September 21, 2008
Royal Rumble 2001, January 21, 2001, New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
So, the main event announced for No Mercy is a Ladder Match between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. Shawn’s Ladder Match history is well documented, but what about Jericho’s? That brings us to this show, not only the first WWF PPV of the 21st century, but also a show that featured Jericho showing what he can do in that type of setting.
Opening Match, WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz
Storyline here is that the Dudleyz are coming in with concussions due to both of them taking a Conchairto at the hands of the champions. They attack Edge and Christian right off the bat. The champs bail, but the Dudz chase and continue the beating in the aisle. In the ring now, D-Von and Edge start off with D-Von getting a neckbreaker for 2. Edge punches him and tags Christian, who walks right into a hiptoss. Irish whip and elbow get 2 for D-Von, who then tags Bubba and they hit a double shoulderblock. Bubba then drops an elbow for 2. Flapjack hits, and Bubba starts selling the pre-existing head injury, but only for a moment. Corner whip, but Christian gets the legs up and hits a flying headscissors, which Bubba then no sells, and then he comes back with a sidewalk slam for 2. Tag to D-Von. Christian knees him and tags Edge. Edge is quickly powerslammed for 2, and then an Irish whip is reversed, and Christian gets a cheapshot from the apron to give the champs control. They make a few tags (and illegal switches) while controlling D-Von in the corner. Neckbreaker gets a 2 count for Edge as Bubba has to save. More working over D-Von in the corner with quick tags. Edge tries a piledriver, with Christian climbing up to the top, but D-Von scoops the legs and slingshots Edge right in to Christian. D-Von gets a rollup for 2 on Edge, followed by them clotheslining each other. He crawls for the tag, and makes it, but Christian is able to grab the ref’s attention so that he doesn’t see it. Ref puts Bubba back out, so Edge and Christian grab chairs and go for the Conchairto, but D-Von ducks and nails both of them with clotheslines. Now he gets the hot tag, and Bubba is the house afire. Backdrop for Christian, stungun for Edge, Bubba Bomb for Christian, and a slam on Edge. D-Von is up top now, and the Whazzup Drop hits on Edge. “D-Von……Get The Tables.” Christian is able to cut D-Von off however, and they brawl outside. Edge grabs a belt and tries to use it on Bubba, but Bubba ducks and gets a rollup for 2. Christian is back in, and he tries the Unprettier on Bubba, but D-Von saves and they set up 3D. Edge spears Bubba to stop that and gets 2. Now Edge and Christian try a Whazzup drop of their own, but D-Von knocks Edge off the top, and Bubba takes advantage to roll up Christian for 2. Next, the Dudleyz hit 3D on Edge, and that’s enough to get the pin and win the Titles at 10:00 on the nose. This was a really good match with no real slow spots, and everything connecting well. Edge & Christian, although they weren’t together for very long, were a great team and I think deserve more consideration than they usually get in “Best Tag Team Ever” conversations. ***
WWF Intercontinental Championship, Ladder Match: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
So here’s the main reason I’m doing this show here this week. The pre-match video consists of only clips from their previous matches. That’s my only real beef with this feud; there was no real issue. They just kept wrestling, and swapping the belt, coming up on close to a year now. Sure the matches were generally great, but it shows a lack of imagination. At this point, to shake things up, due to exhausting the list of reasons to have a regular match, they have a Ladder Match. No real reason to have one, storyline wise anyways, but what the hell, should be awesome, right? They start out brawling, trading moves and counters, including attempts at finishers to establish the parity. Benoit runs him to the post shoulder first to indicate that will be his body part of choice tonight. Shoulderbreaker hits, but on a second try, Jericho slips out and gets the flying forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit ducks and Jericho goes out to the floor. Benoit goes for the ladder, but Jericho recovers to cut him off. Benoit sends him to the post and gets the ladder on the apron. Jericho is back to try a baseball slide, but Benoit eludes it and is now able to run Jericho to the stairs. Benoit gets the ladder in the ring, but Jericho stops the climb with an electric chair drop. Corner clothesline hits and then he nails Benoit with the ladder a couple of times. Ladder is set in the corner, but the whip is reversed and Jericho hits it instead and goes over to the floor. Sickest spot of the match sees Benoit try a dive, but Jericho nails him in the head with a chair as he’s flying, and Benoit falls flat on his face on the floor. Jericho drops him on the barrier and tries to ride the ladder down on to him, but Benoit moves and Jericho crashes to the floor again. Benoit nails him with the ladder, and then with a chair. Back in the ring now, the ladder is set up in the corner again, and Benoit just javelins Jericho into it. He tries it again, but this time Jericho slips off and runs Benoit to the ladder. Now, Jericho puts one of Benoit’s legs through the rungs, and kind of suplexes him while he’s hooked in the ladder. Now that’s pretty cool. Jericho grabs the ladder again, but now Benoit dropkicks it. Back suplex hits and the ladder is in the corner again where Jericho is whipped into it, but he reverses and Benoit hits it face first. Jericho then teeter-totters the ladder right into Benoit’s face again, followed by dropkicking it in to him. Now Jericho climbs, but Benoit stops him by suplexing him right out over the top. Benoit’s turn to climb, but Jericho comes back and manages to hook the Walls, while they’re on to of the ladder. He holds that for a moment before trying for the belt, but Benoit is right there and just has to tip the ladder over to stop him. Jericho recovers first and nails him with the ladder to set up another climb attempt. Benoit is there though, so Jericho kicks him away and the jumps at him, but ends up hooked in the Crossface. Jericho is tapping, but that doesn’t mean anything tonight. Eventually Benoit lets go and throws Jericho to the post again. Ladder gets set up in the corner, and they both climb. Jericho tries a superplex, but gets shoved off. Benoit’s headbutt from the top of the ladder misses, so Jericho goes for the belt with Benoit pinned underneath the ladder, but that just makes it easy to tip over once Jericho makes it up there. Benoit tries climbing now, but Jericho brings a chair and nails him. He then tips the ladder over and sends Benoit out to the outside. That gives Jericho enough time now to climb, grab the belt, and become new Intercontinental Champion at 18:44. Awesome match, with several really cool spots. The only real complaint I have is that the finish felt a bit flat. Going by crowd reactions, I can tell that most people there didn’t believe it was the finish. But the rest was definitely great. ****1/2
WWF Women’s Championship Match: Ivory (w/Steven Richards) vs. Chyna
Chyna suffered a neck injury at the hands of the RTC a few months earlier, and her career looked to be over. Ivory began mocking her, and throwing out grandstand challenges, one of which Chyna finally returned to accept, so the result is this match here tonight. She comes in with two big clotheslines, and basically just throws Ivory around at will. She knocks Ivory to the floor, where Ivory tries to run into the crowd, but Chyna catches her and brings her back with a press slam. In the ring, she hits a body slam, and even takes some time to beat up Richards. She sets Ivory in the corner and goes for the handspring elbow, but when she hits it, she just collapses. Ivory gets an arm over her to get 3 and retain the title at 3:33. DUD The result of the match is immediately downplayed as they sell the angle as though Chyna has been paralyzed. She gets stretchered out and taken away in an ambulance. I recall that at the time, this actually got a lot of criticism, from people who drew comparisons to the Owen Hart tragedy, saying that it basically looked like they were handling a worked injury in the same manner they handled that very real situation, and that made it come across as really tasteless.
WWF Championship Match: Kurt Angle (w/Trish Stratus) vs. HHH (w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley)
Both guys are a heel, which usually makes for an awkward match, but let’s see what we get here. Trish is with Angle because of her feud with Stephanie which came about because she was having an affair with Vince while Linda was being kept in a “sedated state”, but Steph was still on Vince’s side as well, and the whole thing was kinda confusing. I can’t remember exactly why HHH was challenging here and the pre match video only really focused on the women’s issues, so we’ll just guess that he weaseled his way into a number one contenders match, and then won it to save myself the trouble of looking it up. HHH grabs a wristlock to start off which Angle counters with a fireman’s carry takedown. HHH gets up and grabs a side headlock. Angle fires him off, but HHH comes back with a shoulderblock. Off again, this time Angle gets a hiptoss, and then he clotheslines HHH outside. Crowd chants “Angle Sucks”. HHH is back in to send Angle to the buckle. Corner whip is reversed, and leads to Angle getting a backdrop. He starts going to work on HHH’s leg, but then goes back to a wristlock. HHH knees his way out, and tries a back suplex, but Angle flips out and nails three vertical suplexes for 2. HHH rolls outside, and Angle chases, but gets caught and sent to the barrier a couple of times, then rammed to the stairs. In the ring, Angle tries to fight back, as he’s actually playing the subtle babyface role for this match, but HHH gets a drop toehold and grapevines the leg. He keeps working the leg with stomps and a leg whip takedown, but when he tries the takedown a second time, Angle comes back with an ensiguiri for 2. HHH still manages to keep control, and gets right back on the leg. Corner whip is reversed, and HHH takes his usual flip over the top and out to the floor. Form there however, he is able to grab Angle’s leg and tries to wrap it around the post, but Angle pulls HHH forward into the post. Angle then joins him outside and whips him to the stairs, followed by ramming him to the apron. Back in, Angle tries a corner charge, but misses, and now HHH is able to get that leg around the post. Stephanie then ties up the ref, which allows HHH to use a chair on the leg. Back in, he gets a couple of chop blocks on Angle’s leg which gives JR the chance to bring up the XFL. While we’re on that, people love to mock that league, and yes it did have some stupid rules, but was it really that bad? I at least thought that it was respectable in a minor league sort of way. Back to the match, where HHH, you guessed it, is still working that leg over. He goes to an Indian deathlock, until Angle fights out and sends HHH off the ropes, but puts his head down and takes a facebuster, which gets two 2 counts for HHH. Now he goes to a figure four, although there’s no “Whoooo” from the crowd, and the name Ric Flair is never mentioned like there would be today. HHH starts using the ropes, so Trish comes over and tries to help Angle out, and that draws Stephanie over, so now the actual match comes to a screeching halt and we move on to the catfight portion. They just go at each other relentlessly until Vince makes his way out to break it up. He actually tries carrying Trish out of there, but Stephanie attacks again and knocks them over. They gradually make their way up the aisle trying to get at each other with Vince stuck in the middle. Back to the match now, as HHH looks to reapply the figure four, only to get caught in an inside cradle for 2. HHH gets a clothesline and goes again to the leg. Angle kicks off another figure four try and a slugfest breaks out. HHH wins it, but when he comes off the ropes, he gets caught with a DDT for 2. Angle hits an inverted atomic drop, followed by a German suplex for 2. He then gets a Russian legsweep and looks to go up, but HHH catches him with a low blow. HHH then turns around and drops him with a Razor’s Edge (actually called that by JR). That gets three separate 2 counts. He tries the Pedigree, but Angle scoops the legs. HHH kicks him off back to the corner, and then they do the “inadvertent headbutt to the groin” spot. Angle goes up, successfully this time, and nails a moonsault for 2. Angle sells it long enough for HHH to recover and toss him. The ref goes to the floor to check on Angle, and when HHH tries a shot off the apron, Angle moves and the ref gets KO’d. Big brawl outside with HHH sending Angle to the post. In the ring now, HHH looks to go up, but Angle armdrags him off and goes for the cover, but there’s no ref. Angle goes to check on him, but HHH attacks, and Angle gets thrown into the poor ref, knocking him out again. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle boots him to stop that and hits a belly to belly suplex. Now Angle grabs the belt, but HHH kicks him and nails the Pedigree. Still no ref. Now, Steve Austin runs in and attacks HHH. They were still feuding based on the revelation that HHH had masterminded the plan to run Austin over at Survivor Series 99. HHH had also cost Austin the WWF Title in a match a few weeks ago on Raw. Austin nails HHH with the belt, revives the ref, and then gets back in and gives HHH a Stunner for good measure. Angle crawls over for the cover and the dazed ref counts a slow 3 allowing Angle to retain the title at 24:17. Hurt a little bit by the interruption in the middle for the catfight, but it was still really good. ***1/2
2001 Royal Rumble Match
What you need to know: Austin, Rock, Undertaker, Kane, and Rikishi are being pushed as the potential winners, although the smart money at the time was all on Austin. Undertaker and Kane might be in cahoots, for the millionth time. Drew Carey, who was here to promote a PPV comedy special that he was participating in, has been entered into the Rumble as a result of a confrontation with Vince McMahon during a backstage skit earlier tonight. And, we’ve been promised a couple of other surprises as well.
Jeff Hardy is #1 and Bull Buchannon is #2. They trade moves back and forth and get in a couple of elimination attempts before Matt Hardy is out at #3. Bull is no match for the Hardyz as they hit Poetry in Motion and clothesline him out. Matt and Jeff go at it for a bit until #4 is Faarooq, and I have to mention that in a skit earlier tonight, he and Bradshaw were wearing the classic “APA: Always Pounding Ass” t-shirts. Who didn’t want one of those? Double team is on, and the Hardyz try Poetry in Motion again, but this time Jeff slips and barely makes contact with Faarooq. Twist of Fate and Swanton combo hit and Faarooq is tossed. Matt immediately tries to toss Jeff, which angers Jeff so much that the shirts come off to tell us that they really mean business. Drew Carey is #5 and he just stands around as Matt and Jeff eliminate each other, leaving him alone. Kane is #6 and he stalks Carey for awhile, with Carey trying a handshake and bribery to save himself. Kane finally grabs him by the throat just as Raven is #7 and he attacks Kane from behind. Carey goes over the top, eliminating himself and walks away unscathed. Now the hardcore part of the match begins with Raven grabbing weapons. Al Snow attacks from out of nowhere, and when the next countdown hits it becomes apparent that he’s actually #8. Mindless brawling and weapons shots continue as we add Perry Saturn at #9, Steve Blackman at #10, and Grandmaster Sexay at #11. Sexay attacks everyone with a garbage can lid, but Kane nails him with a whole can and sends him packing. Now Kane just decides he’s had enough of this crap and tosses them all in short order going Blackman, Raven, Snow, and finally Saturn. Our next surprise entrant is #12: The Honky Tonk Man. He starts to sing his song, so Kane just grabs his guitar, nails him with it, and tosses him. The Rock is #13, and it’s unlikely he’ll be treated like a jobber. He beats up Kane for most of the segment, but can’t get him out. Goodfather is #14, and Rock eliminates him pretty quickly, but that allows Kane to gain control over him. #15 is Tazz (Sign in crowd: “My Crap Is Bigger Than Tazz”) with Kane throwing him out after only a few seconds. They are drawing a very clear line between those who are stars, and those who are not, that’s for sure. Rock and Kane are still going at it until Bradshaw is #16, and he gets the privilege of hanging around for a while. Albert is #17, Hardcore Holly is #18, and K-Kwik (R-Truth) is #19 as they let the ring fill up a bit. Not much going on, just some brawling and half-hearted elimination attempts. Val Venis is #20, and William Regal is #21 as we’re now starting to go too long without an elimination, and the action in the ring is not exciting enough to compensate. Test is #22, and he’s given a token elimination, getting rid of Regal. Rock has been teasing going out a few times now, but just keeps hanging on. Big Show is #23, returning from an extended trip to OVW for weight loss if I’m not mistaken. He should clear some deadwood. Sure enough, there goes Test, and K-Kwik follows right after. The rest just get chokeslams, but Rock blocks his with a low blow and clotheslines Show right out. Show is angry, so he preps the announce table for use as Crash Holly enters at #24. Once he’s ready, he drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Everyone in the ring starts ganging up on Kane, but Undertaker is #25 to make the save. They work together to clear the ring with Taker getting Bradshaw, Hardcore Holly, and Val Venis, and Kane taking care of Crash Holly and Albert. The brothers stand alone, looking like they may go at it, but before they can, Scotty 2 Hotty is #26. He reluctantly gets in the ring, where he is promptly destroyed and eliminated. #27 is Stone Cold Steve Austin, but before he can make it to the ring, HHH jumps him in retaliation for earlier tonight, and beats him up near the entranceway. Meanwhile, Rock has recovered enough to rejoin the match, so he starts going at it with Undertaker and Kane. The One Billy Gunn is #28 as HHH continues beating up Austin. Undertaker and Kane control the ring as the refs are finally out to get HHH out of there. #29 is Haku, freshly signed away from WCW for no conceivable reason other than to rub salt in their wounds. You see, Meng was not under contract at the time, but rather under a pay per appearance deal. WCW then put their Hardcore Title on him, and before you could say “predatory practices”, Vince signed him to a contact and brought him to this show. Vince certainly had no need for him, but at least it turned out to be a good deal for Haku, because odds are that he would not have been picked up following the buyout two months later, so he at least got some money out of it. I think that also makes him officially the final person to jump ship prior to the end of the Monday Night Wars, so if that ever comes up as a trivia question, there ya go. Austin is still laying near the entrance bleeding buckets. He finally makes his way down the aisle as Rikishi is the last one in at #30. Finalists: Kane (#6), The Rock (#13), Undertaker (#25), Steve Austin (#27), Billy Gunn (#28), Haku (#29), and Rikishi (#30). Rikishi attacks Austin in the aisle, but Austin is able to fight back and finally make it into the ring. Haku is next guy out courtesy of an Austin clothesline. Undertaker chokeslams Rikishi, and throws Rock over the top, but Rock hangs on. Rikishi is then able to come back and eliminate Undertaker with a crescent kick. He then tries a Banzai Drop on Rock, but Rock gets up, hits a low blow, and shoves him out. Gunn hits a Fameasser on Austin, but Austin pretty much no sells it, and comes right back to toss Gunn. With three guys left, Austin and Rock have a staredown. I think they were hoping for a Hogan/Warrior in 1990 moment, but strangely enough it gets very little reaction. They go at it now, and Austin is able to avoid Rock Bottom and hit a Stunner, but Kane comes back and attacks Austin. Austin takes care of him, but that allows Rock to hit Rock Bottom this time. Now Kane goes after Rock, but Rock avoids the attack and tosses him through the middle rope, so he’s still in. Austin and Rock slug away, and Rock takes advantage with an eye rake, but Kane is back and he comes from behind to eliminate Rock. That leaves Kane and Austin as the last two. Kane gets a chokeslam, but Austin is able to come back with a desperation low blow. Kane grabs a chair, but Austin avoids having it used on him. Kane picks him up for the Tombstone, but Austin slips out and hits the Stunner. He then grabs the chair, nails Kane four times, and clotheslines him out to win it at 61:58. As usual, the Rumble is good by default, but my nitpicks here would include, a pretty obvious winner, several periods where just nothing was happening, and then all of a sudden the ring would be cleared, and a meaningless hardcore segment. The action, when it was there, was pretty good, and it helped set up the huge Rock/Austin match at Wrestlemania X-Seven, so that’s a major plus going for it as well. ***1/2
Wow, this was one hell of a show. Four out of five matches deliver big time, and the only one that doesn’t is really short. The show is an easy thumbs up, and high recommendation. Now having been reminded of what Jericho can do, I’m excited for No Mercy. I know Shawn will bring everything he has. No one knows better than him what kind of standard he has to live up to, and I know he will not settle for anything less than perfection. Jericho’s gotta be motivated by the decision to make him champ, and I know he’s also gonna want to make this upcoming match a classic.