The 2001 No Way Out pay-per-view came at a time when the WWE product was as strong as ever. I have often written about how 2000 was my favorite year in the company. The positive momentum from that year carried over into the first few months of 2001.
The show was headlined by two grudge matches. The storyline between Steve Austin and Triple H was brewing for over three months heading into this show. In the main event, The Rock would try to win back the WWE Title from the man that beat him for the title in October 2000, Kurt Angle. They were arguably the four top guys in the company in the two biggest matches on the last show before WrestleMania. It was easy to get excited about No Way Out 2001.
There was a time in 2014 when I wrote a list of the 20 best WWE Pay-Per-View events ever on a website I used to write at that I shall not name. This show was ranked #9 on that list.
This event did great numbers on pay-per-view with 590,000 buys. That was the highest for any No Way Out event in WWE history. It was also the fourth-best PPV number of 2001 behind WrestleMania 17, Invasion and Royal Rumble.
Here’s the synopsis on WWE Network:
“Triple H goes one-on-one with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match. Kurt Angle faces the Rock for the WWE Championship. The Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian, and Kane & Undertaker compete in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley takes on Trish Stratus and more. // 14+ (D,L,V)”
The show poster looked like this:
WWE No Way Out
Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
February 25, 2001
The opening video package hyped up Kurt Angle defending the WWE Title against The Rock. They also showed highlights of the Steve Austin rivalry with Triple H heading into their big Three Stages of Hell match later in the show.
There was a pyro display to welcome us to the show and the fans in Vegas were very loud for the show. Like every PPV in this era, it was sold out with over 13,000 fans in the building. There were fans shown at WWF New York too. Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler were at ringside to call the action.
Analysis: Lawler would also have a match later in the show, so he wasn’t on commentary for the whole show.
Raven made his entrance as the Hardcore Champion with a shopping cart full of weapons. Big Show was the opponent.
Hardcore Championship: Raven vs. Big Show
Pre-match notes: Raven was a heel Hardcore Champion and Big Show was a heel also. The 24/7 rules were in full effect here.
As Big Show made his entrance, the mysterious masked Black Ninja woman tried attacking him with a piece of wood and it led to Raven going after Show on the ramp. The Black Ninja woman was actually Tori, who was revealed the following month and out of the company shortly after that. Show hit Raven repeatedly with a Stop sign. Show with a headbutt, Raven moved and Show went running into the ring post. Show slammed Raven off his back onto the floor. Raven attacked with a fire extinguisher shot to the ribs. Raven was attacked from behind by somebody dressed like a popcorn vendor and then a bulldog off the ropes. There was popcorn all around the ring. Show hit a front slam on the guy that was Crash Holly. Steve Blackman and Hardcore Holly joined the match with kendo sticks and garbage can shots on Show. Billy Gunn hit a Fameasser on Raven to win the Hardcore Title.
Hardcore Holly hit a belly-to-back suplex on Gunn. Blackman held Gunn and Hardcore hit a leg drop off the top. Show cleared the ring and Raven pinned Gunn to win the title back.
Show with a press slam to Crash. The Black Ninja went into the ring with the wood, but then Molly Holly showed up to hit Ninja in the back of the head with a trash can to knock her out. Raven hit Show with a trash can three times, then Show got a hold of Raven and Show hit a Chokeslam onto the garbage can to pin Raven. This whole thing went about 4:25. They played Big Show’s music, so I guess that meant it was the end of this.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Hardcore Champion: Big Show
Analysis: *3/4 It was just a silly hardcore match that was common during this period in the company. Big Show was getting a mild push as a face, so I think WWE just wanted to get a title on him even though it was only the Hardcore Title.
Billy Gunn charged at Show, who backdropped Gunn over the top to the floor. Big Show’s music played again and Show drove Gunn’s back into the ring post. Show left with the Hardcore Title.
There was a video of WWE Champion Kurt Angle arriving at the show earlier in the day. Angle said he was doing super. Angle trashed on Las Vegas having a lot of losers and said that The Rock would be another loser.
Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were interviewed backstage by Lilian Garcia. They were heels in the IC Title match up next. Eddie said he was going after Chris Jericho since Jericho put him out for two months. Benoit said that one of them was leaving with the IC Title.
Chris Jericho got a big pop from the crowd as the popular Intercontinental Champion. X-Pac made his entrance to a very light reaction. Eddie Guerrero was next followed by his buddy Chris Benoit, who was the former champion. Benoit and Guerrero made it clear they were working together.
Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. X-Pac
Pre-match notes: Chris Jericho was the babyface Intercontinental Champion. Benoit and Guerrero were heels. X-Pac didn’t get much of a reaction, but he was a heel at this point. The first pinfall or submission wins the match with all four guys in the ring at the same time.
Jericho sent Guerrero into the ropes and slammed him into the mat while Benoit was brawling with X-Pac on the floor. Guerrero with an elbow smash, Jericho sent Eddie into the turnbuckle and hit a clothesline. Benoit was back in with chops on Jericho, Eddie with a clothesline on Jericho and some double team chops/kicks from the heels while Benoit hit a back elbow to knock Jericho down. Jericho fought back with a heel kick to Guerrero, then X-Pac with a spin kick on Jericho and Benoit kicked X-Pac repeatedly with Eddie helping him. Benoit with a Crippler Crossface on X-Pac, Eddie up top, Jericho tripped up Eddie and Jericho hit Benoit to break up the submission. Jericho sent Benoit out of the ring where they started brawling. Guerrero shoved X-Pac off the top and hit a Frog Splash, but Jericho was there to break up the pin. Benoit came back with a clothesline on Jericho with Guerrero putting Jericho’s foot on the bottom rope, but Benoit didn’t see that. X-Pac hit Eddie in the back to knock him out of the ring leading to Benoit hitting a suplex on X-Pac. There was a whip into the ropes leading to a spin kick by X-Pac. Jericho was back into it with a missile dropkick on X-Pac, but then Benoit ran over Jericho with a shoulder tackle. Benoit with a bridging German Suplex, so Guerrero kicked Benoit’s feet and then they got into a fight with Guerrero doing a hurricanrana. Jericho sent X-Pac into the barricade on the floor followed by a suplex. Guerrero with a high-angle belly-to-back suplex on Benoit for a two count. X-Pac whipped Jericho into the steel steps. Guerrero with a suplex on Benoit. Guerrero went up top, Benoit stopped him with punches and Benoit hit a superplex. Both guys were down in the ring while X-Pac and Jericho crawled in for two counts for both men. Guerrero and X-Pac did a clothesline spot over the top to the floor. Jericho with a backbreaker on Benoit followed by a rollup, but Benoit was back up with a clothesline. Guerrero sent X-Pac into the steel steps while Benoit chopped Jericho repeatedly. Benoit hit a bridging German Suplex on Jericho for two. Jericho countered a suplex into the Walls of Jericho submission with the crowd popping big for that. Jericho put the Walls of Jericho on Guerrero and X-Pac back to back. Justin Credible showed up at ringside, he was an ally of X-Pac and Jericho hit him with a forearm to the face. Benoit with a German Suplex on Jericho with Eddie breaking up the pin. X-Pac and Credible pulled Benoit out of the ring leading to a double superkick on Benoit. Jericho with a bulldog on Guerrero followed by a Lionsault for two, but X-Pac was there to break it up. X-Pac with a low blow kick to Jericho and the X-Factor got a two count with Benoit back in to break up the pin. Benoit knocked Credible off the apron, Benoit with a Crossface on X-Pac and then Eddie hit a running neckbreaker on Benoit. After some selling, Benoit hit a belly-to-back suplex on Guerrero and Benoit hit a headbutt off the top on Eddie. X-Pac with a spin kick to Benoit. Jericho rolled up X-Pac, laid on top with his body and did a bridging pin for the win at 12:17.
Winner by pinfall: Chris Jericho
Analysis: **** This match was awesome. There were a lot of nearfalls where it looked like somebody was about to win, but there was another guy there to break it up. It felt longer than it was because there was so much action. They put this match together so well and you could say that all four guys were among the best in the world at this point in time. Benoit and Guerrero worked together as allies for some of the match, but then they fought because they wanted to win, so that led to more drama throughout the match with X-Pac getting in plenty of offense and Jericho finding a way to retain. I’d call this one of those great matches that most fans forget about because of other matches on this show, but if you rewatch this event, make sure you check out this match.
Triple H was shown getting his hands/wrists taped up for his match coming up.
Vince McMahon was shown backstage talking to William Regal. Vince reminded Regal that this Stephanie match with Trish was Regal’s idea. Vince said that Stephanie was his precious daughter while Trish was his “very good friend.” (The story was that Vince was having an affair with Trish.) Vince told Regal he is confident that he will know what to do. Vince said: “When the time is right, I know that you’ll know exactly what to do.” After Vince left, Regal admitted he had no idea what to do.
There was a video package for Stephanie McMahon’s feud with Trish Stratus. Vince wanted a divorce from Linda McMahon, then he drugged her and cheated on her with Trish Stratus. Stephanie didn’t like Trish getting involved with Vince while Trish claimed that her and Vince are “just friends.” It became a personal rivalry between two heel women in Stephanie and Trish.
Analysis: This was built up well. The whole storyline made Vince look like a jerk, which did have a big payoff at WrestleMania 17.
There was a shot of WWF New York with singer Busta Rhymes watching the show. Test, the European Champion, was on the stage. Test gave his thoughts on the Stephanie/Trish match saying: “Once in a while, we’ll know who the biggest trashbag ho in the World Wrestling Federation is.”
Trish Stratus was shown walking backstage with William Regal trying to talk to her, but Trish said she doesn’t have time for this and she left. Stephanie McMahon was also shown walking backstage for the match.
They left in commercials for WWF Raw on TNN and WWF The Music Volume 5 with The Rock’s “Pie” song on it. Sometimes those things are edited off WWE Network broadcasts like this.
Trish Stratus made her entrance looking incredible, which is not a surprise. Trish had a mink coat as part of her entrance. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley entered to the Triple H theme song. Stephanie was wrestling in a black t-shirt, pants and some boots.
Trish Stratus vs. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley
Pre-match notes: They were both heels. Fans didn’t care about heel vs. heel in this case. They just wanted to see two young, attractive women getting into a fight. This was Stephanie’s first PPV singles match. It was also Trish’s first PPV singles match although she had wrestled in other PPV matches in 2000, which was her rookie year. At this point, though, Trish was on the WWE roster for less than a full year.
Stephanie with a takedown followed by some slaps. Trish held onto the ropes, so Stephanie pulled her off. Stephanie with two clotheslines. Stephanie did a hairtoss across the ring and then Steph tossed Trish out of the ring. They were out on the floor with Trish kicking Stephanie in the ribs and Stephanie sending Stephanie over the barricade to the concrete. Stephanie knocked Trish down on the floor with Stephanie following up with a punch off the barricade. Air Steph! Trish with a neckbreaker across the top rope and Trish slapped Stephanie repeatedly. Trish hit a bulldog for a two count. Stephanie argued with the referee Jimmy Korderas, Stephanie came back with two punches and Trish hit a DDT for a two count. Trish did a blatant choke while against the turnbuckle. That led to Stephanie reaching up and grabbing some hair leading to a slam on the mat. Trish charged at Stephanie, who tossed Trish out of the ring. Stephanie slammed Trish’s head onto the hood of the announce table three times. Stephanie tossed a jug of water on Trish leading to Lawler screaming: “Wet t-shirt! Wet t-shirt!” Trish was not wrestling in a t-shirt, but she sure was wet after that. There was water all around ringside as Trish sent Stephanie back in the ring. Trish charged, jumped up and Stephanie hit a Powerbomb for two. That was actually decent. Stephanie pulled some of Trish’s shorts leading to some butt slapping (lots of cheers for that) and Trish stopped Stephanie from taking off Trish’s top. Lawler: “Close up!” The visual wasn’t that bad, that’s for sure. Anyway, Trish and Stephanie did a double hair toss spot. That led to William Regal going down to ringside in a suit. Regal tripped up referee Korderas and put Trish onto Stephanie. When Jimmy counted, Regal put Stephanie’s foot on the bottom rope to break up the pin. Trish yelled at Regal, who kicked referee Korderas to send him to the mat and Trish slapped Regal. That led to Regal saying he was sorry, Regal grabbed Trish’s arms and hit a neckbreaker. Stephanie crawled over to Trish for the slow counting one…two…and three. It went 8:31.
Winner by pinfall: Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley
Analysis: **3/4 I was entertained by this match. The star rating isn’t great, but for two women that had very little experience in the ring at this point in their lives, it was a lot of fun to watch. It felt like a fight and I liked the story they told. Regal had no idea what he was supposed to do based on Vince’s order, so he opted to help Stephanie, who won the match. Trish’s story would continue after this with some memorable moments as well. As a match on its own, I enjoyed it. They did a lot better than you would think with Stephanie executing some moves well and Trish was more advanced, so she did well too. I liked Trish a lot more than Stephanie, but both of them were very good performers.
Stephanie left as the winner while Trish was angry about the loss.
There was a commercial for WrestleMania 17 on April 1, 2001. The best of them all.
There was a backstage scene with Vince McMahon yelling at William Regal saying he thought Regal knew what he wanted. Vince said that it’s going to Vince and Regal in the ring. Vince said it will be Regal and Stephanie against Vince and Trish on Raw.
Analysis: That led to poor Trish getting swerved by the others. She would still be loyal to McMahon about that.
The video package aired about Steve Austin’s Three Stages of Hell Match with Triple H. What a terrific feud was. It went back to Survivor Series 1999 when Triple H convinced Rikishi to run over Austin. That led to Survivor Series 2000 with Austin dumping a car while using a forklift and we were left to think Triple H was in there. When Austin nearly had Kurt Angle beat for the WWF Title on Raw, Triple H prevented Austin from winning and beating him up. At Royal Rumble, Austin cost Hunter the WWF Title. Austin would go on to win that 2001 Royal Rumble even though Hunter attacked him. Vince McMahon set up Hunter vs. Austin with the deal being that they couldn’t have any physical interaction prior to the match. Hunter did a devious thing saying he never signed the contract and then he beat up Austin during the contract signing. Austin got payback by giving the Stone Cold Stunner to Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, so that made the rivalry even more personal. Hunter responded to that attack by hitting a Pedigree on Jim Ross to continue the personal aspect of this rivalry.
Analysis: I loved this feud. Two of the best wrestlers in WWE history at the top of their game with Austin as the beloved face and Hunter as the devious heel.
Triple H was shown walking in one part of the arena. Steve Austin was backstage pacing around, Michael Cole asked if he was ready to enter hell, Austin said nothing and left. JR said that Austin’s eyes showed that Austin was ready.
Triple H entered first to boos. Steve Austin got a huge ovation as usual.
Three Stages of Hell Match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley)
Pre-match notes: Austin was the face while Hunter was the heel. It was best of three falls with a regular singles match, then a Street Fight and then a Steel Cage match.
First Fall: Regular Wrestling Match
They started off with punches as you would expect with Austin taking control leading to stomps against the turnbuckle. Austin with a running clothesline. Austin with punches as the crowd chanted “Austin” repeatedly and Austin with a punch. Austin went for a charging attack, but Hunter blocked that attempt and sent Austin into the top rope. Austin with a single arm takedown on the left arm. They left the ring with Austin sending Hunter’s left arm into the ring post repeatedly. Back in the ring, Austin wrenched on the left arm. Austin with the Thesz Press leading to punches and an elbow drop for two. Austin with a spinebuster followed by a leap off the ropes, but Hunter got his boot up to knock Austin down. Hunter with a swinging neckbreaker. Hunter with a neckbreaker followed by repeated knee drops to the back of the head. Austin with kicks to the gut, Hunter with an eye poke and then a chop block to the back of the left knee. Hunter rammed Austin left leg into the ring post. Austin managed to send Hunter’s left shoulder into the ring post. Back in the ring, Hunter with another chop block to the left knee followed by an elbow drop. Hunter continued the offense with a Figure Four Leglock on the bad left knee of Austin, who was in the hold for over a minute when Austin turned it over as a counter, but Hunter got to the ropes. Hunter continued the attack with elbow drops to the left knee. Austin kicked his way free. Austin was back in control with the Thesz Press leading to elbows. Austin wanted a kick for the Stunner, but Hunter caught the foot and Austin knocked him down with a punch. Hunter countered a Stunner by pushing him into the ropes and then Hunter hit a neckbreaker for two. They each got two counts after pin attempts. Hunter with a kick to the inner leg, it looked like a low blow, Hunter jumped off the top and Austin hit a Stone Cold Stunner for the pinfall win. The fans loved that.
Steve Austin leads 1-0
Second Fall: Street Fight
Austin tossed Hunter out of the ring leading to Austin hitting a suplex on the bottom of the ramp. Austin hit a second suplex on the ramp. They battled around the ringside area with Austin sending Hunter onto the hood of an announce table. Austin cleared off the Spanish announce table and hit Hunter in the head with a monitor. Austin tossed three chairs into the ring. Hunter tried to leave through the crowd, but then Austin punched him repeatedly. Austin brought Hunter back to the ringside area. Back in the ring, Austin with a kick to the ribs and two chair shots to the back. Austin hit Hunter all over his body with chair shots. There were about ten more of those chair shots. Austin drove the edge of the chair into the ribs for a two count. Austin slid the ring bell into the ring. They were by the announce tables with Austin sending Hunter into a small table. Austin grabbed a barbed wire baseball bat, Hunter kicked Austin in the ribs and Hunter hit Austin in the face with the barbed wire bat. Austin went down to the floor and the camera went off Austin, so Austin came up bleeding a lot. Hunter with a punch that sent Austin over the announce table to the floor. Hunter punched Austin repeatedly while they were on the announce table. Hunter wanted a Pedigree on the table, but Austin did a back body drop that sent Hunter off the English announce table and onto the Spanish announce table with Hunter crashing through the table. JR: “For the love of God, look at the carnage here!”
Austin grabbed a beer from ringside and punched Hunter with it. Austin with more punches to the head. Austin was a bloody mess as he sent Hunter back into the ring. They were back in the ring with Hunter hitting Austin in the head with the ring bell and that got a two count. The fans were chanting “Austin” as Hunter hit a neckbreaker on the steel chair. Hunter was sent into the ropes, Austin went for a sleeper, but Hunter hit a belly-to-back suplex. Hunter wanted a pedigree on the chair, but Austin did a back body drop over the top to the floor. Austin grabbed a steel chair and hit Hunter in the head with it. That was not a new name of a street. Hunter was a bloody mess as Austin hit Hunter in the head with the steel steps. Hunter with a drop toe hold into the steps. Hunter grabbed a Sledgehammer from under the announce table so now you know business is going to pick up even more to borrow a JR term. Austin punched Hunter in the gut to prevent the sledgehammer and they went back into the ring where Austin stomped on Hunter repeatedly. Austin went for a Stunner, but Hunter blocked it and hit Austin in the face with the sledgehammer (with Hunter’s hand on the end of the sledgehammer). Hunter hit a Pedigree and pinned Austin to win the second fall.
Triple H wins second fall. The match is tied 1-1.
Third Fall: Steel Cage Match
Both guys were on the mat selling and looking exhausted as the Steel Cage was lowered. There were several guys that were part of the ring crew that were on hand to put the Steel Cage in place. They did it about as quickly as you could expect them to do. Both guys were bloody and beaten as the bell rang to begin the third fall.
Hunter whipped Austin into the cage with Austin taking a great bump back in the ring. The fans were chanting “Austin” as Hunter worked over Austin with punches. Hunter sent Austin face first into the cage again. Hunter picked up the barbed wire piece of wood and grinded the barbed wire into the head of Austin. That looked brutal with JR saying that was hideous and barbaric. Austin got a steel chair and used it to hit Hunter to knock him down. Austin whipped Hunter into the cage leading to Austin griding the barbed wire wood against Hunter’s face. Austin attacked with the barbed wire wood again for a two count. After Austin continued to press the barbed wire wood against Hunter’s face, Hunter hit a DDT and did a slow cover for a two count. Austin worked over Hunter with punches and got a two count. Hunter tried to climb out of the cage with JR noting that you can’t win by escaping. Austin stopped Hunter’s climb, Austin sent Hunter into the cage a few times and then Hunter sent Austin into the cage with Austin bumping groin first across the top rope. Austin managed to get back up with a slam off the top, which is the Ric Flair bump. Austin worked over Hunter with punches, then he wanted a Stunner, Hunter fought out of that and Hunter hit a Pedigree for one…two…and no because Austin got his left shoulder up! What a great nearfall that was with the fans popping big for Austin kicking out. Hunter was stunned by that. Hunter with a chair shot to the head with Austin doing a nice job of using his hand to soften the blow. Austin blocked a Pedigree attempt into a catapult into the cage. Austin back up and he hit a Stone Cold Stunner for one…two…and no! Hunter kicked out at the last moment leading to boos from the crowd. JR said he had never, in over 20 years, seen anything like this. Both men staggered back up to their feet with Austin grabbing the barbed wire wood while Hunter grabbed the sledgehammer, they hit eachother in the head at the same time, but Hunter fell back on top of Austin with Hunter laying on his back on Austin and referee Earl Hebner counted one…two…and three! Triple H wins! It went 39: 26.
Winner of the match 2 falls to 1: Triple H
Analysis: ***** This match was amazing. I don’t go to five stars (out of five) very often, but I think it’s deserved in this case. It was a vicious fight from the moment the bell rang as you would expect. I liked the Three Stages of Hell stipulation as well because it went from an intense regular match to a violent Street Fight and then even more violent inside the Steel Cage. Austin and Hunter each did blade jobs to tell the story that they were going to visibly show us how violent the match was. The way they brawled around ringside in the second fall really took the match to that next level and once they used more weapons, that helped a lot too. It’s amazing how they went nearly 40 minutes, yet they really didn’t slow down that much other than when they were selling. The pace of these big Austin matches was always fast and Hunter showed he was more than capable of hanging with Austin in a big match like that. The finish was brilliant in the sense that they battled for such a long time, they kicked out of finishers and then Hunter got lucky by landing on top of Austin to win the match. Even though Austin won the Royal Rumble one month earlier, it was fine for him to lose here because Hunter winning here set up future matches between them. If Hunter didn’t tear his quadriceps muscle in May 2001 then they likely would have had more matches in summer 2001 with Hunter as the face. If you’ve never seen this match, go watch it. If you’ve seen it, go watch it again. It’s outstanding.
MORE CONTENT ABOUT THIS MATCH: If you want even more thoughts about this incredible match, check out Alex Podgorski’s in-depth five-star review on TJRWrestling that was posted a few days ago. Alex went five stars for the match just like me.
Post match, Hunter was laying on top of Austin for like 30 seconds when some fan threw a beer into the ring and it hit Austin in the head! Austin rolled over to sell it while Hunter was likely asking Austin if he was okay. They replayed the finish with the weapon shots leading to Hunter landing on top to the win. Both guys continued to sell the beatings they took with Hunter bleeding a lot more than Austin was. After a few minutes, Hunter got back to his feet by the ropes with Earl Hebner raising his hand as the winner. Austin managed to get back up to his feet, kicked Hunter in the gut and Austin hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Hunter sold that Stunner better than the Stunner he took during the match. Austin crawled out of the ring as the loser of the match, but the man that stood tall after it was over. Austin walked up the ramp, saluted the crowd and they cheered as Austin went to the back.
Analysis: That was a way to make the fans happy after Austin lost the match. It worked because the crowd loved it.
There was a video about Jerry Lawler’s feud with Right to Censor and the Women’s Champion Ivory along with The Kat.
The Right to Censor group was shown backstage doing a prayer of sorts before their match.
The Kat was shown putting on a jacket with JR trying to tell us that she was dying to get naked on TV.
Tazz joined the commentary team for this match because Jerry Lawler was in a match.
Right to Censor members Steven Richards and Women’s Champion Ivory entered for Steven’s match. Jerry Lawler made his entrance with The Kat with the fans cheering for them. The Kat was wearing an overcoat.
Steven Richards (w/Ivory) vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler (w/The Kat)
Pre-match notes: Richards was a heel in the Right to Censor group. Jerry Lawler was a face here. Lawler was a heel announcer, but in this match he was a face. Lawler was married to The Kat, who was much younger than him. If Lawler won, Kat gets naked. If Richards won, Kat joins RTC.
Lawler worked over Richards with punches. Lawler blocked a hiptoss and hit a clothesline. Lawler with a fist drop as Richards left the ring to regroup. Back in the ring, Lawler tossed Richards to the floor again. Lawler held Ivory, so Kat slapped Ivory. Richards shoved Lawler into the ring post and that got a two count. Richards missed a corner charge, so Lawler punched Richards repeatedly. Lawler hit a bulldog for two. Richards came back with a suplex as the fans chanted “we want puppies” for The Kat. Richards brought a chair into the ring, Lawler with a low blow and a DDT. Lawler hit a second DDT, so Ivory went on the apron to distract referee Teddy Long. Kat went into the ring, the referee stopped hear and Lawler punched Richards, who was trying to use the Women’s Title. Ivory into the ring with Lawler hitting her with a body slam. Richard grabbed the title and Lawler ducked again. Richards held Lawler’s arms, Kat charged and Richards turned Lawler so that Kat hit Lawler in the head with the title. Richards covered Lawler to win at 5:32.
Winner by pinfall: Steven Richards
Analysis: *1/4 It’s hard to follow the classic match that happened before this, but the fans were into the storyline and strongly behind Lawler. A cheap win by Richards was the right way to go. They had some decent moments in there. It was smart to keep it around five minutes. It didn’t need to go longer than that.
Due to the terms of the agreement, The Kat had to cover up and join the RTC. That led to the RTC guys going out there to cover her up with a black outfit. Val Venis carried The Kat to the back. The Kat was sad about it.
Analysis: Two days later, The Kat was fired by WWE. She wasn’t happy about this lame storyline, so she complained about it and Lawler quit the company with her. The marriage failed in the months that followed and Lawler was back after Survivor Series 2001, so he missed about nine months.
There was a Triple Threat Tag Team Table Match. The Dudleys were the Tag Team Champions that had issues with Edge and Christian along with The Undertaker and Kane.
The Undertaker and Kane were interviewed by Michael Cole, who noted that the Brothers of Destruction haven’t held tag team gold. Undertaker said that the match is about the gold, but they are about pain and suffering. Undertaker said that those guys shouldn’t concern themselves with Tag Team Titles, they should be concerned with how they are going to survive. Taker said that tonight, the big dogs run the yard. Kane said that they would put those boys through hell.
Kane and The Undertaker were up first to a big pop with Taker making his entrance riding a motorcycle around the ring. Edge and Christian were up next as multiple time former Tag Team Champions. The Dudleys were last as the WWE Tag Team Champions at the time. Tazz remained on commentary with JR for the rest of the show.
Tag Team Tables Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) vs. Edge & Christian vs. Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker & Kane)
Pre-match notes: The Dudleys were babyface Tag Team Champions, Edge & Christian were heels and the Brothers of Destruction were faces. Win the match by putting somebody through a table. All three teams were fake brothers at this point, so they had that in common.
Edge and Christian avoided the other four guys while setting up a table near the ring. Kane and Undertaker knocked the Dudleys off the ramp to the side. The fans chanted for tables as Undertaker and Kane beat on E&C with punches. Kane and Taker sent E&C into the hoods of the announce table repeatedly. Kane sent Christian into the barricade. The Dudleys got back into it with chair shots to the back of Taker and Kane and then chair shots to the head of Taker and Kane. Ouch. Back in the ring, D-Von with a jumping clothesline on Edge while Bubba worked over Christian with a back body drop. Edge sent D-Von into the turnbuckle. Edge and Christian stood on Bubba’s groin while Bubba was upside down against the turnbuckle. That was unique. Double team flapjack by E&C on D-Von. Bubba ducked a double chairshot known as a Conchairto, then Bubba sent Christian into Edge. Bubba with a body slam leading to the Whassup Headbutt off the top by D-Von. That was followed by the crowd popping huge when Bubba told D-Von to get the tables. Christian hit the Unprettier on Bubba while Taker and Kane sent D-Von into the steel steps. Kane and Taker each hit powerslams on E&C. Taker and Kane each went up top, which led to both guys hitting clotheslines on Edge and Christian. The fans chanted for tables again as the Dudleys worked over Taker and Kane with punches. Taker with a clothesline to D-Von and Kane with a kick on Bubba. D-Von and Christian sent Kane out of the ring while Edge and Bubba did a double clothesline on Taker. Bubba sent Edge throat first into the ropes. Taker blocked a 3D attempt by the Dudleys and then D-Von hit a low blow uppercut on Taker. Christian threw D-Von out of the ring. Kane moved a table out of the way as E&C hit a double team suplex on Taker. Kane with a clothesline on E&C. Kane and Taker each hit Chokeslams on E&C. Kane with a Chokeslam on D-Von and Taker with a clothesline on Bubba at the same time. As Kane and Taker were about to put E&C through tables, Rikishi and Haku showed up to brawl with Kane and Taker. The fight spilled out of the ring with Rikishi and Haku fighting Kane and Taker up the ramp to the back. Back in the ring, Bubba moved out of the way of a charging Edge, who hit the table and it did not break. Christian had a table set up, D-Von lifted him and Bubba was on the other side for a 3D through the table. It went 12:04.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley)
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average tag team match with Undertaker and Kane dominating a lot of it with power moves and nearly winning a few times, but the presence of Rikishi/Haku prevented that from happening. I thought the finish was a bit flat because they could built up to it more with some more near finishing spots. All they really did was have Christian set up a table and then the Dudleys finished him off quickly. I would have liked to see them build it up more.
Post match, The Undertaker and Kane looked on from the ramp with angry looks on their faces.
There was a commercial for WrestleMania 17.
Kurt Angle was shown walking backstage with the WWE Title around his waist.
There was a video package for Kurt Angle defending the WWE Title against The Rock. It featured a lot of bragging from Angle about how he beat everybody while Rock told Angle that his days as champion are coming to an end. Rock beat Big Show on Smackdown to earn this WWE Title match. Rock did the “tick, tock” thing to countdown to his match with Angle.
The Rock did a pre-match interview with Michael Cole asking Rock if he’s ready. Rock didn’t do a long promo like he did sometimes in this era. Rock simply did the “tick, tock” thing while telling Angle that the countdown and his reign as WWE Champion is over.
Kurt Angle made his entrance as the WWE Champion. It was his first reign as the WWE Champion. The Rock got a huge ovation as he walked down to the ring with a lot of confidence.
WWE Championship: Kurt Angle vs. The Rock
Pre-match notes: Angle was the heel WWE Champion while Rock was the face. Angle won the title from The Rock at WWE No Mercy in October 2000, so this was day 126 in Angle’s title reign.
The crowd was chanting “Angle sucks” at the champion as Rock ducked a belt shot and Rock hit a clothesline out of the corner. Angle with a running knee into the ribs. Rock with a back elbow and then a side Russian legsweep. Angle came back with a clothesline of his own. The fans in Vegas were vocal in telling Angle that he sucks, then Kurt did a leg trip into an Ankle Lock, but Rock got his hands on the bottom rope to break the hold. Angle stomped on Rock, then Rock came back with punches, but there was Kurt with a belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Angle with another belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Rock came back with one of his own belly-to-belly suplex. Rock’s punches looked and sounded great as he ran the ropes leading to a jumping clothesline. Rock slapped on the Sharpshooter submission, but Angle got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Rock hit a Samoan Drop for two. Angle came back with a belly-to-back suplex. Angle went up top with Rock leaning into the ropes to crotch Angle on the top rope. Rock hit a superplex while standing on the middle rope and that got a two count. There was something going on in the crowd with security escorting some guy from the building and the fans booed that. Angle sent Rock over the top to the floor with Rock favoring his left leg. Back in the ring, Rock was favoring the left leg and Rock was still able to hit a DDT. Big Show’s music hit as the big man walked down to the ring and he gave a Chokeslam to referee Mike Chioda. Show with a Chokeslam to Angle. Show with a Chokeslam to Rock as well. JR: “What the hell is going on?” It’s called a run-in although it was very slow. Show left with his music playing again.
The wrestlers were down in the ring as referees Tim White and Earl Hebner helped Chioda out of the ring until Hebner went back into the ring to count Angle getting a two count on Rock. That was pretty funny because Hebner basically let Chioda fall to the floor. Hebner left the ring to help Chioda again, Rock grabbed the WWE Title and hit Angle in the head with it. Hebner was back in the ring to count Rock getting a two count. I remember that being controversial because Angle was slow to get his shoulder up and it looked like Hebner hit the mat for a third time, but the match continued. Rock was limping, so Angle tripped up Rock and slapped on the Ankle Lock on the left leg. Rock was near the rope, Angle drove the left knee into the mat. Angle turned up the intensity shouting: “Tap out you son of a bitch!” Angle also said: “I’ll break your f**king ankle!” I remember Angle swearing in those moments so well. Rock managed to get his right hand on the bottom rope to force a break. Rock made a comeback with punches, Angle with a knee to the ribs and Kurt bounced off the ropes leading to Rock hitting a spinebuster. Rock hit the People’s Elbow to a HUGE ovation from the crowd and Rock covered Angle for another two count that was very close. That was another one where it looked like Hebner stopped himself because Kurt was a bit slow to kick out. Some fans chanted “Bulls**t” as the wrestlers regrouped. Rock told the referee to get back, so Angle hit a low blow and Kurt exposed the top turnbuckle, so the steel was exposed. Rock came back with punches, Angle elbowed out of a Rock Bottom attempt and Angle sent Rock into the exposed steel. Angle hit the Olympic Slam for one…two…and no! What a great nearfall right there! Awesome. Angle with punches, Rock punched back and Kurt kicked the left leg. Rock avoided a running Angle with Rock sending Angle into the exposed steel turnbuckle. Rock hit a Rock Bottom for the one…two…and three…but Hebner stopped counting. Angle didn’t kick out. That was strange. The fans were booing loudly. Rock picked up Angle again and stared right at the referee. Kurt Angle on his new podcast about this show said that Rock told Hebner to “count the mother-f**king finish.” Rock covered Angle and Hebner counted the one…two….and three. The match went 16:53.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Champion: The Rock
Analysis: ****1/4 A great title match. I think it was a very competitive match from start to finish, there was a lot of intensity especially towards the end of the match with Angle swearing at Rock while Kurt applied the Ankle Lock. It just made it look more real and everything they did was so believable whenever they had a match. That nearfall when Angle sent Rock into the exposed steel and hit the Olympic Slam was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Rock kicked out at the last moment and the crowd was so into it. With that said, the one right after with Angle “kicking out” at two without actually kicking out was a strange moment. I think the match was hurt by Big Show’s presence although I guess you could say it was like a way to split the match into two and then the restart in the second half was terrific. Rock winning the match was the expected outcome because it set the stage for Rock vs. Austin at WrestleMania, so I don’t think the result upset the fans. It was what we thought it would be.
The Rock celebrated with the WWE Title. It was his sixth time as a World Champion in WWE. Rock posed on the turnbuckles with the WWE Title while Angle was frustrated about the loss. JR and Tazz said Angle had nothing to be ashamed of. Angle was tearing up with Tazz mocking him for crying. The Rock continued his celebration with JR continuing to hype up the matchup between The Rock and Steve Austin at WrestleMania. The fans popped huge as Rock posed some more and that was the end of the show.
Analysis: That win by The Rock set the stage for Rock vs. Austin at WrestleMania for the second time. It was a rematch from two years earlier. I was so excited for it. I’m sure a lot of other fans were too.
This event had a runtime of 2:39:40 on WWE Network.
Show rating (out of 10): 9
What an awesome show this is. It’s rare to see any WWE show with three matches that I’d rate it four stars and above (if you don’t like star ratings that would mean a “great” match) that isn’t a WrestleMania, but that’s what we got here. They were all spread out too so that awesome IC Title 4-way is early, the Triple H/Austin classic Three Stages of Hell match is in the middle and then it ends with Rock beating Angle in a great WWE Title match. I wouldn’t say everything else is great on the card, but most of it is average and really the only terrible match was the Richards/Lawler match that was short. Getting back to Triple H/Austin, there was a lot of anticipation going into it and they not only lived up to the hype, but they also surpassed it. It really is one of my favorite matches ever.
This PPV is forgotten sometimes because of the one that came after it (that would be the all-time great show known as WrestleMania 17), but it stands on its own as a special show that was great from start to finish. In fact, I would throw in Royal Rumble 2001 as another outstanding PPV and say that 2001’s first three PPVs are as good any three WWE PPVs back-to-back-to-back in WWE history. If you ever get free time to watch three PPVs in a row like that, pick the first three PPVs of 2001 and you won’t be disappointed.
- Triple H
- Steve Austin
- The Rock
- Kurt Angle
- Chris Jericho
Best Match: Triple H vs. Steve Austin (*****)
Worst Match: Steven Richards vs. Jerry Lawler (*1/4)
Most Memorable Moment: Triple H and Austin hit eachother with weapons at the same time with Hunter landed on top to win.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.