Matthew Roberts takes another trip in the TWM Time Machine and continues his look at the WWE of twenty years ago with Judgment Day 2001. With WrestleMania X-7 now history, the WWE was in a holding position to some degree in May 2001 with the Steve Austin and Triple H two manpower trip still holding the fort and battling with The Undertaker and Kane. Two singles matches involving those two were the main focus of this card, though the undercard did show a modicum of promise too.
William Regal Vs Rikishi
We kick things off with the loveable commissioner, who lambasts Rikishi for sticking his bum in Stephanie’s face recently. So it’s no surprise that Rikishi goes for the stinkface early. Luckily for the Englishman a low blow (which as ever is done out of the view of the referee – modern-day wrestlers should be taking notes here) blocks that but of course that’s only a temporary respite for Regal. A butt thrust is followed by the Stinkface and Regal sells it as if he’s about to be sick at ringside.; Back in though Regal focuses on the injured shoulder of Rikishi, hits a Regal Cutter and gets the three.
I mean the fans like the stinkface I suppose. It’s a nothing match though.
Triple H and Steph are shown arriving at the arena and have a chat with Vince. Even PPV’s don’t warrant your main eventers showing up on time.
Judgment Day – Two out of Three Falls
Kurt Angle Vs Chris Benoit
This match is for possession of Kurt Angle’s Gold Medals, which Benoit (in classic babyface style) has stolen in the previous weeks and kept down his trousers. The rules are simple. The First Fall is pinfall only, the second is Submission and if, IF, a third fall is required it’s a ladder match.
The first fall is very short. Angle jumps Benoit and hits the rolling Germans before taking to the ropes to try and hit Benoit’s own diving headbutt. Benoit moves, Angle hits canvas, Benoit hits the Angle Slam and gets the pin. I was amused, anyway.
The second fall is the best of the match (and probably the best wrestling action of the night) although not all of it focuses on submissions. They are wearing each other down though I guess. Angle levels things up with the Anklelock.
The third and final fall is the ladder portion, which doesn’t really seem to suit these two in this context. It’s another great effort, albeit one that is marred slightly by the run-in finish courtesy of Edge & Christian. They take care of Benoit long enough for Angle to scale the ladder and reclaim his Gold Medals.
After The Undertaker threatens William Regal into making his Title match tonight against Steve Austin a No Holds Barred affair, Jerry Lynn actually makes it onto WWE PPV… albeit from WWF New York where he is complaining that the Light Heavyweight Title isn’t being defended on PPV. For some reason, he seems to blame JR for it all. Wink, wink. Kane is then shown in what looks like a tunnel and he is beating up the tunnel with a chain.
WWF Hardcore Championship;
Rhyno Vs Big Show Vs Test
Rhyno is the Hardcore Champion coming in but the real issue here is between Big Show and Test, who are feuding because Test likes Shane and Show doesn’t. They start brawling before Rhyno has even been introduced and when he does make his way out he immediately goes for the steel steps and introduces them into proceedings. This is your typical “go for a wander around the arena and end up back in the ring” 2001 Hardcore match. It’s fine, and I appreciate the clean win for Rhyno but it’s hardly essential viewing.
Lita is stretching in preparation for her upcoming match when Eddy Guerrero wanders by to offer her some pointers on how to defeat Chyna. Lita refuses, saying she wants to do this on her own. William Regal is also shown backstage and doesn’t want to tell Steve Austin his match is a No Holds Barred match. In classic heel fashion, Austin doesn’t care.
WWF Women’s Championship;
Chyna Vs Lita
Something of a “dream match” in hindsight featuring two of the most popular and memorable females of the era. Of course, and I’m ready for any brickbats thrown my way, Chyna was never really a “good wrestler”, especially when it came to facing other women (her act was far more suited to going toe-to-toe with the men really). Lita, and again I’m ready for many people to disagree, never really mastered putting a match together either. So whilst we would see a lot worse in the two decades that followed in the name of “women’s wrestling” in the WWE this was never more than “ok”. Still, about six minutes is the right length of time and the crowd are certainly into it. Which is all that really matters. Atleast we had a Women’s Wrestling match on this Judgment Day show?
Eddy Guerrero wanders down to ringside to get a close look at things but doesn’t really get involved as Chyna blocks the Twist of Fate and hits the powerbomb for the 1-2-3. As it happens, Eddy and Chyna are out of there by the next PPV and Chyna will never be seen on WWE PPV again.
Judgment Day; Intercontinental Championship
Chain Match – Triple H Vs Kane
Well there’s certainly a hot crowd for this one and there is no denying that that elevates what is actually a rather generic WWE Attitude Brawl into something more exciting than it perhaps is. It’s certainly a hard hitting affair and the back and forth nature of the action keeps things going. It’s one of those brutal, but not THAT brutal matches that straddles that line between violence and not going too far. It’s not helped in one sense by Steve Austin’s run-in as although he “inadvertently” hits his buddy Triple H it’s such a laboured attempt that it was harder for him to hit HHH than Kane. Still, that’s enough to able (ahem) Kane to win the match and lift the IC title. It’s fine. It’s not an all-time classic but it’s diverting enough.
We get an advert for the WWF: The Music Volume 5 CD, the main focus of which is the Rock’s song about loving “pie”. Then Jonathan Coachman is backstage with Chris Jericho and as this is 2001 the babyface Jericho gets over by mocking and insulting the Coach. Jericho says that whilst Coach may not know who his tag team partner for the upcoming turmoil match is, Jericho does and has got himself a “real party animal”.
Judgment Day; Tag Team Turmoil –
Tag Team Championship No.1 Contendership
If you know the WWE you know that these Turmoil/Gauntlet matches never rely on long match segments. Indeed in the opener, The APA hammer and batter Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn in about a minute and a half. This brings out the Dudley Boys so at least we’re guaranteed a stiff “hoss” brawl for a few minutes. And that’s exactly what we get. Hardly exciting, and the Holly’s interefernce that leads to the APA’s win seems anti-climatic to say the least. Things get even worse when you realise that X-Factor are out next. It’s X-Pac and Justin Credible handling the wrestling duties tonight, with Albert at ringside, so it could have been worse I suppose. Albert’s interference allows X-Pac to pin Bradshaw.
The Hardy’s are out next and there’s three more minutes of reasonable action before X-Factor get another win. Chris Jericho is up next and to the surprise of very few his partner is Chris Benoit. He shows little fatigue from his earlier efforts and although the action is perfectly adequate the fact the commentators remind us that the last team left are Edge & Christian tells us all we need to know about how this segment of the match is ending.
And yes. We finish off with the two Chris’ taking on Edge & Christian. They get the longest amount of time in the turmoil match and make, naturally, decent capital out of it. It’s far from great but Jericho and Benoit winning sets up their shot at Austin & HHH’s Tag Team Titles.
After an advert for Mick Foley’s book (the focus of which is his “relationship” with Chyna) we get a recap of what has led us to the evening’s No Holds Barred WWE Championship match between Steve Austin & The Undertaker. It’s nonsense of course, but entertaining nonsense. Austin sent in an anonymous call saying that Taker’s wife had been in a car wreck and when Taker realises the ruse he attacks Austin in the back of an ambulance. Strangely familiar…
Judgment Day 2001 Main Event:
No Holds Barred – WWF World Heavyweight Championship; Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs The Undertaker
Vince McMahon joins us on commentary because we can never knowingly under-book at WWE main event in this time period, can we? And also as you’d expect this is your typical WWE Main Event brawl of the era too. This means that it’s perfectly acceptable and entertaining without ever really threatening to become a classic. The two battle on the rampway and on the aisle to start and basically, it’s kicking and punching and brawling all the way. The problem is that Austin is still working out how to be a heel without the fans loving him anyway and Taker is a little limited in his work around this time. His true career renaissance in the ring is a few years off yet. Triple H and Vince get involved, naturally, but Kane doesn’t run out to retaliate until it is too late and after HHH nails Taker with the Sledgehammer, Austin covers and gets the win. Again, fine for what it was but over-long and far from an all-time classic.
Strange times for the WWE lead to strange PPVs. Only the two out of three falls match REALLY delivers in the ring and yet such is the crowd heat for the Taker/Austin and HHH/Kane matches that you’d hardly realise that they are somewhat pedestrian brawls. The Tag Team Turmoil match is only ok, but it does at least have a purpose and sets the winners up for a big match. Chyna/Lita is an interesting curio and if nothing else really excels neither does much drag down to the depths. Perhaps not a show to actively seek out, but one that will offer entertainment if you do catch it.
Editor Note; Yes, the show is actually called Judgment Day and not Judgement Day, which has completely ruined 20 years of me typing Judgement Day during my years of wrestling watching. Anyway. Thanks for reading!