After walking away as the ‘undisputed’ World Heavyweight Champion from last night’s Vengeance pay-per-view event in San Diego, you just know that Chris Jericho was tempted to call up Eric Bischoff and dedicate his win to his former boss in WCW.
Jericho, in case you missed it last night, was crowned World Champion after going over The Rock for the World Title (it’s no longer referred to as the WCW World title, in case you haven’t noticed) and Steve Austin in a surprise finish to win the WWF World title. As Jericho left the ring and headed back to the dressing room with both belts draped over his shoulder and Vince McMahon raising his hand, you could see the genuine joy etched on his face as he realized his boyhood dream of being World Champion, while at the same time clearly sticking it to Bischoff.
And knowing what Jericho had to go through in WCW, it’s easy to understand why. Years of being misused by those brain-surgeons running the company, having Bischoff tell him he’d never be a top star and being a victim of politicking and manoeuvring from the Kevin Nashes, Scott Halls and Lex Lugers of this world to deny him his rightful place in the main event picture, Jericho now finds himself on top of the wrestling world… a wrestling world that, quite ironically, Bischoff, Nash, Hall and Luger are not currently employed in — I guess there is a God after all.
Vengeance was a mixed affair: three excellent main event matches counterbalanced by mediocre under-card bouts that made you feel like you were watching Smackdown! Or worse, Heat. The show had some excellent production values but also had waaaaay too many of those annoying video packages that recaps the entire feud with footage we’ve already seen too many times. Message to the WWF: we’ve already bought the pay-per-view and know the history behind the current storylines. There’s no need to keep beating us over the head with it once the show has started.
Still, the final three bouts and the one or two decent matches underneath were enough to make this an enjoyable event, especially with Jericho going over, which nobody saw coming. Not even the presence of The Big Sloth, no talents like Trish Stratus and Kane, and the Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler reminding us every 30 seconds that tonight’s winner would be the first ‘undisputed’ World Champion in history, could mar this one.
Steve Austin got the ball rolling on the trio of main event matches when he defeated Kurt Angle in the best match of the night. This was a fantastic match with a slow build up and very good ring psychology. Almost reminded me of some of Ric Flair’s old NWA World title matches from the mid-’80s.
The entire match told a story and was built around Angle softening up Austin’s ankle so he could finish him off with his ankle-lock. Angle got a hold Austin’s legs and did one of those figure-four leglocks around the ring post. Great spot!
They got back into the ring and Angle went right back to work on the ankle. A few minutes later Austin executed five consecutive German suplexes. Angle low-blowed Austin and scored a near-fall with the Olympic Slam. Angle then tried to give Austin a Stunner but he threw Angle into the ropes and did a stunner of his own to score the pin in 15:02.
Jericho and The Rock then got set for the title bout as the match opened up with a fast pace. Jericho enjoyed the majority of the offence over the next few minutes, nailing Rock with a series of Lionsaults and dropkicks that sent the champion reeling.
At about 11:30 into the match, Jericho started ripping apart the announcers’ table and set Rock up for a Rock Bottom. Rock blocked it and planted Jericho’s melon straight through the table with a DDT. They tumbled back into the ring where Rock went for his own Rock Bottom, but Jericho blocked it and gave him a face buster into the canvas.
Jericho started mocking The Rock by taking off his elbow pad and went for the People’s Elbow. Rock stopped him mid-way through but Jericho applied the Lion Tamer. Rock escaped but Jericho slipped it back on and barely made it to the ropes.
After catching Jericho with a small package for a two-count, Rock executed the Rock Bottom on Jericho but couldn’t make the cover. Cue the run-in: McMahon ran down to ringside and distracted the ref while Rock scored a visionary three-count on Jericho. Rock recovered, gave Jericho a spine buster and sent McMahon crashing off the ring apron. Jericho snuck up behind Rock and low blowed him, setting him up for a Rock Bottom of his own to score the pin at 19:06. Great match with a brilliant ending that saw Jericho beat The Rock with his own move.
No rest for the weary as Austin’s music immediately sounds and he heads towards the ring. Angle came from the back and nails Austin with a chair shot while Rock, still around ringside, gave Jericho the Rock Bottom. The bell rings and Jericho and Austin go at it.
They brawl to the floor where Austin nailed Angle with some Flair-like chops before getting back into the ring. A couple of minutes later we get the inevitable ref-bump as Earl Hebner is floored by Jericho. Jericho gave Austin a low blow followed by a stunner (there it is again: a guy doing his opponent’s signature move to go for the win; God that’s great booking!!). McMahon brought out referee Nick Patrick who attempted to count to three on Jericho’s behalf.
Flair ran out and pulled Patrick from the ring, breaking up the count and dimming his lights with a punch to the face. Vince then nailed Flair from behind and throws him into the ring post (you had to see it to believe it but Flair took a great bump and sold it to perfection).
Back in the ring, Austin took control and executed the Thesz Press and minutes later forced Jericho to submit to a Boston Crab — only problem being the ref was still knocked out. Then, from out of the crowd Booker T ran into the ring and hit Austin with the title belt. Vince revived Hebner and Jericho covered Austin for the pin at 12:39 to become ‘undisputed’ World champion.
Naturally, I would have liked to have seen Jericho go over clean instead of the screw job ending, but the drama and excitement during the match made up for the lack of clean finish. The most important thing is that Jericho is the World Champion in a booking decision that I suspect very few of us saw coming.
Jericho joins a select group of Canadian grapplers that have held the World title: Whipper Billy Watson, Gene Kiniski, Bronko Nagurski, Mad Dog Vachon, Stan Stasiak, Yvon Robert, Ric Martel, Ivan Koloff, Don Leo Jonathan, Bret Hart, Ronnie Garvin, Don Eagle, Edouard Carpentier and Chris Benoit.
The next WWF pay-per-view is the annual Royal Rumble on January 20th.
WWF Vengeance 2001 Results
- The show opened with a nice video montage of black and white clips of past World Champions set against some thematic classical music. Flair, Sting, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Superstar Billy Graham, The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash. Thank God there was no footage of David Arquette.
- Vince comes out and basically goes over what happened on Thursday at Smackdown! when he was forced to kiss Rikishi’s ass. The crowd starts laughing at him and Vince goes mental and gives us some foreshadowing in future events when he states ‘he who laughs last, laughs the loudest’. This went on for close to twenty minutes. What a brutal way to kick off a pay-per-view as it made seem like you were watching the average Smackdown! telecast. Flair comes out and mercifully puts a stop to all of this, cutting Vince off and setting up the first match.
Albert & Scotty 2 Hotty versus Test & Christian
- Albert pinned Christian with the Baldo Bomb. Good Lord! Didn’t we just see this exact same match three days ago on Smackdown? It’s like a recurring nightmare.
- Winners: Albert & Scotty Too Hotty in 6 minutes and 12 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
Edge (WWF Intercontinental Champion ) versus William Regal
- Pretty good match as they exchanged a nice series of moves inside the ring and came up with one or two innovative spots out on the floor. Regal whips Edge into the stairs and pulls out a pair of brass knucks from under the ring. They get back into the ring and just as Regal is loading the knucks, Edge nails him with a spear and scores the pin.
- Winner: …and still WWF Intercontinental Champion…Edge at 9 minutes and 7 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6.5 / 10.
- Flair is shown backstage talking on his cell when Kurt Angle interrupts him and tells Flair he’s going to be the World Champion after tonight.
- Lita is in the locker room warming up for her role as special referee when Matt Hardy comes back and tries to smooth talk her. Lita says she’s going to call it right down the middle during his match with brother Jeff. One of those mind-numbing video packages airs, recapping the Hardy feud… (like we don’t already know what the situation is).
Jeff Hardy versus Matt Hardy (Special referee: Lita)
- They do the bit where Matt has Jeff tied up in the corner and Lita stops him from taking advantage to prove she’s impartial. The psychology around this one was strange. Here you have two brothers at odds and ready to kill each other and instead of having them brawl, they try to have a wrestling match with mat moves. Nice spot saw Jeff turn a power bomb attempt by Matt on the floor into a huracanrana. Jeff nails Matt with a Swanton and pins him while Matt’s foot was on the ropes. Guess Lita didn’t see that.
- Winner: Matt Hardy in 12 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- Trish Stratus goes into The Rock’s locker room and starts to come on to him. They kiss much to the delight of shrilling teenaged fans watching at home.
The Dudleys (WWF World Tag Team Champions) versus Kane and the Big Show
- Big Show is so beyond bad that it’s impossible to have a good match with the guy. Kane, while not as bad as Big Show, is still a lumbering oaf. So naturally the WWF decides to pair up these two bastions of work rate. Ay Carumba! Dudleys won when they executed 3-D on Big Show onto an unprotected turnbuckle. At least they kept it relatively short.
- Winners: …and still WWF World Tag Team Champions…The Dudley Boys at 6 minutes and 45 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
- They go backstage where Lita is trying to apologize to Matt for counting the pin while his foot on the rope. Matt storms off — real mature there, guy.
- Another video recap, this time detailing the RVD-Taker feud. Again, shouldn’t this stuff be left for Heat?
Rob Van Dam (WWF Hardcore Champion) versus The Undertaker
- They started off in the ring but it quickly spilled to the floor as they brawled through the crowd. Some nice spots, including Taker choking RVD with a Mexican flag, throwing RVD head first into the backstage set and RVD executing a plancha from on top off an archway. RVD was on offence on the stage when he missed a move and Undertaker grabbed him, choke slamming him off the set and down to the floor through two tables to score the pin. Best match of the night so far.
- Winner: …and new WWF Hardcore Champion…The Undertaker at 11 minutes and 5 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Jericho’s backstage and tells Flair that he’s going to walk out as World Champion tonight. They follow this up with a HHH video montage set to U2’s “Beautiful Day”. Not if you’re Bono.
Trish Stratus (WWF Women’s World Champion) versus Jackie.
- Really bad, even by Trish’s standards. Flubbed moves everywhere and just a waste of time. Ended with — get this — a back slide from Trish to score the pin.
- Winner: …and still WWF Women’s World Champion…Trish Stratus in 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
- Match Rating: 0 / 10.
- Yet another video recap, this time of the Vince-Rock fiasco from Smackdown! (like anybody would want to see that again!) They go to WWF New York where Rikishi is laughing at McMahon. Oh, how funny is that? My sides are hurting from all this great humour.
Steve Austin (WWF World Champion) versus Kurt Angle
- Winner: …and still WWF World Champion… Steve Austin in 15 minutes and 2 seconds.
- Match Rating: 8.5 / 10.
- Test barges in on Trish wearing a towel in her dressing room. Test forces himself on her and she tells him to shove off.
The Rock (World Champion) versus Chris Jericho
- Winner: …and new World Champion… Chris Jericho in 19 minutes and 6 seconds.
- Match Rating: 8 / 10.
Steve Austin (WWF World Champion) versus Chris Jericho (World Champion)
- Winner: …and new ‘Unified’ World Champion… Chris Jericho in 12 minutes and 39 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 7 / 10.