The WWE Vs The Alliance story couldn’t be contained to just the USA! WWE Rebellion 2001 was a UK only PPV emanating from the Manchester Arena. Matthew Roberts was sat in the crowd for the event and twenty years on he fires up the Network to give it another look.
We’re just a few weeks away from the Survivor Series that will kill the Alliance once and for all. Not that anyone saw THAT coming at the time. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are joined by a 15,000+ strong crowd who is white-hot at the prospect of the evening’s wrestling
Edge Vs Christian – Intercontinental Title – Steel Cage Match
It wasn’t quite the old blue bars, but walking into the arena to see the steel cage assembled ready for this opener was a thrill at the time. The long-awaited Edge and Christian feud got somewhat lost in the shuffle really, which is ironic given that the Invasion storyline that caused it to get lost is regarded as one of the biggest missed opportunities in WWE history. It was the fact that it seemed to be building up only to be pulled back when Edge & Christian had to fight off various legendary WCW teams. Then after Christian turned he joined the Alliance for no real reason.
This was perhaps the best match of their mini-feud around this time. It was a good physical match with both men going at with the fury that the feud and stipulation demanded. In the end, Christian looked like winning as he climbed over the top and down the outside but Edge grabbed him through the cage, tied his legs up and climbed out of the cage himself for the win. A great opener.
There was a brief interlude where we saw that Chavo Guerrero was all excited because he had been given the assignment of interviewing the “divas” tonight. Hugh Morrus then showed up claiming that was his gig! Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but who in WWE is flying WCW guys over to the UK at great expense and appointing them as interviewers for the Divas? It makes ZERO sense. Anyway, they find Trish who is busy getting changed, they giggle like schoolboys and then Trish sends them away, promising to get them an interview with Lita.
Scotty 2 Hotty Vs The Hurricane
After an aggressive opener this fun slice of “sports entertainment” was exactly in the spot that it needed to be. It was a good back and forth between two guys who could obviously work and by the time Scotty hit the Worm for the win we’d seen a perfectly acceptable match.
Backstage Chavo and Hugh spy on Lita putting her pants on. Ok.
The Big Show Vs Diamond Dallas Page
I know I spend the Raw and Smackdown retro reviews complaining about short matches but sometimes they are necessary evils. You don’t want to see these two, in this promotion, go at it for ten minutes. That’s not to denigrate what once upon a time could have been a serviceable WCW main event. It’s just that the 2001 Show is a bit of a non-entity whose win-loss record belies the fact that on-screen authority keep booking him against people to punish people they hate. And the 2001 DDP may have moved on from the stalker nonsense but is doing the “positive thinking” thing that was never going to really get him over from the start. The match lasts three minutes, Show dominates and gets the win with a Chokeslam.
Chavo and Hugh have forgone all pretence that they are there to interview divas and just want to see some skin. What they get is a fully clothed Mighty Molly. She nevertheless is aghast they have seen her without her cape.
We then see Steve Austin, Debra, Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon sat around a table backstage talking tactics for tonight. Well they are until Angle notices they are sat around a round table and he starts to compare everyone to the Knights of the Round Table.
The Dudley’s Vs The Hardy’s Vs The APA – WCW Tag Team Titles
Well at least given the 276 times we’ve seen Dudley’s clash with the Hardy’s over the past couple of years the bookers added the APA to proceedings to shake things up a bit. So of course the APA are eliminated early on and we revert to the same old same old. And it’s entertaining enough given the two teams chemistry (and went down very well live if I recall correctly) but it’s nothing we haven’t seen done better at least a dozen times. The Dudley’s take the win.
Vince is backstage and he’s telling great rivals Chris Jericho and The Rock to shake hands and agree to work together for the sake of WWE’s chances at Survivor Series. They do shake hands and then as soon as Vince has gone they start brawling until that gets broken up by a barrage of refs.
William Regal Vs Tajiri
I’m not sure in 2001 whether Regal quite had the status he would have in later years so his pre-match address, where he thanks the fans for spending their dole money on coming to see him and says he’s a better role model than David Beckham was necessary to confirm him as the heel. But it’s great stuff nevertheless. The match can’t quite live up to that but the two work well enough given the obvious clash of styles and we see Tajiri run through his crowd-pleasing moves before Regal makes him tap out to the Regal Stretch. Good fun.
Chris Jericho Vs Kurt Angle – WCW World Title
That’s right, Angle’s United States title isn’t on the line here. You could argue that if WCW is in control of booking its own title matches for its own titles then at least it makes some sense. This is the best wrestling we’ve had so far. It’s almost like a house show match but wrestled for TV. And by that I mean it’s straight-up wrestling and has no extracurricular run-in’s and all that as if this is a house show and they’ve been told they can do whatever they want for 15 minutes. Perhaps the UK PPV’s were essentially non-cannon at this time?
It’s a really competitive back and forth matches that you could almost believe could go either way. Jericho wins by roll-up. Fantastic match. Angle gets his heat back afterwards by hitting a few Angle Slams on Jericho.
Finally…The Rock has come back…to Man-Chest-Er. All he seems to care about is whether or not Michael Cole likes pie or strudel though.
Lita & Torrie Wilson Vs Stacy Keibler & Mighty Molly
Purely and simply a breather between the two main event world title matches. At least they kept it short and simple and let Molly and Lita do most of the work. It’s not very good, but by the same token, it’s not as bad as you might expect all things considered.
Rebellion 2001 Main Event
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs The Rock – WWE World Title
Perhaps quite rightly given that they clashed at three separate WrestleMania’s this is something of a “forgotten” match. And whilst it’s nowhere near as compelling as the best of their other matches it’s still a VERY good effort. It almost seems like the equivalent of going to see a long-running band on a greatest hits tour. The thrill was seeing two bonafide legends go toe-to-toe and head-to-head on British soil. Angle and Jericho get involved too which is perhaps understandable given they clearly won’t have anyone jobbing clean here. And indeed it is an Angle belt shot to Rock that leaves him open for the stunner and the 1-2-3. As memorable was the unseen post-match shenanigans with the Rock and Austin that went on for a good ten minutes and would later be re-worked into a Raw segment. But that’s for another time.
Perhaps it’s a close run thing between this and 1997’s One Night Only as the best of the WWE’s dozen or so UK only PPV shows (not including the shows in the early 90s that aired on Sky Movies). There’s plenty of good-to-great action and the two World Title main events both deliver. Nothing else outstays its welcome and if you take this on it’s own merits as a “B” ppv of sorts it’s a very enjoyable watch.