Thursday, 27 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 2001

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Event poster
January 21, 2001
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana

It's fair to say that the year 2000 was the last full calendar year that everything was 'normal' in the world of professional wrestling as we knew it back then. 


By the end of that year, there were still three major players - the WWF, WCW, and ECW. Sure, the latter two may have been on their last legs, but they were there.

By the end of the year 2001, however, everything would be different. Not only would WCW and ECW be gone, but they'd be owned by the World Wrestling Federation, while the WWF itself would be only months away from not even being the WWF any more thanks to those pesky Panda People.

Still, at least everything seemed normal on that late January night when the World Wrestling Federation brought the Royal Rumble to New Orleans.






Here's what went down at the last Royal Rumble of an era remembered so fondly by so many of us...

The First Step Towards Immortality

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jim Ross called the event
Tonight’s video package was a bold, dramatic affair that told us that if Wrestlemania was the showcase of the immortals then the Royal Rumble was the first step towards immortality.

As with 99% of the company’s PPV intros, it was very well done and really got you psyched for the show.

The camera then panned the huge crowd both live in the arena and at WWF New York. Man, I bet WWE -or indeed any wrestling company in the world- would kill to have such a huge crowd that was as red hot as the ones back then.

Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to the show and, with that, it was down to ringside.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF World Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Edge and Christian battled The Dudley Boyz
The Dudleyz wasted no time going after their opponents and attacked them right from the opening bell, but Edge & Christian soon managed to cut D’Von off from his partner and dominate the bulk of the match.

That whole part was fine, but it did look as though it was going to give us a fairly bland opening match with neither team performing anywhere near the level they were capable of.

Then they began building towards the finish and it was absolutely tremendous.

Near falls followed counters followed reversals followed more near falls, all in one utterly enthralling finale which came to a head with a win for Bubba Ray and D’Von courtesy of the 3D.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey meets Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Earlier, on heat, comedian Drew Carey arrived at the arena. Also on that show, Vince McMahon addressed something that had happened on Smackdown and told us that, yes, Steve Austin would be in tonight’s Rumble match and, yes, Triple H would be challenging Kurt Angle for the WWF title.

Back live in the arena, HHH urged Stephanie McMahon not to let her hatred of Angle’s manager, Trish Stratus get in the way of him becoming champion.

After Steph was done ranting about her man winning tonight’s match, they were interrupted by Carey, who was excited about bumping into Kamala at an airport.

Honestly, that’s what he said.

He also said that he wanted to talk to Vince McMahon about promoting PPVs since the only reason he was there on the show was to promote his own upcoming PPV special.

Steph didn’t know where her Dad was, but she did want to introduce Drew to Trish, partly to get the comedian out of Hunter’s way (because who has time to talk about Kamala’s singing career when you’ve got a title match?) but mostly to stick it to Trish.

Always Poundin’ Ass

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Farooq and Bradshaw with their questionable t-shirts
Across the arena, Farooq and Bradshaw were playing cards and drinking beer. They got into it about something but I’m not sure what because I was too distracted by their ridiculous APA: Always Poundin’ Ass t-shirts.

Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

I sort of got the idea that they were talking about which number they’d drawn for the Rumble as both men flashed one another bits of paper and agreed it was going to make things interesting.

Crash Holly then burst on the scene to warn the two men that if they got in his way, he’d have no problem throwing them over the top rope.

‘DAMN,’ said Farooq.
‘And people call us drunks,’ added Bradshaw.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

In the past year, these two had given us many great matches at events like Judgement Day 2000, Summerslam 2000 and many others, so it was fitting that they kicked off 2001 with another scorcher.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Chris Benoit faced Chris Jericho in an excellent ladder match
I’ve always said that my favorite match of all time was the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between Triple H and The Rock at Summerslam 1998, but I genuinely believe that Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho at the 2001 Royal Rumble might be every bit as good as that one.

Honestly, I’ve watched so much wrestling over the course of running this blog that I start wondering if I’m not becoming a bit desensitized to it all.

Then a match like this comes along and reminds me why I do love pro wrestling.

I can’t remember the last time I spent so long literally on the edge of my seat, utterly enraptured by every move. Nor do I ever remember joyously yelling ‘HOLY S**T!’ as often as I did here.

It was stiff, it was brutal, it was dramatic,  and it was absolutely exceptional.

Quality stuff from start to finish, this one ended when Jericho knocked Benoit from atop the ladder to the outside then climbed up and captured his third Intercontinental Championship.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Drew Carey was busy getting rejected by Trish Stratus when Vince McMahon walked in.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey flirts withTrish Stratus
Seizing his opportunity, Carey quizzed McMahon on how to better promote his upcoming PPV, but Vince was more interested in encouraging him to enter the Royal Rumble match.

Yep, that was happening.

Don’t Worry About Chyna

Across the arena, Chyna was gearing up for her match with Ivory as her buddy Billy Gunn urged her not to go through with it.

The Ninth Wonder of the World was in rough shape after being on the receiving end of a spike piledriver at the hands of Right to Censor, but she wasn’t going to let that get in the way of getting revenge on arch-rival Ivory.

Instead, she stormed off and insisted that Gunn would be better off worrying about the 29 other men he’d have to fight in the Rumble.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New Intercontinental Champion

Before we went back to Ross and Lawler, Michael Cole got a quick word with new IC champion Y2J.

Referring to Benoit as ‘one of the toughest bastards I’ve ever faced,’ Jericho kept it short and sweet, declaring that he’d proven his rival wrong once and for all.

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women’s Champion Ivory (w/ Steven Richards) vs. Chyna

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Chyna presses Ivory in their women's title match
Though the match was very short, it was actually kind of fun to watch Chyna woman-handle her much smaller opponent, throwing her around like a rag-doll and generally kicking her ass all over the place.

Then the finish came, and it was really underwhelming.

The challenger backed the champion into the corner and went for her trademark cartwheel handspring elbow. However, as she struck Ivory, Chyna’s neck injury was reaggravated and she collapsed to the mat like a sack of crap.

A barely-conscious Ivory draper an elbow over her opponent and won the match in the space of just a few minutes.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Ivory

Selling the seriousness of the injury, Chyna lay prone on the mat, unable to move as Jerry Lawler abandoned his position at the announce table and hit the ring to check on her.

Chyna’s buddy Billy Gunn came down, quickly followed by agents Sgt. Slaughter and Tony Garea as we got a really long stretcher job.

I’ll Touch You, Trish

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Trish Stratus confronted Stephanie McMahon backstage
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon headed to makeup to her hair fixed, only to find her nemesis Trish Stratus was already there.

Trish offered to touch it up for her, leading McMahon to warn the blonde beauty that if she cost HHH the title then Steph would, yes, touch her.

The crowd cheered at the thought of some Steph/Trish touching.

Ahem.

Drew Carey is a Big Deal

Elsewhere, Harvey Wippleman handed some wrestling gear to a very nervous-looking Drew Carey.

‘Hey, who's the guy in the goofy mask?’ Asked Carey as Kane walked in, looked at the comedian, and left again.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Kane stares down Drew Carey backstageNo doubt that would pay off later.

As if to hammer home the point that Carey being there was a big deal, his name was dropped in another segment when Vince McMahon told Lo-Down (Chaz and D’Lo Brown with Tiger Ali Singh) that neither of them would be competing in the Royal Rumble because they’d been replaced by Carey.

You’ve gotta feel bad for D’Lo Brown.

He was one of the most entertaining parts of the early Attitude Era midcard and now he was basically comic fodder.

Who Will Win the Championship?

At WWF New York, a bunch of fans gave their pick for the WWF title match.

It was pretty much a 50/50 split between those who thought HHH would win and those who were rooting for Kurt Angle.

Back in the arena, HHH got psyched up for the big match by snarling at himself in the mirror.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Kurt Angle (w/ Trish Stratus) vs. Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Trish Stratus led WWF Champion Kurt Angle into battle against Triple H
Point of interest, this was the first WWF PPV in which Triple H used his Motörhead ‘The Game’ theme.

After his entrance, Hunter engaged in a solid wrestling match with Kurt Angle which was mostly very good.

Why only mostly?

Because at one point, Steph and Trish got into a predictable catfight that had to be broken up by Vince McMahon because this was during the time when he booked himself to be shagging the beautiful Ms. Stratus.

That was unnecessary, but the rest of the match was damn fine.

The Game dominated, for the most part, spending a large part of the bout working over the champion’s leg before just going all out to try and beat him.

Toward the finish, Earl Hebner got murdered which gave Stone Cold Steve Austin the chance to run out and get revenge on HHH for costing him the title recently.

The Texas Rattlesnake smacked his rival in the face with the title belt then planted him with a stunner for good measure before hauling a mostly-dead Earl Hebner back in the ring.

A lifeless Kurt Angle managed to drape an arm over his opponent, Hebner made the slowest count in all history and the Olympic Gold Medalist had once again barely escaped another match with his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Afterward, The Game stormed off, presumedly to find Austin.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back...to New Orleans

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock
Interviewed by Kevin Kelly, The Rock cut a fantastic promo about tonight’s 30-man rumble.

First, he addressed rumors that Kane and The Undertaker were in cahoots (that again?) and vaguely suggested they might be into some kind of weird brotherly incest before insisting that he’d throw both men over the top.

Finally, he confirmed that it may all come down to him and Stone Cold, if you could detect the odor of his efforts in the kitchen.

A video package followed, highlighting tonight’s Rumble competitors. The video did a good job telling us that Rikishi had the number 30 spot as well as showcasing main event stars like Kane, Undertaker, The Rock, and Stone Cold.

30 Man Royal Rumble Match featuring The Hardy Boyz, Drew Carey, Kane, Raven, Honky Tonk Man, The Rock, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Billy Gunn, Rikishi and more...

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey tries to buy his way out of fighting Kane in the Royal Rumble match
From start to finish, this was one of the most entertaining Rumbles in history with nary a dull moment in sight.

Howard Finkle gave us the rules of the match, including the fact that there’d be two minutes between entrances.

Then it was on with Jeff Hardy as competitor number one, Matt Hardy as number three, and Bull Buchanan between them at number two.

The brothers made short work of Buchanan then turned their attentions to one another, holding nothing back as they battled tooth and stopping only to dispose of number four entrant Farooq.

Drew Carey made his way out at number five and rejoiced as Matt and Jeff eliminated each other at the same time. His celebration was short-lived, however, as Kane was out at number six.

Pacing up and down the ring looking goofy and nervous, Carey offered Kane a handshake. When that didn’t work, he offered him money.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - The Honky Tonk man put in a surprise appearance in the Rumble match
Naturally, the Big Red Machine declined that too and was about to chokeslam Carey when number seven Raven came to the rescue.

Realizing he wanted none of that, the Drew hopped over the top rope and eliminated himself.

Raven’s arch-rival Al Snow then came out and filled the ring with garbage so that the two of them -along with Perry Saturn and Steve Blackman- could attack Kane hardcore style.

The Big Red Machine eventually cleaned house, only to be joined by none other than The Honky Tonk Man. Appearing in his first Rumble match since his last surprise appearance at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Honky wanted to sing his theme song, but Kane wanted to chokeslam him and eliminate him.

Guess who won that exchange?

With Honky gone, The Rock came out at number 13 to kick off the second, more serious half of the rumble.

In other highlights.

The Big Show returned to the company after a lengthy absence and murdered everyone in sight with chokeslams before being quickly eliminated by The Rock. To get his revenge, Show dragged Rock under the bottom rope and chokeslammed him through a table.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - The Brothers of Destruction, Kane and The Undertaker
The Undertaker revealed that he and Kane were working together after all. The two cleaned house and then dominated the match.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was attacked by Triple H during his entrance. The Game beat Austin to a bloody pulp. Austin did a gruesome blade job that was even more intense than his infamous crimson mask from Wrestlemania 13. At one point, he honestly looked like Frank from the first Hellraiser movie.

Haku returned to the World Wrestling Federation, appearing in his first WWF PPV since the 1992 Royal Rumble. Haku looked impressive here, almost as impressive as he’d looked when he won the WCW Hardcore title at WCW Sin just one week before this event.

In the end, it came down to Austin, Kane, and The Rock. Kane got rid of The Great One but got smacked upside the head with a chair several times by Austin before being clotheslined over the top rope with force.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Ladies and gentlemen, Stone Cold was going to Wrestlemania, and as the show closed, he threw a beer bash to celebrate.







Apart from the women’s title match which wasn’t really anything, WWF Royal Rumble 2000 was an awesome show from beginning to end.

Jericho/Benoit was the match of the night and is worth checking out for Jericho’s performance if nothing else.

Elsewhere, Kane and The Rock shone as MVPs of an utterly enthralling Rumble match.

A show well worth tracking down.

Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 
For more Royal Rumble reviews see:

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