WWE: Retro Raw is War Results | Austin Is King – June 4th 2001

We recap Smackdown and the Austin/Benoit match prior to being welcomed by Jim Ross and Paul Heyman who announce that the King of the Ring tournament actually starts tonight with two qualifying matches and that The Undertaker will be here in person to address the “stalker” issue.  First things first, though, and we have a title match to kick things off.

Target Center – Minneapolis, MN – TV Rating – 4.3

Kane Vs Christian – Intercontinental Title

Edge couldn’t defeat the Big Red Machine for the title, so can his tag team partner Christian succeed where Edge failed? Unlikely but to make sure the fans really hate him Christian cuts a pre-match promo where he waffles on about local sports heroes being rubbish.  These thing lose their spark when you’re watching as someone who has no idea who is being talked about.  Christian goes straight after Kane, to no avail, and it’s only when Edge causes a distraction that not-yet Captain Charisma can get a bit of an upper hand.  The two are having a fairly boring, rudimentary match until the new wCw logo flashes up on the Titan Tron and Hugh Morrus runs in, climbs to the top turnbuckle and nearly misses the “No Laughing Matter” on Edge.  What’s that they say about first impressions?  Hugh escapes through the crowd whilst the match continues in the ring and Kane gets the win.  Afterwards we get a clip of Shane O’Mac celebrating in the production truck so we’re presumably at least getting an explanation for how the wCw logo aired on the Tron.  Admittedly even if we take that at face value there’s a hundred plot holes but at least they are trying.

Vince is wandering around backstage and isn’t happy.  Of course rather than go and get Shane kicked out of the arena he’s coming to the ring to talk to us.  He does mention Shane but is more annoyed now about the beating he got from Chris Benoit on Smackdown. His storyline barbs at Benoit are an uncomfortable watch knowing what we know now.  But the upshot is, Vince wants Benoit to pay and as such he must take on the Big Show tonight.  We then get interruption number 1 as Mick Foley makes he way out to plug his latest book.  However he’s also here because he still has one of those contracts he got Linda McMahon to sign at the back end of last year and this one gives him the chance to make a main event match for any Raw of his choosing.  And as such, Stone Cold Steve Austin will defend his title against Chris Jericho tonight. 

Vince argues that as the contract was signed in Connecticut it’s not valid in Minnesota.  Foley has thought ahead and introduces the governor of Minnesota himself, Jesse Ventura.  Jesse says he has the legal power to make Foley’s contract official and that the match will go ahead.  Vince isn’t happy and is even less happy when Foley says he has one more surprise tonight too. 

As Stone Cold and Debra only arrive now, it’s clear that Austin has no idea that he’s booked in a match.  Some would say it’s his own fault for showing up late.  He makes Debra carry his bags, even as she complains they are too heavy. 

Matt Hardy Vs Jeff Hardy – King of the Ring Qualifier

The tournament is a 16 man single elimination one this year and kicks off with this.  The commentators reference what happened between Matt, Lita and Eddy Guerrero on Smackdown without mentioning Eddy.  He won’t be seen for some time.  The match itself somewhat goes through the motions and brings to mind that the two never really had the great one-on-one match that many thought was in their locker.  Of course they’re not going to have it on a Raw match that lasts all of four minutes.  Jeff wins when he counters a Twist of Fate attempt into a backslide.

Stone Cold and Debra are backstage when Vince comes up to the Champ to tell him he has a title defence tonight.  Austin isn’t happy and says that if this is all about Linda divorcing him, Vince should just give her half his fortune and be done with it.  Vince says Linda doesn’t deserve it and Austin is about to agree until Debra gives him a look of admonishment.

Trish Stratus is backstage talking with Mick Foley.  Trish isn’t happy about Terri having challenged her to a Bra and Panties match tonight.  Foley waffles on about Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t be dead if he’d had such a match rather than a duel.  Foley says it’s Trish’s duty as an American to have the match.  Trish reminds him she’s Canadian.  Foley says that’s North America anyway. 

More backstage tomfoolery as Commissioner Regal is telling Tajiri off because his tea is two degrees too cold.  Kurt Angle bursts in and asks about his match with Shane McMahon at King of the Ring.  Regal confirms it’s booked.  Angle then says he still wants to be in the King of the Ring tournament AND wants a singles match with Spike Dudley tonight.  He gets put in the tournament but Angle is added to the already booked Holly’s Vs Dudley’s match with Spike joining his brother on the other team. 

Still no match as the Dudley’s and Spike have been watching this on a monitor backstage.  Spike is happy, D-Von is less so.  Bubba warns Spike that his concentration better be on this match and not something, or someone, else tonight.  Time for a match? Of course not.  Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are with us to recap the Dudley’s powerbombing Molly Holly through a table (well through Spike Dudley as well) but she’s on the mend and has got tonight’s gig of hosting from WWE New York.  She says she hopes to be back soon, thanks Spike for the flowers and says that she likes Spike.  Back in Minneapolis, Spike has seen this and is thrilled.

Back from a break and surely it’s time for a match? Well, not before a sneak preview of Mick Foley’s upcoming spread in People Magazine.  Thankfully it’s an article on his books, not THAT kind of spread. 

The Dudley’s Vs The Holly’s & Kurt Angle

Yes, a match.  An actual match.  And wouldn’t you know it, but it’s actually quite decent.  It’s on the “fun” end of the scale rather than the “wrestling classic” but it’s still a good watch.  The Holly’s and the Dudley’s pound away on each other, Spike gets in some shots on Angle and there’s lots of fast paced tags and action that draws you in.  Angle picks up the win after plating the Olympic Slam on Bubba.  He wants to celebrate with his teammates but Hardcore Holly is having none of it at all. 

Chris Benoit Vs The Big Show

Yes, straight onto another match.  Heyman mentions that both men are former WCW World Champions as the two go at it.  Benoit tries to get the advantage early doors but Show is too strong for him and takes control.  Benoit occasionally gets back into things but Show continues to cut him off.  When Show goes for a chokeslam Benoit counters and goes for the Crossface.  Show rolls over but Benoit rolls back, locks it on and gets the win via tap-out.  Beyond Benoit’s bumps making Show look a million dollars and the finish there wasn’t much at all to this.

Undertaker is so mad about the stalker thing that he’s only shown up over an hour into the show.  After the break he makes his way to the ring and says that someone has a death wish if they are bringing his family into things.  He’s warned Austin before so doesn’t think it’s him behind it and then suddently decides that as JR got the letter a few weeks ago telling them about it he must know something more.  JR doesn’t, but Heyman’s attempt to make a snarky comment is met by a Taker slap.  As this is all going on a video pops up on the Tron and this time Sara is cleaning her back yard and tending to her pet dogs.  Despite obviously being in the bushes directly besides her, the stalker tells the world that he’s not a close as Taker thinks as he’s got a long zoom lens.  “I’m stalking your wife, but from miles away” isn’t really logical in terms of the threat is it?  Taker, as you might suspect, is far from happy.

After a break we see that Udnertaker has confronted Vince McMahon backstage.  Vince says he has no knowledge of all about what’s going on but suggest that if Shane was responsible for the wCw logo he might well be the one who got the footage of Sara on there too. 

Tazz Vs Rhyno – King of the Ring Qualifier

It sounds enticing on paper, but the fire has long since gone out of Tazz by now so this battle of former ECW stars with added/changed letters to their name isn’t really up to much.  The two exchange punches and blows before Tazz takes control with a suplex and a clothesline.  Tazz takes charge at ringside, throwing his opponent into the barricade, but back in the ring Rhyno gets back in it.  Tazz hits a Gore of his own for a two but after a bit more back and forth tussling, Rhyno hits his own gore and advances to the next round. 

Debra is trying to calm down her husband backstage but he’s worried about whatever Mick Foley’s surprise is going to be.  Austin suggests that Debra goes to find him and see what she can find out. After the break she is wandering around and eventually finds him on some steps.  Foley politely refuses to spoil his surprise but does give Debra a signed copy of his latest book. 

Christian and Edge are chatting elsewhere and Christian is complaining about his loss earlier.  To get over it he is going to enter the King of the Ring tournament.  Edge doesn’t’ think that is such a good idea, mainly because he himself has entered (without telling Christian).  Eventually they agree that both of them are in it and pretend to be happy about it. 

Michael Cole is with Chris Jericho backstage to interview him about his WWE title shot tonight.  Jericho calls him “Mitchell” and tells him to “shut the hell up”.  He acknowledges that he “beat” HHH for the World Title on Raw last years only for it to be reversed.  After a few more of his clichéd catchphrases the gist is that he’s going to win tonight.  And that’s the bottom line because the Jericholics say so. 

Trish Stratus Vs Terri Runnels – Bra & Panties match

Credit to Terri for “wrestling” in those high heels I guess.  The finish comes when Perry Saturn runs in and takes off his robe to reveal he is wearing bra and panties.  That’s not the finish, but Terri is so distracted by that it enables Trish to strip her opponent for the win.  There’s not really anything else to say about it. 

Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Chris Jericho – World Heavyweight Title

Mick Foley’s surprise turns out to be that he has appointed himself as the Special Troubleshooting Referee for this one.  For some reason Paul Heyman proclaims that Verne Gagne must be rolling over in his grave.  (Note – he’s not actually dead at the time of this show).  Perhaps Foley’s appearance is a way of putting some doubt into the result, because let’s face it the odds don’t look in Jericho’s favour here, even with Vince and Benoit barred from ringside. 

The match itself isn’t a patch on either of the Austin/Benoit matches we saw last week on TV and has to settle for merely being good rather than great.  It doesn’t help that after jobbing Benoit to Austin twice in a week, Jericho jobs here and is also made to look a little bit weak in one sense because whilst he kicks out of an accidental chair shot from Mick Foley (who was aiming for William Regal) he then immediately tastes a stunner and a three count.  The show ends with Jericho going for Regal and locking in the Walls of Jericho whilst Foley pulls out Mr Socko and gives Regal the Manidble Claw at the same time. 

Whilst the main events of the last two TV shows saved the day and made decent shows into borderline great ones, Austin/Jericho cant’ quite do the same here.  Still nothing really drags, there’s plenty of entertainment and we even actually start building to King of the Ring.  So not a must-see show, but perfectly watchable in the context of the ongoing timeline. 

For those not too familiar with King of the Ring;

The King of the Ring tournament is a professional wrestling single-elimination tournament held periodically by WWE, a Connecticut-based professional wrestling promotion. Established in 1985, the winner of the tournament is crowned the “King of the Ring.” Some wrestlers have incorporated this into their character, such as adorning king’s attire and acting and speaking with a regal attitude; for example, after winning the 2006 tournament, Booker T became King Booker and maintained that character over the next year.

Only one tournament provided an additional reward, which was the 2002 tournament where winner Brock Lesnar received a match for the WWE Undisputed Championship. The tournament is also notable for beginning Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rise to stardom after he won the tournament in 1996.

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