Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 18 February 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Rebellion 2001

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Event poster
November 3, 2001 
Manchester Arena, Manchester, England 

Finally...The Rock returns to Manchester for World Wrestling Federation Rebellion, the latest in a series of UK-exclusive WWF Pay Per Views were nothing of lasting consequence ever seemed to happen.

Yes, it's becoming the norm that every Retro Pro Wrestling review of these shows starts with that kind of introduction, but while it's true that these shows rarely mattered in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't make them all completely terrible.

Since establishing both Rebellion and Insurexxion as UK PPV brands, the company had at least put some effort into delivering marquee matches and giving both shows a big-time feel.

Did that pay off in terms of quality entertainment? Or was this show forgettable in every sense f the word?

Let's head down to the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England, to find out.

Tonight, it’s Austin vs. Rock III

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Paul Heyman and Jim Ross called the show
Though their match at Wrestlemania 19 is generally referred to as Austin vs. Rock 3 (being their third ‘Mania main event outing together) the actual third PPV main event match for the title between Steve Austin and The Rock would take place tonight here at The MEN Arena.

To build up to that, our opening match combines clips and soundbites from their previous feuds to make it appear as though tonight’s match was to settle a recent grudge between them even though they hadn’t had much interaction on TV since The Rock returned a few months previously.

Nonetheless, the video was decent stuff and led us to the usual pyro, crowd shots and greeting from our announcers Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

The duo also told us that we’d see Chris Jericho defending the WCW title against Kurt Angle and then sent us to the ring for our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Steel Cage Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. WWF European Champion Christian

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Edge after beating Christian in a cage match
and Christian had been a solid tag team and were good performers in their own right, but when they met in the ring that never really translated into the kind of awesome matches you’d hope they would have.

The two had met in a ladder match back at WWF No Mercy 2001 and that had suffered due to some problems with pacing.

This time out, the ‘brothers’ met in a cage match and though their pace was much better, the match still wasn’t quite as good as this writer hoped it would be.

Then again, maybe that’s simply a matter of me managing my expectations rather than there being anything wrong with the match itself.

After all, it was still an above-average effort that clearly delighted the Manchester crowd, and at the end of the day, that’s probably all that matters.

Towards the finish, Christian looked to scale the cage and escape, only for Edge to drag his opponent’s feet through the cage bars and hogtie them with wrist tape so that he (Edge) could climb over and to the outside.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Edge 

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Hugh Morrus and Chavo Guerrero were perverts
After a video that reminded us that Kurt Angle had recently turned heel and joined The Alliance (dumbest move ever, by the way) we went backstage where Chavo Guerrero was all excited about his special assignment interviewing the divas.

Before Chavo could speak to any of the women, however, he was interrupted by Hugh Morrus who claimed that he too had been sent to do interview duties.

After a brief argument, the former Misfits in Action teammates stormed into the divas' locker room where Trish Stratus was busy getting changed.

The two turned into a couple of childish school children and giggled a lot before Trish sent the boys packing, promising to set them up an interview with her buddy Lita.

Scotty 2 Hotty vs. The Hurricane

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Scotty 2 Hotty faced The Hurricane
Honestly, I think anybody who has anything bad to say about it this match either has no soul or is too far up their own arse to appreciate the fun that wrestling is supposed to be.

Both The Hurricane and Scotty 2 Hotty were competent light heavyweight wrestlers with entertaining gimmicks that were over with the crowd.

Combined, this made for a very enjoyable match that was a lot of fun to watch.

Although it wasn’t going to be a Match of the Night contender, that was never its purpose.

Scotty and Shane had one job: go out and be entertaining.

They succeeded tremendously in that job and when Scotty 2 Hotty picked up the win thanks to his worm, it was a victory well earned.
Your Winner: Scotty 2 Hotty

Out in the back, Chavo and Hugh perved on Lita putting her pants on before Diamond Dallas Page told us that English people being depressed wasn’t a bad thing it...was a good thing.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Big Show

Thankfully, this was short and painless.

The two battles back and forth for what couldn’t have been more than three minutes. It wasn’t very interesting, but it wasn’t offensively bad or anything either.

After taking a Diamond Cutter from Page, The Big Show clambered to his feet, chokeslammed his opponent into oblivion, and won the match.
Your Winner: The Big Show

Afterward, DDP took to the microphone to claim that his loss was a good thing because now he’d get to leave the awful country of England.

Kurt Angle and the Knights of the Round Table

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Debra, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and Shane McMahon talk strategy
Out in the back, Guerrero and Morrus had given up pretending to want to interview anybody and were now openly admitting that they just wanted to barge into different locker rooms hoping to find women in various states of undress.

Alas, they had no such luck this time as Mighty Molly Holly was fully attired, though she was appalled that the two former WCW stars had seen her without her cape.

Speaking of WCW, Alliance members Shane McMahon, US Champion Kurt Angle, WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, and his wife Debra were sat around a table in a darkened room with a spotlight of them.

They were there to talk strategy for tonight’s show but everything went awry when Kurt realized that they were sat at a round table in England. Thus, he began comparing himself and his colleagues to the Knights of the Round Table.

“And of course, if we’re the good knights, there’s gotta be bad nights,” said Kurt.
“I’m having a bad night right now,” replied Austin, who got so fed up with Angle that he yelled at him and stormed off.

Ok, so that was pretty funny.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship Three-Team Elimination Match
WCW Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs. The A.P.A (Bradshaw & Farooq) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy)

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Matt Hardy waits t
Though it was fairly obvious that Farooq and Bradshaw would be eliminated first to give us another standard Dudleyz/Hardyz encounter, that didn’t stop this one from being a pretty good match.

For the most part, it was no different to any of the countless other matches you’ve seen between these teams so if you enjoyed those you’ll enjoy this one and if you hated every match you’ve ever seen between them then this one will do little to change your mind about them.

This fan quite enjoyed it, and even though The Dudleyz got the predictable win thanks to the 3D, it was still a good outing.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Dudleyz

Out in the back, Vince McMahon urged bitter rivals The Rock and Chris Jericho to shake hands and bury the hatchet so that Team WWF would have a better chance of winning at Survivor Series.

The two did as their boss requested, but as soon as Vince was gone they started brawling until a gaggle of referees and Arn Anderson broke them up.

William Regal vs. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - William Regal cuts a pre-match promo before facing Tajiri
Before the match, William Regal took to the microphone to address his hometown audience, thanking them for spending their unemployment allowance on coming to see him wrestle and insisting that he was a better role model than David Beckham and any one of the Manchester United football team.

Having firmly established himself as the heel, Regal locked up with his former sidekick Tajiri in a really good wrestling match.

The two took it to the mat, pounded the shit out of each other, and occasionally bust out a few fancy moves to create one of the better matches on what had already been a decent show.

Unsurprisingly, Regal picked up the victory with his Regal Stretch, but his celebration was short-lived when Tajiri recovered and blew the Green Mist of Doom in the Alliance Commissioner's face.
Your Winner: William Regal

01.15.52 - Angle

Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed US champion Kurt Angle who made fun of Chris Jericho’s Y2J nickname and promised to take his WCW title from him.

WCW Championship
WCW Champion Chris Jericho vs. WCW US Champion Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Kurt Angle challenged Chris Jericho for the WCW title
As was often the case with most wrestlers on these UK shows, it really felt as though Angle and Jericho weren’t giving it their all here, but let’s be honest:

Angle and Jericho at even 50% are still better than many people at 100% and so this was still a very good see-saw battle in which both champ and challenger traded the advantage several times.

They worked at a decent pace that was enough to keep the crowd entertained and deliver a captivating dual of submissions, suplexes, and more all without overexerting themselves.

After a good effort, Y2J rolled up his opponent to retain the WCW title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Chris Jericho

Unhappy with the decision, Angle attacked Jericho after the bell and destroyed him with a few Angle Slams.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back to Manchester

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Michael Cole interviews The Rock
Out in the back, Michael Cole asked The Rock how he could concentrate on his title match with Stone Cole with all that he had going on with Jericho.

The Great One clearly couldn’t concentrate because all that he seemed to care about was whether Cole liked pie or strudel.

Which one was it? Did Cole like pie...or strudel.



Divas Tag Team Match
Mighty Molly & Stacy Kiebler vs. Lita & Torrie Wilson

Special Guest Referee: Trish Stratus
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think this was the first instance of the company sandwiching a women’s match between the two high profile PPV main events to give the crowd a breather.

Of course, the “divas bathroom break” would be a running joke for years until the women started to be taken more seriously, and I’m pretty sure it all started here.

The match was...well, it was a divas bathroom break which was a shame given that Molly Holly and Lita were talented performers and Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler at least looked like they were putting the effort in despite their limited experience.

Ultimately though, this was a whole lot of nothing leading up to an admittedly cool finish which saw Lita pick up the win for her team.
Your Winners: Lita and Torrie Wilson

Much like Kurt Angle in the previous match, Stacy Kiebler was unhappy with the result and confronted special referee Trish Stratus, only to get slapped and bulldogged.

Finally, after a look back at the long rivalry between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was time for the two to meet in our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Steve Austin puts The Rock in a Boston crab
Much as Angle and Jericho had done, Austin and The Rock failed to bring their A-game here, but their B-game was still good enough to provide a quality main event.

The two superstars took the obligatory walk up to the entrance in the early going and battled around ringside for a while before returning to the ring for an enjoyable back and forth brawl.

At every opportunity, Austin would throw his middle fingers in the air, mostly at the crowd but also towards referee Earl Hebner.

Finally having had enough of such behavior, Earl flipped Austin off in response and very loudly yelled ‘F**K YOU!’

Hebner’s potty mouth would later be punished when both champ and challenger accidentally bumped into him in quick succession, forcing the head zebra to lie out on the canvas for half a year.

Seriously, I’ve heard of referees ‘taking a nap’ when they get bumped in a match, but I’m pretty sure Earl got his full eight hours in here.

While he was doing that, Rock put the sharpshooter on his opponent only for Stone Cold to break free and apply a sharpshooter of his own.

“That’s not one of Austin’s specialty moves,” said Jim Ross apologetically, covering for the fact that the champion had applied possibly the worst version of the hold you’d ever seen.

Honestly, if you’re of the opinion that The Rock’s sharpshooter was awful, you need to see this match just to see how much worse Austin’s was.

Anyway, with the referee still out cold, we got run-ins from both Angle and Jericho before finally, Austin hit a stunner to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Steve Austin

Afterwards, Austin and Angle hugged and made their way backstage, presumedly to celebrate a triumph that few fans in the United States would ever actually hear about.

It’s fair to say that not a single one of the WWF’s UK-only PPVs were ‘must-see’ TV, and I say that as a Brit who was there love for some of the earlier shows.

Still, while WWF Rebellion 2001 wasn’t exactly essential viewing, it was at least one of the better UK shows, with a decent double main event in the form of Rock/Austin and Angle/Jericho, a decent opening cage match and a surprisingly fun match between Scotty 2 Hotty and The Hurricane.

Don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if you’re bored and looking for something to watch, Rebellion should at least keep you relatively entertained for two hours and 15 minutes.

Friday, 12 February 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF No Mercy 2001

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Event poster
October 21, 2001, 
Savvis Center, St. Louis, Missouri

By the time WWF No Mercy 2001 came around, the WWF vs. WCW/ECW Invasion was nearing its conclusion.

A few weeks after this PPV, the "Winner Take All" match at Survivor Series would put paid to the whole thing once and for all, finally bringing to an end months of bizarre creative decisions and ill-fated ideas.

Yet as rough as The Invasion may have been in many respects, there was at least one really good thing about it:

The Rise of Rob Van Dam.

From the very beginning, The Whole F'N Show had consistently proven himself to be one of -if not the- most popular member of The Alliance.

Tonight, all of that would pay off as he stepped into the main event to take on his fellow Alliance cohort Steve Austin and future Alliance member Kurt Angle in our main event.

Here's what went down when No Mercy came live from St. Louis, Missouri.

What Motivates a Man?

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Paul Heyman and Jim Ross called the event
Tonight’s show began with one of the most compelling opening videos the World Wrestling Federation had used in a while.

Focussing exclusively on our triple threat main event, the video dissected the motivations of our three competitors, WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and his challengers, Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam.

If you ever want proof that this company could tell great stories when they wanted to, look no further than this video.

Anyway, with that out of the way, the nu-metal tones of Saliva’s Click Click Boom brought us into the arena where pyro aplenty exploded and Jim Ross welcomed us to tonight’s show.

As was customary for this time, we also got a look at the hot crowd at WWF New York before Ross and broadcast colleague Paul Heyman took us to tonight’s opening match.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Team Champions The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy w/ Lita) vs. Lance Storm & WWF European Champion The Hurricane (w/ Ivory Molly Holly)

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - The Hurricane
So, The Hardyz had been holding the WCW tag team titles for a few weeks while Lance Storm and The Hurricane had formed a pretty solid tag team since we last saw them at Unforgiven 2001.

The Hurricane was still getting large babyface reactions but judging by the story we were told by JR and Heyman, we were supposed to believe that he was a heel.

Speaking of the announcers, you have to give them credit for bringing up Hurricane Helms’ real-life history with The Hardyz in their Omega promotion.

That aside, this was a tremendous opening contest that whipped the crowd into a frenzy very early on and only got better as it built towards a gripping climax.

That came when all three women got involved in the match causing a big mid-ring kerfuffle. That led to Jeff Hardy landing a Swanton bomb and brother Matt picking up the three count.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Hardy Boyz

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - William Regal confronts Rob Van Dam
Backstage, Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam arrived at the arena and was immediately confronted by William Regal. Since the last PPV, Regal had defected from the World Wrestling Federation and joined The Alliance, helping his old WCW buddy Steve Austin recapture the title from Kirt Angle.

Tonight, Regal scolded RVD for hitting Austin with a frog splash on Smackdown and for having words with Vince McMahon. Van Dam was, after all, still technically an Alliance member.

Ever the cool character, RVD blew off Regal and strolled on into the arena.

Elsewhere in the arena, Vince McMahon just so happened to arrive in a limousine moments after his name had been mentioned. Honestly, you’d think this whole wrestling thing was scripted or something.

Anyway, McMahon refused to answer any of Michael Cole’s questions but did promise that he’d get all the answers he wanted -one way or another- over the course of tonight’s show.

Test vs. Kane

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Test pins Kane
As Kane made his way to the ring, Jim Ross reminded us that this was the very same arena where The Big Red Machine made his debut back at Badd Blood: In Your House 18 way back in October 1997.

Back then, he was The Undertaker’s sworn enemy. Tonight, he was on his brother’s good side and joining him in a feud against Booker T and Test which saw him go one on one with the latter.

The match was better than you probably imagined it being. Honestly, this fan was ready to dismiss it right from the get-go, but it turned into a pretty solid big man brawl.

Don’t get me wrong, this was never going to make it onto any ‘All-Time Must Watch Matches’ list, but both men brought their working boots (Test more than Kane) and gave us a decent contest despite a few moments of blatant sloppiness.

With heel referee Nick Patrick hamming it up as only he could and siding with his Alliance teammate wherever he could, Test eventually picked up the win after putting on a solid performance.
Your Winner: Test

Post-match, Kane gave Nick Patrick a couple of chokeslams and a powerbomb in revenge fun the referee’s various nefarious doings in the match.

Stone Cold Has No Time For Interviews

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Debra stops Coach interviewing Steve Austin
Out in the back, Jonathan Coachman knocked on Steve Austin’s dressing room door in the hopes of gaining an interview.

Instead, Debra answered the door and insisted that her husband didn’t want to talk to Coach. Austin would, however, talk to his wife and could clearly be heard giving her messages which she then relayed back to Coach.

It was -you have to believe me- much funnier than I’m making it sound. So funny in fact that Coach couldn’t keep a straight face. I honestly don’t think that was part of the show. Send for the man indeed.

Matt Hardy’s Close Call

Across the way, Stacy Kiebler made her way through the backstage area in readiness for her lingerie match with Tori Wilson. En route, she bumped into Matt Hardy and gave him an exclusive peek at her outfit.

Hardy was momentarily dumbfounded and started off after her until his girlfriend Lita arrived on the scene.

Acting as nothing happened, Matt cuddled and kissed Lita tight while, over her shoulder, expressing a sigh of relief that she hadn’t caught him ogling Stacy.

Lingerie Match
Stacy Kiebler vs. Torrie Wilson

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Stacy Kiebler faced Torrie Wilson in a lingerie match
For what it’s worth, Kiebler had theme music that sounded like a demo version of Sable’s old theme.

As for the match, well, it was the typical two-women-rolling-around-in-their-knickers deal that was so popular back in the day.

That’s no knock on Stacy and Torrie. The girls did their best with what they had without wearing anything more revealing than what your typical female performer wears today.

It was alright, but neither as sexy nor as funny as the company wanted you to believe.

Torrie Wilson won by rolling up Stacy and giving her a good ol’ slap on the bum for good measure.
Your Winner: Torrie Wilson

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Vince McMahon wishes Kurt Angle luck
Backstage, Vince McMahon interrupted Kurt Angle’s interview with Michael Cole to wish him luck in tonight’s main event.

Angle tentatively accepted the Chairman’s handshake but insisted that he didn’t need luck because tonight he was going to whoop everybody’s ass and reclaim his title.

In another room, Lillian Garcia interviewed Intercontinental Champion Christian about his rematch with brother Edge.

The future Captain Charisma has scored a somewhat surprising win over Edge at Unforgiven, capturing the IC title in the process. Tonight, he promised to do the same again in a ladder match, though not before rounding off his promo with the first thing you learn at How to Be A Heel School:

Insulting the local sports team.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Edge

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Edge faced Christian in an Intercontinental title ladder match
Prior to the bell, we got a look back to the moment on Raw when Christian tricked Edge into thinking their mom had been into an accident, only to lure him into a beat down at the hands of Mike Awesome and -if I recall correctly- Hugh Morrus.

Paul Heyman had then revealed that Christian was now a member of The Alliance, the only logic behind that move being that the Intercontinental Champion was a heel.

The bell then rang and this slowly but steadily built up into a terrific ladder match where each spot got progressively more dramatic and jaw-dropping over the course of 20+ minutes.

It’s difficult to watch a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship and not think of Shawn and Razor at Wrestlemania 10 and Summerslam 1995

Edge vs. Christian at No Mercy 2001 isn’t really talked about with the same reverence as those two classics, but I think that’s only because of the context. Had this taken place in a time period when we weren’t bombarded with excellent matches week in, week out, then this too would be talked about as a classic.

Ok, so you could argue that, as the match wore on, there was too much dead space between each increasingly-elaborate spot. I’ll be honest, even though I knew both champ and challenger had to sell as they’d just almost murdered one another, the fact that they just played dead for a while then got up and walked straight into the next clearly orchestrated spot was a little off-putting.

Still, those spots were so breathtakingly brutal that it was always worth the wait.

After a lengthy battle, Edge hit his brother with a Con-Chair-To on top of two ladders. As Christian toppled to the floor, the challenger reached and reclaimed his gold to win the match.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Edge

For those keeping score, Edge was now a three-time IC Champion.

Spike is a Ladies’ Man

Over at WWF New York, little Spike Dudley was seen nursing a beer. The diminutive Dudley had been through a rough time lately. First, his girlfriend Molly Holly left him for The Hurricane, then he got elevated about a thousand feet in the air by Bubba Ray and D’Von and crashed through a table on Smackdown in an awesome spot that I recommend you check out.

It was because of the latter that he wasn’t competing with his usual partner, The Big Show, tonight,

In kayfabe at least, said table spot had temporarily put Spike out of commission, meaning he was left to root on Show and his temporary stand-in, Tajiri, from the WWF New York bar.

Not that Spoke seemed to upset. He was soon approached by an attractive woman and basically ignored Paul Heyman's questions because we were now supposed to believe that Spike was a bonafide ladies' man.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D'Von) vs. The Big Show & Tajiri

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Bubba Ray Dudley is ready for action
Despite the odd-couple pairing of Show and Tajiri, this was a surprisingly very entertaining match.

Both teams provided a change of pace from the drama and intensity of the earlier ladder match and yet still worked hard to ensure the fans got their money's worth from this show.

As the match neared its end, Big Show looked to be in complete control only for Rhyno to appear, nail him with a Gore, and take him out of action. That allowed The Dudleyz to plant Tajiri with the 3D and retain their gold.

Honestly, on paper, this shouldn't have been up to much, but it was definitely a solid match and a surprise highlight of the show.
Your WInners: The Dudleyz

Out in the back, recent Alliance recruit William Regal congratulated Rhyno on taking initiative. Rhyno responded by saying that he'd done it because the Alliance was becoming a joke to people and if he had to stop that by himself, he would. Unfortunately for Rhyno, The Alliance was well beyond saving as the next match would prove.

Elsewhere in the arena, Shane McMahon and Test got Booker T psyched about his upcoming match with The Undertaker.

Booker T vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - The Undertaker ready to strike Booker T
While the last match may not have looked great on paper but ended up delivering the goods, this one was the opposite. To be honest, I was looking forward to this and thought it could be a unique match between two stalwarts of their respective organizations.

Instead, it seemed to be a lot of armbars, a brawl through the crowd, and a bunch of nothing. I'm sure this match had its fans, but I think sometimes a match can have all the right ingredients and still not connect. 

This was one of those matches. It was by no means awful, but it just didn't do it for this fan.

Undertaker put Booker away with the Last Ride for the three count.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Backstage, Chris Jericho told Jonathan Coachman that tonight, he was finally going to win the big one. Although it was an obvious thing for anyone to say when challenging for a title, it made more sense than most here as the whole storyline going into Jericho's match with The Rock was that The Great One had reminded him over and over again that Jericho had never been able to win a world title.

Indeed, even when Y2J hit the ring, Jim Ross had to tell us that this was Jericho's first WCW title shot despite wrestling in that company from 1996 - 1999.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Rock vs. Chris Jericho 

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - Chris Jericho beat The Rock for the WCW title
I'm just going to say it - this was a damn fine match.

Things started hot, with The Rock getting the better of his opponent at every turn until the challenger was finally able to get some sort of offense going and begin to dominate.

Back and forth they went, with every twist and turn to add more drama to what was fast becoming a compelling story.

At one point, the action spilled to the outside where the champion killed his opponent dead with a rock bottom through the Spanish announce table, but even that wasn't enough to seal the deal. 

Jericho fought back and locked Rocky in a Walls of Jericho only for Stephanie McMahon to head to ringside brandishing a steel chair. Though it looked as though she was aiming to assist Rock, the champion hurled the ECW owner into the ring and hit her with a rock bottom. The distraction allowed Jericho to slam Rock's face into the chair on the canvas, make the pin, and finally win the WCW title after what was a very good match indeed.
Your Winner and New WCW Champion: Chris Jericho

Afterward, Jericho gloated to Steph about his big win before being confronted by The Rock. The Great One was clearly pissed off as he thrust the offending chair in the new champion's face.

Backstage, we got an ominous look at Mr. McMahon's dressing room before a final video package for tonight's main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. WWF Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF No Mercy 2001 - RVD lets Steve Austin know exactly who he is
Was the first time a reigning hardcore champion had headlined a PPV? I can't be sure, and to be honest, I'm not going to spend too much time researching it, but I honestly do think so. 

Of course, the hardcore title wasn't actually on the line tonight. It was all about Austin's WWF title in a match that tried really hard to outmatch the earlier Rock/Jericho encounter and almost - almost managed it.

Indeed, this was a very good effort, even if the tried and tested two-guys-fight-while-the-other-takes-a-nap-then-breaks-up-the-fall routine did come across as a little messy at times.

There was also involvement from Vince and Shane McMahon, with the former drilling Austin with a chair and the latter preventing Angle from getting the pin on RVD, all of which felt rather unnecessary, but otherwise, this was a very enjoyable main event with plenty of big-time moves.

Austin won by taking out RVD with a stunner, but before that, there was a lot to like about this match, and about the show as a whole.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterward, a bloody and battered champion staggered up the entrance way as Vince McMahon looked on, furious.

WWF No Mercy 2001 was not a perfect show. The Undertaker/Booker T match was underwhelming, and despite their best efforts, Edge and Christian got the pacing of their ladder match all wrong.

That said, there was a lot to like. The opening tag team match pitting the Hardys against Lance Storm and Hurricane was fun. Torrie and Stacy did the best they could with what they had in their lingerie match. The Dudleyz vs. Big Show/Tajiri was a surprise highlight and the main event was delivered, but really, it was Jericho vs. The Rock that stole the show and is definitely a match that deserves repeat viewing.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Unforgiven 2001

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Event Poster
September 23, 2001
Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

WWF Unforgiven 2001 was the first World Wrestling Federation Pay Per View to be held in the wake of 9/11.

Unsurprisingly, and for good reason, this meant that the company were flying their star-spangled banner high, with a certain sense of American patriotism underlying their recent programming. 

It also meant that their own All-American Hero Kurt Angle -already serving as the #2 babyface behind The Rock at this point in time- was now perhaps more popular than he'd ever been, serving as the red, white, and blue hero that fans could truly get behind in this time of national healing.

So it was entirely fitting that it would be Angle who tonight would take on an outside threat - not the terrorists- but the leader of the invading Alliance group, WWF Champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

It was also fitting that this should all happen in Angle's own home state.

Would goodwill -and a tight ankle lock- prevail? Or would this be one instance where the evil outside force triumphed?

Let's find out by heading down to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the last Unforgiven show to be promoted under the WWF banner before the company changed its name to WWE.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Jennifer Holiday sang America The Beautiful

Please Rise for America the Beautiful

With the World Wrestling Federation still in full-blown patriot mode in the wake of 9/11, tonight’s show began with a stirring rendition of America the Beautiful courtesy of two-time Grammy-winner, Jennifer Holiday.

Credit where it’s due, Holiday not only had an awesome voice, she was pretty badass at working the crowd and looked genuinely touched by the applause she received.

From that touching moment, it was on to the violence and chaos of Unforgiven 2001.

Now I Dub Thee Unforgiven

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Paul Heyman & Jim Ross called the event
Things got underway properly with a short promo reminding us of the heated rivalry between Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin and, to a lesser extent, the ongoing rivalry between Booker T and The Rock.

We’d see all four men in action later in the show, but first, we got our usual greeting from Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

Ladies and gentleman, Unforgiven was underway.

Four-Team Elimination Match for the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs. WWF European Champion The Hurricane & Lance Storm vs. The Big Show & Spike Dudley

Having only just recently beaten Kane & The Undertaker for the tag team titles, Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley our them online in a very fun opening match in which everyone played their roles perfectly.

The early going saw a lot of fast-paced action between The Hardy Boyz, Lance Storm, Hurricane and Spike Dudley, all of which delighted an audience who were so loud you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Rock ‘n’ Roll Express match back in the 80s.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Lance Storm and The Hurricane teamed up in the opening match
Hurricane was especially popular which was interesting, partly because he’d only been doing the gimmick for a few weeks, but mostly because he was an Alliance member and thus technically a heel.

Even Big Show played his part well, sitting on the sidelines before coming in for some crowd-popping clobbering time and letting Little Spike jump off his shoulders to the outside, flattening everyone else in the match.

Show even got the first elimination, catching Lance Storm coming off the top and chokeslamming him into oblivion before Matt Hardy put Spike away to eliminate that team also.

With the two makeshift teams out of the way, that left us with the two established duos to go at it and give us everything you’d expect from a Dudleyz/Hardyz battle.

After an enjoyable effort, the champs hit the 3D on Matt Hardy only for Jeff to break it up with a last-minute Swanton.

Alas, it wasn’t enough, as Jeff and Bubba fell to the outside, a beaten up D’Von draped an arm over Matt to retain the gold.
Your Winners and Still WWF Champions: The Dudley Boyz

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Stephanie McMahon flirts with Rob Van Dam
Out in the back, Stephanie McMahon let Hardcore Champion Rob Van Damn know that if there was anything she could do -you know, anything- to help him beat Chris Jericho, then she was more than happy to.

Of course, being The Whole Damn Show, RVD didn’t need anyone’s help, though he did get Steph’s permission to claim the biggest dressing room in the arena for himself.

Back in the arena, Michael Cole interviewed Kurt Angle’s mom and brother about the homestate hero’s championship match against Steve Austin.

Honestly, it was only slightly less awkward than the time Todd Pettingill interviewed The Steiner Brothers’ family back at Summerslam 1993.

Raven (w/ Terri) vs. Perry Saturn

These two had a memorable bout back at WCW Fall Brawl 1998 when they feuded over Saturn trying to free The Flock.

Three years later, they were at war again, this time because Saturn had fallen in love with a mop and dumped the ever-gorgeous Terri in favor of the cleaning appliance, prompting the former Marlena to align herself with Raven and put Moppy through a wood chipper.

The story was so dumb that Jim Ross and Paul Heyman decided to spend more time talking about their history in WCW and the aforementioned freeing of The Flock. It was a smart move.

The actual match was OK, but nobody really seemed to care and even the best spots of the match were played out to almost total silence.

In the end, Saturn got the win and the crowd popped for the first time in the whole match.
Your Winner: Saturn

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Lilian Garcia interviews Christian about his match with Edge
Since King of the Ring, Christian had become increasingly jealous of his brother Edge, eventually turning on him in front of their hometown audience in Toronto on Raw.

It had been a well-done story so far and was about to come to a head with Christian challenging Edge for the Intercontinental Championship.

First, however, the future Captain Charisma stopped by the backstage area to cut a decent promo, telling Lillian Garcia that turning his back on Edge was worth it if it meant him becoming our new IC champion.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. Christian

Christian! Christian! At last, you’re on your own!

What a theme that was!

Speaking of themes, this was the first WWF PPV in which Edge used Never Gonna Stop by Rob Zombie as his theme.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Intercontinental Championship match: Christian vs. Edge
As for the actual match, while I doubt anyone would consider it an all-time classic (and certainly not an instant one), it was still a very good contest.

After a fired up Edge got his revenge on Christian by beating him from pillar to post, the match turned into a story of the two brothers and tag team partners who knew each other so well that they would constantly trade the advantage and counter each other’s moves.

Things got more heated and more violent until Christian brought in a couple of chairs ready to hit the Con-Chair-to on his brother.

Instead, Edge made a comeback and looked to hit the same move only for the referee to grab the chair out of his hand.

As the champion argued with the official, Christian grabbed the second chair, whacked his opponent in the goolies with it and became -at least for the time being- our new champion.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Christian

You know, it’s only at this stage that I realised Paul Heyman was wearing an ECW Anarchy Rulz laminate. I wonder if they let him in the arena with that acting as his backstage pass?

Stevie Richards Gets Kronik

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Jonathan Coachman interviews Kane & Undertaker about their match with Kronik
I noticed this as Heyman and JR introduced us to a video package introducing our next match.

Stevie Richards had recently attacked The Undertaker in retribution for the American Bad Ass breaking up Right to Censor months back.

The two met on Smackdown, only for Brian Adams and Brian Clarke to appear and attack ‘Taker. That, ladies and gentleman, would lead us to tonight’s Ill-fated WCW tag team title match, but not before the champions, Taker and Kane, stopped by for a few words with Jonathan Coachman.

In a solid interview, Undertaker told Coach he had no problem getting beaten up by Kronik but was more than a little miffed at Richards reminding everyone about the RTC when that was the one thing most people wanted to forget about.

Tonight, he swore that he and Kane would drop Adams & Clarke on their heads.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Kane & The Undertaker vs. Kronik (Brian Adams & Bryan Clarke w/ Steven Richards)

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Steven Richards leads Kronik into battle
OK, so before we get into this legendarily awful match, here’s some fun facts.

This was Kronik’s first PPV appearance since WCW Superbrawl Revenge in February of that year.

It was Brian Adam’s first WWF PPV appearance since Survivor Series ‘97 and Bryan Clark’s first WWF PPV since Wrestlemania 10 when he lost to Earthquake in a mere 35 seconds. Of course, that’s not including the Adam Bomb vs. Kwang match that served as a dark match for Summerslam ‘95.

Speaking of Bryan Clark, did you see his mugshot after he got arrested last year? I could barely tell it was the same guy.

Now, onto one of the most famous bad matches of all time.

Was it really all that terrible? And was it really all Kronik’s fault?

I mean, not really.

Sure, it was certainly bad, and sure, Adams & Clark weren’t exactly five-star caliber performers, but at least they were in shape.

Undertaker and Kane (especially Kane) both looked heavy and sluggish, while Kane was visibly hampered by his recent staph infection.

All four men moved at snail's pace. Basic moves like a neck breaker looked like they were being performed by a kid on his first day at wrestling school rather than by veteran performers, and Adams even managed to mess up his shoulder breaker on Kane even though it was one of only five or so moves he had in his repertoire and had done it countless times.

Even worse though, was The Undertaker, who couldn’t even be bothered to make his moves look like they connected. Punches and a knee lift, in particular, landed in the next state over and looked dumb.

So yes, it was bad, but it wasn’t the worse thing you’ve ever seen.

Long-time readers of Retro Pro Wrestling will know that all bad matches are compared to the worst match of all time, Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer at Wrestlemania 2, and it certainly wasn’t that bad.

I’m also inclined to agree with RD at Wrestlecrap who quite rightly noted that this was nowhere near as awful as ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania 9 match with Giant Gonzales, but yeah, it was still pretty terrible all the same.

In the end, Kane and Taker won and Kronik would never be seen on WWF television ever again.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: Kane & Undertaker

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Tazz speaks to Booker T and Shane McMahon
Backstage, Tazz annoyed his Alliance cohorts Shane McMahon and Booker T by telling them that it would be pretty embarrassing if they couldn’t beat The Rock in tonight’s two-on-one handicap match.

Across the arena, Stephanie McMahon hung around outside RVD’s dressing room, flirting with him through the door and insisting that if he beat Jericho it would be a great birthday present for her and, in return, she’d make his time in the Alliance very -ahem- pleasurable.

Little did Steph know that Jericho was stood behind her. Y2J mocked Steph and her recent boob job then headed to the ring for our next match.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho

Make no mistake about it, Rob Van Dam had come into his own as a true superstar during the Invasion angle and was by far the most popular member of The Alliance.

Before, I mentioned how The Hurricane was receiving large pops despite his Alliance membership making him a heel by default. The reception Shane Helms got however was nothing compared to the kind of ovation that greeted RVD on every show throughout the invasion.

His popularity could be partly explained by his cooler-than-cool character, and partly because every time he stepped foot in the ring he had awesome matches like this one with Chris Jericho.

Like the E/C match from earlier, this one may not be in anyone’s top five matches of all time, but it was still incredibly good and utterly compelling from start to finish.

Exactly what you’d imagine a match between these two to be like, albeit even better thanks to the freedom afforded to them by hardcore rules, this was easily the best match on the show so far.

However, like all good things, this one had to come to an end, and did so when Stephanie McMahon distracted her nemesis Y2J, giving RVD the chance to plant his opponent and flatten him with a match-winning frog splash.
Your Winner and Still Hardcore Champion: Rob Van Dam

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - The Rock faced Booker T for the WCW title
No one gets as high as Rob Van Dam,” said Paul Heyman as we watched the replay of the five-star frog splash. 

Heyman absolutely knew what he was doing with that line.

Out in the back, Shane O’ Mac reminded Booker T that the most important thing was simply bringing the WCW title back to the Alliance regardless of who won. Clearly, we’d see some dissension in the ranks tonight.

Prior to that match, we got another video package that featured Rey Mysterio’s old WCW theme music as the soundtrack.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Handicap Match
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Rock vs. Booker T and Shane McMahon

Sadly, this one was pretty disappointing.

Sure, it had its flashes of excitement and the crowd certainly appreciated the big moments such as The Rock popping up to his feet and stopping Shane in his tracks just as he was about to land a ‘Shane-O Elbow,’ but between those moments were long -and I mean *long* periods were very little of note happened.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - The Rock faced Booker T for the WCW title
Things picked up as the match went into the finish, but by that point, the whole thing had dragged on for what felt like an eternity so it was almost impossible to give a crap.

In the end, The Rock won this mediocre contest with a rock bottom. That was bad news for Booker T. Despite having an extra man on his team, a clearly biased referee (Nick Patrick) working in his favor and a run-in from Test, he still wasn’t able to win the match, making him look like a chump.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: The Rock

Backstage, we were reminded of the bizarre storyline in which we were supposed to believe Torrie Wilson had it bad for US Champ and William Regal’s assistant, Tajiri.

In Regal’s office, The Commissioner declared that he’d been thinking of banning anyone from being at ringside during Tajriri’s match with Rhyno in order to prevent shenanigans.

Understandably upset, Tajiri and Torrie tugged on Regal’s heartstrings until he gave the WCW beauty permission to accompany her man to ringside.

Speaking of WCW beauties, over at WWF New York, we were supposed to believe that WWF had simply allowed Alliance member Stacy Kiebler to saunter into the venue and occupy the stage despite the two factions being at war.

The former Miss Hancock showed us a video of her shaving her legs in the bath which was set to Sunny’s old theme music. Paul Heyman nearly had a heart attack at the very sight, acting as if Stacy was, I don’t know, visibility masturbating rather than just tending to her personal grooming routine.

Look, I’m not saying Stacy wasn’t stunning, but I’m not sure if a woman shaving her legs is really as hot as Paul E. made it out to be.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW U.S. Champion Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Rhyno

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Rhyno faced Tajiri for the US title
So, here we had two men who (at the time) were best known as ECW stars fighting for a WCW title on a WWF PPV.

Though the match was clearly designed to provide a little breathing room between the two main events, it actually proved to be a fun match in its own right.

Relatively short and to the point, this enjoyable little battle came to an end when Rhyno gored Tajiri into oblivion to claim the gold.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Rhyno

Finally; after one last hype video, it was onto our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle

The outcome of this match was always a foregone conclusion.

Kurt Angle was the All-American babyface competing in his home state just weeks after 9/11 with his family sitting in the front row, so there was no way he was losing tonight.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Steve Austin defended the US title against Kurt Angle

Thankfully, Angle and Austin made us forget about that for a while by telling a compelling story centered around both men’s previous neck injuries.

From a technical standpoint, this wasn’t as great as it could have been, but the story and psychology more than made up for it.

After a good effort, Angle made Austin tap to the ankle lock and won the match. However, Stone Cold visibility had his hand under the bottom rope.

No doubt this would be brought up the following night on raw.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Post-match, a short-haired Karen Angle led the Angle clan into the ring to celebrate with the new champion. 

Then, The Rock led the entire WWF roster to the ring to congratulate Angle.

It was a surprisingly emotional ending to the show.

And so, the All-American Hero had prevailed against the leader of the evil, outside invading force in a move that should not have surprised anybody.

Sure, the outcome of tonight's show may have been a forgone conclusion, and there wasn't much in the way of game-changing moments, but that doesn't make WWF Unforgiven 2001 a bad show.

You could argue that the underwhelming Rock/Booker T match, the Kronik disaster and nothing matches like Saturn vs. Raven made it a bad show, but that would perhaps be a bit overly harsh.

The main event, the hardcore title match, Edge vs. Christian, and even the opening multi-man tag match were all enjoyable enough to save Unforgiven from being a complete waste of time.

Not the best show in the world then, but certainly not the worst. 

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.