Vince cracks him with a steel chair! Vince puts Linda in the ring and sets her on a chair so she can watch what he does to their son. He throws a series of garbage cans into the ring and hits Shane in the head with one of them. Vince continues to abuse Shane with a garbage can, and when he turns his back Linda gets up from her chair! That’s the biggest pop she’ll ever get. Linda kicks Vince in the nuts and Foley makes his way back in to unleash the fury on the Chairman. Shane is up and he sets a can against Vince in the corner. He goes to the opposite corner and hits the coast-to-coast dropkick! That’s enough for Shane to get the pin at 14:13. That’s the perfect example of using multiple people who were not active or full-time wrestler to tell a compelling and thoroughly entertaining story with tons of bells and whistles. The crowd heat was off the charts, and you know when a stadium full of people are popping for Linda you’ve done something extraordinarily right. This is ridiculously fun and probably Vince’s best match.
MATCH #8: TLC Match for the World Tag Team Titles – The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz
Bubba Ray and D-Von have been the Champions since 3.19.01, and this is their first defense. I expect it to be very difficult to keep up with all the action here. Matt and Jeff take the early advantage, but it takes less than a minute for Edge and Christian to bring in the first ladder and the first chair and use them as weapons. The Dudleyz pull Christian to the floor and beat on him, leaving Edge alone with the Hardyz. Christian makes his way back in, and the Hardys take him down and deliver a simultaneous legdrop / splash from atop two different ladders. The Dudleyz come back in and hit Edge with the Wazzup. Bubba and D-Von set up some tables and lay Edge across one of them. The Hardyz get in th ering nad Bubba catches Jeff in a powerbomb, right on top of Edge and through the table! Outside the ring the Dudleyz set up a 2×2 stack of tables, which I’m sure will come into play later. Meanwhile, three ladders get set up in the ring and all six men clumb up. The crowd is loving it. Matt and Christian get shoved off first, then D-Von and Jeff, and finally Bubba and Edge. All six men are down and hurting. Edge is up first, and he sets up a ladder to climb, but Spike Dudley runs out and hits him with a Dudley Dog! Spike then hits Christian with another Dudley Dog, this one through a table at ringside! Now Rhyno comes running out and he starts demolishing everything in sight, hitting a GORE through a table on Matt. Finally, Lita comes out to assist the Hardyz, effectively making this a nine-person tag match. Lita hits Rhyno with a Litacanrana, and then the Dudleyz hit him with the Dudleyville Device. Lita comes in and drills Spike with a chair shot to the head. She pays for it when the Dudleyz hit her with a 3D. Outside the ring Jeff sets Spike and Rhyno on a table and climbs up a very tall ladder. Jeff takes them out with a Swanton Bomb! In the ring multiple ladders are set up, and Christian and D-Von climb the tallest one and try to bring down the belts. Matt pulls the ladder out from under them, leaving them hanging. They both fall, and then Jeff tries to climb over the top of the ladders to reach the belts but that’s even more difficult than it sounds. Jeff ends up hanging from the belts, and Edge climbs up a ladder and takes Jeff down with a Spear! That’s an iconic image for sure, and an amazing spot. Matt and Bubba climb the ladder and Rhyno pushes the ladder over, sending them crashing through the 2×2 table stack. Christian and D-Von climb the ladder now, and Rhyno puts Christian on his shoulders to give him a boost while Edge holds Rhyno back and Edge & Christian regain the titles at 15:40! Just when you think they couldn’t top themselves, the addition of Spike, Lita, and Rhyno did just that. This is the perfect culmination of the three-way feud between these teams and the greatest TLC match of all-time. They built up to the spots logically and all the big moments hit and looked awesome. This is one of the best matches of the decade.
MATCH #9: Gimmick Battle Royal
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and “Mean” Gene Okerlund are handling the commentary for this 19-man battle royal. We’ve got The Bushwhackers, Luke and Butch, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink The Clown, Kamala and Kimchee with Harvey Wippleman, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Freebird Michael Hayes, One Man Gang, The Gobbly Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and Sgt. Slaughter. This should be a lot of fun. Hayes eliminates Repo Man, and Tugboat tosses the Gooker, Earthquake dumps Tugboat, and then Kamala gets rid of Earthquake. Kamala eliminates his handler Kimchee. Cornette eliminates Luke, and Hillbilly dumps Cornette. Doink clotheslines Droese out. Butch eliminates the Goon, Slaughter dumps Volkoff, and Doink tosses Butch. Kamala gets rid of Doink, Gang eliminates Hayes, and Kamala tosses the Gang. Slaughter eliminates Kamala and then Love. Hillbilly Jim eliminates Slaughter, and then the Sheik dumps Hillbilly out to get the win at 3:05. This match kind of defies the rating system because that’s not what it was about. I have an obsessive need to rate everything, but regardless of the star rating, this was tons of fun and a great addition to the card.
MATCH #10: Undertaker vs. Triple H
The fight begins on the floor and both men are tearing into each other. They make it to the ring to start the match proper. Right hands aplenty are flying from both men. HHH hits the Harley Race high knee and Undertaker gets right up. Undertaker hits a back body drop and a powerslam. He misses an elbow drop. HHH fires off some right hands but Undertaker cuts him off with the flying clothesline. Undertaker goes for Old School but HHH throws him down to the canvas. HHH hits a neckbreaker for two. He takes control now, keeping Undertaker down. HHH hits the Face-buster and then goes outside for his sledgehammer. The referee stops him from using it. HHH goes for the Pedigree but Undertaker sweeps the legs and catapults the Game right into the referee. Undertaker hits a Chokeslam but only gets two. The referee recovered rather quickly. Undertaker is mad though, so he kicks the referee and then drops an elbow on him. They take the fight to the floor and Undertaker backdrops HHH into the crowd. They fight through the crowd and into an eagle’s nest type area with lots of tech equipment. HHH hits Undertaker with a chair repeatedly. Undertaker recovers and grabs HHH by the throat and Chokeslams him off the eagle’s nest. He follows the Game down with an elbow drop. They fight back through the crowd and make it back to the ring. Undertaker finds the sledgehammer. He tries to hit HHH with it but HHH kicks him in the nuts. HHH tries to use the hammer now but Undertaker delivers a big boot. They trade right hands now. HHH tries the Tombstone but Undertaker reverses to one of his own but there’s no referee to count. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride but HHH had picked up the sledgehammer, and he drills Undertaker with it! The referee has recovered to make the count, but Undertaker kicks out! Undertaker is busted open. HHH delivers mounted punches in the corner but Undertaker counters to the Last Ride to get the pin at 18:19. That match gets a lot of love, but I’m not enamored with it. It is enjoyable and the crowd heat is good, but the spend a lot of time outside the ring and that wasn’t all that thrilling. The final minutes were great though, and while I hate that finish now it wasn’t nearly as overused in 2001 so it totally works.
MATCH #11: No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship – The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Rock has been the Champion since 2.25.01, and this is his third defense. Austin attacks Rock right away. Rock doesn’t back down, so Austin hits a Thesz Press and the crowd is white-hot. Both men try their finishers within the first two minutes, and then the battle spills to the floor. Austin takes advantage and back in the ring he nails a superplex and removes the turnbuckle padding. Rock soon recovers and they go back to the floor. The crowd remains hot. Austin hits Rock with the ring bell, and he’s busted open. Every time the Rock is on offense the crowd boos, and Austin gets super cheered for everything he does. Rock runs Austin into the exposed turnbuckle and goes to the floor and grabs the ring bell. He nails Austin with the ring bell but still can’t get the three. He stays in control though, and hammers Austin down several times. Back outside the ring Austin slingshots Rock into the ring post and then hits him with a monitor. Inside the ring Austin tries the Stunner but Rock blocks it and puts on the Sharpshooter. Austin breaks out and puts on a Sharpshooter of his own. Austin puts on the Million Dollar Dream but Rock Bret Hart’s his way out of the move for a near fall. Rock actually hits the first Stunner of the match, but it only gets two. That draws Vince McMahon out to the ring, and the crowd heartily boos. Rock hits the People’s Elbow and McMahon comes in the ring and pulls Rock away. An angry Rock begins chasing McMahon, who has some wheels for a guy his age. Back in the ring Rock runs into a Rock Bottom from Austin and that gets two. Austin tries the Stunner, but Rock pushes off and the referee goes down. He hits Rock with a low blow and then tells McMahon to give him a chair. Boy is this heel turn not really getting over how they must have wanted it to. Austin holds Rock for a McMahon chair shot and McMahon wakes the referee up but Rock kicks out at two. Then Austin goes for another chair shot but Rock scores with a Rock Bottom. Rock pulls Vince into the ring for a beating. That gives Austin a chance to hit the Atomic Stunner for a very near fall and the crowd is going ballistic. Austin levels Rock with the steel chair but it still only gets two. The challenger gets frustrated and delivers repeated chair shots all over Rock’s body and that finally is enough for the pin and Austin’s fifth WWE Title at 28:08. The heel turn didn’t really go over that well with the live TEXAS crowd, so the finish felt a bit awkward. Other than that, this is an amazing match almost as good as the one Austin had with Triple H just over a month prior. The pace is insane, the crowd heat is off the charts, and everything they did just worked. These two had such great chemistry and were obviously the two biggest stars of a huge era for WWE, so it really doesn’t get any bigger than this.
This show is still an all-timer, with an amazing main event, the greatest TLC Match ever, and an undercard full of variety and terrific performances. This may be the best wrestling pay-per-view event ever.
Tags: Steve Austin, The Rock, undertaker, wrestlemania, WWE