King of the Ring has been got out of the way and we are in the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden. Steve Austin is still the champion and has stopped any chance of the belt being taken to wCw, Edge is the new King of the Ring and although Kurt Angle nearly killed Shane McMahon last night I will bet every penny I have that Shane turns up tonight showing little-to-no ill effects.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY – TV Rating – 4.7
Vince McMahon opens the show with an in-ring promo. He’s gloating that Steve Austin retained the title last night, that Jericho and Benoit can’t defect to wCw with it and that even the interference of Booker T couldn’t stop Austin. He ruminates on what the “T” stands for before sort of settling on “Temporarily Employed”. You see Vince has put wCw out of business once and by god he will do it again. Vince says MSG is “hallowed ground” and that no wCw guy will ever step into it. I have the feeling he might be wrong about that one. He shows the video of his dad’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame on the Tron and then promises more memorable moments tonight.
Jim Ross and Paul Heyman belatedly welcome us to the show and inform us that The Undertaker and Kane have a shot at the Dudley’s Tag Team Titles tonight. We’re straight into another title match though.
Test Vs Rhyno – Hardcore Title.
Rhyno lost the belt to Test a couple of weeks ago thanks to several distractions from Shane O’Mac and Stacy Kiebler. So this is his rematch. It’s the usual stuff that we see when they just throw these Hardcore matches out there but there is a small twist in TV terms as they brawl into the crowd and make their way backstage. There they toss each other into stuff and eventually after some back and forth with tables and ladders Rhyno Gores Test into a metal barrier for the win. It is what it is.
Rhyno celebrates his win but his victory is short-lived. Someone runs up from behind to attack him and it turns out to be wCw superstar Mike Awesome. Mike grabs a handily placed weapon, smashes Rhyno with it and then hits an Awesome Bomb onto a ladder for the win AND he claims the Hardcore Title. JR is not very happy indeed. It’s a historic moment of course, regardless of what comes for Awesome as we go forward.
Back from the adverts we get replays of Awesome’s smash and grab as JR and Paul E try and make it a big deal.
Jeff Hardy Vs X-Pac – Light Heavyweight Title
Because of course there has to be X-Factor on WWE TV in the spring and summer of 2001. Never mind that Hardy pinned Pac clean last night in a title defence. It was so good that the fans were clamouring for this to happen again. Or not. It’s a perfectly acceptable three minute TV match and when Hardy missed the Swanton, Pac gets a backslide and with the assistance of the ropes holds on for the three. And our THIRD title change of the night so far. We can’t say things aren’t busy anyway!
Vince isn’t happy at all with the way things are going, though I think it’s more Awesome desecrating hallowed ground than X-Pac winning a title that’s annoying him the most. Vince blames Austin for not being there to stop it, Austin says he doesn’t care as he kept the WWE title in-house all by himself at KotR, beat Jericho, sent Benoit to the hospital (he’s out for months now, legit) and even Booker T couldn’t stop him. They smooth things over with a hug.
Trish is backstage talking to someone on her phone when the Big Show turns up and turns on the, erm, charm. He has a new tee that says “Big Show” with an arrow pointing to his, well, you know. Show is fighting Matt Hardy tonight for the European Title and plans on taking a European vacation when he wins it. Who really cares?
We’re back with Vince and Austin when Kurt Angle comes in. Vince congratulates him for his efforts at KotR and Angle says he has a cracked tailbone and a concussion but that he will make it. Austin goes mad at this and calls Angle pathetic. Vince again tries to smooth things over.
Stevie Richards is in the ring and starts to cut a promo. He calls New York a cesspool. Then we hear Tazz’s music kick in.
Tazz Vs Stevie Richards
T-Bone suplex, a whip into the ropes and a Tazzmission. That’s it. Tazz wins in less than 20 seconds.
William Regal and Tajiri are shown with a very large trophy which we learn is for Edge as the new King of the Ring. We’re then back with the Austin/Vince/Angle show. Austin wants Vince to ditch Kurt but Vince doesn’t want to see our Olympic hero traumatised. Angle points out the similarities between him and Austin but Stone Cold isn’t convinced.
It’s Edge’s KotR coronation next. Edge and Christian join Regal and Tajiri in the ring. There’s even a five-second pose. Christian grabs the trophy and says how proud he is of Edge even though Shane helped him win and cost Christian his match. What this segment really needed now was Billy Gunn. Out he pops reminding everyone he was 1999 KotR but wasn’t even entered in this year’s tournament. It’s worth all this just for Edge to tell Gunn that he’s a human vacuum cleaner who “sucks AND blows” at the same time and that he pledges not to “Billy Gunn” the KotR honour, not least because he’s entertaining. A match is set for later tonight.
The Dudley’s Vs The Undertaker & Kane – World Tag Team Titles
Kane couldn’t help Spike Dudley to win the title at KotR so teaming up with his brother to have a go is certainly an upgrade yes? Taker in 2001 is seemingly on a “bury” everyone mode so the challengers simply beat up the champions for the majority of the match. Taker has Sara with him at ringside so perhaps it will be DDP who comes to the champions rescue. But it’s not. It’s Albert. Yes. Albert. His feud with Kane has seemingly ended around twelve times already but here it is again. He Baldobombs Kane and the Champions retain.
Post-match DDP does turn up. He blindsides Taker on the ramp with a Steel Chair shot and then turns his attention to Sara. Because she’s married to Taker she has picked up his “no fear/don’t job” attitude and even takes a swing at an amused DDP. He does grab her by the hair and pull out some extensions that were presumably put in just for this angle. Taker naturally has to get to his feet and DDP runs off before he gets buried again.
Commissioner Regal is livid at all this wCw nonsense but instead of targeting wCw guys he’s more annoyed at the rumours that Jericho or Benoit would have defected if they won the title at KotR. Jericho deserves to be punished but he doesn’t know what to do. Tajiri volunteers to take care of Y2J and Regal makes the match for later.
Matt Hardy Vs The Big Show – European Title
For the second title match in a row, the champion is utterly dominated by the challenger. They really know how to build up champions/make title prestigious, don’t they? Then again, it’s the European title so who really cares. The whole Show/Trish thing earlier was seemingly so that Trish could kiss Matt during this one. Lita obviously disapproves. The end comes when Lita kicks Show in the you know what’s for the DQ. Pointless.
JR promises that Perry Saturn and Terri Runnels are at WWE New York tonight but when we go there it’s actually Shane McMahon. As predicted there are no real effects shown of him being thrown through glass panels last night. They try to explain why Shane has to lead wCw into WWE territory (Vince has blocked every TV network in the world from airing the wCw product) and then he brings out Booker T who challenges Steve Austin to come and face him tonight.
Back in MSG Vince, Austin, Angle and Debra all react to what we’ve just seen. Vince suggests Austin should answer the challenge, Austin wants Vince to come with him, Vince suggests Kurt tags along instead. After a break we see the Acolytes/APA holding court with the who’s who of the WWE mid-card. Or possible low-card. As the likes of Essa Rios, Haku. K-Kwik and Bull Buchanan watch on JBL and Faarooq cut what was probably a shoot interview about how wCw guys are rubbish, don’t deserve to be in the WWE as this is where the “best in the world” come. Must have been a rib.
Edge Vs “The One” Billy Gunn
By now any hope that anyone might have once had that Gunn could become a main eventer has long gone. He’s here as a footnote here and the only real hope is that Edge gets his KotR “reign” off to a good start. The best thing I can say is that at least he wins. Even though he needs help from Christian to do so. I know they are sowing the seeds for the dissolution of Edge & Christian but they could have done that after Edge got a clean win.
Vince and Debra are backstage when they get a cell phone call from Austin who is on his way to WWE New York but is stuck in traffic. He tells Vince that Kurt is being a “dork” but Vince tells him he’s “our dork, a dangerous dork and Austin’s backup dork tonight.
Chris Jericho Vs Tajiri.
Yes, this is our “wrestling” main event tonight as we’re going to finish with shenanigans from WWE New York obviously. Jericho cuts a promo pre-match saying that he will never give up chasing Austin and the Title. The two have a very decent five-minute match that could have been better with a few more minutes. Tajiri is allowed to look competitive and get in some of his trademark offence. Regal tries to help but ends up taking the mist in the face that was intended for Jericho. The shock to poor Tajiri over what he has done is so much that it allows Jericho to hit a bulldog and then the Lionsault for the win.
Vince now has a great idea and tells Austin over the phone to wait outside WWE New York until he gives the signal. Vince goes to the ring and says that he wants all the fans to witness this on the Tron. However, when Angle and Austin go inside someone informs them that Booker and Shane have already left. Vince is still in the ring and, yes, Shane O’Mac is in MSG and he confronts Vince. Booker T sneaks up from behind and of course, Vince has to get a shot in before Booker beats him up and hits the Axe kick. The Acolytes lead the WWE low card army out to the ring but Shane and Booker make an escape through the crowd.
So there we have it. The official start of the wCw InVasion. It’s difficult to not watch these shows with hindsight, knowing what comes over the next few months. But even ignoring that this is somewhat of a difficult start to it. The show itself is fairly pedestrian with a string of poor matches dragging things down and even the better matches are merely only ok. It’s historic as a Raw, for sure, but not as historic as it should have been. But that’s a rant for another time.
Edge recently appeared back on Smackdown, and looks to be set to face Roman Reigns at Money In The Bank – 20 years on from his King Of The Ring win, he isn’t doing so bad.
You can find our King Of The Retro Reviews on Twitter @IWFICON