Thursday, 10 December 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Judgement Day 2001

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Event poster
May 20, 2001
ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California

Only in the world of professional wrestling could two men attempt to literally murder one another  then put all that behind them and form a team.


That's exactly what happened with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H. If you recall, the latter had hired Rikishi to run over The Texas Rattlesnake with a car (and Rikishi was happy to do it for The Rock).

After taking a year to recover from the attempted vehicular homicide, Austin had returned and tried to end HHH's life at Survivor Series 2000.

Now, however, the two men had joined forces and gone on a power trip, and that's just about all you need to know before we dive into this week's review:

WWF Judgement Day 2001.






The End is Nigh

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Paul Heyman & Jim Ross
Tonights' opening package interspersed footage of our four main event stars (Undertaker, Kane, HHH, and Stone Cold Steve Austin) with an actor portraying one of those eccentric street preachers who heads out to warn people that the end of the world is nigh.

Honestly, it was far better than I described.

The video led us into footage of the live crowds in both the arena and at WWF New York before our usual greeting from announcers Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

With that, it was onto the opening match.

William Regal vs. Rikishi

Prior to the bell, William Regal took to the microphone to remind us that Rikishi had recently put his "filthy, disgusting behind" in Stephanie McMahon's face.

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - William Regal's reaction after getting stinkfaced by Rikishi
Tonight, the commissioner was out to punish 'Kishi for his heinous crime and vowed that if the big man even dared to put his bloody bum in the Comissh's face, the punishment would be 'severe and permanent.'

Naturally, Rikishi did give Regal a stinkface, and Regal sold it with a convincing look of shock and disgust that was truly Oscar-worthy.

I kid you not, I played his reaction back three times and laughed my head off every single time. It was absolutely the highlight of an otherwise average match.

Regal got his revenge by winning the match by moving out of harm's way when his opponent charged at him in the corner. Rikishi -who had been forgiven by the fans for his attempted murder on Stone Cold Steve Austin- went colliding, injured shoulder first, into the rope, collapsed to the mat, and was pinned.
Your Winner: William Regal

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Kurt Angle catches up with Edge & Christian backstage
Out in the back, Kurt Angle approached Edge & Christian to talk about his impending two-out-of-three-falls match with Chris Benoit.

In particular, the Olympic Gold Medalist was concerned about the match reaching the third and final fall - a ladder match with his gold medals on the line- and wanted his friends’ advice.

The advice they gave him?

Don’t fall off the ladder because it sucks.

Across the way, Vince McMahon grilled Triple H about Hunter and Steve Austin getting The Undertaker’s wife, Sarah, involved in their feud.

With Stephanie McMahon looking on, Vince questioned whether it was such a good idea to interfere with the sanctity of marriage, to which The Game replied by reminding Vince that he had recently had his own wife committed to an institution.

Two-out-of-Three-Falls
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Krispin Wah faced Kurt Angle in a two-out-of-three-falls matchFirst fall - pinfalls only
Second fall - submissions only
Third fall - ladder match for Kurt’s gold medals
Unsurprisingly, this was remarkable.

Angle and Benoit had previously met in a two-out-of-three-falls match at Insurrexion 2001. That match was food, but this was way better.

Benoit won the first fall pretty quickly by hitting Angle with the Olympic Slam. A solid stretch of action followed before Kurt even the score with an ankle lock, then we got an epic ladder match that only ended when Edge and Christian ran in to fight Benoit while Angle climbed the ladder.

As I write this, I haven’t seen any other matches on this show but already I seriously doubt If anyone could top that.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Undertaker threatens William Regal
Backstage, William Regal was busy being treated for the cut he received in his match with Rikishi when an enraged Undertaker stormed into in his office.

Fuming about HHH and Steve Austin dragging his wife into their rivalry, Mr. Dead Man Inc. demanded that Regal make his WWF Championship match with Austin No Holds Barred.

Reluctant, Regal appeared terrified at the thought of telling Austin that his match had been changed, though Undertaker’s not-so-subtle threat to slit the Commissioner’s throat was enough to convince him to make the match.

Jerry Lynn is the Light Heavyweight Champion

Up next, we went live to WWF New York, where Jerry Lynn set a new world record for the most times saying the words ‘light heavyweight champion’ in three minutes.

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Jerry Lynn: Your Light Heavyweight ChampionLynn was angry about being left off tonight’s card when he really wanted to be defending his light heavyweight championship because he was the light heavyweight champion and as the light heavyweight champion he should have been defending the light heavyweight championship at Judgement Day because that’s what a light heavyweight champion does.

Seriously, that’s pretty much what he said. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Lynn, but his promo did him no favors.

Meanwhile, back in the arena, Kane wandered down a dark corridor hitting some steel poles with a chain.

Scary.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Rhyno vs. Test vs. The Big Show

Offering a complete change of pace from our previous match, this was a fun hardcore match with all of the usual creative, spots and the kind of weapon shots that made you wince and go ‘oof.’

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Test faced Hardcore Champion Rhyno and The Big Show
Starting with a mad brawl in the ring, the three men made their way backstage, where Big Show lifted Rhyno up and pinned him against a wall. This was somehow good enough for the referee to make the count, but the champion kicked out and helped Test dump Show through some pallets.

They then made it back to the ring to play with the obligatory trash cans for a bit before Rhyno threw one at Show and gored him into oblivion.
Your Winner and Still Hardcore Champion: Rhyno

Out in the back, William Regal fretted about informing Steve Austin of the changes to his match, but he really had nothing to worry about. He finally caught up with The Bionic Redneck (talking to his wife, Debra, in the dressing room), who shrugged his shoulders and didn’t seem to care one way or another.

Elsewhere in the arena, Lita was getting ready for her Women’s Championship match with Chyna when The Ninth Wonder of the World’s ex, Eddie Guerrero, stopped by to offer her some advice.

With the Hardy Boyz looking on, Lita politely declined Eddie’s help and vowed to beat Chyna on her own.

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women's Champion Chyna vs. Lita 

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - WWF Women's Champion Chyna appeared in her last WWF PPV
Though both women were technical babyfaces here, Chyna definitely took on the role of heel, dominating Lita in a competent but unspectacular match.

At one point, the women’s champion seemed to be having major wardrobe trouble. The production crew had to continuously pixelate her chest as her boobs kept spilling out of her top. I mention this because it was the most noteworthy thing to happen in the whole match beyond a brief cameo from Eddie Guerrero who mainly just watched the match from the entranceway.

Though not bad by any stretch, this wasn’t all that exciting and came to an end when Chyna powerbombed the life out of her opponent.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Chyna

After a quick shill for the upcoming King of the Ring PPV, we went backstage where Michael Cole caught up with Angle. The Olympic Gold Medalist told Cole that he was planning to reenact his 1996 Olympic medal ceremony on the following night’s episode of Raw.

As the two walked backstage, they bumped into Edge and Christian. Angle stopped to address the two, insisting that he beat Benoit all by himself but was grateful for his buddies ‘cheering him on’ at ringside.

‘Thank god,’ said Edge once Angle was out of earshot. ‘Now we don’t have to listen to Kurt bitching about his medals ever again.’

He and Christian then briefly discussed their plans to become eight-time tag team champions before we went to another part of the arena where Vince McMahon gave The Two Man Power Trip a pep talk.

Triple H would be in action next.

Chain Match for the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. Kane

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Kane beat HHH for the Intercontinental Championship
A fantastic match with a white-hot crowd, this was brutal, bloody and brilliant.

Fought under general no DQ rules with both men attached to one another by a length of chain, Kane vs. Triple H was utterly compelling from start to finish.

The champion dominated a large chunk of the match but The Big Red Machine continually fought back and pummelled his opponent with brute force.

Just when it looked like Kane had the match in the bag, Steve Austin ran down to help The Game but this strategy backfired. Austin accidentally waffled his tag team partner with a chair and three seconds later the Intercontinental championship had changed hands.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Kane

After a commercial for WWF: The Music Vol. 5, we went backstage where Jonathan Coachman reminded Chris Jericho that he still hadn’t revealed the name of his mystery partner for the upcoming tag team turmoil match.

Without giving anything away, Y2J only promised that he would be teaming with ‘a real party animal,’ and that together, they would bring the fight to Edge and Christian.

Meanwhile, a battered and bloody HHH struggled to stay on his feet as he complained to Vince McMahon about the outcome of his match.

Tag Team Turmoil Match
(Winners Become Number One Contenders to the Tag Team Titles)
The Acolytes vs. The Radicalz (Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko w/ Terri) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley w/ Spike Dudley) vs. The X-Factor (X-Pac & Justin Credible w/ Albert) vs. Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit 

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Terri cheered on Saturn
This was a gauntlet-style, winner-stays on match starting with The Acolytes taking on Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn, the latter of whom was looking more and more like Superstar Billy Graham with every match.

Unfortunately, that didn’t help him and Malenko get the better of The Acolytes.

In just a few short minutes, the duo were sent packing by Farooq and Bradshaw, who then entered into a spirited performance with The Dudley Boyz. A second win followed, this time thanks to interference from Crash and Hardcore Holly, though shenanigans from Albert meant that Acolytes succumbed to The X-Factor.

Albert’s involvement also meant that X-Pac and Justin Credible get past The Hardyz, but they were no match for Chris Jericho and his mystery partner, former rival Chris Benoit.

The duo who had faced each other in one of the all-time great ladder matches back at the 2001 Royal Rumble beat both X-Factor and Edge and Christian to win a shot at the tag team titles

As with almost everything on this show, it was a tremendous effort. Every match-within-a-match between all the teams gave us something different to enjoy, building all the way up to the gripping all-Canadian finale.

The ending was the right result too. Having had high-profile matches in the past, Benoit and Jericho were the best choices for challenging HHH and Austin and the pair with the most realistic chance of beating them.
Your Winners: Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit

No Holds Barred Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 2001 - Steve Austin defended the WWF Championship against The Undertaker
Once again, this absolutely delivered.

With Austin playing a sick, twisted and violently unhinged champion and Undertaker being his usual dominant, badass self, both men waged absolute war with one another in a phenomenal main event.

Exciting, enthralling and excellent? It was an absolute joy to watch and only got better the longer it went on.

Undertaker looked to have the title in the bag, but HHH ran out with his trusty sledgehammer.

At first, the challenger was able to stop the attempt of both Hunter and Vince McMahon (who had been on commentary), but eventually, the three-on-one assault proved too much.

Kane tried to help his brother but it was too little, too late. Austin smashed Undi in the head and got the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Steve Austin

Afterward, Triple H seemed to have forgiven Austin for costing him the Intercontinental championship and embraced him as they made their way backstage.







You know, over the course of running this blog, I find myself watching a lot of wrestling, and it’s rare that I see a show that I absolutely enjoy from start to finish.

Judgement Day 2001 was such a show. While the Regal/Rikishi match wasn’t great, Regal’s reaction to the stinkface was one of the funniest things to ever happen on a pro wrestling show.

After that, only the women’s title match was underwhelming. Everything else, from the awesome Angle/Benoit match to that excellent main event proved to be a great deal of fun.

I’m not saying Judgment Day 2001 was the best show ever, but it sure was a blast.




Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 
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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.