Royal Rumble Count-Up: 2001 – Drew Carey Could Go To Wrestlemania!!!
Royal Rumble 2001
Date: January 21, 2001
Location: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
So with another year gone, two things have happened. First and foremost, Austin is back. He’s a bit weaker than he was before, but he’s still the biggest star in the world. Other than that, WCW is on its absolute death bed, as it would be out of business in about two months. The company is hot right now and they know it, so here they had more or less their 10th free shot in a row at having a great show and knowing there’s next to nothing WCW can do to touch them.
The other big match is Angle vs. HHH for the title. There’s really not a lot to say about this show as the main thing really is just Austin. He’s not a lock to win though as Rock is a huge deal also. I don’t think anyone bought Angle as a main event level guy though, so he could win here and be fine. Either way, let’s get to this as I know at least the Rumble is good.
The intro is of course bland and talking about ho this is the one night where you can win a chance to go to Mania. I get that that’s the main point, but could you please be a bit less generic? It’s not going to kill you for once.
Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Edge and Christian
My goodness it’s a non gimmick tag title match! The best I can gather is that Edge and Christian have been using chairs on the Dudleys so there’s a regular tag match because of it. Oh wait, Edge and Christian are the champions here? Well that makes more sense I guess. They used the chairs to help give them an advantage. Ok that actually does help things out a lot. The champions try to run after about 4 seconds as apparently the Dudleys are injured from the chairs still.
Lawler is amused that they have concussions for some reason. Also for some reason they’re allowed to compete despite having concussions. Only in wrestling would that be perfectly fine. Bubba and Christian are in now and Bubba is holding his head without it being touched so if nothing else he’ selling. Jim and Jerry argue about teeth for no apparent reason. Bubba shouts way too much. It’s so weird to see Edge in the midcard and not incredibly over yet.
We shift into more of a traditional formula here with D-Von fighting for everything he’s worth while the referee naturally misses a tag. While Bubba has the referee’s attention since he never was that bright, D-Von avoids another double chair shot. Once the Dudleys take over, Edge shows off his idiotic side by bringing in a title belt but he misses. That’s fine, but he lays it down. Why would you do that?
Bubba is behind you, there’s no referee, so you lay down your weapon. He was still getting the hang of the top heel thing I guess. In a cool spot, the Dudleys set for 3D but Edge spears Bubba while D-Von has Christian up. It was cooler looking than it sounded. After Edge and Christian try to steal What’s Up, Edge gets hit by the 3D in an ending that felt kind of anti-climactic for some reason.
Rating: B-. This was a match between two teams that fought about a thousand times but it was nice to see them do it without weapons for a change. That’s not something you often see and the good thing is you could have a good match without them. That’s always a good sign and a nice bit of fresh air from these guys. It wasn’t great but it was a good choice for an opener.
Drew Carey is here.
Vince says that Austin will be in the Rumble but HHH keeps his shot. This is about HHH accidentally running into Austin and Austin beating the tar out of him which broke some agreement. The ruling was that Angle caused it so it didn’t actually break the order, which made it completely pointless.
We go to Stephanie and HHH’s dressing room. This was just after Trish was caught bent over in front of HHH so that’s the main topic. Trish is going to be at ringside tonight. Stephanie cannot act, period. Drew Carey comes in and gets tips about how to do PPV because he’s doing Doritos presents Drew Carey’s Improv All Stars. Yes that’s actually what he calls it. He also apparently ran into Kamala at an airport and he’s now a singer. Amazingly enough, that’s real.
Farrooq and Bradshaw show each other their Rumble numbers in a scene that was supposed to have gay overtones that failed completely. Crash comes in and threatens to eliminate them later.
We get the recap of Jericho vs. Benoit, which more or less is both guys saying they’re better and Benoit having the IC Title, so they put it on the line in a ladder match. Do you need any more build that Jericho vs. Benoit in a ladder match? I don’t think so.
Intercontinental Title: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
I’ve always loved the prove me wrong line that Benoit had. It was perfect for him as it was short and sweet and correct. That’s all you need a lot of the time. Jericho has a bad shoulder here too to offer some psychology to the match. It helps here as your arms can help you climb a ladder so if nothing else it fits the flow of the match here which can often be the most important part of the match.
They bring the ladder in and somehow we get even more physical than we already were in this match. This was some of Jericho’s best in ring stuff around this time as he was clearly having a blast. See, the difference between WCW and WWF is that here, Benoit and Jericho are likely going to steal the show. They did it in WCW as well but there they would likely just do the same thing again until they jobbed to a 42 year old that didn’t need a push at all.
Here, Benoit would be a workhorse that got all kinds of praise and big matches while in less than a year Jericho would be world champion. Ah here we go. It’s ladder and other weapons time. After some stiff shots in the ring, Jericho goes to the floor and grabs a chair. Benoit launches a suicide dive at him but goes straight into the chair in a great looking spot. And see, Jericho SELLS THE SHOULDER. How hard is that for people to learn?
This turns into a game of top this as they come up with more and more ridiculous ways to hurt each other with the ladder. One of them is Benoit being tied into the ladder on the second rope and Jericho hooking a side Russian legsweep on him, bringing the ladder down with them. There’s stuff in here straight out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.
Benoit gives Jericho a belly to back suplex over the top rope. That’s cool looking if nothing else. Climbing back in, we have a fight up on the top of the ladder, which leads to the spot of the match. Jericho knocks Benoit backwards, and puts THE WALLS OF JERICHO on him on top of the ladder. To say this looks both incredible and painful is a total understatement. That just got this match a much higher grade.
Benoit goes off the ladder but has the energy to kick it over to save the title. This is great stuff here. Back on the mat, Jericho gets caught in the crossface and taps, but obviously this means nothing. There’s at least some psychology here as Benoit already has Jericho’s shoulder hurt so he works on it. That’s at least smart. Since there’s nothing else to do, Benoit is picked up and just thrown into the ladder.
Why not? Sometimes the best solution is just to beat the other person up with the ladder. It’s working here if nothing else. In yet another great visual, we go to the top for a suplex but Jericho is shoved off. Benoit goes for the swan dive, and the whole crowd just rises to their feet to watch in amazement at what they’re seeing. That’s how you know you’re doing a great job: the crowd responds to you.
We finally get one of the first dead spots of the match which is perfectly acceptable in this case as they’re half dead. This lasts all of four seconds though as Jericho comes back in with a chair and just wears out Benoit with it while he’s standing on the ladder. Benoit gets pushed off and bounces off the ropes, then the apron and then the floor, which is enough for Jericho to get the belt. DANG that was painful looking. The highlight package of this match doesn’t do it justice.
Rating: A. This was a freaking brutal fight. They beat the living crap out of each other here and are going to be hard to top. For some reason this match isn’t really remembered, and that was the case even before Benoit was deleted from history. These guys went at it like no other and beat the living tar out of each other. Go find a copy of this as it’s definitely worth it. Great brawling match with tons of brutal spots.
Drew Carey hits on Trish and her chest which ends up with him entering the Rumble.
Chyna says she’s ready. She was still hot back then.
Jericho says that was a war but he’s happy.
We recap Chyna vs. Ivory, which is based on the RTC hating Chyna for being in Playboy (thank goodness!) and then spike piledriving her which allegedly broke her neck. Her line of I hate them while crying is a great thing.
Women’s Title: Chyna vs. Ivory
Around this time Chyna had this big pyro gun called the C-2000 that launched fireworks into the air which was kind of cool. Ross says that Ivory is sexually frustrated and menstruates 30 days a month. I’ve got nothing for that. If nothing else they got the description of her right: she’s more or less Lilith from Cheers.
Chyna was supposed to be this woman that broke all kinds of barriers yet she wrestled in more or less a leather two piece swimsuit. If anything, Ivory in her full body outfit is the one breaking more barriers. This has been ALL Chyna. She beats up Richards and goes for a handspring elbow and falls down holding her neck because of it.
That ends the match after Ivory’s body covers her. This led to her being completely fine and coming back to destroy Ivory in about 2 minutes at Wrestlemania to win the title and completely ruin it as there was no one but Lita that had a freaking prayer against her. She left the company maybe 6 months after this, never to be seen again. The stretcher part takes at least five minutes, which is longer than the match went. Her chest looks freaking amazing in that segment if nothing else.
Rating: N/A. This was an angle, not a match. It wasn’t any good anyway, so there’s just not a lot to say here. It lasted about three minutes and was pure dominance.
Stephanie runs into Trish. Hot women arguing ensues.
Drew Carey tries to introduce himself to Kane. Recap not needed.
Low Down, perhaps the dumbest idea ever, (D’lo Brown and Mosh as Arabs) argue with their manager about who should be in the Rumble. It doesn’t matter as Drew Carey gets their spot. Now this is an important point. Let’s compare this to WCW and David Arquette. Both Carey and David are about the same level of celebrity status and they’re here to promote something that not a lot of people are going to watch anyway. What does the WWF do?
They replace a jobber in a match where he absolutely won’t be missed. Think about it: what would Brown or Mosh do in the match? Hang around for about seven minutes and be destroyed by either Taker or Kane or someone like that. Would anyone really miss either of them being in there? Not in the slightest. Instead, you get a celebrity in the match where he might bring in a few fans to the show. See, that’s how you use celebrities.
You put them in a place where they don’t make a big difference at all, but they seem like they do. That’s smart business. You give up a little something and while you likely won’t get a big payoff, you might get a decent one. If not, you lost Mosh or D’Lo for one night. That’s something you can live with and if nothing else, Drew gets publicity and you look like nice guys. Now on the other hand you have WCW, where a celebrity of about equal status was there trying to promote something.
What does WCW do? THEY MAKE HIM WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, thereby making the wrestlers look pathetic, the title look like a joke, their PPV look like a bigger freak show than a pro wrestling show normally is, an more or less drive yet another spike into their own coffin.
Instead of having him do something stupid with Disco Inferno or something for like 5 minutes on Nitro, they said that this actor is on equal footing with the champions of the other major company at the time, which at that time would have been HHH. See why they went out of business so fast?
We hear opinions from the fans on who will win the title match tonight.
HHH is getting ready and sounds like Darth Vader.
We recap this feud, which consists of Angle hitting on Stephanie and Trish allegedly trying to sleep with HHH through some comedic mix ups.
WWF Title: HHH vs. Kurt Angle
Angle had won the title in the fall from the Rock and held it ever since, more or less in a huge Cinderella thing where no one could beat him and he just kept getting luckier and luckier, which is fine I guess. This is another hard match to comment on as both guys were just off the charts around this time as far as in ring work went. The good thing here is that they manage to balance the brawling style which dominated the era with some solid in ring work that both men excel out.
This is another match that’s hard to criticize or poke fun at because it’s working really well. You don’t often hear about these two having chemistry but it’s there. Sadly though, the match runs a bit long for the fans. It’s about 25 minutes, and for purist fans like most of us here it’s a treat, but the problem is that this is still the Attitude Era, so if a match has a good amount of technical stuff in it or psychology etc., it’s considered boring.
However there’s a part in here where it gets a pick me up as the two women come out and fight the heck out of each other. This is a bigger reaction than anything in the match. The problem with this match is simple. HHH is the undisputed top heel in the company as he was revealed as the guy that masterminded Austin being run down, but Angle was more or less built up as the midcard guy in over his head but still good enough to put the belt on.
Think of Punk’s original reign and you’ll get what I mean. The problem here though is that HHH is simply a bigger star and at this point a better wrestler than Angle. Angle would get a lot better but this is probably the peak of HHH’s in ring ability as he was just so perfectly evil at this point and the in ring work backed that up to perfection.
Anyway, you can tell that Angle is really finding his groove here as he’s getting a lot more intense than he used to be and is getting into that character that took the world by storm within a few years. This is mainly technical stuff as HHH uses the Indian Deathlock of all things, which no one buys at all, mainly because other than the Sharpshooter and the figure four, one of which is used and I’ll let you guess which one, no one taps to a submission hold.
In another blast from the past, HHH busts out a Razor’s Edge. Hall was gone by this point from mainstream wrestling so this was a bit more acceptable I guess. Also the ratings were so low that I don’t think they could be seen from the ground anymore so who cares? Anyway, Vince comes out to get the girls broken up, oddly enough picking this time to come out and get his hands on Trish. What a shock that is.
Anyway, after they leave and the crowd more or less goes with them, the referee goes down twice. The second was great as he was down on the outside and HHH throws Angle into the post and Earl just slams into the steps in a solid bump. HHH misses a belt shot but there’s no zebra impersonator. He does however get a heck of a Pedigree that Angle takes perfectly.
Austin runs out though and beats HHH up with Earl still down. At least in this case the bump the referee took looked awesome so you can validate him being down this long. HHH takes a belt shot so he’s down as Austin gets the referee back in there. He gets a Stunner in just for good measure and Angle keeps the belt. Angle would hold onto the belt until next month when Rock beat him for it to set up Mania 17.
Rating: B. This was a very solid match, but the run in at the end kind of hurt it. The problem with Angle’s reign was he never had a definitive win to cement himself as champion, much like Punk’s first reign, and it suffered a lot because of that.
I’m not saying you put him over HHH clean, but somewhere along the line he had to beat someone in a title match without help or cheating. Either way, HHH was great here and Angle was improving dramatically, so this was fine. I might have cut out 4-5 minutes, but it’s very solid all around.
Rock says he’s ready for the Rumble. It’s funnier than it sounds.
Jeff Hardy is first and Bull Buchanan is second. It’s so weird to see Jeff as a total midcard guy that’s known for doing nothing but high spots. I had to pause for a second there to get my composure. Rikishi is number 30. In a stunning turn of events, Matt is number 3. Why does Ross always say wait a minute? We don’t have that kind of time. Naturally Bull is gone in about twenty seconds. I will give them this: they actually fight each other.
The Steiners just wouldn’t do it and it sucked. Farrooq is 4th and they double team him of course. See, that’s a classic tactic but it works well. Jeff botches a double team spot. In other news, the sun came up today. The double team finisher leads to Simmons being thrown out. Now we get to the fun part as they just throw punches. Jeff gets a SICK Whisper in the Wind as Drew Carey is 5th. This was when he was actually a big deal so this was a cooler thing that it seems like.
I thought they were booing but they’re chanting Drew. Matt and Jeff put each other out so Drew stands alone. In a truly great moment, Kane is number 6. The look on Drew’s face and the reaction of the crowd and Ross absolutely panicking is just perfect all around. Kane walks around the ring and does the fire thing. Drew tries to get Matt and Jeff to come back then tries to pay Kane.
He gets put up in a chokeslam but Raven and his sweet music save him as number seven. Drew waves goodbye and eliminates himself. He walks to the back, high fives some fans and is never seen in the WWF again. See, that right there is how it’s done.
Drew was in there all of three minutes or so, he got a solid response from the crowd, he took the place of D’lo or Mosh who Kane would have put out in about 10 seconds and no one would have remembered, Drew comes out of it having lost no respect at all, and he got some publicity for his PPV. Everyone wins.
There was nothing wrong with this and it came off great. Anyway, Raven gets thrown through the ropes which allows Al Snow who Raven had injured to run out early and beat on Raven. His clock goes off so he’s in now and he brings weapons. One of these is a garbage can, and for the first time ever, it has garbage in it. He also gets a bowling ball which he rolls into Raven’s crotch.
In a chilling line, Ross says this is what New Orleans looks like after a bad hurricane. Saturn is 9th with Terri who is about to fall out of her top. All three guys work on Kane, and they prove that they’re idiotic by beating on him enough to get him on the mat, instead of, you know, OVER THE TOP. Blackman is 10th, and being the genius he is he beats on everyone not named Kane. This big long hardcore thing isn’t working for me or the audience either.
The division was just dead by this point and it’s showing badly. Grandmaster is 12th and now we get to the fun part. Kane goes to the floor and grabs a garbage can and just freaking kills everything in sight with it. He knocks all five out in about 20 seconds with some sick shots. Blackman tries to skin the cat and Kane just blasts him over the head which makes me chuckle.
Number 12 is the Honky Tonk Man who sings and plays the guitar. That seriously might be the greatest gimmick of all time. I mean really, a wrestling Elvis impersonator? That’s just amazing on a ton of levels. Seeing Kane, more or less a crazy sociopath behind Honky for this is hilarious. Honky is gone in about a minute and Rock is 13 to a big ole pop. Kane is a lot more muscular here than he usually is.
Goodfather is 14th and for some reason there’s a big Rumble R over the right side of the screen but not that left. That looks odd. Goodfahter is in for about 2 seconds as Rock puts him out. Ross gets in another of his out there lines by saying Kane is a carnivore chewing on a big piece of Rock Burger. Yeah I’ve got nothing. Tazz and his awesome music is 15th and he lasts longer than Goodfather, being eliminated in 8 seconds or so.
13 people have been eliminated. Kane has put 7 of them out. Bradshaw gets us into the second half, and oddly enough he had the longest world title reign of these three. That’s just weird to say. Albert is 17th, making the shortest man in this match at the moment is Rock who stands 6’5. Hardcore Holly is in at 18. We’re at kind of a slow point here as not a lot is going on.
K-Kwik, more commonly known as R-Truth is 19th. Bradshaw powerbombs the living tar out of him. That was painful as all goodness. Val Venis is number 20. He’s still in the RTC at this point. This match has a noticeable lack of energy to it which isn’t good at all. I think Rock came in way too early. He’s a big deal and he’s been in there awhile already. Right now Kane and Rock are the only two that are really up and doing much of anything.
William Regal, still a smiley heel is 21st. He has a lot of heat on him if nothing else. Test is 22nd. Not a lot is happening here at all and we need to get rid of some of the people in there. As I typed the word some, Regal is gone. Test, the guy that threw him out, would win the European Title from him before Mania. He then kicks the heckout of Venis.
Big Show makes his return at 23. Good GRIEF that man is fat. He throws out Truth and Test in about a second each and then chokeslams literally everyone other than Rock so they’re all down. Rock manages to get a low blow in and knock Show out before the next guy comes out. Show isn’t happy though and chokeslams Rock through the table in a cool looking spot. Crash is 24th.
Everyone joins together to beat on Kane. Rock is out on the floor. He’s selling perfectly too. Taker is 25th and it’s on. He saves Kane from a massive beatdown and they look at each other and Taker gives him a sign. Within 15 seconds, all five others in the match are gone so it’s Taker, Kane (he’s eliminated nine people here, which I think ties him for the record at the moment) and Rock who is still on the floor.
There had been talk of Taker and Kane hooking up again and apparently that was true. In an amusing spot, Scotty is 26th. Guess how this goes for him. The idiot actually gets in the freaking ring. In a flat out brutal beatdown, Scotty is punched, kicked, kicked in the face and takes a double chokeslam before they throw him out together. 27th is Austin, and to say the place pops is an understatement.
However, he doesn’t make it to the ring just yet as HHH is here. Rock is back in and all of a sudden this is awesome. See what happens when you don’t have any stupid fillers in there and you just put the big, talented stars in there?
HHH beats the tar out of Austin and cuts him open, which to be fair works because he jumped him from behind so Austin never had a fair shot. Billy Gunn is 28th and the level of awesome is just sucked out of this thing. Taker hits Rock with that sweet running DDT that I wish he would bust out a lot more often.
Haku of all people is 29th. Note: he was at the time FAR more famous as Meng. He was also the WCW hardcore champion at the time, but WCW in its eternal brilliance put a title on a guy that was getting paid per appearance and had no formal contract. His return lasted all of six month or so but it was kind of cool I guess. I thought it was more like a month, but whatever. He teamed with Rikishi which went nowhere and he because a Heat guy after awhile.
Ross’ blatant cheering of Austin and calling it a shame is really annoying. We get it: you love Austin. You’re supposed to at least try to be unbiased. Granted, I have to wonder how much of this is Ross and how much is Vince screaming in his ear. Rikishi is number 30 but Austin jumps him on his way in. Your final grouping is Rikishi, Haku, Billy Gunn, Rock, Kane, Taker and Austin. Austin puts out Haku to get us down to six.
Taker gets a good chokeslam on Rikishi which impressed me. They seriously tried to make Rikishi a legit big deal and to say it failed is the understatement of the year. To further my point, they actually let him put Taker out with a kick. I can’t stand Vince’s fascination with huge men at times. Seriously, he just put Rikishi over Taker.
Rather than having Rock, Austin, Kane and Taker as almost a dream final four, we get Billy Gunn, Rock, Kane and Austin as Rock puts Rikishi out. Billy gets a Fameasser on Austin but this I guess energizes him to allow him to put Billy out to get us to three. Austin is down in a corner, Rock puts Kane down and falls in another corner, and you know what’s coming. Rock wins the fistfight and the fans are clearly more into Rock than Austin.
Austin catches him with a Stunner as Kane is somehow still down. There’s a Rock Bottom to a great pop. It was kind of clear that Austin wasn’t as big of a deal as he used to be as Rock had surpassed him. This is the period that Rock lovers point to and say Rock was bigger than Austin. That’s like saying that Jim Brown, who was the best running back of all time and played in the 50s and 60s isn’t as good as Ladanian Tomlinson today.
Well duh of course not the man is in his 70s. Austin was past his peak here while Rock was in the middle of his. If Austin never left, Rock doesn’t hit this level, end of argument. If you believe otherwise, I’d love to hear your reasoning because it’s wrong. Anyway, Rock throws Kane through the ropes to give us more Rock and Austin. Lawler says he’s been waiting for years to see this. That’s odd as it’s been less than two years since their last Mania match but whatever.
Kane hits a chokeslam here as despite Austin being the relatively clear winner, it’s not for sure which makes this ending a lot better. Also it’s not like Austin is in there with Billy Gunn or someone completely ridiculous. Kane is a legit contender here which is making all the difference in the world. Kane gets a chair but Austin gets a counter and hits a Stunner.
Austin gets three very solid chair shots and a clothesline sends him to Wrestlemania, where he would take the title from Rock who would win it in a month and thankfully turn heel which thankfully Vince recognized was the only way to go. Basically, turn Austin heel had been the big movement online around this time as it was clear that Rock was the bigger face and it appeared that Vince was trying to make Austin bigger by sheer force. Luckily he woke up for once and we got Mania 17 out of it.
Rating: B. While not as good as last year’s this was still very solid. Austin winning made sense, the last two guys both also could have won, the midcard was well represented, and other than Billy, there was no one there at the end that wasn’t a legit winner. Carey offered a bit of flavor to the match and I think it helped.
It was something different, but it’s well remembered because it was well done. That’s proof you have a good moment. Kane was the story here though as they made him look awesome. His reward: a short run with the hardcore title because that’s how he’s respected. Anyway, this was very good stuff and above all else, it worked.
Overall Rating: A. This is a very good show. Every match has something good to offer, as the Chyna match was the worst but she looked awesome in it. There are five matches: four are for titles and the last is the Rumble. That’s a stacked card if there ever was one. Carey offered some mainstream appeal which is never a bad thing unless you completely screw it up and they didn’t here so that enhances this even more. This is definitely a top level show and certainly worth checking out.