The 2001 edition of WWE Unforgiven came at a time when the world was in a difficult place. There was a lot of emotion in the air because this event took place on September 23, 2001, which was 12 days after the September 11th attacks in the US. I’m writing this in 2021 as we approach the 20 year anniversary of when the Twin Towers were destroyed and thousands of people lost their lives. It was such a sad time in the world. It was unlike any of us had ever seen before, yet WWE tried to keep things “normal” as best they could.
This event did a strong number on pay-per-view with 350,000 buys. That is the third-highest total for an Unforgiven event ever trailing 2000 (by a lot because that was Steve Austin’s return) and 2003. I think there was a lot of anticipation for the Austin/Angle match as well as The Rock defending the WCW Title.
As far as storylines go, this was part of the ongoing story of Team WWE against Team Alliance (WCW/ECW) as those rivalries continued. The non-WWE guys were treated as the heels although some of them were cheered.
This show followed SummerSlam 2001.
Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:
“Will former Olympic Champion Kurt Angle have what it takes to dethrone WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin? The Rock faces Booker T & Shane McMahon in a Handicap Match for the WCW Championship. Edge defends the Intercontinental Championship against Christian. Rob Van Dam takes on Chris Jericho and more.” 14+ (D,L,V)
The DVD/VHS looked like this:
Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.
From Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 23, 2001
The show began with Jennifer Holliday singing “America The Beautiful.” She did an awesome job. There were “USA” chants when she was done.
Analysis: There was an extra sense of Americana on the show due to the September 11 attacks, so it’s perfectly fine to start with something like this.
The opening video package focused on the feuds between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle for Austin’s WWE Title as well as The Rock defending the WCW Title against Booker T & Shane McMahon in a handicap match.
The show began with an impressive pyro display in front of a sold out crowd in Pittsburgh with signs all over the building. The announce team was Jim Ross and Paul Heyman. This was during Jerry Lawler’s time when he was away from WWE, so Heyman was on commentary as the heel announcers. They showed WWF New York in Times Square with fans packing that building too.
Fatal 4-Way Elimination for the WWE Tag Team Championships: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) vs. Big Show & Spike Dudley vs. The Hurricane & Lance Storm (Alliance) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff)
Pre-match notes: The Dudleys were the heels from the Alliance while Hurricane/Storm were also in the Alliance. The Hardys and Show/Dudley were faces from WWE.
Two wrestlers were in the ring to start with six guys on the apron. If somebody is pinned, their team is done.
Matt worked over Hurricane a bit with some mocking of Hurricane’s superhero posing. The Hardys hit a double team attack on Hurricane. Bubba Ray pulled Jeff out of the ring. Jeff dropkicked Hurricane into Bubba and Jeff got a rollup on Hurricane for a two count. Storm was legal against Spike with a backbreaker followed by a body slam. Hurricane back in with a missed elbow drop, Spike hit an atomic drop and a clothesline. Storm tagged back in leading to a double team neckbreaker by Storm/Hurricane on Spike. Spike got two nearfalls on Storm, who came back with an impressive dropkick. Bubba worked stepped on “brother” Spike’s head and D-Von tagged in for a double team flapjack on Spike. Hurricane tagged in, he put his cape on and jumped off the top with a cross body block on Spike. The cape went off after that as Hurricane hit a gutbuster for two. Storm went for a punch on Spike, but Spike moved and Storm hit Hurricane by accident. Spike hit the Dudley Dog neckbreaker out of the corner. Big Show got the tag with clotheslines on Storm, Hurricane and both Dudleys. The Hardys got into the ring too with all four heels tossed out of the ring. The Hardys hit dives on the heels on the floor. Spike jumped off Show’s shoulders and knocked down a pile of wrestlers on the floor. The fans popped huge. Show teased going up top. Heyman: “Oh no!” Bubba got back in with a forearm to Show, but then Show came back with a double clothesline on both Dudleys. Hurricane’s Chokeslam attempt didn’t work as Show swatted him away. Show caught a jumping Storm and hit a Chokeslam to pin him.
Lance Storm & The Hurricane were eliminated
The Dudleys hit a double suplex on Show and Spike tagged in. Matt tagged in and got a rollup on Spike for two. Spike with a victory roll on Matt for two and Spike hit a neckbreaker for two. Matt countered Spike into a Twist of Fate to pin him.
Big Show & Spike Dudley were eliminated
Analysis: It keeps Big Show strong to have Spike take the pin instead of Show.
The Hardys worked together with a corner attack on Bubba and then Bubba did a hair pull on Jeff to stop him. D-Von with a jumping elbow attack. The Dudleys used referee manipulation to set up Bubba holding Jeff for D-Von to hit the Whassup Drop (headbutt to the groin) off the top on Jeff. D-Von with a powerslam and he tossed Jeff to the floor, so Bubba whipped Jeff into the steel steps. Bubba back in with elbow drops and a double axehandle to the chest. Jeff came back with a corkscrew body attack off the top. Matt got the tag against D-Von with Matt hitting clotheslines, a neckbreaker and a DDT on D-Von for two. Both Dudleys were on the floor, so Matt hit a moonsault off the top onto both of them. Back in the ring, Matt hit a middle rope leg drop on D-Von for two as Bubba broke up the pin. D-Von sent Matt into the ropes and Bubba was back in with the 3D (Dudley Death Drop) for two as Jeff broke up the pin with a Swanton Bomb off the top. Referee Teddy Long made Jeff get out of the ring, so Bubba hit a Bubba Bomb (Full Nelson Bomb) on Matt and D-Von covered Matt for the pinfall win at 14:22.
Winners by pinfall: The Dudley Boyz
Analysis: *** A fun opening match with the crowd getting into it since the Hardys were involved. That’s a smart way to start the show because you want to put a popular act in the opener to get the fans into it. I liked how the eliminations were booked early in the match, then the Dudleys found a way to win after the referee was looking at Jeff and Bubba capitalized for the win.
Rob Van Dam was shown with the Hardcore Title on his left shoulder. Stephanie McMahon appeared to tell Rob that she was willing to help Rob beat Jericho. Rob said no and he said he’s got it covered. Rob said he can’t find a dressing room for his superstar status. Stephanie told him to take any dressing room he wants. Rob said he’ll take care of Jericho for her.
They showed Kurt Angle’s mom and other family members sitting in the crowd. Michael Cole interviewed Jackie Angle, who is Kurt’s mom. Jackie thinks he’ll win it just like he won the gold medal in the Olympics. Kurt’s brother Dave said that Kurt won an Olympic gold medal with a broken neck, so he’ll be alright tonight. Cole wrapped it up.
A video package aired about Perry Saturn’s feud with Raven, who was with Terri now and they destroyed Perry’s “friend” Moppy the mop. On Smackdown, Terri saved Raven from an attack and Raven hit Saturn with a DDT. Terri used to be with Perry, but is now with Raven.
Analysis: What a terrible storyline. It put over Saturn being an idiot, but the crowd really didn’t care that much.
Raven vs. Perry Saturn
Pre-match notes: Raven was the heel in the Alliance while Saturn was the face. Terri’s outfit was very tight. That is not a complaint. It’s an astute observation.
Saturn attacked Raven with punches followed by a jumping elbow. Saturn hit a springboard dropkick. Raven retreated to the floor, then back in, Terri distracted and Raven sent Saturn into the barricade. Raven with a drop toe hold that sent Saturn into the steel steps. They went back into the ring with Raven applying a Cobra Clutch submission, Saturn got back up and sent Raven into the turnbuckle. Raven with a knee lift that sent Saturn out of the ring. Saturn sent Raven throat first into the top rope. Saturn tried a sunset flip, Raven sat on top and held onto the ropes for two. Saturn came back with a superkick. Saturn hit an overhead suplex, clothesline and a belly to belly suplex. Saturn yelled, so the fans barely reacted to that. Saturn with a springboard forearm for two. Heyman: “It’s amazing the motivation a mop could give a man.” Saturn got a rollup for two. Raven shoved Saturn off the top rope and Raven hit a clothesline off the turnbuckle for two. Thank you for that shot of Terri at ringside. Raven with a sunset flip for two. Saturn with a catapult into the top turnbuckle and a twisting Fisherman’s Suplex/neckbreaker was enough for the pinfall win at 5:07.
Winner by pinfall: Perry Saturn
Analysis: *1/2 A short match to put over the face that was seeking revenge for his destroyed mop. They worked hard, but the fans barely reacted to this. Shockingly, the fans didn’t care that much about the destroyed mop. What a shock.
Christian was interviewed by Lilian Garcia, who noted Christian was facing his “brother” Edge. Christian said he was thinking there were so many people in this world that come so close to fulfilling their dreams until they fail miserably. Christian said he has a chance to prove to the world that he is superior to his brother Edge. Christian said that the Intercontinental Championship is worth ending his relationship with his brother.
Analysis: The story was that Edge and Christian were brothers even though they were just best friends since they were kids.
The video package aired to set up Intercontinental Champion Edge facing his “brother” Christian. Edge won the King of the Ring in June, he won the Intercontinental Title in August and then Christian turned on Edge out of jealousy. Christian gave Edge the Conchairto as part of his attack on his brother.
Analysis: The team of Edge & Christian were together in WWE for about three years. They won a lot as a team, but WWE decided it was time for them to split up. They both turned 28 in 2001.
Christian’s new theme song hit: “Christian, Christian, at last you’re on your own!” It was so cheesy, but it’s a classic to me. Edge had a Rob Zombie “Never Gonna Stop” entrance song, which was pretty cool.
Intercontinental Championship: Edge vs. Christian
Pre-match notes: Edge was the babyface Intercontinental Champion that won the title one month earlier at SummerSlam while Christian was the heel.
It started as a brawl right away with the “brothers” exchanging punches. Edge went for DDT, but Christian slipped out of that and bailed to the floor. They went brawling up the ramp with Edge punching Christian. Edge with a catapult that sent Christian into a part of the stage. The referee was up on the ramp with them. Heyman said it was poor officiating since Edge should have been disqualified. Back in the ring, Edge whipped Christian into the turnbuckle followed by Edge sending Christian into the turnbuckle repeatedly. Christian got some offense going as he sent Edge shoulder first into the ring post. Christian sent Edge into the steel steps. Christian hit a backbreaker followed by a kick to the back. Christian did a hair pull takedown a couple of times leading to a powerslam. They exchanged chops and then Edge hit a side Russian legsweep for a takedown. Edge went for a move off the ropes, Christian avoided it and Edge hit a bridging German Suplex. Christian sent Edge into the middle turnbuckle followed by a dropkick. Edge had a cut around his left eye. They each ran the ropes leading to double cross body block spot. They both sold it for a bit on the mat until Edge came back with clotheslines and a back body drop. Edge with a handful of hair as payback for what Christian did to him. They each countered moves and Edge hit a sitout neckbreaker for two. Christian tossed Edge over the top to the floor, so then Edge went under the ring. Edge appeared on the other side of the ring, so then he hit a cross body block off the top for two. Good nearfall. Christian avoided a charging Edge, who nearly hit the referee and Christian hit a Spear for two. Another good nearfall there. Christian brought two chairs into the ring, Christian put a chair under Edge’s head and then Edge kicked Christian’s leg, so Christian bumped in the ring. Edge placed Christian’s head against the chair. Edge went for a Conchairto, the referee took the chair from Edge and Christian hit Edge in the groin with the other chair. The referee didn’t see it, then Christian covered Edge and the referee Chad Patton counted the pinfall. Christian wins the IC Title! It went 11:53.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Intercontinental Champion: Christian
Analysis: *** A pretty good match here between two guys that knew eachother so well. They got a solid amount of time although it never reached that next level in terms of being a great match. In the years that followed in the next decade, both guys improved as workers and would have had some great matches if they had a proper feud. The finish was very cheap and controversial, but it fit the character that Christian was since he screwed Edge out of the title with the low blow using the chair. I liked how it was booked.
Christian celebrated with the IC Title in his arms. It was his first singles title win in WWE.
Analysis: The feud would continue at the next PPV, No Mercy, with a Ladder Match.
A video package aired about The Alliance’s tag team Kronik working with Steven Richards against The Undertaker and Kane. Richards blamed Undertaker for the Right to Censor ending. The Dudleys beat Undertaker and Kane to become WWE Tag Team Champions because of Kronik.
The Undertaker and Kane, the WCW Tag Team Champions, were interviewed by Jonathon Coachman. The Undertaker summarized the story saying we have seen Kronik attack them from behind, but let’s see what happens when they are face to face.
WCW Tag Team Championships: Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker & Kane) vs. Kronik (Brian Adams & Bryan Clark) (w/Steven Richards)
Pre-match notes: The Undertaker and Kane were the faces from WWE. Kronik were heels from The Alliance. Adams was better known as Crush in his WWE career while Clark was Adam Bomb in WWE and Wrath in his WCW days.
They started out with a slugfest on the floor. Taker battled Adams in the ring with a big boot and leg drop for two, but he doesn’t have the power of Hulkamania to get a three count after that sequence. Taker with elbow drops to the back. Kane tagged in with a clothesline, body slam and elbow drop for two. Adams got some offense with a backbreaker. Clark worked over Kane with punches and kicks including a spin kick. Clark bounced off the ropes with a kick for two. Kane hit a shoulderbreaker on Clark. Taker with an armbar on the left arm, then an arm wringer and Taker walked the top rope with the old school punch to the back. Adams broke up an armbar attempt, so Taker punched him, but then Clark hit a clothesline to knock Taker down. Adams and Taker exchanged moves, there really wasn’t either guy connecting and they looked tired or something. Taker was sent to the floor, so Clark hit him with a shoulder tackle off the apron. Adams and Clark sent Kane into the ring apron. Kronik hit a double shoulder tackle on Taker for a two count leading to Adams grabbing a chinlock. After over a minute of that, Taker fought back against Adams with punches and Taker hit a DDT on Clark, who had tagged in. Kane tagged in with punches on both guys, then kicks to the head and Kane hit Clark with a sidewalk slam. Kane got a hold of both guys, but Kronik fought back and Kane hit a double clothesline. Taker was back in with punches, running splashes on both guys, Kane with a running splash and Taker hit Clark with a boot to the face. Richards went into the ring, so Taker punched him. Adams with a poor-looking jawbreaker on Taker. Kane went up top and hit a clothesline on Adams. Taker hit a Chokeslam on Clark for the pinfall win at 10:21.
Winners by pinfall: Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker & Kane)
Analysis: -* Awful match. I don’t go negative stars often, but this was terrible and just kept on going. Five minutes would have been fine. The fans were dead for most of it and I don’t blame them for that because it was really bad. This is one of the worst matches in The Undertaker and Kane’s careers, for sure. It’s not really their fault. This match just sucked.
Post match, Richards tried to attack with a steel chair, but Taker was ready for it. Kane gave Richards a Chokeslam. The Undertaker and Kane celebrated the win while you could tell from Undertaker’s face that he knew it was a bad match. The fans woke up to cheer Undertaker and Kane posing with the titles.
Analysis: Kronik was gone from WWE after this because the match was so bad. They were not missed when they were gone.
Booker T and Shane McMahon were shown in the locker room with Shane saying they will bring back the WCW Championship to The Alliance. Tazz showed up saying tonight is a huge night for The Alliance. Tazz mentioned that Stephanie McMahon beat The Rock, so it would be sad if you guys couldn’t do that. Booker did his “tell me you didn’t just say that” line and they made Tazz leave.
Stephanie McMahon was shown looking for Rob Van Dam with Coach saying RVD was in dressing room number five. Stephanie knocked on the dressing room door saying tomorrow is her birthday and it would be the best birthday present ever to humiliate and destroy Chris Jericho tonight. Stephanie said that Rob has a lot of talent. Stephanie said that if Rob beats Chris then she will guarantee that his experience in The Alliance will be a pleasurable one. Stephanie asked if Rob will make it a happy birthday for her. Chris Jericho was behind her asking if she’ll be 37 or 38 years old. Stephanie said she’ll be 25 and Jericho asked how old, not how many men she’s been with in the last week. Jericho said he can bring the balloons to her party, but then pointed at her “enhanced” chest saying she had the balloons covered. Jericho wished her the “breast of luck” and called her “sweetcheeks” to end it. Jericho left for his match.
Analysis: It was some awkward flirting by Stephanie, who was married to Triple H in the storyline. Jericho had a lot of interesting comments about Stephanie, especially after he “enhancements” which WWE happily mentioned on the air all the time.
Hardcore Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho
Pre-match notes: RVD was the Hardcore Champion that was part of the Alliance although he was cheered a lot instead of being booed like most Alliance members. Jericho was in full babyface mode.
They spent about a minute doing moves, counter moves and a dropkick at the same time, so they were applauded for that. RVD got a backslide pin for two. Jericho with chops, RVD went for a monkey flip and they got into some nearfalls. The fans were chanting for RVD, so Rob did his thumb pointing to himself and Jericho slapped him in the face. Jericho avoided a kick leading to an enziguri kick to the head. RVD with a boot to the face, a thrust kick off the ropes and he used his feet to rollup Jericho for two. Jericho with a flapjack takedown. RVD to the apron, Jericho went for a springboard attack, but RVD moved and Jericho went to the floor. RVD hit a cross body block over the top onto Jericho for two on the floor. RVD went for a leg drop off the apron to the barricade, but Jericho moved and RVD hit the barricade. Jericho grabbed a ladder from under the ring leading to Jericho hitting RVD in the head with the ladder. Back in the ring, Jericho sent RVD shoulder first into the ring post, so Jericho whipped RVD’s left shoulder into the ring post again. Jericho suplexed RVD onto the ladder that was in the ring, so RVD’s back hit the ladder hard. RVD suplexed Jericho back first onto the ladder and now the fans were chanting “Y2J” for Jericho. RVD went for a dropkick, Jericho avoided it, RVD countered the Walls of Jericho and hit a jumping kick to the chest. RVD hit the Rolling Thunder attack for a splash for two and a spinning leg drop. RVD went for the split-legged moonsault off the top, but Jericho got the knees up. Jericho with a running bulldog, Jericho went for a Lionsault and RVD moved, so RVD hit a spinning heel kick. Jericho was bleeding around the right eye. RVD was known for hitting some hard kicks sometimes. RVD went for a Frog Splash, Jericho moved and got a rollup for two.
Jericho ran at RVD with the ladder, but RVD gave him a drop toe hold to send Jericho face first into the ladder. RVD set up the ladder against the ropes. RVD gave Jericho a body slam onto a chair. RVD climbed up the ladder, so Jericho got up and threw the chair into RVD’s head. Ouch! Jericho climbed up the ladder and applied a Walls of Jericho submission on the top of the ladder. Jericho did something similar to Chris Benoit at Royal Rumble, but it looked better at the Rumble. Jericho sent RVD over the top to the floor. Jericho jumped off the ladder towards RVD on the floor, RVD moved and Jericho hit the barricade. RVD with a spin kick that knocked Jericho down. RVD went for a suicide dive, but then Jericho held up a steel chair and RVD dove onto the chair. Ouch. Jericho got a two count on the floor. Jericho sent RVD into the ring post again. Back in the ring, RVD blocked a Jericho kick and hit a spin kick for two. Jericho applied an armbar on the left arm that he worked on during the match. RVD managed to get out of the ring, so Jericho whipped RVD’s left shoulder into the steel steps. There were some “Y2J” chants. Back in the ring, Jericho hit RVD with the steel chair in the back multiple times. Stephanie McMahon bounced her way down to the ring, she grabbed the chair Jericho was using, Jericho swung it for Stephanie and then she moved. RVD hit a Van Daminator kick to send the chair into Jericho’s face. RVD went up top and hit a Five Star Frog Splash for the pinfall win at 16:33. Jericho put it over as “one hell of a match.” He was right about that.
Winner by pinfall: Rob Van Dam
Analysis: **** This match was awesome! I didn’t remember it at all, but it’s a terrific match between two younger guys on the rise and they had a lot to prove. The involvement by Stephanie at the end hurts it a bit although it fit the story they were telling since she hated Jericho, so she was out there to cost him the match and that’s what she did. Jericho and RVD were also both known as guys that hit a little too hard sometimes, so that’s why Jericho had a bloody face after an RVD kick. It took them a bit to get going with the weapon usage, but then once that started they had some creative spots and seeing RVD hit the Van Daminator was a game-changer because it was all over after that.
RVD was announced as the winner with Stephanie going up the ramp and applauding RVD for the win. Heyman said that Jericho should be happy that Stephanie came down to ringside to witness the match.
Analysis: Even though Jericho lost this match, he would go on to wrestle The Rock at the next PPV while RVD headlined that show, No Mercy.
Booker T and Shane McMahon were in the locker room again. Shane said that it didn’t matter if it was him or Booker that got the win as long as they bring the title back to The Alliance. After Booker left, Shane said: “Shane McMahon the WCW Champion.” That led into the video package.
The video package aired showing The Rock beating Booker T for the WCW Championship in the main event of SummerSlam. Booker claimed he was nothing but disrespected since he came to WWE and then he beat up people like Big Show as well as Tajiri because he wanted respect. It was announced by Shane McMahon that The Rock had to defend the title against both guys in a handicap match. The Rock said there was no way he was going to lose to them.
The entrances took place for the WCW Championship match with Shane McMahon entering as the “Owner of WCW” and he had the “Here Comes The Money” theme song at this point. Booker T was next as the former WCW Champion. The Rock was next to a huge ovation from the crowd. They were cheering loudly for him as usual.
Handicap Match for the WCW Championship: The Rock vs. Booker T & Shane McMahon
Pre-match notes: The Rock was the babyface WCW Champion that was representing WWE. Booker T & Shane were heels representing The Alliance.
The rules were that Booker and Shane had to tag in-out of the match. Rock hit a swinging neckbreaker on Booker for a two count with Shane breaking up the pin. Rock hit a belly to back suplex on Booker for two with Shane breaking up the pin again. Shane tagged in, Rock stared at him and Shane run away until Rock beat on him with punches along with a back elbow. Booker got a cheap kick to Rock’s back, so Shane hit some elbows. Booker hit a sidewalk slam on Rock for two. Shane was back in with punches to the ribs. Rock was back up with a belly to belly suplex on Shane, a punch to Booker and Shane hit a clothesline. Rock got a hold of Shane leading to a Sharpshooter, but there was Booker to break that up. Booker sent Rock over the top to the floor with Shane pulling down the top rope. Shane jumped off the barricade with a clothesline on Rock on the floor. Booker distracted WCW referee Nick Patrick so Shane could send Rock groin first into the ring post. Rock sent a running Booker T over the top to the floor and Shane illegally went in with a clothesline that sent Rock out of the ring. Booker tried hitting Rock with a chair, but Rock moved. Shane hit Rock in the back. JR complained about how they are supposed to tag, so it was unfair. Booker with a catapult to Rock to send him into the ring post. Back in the ring, Booker with a knee drop followed by a pose I the ring leading to the Spinarooni that drew a big ovation. JR: “Spinarooni my ass!” Rock got a rollup for two and Booker followed with a clothesline. Booker cleared off the Spanish announce table. JR called for the referee, who was looking at Shane in the ring. Booker punched Rock and put him on the table. Shane went up top, Rock fought back with punches and a clothesline on Shane. Booker with a superkick on Rock on the floor. Booker sent Rock back into the ring.
Booker worked over Rock with a chop, but then Rock came back with a Samoan Drop. Shane got the WCW Title at ringside, he went into the ring and charged with the title, but Rock moved and Shane hit Booker with the WCW Title by accident. Shane hit Rock with the WCW Title right in front of the referee. JR complained about it saying it should be a disqualification and he’s right. Booker slowly crawled over to Rock for the one arm cover for a two count. Shane tagged in, he went up top and went for an elbow drop, but Rock moved out of the way, so Shane hit the mat hard. Booker was back in, Shane was in illegally and Rock hit a jumping clothesline on both guys. Rock avoided Booker charging at him and Rock hit a DDT on Booker for two. Shane was back up with a clothesline on Rock. Shane did a kip-up, which drew a reaction and Shane went for his People’s Elbow, but Rock popped up with a Rock Bottom on Shane. Rock with a spinebuster on Booker. Rock wanted the People’s Elbow, but there was Test with a clothesline on Rock with the referee right there and the referee did nothing about it. Test hit a running kick (with leg slap) on Rock on the floor. Bradshaw from the APA ran out to ringside with a steel pipe and chased Test out of there. Referee Nick Patrick lifted Rock into the ring since Nick was a corrupt referee. Nick told Booker to cover. Referee Mike Chioda from WWE went down to the ring. Shane covered Rock, who had his foot under the bottom rope and Patrick counted the pin, but Chioda pulled Shane out of the ring! Patrick shoved Chioda down, and Booker covered Rock for a two count. Patrick did not count fast. Chioda was back in the ring with a running forearm on Patrick to knock Nick out of the ring. The crowd popped big for that. Booker hit Chioda in the back to knock him out of the ring. Rock was back up and Booker wanted the Book End, but Rock fought out of it and hit a Rock Bottom on Booker. Rock covered Booker, Earl Hebner ran down to the ring and counted the one….two…and three. Heyman during the count: “No, no and no!” It went 15:24.
Winner by pinfall: The Rock
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match with some questionable refereeing throughout the match. Due to all the refereeing issues, I think it hurt the match a bit. Rock did a nice job of selling for most of the match. Everybody worked hard with Booker hitting a lot of moves, Shane got in plenty of offense throughout, they set up some smart false finishes and in the end, Rock found a way to get the win. Earl Hebner going down there to count the pin made the fans happy although they probably could have had a WCW referee in that spot since it was a WCW Title match. Anyway, there were a lot of hijinks in the match to get to the finish.
The Rock celebrated with the WCW Title much to the delight of the fans. Heyman wasn’t happy about it.
Analysis: That was the end of Rock’s feud with Booker T for the most part with Rock picking up two PPV wins over him.
Tajiri was in Commissioner William Regal’s offense with Torrie Wilson hugging Tajiri, who had his ribs taped. Torrie said that she wanted to be ringside for Tajiri and Regal allowed it.
Stacy Keibler was shown at WWF New York talking about how she likes a clean shave. They showed a video of Stacy in a bubble bath shaving her legs. Stacy asked the crowd what they think and the fans cheered. That’s a short skirt.
WCW United States Championship: Tajiri (w/Torrie Wilson) vs. Rhyno
Pre-match notes: Tajiri was the babyface WCW US Champion representing WWE while Rhyno was a heel representing The Alliance.
Rhyno charged at Tajiri, who moved and sent Rhyno over the top to the floor. Tajiri hit a moonsault off the middle ropes onto Rhyno on the floor. Rhyno sent Tajiri into the ring apron and Tajiri had his ribs taped. Tajiri with a spin kick along with a dropkick to the leg. Rhyno sent Tajiri into the turnbuckle leading to a shoulder tackle. Rhyno hit a powerslam for a two count. Rhyno hit a belly to belly suplex for a two count. Rhyno with a chinlock, Tajiri fought out of that and hit a hurricanrana followed by a spinning heel kick for two. Tajiri with a handspring back elbow for a two count. Rhyno came back with a spinebuster for two. Rhyno with repeated knees to the ribs. Torrie was on the apron because she was concerned about Tajiri. Rhyno chased Torrie around the ring, then into the ring and she tripped over her high heel in the ring. Rhyno set up in the corner, he charged and Tajiri got a kick to the head for a two count. Good nearfall. Paul: “That would have been great!” Tajiri wanted a DDT, Rhyno powered out of it and Tajiri tried the Tarantula against the ropes, but it didn’t work. Rhyno hit an overhead suplex across the ring. Rhyno set up in the corner, he charged and hit the Gore as Heyman screamed: “GORE GORE GORE!” Rhyno pinned Tajiri to win the title at 4:50.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW US Champion: Rhyno
Analysis: **1/4 It was pretty good for a match under five minutes. They were guys discovered in ECW before moving onto WWE, so they worked well together. Tajiri was great with his kicks while Rhyno had the game. Tajiri had one good nearfall in the match, but it was all about putting over Rhyno clean with the Gore for the win.
Rhyno celebrated with the US Title. Paul Heyman was really happy about it.
The video package aired for the main event WWE Championship match between champion Steve Austin and Kurt Angle. At SummerSlam, Austin got disqualified because he couldn’t beat Angle and they had an incredible match. The next night on Raw, Austin was celebrated by The Alliance and then Austin gave them a milk bath. Austin managed to steal Angle’s “gold medals” and tossed them into some water. Angle got revenge blindfolding Austin while making him cry. Angle said he wanted a return match for the WWE Title and Austin gave it to him. Austin also shoved Angle off the stage with Angle landing on some cables. Austin gave Angle a piledriver on the floor as well to continue the attacks. Angle told Austin that he could beat Austin and Steve knew it.
Kurt Angle got a HUGE ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd that loved their hometown hero. Angle’s family was shown in the front row. Angle was looking ready to go as usual.
When Steve Austin made his entrance, Angle went up the ramp to meet him to start the fight. They got into a brawl on the stage with Angle knocking Austin down. Angle with a hiptoss on the floor. Angle whipped Austin into the steel steps. They went into the ring to start the match.
Analysis: This feud became a personal rivalry because of what happened at SummerSlam with Austin getting intentionally disqualified and then they followed up on that in the weeks that followed.
WWE Championship: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle
Pre-match notes: Austin was the heel WWE Champion from The Alliance while Angle was the babyface challenger from WWE.
They exchanged punches, then Austin ran the ropes and Angle hit a Thesz Press followed by punches. Angle had Austin set up against the turnbuckle with angle punching and chopping relentlessly. Austin left the ring, so Angle sent him into the hood of the announce table a few times. Back in the ring, Angle set up Austin on the top rope and then Angle hit a superplex off the middle rope for two. Austin finally got some offense as he wore down Angle with a sleeper until Kurt hit a jawbreaker to break free. Angle followed up with a clothesline over the top to the floor. Austin grabbed the WWE Title and tried to leave up the ramp, but Angle ran after him. The referee Earl Hebner followed both guys up the ramp rather than count them out of the ring. Angle tossed Austin off the ramp to the “concrete” floor. It was not a huge fall, but it was about five feet off the ramp or so. Angle with some middle fingers followed by punches and chops while against the barricade. Angle lifted Austin over his shoulder and carried Austin back in the ring. Austin left the ring, so Angle whipped Austin into the ring post two times in a row. Angle exposed some mats at ringside to expose the floor, but Austin got back up with a knee to the back. Austin sent Angle into the hood of the announce table repeatedly. Austin went for a piledriver on the cement, but Angle countered it into a back body drop on the floor. Angle worked over Austin with punches/chops to the chest. Angle went for a piledriver on the floor, but Austin countered it just like Angle did with Kurt landing spine-first on the floor. Austin was bleeding above the right now. It might have been a legit cut rather than a blade job. They fought over a suplex with Austin lifting up Angle for a suplex (ribs first) across the Spanish announce table. Austin gave Angle another ribs-first suplex across the announce table. Austin suplexed Angle ribs-first onto the announce table again. Austin worked over Angle with elbows to the chest. Heyman called Austin the greatest WWF Champion of all time.
The wrestlers got back into the ring with another slugfest. Austin hit a running knee to the ribs and a double elbow drop. Austin drove his knee into the back of Angle’s neck a few times. JR: “The story is the neck.” Thank you, JR for making it obvious as he called Austin a “sorry son of a bitch” for hitting Angle with forearms to the upper back/neck of Angle. Austin gave the middle finger to Angle’s wife Karen! That was funny, but also a good way to get heat. Angle came back with punches, he charged in, Austin with a boot to the face and a double axehandle off the middle ropes for two. Austin grounded Angle with a headlock on the mat for over a minute. JR ripped on Heyman for being a lawyer’s son. That was funny too. Angle got back up with a rollup for a two count, but then Austin countered into a pin of his own for two. Angle got some momentum back with three straight German Suplexes and then Angle was grabbing his own neck after the third one. Angle went up for a moonsault, Austin was up going for a belly to back suplex, but Angle countered to land on top for two. Austin came back with a spinebuster for a two count. Austin did a blatant low blow kick to the groin. Referee Earl Hebner warned Austin about it, so the story became that Hebner wasn’t going to DQ Austin the way Austin wanted him to. Angle went to the floor to sell the low blow for a bit, Austin brought him back in the ring and Austin attacked Angle with repeated punches. Hebner made Austin back off, so Austin shoved Hebner and Angle kicked Austin in the groin with a low blow! That was great. The fans liked that revenge as Heyman pointed it out saying JR should tell Hebner about it. Angle with a DDT leading to Austin rolling out under the bottom rope to the floor. When Austin went back into the ring, Angle delivered a kick to the gut followed by a Stone Cold Stunner! That got a two count. Austin charged, Angle went for an Angle Slam, Austin slipped out of it and hit his own version of an Angle Slam although it was more like a belly to back suplex. Austin teased a piledriver to continue working on the neck, Angle held the leg to block that and Austin punched him in the back. Austin managed to pick Angle and hit a piledriver. It was executed well as Austin covered Angle for just a two count with Kurt shooting his right shoulder up before the three count. Austin punched Angle in the back/neck repeatedly again. Austin with a middle finger, he went for the Stunner, but Angle blocked the kick and Angle applied the Ankle Lock. Austin went to the ropes, he was clearly under the bottom rope with his right hand, Earl Hebner was looking right at it, Austin tapped out and Hebner called for the bell to give Angle the win at 23:54.
Winner by submission AND NEW WWE Champion: Kurt Angle
Analysis: ***3/4 This match was very good although not at the same level of intensity and greatness as their SummerSlam match. The crowd wasn’t as hot for this match compared to SummerSlam either. Great job by Angle making the big comeback in his hometown to find a way to win. Austin working on the neck for most of the match made for a logical story since Angle had a history of neck injuries that the fans knew. I think maybe they could have done a story about Austin dealing with an ankle injury during the match, which would have made the tap out make more sense. Anyway, the finish was obviously controversial since we all could see Austin’s hand under the bottom rope, which told the audience there would be a rematch.
Angle was presented the WWE Title while down on the match selling. Angle’s family went into the ring to join him including his brothers, wife (at the time) Karen and more family members. Angle was lifted on their shoulders and held up the WWE Title as part of the celebration.
There were other wrestlers that went down to the ring like The Rock, who was the first to shake Angle’s hand. The Undertaker was there along with Big Show, Bradshaw, the Hardy Boyz and most of the WWE roster. The ring was full of people as Angle hugged his wife and posed on the turnbuckle. Angle posed on the turnbuckle. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: That was a cool celebration. I remember it well with the family and friends joining Angle in the ring along with the babyface WWE roster. It made sense for the roster to be there because it was WWE guy getting the WWE Title back from an Alliance guy, so they were happy about that. They didn’t show a replay of the finish. Austin ended up getting a rematch two weeks later on Raw, so Angle’s reign as WWE Champion only lasted 15 days.
This event had a runtime of 2:37:31 on WWE Network.
Kurt Angle Comments on Unforgiven 2001
Angle explaining how he pitched a title change to Vince McMahon:
“I called Vince. I came up with the idea about a week before this event. I told him, ‘Listen, the country is hurting. People need a boost. They need someone to believe in. I’m the Olympic hero, the American hero. I’m representing our country during this difficult time. I really think that you need to give me the title, not for a long time, just to give the country a little booster shot of confidence and feeling good about who we are. Vince told me to talk to Steve, and if it was ok with Steve, we could do it. I called Steve and he agreed immediately. He said, ‘That’s a great idea. Let’s do it.’ I only held the title probably for a week and then I gave it back. I wasn’t supposed to win the title at that particular time.”
As I noted above, it was just over two weeks for the title run. Angle also explained how big of a moment it was for him:
“It was the biggest moment in my pro wrestling career. I was in my hometown, Pittsburgh, wrestling the biggest star of all time with my family there. This was a huge, special moment for me.”
Lastly, Angle spoke about Austin’s injuries going into the match:
“I knew he was struggling with his knees. With his neck, he never really sold it. Even after the surgery, when he came back, he was 100% and going hard. What happened with him and the reason why he retired is because his back started to go too. He was really playing with fire because when he got up on the second rope to pose, his legs would twitch really hard. It was noticeable on camera, so Vince McMahon was telling Kevin Dunn, the producer, not to show shots of Austin’s lower body, just his upper body, because his back was starting to go too. He was going to have to have surgery again. He went to the doctor, and that’s what the doctor said. The doctor actually said, ‘I can fix you.’ I think Austin got a little worried that this injury was going to get worse and worse, and even if he had surgery, it was going to be bad. He actually walked out of the doctor’s office and didn’t even answer him. He just left because he didn’t believe he needed surgery. I think he just thought he was done.”
There’s more on this match on the Kurt Angle podcast. I highly recommend it.
Show rating (out of 10): 7.5
This was a really good show. I think it’s probably a forgotten show by a lot of fans because we tend to remember the bigger ones like WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and Survivor Series, but Unforgiven was fun to watch as I wrote this 20 years later. The thing about it is that 2001 had some all-time great PPVs like WrestleMania 17, No Way Out 2001 and Royal Rumble 2001. I wouldn’t rank this ahead of any of those, but it’s still an enjoyable event to watch.
The Angle/Austin match provided a great hometown for Kurt Angle and his family. This was just a few weeks after the September 11 attacks, so people wanted to feel good about something and it was a way for WWE to do that. The Rock also overcame a couple of heels in Booker/Shane to keep his title. I think the RVD/Jericho match was excellent even with a cheap ending. Those guys worked really well together. Most of the rest of the show was easy to get through and had some clever finishes like Christian’s cheap win to become Intercontinental Champion for the first time.
If you did re-watch this show I would recommend fast-forwarding the Brothers of Destruction vs. Kronik match because it was terrible.
- Kurt Angle
- Rob Van Dam
- Chris Jericho
- Steve Austin
- Christian…Christian…at last you’re on your own! Sorry, it’s a catchy tune.
Best Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho (**** out of 5)
Worst Match: Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker & Kane) vs. Kronik (Brian Adams & Bryan Clark) (-*)
Most Memorable Moment: Kurt Angle making Steve Austin tap out to the Ankle Lock to win the WWE Title…even though Austin’s hand was under the bottom rope.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
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