It’s pay-per-view time again and wouldn’t you know it, BIG surprises are promised beforehand. I’m beginning to experience deja vu. Aren’t you? Lo and behold, it’s the Royal Rumble 2001 from the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, La., and the World Wrestling Federation delivers. Imagine that.
Let’s forget about the winner of the 30-man, over-the-top-rope, battle royal for a moment. Everyone knows who has that position locked in. Just like the last million or so Rumbles where a shot at the WWF World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania is on the line, it makes the guess work a lot easier to determine who will receive the coveted spot. Let’s focus on the surprises. The WWF steals a page from the Eric Bischoff Guide To Booking Wrestling Matches and enters comedian Drew Carey in the Royal Rumble. Carey eliminated himself as he was left in the ring with Kane once the Hardy Boys booted themselves.
Next up, the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time, the HonkyTonk Man makes his WWF return. He cuts his signature promo. Sings his song. Kane lays him out with his own guitar and tosses him out. Great to see Honky again though this dumping all over the veteran WWF wrestlers angle by the Federation really doesn’t say much for them respecting their own history.
The Big Show gets called back from the minors (Jim Cornette’s Ohio Valley promotion) to fill in a Rumble gap. Thing is, I thought this guy was supposed to LOSE weight not GAIN it. Wow. What a roll he’s carrying. He’s more out of shape than ever before. If he doesn’t watch it he’ll be teamed with Rikishi soon enough. Show cleans house and chokeslams The Rock through a table before getting the heave-ho in short order. My guess is that’s the last you’ll see of the Big Show until he gets his act together.
Finally, in a move that embarrasses Eric Bischoff and World Championship Wrestling, their Hardcore Champion — Meng (called by his old WWF name, Haku) — enters the Rumble at Number 29. Really strange, that. The most obvious pairing would be with Rikishi but the two didn’t team-up during Meng’s time in the Rumble. Can you say a tournament for the WCW Hardcore Title on Nitro tonight? I gotta see how WCW explains this one and how the WWF uses Meng, if at all. It might’ve been a one-shot deal. Who knows?
Of course, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble but not, at least in my mind, without some controversy. When the buzzer went at Number 27, Austin came out. He never made it to the ring though. Gaining revenge for what Austin did to him during his WWF World Title match against Kurt Angle earlier on, Triple H pummeled Stone Cold into a bloody mess before he had the chance to enter the ring. Billy Gunn was next and in the ring as Austin lay battered on the arena floor.
If my Royal Rumble knowledge serves me correctly, every participant must enter the ring before the next contestant comes out. Otherwise, they are disqualified. If the rule wasn’t in place a wrestler could just hang around outside the ring as long as they like never getting into the fray until the field is whittled down. Was the obvious mistake intentional? The announcers never mention the rule violation. Could Kane be declared the Rumble winner on Raw tonight possibly setting up a four-way dance at WrestleMania? If Austin’s Rumble victory holds true it is just another gaping hole in a recent WWF storyline further pointing to the lack of organization and continuity in the WWF booking department during the last four or five months.
As I mentioned, Kane and Austin were the last two men with Kane doing a Ric Flair and being in the match for just over an hour. Kane joined at 7 minutes and 11 seconds in and was put out by Austin at an hour and 57 seconds. The last three men were Kane, Austin and The Rock. After being chokeslammed by The Big Show, Rock sat out much of the Rumble match on the arena floor as Austin did. The Rock and Austin lock eyes and fought as Kane slumped in a corner. Kane snuck in to push The Rock out. Kane chokeslammed Austin and attempted to cave-in his skull with a steel chair. Austin fought back chair-shooting Kane three or four times then clotheslined him out to be the last man standing in the Rumble.
The pay-per-view itself wasn’t as creative as last year’s show. The tedious replay of XFL, WWF restaurant promos and angle recaps which were already shown on Heat before the pay-per-view really damaged the broadcast forming noticeable gaps in the action. Still, the Rumble itself, the amazing Jericho – Benoit ladder bout and the WWF World Title match made up for the repetitious footage and the jumbled storylines.
- The next WWF pay-per-view is No Way Out on February 28th.
WWF Royal Rumble 2001 Results
Dudley Boys (challengers) versus Edge, Christian (champions) (WWF World Tag Team Title Match)
- Both teams seem a bit sluggish tonight especially D’Von Dudley. D’Von ducks a Con-chair-to, clotheslining the champs to the canvas. Buh Buh is hot-tagged in. In two clever spots, Edge spears Buh Buh as The Dudleys were about to 3-D Christian. Edge and Christian try the “whassup” Dudley Boy move. Buh Buh rolls up Christian. Edge is pushed off the top rope by D’Von. Edge headbutts Christian’s crotch. 3-D on Edge and “those damn Dudleys” are your new tag team champions, without the use of any tables.
- Winners: …and new WWF World Tag Team Champions, The Dudley Boys at 9 minutes and 38 seconds.
- Match Rating: 5 / 10.
- Promo time. Triple H tells Stephanie not to interfere in the title match. Stephanie says that if Trish gets involved, she’s dead meat. Drew Carey interrupts Stephanie and Triple H. He claims to have seen Kamala at the airport showing his total lack of modern wrestling knowledge. Steph offers to take Drew to see Trish Stratus.
- The APA are playing cards. They compare Rumble numbers teasing that they will face each other but never actually do. Crash Holly tells them they are friends and all but he will still kick their butts. The point is?
Chris Jericho (challenger) versus Chris Benoit (champion) (WWF Intercontinental Title – Ladder Match)
- A stunning Match Of The Year Candidate. This match contains the highest level of artistry, ring psychology and intricately planned spots. By watching it unfold you can tell the two men spent a lot of time putting this symphony of destruction together. Some great spots include…Benoit suicide-diving through the ropes and Jericho hitting him in the head with a steel chair (What impact and sound!), Jericho locking on a Tajiri-like Tarantula submission move on Benoit at the top of the standing ladder, Benoit suplexing Jericho over the ropes and Jericho setting-up the ladder so Benoit was trapped underneath pinned to the mat. Undeniably one of the best ladder matches presented anywhere. In the end, it is Jericho who tips over the ladder on Benoit. Benoit falls out of the ring and can’t climb back in time to stop Jericho from grabbing the belt.
- Winner: …and new WWF Intercontinental Champion…Chris Jericho at 18 minutes and 49 seconds.
- Match Rating: 10 / 10.
- McMahon swerves Carey into participating in the Royal Rumble. Stephanie and Trish spar verbally in the make-up department. Billy Gunn warns Chyna not to go through with the match against Ivory as her doctors have advised against it. Chyna won’t heed the doctor’s or Gunn’s advice. Chris Jericho calls Benoit “one of the toughest bastards” he’s ever had to fight. Yap. Yap. Yap. Ads. Ads. Ads. Back to the action.
Chyna (challenger) versus Ivory (champion) (WWF World Women’s Heavyweight Championship Match)
- From good to bad. Not only a candidate for the Worst Match Of 2001 but also one of the worst injury angles I have ever witnessed in the 24 years I have been watching grappling. Ivory gets in no offence as Chyna bashes her around the ring and into the crowd. Chyna Gorilla Slams Ivory over the ring barrier. Back in the squared circle, Chyna whips Ivory into a corner and does her hand-spring thing. She connects with her butt and for some stupid reason falls down on the canvas. She doesn’t move a muscle so Ivory pins her. Lawler runs to check on Chyna in giving viewers a sickening and unnecessary flashback to the Owen Hart tragedy. This is bad taste at its finest. Gunn and EMTs load Chyna onto a stretcher. Chyna does nothing by remain still. No grimace. Nothing. No Chyna chants are heard. The fans in attendance don’t buy it.
- Winner: …and still WWF Women’s World Heavyweight Champion…Ivory at 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
- Match Rating: -5 / 10.
- Drew Carey sits in a locker room with his wrestling duds. Kane walks by. Carey asks…Who is the goofy guy in the mask? More tasteless jokes on the way. McMahon informs Lo Down that Drew will be taking their spot in the Rumble. Tiger replies…Drew Curry? Who is that? Triple H is shown snorting into a mirror like he was Rhino or something. Whatever.
Triple H (challenger) versus Kurt Angle (champion) (WWF World Heavyweight Title Match)
- A good, technical match marred by its length and a stupid cat fight. Trish tries to help out Kurt who is selling a knee injury which Triple H is working on with various holds. Stephanie and Trish go at it. Vince McMahon comes down to separate the two. This goes on for like five minutes until McMahon guides them to the back. Triple H delivers a Razor’s Edge and Ross calls it as such. The ref is taken out twice. Once Triple H falls into him from the apron and two, he is smashed into the ring stairs. Austin does a run-in hitting Triple H with the World Title busting him open and also Stunning him. Angle covers for the win. Triple H is ticked.
- Winner: …and still WWF World Heavyweight Champion…Kurt Angle at 23 minutes and 58 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
- The Rock refers to himself eight times in his promo.
The Royal Rumble
- Random thoughts….
- Why didn’t McMahon introduce his surprise that he hinted at on SmackDown!?
- Kane and The Undertaker worked as a team.
- The Hardy Boys kicked themselves out.
- Again, I ask, what was the big deal about the APA promo? Nothing happened to them.
- Boos erupted from the crowd when Tazz was kicked out so quickly. When is the WWF going to realize that Tazz is a fan favourite and quit screwing him around?
- Once Raven come in, it was a hardcore match for awhile with trash cans and such in the ring. Interesting indeed.
Participant Time In Time Out Jeff Hardy Start 6:38 Bull Buchanan Start 2:10 Matt Hardy 1:55 6:38 Faarooq 3:34 4:36 Drew Carey 5:27 9:08 Kane 7:11 1 hour, 57 seconds Raven 9:00 17:52 Snow 10:41 17:45 Saturn 12:31 17:23 Steve Blackman 14:28 17:38 Grandmaster Sexay 16:14 17:21 The HonkyTonk Man 18:13 19:57 The Rock 20:19 59:12 The Goodfather 22:10 22:27 Tazz 23:52 24:04 Bradshaw 25:54 43:34 Albert 27:42 42:41 Hardcore Holly 29:33 43:36 K.Kwick 31:33 39:23 Val Venis 33:13 43:42 William Regal 35:12 37:17 Test 37:06 39:50 Big Show 38:91 40:30 Crash Holly 41:07 44:43 The Undertaker 42:51 53:55 Scotty Too Hotty 44:40 45:48 Steve Austin 46:23 WINNER Billy Gunn 48:03 55:26 Haku (Meng) 49:54 52:48 Rikishi 51:45 54:54
- Winner: …Steve Austin at 1 hour and 57 seconds.
- Match Rating: 9 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 2 hours and 55 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 9 / 10.