Welcome everyone to the first edition of Retro Wrestling. This is my new column on TJR where I will go back and review older PPVs and I might even dip into some other DVD releases too. If you remember my Smacked UP! columns this will be very similar. I’m going to review the show, give it and overall grade and then award the Star of the Night and the Must See Match. The Must See Match is the one match on the card you should go out of your way to watch if you haven’t seen it yet. Sound good? First up on Retro Wrestling is the 2001 WWF King of the Ring. I attended this show live as it was held at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey or whatever the hell it was called. The arena has had more name changes than Puff Daddy. The show took place the weekend after I graduated high school and I got these tickets as a graduation gift. Let’s get started.

The show kicks off with Diamond Dallas Page entering the ring through the crowd. This was at the beginning of the WWF vs. Alliance feud and DDP had his sights set on The Undertaker and tried to get to him by stalking his then wife, Sara. DDP says he has some very suggestive photos of his wife and says he has a ticket to the show and will be holding a sign that says “make me famous” so there won’t it won’t be a problem for  Undertaker to find him.

King of the Ring Semi-final Match- Kurt Angle beat Christian (**3/4)

This was a fun match to kick off the action. Christian controlled the match early until Angle shoved him off the top rope into the guard rail. Angle, regardless of how far he went in the King of the Ring Tournament was scheduled to face Shane McMahon in a Street Fight. Shane came down to the ring towards the end of the match and even saved Angle from defeat. After Christian hit the Unprettier, Shane pulled Christian off of Angle. Christian stopped to bark at Shane and he got caught with an Angle Slam after about eight minutes. The announcers, Jim Ross and Paul Heyman pondered why Shane would help Angle. It’s simple, he wanted him to be as tired as possible before their match.

The WWF Champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin is in the back with his then wife, Debra. Lots of wrestling divorces in the last ten years. Jonathan Coachman comes by and wants to get Austin’s thoughts on the big rumor. The big rumor they played up during the night was that if either Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit won the WWF Title, they would defect to WCW. Austin just gives him the stink eye.

We head back to the arena where Paul Heyman tells DDP his actions are rather brazen. DDP says it’s balls and that’s what it takes to go after The Undertaker. A video plays of someone snooping on DDP at breakfast. He wasn’t exactly happy that the tables were turned on him.

King of the Ring Semi-final Match- Edge defeats Rhyno (**1/4)

This was a solid, nine minute match. There were a couple of fun spots in the match like when Rhyno hit a top rope Superfly Splash. That was impressive. Also, since Rhyno’s finisher was the Gore and Edge’s was the Spear, they both attempted it at the same time and collided in the middle of the ring. The end came when Rhyno missed another attempt and a Gore and Edge planted him with the Impaler DDT for the win.

We head to the back where Spike Dudley and Molly Holly are standing by. Spike just had a falling out with Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley and challenged them to a Tag Team Championship Match before the PPV. Spike tells JR that he’s found a partner but he’s keeping it a secret. Bubba Ray and Devon come by to talk some trash.

Tazz is in the locker room with Chris Jericho. Tazz wants to know what the deal is with the rumor that he may take the WWF Championship to WCW. Jericho tells Tazz he’s just going to shut the hell up.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match- The Champions, The Dudley Boyz beat Spike Dudley and Kane (*1/2)

As you probably figured out, Kane was Spike’s mystery partner. Kane was the reigning Intercontinental Champion. This was a pretty basic tag team match with the Dudleys beating on Spike until he got the hot tag to Kane. Things broke down and the Dudleys neutralized Kane with their “Wassup” headbutt and the hit the 3D on Spike to retain the belts after eight minutes. The referee in this match was Teddy Long so if you were worried about him after WrestleMania, he still has a future.

After the match, the Dudley’s were looking to get wood but Kane had other ideas as he powerbombed Devon and then Chokeslammed Bubba through the table.

Christian stops by Edge’s locker room to wish him luck. This was still at a time when Edge and Christian were brothers.

We get another video of someone stalking DDP. DDP is growing impatient and wants Undertaker to show up.

Before the King of the Ring Finals, Kurt Angle tells Edge that since he still has a Street Fight tonight and there’s no way Edge will beat him, he wants Edge to forfeit so he will be as fresh as possible. Edge’s answer was a punch to Angle’s mouth.

King of the Ring Finals- Edge pinned Kurt Angle to become the 2001 King of the Ring (**1/2)

The match was ok for the ten minutes they got. These two would go onto have a hell of a feud in 2002 after WrestleMania X-8. Christian came down and distracted the referee which cost Edge a three count. This was a time period where they were teasing an Edge/Christian breakup. A few minutes later we had a ref bump and while the ref was out Edge tapped to the Ankle Lock but there was no one there to see it. Shane McMahon ran through the crowd and Speared Angle and then Edge followed with the Impaler DDT and was crowned the King of the Ring. This was big upset at the time. Edge was just starting his singles career and he just beat a former WWF Champion and King of the Ring. This was a big win for Edge.

Tazz is in the back with Chris Benoit and he wants to know if he’ll take the WWF Championship to WCW. Benoit wants to know what kind of question is that and he answers his own question by saying a very good one.

Kurt Angle is in the back looking for Shane McMahon and he tells some security guards that he’ll put any WCW wrestler that interferes in his match on welfare.

WWF Light Heavyweight Championship Match- Champion Jeff Hardy beat X-Pac to retain the title (*3/4)

The match was ok. It felt like a basic TV match and that’s pretty much how it played out. The Light Heavyweight Championship was the precursor to the Cruiserweight Championship. Both were titles Vince McMahon cared little about. Hardy won with the Swanton after seven minutes.

We get another someone is watching DDP video and finally Page has had enough and heads to the ring and calls out The Undertaker. We then spent the next ten minutes watching The Undertaker wipe the floor with Page. This was the big payoff to Page stalking Undertaker’s wife. He got is ass kicked. Instead of having an actual match where Page was made to look like he could stand up to The Undertaker he got destroyed in a fight. Then people wonder why the Alliance angle never worked. Vince never wanted it to. He never put the Alliance on par with his guys. The only Alliance guys that were made to look good were the one in WWF that joined as part of the story. Page was a really credible WCW star made to look like nothing more than dog meat against Undertaker. That being said, sitting in the crowd that night, I loved every second of it.

Street Fight- Kurt Angle pinned Shane McMahon (****1/2)

I loved this match when I watched it live and I still love it almost 11 years later. I can still remember sitting in my seat and watching in awe of what these two men were doing. For not being an actual wrestler, Shane McMahon always knew how to put on a good match and when he’s in there with a machine like Kurt Angle, you get magic. There were so many incredible spots in this match like when Shane went for a Shooting Star Press and got nothing but garbage can. Then cringe inducing part of the match was when Angle tried to suplex Shane through the glass on the King of the Ring set and the damn thing wouldn’t break. I thought Shane broke his neck a couple of times. Shane was put on an anvil cart and wheeled back to the ring and even made a comeback attempt but Kurt finished him off after he used a wooden plank to form a platform on the top rope and then Angle Slammed Shane off of it for the win after a 26 minute war. Hats off to both men, incredible match.

Triple Threat Match for the WWF Championship- Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit to retain the title (***3/4)

This match came about after Austin and Triple H lost the Tag Team Championships to Benoit and Jericho in the infamous torn quad match and Austin said that he could beat both men on his own so Linda McMahon made this match. I enjoyed this match but if you read Jericho’s second book he didn’t have high praise for it. I guess I could see why. The crowd didn’t know what to make of the match. While they liked Jericho and Benoit I don’t think they saw them at Austin’s level yet. I was never a fan of Austin’s heel turn as were many in the arena. No one wanted to boo Austin. Towards the end of the match, Booker T who was the final WCW Champion came out of the crowd and attacked Austin. It should have been a bigger moment than it was when he WCW Champion attacked the WWF Champion. I think the major gripe about this match was the ending. Benoit hit Jericho with a belly to back suplex off the top rope and then Austin crawled over and pinned Benoit to retain after 28 minutes. The crowd was cheering, getting ready for the finish and it just ended. It was very bizarre. From what I gathered, Benoit hurt himself on that suplex and they went to an early finish but if that was the case couldn’t they have had Austin hit the Stunner on Jericho and then win? Very underwhelming way to end a very good match.

 

The Diagnosis

I attended the King of the Ring live and it was one of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to. I’ve only watched the full event one other time which was probably ten years ago. This show still holds up well over time as it featured a lot of solid bouts. All the King of the Ring matches were enjoyable, Kurt and Shane had a classic, the WWF Championship Match was really good and even though it didn’t make sense in the long run, it was a lot of fun to see DDP get his ass kicked by The Undertaker. The 2001 King of the Ring gets a 7.5/10

Star of the Night

Kurt Angle gets this award. He wrestled three matches, all of which were good and had an absolute war with Shane McMahon. The man is a machine.

Must See Match

This goes to Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon. If you’ve never seen this match, you really need to go and find it. I know it is on the King of the Ring blu-ray that came out around Christmas time. These two really beat the hell out of each other and poor Shane took the worst of it.

 

That’s it for my first Retro Wrestling. I want to do one every week but it may be every other week due to work commitments. I have almost every WWF/WWE PPV that was released on DVD. I have a ton more on VHS but sadly no VCR anymore. If you want me to review a specific PPV, you can suggest it in the comment section and if I have it, I’ll get to it. Also, be sure to leave me feedback and let me know what you liked or didn’t like about the column so I can tweak it in the future to make it better. Next up will be Backlash from 2002 where Hulk Hogan attempts to win his first Championship in WWE in nine years.

 

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