November 29, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
Royal Rumble 2001
January 21, 2001
New Orleans Arena
New Orleans, Louisiana
Buy Rate: 1.35
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Sunday Night Heat
Lo-Down defeats Kaientai to win entry in to the Royal Rumble
Fun Fact: For a city that has hosted Super Bowls, National Championship football games and Final Fours, this is the first WWF PPV ever in New Orleans.
1) The Dudley Boys defeat Edge & Christian to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Bubba Ray (Mark Lomonica) pinned Edge (Adam Copeland) with the 3-D at 9:59
Fun Fact: The tag team titles exchanged hands a couple of times since Armageddon. Edge & Christian lost the titles to the unusual team of the Rock & Undertaker on the 12/18 Raw in Greenville. Three days later on Smackdown from Charlotte, Edge & Christian regained the titles thanks to special referee Kurt Angle.
Fun Fact II: The Dudleys received this title shot by defeating Right to Censor’s former champs, Bull Buchanan & The Goodfather on the January 4 Smackdown in a #1 contenders match. Edge & Christian gave the Dudleys a vicious con-chair-to the Smackdown before this show to gain an advantage.
Scott: A solid opener to get the first PPV of the New Year started. Edge & Christian started 2000 as young, hungry contenders. They begin 2001 as the champions and the best team in the promotion. The Dudleys entered Wrestlemania XVI as the champs. They lose the triangle ladder match, and they don’t receive a straight up PPV title shot until this show. The crowd is scorching to see the cheating Canadians get theirs, and that indeed happens. The tag team division is still cranking with the upper tier battling each other, and some newer teams will make their presence felt as the year progresses. How they get there is the biggest shock, but we’ll get there. This continues the awesome stretch of tag title matches on PPV that dates back to one year ago. Grade: 3.5
Justin: After messing around in the mid card for most of 2000, the Dudleys are back on top of the tag division and are as over as ever. The story was simple and easy to follow here. The Dudleys got their asses kicked and their heads beaten in the week before this show and E&C were targeting that weakness. The crowd is a bit quiet early on, but they definitely get better as the match progresses, especially for the hot tag towards the end. E&C tried to put the Dudleys away with another con-chair-to, but they miss and the Dudleys regained control. The biggest pop of the match came when D-Von and Bubba went for the tables and that heat carried right into the finish as E&C are dethroned. This was a good match that had a good storyline and saw the right team go over to kick off the PPV. Grade: 2.5
*** Triple H tells his wife Stephanie that her feud with Trish Stratus can’t interfere in the title match. Drew Carey then comes in to ask where Vince is. Drew has a funny line when tells Triple H that he recently “ran into Kamala”. Stephanie takes him over to Trish Stratus’ locker room to try and hook him up with Trish herself. ***
*** The APA is hanging out having beers, when they show each other their Rumble numbers. Crash Holly comes in and tells them no hard feelings about throwing them both over the top rope. The APA look stunned and Bradshaw says “...and they say we drink too much.” ***
2) Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) defeats Chris Benoit in a Ladder Match to win WWF Intercontinental Title when he grabs the belt at 18:44
Fun Fact: The Smackdown before this show saw Jericho lose a ladder match to Perry Saturn thanks to Benoit, and both Radicalz would proceed to pummel Jericho with the ladder to loosen him up.
Fun Fact II: This is the first Intercontinental Title ladder match since Triple H beat The Rock at Summerslam 1998.
Scott: After three awesome PPV matches in 2000 at Backlash, Judgment Day and Summerslam, the Canadian Chrises get together again, and again gold is on the line. This time it’s all about climbing the ladder, but with these two it’s even more. The rivalry of respect continued, and the pain level was equally elevated. These two pound the crap out of each other for almost 20 minutes, looking for the brass ring, and to inflict pain on their opponent. Two awesome spots in this match: Benoit goes for a spear through the ropes to the outside, and Jericho pastes him in the face with the chair in mid-air. The other spot is Jericho giving Benoit the Walls on the fucking ladder which was absolutely unbelievable. Jericho pushes Benoit off the ladder, clotheslining the Crippler and sending him to the floor. He then slowly climbs the ladder and snags his 4th IC Title. As much as you’d think these two would ride together through 2001, they would in the beginning, but their years would end very differently. As for this match, I wasn’t sure what to grade it, but to hell with it. It’s awesome. Grade: 5
Justin: There wasn’t a ton of buildup to this one, because it didn’t need it. The rivalry from 2000 was the hook and these two great athletes went out there and tore the house down to keep the show rolling along. The whole match was just super stiff as these two beat on each other with their fists and the ladder. The chair shot on the Benoit tope was just nasty and adds to the legend of this match. Another sick spot was the top rope leg sweep using the ladder. The Walls on top the ladder was also impressive and was the big spot of the match. Late in the match, Benoit locked in the crossface with the objective of taking Jericho out so he could easily grab the built. Jericho survived the hold and regained some momentum when Benoit missed the diving headbutt off the ladder. The finish was a bit weak as Benoit was clearly just kind of hanging around outside the ring as Jericho slowly climbed, but after the battle they had been through, that is just a minor quibble. After a weak last few months of 2000, Jericho is elevated back into the upper midcard and is reining IC champion once more. These two really stepped it up and came up with some innovative new spots in this match, and that mixed in with the sheer brutality helped make it an instant classic. Grade: 4.5
*** Drew Carey tries to pick Trish up, and Vince comes in clearly knowing this, and decides to put Carey in the Rumble match to show Carey how PPV really works. Carey was hosting his own Improv PPV that following Saturday. ***
*** In the locker room, Billy Gunn tries to talk Chyna out of her upcoming match due to her recent neck injury, but Chyna doesn’t want to hear it. ***
3) Ivory (Tina Moretti) defeats Chyna (Joanie Laurer) to retain WWF Women’s Title after Chyna collapses at 3:32
Fun Fact: The hook of this feud was the spike piledriver that Ivory and Val Venis gave Chyna the night after Armageddon. She said in interviews, which Ivory would eventually mock, that it was either retire, or fuse the discs in her neck. She went through therapy and came back the Smackdown before this show to accept Ivory’s challenge for the Rumble match. Ivory made the challenge thinking that Chyna couldn’t compete.
Fun Fact II: It’s a shock to think Chyna has been here since February 1997, and this is her first Women’s Title match.
Scott: This may be the only hiccup in this show. The storyline was that Chyna wasn’t in condition to wrestle after the spike piledriver, but she comes out anyway to challenge the champion. The match was booked properly, as realistically Chyna should slaughter the smaller Ivory. However the execution of this looked very shoddy. Chyna goes for her handspring elbow, and when she very lightly hit Ivory she hits the deck, apparently “re-injuring” her neck. Ivory drapes her limp hand on the prone Chyna and picks up the cheap win. After the match JR and King make it out like it’s real, with the low voices and the paramedics coming out to take her on the stretcher. As much as I understand why they did it that way, it takes away from when someone really gets hurt. Obviously if this was a real injury they wouldn’t show her in the ring. Jerry going into the ring to check on Chyna like he did with Owen was pretty low, and if this was the best they could do to stretch this segment out, it was pretty lazy. I was at least going to rate this something, but considering the lousy way they executed it, I’m not. Grade: 0
Justin: Well, this match ends up being quite the little mess. After a lengthy feud and weeks of embarrassment, Chyna dominates Ivory right out of the gate and it looks like it will be an easy win for the Ninth Wonder of the World. As Scott documented above, Chyna is reinjured on the handspring elbow and Ivory picks up the surprising win. The whole post match scenario is just way over the top especially considering how hokey the move looked. If anything, they should have just had the RTC drop her with another piledriver to add even more heat to the group and the feud. As it was, it just came off lame and over dramatic. Grade: 0
*** Stephanie goes into the makeup room to ask her hairdresser to fix something, but Trish is already in there. Stephanie warns Trish not to interfere in the title match tonight. Trish says she won’t interfere in her affairs; she has her own “affair” to deal with. ***
*** Drew Carey is handed some clothes to wrestle in, and then he attempts to strike up a conversation with Kane, and you can tell where that went. ***
*** To continue to the time-killing skits, Vince breaks it to Lo-Down that their Rumble spot is taken away, and given to Drew Carey. ***
4) Kurt Angle defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain WWF World Title after a Steve Austin (Steve Williams) Stunner at 24:15
Fun Fact: To keep the H’s heel heat going, Vince randomly announced that he is the #1 contender to the WWF World Title and will face Angle at the Rumble. This also begins the feud between Stephanie and Trish Stratus, who is now Angle’s business advisor, and has an “uncomfortable” relationship with Vince. Incidentally after Vince told his wife Linda he wanted a divorce, Linda was “institutionalized” and is heavily sedated.
Fun Fact II: Other than the fact that the Triple H/Austin feud is still raging, Austin’s interference stems from the Game costing him the World Title in a match against Angle on the 1/8 Raw.
Scott: The feud that started in mid-2000 over Stephanie has taken a more traditional turn. Angle has the belt, and Triple H wants it. This match could be a 4 or even 4.5-star gem, but the mid-match antics with Vince, Steph, and Trish take all the starch out of it. The first 13 minutes are exceptional mat wrestling as Triple H goes after Kurt’s leg for a good portion of the match. Then Trish gets involved at one point, and then everything gets completely out of hand. For the next 3 minutes, we don’t see any ring action. Instead we see Steph and Trish in a cat fight on the Spanish table, and then Vince comes out to try and break it up between his daughter and his mistress. As Vince grabs Trish over his shoulder Steph grabs her and all 3 fall to the floor and are rolling around. It would be funny if it was actually helping the match. The problem here was that the match was really good, the best the two had up to this point. They try to re-establish the flow of the match and for a while it comes back. We get the usual ref bump, and then the inevitable run-in of Stone Cold who whacks Trips with the belt, then a Stunner for good measure, and another cheap win for the lucky Angle. His initial title run was perfect for his character. An opportunist who took advantage of all the other main eventers beating the hell out of each other, he escapes time and time again. I really wanted to enjoy this match, but the cat fight nonsense and Vince’s unnecessary comedy routine ruined it. Austin’s run-in at least added to the drama of this show and the one to follow. The cat-fight could have been after the match or the next night on Raw. I’ve watched this match a few times now, and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. It might have been the best match these two would have, and the McMahon nonsense buried it. Grade: 2.5
Justin: I must say that after watching this match again, I really liked it way more than I remembered. The main focal point was that Angle wanted respect as a fighting champion and Hunter wanted his gold back. Early on, both men stay grounded and Kurt has the advantage for a while and looks strong in working over Hunter’s knee. I enjoyed this part as JR and the King played up Angle’s desperation to put Hunter away early and Kurt played it up in the ring as he kept attacking the knee mercilessly. As the match wore on, Stephanie played a big role by distracting the ref so Hunter could use a chair and gain the advantage. Scott discussed the catfight above, but I will say that I actually liked that segment. The crowd dug it big time the whole way through and the Vince parts were pretty funny. The battle was a necessary evil and helped setup a match at our next outing. The catfight also allowed Angle to regain control and Hunter was distracted making sure his wife was OK. The best spot of the match came when Angle hit a picture perfect moonsault. The heat at the end was really good and the two went back and forth, trading momentum on and off. As cheap as it made Angle’s win seem, the Austin run in worked because Hunter had screwed him a few times before and it put them at an even playing field as they headed into another showdown in February. Angle survives another grueling affair and escapes with his championship pin tow for another month. This match was full of good work and interesting angles and didn’t feel like 25 minutes at all. Grade: 3.5
5) Steve Austin wins the Royal Rumble (1:01:55)
Order of Entry:
1) Jeff Hardy: Matt Hardy
2) Bull Buchanan (Barry Buchanan): Hardy Boys
3) Matt Hardy: Jeff Hardy
4) Faarooq (Ron Simmons): Hardy Boys
5) Drew Carey: Himself
6) Kane (Glen Jacobs): Steve Austin
7) Raven (Scott Levy): Kane
8) Al Snow (Al Sarven): Kane
9) Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo): Kane
10) Steve Blackman: Kane
11) Grand Master Sexay (Brian Lawler): Kane
12) Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris): Kane
13) The Rock (Dwayne Johnson): Kane
14) The Goodfather (Charles Wright): Rock
15) Tazz (Peter Senerchia): Kane
16) Bradshaw (John Layfield): Undertaker
17) Albert (Matthew Bloom): Kane
18) Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard): Undertaker
19) K-Kwik (Ron Killings): The Big Show
20) Val Venis (Sean Morley: Undertaker
21) William Regal (Darren Matthews): Test
22) Test (Andrew Martin): Big Show
23) Big Show (Paul Wight): Rock
24) Crash Holly (Mike Lockwood): Kane
25) The Undertaker (Mark Callaway): Rikishi
26) Scotty Too Hotty (Scott Taylor): Undertaker & Kane
27) Steve Austin: Winner
28) Billy Gunn (Monte Sop): Steve Austin
29) Haku (Uliuli Fifita): Steve Austin
30) Rikishi (Solofa Fatu): Rock
Longest Time: Kane (53:46)
Shortest Time: Tazz (:05)
Most eliminated: Kane (11)
Fun Fact: Steve Austin passes Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels as the only wrestler in WWF history to win three Royal Rumbles as he has now won in 1997, 1998 and 2001.
Fun Fact II: Honky Tonk Man was one of the surprise entrants in the Royal Rumble. We last saw Honky in late 1997 when Rockabilly tuned his back on him to join forces with the Road Dog. This was just a one and done deal for Honky.
Fun Fact III: Another surprise entrant was Haku, a man we last saw nine years ago in the 1992 Royal Rumble. Haku ventured south to WCW where he was renamed Meng. Meng was brought in as Col. Robert Parker’s bodyguard, but would eventually step into the ring and wrestle. He was consistently booked as a tough guy and picked up some impressive wins. By 1996, he joined forces with an old friend, the Barbarian, to become the Faces of Fear. They had a lot of success over the next four years and became internet favorites due to their solid TV matches week in and week out. In late 2000, Meng won the Hardcore title but was working without a contract. Well, after having been burnt so many times back in 1994 and 1995, Vince fired one last shot over the bow at WCW and scooped up one of their champions. Being the class act that he is, Meng gave the Hardcore belt to the Barbarian to return to WCW instead of taking it with him up north. Word leaked early in the day that Haku was back, but many were surprised when he came out at number 29.
Fun Fact IV: Kane’s 11 eliminations are still a record for most in one Rumble match as of 2008.
Fun Fact V: This would be the end of K-Kwik’s short-lived WWF career. His final record is 0-2. Ron Killings would move on to the fledgling NWA-TNA in 2002 and go on to have a solid career there, winning the NWA Title and the Tag Titles until he left in 2007. He resigned with WWE in 2008.
Fun Fact VI: Big Show makes his return here as well after being in OVW since August. He had been sent to the developmental league to lose weight but he looked about the same when he made his surprise return here.
Scott: The Rumble match is one that showcases two superstars in particular. The first is the winner, Steve Austin. Stone Cold sets the record for Rumble wins and puts himself exactly where he wants: the World Title match at Wrestlemania XVII in his home state of Texas. The other person that deserves major kudos is the Big Red Machine. Kane lasts over 53 minutes and sets the record with 11 eliminations. He started the year hot, and then cooled off when he was dragged into a haphazard storyline with his “brother” the Undertaker, and starts an odd but entertaining feud with Chris Jericho. He starts 2001 scorching hot, banging around with different types of guys: Little guys like the Hardys, big guys like Test and the Big Show, and superstars like Rock and Austin. It was a very exciting Rumble that didn’t really stall that much and had a continuous flow of eliminations and entrances. The good part about this Rumble also was that the end of the match had all the major players: Kane, Taker, Rock, Austin and Rikishi. We also had the repercussions of the last match, as Triple H jumped Austin as he was coming down the aisle and busted him open. This was one of the longest endings of a Rumble in recent memory, as Austin and Kane would battle for a few minutes until it took some Stunners and chair shots to finally put Kane away. Some other notes: Honky Tonk Man? Where the hell did he come from? Nice comedy surprise and another victim for Kane. Haku’s return wasn’t a surprise, as the influx of WCW guys would start here since that promotion was on borrowed time. A smaller note is that Rikishi actually got his heat back on Undertaker from the chokeslam at Armageddon by eliminating him here. Rock should also get credit here, as he was in for over half an hour. We see the beginnings of the Rock/Austin feud, as they mix it up for a minute or so at the end. One disappointment was Big Show, who started to really get out of shape and was pretty much forgotten in the match, eliminated by Rock after only a few minutes. Austin heads to Wrestlemania, but before that he’ll have to play the Game one more time.
Justin: This year’s outing was a fantastic one and was the best Rumble in a few years. It was loaded with big names, drama and tension throughout. I like how the Hardys were in at the start and didn’t mind going at it, reminiscent of Demolition in 1989. Also, as hokey as it was, the Drew Carey segment was harmless and fun. They booked it early in the match so it was long over before the heavy hitters came in, but Drew did a good job and he actually got a very warm reception from the crowd. My favorite part was when he tried to pay off Kane. Kane refuses the money and has him lined up for a chokeslam before Raven made the save and Drew eliminated himself. The Rumble also saw the return of Al Snow, who had been out of action for a few weeks at the hands of Raven. Snow gets some revenge here as he puts a beating on Raven. Snow’s entrance marked the start of the hardcore portion of the Rumble as a bevy of weapons and stiff shots were introduced. The Hardcore division was a big part of 2000, so it was cool to see it gets its own little segment here and guys like Blackman, Snow, Raven and Saturn be involved it. That segment comes to a quick end when Kane completely clears the ring and is left standing alone. It was then that we got the surprise return of Honky Tonk Man, which was also a fun and harmless couple of minutes. It is always quick segments like that which make the Rumble a fun watch. After Honky, things settled down and the intensity got cranked up when the Rock hit the ring. The major segment hit as the Rock and Kane battled for a while, only stopping to toss guys that interrupted them out. The Big Show entry was also a nice surprise, but it was evident the time off didn’t do much for him health wise, as he still looked overweight. Still, he gets a huge pop and makes his mark by chokeslamming the Rock through the announce table and putting him out of action for a few minutes. As Scott said, they left all the heavy hitters for the end, so the finish seemed very important and exciting, as you had a handful of guys that could win it. The Haku return was great and I remember being really excited that he was back. There were always rumors that Haku was going to team up with Rikishi to take on Kane and Undertaker at Wrestlemania, and we may have some evidence here as Rikishi tosses Taker from the match. The match eventually boiled down to Rock, Austin and Kane and the action continued to be solid until the end. We got the inevitable Rock/Austin showdown and brawl, which brought back memories of the showdown between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior in 1990: the two biggest faces in the company squaring off in the Royal Rumble. Kane would end up tossing Rock to cap off a tremendous showing, but Austin would outlast him to earn the trip to Wrestlemania. This really should have been a springboard to big success for Kane, because he looked like a monster here, but he would end up taking a few steps back. All in all, this was a great Rumble with big names and non stop action and drama.
Scott: A fun show to start 2001 as everyone in the upper card got their moment at one point. The tag opener is hot as the fans were clamoring to see the Dudleys get their titles back they hadn’t seen in almost a year. The Intercontinental Title match was a perfect war between two guys who had no problem beating each other senseless, and the ladder just added another instrument with which to play their symphony of pain. The women’s match had the right idea and concept but was executed very poorly and took way too long, on top of the nonsense of making it seem too realistic. The World Title match would have been really good if it was allowed to be the focus, instead of all the crap outside with Trish, Stephanie, and the biggest culprit, Vince who came out to make it even more of a comedy farce. If the match started off slow and sloppy, then maybe the outside stuff could have helped it a little. I thought that Angle and the Game really got it off to a good, methodical start that kept the crowd going, and the cat-fight killed the flow. A match that could easily have been 4 stars was knocked considerably. The Rumble match was fun and exciting, with no real stagnant parts, except for maybe the Drew Carey stuff, and a surprise return for two alums of the 80s: Honky Tonk Man and Haku. Kane put on a legendary performance, lasting for almost the entire match and not really resting for more than a few seconds here and there. Even Undertaker looked pretty good in his Rumble time, and actually gave Rikishi a little back by getting eliminated with a kick from the “bad man”. Steve Austin is officially back after sitting for 10 months and struggling with getting back in the flow. Now with all the major players back and feeling good, we’re in for one of the greatest 2 months of PPV action in quite a long time. No gimmicks, no fluff, no crap, just great stories and awesome wrestling. Final Grade: A-
Justin: Well, 2001 picked right up where 2000 left off as we get another great PPV outing from the now dominant promotion in the business. WCW is on life support and the WWF machine is rolling along and was set for another humungous year, both creatively and financially. Vince’s focus was split by the XFL, but we wouldn’t really feel the affects of that for another 10 months or so. For now, the company is on cruise control and rolling along. The opener was a solid affair that saw the Dudleys climb back to the top and regain their belts for the first time in nearly a year. The ladder match was an instant classic and helped the legend of Benoit and Jericho continue to grow. We got two title changes in two matches, which was always a nice treat. The women’s match was an abortion and was just executed so poorly that it took something that could have been interesting and made it cringe worthy. I really enjoyed the World title match as I liked the flow and psychology that built throughout it. The sideshow around it didn’t bother me because the story was hot and the crowd dug it and it didn’t really affect the match that much. The Rumble was fantastic and Steve Austin picked up a well earned win. After struggling in his first couple of months back, Austin finally seems to be getting into a groove and is ready to rock in 2001. Overall, this was a fun show with a lot going on and some big time matches and title changes. Final Grade: A-
Runner Up: Steve Austin
Runner Up: Women’s Title match