As I mentioned in my ECW Guilty as Charged 2001 review, the wrestling business was about to go through historic changes in 2001. ECW was all but officially closed. WCW was about to be sold to Fusient media, but would instead be gone two months later. The WWF was about to stand alone in the wrestling world.
This Royal Rumble started the last big boom of the pro wrestling era. It started the build to WrestleMania 17, one of the greatest WrestleMania shows of all time. Stone Cold was determined to get the WWF Championship back. Meanwhile, Kurt Angle emerged on the scene and instantly became a big time player. The WWF had a pretty stacked roster at this point and it was all coming together for one more big show of the Attitude Era.
WWF Tag Team Championship: Edge and Christian (c) vs The Dudley Boyz
So the story of this match is that the Dudleyz are fighting through concussions to be in this match. That wouldn’t fly in 2020. Jerry Lawler doesn’t understand how the Dudleyz can have a concussion because it means you have a bruised brain, and the Dudleyz don’t have any.
Bubba lands some boots in the corner on Christian then sells the concussion effects by grabbing his head. D-Von tags in. Christian gets control and slams his head down onto the mat. E&C work over D-Von in their corner and Bubba gives some sound advice to D-Von and yells “D-Von get out of there.”
D-Von crotches Christian in the corner but Edge distracts the ref so he doesn’t see the tag to Bubba. While Bubba argues with the ref, E&C go for a conchairto but D-Von ducks and tags Bubba again, which the ref sees.
The Dudleyz hit the Whassup headbutt off the top. D-Von goes to get the table but the ref stops him. Bubba ducks a belt shot and sets up Christian for a 3D, but Edge spears Bubba but only gets a two count.
Edge and Christian go for their own Wassup headbutt but D-Von pushes Edge off into Christian. The Dudleyz hit the 3D on Edge and get the win to capture the tag titles. Hot opener the crowd was into.
Drew Carey walks into Triple H and Stephanie’s locker room. Drew asks where Vince is. Steph says there are a lot of good looking women in the WWF, and she said she will take him to Trish’s locker room. She is a big fan. Of course this is the start of the Trish/Steph hating each other story.
Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Chris Benoit (c) vs Chris Jericho
Benoit starts the match by working over Jericho’s arm by throwing him into the post multiple times, then throwing him into the steps. Benoit is the first one to grab a ladder and bring it into the ring. But Jericho pulls him off and rams the ladder into Benoit.
Jericho sets a ladder up horizontally on the top rope in the corner. Jericho gets reversed and Benoit throws him into the ladder. Benoit then goes for a suicide dive but Jericho hits him square in the face with a chair. Benoit got his hands up to protect himself but still, a bit cringe watching it and Benoit lands almost head first on the floor.
Jericho sets Benoit up on the barricade and goes to fall on him with the ladder but Benoit moves. Benoit sets the ladder up in the corner but Jericho shoves him into it. Jericho sets Benoit up in the ladder then falls backwards with him on it, almost like a side Russian leg sweep.
Both men struggle to get to their feet. Benoit grabs the ladder and hits Jericho with it. Benoit puts the ladder horizontally in the corner around the post again, but Jericho grabs him and throws him into it. Jericho launces the ladder off the ropes into the face of Benoit, then dropkicks him with it. Jericho climbs the ladder but Benoit back drops him over the top.
Benoit climbs the ladder but Jericho meets him. Jericho then applies the Walls over the top of the ladder and the crowd loves it. Benoit falls off but is just able to kick the ladder over as Jericho falls off the ladder onto the ropes.
Benoit applies the Crossface. He then throws Jericho into the post. Jericho counters a second attempt and throws him into the ladder. They set the ladder up in the corner. Jericho blocks a superplex and knocks Jericho off, then goes for a headbutt off the top of the ladder but Jericho moves. And again, knowing what we know now, not a fun sight.
Jericho sets the ladder up over Benoit, but Benoit pushes it over and Jericho falls on the ropes again. Benoit climbs the ladder but Jericho hits him a few times with a chair. Benoit kicks him away, but Jericho bounces off the ropes into the ladder and Benoit goes to the outside. Jericho grabs the IC title for the win. Great match.
Drew Carey is backstage talking to Trish when Vince comes in. Vince suggests Drew enter the Royal Rumble match and he accepts.
WWF Women’s Championship: Ivory (c) vs Chyna
So the story here is Chyna was injured when Val Venis delivered a spike piledriver to her a few weeks ago. Chyna has been selling a neck injury, and the doctors have told her she should not be competing. But because this is wrestling, we don’t listen to the doctors and Chyna is out here.
Chyna dominates Ivory for a couple minutes then goes for a hand spring elbow into the corner. It looks incredibly weak, and Chyna has to sell like she reinjured her neck. Chyna is lying on the mat as Ivory puts her hand over to pin her for the win.
Jerry Lawler goes to check on her as does Billy Gunn. They are all there before any EMTs arrive. Maybe someone is getting Chyna a z-pack. Chyna is eventually strapped to a gurney and is taken off.
WWF Championship: Kurt Angle (c) w/Trish Stratus vs Triple H w/Stephanie McMahon
The prematch promo for this would lead you to believe that the match is Trish vs Stephanie. Kurt Angle and Triple H seem like afterthoughts in the feud between those two and Vince. Trish is Kurt’s new business advisor. It is also weird to remember Kurt coming out without the crowd chanting “You Suck” to his theme. A much better time.
These are the types of matches I like when it comes to the WWF title and the Royal Rumble. The Rumble match is a draw itself, so why not take chances with your title match? Here we have two heels fighting but there is a soap opera like side story to keep the viewers interested.
Angle attacks the back of Triple H early and drops him on it a few times. Triple H suckers Kurt to the outside then slams him into the barricade a few times. This is actually the match the crowd is least invested in. So maybe my above paragraph doesn’t work. But Triple H finally gets the crowd invested as he smashes a chair into the leg of Angle with the ref distracted.
Triple H looks like a real goof in the ring trying to run behind Angle and chop block him. Just the way he runs to get behind him looks so stupid. This really isn’t Triple H’s type of match and it isn’t clicking with the crowd, except these two or three women that scream loudly every time he hits a move. I wonder if Steph is jealous of them?
Triple H applies a Figure Four. Trish tries getting into the ring but Steph pulls her out. Trish slaps Steph then Steph slams Trish into the Spanish announce table and they cat fight over it. Vince comes out to break them up. Vince picks Trish up over his shoulder and takes her to the back but Steph pushes them back down. They continue to fight all the way up the aisle.
Oh yeah there is still a wrestling match going on too! Angle hits a German suplex for two. Triple H hits a Razor’s Edge for two. He goes for a Pedigree, Angle counters but HHH pushes him into the corner and then falls into HHH’s crotch. Angle gets back up and hits a moonsault off the top for two.
The ref gets knocked out and sent to the outside. Angle goes to get him back, but Triple H comes out and throws Kurt into the ref, right into the steps. HHH goes to grab the title belt but Angle overhead suplexes him in the ring. Angle goes to use the belt but HHH stops him and hits the Pedigree but there is no ref.
Triple H goes to grab the ref but Steve Austin comes out. Those two have been feuding for a bit leading up to this. Austin hits HHH with the title belt then throws the ref back in the ring. Austin then hits the Stunner on HHH as Angle crawls over and gets the pin for the win.
Boy was the WWF Champion a complete afterthought in that match.
The Rock cuts a promo to get people hyped for the Rumble. He talks about Kane and Undertaker working together. How Kane might want to buy Undertaker a box of chocolates. And Taker might want to rub Kane’s big red nipple. Some funny stuff.
Royal Rumble Match
Number 1 is Jeff Hardy and 2 is Bull Buchanan. Bull actually tries to do the smart thing and press slam Jeff out of the ring but Jeff rakes him in the eyes. Number 3 is Jeff Hardy. Matt helps Jeff to eliminate Bull then decide to fight each other. King suggests waiting for the next person and fighting them off together, which would be the smart thing to do. But they are faces so that won’t happen.
Well, when the countdown starts they do stop fighting and out comes Faarooq at 4. Jeff messes up his dive off Matt’s back and kind of just lands in Faarooq’s arms. Matt hits the Twist of Fate then Jeff hits a Swanton and Faarooq is eliminated. Drew Carey comes out at 5. He watches the Hardyz fight as Jeff messes up a dropkick. They eliminate each other as Drew stands alone.
Kane comes out at 6 and circles the ring. Drew offers him money but Kane turns it down. Kane goes to chokeslam Drew but Raven comes out at 7 and hits Kane with a kendo stick. That was fun. Nothing offensive about it at all. Raven uses a fire extinguisher on Kane and Lawler has a good line about wishing Kane had one of those a few times in his life. Al Snow jumps the gun at 8 and this turns into a hardcore rumble.
Al Snow grabs a bowling ball and throws it into the crotch of Raven. Perry Saturn is in at 9 with Terri, who is wearing quite the shirt. All three guys in the ring finally decided to go after Kane as Steve Blackman comes in at 10 with his BOOM CHI CHI BOOM CHI CHI BOOM theme music. Grand Master Sexay is 11 as Jerry Lawler gets excited. Kane slides to the outside and gets a garbage can and cleans house. Grand Master is gone. Everyone else is dumped as well.
Honky Tonk Man is 12 and the crowd seems to either not know or not care. How dare they disrespect the greatest Intercontinental Champion all time. He sings his theme then Kane grabs the guitar and smashes it over Honky’s head then dumps him. Rock comes out at 13 to a huge pop. Goodfather lasts all of 10 seconds coming out at 14 and is dumped. Pretty easy pay day for him.
Tazz comes out at 15, is promptly grabbed by Kane and put on the turnbuckle, then tossed. Poor Tazz. What a fall from grace. From ECW Champion in 1999, to debuting at the 2000 Rumble beating Kurt Angle, to being eliminated in 10 seconds. At least he got paid for this appearance.
Bradshaw is 16 and is for some reason the first person to get any offense in on both Rock and Kane. Albert is 17 to no reaction. Sign Guy doesn’t even have a sign for him. Hardcore Holly is 18 and JR asks what we think of him now. Same thing I always did: I don’t think of him ever. Rock almost dumps Kane but he hangs on to the rope.
K-Kwik, otherwise known as R-Truth, comes in at 19. Twenty years of R-Truth. He should come out as K-Kwik in this year’s Rumble. Val Venis 20 and also no longer on Twitter if you didn’t know. At this point the match has reached a bit of a lull waiting for the next big star to enter. We don’t get that as William Regal comes out at 21. Val Venis tries to eliminate The Rock. That might be his career highlight. I would ask him that if I could on Twitter.
Speaking of more falls from grace here comes Test at 22. Listen to the pop he got at the 2000 Rumble. But he gout buried in the aftermath of the Steph/HHH story and never got a WWF title shot like he should have.
Big Show is out at 23. He was sent to OVW to lose weight and get down to 400 pounds. He still looks well over it here. Big Show eliminates Test and K-Kwik then chokeslams everyone still in the ring. But when he goes to chokeslam Rock, Rock kicks him low and clotheslines him over the top. Crash Holly is out at 24 as Big Show pulls Rock out of the ring and chokeslams him through the announce table.
Undertaker is 25 and he eliminates everyone but Kane. They wait for 26 and out comes Scotty 2 Hotty as he slowly walks to the ring. He’s quickly dumped and for those that don’t know, this kind of becomes a running gag the next few Rumbles with Scotty 2 Hotty always running into Undertaker.
Number 27 is Stone Cold and the crowd gets up. He must have been using his Disturbed theme here because I think it is pretty obviously dubbed over with his original theme. But Triple H attacks Stone Cold coming to the ring. While this happens, The Rock gets back in the ring and goes after Taker and Kane. Billy Gunn is in at 28. If this were the 91 Rumble, Austin would have forefit his spot. Austin is a bloody mess back by the entrance.
Undertaker delivers a DDT to Rock and JR says he has never seen a DDT like that in his life. I remember seeing it on a RAW I did a few weeks ago. Haku comes out at 29. He’s the current WCW Hardcore Champion. But he was only on a per appearance contract so Vince brought him in. At this point he is just bullying WCW. We already know that Rikishi is 30. Talk about a failed push. Apparently he still isn’t making a difference.
Rikishi goes to beat up Austin but Austin gets the better of him and lands multiple punches. Austin sends Haku over the top. Taker tries a couple headbutts on Rikishi to no effect. Rikishi then superkicks Taker over the top rope. Alright then. Kind of an unceremonious elimination for Taker.
Rikishi goes to the second rope but Rock low blows him and sends him out. We are down to Austin, Rock, Kane and…… Billy Gunn. Austin quickly dumps “The One” Billy Gunn though. Austin and Rock stare each other down from separate corners then come to blows. Austin hits a Stunner on Rock then a Thesz press on Kane.
Austin goes back to Rock but eats a Rock Bottom. Rock throws Kane through the ropes and we are back to Rock and Austin. They exchange near eliminations until Kane comes from behind and eliminates Rock.
Kane chokeslams Austin then goes to pick him up but Austin kicks Kane low. Kane goes and grabs a chair but Austin blocks it and eventually hits a Stunner. Austin then hits Kane with three unprotected chair shots to the head and clotheslines him over the top to win the Rumble.
Really strong Rumble match. You had the comedy with Drew Carey, the hardcore Rumble, Rock vs Kane, Big Show then Taker/Kane clearing the ring, and the Austin/HHH story to add to it. Might be my second favourite after the ’92 Rumble match. And a really strong PPV overall.