Happy 2021 everybody! This year has to be better right?
I’m starting my year of Retro Reviews looking at the first RAW of 2001. A time where the WWF would be coming off its best year ever. WCW is about to have its funeral and ECW is days from dying. The year 2001 changed the entire landscape of pro wrestling.
We get a recap from Smackdown. Stone Cold Steve Austin is on a mission to get a WWF title match. Stephanie McMahon is in charge and she is having none of it. Austin dumped a beer on her in protest.
Stone Cold is walking into the building. Earl Hebner tells him that Stephanie demands that he come to her office. We have two matches tonight: The Rock vs Kane and Undertaker vs Rikishi. The winners then fight on Smackdown and the winner of that match gets to fight Kurt Angle next Monday on RAW. Remember when stuff like that mattered?
Undertaker vs Rikishi
I’m kind of surprised we get to hear Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin” as the Undertaker rides to the ring. Is it embarrassing for people to say they liked Limp Bizkit back in the day? I feel like it is for some reason but I don’t care. I liked them. Rikishi is no longer making a difference and is instead just a bad man according to his theme.
Rikishi won’t come to the ring so Taker rides his motorcycle back up the ramp to go after him. They end up fighting up there for a bit before finding their way back to the ring. They finally get in the ring after a couple of minutes. They probably knew these two would have a crap match inside the ring so they need to brawl first.
I honestly never got the Rikishi push. It just felt like such a letdown when he was revealed as the guy that ran over Austin. I don’t know who 11 year old Justin was expecting but he wasn’t thrilled with Rikishi.
Taker goes for a Last Ride but he can’t get Rikishi up. Rikishi hits a leg drop then ducks his head and Taker catches him with a awful DDT and gets the win. Wow, Undertaker won a match with a DDT once.
Austin ends up in Stephanie McMahon’s office. She tells him that he has to sell every can of beer on the table in front of him to get a title shot. There’s maybe a couple hundred there? That shouldn’t be hard. Poor Kevin the beer guy gets his butt kicked by Austin. Oh there are hot dogs too. Again, shouldn’t be that hard.
Kurt Angle is shown arriving with Edge and Christian. Angle just found out about the contenders matches and then they all find out they are fighting Chris Jericho and the Dudleyz in a Tables Match.
The Acolytes w/Jacqueline and Billy Gunn vs Right to Censor
This was in the middle of that failed Billy Gunn push right? It is Bull Buchanan, Val Venis and the Goodfather for the ROC. They just took out Chyna last week and Ivory mocked her in an interview on Smackdown.
Teddy Long is the referee and I still find it weird when he is a referee. The crowd is dead until Billy Gunn gets the tag and the crowd comes alive. Were people really into Billy Gunn at this time? He wants Val Venis after what he did to Chyna so those two brawl a bit.
Billy back drops Val but the rest of RTC breakup the pin. All six men fight until Billy gets the pin on Val for the win.
Austin squirts some mustard on Stephanie. They then show him backstage drinking the beer after break. Vince is on the phone and tells Steph that she can’t let Austin get to her. Trish Stratus comes in. Vince says Chris Benoit has to defend the Intercontinental title against Test. Steph says Trish’s plastic smile and big breasts don’t work on her.
Michael Cole, sporting a WWF jean shirt, interviews the Dudleyz.
WWF Hardcore Championship: Raven (c) vs Tazz
Five years earlier this would have been a huge main event in ECW.
They quickly brawl into the crowd then into the back. They end up brawling into the women’s room. Raven gets a swirly in an unflushed toilet. Why do people not flush toilets in public restrooms? It is gross.
Crash and Hardcore Holly jump both men in the locker room. Steve Blackman then gets all of them in the hallway. Raven then pins Crash for the win? WTF was that?
Stone Cold comes out to his awesome Disturbed theme. He says he sold all of his hot dogs and beer. Man, I could really go for a $15 over priced arena beer right about now.
Steph comes out sporting a new blouse. Steph asks who he thinks he is talking too. Austin says a complete bitch as the crowd chants slut at her. Ah the cool things we could get away with chanting 20 years ago.
Steph doesn’t believe Austin sold all of those beers and hot dogs. They cut to the APA and Jacqueline who bought all of it. Austin puts the beer holder around her neck. She struggles with it as she talks. Why doesn’t she just take it off?
But Steph says she is a woman of her word. Tonight he will have a match and if he wins he will get added to the number one contenders match on Smackdown. Austin says he will make 2001 a living hell for Steph if she messes with him. Austin then graciously helps Steph take the beer holder off, and rips off her top in the process as she runs to the back. I feel like if this segment happened today it would get universally crapped on.
Tables Match: Chris Jericho and the Dudley Boyz vs Kurt Angle, Edge and Christian
So I guess this is a one table to a finish match according to Jim Ross. After a brawl to start everyone gets on the apron. But why? What is Mike Chioda going to do, DQ you? Little things like that are kind of annoying.
And my annoyance gets answered as all six men quickly go back to fighting all over. The Dudleyz do the “WHAZZ UP” dive on Kurt. D-Von throws a table in but is quickly jumped by Christian.
Christian moves the table out of the way of a Bubba German suplex. Jericho then moves the table out of the way of an Angle belly to belly. Jericho applies the Walls to Angle. Edge breaks it up but then walks right into a 3-D through the table to give the faces the win.
WWF Intercontinental Championship: Chris Benoit (c) vs Test w/Trish Stratus
Test was mad at Trish before the match for just now showing up before his match. Apparently Test and Albert EXPLODED last week. What a low key breakup for the great tag team of T&A.
Both of these guys are dead. That’s a little sad. Crowd is dead for this match as they just got their thrill seeing a table break. Albert comes to ringside but Test dives off the top onto him. Remember when we thought Test was getting a big push in 1999? Anyways, Trish pushes Test off the top and Benoit pins him for the win.
Albert and Test have a pull apart brawl after the match and the crowd doesn’t care until Benoit puts Albert in the Crippler Crossface. Test then boots Benoit and brawls with Albert again.
William Regal wants Debra, apparently Commissioner, to tell Stone Cold there will be a special appointed referee for their match tonight. Regal hilariously is trying to not look at Debra’s breasts the whole time.
The Hardy Boyz w/Lita vs Kaientai
The Radicalz (Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Terri) are on commentary. This is in the middle of Dean Malenko’s “Ladies Man” gimmick. He is going after Lita.
This is also when Kaientai was doing that fake English talking gimmick. Malenko says he can’t keep his eyes off Lita. Why couldn’t Malenko just do exactly what he did in WCW? Is it really that complicated?
Oh yeah there is a match going on too. Jeff goes to dive off the top onto Taka but Jeff slips and nearly crotches himself. Matt hits a Twist of Fate on Funaki then Jeff comes back and hits a Swanton for the win. Lita distracts Malenko after as the Hardyz jump them.
Kane vs The Rock
Rock sprints to the ring and goes right after Kane. Rock’s back is still injured from Smackdown. Kane quickly neutralizes him but then Rock slams Kane face first onto the mat then tosses him to the outside.
Kane slams Rock back first into the barricade. They then fight into the crowd as Kane bodyslams Rock on the concrete. Rock gets to the ring after about a 30 count. Kane catches him with a clothesline off the top for two. Kane continues to work over the back of Rock.
Rock is finally able to catch Kane with a Samoan drop. It is weird to see the crowd standing the whole time for a match like this. Kurt Angle comes down the ramp. Kane clothesline Rock to the outside. Angle goes to hit him but Rock catches him with a Rock Bottom.
Back in the ring, Rock hits a spinebuster. Rock goes for the People’s Elbow but Kane sits up. Kane goes for a chokeslam but Rock clotheslines him to the outside. Angle hits Rock in the back with the title belt and Kane chokeslams Rock to get the win. Fun TV match that the crowd was fully invested in.
Angle is shown fleeing the arena with Edge and Christian.
William Regal vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
Regal was such a good heel. His expressions and mannerisms were great. Regal asks the crowd if a man who “swiggles” himself in beer is a real champion. Of course they are in Texas so the answer is yes. Regal says he will not let Austin besmirch them ever again. He then introduces Stephanie as the referee.
Austin gets in Steph’s face. Regal tries to jump Austin from behind but Austin is ready for it. Austin chokes Regal a couple times and Austin breaks right before five. Steph’s voice was always so grating around this time. He clotheslines Regal to the outside. Steph should have invoked early 90s WCW rules and DQ’d Austin!
Austin slams Regal into the steps and table. Steph tells Austin to keep it in the ring so he flips her off. This match has been all Austin so far but it works. Austin finally goes for a pin but Steph stops before 3 and checks her eye. Austin pushes Stephanie out of the ring.
Regal finally gets the upper hand and lands some kicks and punches in the corner. I just noticed some dude in full green body paint in the far corner. Weird. Earl Hebner comes out, but Regal pushes him out of the ring from behind after a low blow.
Austin hits a spinebuster but Steph still won’t count. Austin grabs her but Regal rolls him up and Steph fast counts for the win. She didn’t really hit her hand hard on the mat so the crowd didn’t know that was it. Austin lays out Regal after the match as Steph announces Regal as the winner.