Thursday, 24 December 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 2001

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Event Poster
June 24, 2001,
Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Over the course of the year 2000, Kurt Angle had enjoyed the best rookie year in WWF history up to that point.

Not only has he captured the European,  Intercontinental and WWF Championships, he had also been crowned that year’s King of the Ring winner.

Tonight, the Olympic Gold Medalist was looking to keep his incredible streak alive by becoming the first two-time King of the Ring winner on top of facing Shane McMahon in a grudge match.

Yet that wasn’t the only interesting thing happening in the WWF at this time.

On Raw, Triple H had suffered a horrific injury in a tag team title match on Raw in which he and partner Stone Cold Steve Austin faced Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Despite gutting it out to finish the match, The Game’s injury was so severe that he’d be out of action until the following year.







With The Rock out shooting The Scorpion King and The Undertaker tangled up in a dumb stalker angle with DDP, that left only Austin and Angle propping up the top of the card.

That perhaps explains why tonight, Benoit and Jericho found themselves in tonight’s main event, taking on Stone Cold for the WWF Championship.

Would the two Chrises take the title back to Canada?

Let’s find out...

Welcome to King of the Ring...

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Paul Heyman & Jim Ross called the event
Our opening video was one of the WWF’s best yet. It featured shots of a royal throne that looked ominously like an electric chair, sitting in a dark, creepy-looking building while we got shots of some of the main stars we’d see on tonight’s show.

It was very creatively done and very impressive, and it was followed, as always, by shots of the crowd and a greeting from the announce team, tonight made up of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

As the Dane was panned the arena, we saw that the throne/electric chair motif had made it to the set design, with an enormous version of it looming over the entrance.

Whatever else may have gone done on this night, there was no disputing the fact that this certainly felt -and looked- like the biggest and most important King of the Ring PPV to date.

Make Me Famous

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - DDP wanted The Undertaker to make him famous
Before we got to any of the matches, the show was interrupted by the WWF theme of one Diamond Dallas Page.

You know DDP, right? The guy was universally loved during his last few years with WCW and who famously had a smoking hot wife called Kimberly who we’d seen on TV countless times over the years?

Yep, well the WWF brain trust had decided in their infinite wisdom to ignore all of that and introduce him to their audience as an unhinged heel who was stalking The Undertaker’s wife, Sarah. Now, far be it for this writer to say anything negative about Sarah, but just to reiterate, he was stalking her while he had Kimberly Page, this Kimberly Page sitting at home.

Anyway, Dallas made his way to the ring via the crowd because -as Paul Heyman quickly reminded us- he was a WCW star and had no right to be there. This despite the fact that he had his own entrance music.

Once in the ring, the former WCW Champion declared that he had some very non-PG photos that he had taken of Sarah Taker and reminded us that he’d gone after her not because he’d suddenly gone insane, but because he wanted The Undertaker to make him famous.

To that end, he challenged The American Bad Ass to come and find him, announcing that he wouldn’t be hard to find as he’d be sat in the front row with a sign that read ‘MAKE ME FAMOUS.’

DDP clearly did the best he could with what he’d been given here. It was just a shame that what he’d been given was pretty dumb.

After that, JR told us that Spike Dudley and a mystery partner would challenge The Dudley Boyz for the tag team titles while Heyman addressed rumours that either Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho had been negotiating with WCW and were looking to take the title off Steve Austin and into enemy territory.

King of the Ring Semi-Final 1
Kurt Angle vs. Christian

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Kurt Angle faced Christian in the first semi-final
This was as good an opening match as you were going to get from two guys like Kurt Angle and Christian, with lots of quality action leading to an exciting finish.

At one point, WCW owner Shane McMahon came down, seemingly to distract his rival Kurt Angle.

However, after a great sequence in which Christian escaped the ankle lock,  got picked up in an Angle Slam but reversed that it unto an Unprettier, McMahon stopped him from getting the pin.

The confusion allowed The Olympic Gold Medalist to regroup, Angle Slam his opponent and win the match.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle (Advances to the final)

The announcers couldn’t understand why Shane would do such a thing if he hated Angle, but really, it was obvious:

The two were due to meet in a street fight later on in the show so, if Shane set it up so that Kurt had to compete in two matches first, that gave him an obvious advantage.

Where’s Vince?

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Jonathan Coachman interviews WWF Champion Steve Austin (w/ Debra)
Backstage, Jonathan Coachman wanted to get Steve Austin’s thoughts on the rumours that Benoit and Jericho were planning to beat him and take the title to WCW.

Austin, however, had no idea what he was talking about and only wanted to know where Vince McMahon was.

Though this wasn’t yet full-on comedic Austin, it was getting there and was pretty funny.

Please, I’m Beggin Ya, Make Me Famous

For saying the WWF were acting like Dallas Page was a nobody, they sure were spending a lot of time on him.

Up next, we got a look back at him stalking Undertaker’s wife and ‘Taker himself promising to kick his ass. This was followed by Paul Heyman interviewing Page, only to be interrupted by footage on the titantron which showed someone stalking Page while he ordered lunch at a restaurant.

Naturally, Page didn’t find it amusing.

King of the Ring Semi-Final 2
Edge vs. Rhyno

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Edge
Looking to do what his tag team partner couldn’t, Edge locked up with real-life buddy and on-screen associate Rhyno in this second semi-final match.

Though some might disagree, this definitely looked like the better of the two semi-finals, with both men holding nothing back and really turning up the aggression.

At one point, we got a great-looking spot where Rhyno’s gore and Edge’s spear canceled each other out, though even that full-on collision wasn’t enough to put either man away.

After more solid action, Edge finally hit Rhyno with the Impaler to secure his place in the final.

Man, that was fun.
Your Winner: Edge (Advances to the Final)

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Spike Dudley & Molly Holly were a couple
Earlier, on Heat, Spike Dudley had challenged his brothers for the tag team title. The smallest Dudley had fallen out with his brothers as part of a Romeo & Juliet angle in which he’d fallen in love with Molly Holly.

Live in the arena, with Molly by his side, Spike refused to be drawn into revealing his mystery partner, promising to save that for when he hit the ring.

Before he got there, however, he and Molly were confronted by D’Von and Bubba Ray, both of whom were playing the heel.

Spike wasn’t the only one refusing to give anyway. Back in the locker room, Chris Jericho toyed with new interviewer Tazz by announcing that he was aware of the rumours he would take the WWF title to WCW but wasn’t going to say whether they were true or not.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs. Spike Dudley & WWF Intercontinental Champion Kane

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - The Dudley Boyz faced Kane & Spike Dudley
This was better than it probably sounds. The Big Man/Little Man combo of Little Spike and The Big Red Machine added a unique touch to what could have otherwise been a mediocre tag team match.

It was especially fun to see Spike come so desperately close to winning the tag team titles only for The Dudleyz to kick out at the last moment. That’s to say nothing of the great moment when Kane gorilla pressed his pint-sized partner and launched him to the outside on top of Bubba Ray and D’Von.

Alas, even that wasn’t enough to get the win for the makeshift team as the champs retained thanks to the 3D.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz

Afterwards, D’Von got the tables but Kane ended up slamming Bubba through it, keeping up the tradition of The Dudley Boyz never (or at least rarely) successfully putting anyone through a table on PPV despite that being their whole gimmick.

Coming Up, The Final

Backstage, tensions seemed high between Edge & Christian, but all Christian wanted to do was wish Edge well in the final.

Meanwhile, over at WWF New York, 1999 King of the Ring winner Bad Bum Billy Gunn was furious about the fact that his stock had plummeted so far that he wasn’t even on tonight’s card.

King of the Ring Final
Edge vs. Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Kurt Angle tries to get out of facing Edge in the final
Before they locked up, Angle encouraged Edge to forfeit so that he (Angle) could be well-rested for his street fight with Shane McMahon while also sparing the future Rated-R Superstar the embarrassment of losing to the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Unsurprisingly, Edge responded by walloping Angle in the mush. The bell sounded, and this soon evolved into another solid match.

Though it’s arguable that the two semi-finals were better, there’s no denying that Angle and Edge put on a solid performance here.

After the inevitable cameo from Christian failed to end the match, Edge actually tapped out to the ankle lock but the referee was out so didn’t see it.

Shane then ran in and speared his nemesis. Edge got the cover, the referee miraculously recovered in time to make the count as they always do, and this one was done.

Though it was a good match, the fact that Edge tapped out and had to rely on Shane O’ Mac to help him win sure did put a dampener on Edge’s victory.
Your Winner and 2001 King of the Ring: Edge

Backstage, Chris Benoit also refused to tell Tazz whether or not he was going to take the WWF Championship to WCW if he won it.

Meanwhile, out in the crowd, a paranoid-looking DDP looked around the place from his front-row seat.

The Era of Awesome

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Jonathan Coachman interviews Edge
In lieu of any kind of coronation ceremony, King of the Ring winner Edge was awarded a brief backstage interview with Jonathan Coachman.

After Christian stopped by to congratulate him, our new King declared that the Era of Awesome has begun.

Elsewhere in the arena, an enraged Kurt Angle ranted and raved about his loss and vowed that if any WCW star got involved in his street fight with Shane, he would ensure they never worked again, went on welfare, and starved to death.

Harsh.

World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy vs. X-Pac

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - X-Pac challenged Jeff Hardy for the Light Heavyweight Championship
Though it was short and mostly forgettable, this was nonetheless a decent filler match.

Sure, there was a blown spot halfway through and sure, it was nowhere near as good as it could have been, but it was otherwise an OK effort.

After dominating most of the contest, X-Pac succumbed to a Swanton Bomb and lost the match.
Your Winner and Still Light Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy

Backstage, Steve Austin was having trouble getting hold of Vince McMahon on his cell phone, so he stormed into William Regal’s office to use his landline.

What followed was a funny exchange where it sounded as though Vince was screwing with the champ and pretending not to recognise his voice.

‘Vince, it’s Steve,’ he said. ‘Steve Austin...Vince, it’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, the World Wrestling Federation Champion....I’m fine, how are you?’

I can’t do it justice here, but trust me, it was funny.

Anyway, The Texas Rattlesnake was really worried about the rumours that Benoit and Jericho were planning to take the title to WCW and only just stopped short of begging the Chairman to come to the arena and fix the problem.

This was the early days of Austin’s storyline where he became super dependent on Vince, and it played out well here.

Page Gets His Wish

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Undertaker beat up DDP while Sara filmed it
After more footage of DDP going about his business that day, it was revealed that it was Sarah who had been stalking him.

She turned the camera on herself and told DDP that it was time for him to become famous.

Sure enough, The Undertaker arrived and proceeded to kick Page’s ass all over the place.

This wasn’t a match, it was just a straight-up ass whoop on’ with Dallas making only the briefest of comebacks.

Sure, this whole angle may have been silly, but if this fun brawl was the full extent of the pay off then it was worth it.

Backstage, Austin stalked the parking lot area waiting for Vince.

He asked a steward how long it would take for someone to drive to the arena from Greenwich. The steward initially had no idea, but when Austin asked him a second time he suddenly gained a whole new level of knowledge and declared that it would take ‘about an hour and a half.’

Growing infuriated, Austin demanded the guy send Vince to him as soon as he arrived.

Street Fight
Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle

Holy sh*t.

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Shane McMahon faced Kurt Angle in an awesome street fight
That’s what the crowd chanted half a dozen times throughout this incredible, violent street fight, and for good reason too.

Surpassing just about anything either man had done before in a professional wrestling ring, this kept getting better and better the longer it went on.

Of course, the match is best remembered today for Kurt suplexing Shane through the glass set design (and how reluctant that glass was to break) and it was an insane spot. What was even better was the sight of both men covered in blood and broken glass and keeping the fight going afterwards.

Everything before that was equally as enjoyable, and when Kurt Angle used a lumber board as a platform to hit Shane with the match-winning top-rope Angle Slam, it was a thing of violent beauty.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

Out in the back, an increasingly anxious Austin stalked the parking lot, still waiting for Vince McMahon.

There was no more time left, however, as he has to head to the ring while a video package played highlighting his turbulent relationship with Vince and issue with Benoit and Jericho.

Triple Threat Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF - King of the Ring 2001 - Stone Cold Steve Austin faced Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit in a triple threat match for the WWF title
I’m not sure if it’s because you had two babyfaces attacking a heel, or because the crowd were spent after the awesome street fight, but this one started off without much life to it.

OK, so it was still the collective talents of Benoit, Jericho, and Austin in one ring, so it was always going to be decent, but it didn’t really seem to get exciting until the final act.

They started with both challengers applying their finishing holds to the champion at the same time. Stone Cold tapped, but Earl Hebner declared that since only one man could be champion, Austin’s submission didn’t count.

Things continued with a surprise run-in from WCW Champion Booker T, who attacked The Texas Rattlesnake and put him through the Spanish announce table, giving Benoit and Jericho the chance to go one-on-one with each other.

Austin was eventually dragged back into the ring by Jericho, but despite the best efforts of both his opponents, he was still able to escape with his gold intact.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Steve Austin

Not the greatest main event of all time, but at least it got better the longer it went on.







The early part of the title match aside, King of the Ring 2001 was a consistently good show. The actual tournament gave us three quality matches, the tag team title match was more fun than it should have been, and that street fight was one of the greatest of all time.

Of all the WWF’s 2001 PPVs, King of the Ring may not have been the best, but to be fair, the bar had been set pretty high. The company were enjoying an incredible run in terms of quality.  It was just a shame that all of that would soon be overshadowed by The Invasion.





1 comments:

The King of the Ring tournament had really become nothing but an afterthought and a plot point for other storylines by 2001.

Nothing against Edge, because he deserved the big moment in the spotlight (and got to roast Billy Gunn in the process). However, the grand final was so damn early in the show, you easily forget why it was called "King of the Ring" in the first place.

The KOTR concept really needed to die off, but alas they tried it one more time the next year.

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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.