Unforgiven 2001: Angle Does It For America

Unforgiven 2001
Date: September 23, 2001
Location: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 13,855
Commentators: Jim Ross, Paul Heyman

Boy have things changed in a year. We’re in the Alliance Era now, meaning we have two world title matches. First up is a handicap match with Shane/Booker teaming up to fight Rock for the WCW Title and Angle vs. Austin with Angle getting another shot as the hometown boy. This is a very different style also as other than two matches, everything is over ten minutes long. Let’s get to it.

This is less than two weeks after 9/11 so let’s get patriotic! There’s some miscommunication in there somewhere as she starts to sing God Bless America after being announced as singing America the Beautiful. She has one of those voices where the louder she gets the more it sounds like screeching.

The opening video talks about the aforementioned main events.

WWF Tag Titles: Hardy Boys vs. Hurricane/Lance Storm vs. Dudley Boys vs. Big Show/Spike Dudley

Dudleys have the titles and this is elimination rules. Helms is European Champion. Storm/Hurricane and the Dudleys are Alliance. Brawl to start with Show beating up the Dudleys on his own. Matt vs. D-Von gets us going officially but it’s off to Hurricane quickly. Hurricane poses a lot so Matt arm drags him and poses too. The hat wearing Jeff comes in to a girl pop.

Spike wants to fight Helms because he tried to steal Molly from Spike so Helms runs. He lets Storm beat Spike down and then comes back in. Helms wanted Molly to be his superhero sidekick. That could never happen right? I mean it’s not like she’d…..ok so she turns on Spike later in the week and becomes Mighty Molly. Hurricane gets the cape (which was a really disappointing show) and it’s gone that fast. Gutbuster gets two on Spike. Off to Lance who gets caught in a Dudley Dog to put both guys down.

Hot tag brings in Show and it breaks down fast. The Hardys dive on a lot of people and Spike climbs onto Show’s shoulders to dive on EVERYONE. Show points to the corner and everyone in the arena freaks. Bubba breaks it up so Show beats up everyone in sight, chokeslamming Storm to end him and get us down to three teams. The Dudleys hit a double suplex on Show and Matt is back in, rolling Spike up for two.

Spike counters the Twist of Fate into a neckbreaker for two. The second attempt works a bit better and SHOCK AND AWE SHOCK AND AWE, we get the Hardys vs. the Dudleys. Bubba breaks up Poetry in Motion and they call for 3D. It’s Bubba vs. Jeff now and Bubba chops loudly. Jeff jumps really high on a back drop and it looks great. Matt tries to come in and help, letting Jeff get caught in What’s Up.

D-Von hooks a chinlock and Jeff is in trouble again. D-Von gets a sloppy powerslam for two. Out to the floor and Bubba sends Jeff into the steps and that looked nasty as Jeff was a bit high so his hip hit the steps straight on. Jeff manages to fire off a Whisper in the Wind (I don’t think Ross knows that name) and brings in Matt. He dives out to the floor with a moonsault to take out both Dudleys. Twist of Fate is countered into 3D but Jeff dives off with a Swanton to break it up. Bubba hits his self-titled Bomb as Jeff is being put out so D-Von can steal the pin to retain.

Rating: B-. Pretty fun opener here and it ate up a lot of time. The Dudleys vs. the Hardys was always entertaining but dude, how many times can they have it before it gets boring? The tag division was totally dead by the time we got to Mania so that should tell you a lot right there. This was good stuff though and the other teams actually made it a bit better which is rare in these matches.

RVD is just getting here. No wonder he was criticized. Stephanie comes up to him and wishes him luck against Jericho. She offers him services and sex might be kind of almost maybe sort of involved. He turns her down but I think she meant managing. He does need help finding a dressing room. Her hair is awful here.

Angle’s family is in the front row. Well if that doesn’t seal the ending I don’t know what does. Kurt isn’t medically cleared due to a neck injury. I’ll retract my previous statement: THAT seals it more than anything else.

We recap Raven vs. Saturn which is over Moppy. Moppy is just that: a mop. Saturn was in love with it and Raven put it in a woodchipper. Terri left Saturn for Raven during this also.

Raven vs. Perry Saturn

Saturn goes off on him to start as Paul gets in the line of the night: “They’re fighting over the memory of a mop.” Raven goes to the floor and hits the Russian leg sweep into the barrier and a drop toehold into the steps. JR talks about the Flock and Heyman talks about how JR never watched Nitro. JR: “I was busy!” Back in and Raven grabs a cobra clutch of all things.

Saturn escapes but Raven hits a HARD knee lift to send him out to the floor. Saturn keeps trying to get back in but Raven keeps knocking him back to the floor. He manages to get back in with a sunset flip but Raven grabs the rope for two. Saturn hits his usual nice superkick and pounds away. Suplex puts Raven down again. Raven counters a top rope rana and a sunset flip gets two. Perry goes way old school with a catapult and the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza gives Saturn the win.

Rating: C. This was a Raw match but it was fine. Saturn bleeding from the eye made him look like a warrior…even though this wasn’t a match that needed a warrior. These two always had solid chemistry together and even here with Raven and Saturn both meaning nothing it was a decent match.

To show what the Alliance did to the company, every match after this is a title match.

Christian talks to the gorgeous Lillian about Edge and how he’s going to fulfill his dream and prove he’s better than his brother. It’s worth it too.

We recap Edge vs. Christian which is about Christian being jealous of Edge’s success, namely winning the KOTR and IC Title. This led to the awesome “CHRISTIAN! CHRISTIAN! AT LAST YOU ARE ON YOUR O-O-O-O-O-WN” music. Edge’s face visuals were amazing in this feud.

Intercontinental Title: Christian vs. Edge

Edge has the always awesome Rob Zombie entrance here too. Edge hammers away to start and Christian tries to get a breather. They fight up the ramp and it’s all Edge here. Edge hits a slingshot to send his brother/friend into the set face first. Back to the ring and Edge is in firm control. He rams Christian’s head into the middle buckle ten times and chokes away a bit.

Christian sends him into the post and let’s talk about grandma. Christian is really not quite used to being on offense on his own yet. It took him a few years to really get going with it and even then it took him a few more years to break to the main event level. Edge gets a shot in and heads up top. He shoves his brother/friend off and jumps, landing on his feet. He fakes out Christian and the Canadian hits a German on the Canadian for two.

Edge is bleeding from under his eye. They slug it out and a double cross body puts both of them down. This isn’t really gelling but it’s not bad. Unprettier is countered into the Edge-O-Matic for two. Edge is tossed to the floor and he crawls under the ring so he can come out the other side and hit a top rope cross body for two. The less successful brother goes to the floor and grabs some chairs for a Conchairto but Edge sweeps the leg, sending a chair into Christian’s head. Edge tries the same thing and Christian pops him in the balls with a chair for the title.

Rating: C-. It’s not a bad match but the flow was way off. It’s like they went from one set of spots to the next with little in between. They would get a lot better but at this point Christian just wasn’t ready to do much and Edge wasn’t good enough in the ring to be able to carry him there yet either.

We recap the Brothers of Destruction vs. Kronik. Steven Richards blamed Taker for RTC splitting up and then Kronik beat him up, drawing out Kane. Kronik cost the Brothers the WWF Tag Titles but since this is the Alliance Era, they had both titles at once so they were still the WCW champions, because once you lose a title match you’re still champions right?

Taker talks about how awesome they are and how they’ll beat Kronik.

WCW Tag Titles: Kronik vs. Undertaker/Kane

Richards is with Kronik here. The brawl starts on the floor and it’s Adams vs. Taker to officially get us going. Off to Kane who still has a bad arm. Off to Clark with Kronik in control now. Big boot gets two. There are a lot of kicks and punches in this. Kane kind of falls down on a neckbreaker….and then a shoulderbreaker. Taker comes in and works on the arm, hitting Old School.

An armbar goes on but Adams breaks it up. Clark sells the arm so he’s up a few steps already. More punches and kicks from Kronik and they’re not clicking at all. Kronik takes over with double teaming and upgrades their offense with a double shoulder block for two. Off to the chinlock with Adams keeping Taker down. Back to Clark but Taker hits a running DDT and there’s the tag to Kane.

He cleans house and a big boot puts both guys down. A side slam to Clark does the same and Kane loads up a chokeslam. Adams makes the save and we get the rare triple clothesline to put everyone down. Taker comes back in and it all breaks down. He sets for a chokeslam on Clark but Richards comes in for the save. Double chokeslam to Taker is broken up and Kane hits his clothesline and a chokeslam ends Clark to keep the titles on the Brothers.

Rating: D-. This match was voted worst match of the year….and I’m really not sure why. Sure it’s bad but I’ve seen FAR worse matches than this before. Kronik looked as limited as you can be and they would be fired soon after this for the match. They needed more seasoning and the offer was to send them to the minors but they refused and were fired because of it. I don’t get why this was blasted so much because it’s not the worst match I’ve ever seen or really even close to it. I’m sure I could find some worse WCW matches.

Post match Steven gets beaten up.

Shane tries to fire up Booker and Taz comes in to fire both of them up.

Steph goes looking for RVD and talks through his door, saying that since tomorrow is her birthday she wants him to destroy Jericho. She still can’t act. I mean really, how hard is it to sound like you’re not on a script. More sex is implied. Jericho is behind her and it’s time for the great insults. “How old are you going to be?” “25.” “No I asked how old you’ll be, not how many men you’ve been with in the past week.” Implant jokes are made as Stephanie got some surgery recently and I can’t say I’m complaining.

Hardcore Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho

JR and Paul have an argument about RVD’s ECW accomplishments. Why would you want to argue with Heyman about that? They fight to a stalemate with both guys trying dropkicks and the fans applaud. They exchange some nice pinfall reversals and RVD is the fan favorite. Jericho slaps him in the face and starts winning through the use of strikes. RVD gets a rollup using just his feet for two.

There have been no weapon shots used yet and we’re about 5 minutes into this. Jericho is sent to the floor and Van Dam hits a cross body off the apron for two. There’s the spin kick to Jericho’s back while he’s on the railing but Jericho moves as Van Dam crashes. And now it’s time for the ladders. Jericho takes his head off with it and we go back into the ring. Van Dam’s shoulder goes into the post twice and Jericho is kind of wrestling heel here.

Both guys are suplexed onto the ladder with Jericho doing it second. Rob escapes a Walls attempt and hits a modified Rolling Thunder (he rolled through once and then just splashed him instead of a backsplash) and then a split legged moonsault for two. Lionsault misses and Van Dam takes his head off with a spin kick, giving us about our third busted eye of the night.

Five Star misses and Jericho gets two. This has been a really good match so far. Jericho takes a drop toehold to send him into the ladder. Rob grabs a chair and slams Jericho down onto it then climbs the ladder. Jericho counters by throwing the ladder at Rob’s head and putting the Walls on him ON THE LADDER, ala Benoit at the 01 Rumble. Van Dam crashes to the floor and Jericho misses a dive onto him.

I’m sorry for all the play by play here but it’s one of those matches where there’s nothing to make fun of. Jericho finds a chair under the ring and RVD’s suicide dive eats chair. That only gets two so Jericho sends the arm into the post again. Back inside Jericho takes a spin kick for two but rolls out of the cover into a Fujiwara armbar but Rob makes the ropes. The fans are starting to get behind Jericho as he uses a chair on the arm and back. Here’s Stephanie to grab the chair but Jericho takes a BIG swing at her. She drops to the floor, letting Rob hit a Van Daminator and the Five Star to retain.

Rating: B+. Now this is more like it. This is a fine example of the match being about the guys using the weapons rather than the weapons being used on the guys and that almost always guarantees a better match. These are two guys that could have a good match no matter what the stipulation and that’s the formula for a great match. Jericho would turn heel soon after this but wouldn’t join the Alliance.

Booker fires himself up and Shane helps him. Shane wouldn’t mind winning the title either.

We recap Rock vs. Booker/Shane. Rock beat Booker in the main event of Summerslam for the WCW Title. Since Shane owned WCW he made the next match, which is a handicap match for the title. For some reason this is set to Rey’s old WCW music.

WCW World Title: Shane McMahon/Booker T vs. The Rock

If either of the heels get a pin, they win the title. Booker and Shane have to tag and Booker starts us off. Rock gets a quick neckbreaker for two as Shane makes the save. I’d expect that a lot tonight. The fans think Shane is a cat. A belly to back suplex gets two as Shane saves again. Shane tags himself in and runs into a fresh Rock. Rock fakes him out after a chase and the beating is on.

JR tries to talk about the WCW traditionalists hating the idea of Shane as champion. There are so many replies to that I’m not sure where to start. The WCW guys take over and work on Rock’s ribs. Rock counters Shane with the release overhead belly to belly and Shane is in trouble. Rock grabs a Sharpshooter and Booker makes the save. Outside we go and Shane hits a clothesline off the railing to put Rock down.

Shane may be annoying at times but for a guy that isn’t a regular wrestler he can pull off some good stuff. Booker actually covers after a snapmare which thankfully is good for only one. Outside again and Booker misses a big chair shot. Rock can’t get anything going because Shane interferes again. There’s a slingshot into the post which Rock can sell like no other.

Back inside IT’S A SPINAROONI!!! Rock grabs a rollup for two and we’re back on the floor again. Booker tries to set up the elbow for Shane but Rock moves and punches away. That doesn’t last long as he’s right back on the table again after a superkick. Back inside and Rock hits a Samoan Drop for no cover as Shane brings the belt in, accidentally clocking Booker with it.

A belt shot to Rock gets two and we’re back to a regular match for a few moments. Shane tries to hit his elbow but Rock rolls away. Rock fights them both off with punches and clotheslines. A DDT gets two on Booker. Shane takes Rock down and nips up, setting up a Shanebow. Rock nips up instead and plants Shane with the Rock Bottom. Spinebuster sets up the People’s Elbow on Booker but here’s Test to break that up. Somehow this isn’t a DQ because Nick Patrick is corrupt.

Bradshaw comes out and chases Test into the crowd as a WWF referee is here now. Why? It’s a WCW Title match. He pulls Patrick out of the ring to break up a pin so Patrick beats up the WWF guy. Booker gets two on Rock so the WWF referee pulls Patrick out, only to get blasted by Booker. Book End is broken up and there’s a Rock Bottom but there’s no referee. Oh wait yeah there is and it’s over.

Rating: C. This was fine at first and then it went all nuts. We had two wrestlers run-in, two referees fighting, two ref bumps, a pair of belt shots and a third ref in a handicap match with a crooked referee. And people wonder why it was claimed the main events were overbooked at this point. I mean dude, how hard is it to have Rock make a superman comeback and beat both guys with Rock Bottoms? Either way this wasn’t bad but overbooking killed it.

Tajiri wants to fight tonight even though he has bad ribs. Torrie begs to get to be at ringside to Regal and Regal gives in. Uh…point of this?

Stacy is at WWF New York and we get clips of her shaving her legs in a bath.

US Title: Rhyno vs. Tajiri

Tajiri is champion. JR doesn’t get how Tajiri can date an Alliance chick in Torrie. Common sense never was Ross’ strong suit. Tajiri fires off some kicks and chops but the fans don’t care. To be fair this is a filler match between the Rock match and Austin vs. Angle. Rhyno gets in a shot and we hit the chinlock. Big spinebuster gets two. Rhyno goes after Torrie and loads up a Gore but Tajiri kicks him HARD in the face to break it up. Tornado DDT is countered so there’s an Octopus Hold and an attempted Tarantula. Buzzsaw Kick misses and a suplex sets up the Gore to give Rhyno the title.

Rating: D+. This was nothing but it wasn’t that awful. It needed to be on Smackdown as far as quality but at the same time it did let them have a buffer between the title matches which is a good idea. Also it’s not like there was much to see here so a nacho break was a good idea. Why did Tajiri want to fight here though?

We recap Austin vs. Angle. Austin couldn’t beat Angle at Summerslam and Angle kicked out of three Stunners. They kind of stalked each other and Austin stole the medals, throwing them in a river. Angle retaliated by taking a lead pipe and blasting Austin in the back of the head with it in Austin’s new truck. Austin was fine because it’s just a world class athlete hitting you in the back of the head with a lead pipe on an adrenaline rush. Nothing serious there.

He then blindfolded Austin and threatened to throw him in a river if Austin didn’t cry. In a funny bit Angle shoved him into a kid’s pool to make him think he was in a river. This resulted in Austin shoving him off a stage and injuring his neck. Angle gave an incredibly cool promo, ripping off his neck brace and saying that Austin knows that Angle can beat him. Check that promo out if you can find it.

WWF World Title: Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin

Angle gets the hometown boy pop and Fink milks it perfectly. “From PITTSBURGH PENNSYLVANIA!” Angle meets him on the ramp and here we go. Austin is hammered down and Angle is all fired up. The champ is all afraid to try the Stunner because either it won’t work or the kick to set it up could result in an ankle lock. Angle hits a Thesz Press and hammers away in the corner.

We head to the floor and Austin is reeling. Austin blocks a superplex but Kurt is like oh yes you are going and hits it on the second attempt. Austin grabs a sleeper but gets countered by a jawbreaker. He tries to leave with the title but Angle catches up to him and throws Austin off the ramp just like Austin did to him a few weeks ago. Angle puts him against the railing and pounds him down with punches and chops.

Kurt picks Austin up and carries him back to the ring, ramming him into the post. We’re seven minutes into this and it’s been 95% Angle. He stops to peel back the mats and Austin gets a knee to the back to take over. Piledriver on the floor doesn’t work and Austin is cut above the eye. Angle chops away and tries an Olympic piledriver but is backdropped as well.

Angle tries a suplex out there but Austin reverses and drops him onto the table. He does it again and the table is sturdy. Here’s a third try and it STILL doesn’t break. That’s a good table! Austin drives knees to the neck back inside. He talks trash to Kurt’s family in the front row which is why he’s a great heel: he knows how to get a crowd riled up which so few people today know how to do.

Off to the chinlock and I’m cool with that as they’ve been going hard for almost 15 minutes. Austin pounds on the back but gets caught in the Germans. It’s just three this time but Kurt is holding his neck. Austin tries a super belly to back but Kurt reverses into a bad looking cross body for two.

Release spinebuster puts Angle down and Austin kicks him in the little Olympians. The referee is shoved so Angle kicks Austin low to even things up. A DDT sends Austin to the floor and we’re running out of time. This has been pretty good but it’s certainly no classic. Back in Angle stuns Austin for two. Austin hits a belly to back suplex called the Angle Slam. I mean he didn’t even try to change it. A piledriver gets a close two and Austin is getting mad. He loads up the Stunner but Angle grabs the boot and the ankle lock gives Angle the title.

Rating: B. The match was certainly good but it’s not on the level I think they were hoping for. It never quite hit that level of intensity and violence and Angle’s neck injury didn’t quite live up to the amount of intensity that I think it was supposed to. Definitely good though, just not a classic.

Angle’s family comes in for the huge celebration post match. The WWF comes in too and it’s a huge party. He would lose the title in 15 days so this doesn’t mean much long term. Still though it’s a very cool moment here.

Overall Rating: B. This was a good bit above last year’s show and the length of the matches help it. The Alliance Era wasn’t kind though and the future of a ton of title matches on every show proves to be a coming problem. Angle winning the title was a cool moment but Rock is a world champion also. It kind of deflates it a bit no? Still though, fun show and one of the better ones of this era.

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  1. Mando>Eddie says:

    Regarding Kronik and the “minor leagues”, at that time, the man place they were running was HWA which is in a suburb outside of Cincinnati, OH. They sent all the contracted WCW guys that didn’t end up making air on WWE there (Kaz Hayashi, Dave Taylor, etc.) and a few days after Kronik’s final match during a show Bryan Adams walks through the entrance of the tiny arena as some sort of a “surprise”. Damn he got boo’d out of the building. I just remember he had this disgusted look on his face like he shouldn’t have been there and we were harassing him about being canned and he never returned so there’s a little insight to that tale.

  2. I remember thinking that Austin was originally going to go over here if 9-11 hadn’t happened since they end up just giving him the title again anyways.

  3. FunKay says:

    I’m a HUGE fan of Angle vs. Austin from 2001. It had a great layered storyline with a mixture of comedy, drama and intensity and I think this is probably my favourite feel good moment in history…plus Angle’s promo from the SmackDown prior is amazing. Easily his best and one of my favourites, along with this video package:

    FunKay Reply:

    Apologies for the size of that. One assumed this was to be a url link only.