King of the Ring 2001 – One Great Fight

King of the Ring 2001
Date: June 24, 2001
Location: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Attendance: 17,777
Commentators: Jim Ross, Paul Heyman

Well, we’ve hit a new era, as there is no more WCW. Back in March, Vince bought them out and now owns the wrestling world. This allows for the company to more or less do whatever they want, meaning they can play around a bit more. Also, Austin is back, which is obviously a huge deal.

The InVasion hasn’t started just yet but it begins tonight in the main event. Aside from the tournament, we have Austin vs. Jericho vs. Benoit for the title and an awesome street fight with Shane vs. Angle. This, at least on paper, is about 100x better than the previous two years. Let’s get to it.

Here are your brackets:

Kurt Angle
Christian

Rhyno
Edge

The intro shows a ton of clips of the matches while throwing in shots of a throne. I think I kind of like that but I’m not sure. There’s also a showdown between DDP and Taker because DDP was stalking Taker’s hot wife Sara. This led to DDP being the biggest botch of a character in recorded history but we’ll get to that in another review.

The set is completely awesome as it’s a massive throne that looks like an electric chair and when I say massive, I mean taller than the Titantron is now. DDP comes to the ring through the crowd to bad music. He’s a WCW contracted wrestler so keep that in mind as it means nothing at all. He had been stalking Taker’s wife and filming her all the time, including in the shower etc.

He says he has a big collection of it, and I marvel at how much they would manage to screw this up. They turned him into a motivational speaker character. Think about that for a minute. He has a ticket, which apparently entitles him to his own entrance music, a microphone and ring time. I want a ticket like that.

Apparently either Benoit or Jericho could defect to WCW. That’s a HUGE possible storyline that they just completely failed on as neither did and then other than Austin and Angle, no one that I can remember of any note ever did.

KOTR Semi-Finals: Kurt Angle vs. Christian

Edge and Christian have outgrown the tag division at this point and are rapidly moving up the ladder in the singles ranks. Ok more Edge than Christian but they’re certainly becoming more popular and more talented. Angle beat Hardcore Holly and Jeff Hardy while Christian beat Kane and Big Show. See what I mean? Angle is the defending tournament winner so he could become the first repeat winner.

Also he’s a lot more like his normal self as he’s far more intense and less silly, and the muscle mass is there now so he looks much better too. You can see that there’s a bit more intense style now too as they’re wrestling a more crisp style and staying in the ring more, as the Attitude Era is either dead or close to being dead. They list off Angle’s rookie accomplishments and it’s just freaking ridiculous how hard this guy was pushed.

Angle keeps looking up which implies a run in to me. Christian is hanging in there if nothing else. And yep there’s Shane, who is fighting Angle later on tonight. The moonsault misses as Angle is yelling at Shane and Christian gets two off of it. The crowd is rather hot tonight too. Angle counters the Unprettier into the ankle lock, but after some counters Christian hits the Unprettier, but Shane pulls Christian out.

That does a few things. One, it makes Christian look strong as he had Angle pinned off a clean Unprettier, which would have been the biggest win of his career. Two, it makes sense for Shane to do it, as he wants Angle to have to wrestle twice before the street fight. That’s mentioned later, but it’s a brilliant move here. Christian is getting back in and Angle grabs him from the apron and hits the Angle Slam for the pin. I like that ending.

Rating: B. This was a great choice for an opener. It was hard hitting and fast paced with both guys being over. Like I said it sets up something for later on which is fine as that’s one of the big matches tonight. This was decent enough and it certainly got the crowd going. Shane looks freaking tiny.

Austin is in the back and Coach comes in. The Rattlesnake is looking for Vince and no one has seen him. This is the period where Vince and Austin were best friends which was always weird. Coach mention the Jericho/Benoit to WCW rumor and Austin is stunned. Get it? He’s STUNNED. Oh I kill myself!

We recap DDP and Taker. The thing here was rather interesting, as the angle was cool but six days prior to this we got the reveal, and the reaction was OH CRAP it’s DDP. Then we all said oh….it’s DDP. The initial shock is cool but then you realize it makes NO sense. He says he’s using Taker to get to the top, but still it just isn’t working at all. For some reason this recap is set to Rey Mysterio’s old music from 1996.

In the arena, Heyman interviews DDP, who says he wants Taker. This becomes stupid then as we see a video of DDP ordering lunch in a diner and reading the paper. They try to play this up as DDP being stalked, but it kind of falls short of filming Sara in a pool.

KOTR Semi-Finals: Edge vs. Rhyno

Well at least it’s just the final four again. Edge beat Test and Saturn while Rhyno beat Tazz (in his last real match, as in not against Lawler) and Tajiri. This was when Rhyno was still a monster and not a complete jobber. This match kind of makes the spear look weak. As I’ve said before, two people should be allowed to use that move: Rhyno and Goldberg. Edge is also now a far more serious character.

While I think Edge vs. Christian would have been better, Edge vs. Angle would be fine as well as the point was to elevate Edge and Christian so it works fine, especially given what came from it. They’re on the floor for the most part here, but just as I type that they hit the ring again. At least I still have my timing. Rhyno slips the padding off a buckle and Edge’s back slams into it.

They say that’s setting for the Gore which strikes me as pointless since it’s hardly a move that requires a lot of setup to be effective. This match is going by fast which is a good thing. Rhyno goes WAY old school by throwing on a full body scissors. See, this is what we mean when we talk about psychology. Rhyno’s finishing move hits the ribs, so Rhyno is working on the ribs.

He’s using a variety of moves and offense to hit Edge’s midsection and back, such as a powerslam and a top rope splash. These moves make sense for his finishing move. So many wrestlers work on parts of the body that make no sense. For example if Rhyno worked on the leg, what would the point be? It’s not softening up anything at all for Rhyno other than to maybe slow him down? It’s a little something but it’s a stretch.

Again here, Edge can’t get up to the top because his ribs are hurting. That’s something good by Edge as it sticks to the work Rhyno did earlier. It’s not exactly Steamboat vs. Flair, but for a nine minute PPV match it’s certainly passable. Both go for a spear at the same time which looked kind of cool I thought. After a rollup, Edge dodges the Gore and Rhyno hits the exposed turnbuckle (PSYCHOLOGY AGAIN!!!) and hits the Edgecution which he desperately needs to bring back as a face.

Rating: B. I liked this again. Edge goes over and beats Rhyno at his own game. There’s not a thing wrong with the mentality of this. Rhyno used his head but the cheating catches up with him. It’s no classic, but it’s certainly good, which is all you can ask for here. I’m well pleased.

We get a clip from earlier on Heat where Lillian (hot) interviews Spike and his girlfriend Molly (somehow hotter) who says that he’s challenging the Dudleys for the tag titles with a partner that he’s picking later. We go to a live shot of Spike who is confronted by the Dudleys after he says he won’t reveal his partner until later.

We go to Tazz with Jericho who asks him about the defection rumors. He says that it doesn’t sound so bad, but when asked about if he’s going, he turns in the awesomeness that is Jericho and keeps twisting the lines around. His jersey is sweet.

Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Spike and ???

So we needed the interview to bridge the gap of 45 seconds? Well alright then. The Dudleys just won the titles three days before this by beating Benoit and Jericho thanks to Austin hitting Benoit with the title belt. And the mystery partner is Kane of all people. He’s IC Champion here and the pop is great. I’m loving this crowd. No Molly though which is a shame as she was freaking beautiful around this time.

In a cool spot, Kane and Bubba throw Spike back and forth like a ball until Bubba finally goes to the ground. This was one of the few periods when Spike was bearable. He’s still annoying, but not as much as. He’s like X-Pac. When he was against guys that were average size like D-Von he could put on a passable match, but with guys like Bubba who are bigger, there’s just no validating him having a chance at all.

The fans, to the shock of no one, want tables. That’s something that’s simply never going to die. Heyman goes into one of his legendary anti-women rants that never get old. He’ll never top the Medusa one though. Spike is of course getting the tar beaten out of him. At least some things never change. He goes for a rana and gets the tar powerbombed out of him. He takes that move better than anyone I can ever remember.

D-Von is so far ahead of Bubba that it’s scary. He’s actually a decent worker and has had better characters over the years. He got rid of all the stupid Dudleys in ECW if nothing else. Kane comes in and hits a sweet sounding punch to D-Von. Bubba actually jumps into a sidewalk slam which looks really bad as Kane can’t get him all the way up.

He makes it up with a nice powerslam but they botch the living heck out of it as D-Von misses his cue to make the save so Long has to just stop his count at a long two while Bubba isn’t moving at all. The fans boo it out the building as no one is fooled at all. Spike gets thrown over the ropes in a reenactment of the Bigelow throw. With both Dudleys on the floor, Kane gets on the top on the opposite side of the ring.

He’s never been that smart. Acid Drop hits Bubba but this time D-Von gets the timing right. I types this time D-Von at the exact same time that Ross said it. Kane takes What’s Up, which according to past storylines meant nothing. Spike takes a 3D (for no apparent reason called a DDT by Ross. Heyman corrects him and Ross wakes up) for the pin. They set up a table but Kane stops them, hitting a diving powerbomb of all things on D-Von and Bubba goes through it. Well that was kind of pointless.

Rating: D+. Eh this was about as safe of a match as you could have asked for. That botch on the count was the worst I’ve ever seen though and it’s why this isn’t a C or so. I mean it completely made things look fake. No one expected new champions here and that’s fine and I’m glad they didn’t make the stupid switch. The match was ok at best but it filled in ten minutes, so that’s all well and good I suppose.

Buy Break Down the Walls on the Fanatic Series, which was the forerunner to 24/7.

Christian wishes Edge luck. Thanks for that.

More video of DDP doing nothing of note which makes no sense unless we got an explanation.

Billy Gunn is at WWF New York, which has a big Tough Enough ad, which debuted three days before this. Gunn doesn’t care about the tournament and no one cares about him.

KOTR Finals: Kurt Angle vs. Edge

This show is going by fast, and that’s a good thing. I’m surprised this is going on in the middle of the card though. Oh and Angle has his pyro now. We’re told no one has ever won it twice which isn’t true since Hart won at least two but we’re not told that. Edge and Christian actually had their own WWF site back in the day, as many wrestlers did. The company was just freaking huge back then.

Angle offers a handshake before the match and says that since Edge isn’t going to win anyway, Edge should just lay down for him. I love Angle at times. Edge impresses me by holding his ribs, selling the injury from earlier. That’s just greatness. Angle stomps Edge in the corner and as the referee is counting and gets to three he picks up the pace a lot which is a very nice touch. Heyman says maybe Shane interfered so that if he wins KOTR then the WCW owner could beat the WWF KOTR.

Not bad actually. Angle hits an AWESOME overhead belly to belly to put Edge on the floor. The camera shot was great there too as Edge just disappeared. That was very cool. Also, it works on the ribs which are hurt. I love smart wrestlers. We’re getting too many chinlocks here. This is almost all Angle here as they’re trying to play this up as heel vs. heel for absolutely no apparent reason considering Edge is clearly over with the crowd as a face.

Here’s Edge’s comeback as I’m liking this match. Again it’s no classic but it’s fine for what it it’s supposed to be. And now the referee keeps looking at the entrance like Angle did in the opening match, as they play up that the run in is coming. Here’s Christian but he’s preventing Edge from getting a cover. There goes the referee. Ankle lock makes Edge tap but here’s Shane with a spear of his own. I really hate that move. The Edgecution ends this. That wasn’t bad.

Rating: B-. Edge certainly should have gotten the win here. The match was pretty good and Shane makes sense here too. I guess it’s not right to have Edge win clean, but the spear was weak. At least Edge’s finisher ended it. This wasn’t bad at all and it got Edge over which was the point. Not bad, but it could have been better. Edge would get a trophy that resembled the Stanley Cup which Christian would keep taking, leading to a feud between them.

Benoit is with Tazz who is wearing shorts. The other Chris gets asked the same question as Jericho got and he gets upset about it but says it’s a good question.

We go to the back with Edge and Coach, who is as tall as Edge at 6’4. They have a brief moment of tenseness that was foreshadowing.

Ad for Tough Enough.

Angle is pissed off and says no one from WCW is interfering tonight.

Light Heavyweight Title: Jeff Hardy vs. X-Pac

Thankfully they went to the Cruiserweight belt later in the year. Jeff, the champion, comes out first for no apparent reason. No one remembers this reign anyway but whatever. This was during the time that X-Pac actually led a faction called X-Factor. It was him, Albert and Justin Credible. If nothing else their theme song was decent. We talk about Fully Loaded which never happened as I was trying to recall it.

That show would become InVasion in case you were wondering. This was when this title somehow meant less than it used to but they got the idea right by this point. It didn’t hurt that there was no Cruiserweight Division to make it look stupid though. At least you have two good lightweights here. Thankfully the Bronco Buster misses. They botch the living heck out of something and I have no idea what it was supposed to be.

That rarely happens so you can tell it was bad. Jeff pulls the shirt off to get the female fans moist. X-Pac gets the three but Jeff’s foot is on the rope. One day that’s going to be messed up and it’s going to cost them. Jeff hits the Swanton and gets a weird cover for the pin. They say X-Pac dominated this. Uh, not really.

Rating: C-. This was nothing but a way to give Angle a breather between his second and third match. I get that the idea is to make it easier on Shane, but why does he need to do that? It’s asking a bit much of Angle to go three times, especially when the third is a brutal match. They couldn’t do a sneak attack in the back and have Edge vs. Christian? Anyway, this was fine for what it was but that botch was just awful. Granted it’s a Jeff match so that comes with the territory.

Regal and Tajiri are in the back (Regal is Commissioner mind you) and Austin comes in to use the phone. He calls Vince and says Benoit and Jericho might defect. I love that they imply that the owner hasn’t been watching the show. This Austin and Vince angle was nothing short of surreal.

Lita is in London in Raw magazine. That’s one of my all time favorite photo shoots.

More DDP stalking videos, which somehow have DDP’s voice on them which makes no sense. Yeah because normal fans have mics on them. So he just jumps the railing again and gets in the ring which is fine again apparently. I love storylines. He calls out Taker and we get ANOTHER video and this is just stupid now. And Sara is filming him. Oh good night she has a man face.

The rest of her looks great but I can see why he picked Michelle a bit more now. Taker comes out to Rollin, which is at least better than Kid Rock. Taker, looking very fat, walks slower than he does today. That can’t be a good sign. He has no gloves on and it’s an odd sight. Oh there they are. This would be a dream match three years prior.

I do kind of like that it’s not a match, as Austin put it with Rikishi, “I don’t want a match, I want to kill him (paraphrased)” Sara comes out with a camera and magically we’re hooked up to it. She looks great from a distance but close up it makes me shiver. Taker punches Page a lot and eventually he runs. That was too long but whatever as it filled in time and there was a point to it.

Austin is in the back and wants to know how long it takes to get from Greenwich, Connecticut, since Vince can get there in time for the end of the show I guess.

We recap Shane vs. Angle, which started when Shane interrupted Angle reenacting the Olympic ceremony. The build for this was good for one reason: Shane could win. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility which is something that you don’t get with Vince.

Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle

It should be noted that this is one of my favorite matches ever so I’ll be biased in it. Wait, they’re my reviews so I’m biased towards myself, so it’s fine. Angle throws his medals down on the way to the ring so you know this is serious. Again, JR says that after I typed it so I win again. Angle is just beating the tar out of Shane to start here. And just as I say that Shane starts throwing lefts and fights back.

With Shane on the floor, Angle gets on all fours and wants to go amateur, which is more popular that pro in certain areas other than wrestling. Naturally Angle easily gets out and beats on Shane even more. In a nice looking move, Angle hits a gutwrench but it’s overhead instead of to the side. It looked cool. Angle is just throwing Shane everywhere. It looks like a squash but don’t worry. It’ll get better. Shane has had three punches and an armdrag.

He offers Shane another amateur attempt but this time Shane just punts him in the ribs. That’s followed by a jumping back elbow making him awesome. On the floor now, Shane gets on the railing behind JR and Heyman and jumps over both them and the table to hit Kurt with a clothesline in a sweet spot. The guy was athletic and no one can ever argue that.

It’s certainly more entertaining than seeing Vince out there making a fool out of himself. And we have a kendo stick which Shane can swing really well. He actually breaks it over Angle’s back which has to feel like the dickens. Shane uses armdrags on the floor to send Angle into the railing which is a nice spot. Shane goes for a cover and Angle bridges out of it. Think of the Matrix move.

Shane does the smart thing and just hits him in the stomach. Angle does this three times, showing off his stupidity. It’s weapons time now and Shane is dominating. Ankle lock by Shane and Kurt just kicks him in the face. Nothing wrong with that. We get a Sharpshooter attempt and Shane botches it but gets it eventually. It looks bad but it’s ok I guess. Granted almost no one gets it right so it’s fine.

Shane is just beating the tar out of Angle here. He puts a trash can on his stomach and goes to the top for a shooting star press which misses but looked solid. The fans get a holy crap chant going as they’re impressed here. We hit the floor again and Shane hits a suplex, which breaks Kurt’s tailbone. He’s legit hurt which makes the rest of the match even more impressive. His solution to Shane fighting back: slam Shane’s head into a wall.   I like the simple ideas.

In the sickest bump you’ll see in years, Angle suplexes Shane over his head into one of the glass walls with KOR (what, no love for the?) on them. The problem is that it doesn’t break and Shane lands on his head which goes THUD. It sounded and looked SICK.  Shane is more or less out of it.

Angle, pissed off that it didn’t work, picks him up and does it AGAIN, this time having it work, drawing another holy chant. Angle’s arm is bleeding. We’re under the stage now and Angle suplexes him again and AGAIN it doesn’t break. Shane is busted. Angle goes for another suplex and it doesn’t break. In essence, Shane is being thrown into a wall. Kurt is PISSED and just picks him up and launches him through a glass wall.

Shane looks like he’s been beaten by an army and raped by a bear while being run over by a train. Angle is spent too. Everyone is just bleeding like a stuck pig. Angle gets an anvil case and puts Shane on it to wheel him back to the ring. That’s a good idea as he’s just dead weight at this point. We’re back in the ring and Angle covers Shane. For two. The place pops like a freaking teenage girl for that. We get a replay where we can see Kurt’s face and he looks like he wants to cry.

A low blow connects and Shane isn’t dead yet. He gets a trash can lid and just pops the skin off of Angle and hits an Olympic Slam for two. Both guys are just freaking spent. Shane gets catapulted into the corner where he just kind of collapses. Angle gets a board from somewhere and just beats Shane about the back and shoulder with it. There’s something awesome about that.

He sets it up on the copes and climbs to the top where he this the Olympic Slam from the top rope. I would say Shane lands in the middle of the ring with a thud, but as they said in Con Air, “the word ain’t land. It’s crash.” They show a bunch a replays and the slam looks cooler and cooler ever time. I mean Shane just explodes on the mat and it looks amazing. Shane’s best match ever by about 1000 miles. They carry him out and he’s just gone.  The Slam off the top got the pin if that wasn’t clear.

Rating: A. This was just freaking brutal. It’s a great street fight where you never really believed Shane was completely out of it. That’s a great thing to be able to say, but Shane took the best beating I can recall anyone taking in a long time. Find a copy of this match as it’s right up there with any beating I’ve ever seen.

Buy Fully Loaded!

Austin is still looking for Vince and tells the guys in the back to tell Vince to come to the ring when he gets here. This was just such a strange angle but it kind of worked.

We recap the triple threat match, which came from the EPIC tag match between Austin and HHH (the one where he got hurt) against Benoit and Jericho for the tag titles. Austin blamed HHH for the loss and says he can beat both of them in the ring, so Linda made the match.

They worked together to beat him and had him in both their submissions at the same time in a great looking moment that I stole about a dozen times in OCW. Austin says Vince needs to pick between Austin and Linda, which is as surreal of a line as you could ask for. Vince says keep the title or they’re through.

WWF Title: Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

Benoit is very hurt here as he got injured in TLC but wrestled here anyway. After this he would immediately go and have neck surgery but miss over a year because of it. The idea here is simple: the faces beat on Austin a lot. Neither of them were on Austin’s level but combined they certainly were. More or less it’s Austin going back and forth from singles match to singles match but both guys are capable of beating him, which makes this more or less impossible for him to pull off.

That turns out to be the case actually, as for fifteen minutes we have Austin vs. both guys, which I would love to see both matches of. Neither guy ever had a real feud with Austin which is a shame as Austin can certainly work a style that would mesh with both of them very well. I know that when Benoit was a heel they had a match on Raw and Austin wrestled nothing but technical and hung with Benoit every step of the way.

His in ring skills were certainly overlooked due to all of his injuries, which is a shame. He would have been one of the most complete wrestlers of all time had it not been for that botched piledriver. Jericho and Austin are another group that could have been awesome in a feud. Can you imagine just the promo wars alone? They keep trying for the double submission but Aust keeps getting out. They’re taking their time here and it’s certainly paying off.

After a very long match, going maybe 20 minutes, they finally hook it and Austin taps out. The problem though is that both made him tap, so it doesn’t count? That makes no sense, as if nothing else Austin should be out of it. The Canadians go at it now with both going for their submissions. Austin grabs a chair after being out forever but Benoit hits a baseball slide to put him down again. Booker freaking T debuts and hits the axe kick on Austin on the floor.

It should be noted that Austin complete no sells it after being dead forever. Booker throws him through the, say it with me, Spanish announce table as we have more hot Canadian action in the ring. Austin finally gets back in and after being knocked down again, Benoit hits a belly to back from the top on Jericho, but everyone is dead. Austin covers Benoit for a kind of weak finish. No Vince surprisingly.

Rating: B+. While not as good as the street fight, this was a very solid match. The story made perfect sense, but Booker running in didn’t do much at all since Austin was beaten half to death already anyway. I with something else had finished Benoit off but that’s a moot point I guess. This was solid and ran almost half an hour, which helped a lot as it gave them plenty of time to get something good together.

Overall Rating: B. While the last two matches are by far and away the best part of the show, it’s not like the rest sucked. The last two were just completely awesome. Edge winning was a great touch and the right choice as he would eventually become a mega star.

It could have been better, but the Invasion changed everything, making this show kind of pointless. It started the next night though, so all is right with the world. Good show and worth seeing, but go out of your way to see Shane and Angle as it’s just awesomeness personified.

5 comments

  1. Matt Jarrell says:

    Good review KB. Thanks for reviewing one of my all-time favorite shows. I’ve gotta mention, not only was the wrestling top-notch but Paul Heyman’s commentary was superb all night. His best line on this show was when he mocked JR’s voice.

    [Reply]

  2. Mando>Eddie says:

    Always was unimpressed with the McMahon match — felt like a careless stunt show on the level of backyard stuff and even though Angle had already wrestled still was dumbfounded an Olympian couldn’t beat a pencil pusher in a street fight.

    [Reply]

    klunderbunker Reply:

    But he did beat Shane. I’d have been annoyed if Shane won….I think.

    [Reply]

  3. Bryan says:

    Good review but Tazz wrestled a bit more… his last real match was against Mr. Perfect on a RAW before the draft.

    This was pre the weird little “last ditch Tazz push” where he was with Spike and went over the never jobbing dudleys and beat either Booker or Test 1-1 and then went over them too with Spike as a team.

    [Reply]

  4. Adam King says:

    Ever notice how X-Pac will do a clean job on pay-per-view only to get the win back the very next night? This was a prime example as X-Pac would win the Light Heavyweight Title the next night on Raw.

    [Reply]

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