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WWE Royal Rumble - Jan 21, 2001

by Scrooge McSuck

- Originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View, on January 21st, 2001, from the New Orleans Arena in, you guessed it, New Orleans, Louisiana. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling all the action, unless otherwise noted. We won't bother covering Sunday Night Heat, which featured a match between Kaientai and Lo Down for a spot in the Rumble Match. Note, I said A Spot. As in the winning team had to determine which partner got the spot. We'll solve this dilema later, when D'Lo Brown and Chaz are forced to decide.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz:

I honestly can't seem to recall the backstory for this one. I recall Edge and Christian winning the titles from Right to Censor in a clusterfuck of a match, and we should just be happy that stable isn't involved in the match. The Dudleys attack before the bell, sending the champs for cover on the outside. The Dudleys follow, bringing them back to the ring. D'Von with a neck breaker on Edge for a quick two count. Whip to the ropes, and D'Von with the twisting diving elbow on Christian for another two count. Irish whip, and a double shoulder tackle gets two. Bubba pounds away on Christian. Whip to the ropes, and Christian gets launched into the roof. Christian offers some minor attack, but Bubba plants him with a side suplex for a two count. Edge tags in, and is quickly taken over with a powerslam. Whip to the ropes, and D'Von takes a shot from the apron to turn the tide. Edge with some stompin', followed by a back suplex. Christian with a Russian leg sweep, followed by more pounding on the back of the head. Edge with some pounding away in the corner, followed by a neck breaker for two. Christian with choking, and Edge with a reverse chinlock. D'Von escapes with elbows, but is taken down with a swinging neck breaker. Edge goes for a piledriver, but D'Von sweeps the legs from under, slingshots him to the corner, and rolls him up for two. Double clothesline puts both men down. Bubba with the hot tag... but the referee doesn't see it. I hate that spot. Edge and Christian go for the Con-Chair-To, but D'Von avoids it and takes both men out with clotheslines. Bubba gets the real hot tag and plows through Edge with a clothesline. He takes Christian over with a back drop, then drops Edge with a hot shot. Bubba with a full-nelson slam on Christian, then a slam on Edge. D'Von to the top, and it's Wassup Time. D'Von unwisely goes for a table, but Christian breaks it up. Edge with the belt, but Bubba ducks and rolls him up for two. Christian goes for the Unprettier, but D'Von breaks it up. 3-D attempt is also broken up, courtesy of a spear from Edge. E&C go for their own version of the Wassup dive, but D'Von tosses Edge off the top rope. 3-D on Edge, and we have NEW Tag Team Champions at 9:58. Short enough to never considerably slow down, with some hot sequences and a nice finish.

- Backstage nonsense occurs with the special guest of the evening... Drew Carey. He's pimping a Pay-Per-View special, which is enough to warrant his inclussion in the WWE Hall of Fame.

WWF Intercontinental Championship, Ladder Match:
Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho:

These two always seemed to have differences, and the hell if I can recall any of it. Benoit regained the championship at Armageddon by completely squashing "The One" Billy Gunn, shuttling him down the card in the process. And for that, we thank you, Mr. Benoit. They exchange blows at the bell, with Jericho gaining the control. Whip to the ropes, Jericho with an elbow, followed by a clothesline. Whip to the corner is reversed, Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls through. He in turn goes for the Walls of Jericho, but Benoit kicks him off. Benoit quickly rams Jericho's shoulder into the post and continues pounding away. Benoit with a shoulder breaker. Whip to the ropes is reversed, and Jericho comes bouncing back with a diving forearm. He goes for the springboard dropkick, but Benoit pulls down the ropes, causing Jericho to spill to the outside. Benoit goes for the Ladder, but Jericho interrupts. Benoit goes for the ladder again, sidesteps a baseball slide, and throws Jericho into the steel steps. Benoit sets up the ladder, but Jericho interrupts the climb with an electric chair drop. Jericho with the ladder, and he introduces it into Benoit's face. He rams Benoit in the midsection. They continue fighting over the instrument of destruction, with the action spills to the floor. Benoit sets up for a sucide dive, but makes face-first contact with a steel chair on the way out. That's got to hurt... Jericho with a suplex, laying Benoit across the security wall. Jericho tries to ram the ladder into him, but Benoit rolls away, putting all the pain on Jericho.

Benoit with the ladder to plow through Jericho, then bashes him over the back with the chair. Back inside, Benoit kills... err... really hurts Jericho with a stiff clotheslines. Benoit sets the ladder up in the corner, and rams Jericho into it like a battering ram. Benoit goes for more, but Jericho blocks and shoves Benoit into the ladder, instead. Jericho crotches him across the ladder and executes a variant of the Russian leg sweep. Ouch. Again. Benoit manages to survive and dropkicks the ladder back into Jericho's face. Benoit with a snap back suplex. The ladder is used as a weapon some more, with plenty of facial rearrangement going on. Jericho to the top rope, and he dropkicks the ladder into Benoit. He tries climbing, but Benoit pulls him back and sends him over the top rope with a suplex. Benoit climbs, Jericho interrupts, and somehow locks on the Walls of Jericho, across the top of the ladder. How the HELL do you do that? They're not human, I tells ya! Jericho bashes Benoit with the ladder, then kicks him in the head. Jericho attempts a dive from off the ladder, but Benoit counters with the Crippler Crossface! Jericho taps, but there's obviously no submissions in this match. Benoit posts the shoulder, but a charge turns into a flap-jack onto the ladder. They fight on the ladder, with Benoit coming out on top. He sets up for the diving headbutt, but Jericho rolls away. Jericho sets the ladder across the top of Benoit and climbs, but Benoit powers out and dumps the ladder over, dropping Jericho across the top rope. Benoit climbs, Jericho grabs a chair. He smacks Benoit with it a few times, then pushes the ladder over, sending Benoit to the floor. Jericho climbs, and we have a NEW Intercontinental Champion at 18:43. This was ONLY his third time as Champion. Only. Spectacular ladder match, during an era when tag team matches were the in-thing when it came to that sort of stipulation. Sadly, matches like these are pretty much erased from history thanks to one of the involved participants.

- Drew Carey flirts with Trish Stratus, cheesing off Vince McMahon. Vince offers Drew a spot in the Royal Rumble, thus screwing over D'Lo Brown and Chaz once again. Oh well, as if they had any hopes in hell of winning, anyway.

- Ivory, then a member of Right to Censor, retained the Women's Championship against Chyna. I refuse to do a traditional match recap because of the tasteless decision put forth with this match, and the entire angle. You see, Chyna was "injured" following a piledriver or two from Val Venis, taking her out of possibly being in the Royal Rumble. Since she's inhuman, she could still wrestle women, and signed a match to face Ivory, the only female of RTC, who Chyna had issues with dating back to October. Anyways, Chyna dominates until a stupid spot sees her crumple to the canvas, incapable of movement. This was only (roughly) a year after the severe spinal injury that left Darren Drozdov permantly injured and confined to a wheel chair. Making an angle faking such an injury just came across as low, and is one of the angles that I'll remember that made me shake my head at wrestling as a whole.

- Drew Carey comes across Kane in the locker room. I smell FORSHADOWING!

WWF Championship Match:
Kurt Angle (w/ Trish Stratus) vs. Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley):

Talk about "time filling" material for the WWF Championship. Everyone and their mother knew WrestleMania X-Seven was going to feature Rock vs. Austin. It was just a matter of when the trigger was pulled. The Angle/HHH program was pretty much killed off in September when Triple H refused to do a face turn and made Angle look like a goober, and has been feuding with Steve Austin since the revelation of the driver who ran over Austin (Rikishi did it... for the Rock). Lockup to start, Triple H grabs a wristlock. Angle rolls through, takes Hunter over with a fireman's carry, and grabs an armbar. Hunter counters with a headlock, then comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Angle with a hip toss, followed by a clothesline, sending Helmsley to the floor. Back inside, HHH pounds away. Whip to the cover is reversed, and Angle takes him over with a back drop. Angle with a wristlock. Triple H escapes with knees to the midsection, but a back suplex is countered with a snap suplex. Angle with a pair of suplex' for a two count. They spill to the floor, with Angle being introduced to the security wall. Back inside, Triple H with a drop toe hold, followed by a modified version of an STF. Triple H with a dragon screw, making me wish I had an Nintendo 64 again so I could play No Mercy. Angle comes back with a practically blown enziguri, and we spill to the floor, once more. Hunter continues working the leg and bashes the knee with a chair while Stephanie distracts the referee. Maybe now Angle will keep selling instead of the come-and-go effect. Triple H drops the knee across the ring steps and takes it back inside the ring. He clips the knee of Angle, and slaps on an Indian Deathlock. Was that his go-to-submission hold at the time? Angle fights free, but quickly gets taken down following a knee to the face. Triple H with more work on the leg, and it's Figure-Four time! Trish comes in to interfere, bringing Stephanie in as well for a Cat-Fight. Vince McMahon xomes to ringside to break it up, taking both Trish and Stephanie back to the locker room.

Back to the action, Triple H goes for another Figure-Four, but Sting... I mean Angle, counters with a small package for a two count. They exchange blows until Angle hits a DDT, but it only gets a two count. Angle with an inverted atomic drop and German suplex for another two count, Angle with a russian leg sweep, followed by a trip to the top rope. Triple H low blows him, though, and takes him off the ropes with a Razor's Edge. That only gets two. Hunter sets up for the pedigree, but Angle escapes and accidentally-on-purpose headbutts him in the junk. Angle to the top, and this time the moonsault connects, but only for two. The action spills to the floor, and we somehow get a referee bump from it. Back inside, Angle debuts his "pop up and run up the ropes" counter, throwing Hunter off with an arm drag. I love that spot. The action spills to the floor, AGAIN, and we get another ref' bump. What is this, WCW?! Back inside, Angle counters a shot with the belt withan overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Triple H pops up, hits the Pedigree, but Austin runs in, belt shots Hunter, and KO's him with the Stunner. Angle covers and retains at 24:14. Very predictable finish, even as it happened live. Decent match, but all over the place (how many times can I say "action spills to the floor"), and having heel vs. heel without any sense of a default face really makes me question the decision in putting this on the show.

- XFL Cheerleaders Commercial. Make your own jokes.

30 Man Royal Rumble Match:

We all know the stipulation... winner gets to face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania X-Seven. The pre-match video only showcases roughly 6 people, so it's safe to say the entire field between entries 1 and 20 haven't a shot in hell of being there in the end. #1 is Jeff Hardy and #2 is Bull Buchanon. I prefer the years when the opening two could work a decent little match to start things. #3 is Matt Hardy, and they quickly double-team Bull to eliminate him at 2:09. Matt and Jeff fight briefly, including the worst example of selling after the face I've ever seen, until we get Faarooq in there at #4, but he's quickly thrown out at 4:35. Faarooq always seemed to get the shaft in the Rumble. #5 is Drew Carey, and he takes his time getting to the ring. In the meantime, the Hardy's eliminate each other at 6:37 while battling on the top rope. Morons. #6 is Kane, signalling Carey to crap his pants. He offers money, but Kane says no. Luckily for Drew, Raven enters at #7 and attacks Kane with a kendo stick. Carey takes this opprotunity to eliminate himself at 9:07 and avoid a beating. Kane dominates, so Raven rolls to the floor and blasts him in the face with a fire extinguisher. #8 is Al Snow, and he pounds away on Raven. He whips out a bowling bag, and gives Raven a 7-10 split. Weapons are littered all over the ring. #9 is Perry Saturn, and he goes after Kane, as well. In an awesome triple team spot, Raven hops on Kane with a sleeper, while Saturn clips the knees and Snow bashes him in the face with a road sign. That FINALLY takes the big red machine down. #10 is Steve Blackman, and fuck if I remember he was still on the roster at this point. Lots of senseless brawling, but it's all fun and a change from previous years.

#11 is Grandmaster Sexay, and this might as well be the cue for ring clearing... Kane bashes Sexay in the head with a garbage can, hard enough to make him jump 6 feet in the air and be eliminated at 17:17. Blackman tries to skin the cat back in, but Kane whacks him in the face to send him home at 17:34. Al Snow is tossed at 17:42, and Raven takes a boot to seal his fate at 17:46. Saturn tries his luck, but Kane disposes of him as well at 17:58, leaving Kane in the ring by himself. See what I mean about the field at this point? #12 is the Honkytonk Man, and for the record, random guest spots in the Rumble ARE fun and entertaining. He tries singing, but Kane bashes him with the guitar and tosses him at 19:54. #13 is the Rock, and we've already got a main event confrontation in the Rumble. Color me surprised red. They go back and forth until we see #14 is the Goodfather, and he's tossed out in about 15-seconds courtesy of the Rock, at 22:24. Kane pops up and pounds away on the Rock. Whip to the ropes is reversed, and Kane catches him coming with a side suplex. #15 is Tazz, and he runs right into a choke from Kane and thrown out at 24:01, lasting a whopping 10 seconds or so. Talk about earning an easy payday. Kane and Rock continue to brawl, so we get a replay of Tazz's elimination. Sorry, only TAKA's 2000 performance deserved multiple viewings. #16 is Bradshaw, as Rock plants Kane with a Samoan drop. He and Rock work on Kane, then he lays out Rock with the Clothesline from Heck. Everyone's fighting with everyone and #17 is Albert. Yay. #18 is Hardcore Holly, and the match is slowly starting to die from lack of interest. #19 is K-Kwik (now known as R-Truth), but he barely gets a reaction for being new and not really doing much noteworthy. Lots of hugging and punching, sorry for the lack of detail. #20 is Val Venis, and damn if that RTC siren isn't annoying after 3 times. #21 is William Regal, the reigning European Champion. #22 is Test. Bradshaw lays Venis out with the Clothesline from Heck, and Test quickly dumps out Regal at 37:14. They had a minor program at the time, and I'm pretty sure Test won the Euro' title from Regal shortly after this PPV.

#23 is the Big Show, making his surprise return from OVW. He cleans everyone's clock, then tosses Test out at 39:13 and then K-Kwik at 39:19. Show with the Showstopper chokeslam to all, but one... the Rock. They have a back-and forth sequence, until Rock sends Show over and out with a clothesline at 40:26. Big Show won't go quietly though, and whoops Rock's butt around the ring before finshing him off with a chokeslam through the announcer's table. Sore loser. #24 is Crash Holly, but nothing happens. #25 is the Undertaker (American Badass version), and we get yet ANOTHER reunion between him and Kane, as they clean house: Bradshaw at 43:28, Crash at 43:30, Hardcore at 43:33, Albert at 43:34, and Venis at 43:39. #26 is Scotty Too Hotty, and he's screwed. He goes into the lion's den like a man, takes a double chokeslam, and gets thrown out at 45:46. #27 is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, but before he gets to the ring, Triple H cuts him off and lays a beating in, busting Austin open in the process. Rumble match bladejob? Way to go! Rock finally makes it back to the ring, and takes a double teaming from Kane and 'Taker. #28 is The ONE Billy Gunn, and he offers some help, but not much. #29 is the surprise return of Haku, who was at the time WCW's reigning Hardcore Champion. Nice afro, too. He headbutts Kane and Undertaker into oblivion. #30 is Rikishi to round out the field.

Rikishi takes a cheap shot at Austin, but IT'S A TRAP, as Austin lays a whooping in his ass. We've got Kane, the Rock, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, Billy Gunn, Haku, and Rikishi left for those with short attention spans. Austin pounds away on everyone and clotheslines Haku out at 52:43. Shucks. I wanted Haku to main event WrestleMania. Undertaker with a chokeslam on Rikishi. The success is short-lived, as Rikishi comes back to life and sends 'Taker over and out with a superkick at 53:51. Rikishi sends Rock to the corner and crushes him with the ass avalanche. He goes for the Banzai Drop, but Rock low blows him and dumps the big man out at 54:48. Gunn with the Fame-asser on Austin, but unwisely gives Austin the finger, giving Austin the strength to pop up and throw Gunn out at 55:21. Rock with a DDT on Kane, and now all three men are down. The Rock and Austin manage to prop themselves up in opposite corners for the obvious (and awesome) clip for a future video package. They lock eyes and build up to a slugfest. Austin escapes a Rock bottom with elbows to the side of the head and connects with the Stunner! Austin stumps a mudhole until Kane interrupts. Austin wht a Thesz Press and pounding away. Rock pops up and tries tossing Kane, but he goes through the ropes. Rock and Austin scuffle near the ropes, allowing Kane to dump them both over, but only Rock's feet hits the floor, taking him out of the match at 59:06, leaving Kane and Austin. Kane with a chokeslam, then signals for the end. Austin wisely hits a low blow to slow the big man down. Kane to the floor and goes for a chair, but Austin fights it away from him. Kane goes for the Tombstone, but Austin slips free and hits the Stunner. Austin with the chair, and he whacks Kane with it a few times, then clotheslines him out for the victory and shot at the Championship at 1:01:52. Other than the slow-ish period towards the middle, a very entertaining Rumble. The hardcore battle royal at the start, a hot finish, some surprise returns and guest spots, and a nice performance from Kane makes for one of the better Rumbles in years (the Rumble match suffered in quality a bit in the late 90's).

Final Thoughts: Other than the 10-minutes dedicated to the garbage over the Women's Championship, this was a damn fine show. Royal Rumble matches are like pizza, even when they're bad they're kind of good, but the undercard featured an outstanding ladder match between Jericho and Benoit, a short, satisfying tag team opener between the Dudleys and Edge & Christian, and while I didn't care too much for Triple H/Angle, it was still a solid performance and had a nice throwback to an old school style that Triple H tried working into his matches at the time. Definitely worth a look, if not completely forgetable when you look back at everything that lead up to the show.

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