Allstate Arena – Chicago, IL TV Rating – 5.2
We’re less than a week away from SummerSlam so things are presumably going to heat up tonight and in no way are we going to be subjected to the same “holding pattern” style shows we’ve been getting since Invasion.
We kick things off with Steve Austin leading the Alliance to the ring. The superstars of WCW and ECW are all around ringside as your WWE Champion is in the ring with a clipboard. For some reason, that little attention to detail amuses me. Austin says he’s giving the Alliance guys a chance to shine and that he’s leading them by example. He’s quite happy at what he did to Kurt Angle on Smackdown but he wants to know who will step up and take out Angle again tonight. It’s Paul Heyman on commentary who leaps up and starts an RVD chant and Van Dam accepts the challenge.
Austin continues on, asking for a round of applause for new WWE Tag Team Champions – DDP and Kanyon, praises new Alliance member Test and praises Rhyno for Goring Chris Jericho through the Smackdown set last week. But some people haven’t been listening to him and have let him down. He singles out Taz, Raven, Tommy Dreamer and Hugh Morris. Dreamer hasn’t had a match and has just been getting people coffee backstage, Morrus lost to Jericho last week and Raven lost to Saturn, who Austin reminds us is in a sexual relationship with a mop. Taz bears the brunt though as he just watched on whilst Shane was Rock Bottomed through a table on Smackdown. Austin takes his belt off and says it’s time for a “come to Jesus” moment. He orders Taz to take off his shirt so he can whip him and when he doesn’t Austin tells the Alliance to attack. They do, and then Austin whips Taz for good measure. I wasn’t sure whether this was genuine “punishment” for something Tazz has done to irk people or whether it was the build-up for a “turn” that was just forgotten about.
It’s twenty minutes long, but we’ve seen a lot worse in the name of opening segments on WWE TV. Of course essentially other than playing up the “paranoia” of The Alliance’s leader it doesn’t really achieve much at all.
Edge is backstage. Christian still has the KotR trophy and that’s why he wasn’t able to help Edge last week. He was getting a scratch buffered out of it and it was the only time he could get it done. Fair enough.
Tajiri Vs Albert
At least Paul Heyman tries to make a salient point about this match. He acknowledges that it’s WWE Vs WWE and that thrills him because whatever happens someone from Vince’s team is going to get beaten up. Incidentally, where is Vince? He’s been missing for a couple of weeks at least. This is your typical big lumbering guy Vs small quick guy thing but it’s a fun, fast run-through of that. Regal and X-Pac are at ringside to add to the fun. Mist and middle rope dropkick set up the Buzzsaw Kick and Tajiri picks up the “upset” win. A few weeks or so ago Albert was going toe-to-toe with Kane. Go figure.
Michael Cole has some questions about Kurt Angle tonight and luckily Kurt randomly pops up to answer them. Yes, his ankle is sore, but he was in worse shape when winning Olympic Gold! He formally accepts RVD’s challenge (or is that Steve Austin’s challenge?) before he’s blindsided by Hugh Morrus who is obviously trying to make it up to Stone Cold. It’s Hugh Morrus though so he fails. Angle quickly sees him off.
Edge & Christian Vs Lance Storm & Justin Credible
All hail Paul Heyman again as he at least tries to put over how cool it is that multi-time WWE Tag Champions Edge & Christian are taking on former ECW Tag Team Champions Storm & Credible, aka The Impact Players. This is going to be tonight’s “this would actually be quite cool if they were given ten minutes but instead it will be done in three” match all day long. And like the previous match, it’s fun but way too short to give any real credence to. Christian goes missing towards the end (to be fair, Edge threw Credible into Christian) so there’s no one for Edge to tag. Still, it’s the Alliance he’s facing so he wins anyway, pinning Credible. Post-match Christian makes the save when Edge is put in the Maple Leaf.
Backstage, Debra is telling her husband that RVD can definitely beat Angle tonight. Van Dam is there too. Shawn Stasiak interrupts and praises Austin’s motivational speeches. Austin says Stasiak needs to be more than just the son of a former WWE Champion and has to make his own name. Stasiak promises to do that tonight. This won’t end well for him, will it?
Elsewhere Kanyon and DDP are giving Palumbo and O’Haire a pep talk ahead of their STEEL CAGE rematch with Undertaker and Kane for the WCW Tag Team Titles later tonight. This isn’t fooling anyone.
Back in Commissioner Regal’s office, Kurt is paying him a visit. Regal says he doesn’t have to take the match with RVD tonight but Angle won’t hear of it. As he’s moving on to a tale about Benjamin Franklin, Shawn Stasiak runs in, Angle steps back and Stasiak goes crashing straight into the suit of armour Regal has standing in the corner. I have a feeling it will outstay its welcome, but I genuinely laughed.
The Undertaker & Kane Vs Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo
WCW Tag Titles – Steel Cage Match
With the Cage in place and no chance that the WCW mid-carders can run in en masse for the attack what chance do the challengers have here? They jump the champions as they come in and briefly Kane can’t enter the match. And that’s the best it gets for them. The true stars beat down the jobbers for about four minutes and it ends with double pins for the champions. DDP and Kanyon watch from the ramp and when Page goes after Sara she climbs into the cage. Hope the lesson being taught about being “disrespectful” backstage was learned. Oh hell, who am I kidding? Even without that, the WCW guys wouldn’t have been allowed to get a second punch in.
Here come Stephanie McMahon and Rhyno to have a little chat with us all. Stephanie enjoyed Rhyno’s actions on Smackdown and she thinks it knocked a screw loose in Jericho’s head if he’s accepted the match for Summerslam. Naturally, this brings out Jericho. The crack about taking care of the “smelly, nasty, greasy animal” at Summerslam “and, oh, I’m going to get you too Rhyno” makes me laugh but then we’re into the territory of Jericho making cracks about Stephanie’s recent boob job.
For some reason, Booker T walks out to the ring. He thinks Steph looks damn fine, implies that Jericho looks like a woman and that he should join the Backstreet Boys. Jericho responds with the 135th A-Team joke of the month before Booker says that at Summerslam he’s going to take The Rock To school.
Cue the Rock. Rock says Book was the only 27-year-old in the senior class, Jericho makes some more “jokes” about Stephanie being a whore and Steph seems to miss her cue for interrupting Rock’s rhyming promo where he calls Booker a “WCW sucker” and Steph a “silver spoon mother…” well you know. So we have to beep that. Chicago heard it tho… The upshot is that our second near 20 minutes in-ring promo of the night sets up a tag team match for tonight’s main event. Could have been done in half the time without losing anything at all.
Austin and Debra are backstage when Hurricane Helms comes to see them. He immediately annoys Austin by helping himself to the crudities. They make fun of Helms’ Green Lantern tattoo and Austin tells him to act like a Hurricane. What’s the betting that his attempts to do so will fall flat?
Test Vs Spike Dudley
It’s apparently Test & The Dudley’s Vs Spike & The APA at Summerslam. Test, having just defected to the Alliance surely can’t lose here (although, it’s 2001 so you never know) and indeed he wins pretty sharpish in a virtual squash. Post-match the Dudleys and APA run in for the brawl. Chicago was hot.
Matt Hardy and Lita are chatting with Kurt Angle backstage and they all make fun of the Green Lantern. Helms walks by, slaps Angle’s glass of milk out of his hand and then is tossed into the catering table and beaten up. That’s THREE WCW “superstars” who have been subjected to that tonight.
Rob Van Dam Vs Kurt Angle – WWF Hardcore Title
Oh being a wrestling fan of too many years to mention you look at this and can see where it’s going a mile off. Kurt Angle isn’t going to Summerslam as the Hardcore Champion and the rules of the match will allow the WCW midcard to run interference and somehow RVD will escape with the belt. Well how wrong was I? Three minutes in the Alliance guys do run in to break up the Anklelock but in amongst the brawl, Jeff Hardy hits a Swanton on RVD and pins him to win the belt. At least it was something unexpected.
Shawn Stasiak is waiting outside the bathroom for Austin and is asking Debra if he should go in. As he pontificates, he stands behind the door and Austing swings it open to knock him out cold.
Chris Jericho & The Rock Vs Rhyno & Booker T
Ah, the old two singles matches on an upcoming PPV turned into one mega tag team match on TV. Although to be fair, anything with Jericho seems to be more about his “banter” with Stephanie than it does about a match with Rhyno. It’s your fairly standard Raw main event and it does at least try to push the issues for the upcoming PPV. Of course, it’s completely overbooked. Stephanie waffles Y2J with a chair, Rock knocks out a WCW ref, Shane takes out a WWE ref and a distraction from Steph allows Rhyno to hit a low blow on Jericho and roll him up for the pin. Of course, Rock has to get his heat back and he cleans house with a series of Rock Bottom’s but Booker does at least get the last lick in, hitting the Bookend and the victorious Alliance stands tall as the show goes off the air.
There’s nothing on here that’s mind-blowing it has to be said. And two twenty-minute in-ring promos on one show certainly is overkill. But outside of that, there’s a fast pace to things that keeps things flowing and whilst you can’t say this is “must-see” TV or that anything is particularly worth seeking out on its own merits as a slice of 2001 Raw it’s quite a lot of fun.