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Dark Pegasus Video Review: King of the Ring 2001

June 3, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: King of the Ring 2001  

King of the Ring 2001
by J.D. Dunn

Remember a few reviews ago when I said that Vince was starting to give in to his worst habits? This show is a good example of that. The bad habit: giving up on the stuff that’s already booked so he can focus on the next angle, thus killing the heat of the current angle.

When ratings and buyrates started to slip with the Two-Man Powertrip versus the Brothers of Destruction, Vince decided to listen to fans and push Jericho and Benoit into the upper card again. That’s all well and good, but the WWF had a man-crush on their uppercard at that point and didn’t want to take a chance on giving the ball to either Jericho or Benoit because things might get worse. As a result, Austin wound up successfully fending off both guys in singles matches, taking a lot of the heat off of this show’s main event.

Not only that, but Vince quickly panicked when things didn’t turn around and decided to stop putting effort into the Canadians’ push and instead focus on WCW… except he didn’t really want to put WCW over either. But that’s a story for Survivor Series.

  • June 21, 2001
  • Live from East Rutherford, N.J..
  • Your hosts are Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

  • Diamond Dallas Page comes out of the crowd to make fun of the Undertaker’s wife. See, someone started sending in leering, video footage of Sara during her private moments. There was a lot of speculation on whether it was Triple H, Mick Foley, Kane, or someone who hadn’t debuted yet. On the Raw before this show, the mysterious man rode out on a motorcycle and unmasked as – DDP.
  • Opening Match, King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Christian vs. Kurt Angle.
    Here’s brainfart #2 of the night (with the opening segment being #1). All of the wrestlers in the KOTR field are heels, and they’re all part of the same unspoken stable. That wouldn’t be a big deal, but Angle also has a match with Shane McMahon scheduled later tonight. Christian avoids an anklelock and elbows out of a belly-to-belly, but Angle hits one on the second attempt. They take it to the floor where Angle’s face meets the steps. Christian goes up but gets shoved off the top. Angle takes over and hits a series of suplexes. Christian comes back with a small package but gets suplexed again. Christian hits a spinning wheel kick as Shane McMahon comes out. Kurt’s moonsault misses, and Christian gets two. Angle reverses a waistlock to the Anklelock, but Christian makes the ropes. Christian reverses the Angleslam to the Unprettier. ONE, TWO, THR- Shane pulls Christian off the cover. Why? Because he wants Angle to continue on and get softened up in the tournament. Angle finishes a confused Christian with the Angleslam at 8:18. Can you believe these guys became main eventers in TNA just a few years later? **

  • Ross and Heyman circulate a rumor that Benoit and Jericho have been negotiating with WCW to take the title to the rival non-existent organization.
  • Jonathan Coachman asks Steve Austin what he thinks about that rumor. Steve is busy thinking of Mr. McMahon hugs.
  • Video recap of Sara being stalked. Actually, this was very well done, and the revelation that it was DDP was huge… at the time. Heyman finds Page in the crowd and asks him how nuts he has to be to prod the Undertaker. Oh, but we see footage of DDP being stalked at breakfast. Someone has turned the tables… and wiped them off and swiped my tip!
  • King of the Ring Semi-Final: Edge vs. Rhyno.
    This would be the other half of Team RECK. Rhyno spits his gum out in Edge’s face. OH SNAP! Edge comes back with a spinning wheel kick. Rhyno falls to the apron, so Edge dropkicks him to the floor. Ouch. Rhyno gets crotched on the barrier and clotheslined off. To the ring, Rhyno unties the middle buckle and tosses Edge into it. He hits a running knee in the corner. A Michinoku Driver sets up a Superfly Splash from Rhyno. Edge hot shots him to come back and hits a clothesline. He blocks a superplex and hits a sunset flip bomb for two. Rhyno spinebusters him and sets up for the Gore. Edge turns and goes for the spear, and they collide. Great spot there. Edge ducks out of the way of a second Gore, sending Rhyno into the exposed buckle. That sets up the Edgecution at 8:52. Edge was not yet a comfortable singles wrestler, and Rhyno was more of a brawler being forced to wrestle. *1/2

  • Spike Dudley promises a “big surprise” for his mystery tag team partner. The Dudley Boyz interrupt and make fun of Spike’s girlfriend Molly Holly.
  • Chris Jericho categorically denies that he knew that Tazz was aware of the rumors of him going to WCW. Ha ha! Cryptic! He does say that WCW might be a livable place now that Shane McMahon has taken over.
  • WWF Tag Team Titles: The Dudley Boyz vs. Spike Dudley & Kane.
    Spike charges the ring, but it’s Kane who winds up cleaning house. D-Von fakes a leg injury and then yanks Spike down by the hair. Spike plays face-in-peril. Bubba hits a reverse monkeyflip and counters a rana to a powerbomb for two. Kane gets the hot tag and cleans house again. He hits a powerslam on Bubba, and D-Von is late making the save. The match breaks down, and Spike winds up eating the 3D at 8:33. Kane powerbombs D-Von and carries out Spike. **

  • In the locker room, Christian wishes Edge luck.
  • More footage of DDP GETTING IN HIS CAR! And now he’s DRIVING!
  • “The One” Billy Gunn is pissed that he’s stuck being the WWFNY correspondent when he was the 1999 KOTR winner.
  • King of the Ring Finals: Edge vs. Kurt Angle.
    Before the match, Kurt offers Edge an opportunity to avoid humiliation by forfeiting the match. After all, Edge has no chance of winning, and it’s only fair that Edge allow Kurt to face Shane McMahon at his best. Edge knocks him on his ass, cementing Edge’s face turn. Kurt belly-to-bellies him over the top to the floor. Back in, a chinlock bores the crowd. To the floor, Kurt drops Edge ribs-first on the barrier. Back in, Kurt gets crotched and superplexed for two. Edge catapults him into the buckle for two, and reverses the Anklelock to a rollup for two. The Edge-o-Matic puts Kurt down, but Christian runs out and distracts the ref. Oops. Angle rolls up Edge for two. The ref gets bumped and doesn’t see Edge tap out to the Anklelock. Shane McMahon runs in and spears Kurt. That sets up the Edgecution at 10:20. This continued the trend of horribly booked tournaments to the point where they lost all meaning and were discontinued after 2002. The whole thing was just a backdrop to set up the Street Fight later in the night. In fact, Kurt came out with a bigger babyface push in the loss than Edge did, and it would take Edge another year to get over as a singles star. In retrospect, they probably should have just taken Benoit out of the main event and put him in the tournament instead of Angle, which would have been addition by subtraction from the main event and freed up Angle so he wouldn’t have to take it easy in the tournament matches. Even Test would have made more sense. **1/4

  • In the back, Christian assures Edge he was just trying to help him win when he ran out there.
  • Kurt Angle promises Shane will rue the day he interfered.
  • Light-Heavyweight Title: Jeff Hardy vs. X-Pac.
    Pac takes him down and slaps him in the head a few times just to be an asswipe. Jeff comes back with an armdrag and a headscissors. He hits the rail-running clothesline but misses the Whisper in the Wind. The ref catches X-Pac using the ropes on an abdominal stretch, so X-Pac hiptosses Hardy to the floor and follows him out with a springboard somersault plancha. A leg lariat leads to a Broncobuster attempt, but Hardy rolls out of the way. X-Pac tries to leapfrog Hardy and gives him a dick to the face instead. Hardy hits the Whisper in the Wind but takes an X-Factor. ONE, TWO, THREE! Oh, but the ref sees Jeff’s foot on the ropes. That leads to Jeff hitting a jawbreaker and the Swanton at 7:11. X-Pac would go on to win the title the following night, so this was filler. **

  • In the back, William Regal and Tajiri are giddy over the new King of the Ring. Steve Austin comes in and borrows the phone to call Vince and tell him that Benoit or Jericho will defect tonight. Austin is awesome on the phone. “Vince. It’s Steve… Steve Austin. It’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, the World Wrestling Federation Champion.
  • In the arena, DDP continues to freak out because someone shows him WALKING IN THE PARKING LOT! He finally gets fed up and hops in the ring for a little Jennifer Love Hewitt-esque “What are you waiting for, huh? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?” It turns out Sara has been taping Page this whole time. She tells Page it’s time for him to become famous.
  • Undertaker walks out and no-sells Page’s punches. He stomps a mudhole in him and even shrugs off a low blow. Sara comes out to tape the carnage. Page continues to get his ass kicked but uses a chair. Taker no-sells the chair and keeps slugging him. Page begs off and then runs away, thus killing any credibility WCW had before they even debuted. What horrible booking this was, and there’s no way this wasn’t a total political burial, either by Taker or by Vince just to show the WCW stars how stupid they were for having the audacity to work somewhere else. Seriously, Taker would get hit in the nuts, grab them and groan, and then go back to beating the shit out of Page. He’d get hit with a chair, stagger around for a while, and then go back to beating the shit out of Page. And that would sum up the entirety of their “feud” over the next few months.
  • Okay, this is how it should have gone: Page calls out Taker. Taker comes out. Suddenly, Kanyon, Lance Storm, Hugh Morrus, Chuck Palumbo & Sean O’Haire all run in and overwhelm the Undertaker by sheer numbers. They leave him laying and put it over as the first strike in the new war against the WWF. Taker doesn’t lose any face because it took a gang beatdown to do it. WCW doesn’t lose face because it shows they’re willing to pick off the WWF one by one if necessary. Sometimes I don’t agree with the moves an organization takes, but I at least understand why they went that way. With this, it just made absolutely no sense.
  • In the back, Steve Austin wants to be informed when Vince McMahon arrives.
  • Street Fight: Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle.
    I had forgotten about this match until I started recapping this show. Kurt hits some knees early but takes an armdrag. He offers Shane the dominant position for an amateur sequence and then he winds up pounding Shane on the mat. Mucho suplexery, and Kurt offers him another amateur sequence. Shane double-crosses him and punts him in the gut. To the floor, Shane flies off the barricade a few times to take Kurt down. Back in, Shane goes for pinfalls, but Kurt is able to bridge out. Shane tosses some plunder in and puts Angle in the Anklelock. Angle kicks him away, so Shane DDTs him and applies a Sharpshooter. Angle grabs an errant kendo stick and smashes it into Shane’s back to break the pin. Shane avoids a few more shots and slugs Angle for two. Shane goes up and tries a Shooting Star Press but winds up eating a garbage can on the landing. Angle tosses Shane to the floor, and they brawl up to the entrance. Angle tosses him into a “thing” (thanks, JR) near the entrance. That leads to a SICKENING belly-to-belly suplex into the “KOR” Plexiglas staging partition. Unfortunately for Shane, it doesn’t break, and Shane bounces off and lands on his head, smacking it on the concrete. Angle tries it again, and this time the glass breaks. They’re under the staging area, so Angle wants to put Shane through the other façade. Shane bounces off and again falls on his head. And again! Finally, Kurt just picks up the bloody pulp that was once Shane McMahon and tosses him through the partition. Kurt tries to cover, but the ref informs him it’s not Falls Count Anywhere. Kurt puts him on a production cart and wheels him down to the ring. Back in, ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Shane goes low and hits the Angleslam. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Angle recovers and catapults Shane to the top rope. He grabs a piece of plywood and pummels Shane with it. He sets the wood on top and uses it as a platform to deliver a SUPER ANGLESLAM! That’s enough for the win at 26:00. A lot of people remember the suplexes through the Plexiglas and think of this as one of the best matches of 2001, but there’s a good 10 minutes of meandering and botched spots before that, and even *those* spots were botched several times. It’s still a fun, sick match, with a lot of spots that make you cover your eyes, but it’s not quite the classic people tout it as. ***1/2

  • WWF Heavyweight Title, Triple Threat: Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho.
    Austin is hesitant to get in the ring because Vince isn’t there yet. Benoit and Jericho track him down and jump him in the aisle. Benoit tosses him back in, and Austin nails him on the way back in. Jericho hits Austin with a flying forearm, but Benoit pulls him off the cover. Jericho tries a spinning wheel kick, but it hits Benoit instead of Austin. Jericho applies the Walls, but Benoit jumps him and tosses Jericho. Austin takes over on Benoit now that it’s a one-on-one. Jericho starts to recover, so Austin tosses Benoit into him. Benoit counters a Stunner to his own, but the ref got bumped (less than 10 minutes in?!). It only gets two. Benoit nails him with the belt for two before Jericho saves. Jericho tosses Benoit and gets two on Austin. Austin blocks a Boston Crab as Heyman recalls WCW trying to steal Bret Hart while he was champion. He also says, “Those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it.” And yet, the WWF repeated all of the same mistakes the NWA made when they absorbed the UWF. Jericho gets out of a sleeper, and they slug it out from their knees. Benoit is recovering, so Jericho dropkicks him off the apron. Austin blocks the Lionsault and Thesz Presses Jericho. Benoit brings in a chair but misses a swing and takes a Stunner from Austin. Austin picks up a two count on Jericho. He hits Jericho with a pair of superplexes and sets up for another one, but Benoit races in and hits FIVE GERMAN SUPLEXES! Austin desperately goes low on Benoit to cut him off. Jericho recovers and puts Austin in the Walls. Benoit adds a Crossface. AUSTIN TAPS! Oh, but Earl says the match must continue. Honestly, Jericho probably should have gotten the win there because he applied his hold first. Jericho and Benoit chop it out, and Benoit delivers a snap suplex. He tries another, but Jericho tosses him to the floor. Suddenly, Booker T hops the rail and Ax Kicks Austin. Austin is out of it, so Booker tosses him through the Spanish Announce Table. That leaves Benoit versus Jericho. Benoit goes for ROLLING GERMANS, but Jericho reverses to the Walls of Jericho. Benoit gets out of it and goes up. Jericho slams him off and hits a sloppy Lionsault. They roll to the floor where Jericho goes after Austin, who was out of it. Back in, Jericho moonsaults Austin, but Benoit saves and hits the Swandive Headbutt. ONE, TWO, THR-Jericho pulls the ref out. Benoit puts Jericho on the top rope and delivers a Backdrop Superplex. That re-aggravates Benoit’s vertebrae, and Austin is able to crawl over and pick up the anti-climactic win at 27:51. Twenty-thousand people go, “Huh?” simultaneously. Benoit would be out for a year, and Jericho would get lost in the shuffle as WCW invaded. This is another match that has a better reputation than it actually is. From the puzzling booking decisions like Booker T’s ultimately futile interference, to the tap-out that wasn’t, to the crawling Austin pin, this match came off disappointing after some great singles matches between the three. Like the street fight, it wasn’t a horrible match, but it’s one that could have been a Match of the Year Candidate and only came off as “pretty good.” ***1/2
  • The 411: This was the last gasp for the WWF before the Invasion storyline took over and the WWF got really desperate. I, like a lot of people, remembered this as being much better than it actually was. The tournament is horrible and meaningless. It seems bigger now that Edge has cemented himself as a main eventer, but others shot right past him in the time it took for that to happen. Taker destroying Page (and, by proxy, WCW) is just stupid. Like the Foley-Taker Hell in a Cell, the Street Fight is more remembered for its botches than anything else, and the main event is beloved more for the three guys involved rather than the match itself. The final two matches are good but not quite enough to save the whole show.

    Mild thumbs down.

     
    Final Score:  6.0   [ Average ]  legend

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