Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Royal Rumble 2001
Date: January 21, 2001
Location: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
We’re nearing the end of the Attitude Era and Steve Austin is back after nearly a year on the shelf for neck surgery. All signs are pointing to Rock vs. Austin for the title at Wrestlemania and there’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at how this is the only chance for a lot of people to become World Champion.
The opening sequence is rather clever as it’s a pole with street signs, each bearing a Rumble participant’s name. The Road to Wrestlemania you see.
Tag Team Titles: Dudley Boyz vs. Edge and Christian
Edge and Christian are defending and the story….well it likely doesn’t matter as these teams plus the Hardys feuded for the better part of ever. Thankfully the recap shows us that the Canadians laid both of them out with chair shots to the head on Monday. What a sign of the times that really is. Edge and Christian tease walking out but you know that’s not going anywhere.
D-Von neckbreakers Edge for two to start as Jerry goes over the Dudleys’ family tree. Eh it was better when Heyman did the same thing at Wrestlemania. Bubba comes in and drops a big elbow for two as Lawler makes fun of the concussions. Again, total sign of the times and it’s almost disturbing to hear today. Christian walks into a side slam for two but a forearm to the back of D-Von’s head gives the champs their first control.
A Russian legsweep keeps the head banged up as it’s time to talk about Christian’s hair and teeth. Bubba comes in for a save with Lawler giving tips for how to make the concussion even worse. We get a rare D-Von chant as he tries to fight out of a chinlock. Another neckbreaker gets two on D-Von and Edge stays on the neck. Lawler: “I love it when Edge talks trash.” JR: “Does it keep you aroused?” D-Von gets in half of a double clothesline and it’s time for the slow crawl to the corner.
Like any good villain, Christian distracts the referee so the tag doesn’t count. Instead it’s Conchairto time but the chairs only hit each other, allowing D-Von to clothesline both champions down. NOW the hot tag brings in Bubba and it’s What’s Up to Edge. It’s table time but Christian cuts him off. Edge misses a belt shot and gets rolled up for two. A spear cuts off the 3D though and gives Edge two on Bubba. The champs load up their own What’s Up but D-Von makes the save this time, followed by 3D for the pin and the titles.
Rating: B-. These teams are always good for a layup and like I said, it’s not like the story really mattered. You could throw any combination of these four and the Hardys out there for a great match and that’s a great thing to have in your back pocket. It’s not like the titles really mattered at this point as the fans wanted to see some combination of these three teams, which the company certainly gave them. The concussion stuff is still a bit rough to sit through though.
Drew Carey arrived earlier today. More on this later.
Also earlier today, Vince clarified that HHH will still get his title shot tonight despite what happened with Steve Austin on Smackdown. What happened you ask? Well again that’s not important enough to mention. Like anyone wasn’t watching the shows at this point though.
HHH doesn’t want Stephanie coming out to the ring tonight but Stephanie says she has to be there to deal with any potential Trish Stratus interference. After listening to Stephanie’s normal levels of acting, we’re joined by someone with some actual talent in that area as Carey comes in. He didn’t know the two of them were married because he’s been a bit busy lately.
Carey talks about running into Kamala recently and HHH tries to get rid of him. Drew understands and is looking for Vince for some tips on his upcoming comedy pay per view. Stephanie leaves with him because she wants to find Trish. Nothing wrong with a little promotion like this and the segment didn’t take long.
The APA talks about showing each other something. Bradshaw: “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”. They mean Rumble numbers of course and Faarooq needs two beers. Crash Holly comes in to say he’ll thrown them out tonight even if they’re friends. Bradshaw: “And people say we’re drunks.”
We recap Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho. They’ve been fighting over the Intercontinental Title and tonight it’s a ladder match for Benoit’s belt. Most of the video doesn’t even have words but it’s not like it matters. Much like the tag match, you could throw these two and Angle out there with whatever story you wanted and it’s going to get a strong reaction. Again, that’s incredibly valuable to have at your disposal.
Intercontinental Title: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Benoit is defending in a ladder match and the fight is on in a hurry. The slugout leads to both guys trying their submission to no avail. Benoit sends him shoulder first into the post as Lawler picks Benoit to win in a blowout. A shoulder breaker stays on the shoulder and Jericho’s springboard dropkick is knocked out to the floor. They’re definitely going with the idea that Benoit knows Jericho very well to start.
The shoulder goes into the post and it’s already ladder time. It’s way too early to climb though as Jericho pulls him off in an electric chair. Jericho rams the ladder into Benoit’s ribs and puts said ladder in the corner. Now you know what’s going to happen and I know what’s going to happen, but since Jericho is a face here, he’s stupid enough to be whipped into the ladder and fall outside again.
Benoit’s dive through the ropes is blocked with a chair to the head (egads that’s tough to watch). A ladder shot to Benoit’s back only hits barricade and now it’s the ladder going off Jericho’s head. Jericho sends him into the ladder back inside before tying Benoit’s leg into the ladder. That means a super Russian legsweep to bring them both crashing down. Benoit goes into the ladder again and Jericho catapults the ladder into his face to make things even worse. These are some brutal, brutal shots here and they keep getting harder and harder.
Jericho starts going up the ladder so Benoit belly to back suplexes him over the top in a heap. They both head up the ladder this time though and Jericho gets the Walls ON TOP OF THE LADDER for one of the coolest and most painful looking spots you’ll ever see. Benoit falls off but manages to kick the ladder over, sending Jericho into the ropes. The Crossface makes Jericho tap (and goes back to the shoulder from earlier) but Jericho’s other arm is still good enough to send Benoit into the ladder.
The ladder is set up in the corner but Benoit knocks him off, setting up a HUGE Swan Dive….which only hits mat. Jericho puts the ladder on top of Benoit for a climb but Benoit shoves it forward, sending Jericho crashing into the top rope. Benoit goes up but Jericho makes the save with a chair to knock Benoit to the floor. That’s too much of a fall and Jericho wins the title.
Rating: A. This is one of my all time favorites as the match is nothing short of brutal and featured some unique spots in there. Sometimes you just need two people to beat the heck out of each other with reckless abandon and that’s exactly what you got here. There’s even some psychology with the arm work and that’s all you could ask for. This isn’t a match that needs a lot of analysis because you get everything you need out of just watching the thing.
Carey meets Trish Stratus who isn’t all that interested when he hits on her (Drew Carey isn’t that bad of a catch actually) because she’s involved with someone. That someone would be Vince, who doesn’t seem thrilled to meet Drew. The pay per view is plugged and Vince has an idea to promote the show: Drew can be in the Royal Rumble! Drew: “I don’t wrestle. Of course I don’t act but I have a show.”
Chyna doesn’t want to hear from Billy Gunn about her match with Ivory. She tells him to worry about the Rumble. I’d worry about being Billy Gunn.
Jericho says he proved Benoit wrong.
We recap Chyna vs. Ivory. The Right to Censor gave Chyna a spike piledriver to put her out of action, meaning her career might have been over. Now she’s back to destroy Ivory for what she’s done to them in what should be a squash.
Women’s Title: Ivory vs. Chyna
Chyna is challenging and hits some quick clotheslines to begin the dominance. A toss off the top keeps it going and Ivory gets stomped in the corner. Ivory gets tossed outside so Chyna follows her into the crowd for the quick stop. Chyna cleans house, including tossing Steven Richards. Back up and a handspring elbow into the corner crushes Ivory….but Chyna collapses and grabs her neck. Ivory gets the quick cover for the pin after no offense.
Rating: D-. Of course the wrestling isn’t the point here as this was an angle disguised as a match. There are only so many ways you can book Chyna vs. Ivory, or Chyna vs. any woman for that matter, and this is the kind of trick booking you have to use. It’s barely a match of course and what we got was nothing worth seeing of course.
Lawler goes in the ring to check on Chyna and Billy Gunn (who comes from opposite the entrance for some reason) joins him. A long stretcher job ensues.
After someone seems to have her neck horribly injured, we go to Stephanie needing her hair fixed. She runs into Trish and things get catty, as expected.
Harvey Wippelman gives Drew some gear when Kane comes in. I think you know where this is going and it’s starting to wear thin.
Tiger Ali Singh and Low Down (D’Lo Brown and Headbanger Mosh in, shall we say, an ethnic gimmick, which is probably more offensive than funny) are arguing over who gets the spot in the Rumble. Vince comes in and says never mind because Carey is getting their spot. This is the kind of detail that makes the entry a lot easier. You’re not left wondering whose spot Carey is taking because the name is officially give. Also, who is going to remember Brown or Chaz in the match as cannon fodder for a big name? Put Carey in instead and give us a fun moment instead. It’s not like it’s going to change anything.
Fans at WWF New York give their picks for HHH vs. Kurt Angle.
We recap Kurt Angle vs. HHH. Angle won the title a few months back but HHH said he could get the title back whenever he wanted it. A few family strings were pulled and Vince’s son-in-law got the title shot. Since Angle couldn’t have a McMahon in his corner, he got Vince’s mistress Trish. This set Stephanie off and the ladies are in a bigger feud than the men. Oh yeah the men don’t like each other either.
WWF World Title: HHH vs. Kurt Angle
Angle is defending. They fight over the arm to start as JR has to point out that this is heel vs. heel for a really weird setup. Lawler of course would rather talk about the women at ringside (to be fair, Stephanie looks great here). Angle throws HHH outside but the fans think the champ sucks. The signature chant hasn’t started yet so that’s still some fresh thinking.
Angle follows him out for some right hands to the face, only to get sent into the barricade for his efforts. Back in and HHH starts on the knee as the announcers discuss Drew Carey. Lawler actually brings up a good point by saying he made a huge name for himself by piledriving Andy Kaufman. What kind of attention would someone get for taking out Drew Carey? Angle whips HHH over the corner for a big crash and more “acting” from Stephanie. Another whip sends him into the steps and it’s Angle being even more aggressive.
A missed charge allows HHH to wrap the leg around the post though and a chair to the knee makes it even worse. HHH follows it up with a chop block and it’s off to the Indian deathlock. Well you knew he was going to work that one in somehow. The Figure Four follows up and JR is talking about all the things Gordon Solie would say about the hold. Trish tries for a save but Stephanie pulls her out for the catfight. Vince comes out to break it up as HHH looks on. Maybe getting some ideas for later?
HHH finally snaps back into it and drops some elbows on the leg. A DDT cuts HHH off though and a bridging German suplex gets two. Kurt goes up but gets low blowed, followed by a Razor’s Edge of all things for two more. You know it’s serious when HHH is using the Kliq moveset. Angle is back up with a suplex and the moonsault, only to bang his knee up some more.
They head outside and the ref gets bumped, with Lawler referring to Hebner as one of his best friends. Back in and HHH goes up, allowing Angle to run the ropes for a super armdrag. There’s no referee so HHH grabs the belt but walks into another suplex. Naturally the Pedigree connects for no count so here’s Austin to lay HHH out with a belt shot.
Rating: B. A little too much overbooking for my taste but the ending makes sense given HHH costing Austin the title a few weeks back (which the announcers finally bothered to mention after the match was over). Angle retaining is fine too as HHH vs. Austin doesn’t need the title and we can get to Rock vs. Austin at Wrestlemania that much easier. Angle still isn’t quite capable of hanging move for move with someone like HHH but he’s certainly able to do enough to cover up his few faults. The fact that he was only about fifteen months on the main roster at this point is almost scary.
The Rock, looking a little stoned, compares the Rumble to a big pot of jambalaya: there’s a bit of everything in it. The big question is whether the Undertaker and Kane are together and you know Rock isn’t letting an easy line like that get by. After talking about Undertaker tickling nipples, Rock says the Rumble could come down to him and anyone from Bull Buchanan to Perry Saturn to Steve Austin. He’ll win either way. Standard Rock here, with crazy charisma and presence without saying anything more than “I’ll win and don’t care who I have to beat”.
Long recap video on the Rumble. Does this really need an explanation? A bunch of people are in and about 25 five of them are kidding themselves into believing they could win.
Two minute intervals this year so they have a lot of time. Jeff Hardy is in at #1 and Bull Buchanan (of the RTC) is in at #2. Buchanan throws him into the corner but gets punched up to the top for his efforts. That goes nowhere so Matt Hardy is in at #3 in one of those old Rumble tropes. It’s kind of amazing how often this happens isn’t it? Buchanan is tossed without much effort and a fist bump gets us ready for the brother showdown. Matt can’t get him out in the corner so a suplex drops Jeff instead. Faarooq is in at #4 and it’s time to run over some Hardys.
Poetry in Motion into the Twist into the Swanton is enough to dump Faarooq though and it’s back to two. There go the shirts (and the schoolgirl cheers) as it’s time to slug it out. Drew Carey is in at #5 and the Hardys don’t even bother stopping their fight this time. They actually eliminate each other and Drew climbs in, much to the fans’ appreciation. Then the clock runs down and it’s Kane at #6, giving us the only thing JR could possibly say: “Oh my God oh my God oh my God.”
Drew tells the Hardys to get back inside and save him as Kane takes his sweet time in a logical move. Carey keeps up the intelligence by offering cash but it’s Raven coming in at #7 with a kendo stick for the save. In the smartest thing he could do, Carey eliminates himself and manages to not have died.
I’ve said this before but that’s one of the best celebrity appearances in WWE history. He came in, he did his thing, he took a spot from a nothing wrestler who would have been tossed in short order and we get a fun moment. About nine months earlier, WCW took a lesser celebrity and made him the World Champion. Now which of these two did things the smart way?
Anyway we’re on to the hardcore section now with Raven spraying Kane with a fire extinguisher, only to have Al Snow jump the gun at #8 and attack Raven from behind. The buzzer, uh, buzzes, and it’s Snow coming in legally this time. That means a bowling ball between Raven’s legs with JR saying it seems like a hurricane blowing through New Orleans. I’ll be leaving that one alone as the hardcore guys beat the heck out of Kane.
Perry Saturn is in at #8 with Lawler and JR losing their minds over Terri’s top. Saturn starts in on Kane’s knee as there are weapons all over the ring. Kane has finally had it with this getting beaten up thing and slams Saturn down but everyone gangs up on him to get Kane down. Then reality sets in that they have to get him back up and throw him over the top. There’s a reason these guys are stuck in the hardcore division. Steve Blackman is in at #9 and WHAT A COINCIDENCE THAT IT’S ANOTHER HARDCORE GUY! I know the line is it’s completely random but these things get hilarious at times.
The brawling continues until Grandmaster Sexay is in at #11. Weapons are swung until Kane has enough of the nonsense and eliminates Sexay with the trashcan. Everyone else follows him out and Kane is alone to face the Honky Tonk Man of all people at #12. For some reason he decides to ask Kane to stand back so we can have a song. One guitar shot later and Kane has his sixth elimination in about four minutes. Again: great usage of a legend there, if nothing else just to give the fans a breather and a transition between the sections of the match.
That next section begins with the Rock coming in at #13 so the slugout can begin. They knock each other down in short order though and it’s Goodfather in at #14….and being eliminated in thirteen seconds, counting entrance. Kane chokes Rock on the ropes with JR getting in the….I’m not sure what the right adjective is but he calls Kane a carnivore and Rock a big piece of Rock Burger.
Tazz is in at #15 and manages to last even shorter than Goodfather. Rock can’t get Kane out either so he settles for a Samoan drop. It’s Bradshaw in at #16 and both Kane and Rock are clotheslined down in short order. Rock takes Bradshaw down but walks into a clothesline from Kane as things stay slow (fine in this case as Rock and Kane have been fighting for a few minutes now and Bradshaw is getting beaten up by both of them). Albert is in at #17 and gets double teamed by Kane and Bradshaw.
Lawler of course asks about Trish and Stephanie with JR cutting him off as fast as he can. The four pair off but no one is eliminated until Hardcore Holly is in at #18. Rock has to survive an elimination attempt as Albert bicycle kicks Kane down (that looked impressive). A running clothesline takes Bradshaw down (for a change) but Rock can’t get Kane past the apron. K-Kwik (R-Truth, who is somehow STILL AROUND seventeen years later) is in at #19 and is promptly stomped in the corner.
Rock can’t get K-Kwik out (Seriously?) and it’s Val Venis in at #20, giving us Kane, Rock, Bradshaw, Albert, Holly, K-Kwik and Venis. The brawling continues with no one coming close to an elimination until William Regal is in at #21. Bradshaw manages to hang on this time as it’s Test in at #22 to keep filling the ring up. Regal is tossed to keep things even though with JR saying he was molested.
The returning Big Show is in at #23 to get rid of Test and K-Kwik, followed by chokeslams to Albert and Bradshaw. Venis and Holly go up and down next, followed by one to Kane for a BIG pop. Rock is smart enough to kick him low though and a spit punch eliminates Show in short order. That was quite the sequence and has the fans right back into things after a bit of a lull. Smart booking, again. Show isn’t done though and loads up the announcers’ table as Crash Holly is in at #24.
The chokeslam puts Rock (not eliminated) through the table and the fans are quieted again. Everyone left in the ring goes after Kane but it’s Undertaker in at #25 to save his brother. The ring is cleared in all of thirty seconds and it’s Kane vs. Undertaker in a staredown with Rock still down on the floor. Scotty 2 Hotty is in at #26 and I’m not even going to bother describing his painful experience. Undertaker and Kane look at the ramp for the next entrant and it’s Steve Austin in at #27….only to have HHH jump him in the aisle.
Rock gets back in to fight the giants as HHH sends Austin into the barricade, busting him open somewhere in there. With Austin down on the floor, Billy Gunn is in at #28. Right hands abound but Undertaker and Kane stomp Rock and Gunn down into the corners. Undertaker DDT’s Rock and punches him in the head but it’s HAKU (the reigning WCW Hardcore Champion but not under contract because WCW WAS STUPID) in at #29.
Austin is still down on the floor and my goodness that’s a lot of blood. Undertaker and Kane beat on Haku, who is nice enough not to eat them. JR and Lawler get in an argument over Austin being attacked because of course they do and it’s heel Rikishi in at #30 (which was already announced). Austin is up to hammer on him in the aisle though and we have a final grouping of Austin, Kane, Undertaker, Rock, Rikishi, Haku and Billy Gunn. Right hands and a clothesline get rid of Haku and we’re down to six.
Undertaker chokeslams Rikishi and sends Rock to the apron but hurts himself headbutting Rikishi. A superkick actually gets rid of Undertaker in probably the biggest success of Rikishi’s heel run. I mean, it’s also one of the only ones but it counts. For some reason Rikishi tries the Bonzai Drop on Rock, earning himself one of the dumbest eliminations of the year. We’re down to four as Undertaker’s motorcycle revving is rather distracting. Gunn hits a Fameasser on Austin and is eliminated for general purposes.
Rock gets in a DDT on Kane and finds himself in an opposite corner from Austin, meaning we have the modern Hogan vs. Warrior moment. The Wrestlemania preview is on and you can actually see the fans standing to watch it. There’s a Stunner to Rock and the Thesz press to Kane, followed by a low blow. A Rock Bottom cuts Austin off but Rock sends Kane through the ropes by mistake.
The big time slugout is on again but Kane comes back in and dumps Rock. Now THAT is a big deal for him…yet he was in a triple threat hardcore match at Wrestlemania. Wrestling is funny that way. Kane chokeslams Austin, only to walk around for a bit. A low blow gives Austin a breather so Kane grabs a chair. No worries though as a Stunner and some chair shots send Austin to Wrestlemania.
Rating: A-. This was the Rumble formula at a very high level with Austin not being a lock to win here (Rock was very much an option) and Kane as the story throughout the match. There were also some long sections in there, along with several stories being set up for the future. The company was on a roll at this point and it’s no shock that the Rumble was excellent as well. Great stuff here and one of the best ever.
Overall Rating: A. When the worst part of the show is an angle disguised as a match, it’s pretty clear that you have a winner. The Rumble and the ladder match here are both top notch and it’s no surprise that things are rolling along as well as they are here. The company was just on a roll at this point with no turning back (until they managed to botch the biggest storyline in wrestling history but that’s a story for later). Just a great show top to bottom here with the only weak spot being a three and a half minute match. That’s some pretty sweet territory and the amazing thing is Wrestlemania blew this away.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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