Once the brassy and bold wrestling organization that trampled WCW in the ratings for a zillion weeks, the World Wrestling Federation is being humbled right before our very eyes. The wrestling bust that everyone knew would be coming has hit them squarely in the gut and they’ve doubled over. One only has to look at the unpolished King Of The Ring pay-per-view last night to understand that the company’s confidence level has taken a beating. Usually quite impeccable in their preparation and presentation, the WWF stumbled in a big way at King Of The Ring 2001. The matches were riddled with missed moves, Diamond Dallas Page’s angle with The Undertaker fell flat, the actual King Of The Ring competition was treated as if it meant very little and the main event was an unqualified calamity in spite of the labours of Steve Austin, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho to put on a good show.
What rescued KOTR from being a total write-off was the ungodly match between Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon, the treatment of the WCW invasion storyline and the fact that the hero of Orangeville, Ontario, Edge, won the King Of The Ring tournament to the surprise of many (me, included) who thought Rhyno was a definite lock. Long live King Edge! Let the “era of awesomeness” begin!
Wrestling in three separate bouts, Kurt Angle’s stock hit an all-time high too. He fought Christian in a wild opening match, took on Edge in a lively KOTR final and then still had enough left in the tank to be put through the meat grinder in a Street Fight with Shane McMahon. If the show had an M.V.P., Angle would assuredly be it. Is this a man who deserves to be working a program with mid-carders? I think not.
The WCW war with the WWF reached new heights at KOTR as WCW World Heavyweight Champion — Booker T. — attacked WWF champ, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. At about twenty minutes into the Triple Threat – World Title match, Booker leapt over the security railing, hit Austin with his trademark Axe Kick and slammed him through the Spanish announce team’s table taking “Stone Cold” out for ten minutes or so as Benoit and Jericho fought on in the ring. The championship bout itself played out in an uninspired fashion with either Jericho or Benoit being thrown outside the ring and laying there on the arena floor so that Austin could fight either of the two challengers one-on-one. To fuel the fire surrounding the match, the WWF concocted a rumour that if Jericho or Benoit won the belt from Austin that they would defect to WCW on Raw Is War taking the title with them. Both Benoit and Jericho were questioned about the “rumour” but neither would confirm or deny if there was any truth to it.
Following the Pearl Harbor job by Booker T., Jericho tried to take advantage of an stunned Austin by rolling him back in the ring and punishing him with a moonsault from the top rope. Benoit interrupted that count. Benoit hit Austin with his flying Swan Dive headbutt though Jericho returned the favour by halting Benoit’s three count. Benoit brought Jericho crashing down from the top rope with a reverse suplex. In a total letdown that brought boos and catcalls from the crowd, Austin simply rolled over pinning Benoit to retain the WWF World Heavyweight Title. That wasn’t the first time either that the crowd was disappointed with a decision in the bout. Earlier, Benoit and Jericho put Austin in both the Crippler Crossface and The Walls Of Jericho simultaneously. Austin tapped out. The official ruled though that the submission didn’t count because there wasn’t a clear winner. How lame.
Talking about lame, the other WCW – WWF angle on the pay-per-view totally fizzled as the spotlight was shone on Diamond Dallas Page. After ruining the pace of the pay-per-view over and over again with footage of Page having the tables turned on him and being stalked by someone with a video camera, The Undertaker squashed DDP in an unsanctioned match with no referee as his wife Sarah filmed it all. Rather than be bounced around some more, Page, who offered very little offence to speak of, threw up his hands and fled through the crowd.
Another bizarre happening at the show had the WWF referring to next month’s pay-per-view as “Fully Loaded” when it is being advertised in various publications and on pay-per-view services as “WWF Invasion”.
The next WWF pay-per-view is either WWF Invasion or Fully Loaded on July 22nd.
WWF King Of The Ring 2001 Results
- Diamond Dallas Page cuts a promo in the ring. He says he has a collection of Sarah’s belongings and that he has a front row tickets. DDP holds up a sign that says “Make Me Famous!” begging The Undertaker to confront him.
Kurt Angle versus Christian (King Of The Ring – Semi Finals)
- Christian and Angle go full-tilt delivering a memorable opening bout with innovative reversals. The match gets the show off to a roaring start. At 6:04, Shane McMahon comes out wearing a WCW shirt to distract Angle. As Christian is about to pin Angle, Shane pulls Christian out of the ring and leaves. Angle Olympic Slams Christian from off the ring apron and back into the ring to notch the victory.
- Winner: Kurt Angle at 8 minutes and 15 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
- Austin is interviewed about the rumour of Jericho or Benoit winning the belt and leaving for Shane McMahon’s WCW. Austin is speechless.
- Paul Heyman interviews DDP at ringside. Footage airs of Diamond Dallas Page eating breakfast that morning. DDP is none too pleased about his privacy being invaded.
Edge versus Rhyno (King Of The Ring – Semi Finals)
- Another fine KOTR match-up with Edge and Rhyno doing some tough brawling. At one point, Edge and Rhyno collide with Edge doing his Spear and Rhyno doing his Gore. Rhyno removes a turnbuckle pad but it gets used against him as Edge whips him into it and hits a beautiful swinging DDT to move on into the King Of The Ring finals against Kurt Angle.
- Winner: Edge at 8 minutes and 56 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- The Spike Dudley interview from Sunday Night Heat is rebroadcast. Spike challenges his brothers to a WWF Tag Team Title match and says he has a mystery partner already set to go. The Dudleys bully Spike in a live interview mocking him. Jericho talks around the WCW defection rumours.
The Dudley Boys (champions) versus Spike Dudley and Kane (challengers) (WWF World Tag Team Title Match)
- Predictable Dudley Boyz fare with them tossing Spike around like a Crash Test Dummy until he hot tags Kane. Spike is a victim of the 3-D and The Dudley Boyz hold onto the straps. Kane gets a measure of revenge by powerbombing D’Von and chokeslamming Buh Buh through a table.
- Winners: …and still WWF World Tag Team Champions…The Dudley Boyz at 8 minutes and 17 seconds.
- Match Rating: 5 / 10.
- Christian wishes Edge “good luck” back in the locker room. More stalker footage of DDP leaving his hotel that day. Billy Gunn cuts a bitter promo at WWF New York saying he doesn’t “give a crap” about the King Of The Ring though he is a former winner.
Kurt Angle versus Edge (King Of The Ring Finals)
- A fitting closing match to the tournament. Before the bout begins Angle asks Edge to forfeit as there is no way he is going to beat him. Edge’s reply is a punch to the face. Edge takes a nasty bump as Angle belly-to-belly suplexes him over the top rope to the arena floor. At 9:04, Christian arrives at ringside. Edge doesn’t understand why Christian is there as it botched his pinfall attempt. Edge accidentally Spears the ref. Shane McMahon hits the ring and Spears Angle. Edge executes a swinging DDT to put Angle away.
- Winner: …and new WWF King Of The Ring…Edge at 10 minutes and 21 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Edge is interviewed about his victory. He says the “era of awesomeness” has been established.
X-Pac (challenger) versus Jeff Hardy (champion) (WWF Light Heavyweight Championship Match)
- X-Pac fumbles a leap frog and puts the match on ice. X-Pac lands the X-Factor and the referee counts three then he notices Jeff Hardy’s foot on the bottom rope. He lets the match continue. Recycling the conclusion of their bout at last week’s Air Canada Centre house show here in Toronto, Jeff shoves X-Pac off the top rope and Swanton Bombs him to keep the title.
- Winner: …and still WWF Light Heavyweight Champion…Jeff Hardy at 6 minutes and 26 seconds.
- Match Rating: 4 / 10.
- Austin bursts into William Regal’s office to use the phone. Austin calls Vince to tell him about the WCW rumour. He asks McMahon to get his butt to the arena as he needs some back-up. McMahon never arrives during the broadcast. More stalker footage of DDP arriving at the arena. Sarah — The Undertaker’s wife — is revealed as DDP’s stalker. “It’s time for you to become famous,” she says. DDP enters the ring calling The Undertaker out.
The Undertaker versus Diamond Dallas Page
- Not a sanctioned match as there is no official on hand. DDP is taken apart and does almost nothing to defend himself except hit ‘Taker with a chair a couple of time and lay in some punches. Sarah is filming at ringside. DDP receives a kick to the face which knocks him out of the ring. DDP takes off into the crowd.
- Winner: The Undertaker (by forfeit?) at 5 minutes and 44 seconds.
- Match Rating: 0 / 10.
Kurt Angle versus Shane McMahon (Street Fight Match)
- This bout is insane and must-see viewing for hardcore wrestling fans. Things don’t get interesting until Shane and Kurt take their fight to the floor. Before that, Angle gives Shane a lesson in mat wrestling. Trading blows in front of the King Of The Ring entrance way, Kurt Angle belly-to-belly suplexes Shane into some glass KOTR panels. It’s a sick bump but the panel doesn’t shatter. Kurt does it again and Shane goes right through. There is broken glass everywhere. Both men are cut and bleeding from wounds all over their bodies. In the area behind the panels, Angle belly-to-belly suplexes Shane into two more panels before throwing him through another one. The carnage due to the broken glass everywhere is hard to watch. Shane is wheeled back to the ring on an equipment box where trash cans and street signs are put into play. Angle positions Shane on the top rope then secures a wooden plank up there as well. Angle Olympic Slams Shane off the wooden plank and into the middle of the ring. Awesome! Angle pins Shane.
- Winner: Kurt Angle at 25 minutes and 59 seconds.
- Match Rating: 8.5 / 10.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (champion) versus Chris Benoit (challenger) versus Chris Jericho (challenger) (Triple Threat — WWF World Heavyweight Title Match)
- Winner: …and still WWF World Heavyweight Champion…”Stone Cold” Steve Austin at 28 minutes and 2 seconds.
- Match Rating: 4 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 7 / 10.