Arrowhead Pond – Anaheim, California | TV Rating: 4.7
The Good: We all know where it ended up going (for whatever reasons) as a whole but the opening promo with the NEW Undisputed World Champion Chris Jericho is a good start. Undisputed Jericho, to me, was always more entertaining as the conniving and brash heel and I also liked the fact that whilst this opener with Ric Flair was the traditional “set up the main event” thing, that was done verbally and no-one came in and smashed the new champ.
Slim pickings again, but the HHH promo video soundtracked by U2’s Beautiful Day is an astonishingly self-aggrandising piece of work. I’m in awe at it even twenty years on…
The Bad: I’ve watched a couple of times and I still don’t know what the backstage segment with Vince, Flair, Booker T and the Doberman guard dogs is all about. In fact, I’m not sure what relevance any of the Vince stuff has tonight other than it being yet another “Vince being Vince” thing that is there just to, you know, have Vince on television a lot. I mean there’s a whole segment on him and Booker T having sandwiches where Booker thinks they might be poisoned but they’re not. Gripping stuff. Rikishi and Kurt Angle have a two-minute match that ends on a count-out after our Olympic hero runs away to avoid the Stinkface… He then comes back to attack and is given the Stinkface. Though more than the utter pointlessness of that it’s the fact that in 24 hours Angle has gone from World Title contender to this. No offence to our mate Rikishi.
Matt and Jeff Hardy haven’t been banished from TV, just yet, so they can have their latest in their interminable series of matches here. This one sees Lita teaming with Jeff, even though the match was presumably set up long before Matt dumps Lita in a pre-match interview. For one of the greats of modern tag team wrestling, the Hardy’s had zero compatibility as rivals in 2001. It never worked.
The Indifferent: As fun as new Hardcore Champion The Undertaker (Bet he didn’t mention that in his Hall of Fame speech) squashing Spike Dudley may be in parts, it all seems very pointless. And generally a waste of time. Lance Storm asks Ric Flair for a job. Ric refuses. Storm asks again. Flair gives him an all or nothing match against The Big Show where if he wins he gets a job. He doesn’t win. And is squashed by Show for good measure… William Regal and Kane goes less than three minutes and we have the brass knux finish to boot.
The Tag Team Title match between The Dudley’s and The Rock & Trish Stratus isn’t as bad as it could have been. It’s FAR too long for what it is though and could quite easily have lost five of its near twelve minutes without it, well, losing anything from an entertainment point of view. I’d put the fact that Test interferes to attack the Rock in the “bad” section because who really wants to see a Test/Rock feud at this point but I think we all know that’s never going to be a long-standing concern.
The main event Steel Cage match between Chris “Undisputed” Jericho and Steve Austin isn’t very good, although it’s hardly helped by Austin’s pre-match promo where he calls out Booker T heavily telegraphing the interference finish. The main problem really is that 2001 babyface Austin has nothing left to do and the man himself seems to know it. For all the revisionist history of his heel turn being a “failure” and a mistake, post-invasion Austin seems to show that it was a necessary experiment.
Overall: Dull, very dull. I mean there is the smattering of the “bad” but complaining about short matches on WWE TV in 2001 is like going outside in the rain and complaining you get wet. So there’s nothing REALLY offensive going on. But it’s all just so pointless. Attempts are being made to do something different across the card but nothing really seems to be clicking at all… Except for Undisputed Jericho who continues to be entertaining. He beat The Rock and Austin in the same night.