So here we are, the biggest party of the summer. With the WWE Vs The Alliance feud in full swing…erm, half swing…? Well maybe someone has sat on the swing anyway. Still, on paper, there’s a decent looking line up so let’s get to it. It’s SummerSlam 2001!
The theme tune tonight is “Let The Bodies Hit The Floor” and there’s a generic opening video package because focussing on particular matches may have somewhat limited the appeal. We kick things off with one of the evening’s “inter-promotional” matches (at least JR is trying to hype it, god bless him) and also one of six title matches.
SummerSlam 2001 – Lance Storm Vs Edge
Ok, so I’ve spent weeks noting (ok, moaning) that there’s been plenty of matches on WWE that in theory have potential but in actuality go less than five minutes so you have to settle for something less than “great”. So the fact that these two get to hit double digits in terms of minutes on the clock is fine by me. Storm riles up the crowd with his dislike of shenanigans and Edge’s music interrupts his attempts to be serious. The match itself is very good. It’s back and forth although for once it’s the Alliance member Storm who dominates the majority. Of course, it’s all to build up the big comeback from Edge but that’s fine. The closing moments are hot even if they have to be sullied with Christian “inadvertently” spearing Edge when Storm moved out of the way. It didn’t help Storm though as Edge rallied and then hit the Edgecution for the pinfall win. So even though I’ve noted the competitive nature of the match (and have been noting for weeks that when WCW guys win it’s invariably because of interference), Storm can’t beat Edge even when WWE interference backfires. Post-match, Christian hands Edge the IC belt and they hug.
It should also be noted that a couple of times during that match the camera’s switched to the WWE locker room who were watching on cheering their guy Edge. It’s an attempt to make us believe there’s something at stake tonight I guess.
Test and the Dudley’s are wandering around menacingly when Michael Cole catches up with them. Cole asks why Test turned his back on the WWE. I thought that would be obvious. Which it is, but Test explains it to him anyway.
Elsewhere Chris Jericho is being interviewed by Lillian Garcia. He “hilariously” calls her “Vivian”. Oh, my sides. He then runs through his usual “you couldn’t say this in 2021” routine about Stephanie.
The APA & Spike Dudley Vs The Dudley’s & Test
Jim Ross tries to spin it that Test WASN’T completely in the right to be annoyed that the APA had brutally attacked him when they’d decided he was the mole that was leaking WWE secrets to the Alliance. “The APA tried to apologise to Test” apparently. I hadn’t noticed. I’m not expecting loads from this match but it does turn out to be a fun, fast-paced brawl that builds to some exciting spots, including Spike going through a table at the ringside courtesy of Test. The ending sucks though. Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Hell on Test, thus getting the visual of “WWE would have won” but Nick Patrick is too busy checking on poor Spike. This allows Shane McMahon to wander down to ringside, hit Bradshaw with a chair and thus allow Test to get the win. Because even Alliance members who are really WWE guys have to have help to win.
Backstage the WWE mid-card is celebrating Edge’s title win but Christian is more excited about his European Title match tomorrow against Matt Hardy. Christian answers his phone and it’s their Grandma. Edge speaks to her but when he hands the phone back to his brother she’s hung up.
Elsewhere we’re in Stone Cold’s dressing room but there’s no Stone Cold. Debra is there and Shawn Stasiak comes in, without knocking. He points out he has “MECCA” on the back of his tights and he doesn’t even know what it means. Debra doesn’t care and says Stone Cold won’t either. Debra tells him to leave, kick some butt and knock the next time. Ok then.
SummerSlam 2001 – X-Pac Vs Tajiri
Cruiserweight & Light Heavyweight Title
Both titles are on the line in this era of hot-shotting title switches because we’ve not thought of anything else. There’s never really been any explanation of why two WWE guys would be battling over these two titles. I mean I understand their feud, but logically wouldn’t Vince McMahon be wanting his guys to take out the opposition rather than a battle between themselves? Oh yeah, that’s the Vince who has been MIA for the past few weeks to ZERO explanation on TV. The match itself isn’t too bad but it only really picks up in the later stages. Fans are firmly behind Tajiri so of course, it’s not to be his night. For the third match in a row, someone not in the match runs in for the interference. This time it’s Albert. It’s as a distraction, which Tajiri falls for but mists him. But with the referee distracted he misses X-Pac’s low blow and an X-Factor later it’s all over. A decent match but an ending I doubt even X-Pac’s mother would have wanted.
Perry Saturn is on hosting duties at WWE New York. He still hasn’t found Moppy. He has a “missing” milk carton with her, erm, face on it.
Rhyno is getting ready for his upcoming match with Chris Jericho and he’s in the locker room with Stephanie McMahon. She tells him he needs to take Y2J out. He says he will. We then get a video package of that feud which makes it clear that the real issue is Jericho Vs, Stephanie. It’s funny given how Jericho’s 2002 feud with Triple H would largely end up being about HHH Vs Stephanie.
Chris Jericho Vs Rhyno
And therein lies the problem. Jericho is over huge during this period. Rhino is over for an ECW guy who isn’t Rob Van Dam. But once the bell rings no one really cares about Jericho Vs Rhyno. It also doesn’t help, for me anyway, that this is another of those matches you are glad we are seeing on PPV as they will get a decent amount of time but in the end, it’s merely “ok” rather than anything particularly memorable. The biggest pop comes when Jericho forces a kiss on Stephanie. It’s fine, but the constant reminders that “Jericho has never beaten Rhyno” leave us with only one outcome. Jericho wins with the Walls. Post-match Steph throws a tantrum and walks to the back alone. Heyman says he’s ashamed to have ever met Y2J.
The Rock is walking backstage. He is with William Regal, who asks him if he’s 100% after what happened on Smackdown. Rock says he is hurt but he’ll get Booker tonight. Inevitably, Shawn Stasiak attempts to attack the Rock but they move and he goes headfirst into a garage door.
SummerSlam 2001 – Jeff Hardy Vs Rob Van Dam
WWF Hardcore Championship | Ladder Match
The two met in something of a “dream” match at Invasion (about the only one on that card) so despite this match only being set up in the week before Summerslam itself it was perhaps inevitable that there would be a rematch. RVD is the only person in the Invasion getting over by himself really (with a small shout out to Booker T) and no amount of WWE bias with fans can stop him from being a babyface. The chemistry between these two was undeniable and there were some incredible moments in this one. There was also a scaling down of the usual “I’ll climb the ladder really really slowly so you’ve time to get up and knock me off of” nice spots. Most of the big spots hit the mark but even one big blown spot at the very end couldn’t really hurt things. This was a good, innovative effort and the win for RVD certainly should have been a sign that the sky was the limit for him in the WWE. But I’m sure we’ll get to that in time.
Booker T and Shane McMahon are backstage and are happy about RVD’s win. Shane has a present for Booker…a pair of bookends. He claims they were made out of the table that Booker put Rock through on Smackdown. Booker loved the gift, hugged Shane and said he was dedicating his match to him. Touching stuff.
SummerSlam 2001 – WWE & WCW Tag Team Titles
The Undertaker & Kane Vs DDP & Chris Kanyon
By now we all know about the stalker storyline that effectively sealed DDP’s fate from the beginning. I might be in the minority, but in its bare bones, I didn’t think that it was that bad. But the problems were twofold. It didn’t really fit DDP’s established gimmick (and he couldn’t make it work). More importantly though, as it targeted The Undertaker and his wife there was no chance that DDP was ever getting any more than the occasional upper hand. And to be fair, he barely even got that. The whole “invasion” was never about WCW gaining parity with the WWE either. And if that’s not bad enough, rumour had it that DDP offended Taker by wanting to layout matches in full in advance. And once Taker takes against you, you’re done. Perhaps there were hints of this on Smackdown where Taker notably praised Kanyon (of a fashion) whilst burying DDP and suggesting that Sara was going to be beating him up sooner rather than later.
Quite what DDP’s envisioned booking meeting about this match would have been like is difficult to see. Because basically, this was little more than an extended squash. The true WWE superstars demolished the WCW jabronis. Kanyon got in a little more offence than his partner did but nothing either man did had any real effect. Worse still this went on for ten minutes (when for once I would have been glad to see it over in five) and whilst it’s a moot point given that the WWE clearly had no long terms plans for either WCW guy it certainly killed off their chances going forward. The Last Ride on DDP finished things off.
The Rock was backstage in the trainer’s room saying that he didn’t need any medical attention. This was really just here for another “run-in, miss, and go clattering into a wall” moment from Shawn Stasiak.
SummerSlam 2001 – WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Kurt Angle
After a great video package, the two made their way to the ring. Well, they didn’t even get to the ring as they started brawling at ringside for a good couple of minutes before referee Earl Hebner got some sort of control and the bell finally rang. This was great, intense stuff with the two really going at it hammer and tongs. Austin hit three vertical suplexes, Angle hit back with three Germans and then another three! Angle was busted open (the sight of claret red blood always heightens the atmosphere) and the two traded all kinds of shots. Austin even pulled out the old Million Dollar Dream submission. Where it fell, albeit slightly, was the ending. There was a ref bump but it wasn’t “accidental”; Austin full-on walloped Hebner. With no referee, Angle’s DDT on Austin and subsequent pin attempt seemed fruitless but Mike Chioda ran in but it was only a two. Austin hit a low blow on Angle in full view of the new ref and then his Chioda with a Stunner. Tim White became our third ref but Austin smacked him with his title belt. Angle hit an Angle Slam but there was no ref to count the pin. Then our FOURTH ref of the night ran in, but as it was Nick Patrick he didn’t count the pin but instead rang for the bell and called for the DQ on Austin, presumably for beating up the entire WWE referee division. It was a fantastic match, but the over-booked finish (regardless of whether or not it was needed in storyline terms) means it just falls short of being an all-time classic.
Post-match Angle beat up Patrick and made him tap to the Ankle Lock.
SummerSlam 2001 – WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Booker T Vs The Rock
If not putting on Austin/Angle last suggested shenanigans in that match, putting this one on last heavily suggested that there was only one winner here. Mind you, it could have been put on Heat and there would have been no doubt. I’m not saying the decision was out and out wrong, but what brave booking it would have been to hand Booker a win. The match itself is very good, even with the annoying presence of Shane McMahon at ringside. The two battled in and out of the ring and it was at least a competitive match that saw Booker have his fair share of momentum at times. I’ve never been happier to see the APA as I was when they ran out to deck Shane but not even the Clothesline from Hell can put him totally down as he recovers to grab referee Charles Robinson’s leg when Rock is attempting to pin Booker. Rock leaves the ring to Rock Bottom Shane on the floor. Back in the two trade some moves before Booker gets the upper hand and hits the scissors kick to the back of Rock’s head. He then does the Spinarooni but Rock nips up and hits the Rock Bottom. Three seconds later and we have a new WCW Champion. It was a good match but although Booker was competitive enough there was never really any feeling that he could win.
Although many fans look back on the Invasion era with disappointment it wouldn’t be fair to say that it was a total bust. Summerslam 2001 may not be as fondly remembered as some of the great shows but it was a very good one. Angle/Austin is great and it’s got able back up from the likes of Edge/Storm and RVD/Hardy. The problems of the Invasion are still all here (WCW guys can’t win off their own bat, there’s no logic behind the referees who cheat for their guys at some times but not at others etc) but taken as a show on its own merits, Summerslam 2001 is certainly well worth a re-visit.