The final WWE PPV of 2001 was called Vengeance. It came at a time when WWE put an end to the “Invasion” storyline at the previous PPV Survivor Series with the WWE team beating the Alliance (WCW & ECW) team in an elimination match.
Since the WWE rivalry with WCW was done, they wanted to get rid of some of the titles they had from WCW. That meant a main event on this show where the WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would defend the title against Kurt Angle in one match while the World Champion (former the WCW World Championship) The Rock would defend that title against Chris Jericho. After that, the winners of those two matches would meet to determine who would be the Undisputed WWE Champion with both titles. Four superstars, three matches and the result would be one Undisputed WWE Champion.
You may think that a show with major title matches to crown one Undisputed WWE Champion would draw a big PPV number, but Vengeance actually had the least amount of PPV buys in 2001. It did 315,000 buys, which made it pretty low compared to other shows that year. In the show’s defense, December PPVs typically are among the lowest of the year. It’s the big holiday month, people spending money on Christmas or other occasions, so it’s tougher to get those PPV dollars from a family.
The other newsworthy thing in WWE at the time was that Ric Flair was a “co-owner” with Vince McMahon, so they would argue about things a lot with Flair as the babyface owner and Vince as the heel owner. This would lead to the roster split/brand extension taking place after WrestleMania 18 in 2002.
This was the first time WWE used Vengeance as a PPV name and the only time it was used in December.
Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:
“The Undertaker faces Rob Van Dam for the Hardcore Championship. Jeff Hardy battles Matt Hardy with Lita as guest referee. Edge defends the Intercontinental Championship against William Regal. Four Superstars compete in three matches to determine the Undisputed Champion. Trish Stratus defends the Women’s Championship.” PG (D,L,V)
For some reason, WWE’s poster for this show featured Triple H, who was still out of action from having a torn quadriceps nearly six months earlier. Did they think he would be ready to be back yet? That was unlikely. His return was a month later at the Royal Rumble. I don’t know why they went with Triple H on the poster when they knew he’d be out.
The DVD looked like this:
Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.
From the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, California
December 9, 2001
The opening video package featured Freddie Blassie watching clips of wrestling history featuring guys like Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, Ivan Koloff, Bob Backlund, Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage and other WWE champions plus NWA/WCW Champions like Ric Flair, Sting, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Lex Luger and others. The reason they did that is because Blassie had been around pro wrestling for a long time and now this was a night where he would get to see who will become the Undisputed WWE Champion.
Analysis: I thought it was a really cool video. I had forgotten about it until I saw it again. At least they didn’t show some of the terrible champions or the joke champions like Vince McMahon, Vince Russo and David Arquette to name a few.
The show started with a full pyro display and there was a packed house in San Diego with Jim Ross noting it was sold out. They showed a packed WWF New York ready to watch the show. Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler were on hand to call the action.
Let’s Hear from Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon, the WWE Chairman, made his entrance without showing the same enthusiasm he always does. It’s because on the last Smackdown, he received a Stinkface from Rikishi because The Rock forced him to do it. Vince said that he wasn’t about to kiss anybody’s ass. Vince complained about Steve Austin beating up Kurt Angle and threatened to beat him up if he left the ring. Vince said then Ric Flair threatened to suspend anybody that interfered in what was about to happen.
Vince explained it like this: “The Rock took advantage of me. Rock shoved my face into Rikishi’s ass!” The fans cheered.
Vince said it was the most embarrassing and humiliating experience of his life. Vince was mad that the fans laughed as if it was some sort of cartoon on television or comedy skit on Mad TV or Saturday Night Live. Vince told them not to laugh at the misfortunes of billionaires. Vince told them to laugh when he tells them to laugh. Vince told them to remember this: “He who laughs last, laughs loudest.”
Analysis: Those words would mean a lot by the end of the night.
Ric Flair made his entrance for a promo on the stage. Flair said that we all hope we have seen the last of you tonight because these people paid to see a show called Vengeance and the show is about to start right now.
Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert entered for tag team action. When Albert “The Hip Hop Hippo” did some dancing around Vince with Scotty joining in and Vince was furious about it, so he left. Test and the European Champion Christian were up as the opponents.
Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert vs. Christian & Test
Pre-match notes: Scotty and Albert were faces while Christian and Test were heels. Test won an “immunity battle royal” at Survivor Series that meant he couldn’t be fired.
Scotty and Albert jumped the heels before the match, then it settled down with Scotty starting with Christian. Albert tagged in against his former partner Test with Albert hitting a body attack followed by a running splash for two. Albert knocked Christian off the apron. Scotty worked over Test with punches, but then Christian got a cheap shot and the heels took over. Christian and Test each worked over Scotty with kicks in their corner. Test with a corner clothesline. Scotty avoided a move from Test leading to Scotty hitting a superkick. The crowd got into it as Albert got the hot tag against Christian with a clothesline, shoulder tackle and Albert splashed both heels against the turnbuckle. Albert did the giant swing to Christian, a back elbow to Test and Albert covered Christian for two. Albert ran right through both guys with a double clothesline. Test tripped up Albert, Scotty went for the bulldog, but Christian blocked it and hit a reverse DDT. Christian teased his own version of The Worm and Christian shoved Albert into a big boot from Test. Scotty broke up a pin by Christian on Albert. Scotty with a bulldog on Test, so then Scotty did the W-O-R-M on Test with the deadly chop drawing a huge pop. Albert got a hold of Christian and Albert hit the Baldo Bomb for the pinfall win at 6:12.
Winners by pinfall: Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert
Analysis: ** A decent tag team match to put over the babyfaces. It followed the standard tag team formula as the heels isolated Scotty and then the bigger man Albert got the hot tag. I think WWE was trying to see if they had something in the Scotty/Albert team, so they were trying to build momentum for them. The finish was good here.
William Regal was interviewed by Jonathon Coachman. Regal talked about how Edge has never had to fight somebody as tough as Regal and he was going to take the Intercontinental Championship. Regal called Coach a “silly pillock” to end it.
Analysis: I looked up the spelling of “pillock” and it’s an English way of saying a very stupid or foolish person.
Intercontinental Championship: Edge vs. William Regal
Analysis: Edge was the babyface Intercontinental Champion while Regal was the heel. Edge unified the Intercontinental and US Titles at Survivor Series.
Edge was in control with punches, a back elbow and a missile dropkick off the middle rope. Regal got in a few shots, but then Edge hit a back body drop for two. Regal with a punch, then knee lifts and an uppercut. Edge tried a sunset flip, Regal pulled the hair and dropped a knee to the neck for a two count. Edge got an inside cradle for two, Regal back up and he hit a running knee for two. The fans chanted “Regal sucks” as Regal stared at them to get more heat. Regal with a suplex for two. Edge with a kick to the gut, then a swinging neckbreaker and a sitout neckbreaker for two. Edge hit a hurricanrana off the top for two. Edge with a Northern Lights Suplex for two, then he charged and Regal hit him with an elbow. Edge kicked Regal over the top to the floor. Edge went for an attack on the floor, Regal moved and Edge hit the steel steps. Regal walked over to the apron by the ring post and he grabbed some brass knuckles for possible use. Back in the ring, Edge got a two count with Edge’s right leg on the bottom rope. Regal hit a gutwrench Powerbomb for two. Edge hit Regal with an enziguri kick to the head. Edge got a rollup for two, then a backslide for two and Regal hit a forearm to the head. Regal with two double underhook Powerbombs for a two count. Regal argued with the referee, the referee checked on Edge and Edge put the brass knuckles on his left hand, but Edge was back up with a Spear on Regal for the pinfall win at 9:06.
Winner by pinfall: Edge
Analysis: **1/2 A solid match between two midcarders at this point in their careers. They did a nice job of going for pinfalls throughout the match. I point that out because sometimes guys don’t go for pins enough when the purpose of the match is to try to win. Regal was known for cheating, so he tried to do that here as well, but Edge was ready with the Spear and Regal’s cheating attempt failed.
After the match, Edge celebrated with the title while JR said that the Edge-Regal situation was not over. That’s his way of telling you the feud would continue. It did continue. Imagine that.
Ric Flair was shown talking on a cell phone in his office (yes, there were cell phones in 2001). Kurt Angle walked into Flair’s office saying he will never win a Gold Medal like Angle. Kurt said that Flair has never been Undisputed Champion, but Angle is going to do it tonight. Flair said Kurt had the ability to do it. Angle said he’d beat Steve Austin, then he’ll beat the winner of Rock and Jericho. Angle kept saying he’s going to do it, Flair kept saying “that’s awesome” and told him to go do it.
Analysis: That was a strange segment with Angle being annoying by saying he was going to do it while Flair didn’t know what to say. For what it’s worth, I did not have a cell phone in 2001. I think it was a few years after that for me.
Lita was shown in the locker room stretching while in referee gear. Matt Hardy walked up to her saying it’s been a tough time for all of them, especially Lita. Matt said he knows Lita knows how big the match is tonight to show that he is the brains and the better wrestler. Lita said she knows that is a big night for Matt. Lita said that as Matt’s girlfriend, she is always on Matt’s side, but her job is to be a referee and call it down the middle. Matt said he’s okay with that because Jeff won’t even get the opportunity to pin him. Matt said he’ll celebrate with Lita after he wins.
A video aired about Matt and Jeff Hardy’s history. They showed Hardy highlights with Matt talking about how athletic Jeff is while Matt spoke about how smart that Matt is. They showed a lot of ladder match highlights and championship wins. During a Steel Cage Match against The Dudley Boyz at Survivor Series, Jeff chose to jump off the cage instead of leaving the ring to win the match, so then Jeff ended up going through a table and losing the match. Matt scolded Jeff for it saying Jeff didn’t make a mistake, he made a selfish choice. Matt also cost Jeff a match against Christian. Jeff stood up to Matt for trying to control him. It led to the Hardys arguing with Lita in the middle.
Analysis: These guys were so popular as a team and I thought it was too early to have them in a feud with eachother. I don’t think the fans wanted it either.
Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (Lita was the Special Guest Referee)
Pre-match notes: Jeff Hardy was clearly the more popular babyface. Matt was a babyface for the most part, but was heelish for this feud.
Lita was the special guest referee. Lita was Matt’s girlfriend while Jeff was like a brother to her. Jeff took control with an armdrag leading to an armbar. When Matt broke free, he hit his brother with a back elbow and a fist drop. The brothers exchanged punches, chops and Matt even did an eye poke that was cheap. Matt with a running clothesline for two. Matt went for a sleeper, Jeff countered it and Matt hit a belly to back suplex. Matt went to the middle rope for a leg drop, Jeff moved and Matt hit the mat. Jeff with a jawbreaker and then he connected with a leg drop off the middle rope for two. Jeff went up top, Matt tripped up his brother and Matt kicked Jeff repeatedly. Lita helped Jeff while he was upside down against the turnbuckle, Matt didn’t like that and Matt got a rollup for two. Jeff to the apron, Matt went for a sunset flip on the floor, but Jeff countered with a hurricanrana on the floor. Back in the ring, Jeff did a flip over Matt with Jeff selling a left knee injury, so Matt stomped on the knee right away. Matt with a chop block on the left knee along with a knee drop on the left knee. Jeff managed to get a two count on Matt, but then Matt applied a single leg crab with Jeff getting to the ropes. Lita yelled at Matt to break the hold, so Matt let go before the five count. Matt went for a submission on the left leg, so Jeff kicked Matt out of the ring. Jeff with a low dropkick by the ropes. Jeff tried a jump over the top, but Jeff collapsed while selling the knee. Jeff with a back kick to knock Matt down. Jeff with a double leg drop to the lower body and a belly to back suplex. Jeff went up top, Matt worked him over with punches and Matt slammed him off the top rope. Matt and Jeff each went for moves, Matt got a backslide cover and Jeff went for a sunset flip, Matt countered by sitting on top while holding the ropes, but Lita caught Matt cheating. Jeff got a rollup for two. Jeff to the apron, Matt with a punch, Jeff went up top and Matt tried a Twist of Fate on the ropes, but Jeff blocked it. Jeff hit a Swanton Bomb on Matt near their ropes for the one…two…Matt’s foot on the bottom rope, Jeff hooked the leg…and three at 12:30.
Winner by pinfall: Jeff Hardy
Analysis: **3/4 A good match, but I think it was disappointing considering how good both guys were. They went for the controversial finish with Lita missing Matt’s foot on the bottom rope. It was also clear that the fans weren’t ready to boo Matt that much, so it made it tough for the guys to get a big reaction from the crowd. They didn’t do a lot of high spots in the match. It was more about the story of Matt working over Jeff’s injured left leg, Jeff coming back and Lita being a fair referee the whole way.
Post match, Matt was yelling at Lita about missing his foot on the bottom rope. Lita raised Jeff’s hand as the winner. They replayed the key spot with Matt’s foot on the rope, which Lita did not see.
Analysis: I don’t know if there was a plan for the Hardys to split after this or what, but they would get back together as a tag team. The split became official in 2002, but there were many reunions that followed. They got into a more personal rivalry in 2009 when Matt turned heel to cost Jeff the WWE Title.
The Rock’s locker room was shown with Trish Stratus knocking on the door. Trish walked into the room while Rock was talking on a cell phone. Rock hung up the phone while Trish said it was amazing how Rock shoved Vince’s face in Rikishi’s ass (after Rock saved Trish from humiliation by Vince). Rock said he appreciated that. Trish wished him good luck with a kiss on the cheek. Rock thanked her, but then asked where she was going? Rock told her to hush. Rock said that the only thing he’s concentrating on tonight is walking out of San Diego as the Undisputed Champion. However, after tonight after Trish’s title match and after Rock lays the smackdown on candy asses, there will be plenty of time to smell what The Rock (with a hip gyration) is cooking. Rock nodded at her and left.
Analysis: They were certainly teasing something there. On the Raw prior to this, Trish also went into Rock’s dressing room to “thank him” and Rock kissed Trish on the slips. Considering the youtube clip has 43 million views as of October 2021, a lot of people have seen it. Anyway, it was just a little flirtatious thing at the time. For what it’s worth, Rock was married to his first wife at the time and daughter Simone was born a few months before this.
WWE Tag Team Championships: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) (w/Stacy Keibler) vs. Big Show & Kane
Pre-match notes: The Dudleys were heelish, but it was hard to boo them with Stacy around. Kane and Big Show were faces although they both turned so many times in their careers that it was hard to keep track of all the turns.
Kane with a kick on D-Von, back body drop on Bubba and a double clothesline. Show tagged in with a body slam on Bubba for two. D-Von was hesitant to tag in, so Bubba raked Show’s eyes, Bubba got the tag and Show hit a sidewalk slam. Show did some hip checking to D-Von against the turnbuckle. All four guys in the ring, so Kane did splashes on both Dudleys and Show did a corner splash on both Dudleys at the same time as well. The champions were thrown out of the ring, Kane up top and Kane jumped onto both guys. Stacy got into the ring to tell the Dudleys to get up, so Show pulled her skirt down to expose a thong and Show slapped Stacy on her butt. That drew a big pop, of course. Back in the ring, the Dudleys hit a double team neckbreaker on Kane. Bubba kicked the back of Kane’s leg, then the referee was distracted by Big Show to set up the Whassup Drop headbutt by D-Von to Kane’s groin. Bubba with a splash to Kane’s back and then the Dudleys hit a double team flapjack. Kane kicked D-Von and clotheslined Bubba leading to Show getting the hot tag. Show with clotheslines, a back elbow, a back body drop, a corner splash and Bubba did a chop block to Show’s left leg. Kane back in with punches. Kane jumped off the top, D-Von moved and Kane hit a clothesline on Show by accident. Kane tossed Bubba out of the ring. Kane went over to Show, who got mad about Kane hitting him and the Dudleys got back in there to take advantage. Show with a boot to Bubba’s face. Show charged at Bubba, who moved and Show hit Kane by accident. That was a lame spot because of how obvious it looked. Show grabbed Stacy, D-Von jumped onto Show’s back while Bubba exposed the top turnbuckle. The Dudleys lifted Show into the exposed steel and Bubba pinned him. It was not a 3D as JR called it, but it was like a double team flapjack into the steel. It went 6:50.
Winners by pinfall: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley)
Analysis: *1/2 The full-time team beat the tall guys that were not a regular team. A bad match that was kept short, which was the right call considering the kind of match this was. The miscommunication issues by Show/Kane cost them the win while the Dudleys cheated by using the exposed steel turnbuckle to their advantage.
After the match, Dudleys celebrated with JR saying “it was not a pretty match.” That’s one way of saying it.
They showed a “Please don’t try this at home” video.
There was a locker room scene with Lita apologizing to Matt for not seeing his foot on the bottom rope. Matt had his bags packed and left without her.
A video package aired setting up Rob Van Dam defending the Hardcore Title against The Undertaker. This was right after The Undertaker turned heel when it looked like he would help Jim Ross from having to kiss Vince McMahon’s ass, but then Taker turned on JR and shoved his face in Vince’s ass. Taker gave RVD a huge Powerbomb on a trash can and told RVD he has a lot to learn while telling RVD that he has to respect Undertaker. RVD got some revenge on Undertaker attacks with a chair to the head.
Analysis: I thought this Undertaker heel turn was a good call. The American Badass worked for him as a face, but he was having a lot of bad matches and feuds in the months leading up to this. I assume Taker knew as well as anyone that he needed a change. I remembered The Undertaker’s feud well, but I didn’t remember that he feuded with RVD right after it.
The Undertaker made his entrance on a motorcycle to the “Rollin’” theme song from Limp Bizkit. Good pop for RVD as usual.
Hardcore Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. The Undertaker
Analysis: RVD was the babyface Hardcore Champion while Undertaker was a heel. Anything goes in a hardcore match with the match ending by pinfall or submission.
RVD used his speed to start with some quick strikes, but Taker kicked him in the face. RVD jumped off the top with a flipping attack and a spinning heel kick for two. Taker sent RVD into the top rope followed by a kick to the floor. RVD sent Taker into ring post, then some kicks and a clothesline that sent Taker over the barricade to the floor. RVD jumped off the barricade, but Taker caught him with a punch to the ribs. They were fighting in the crowd with Taker choking RVD with a Mexican flag. RVD ended up hitting a moonsault off a barricade onto a standing Taker for a two count. Taker trapped RVD under a barricade and then worked over RVD with punches. Taker grabbed a chair, but RVD sprayed him with a fire extinguisher and hit Taker in the ribs with the fire extinguisher. RVD hit Taker in the head with the trash can. RVD climbed up near an exit sign, so he was about ten feet up and he gave Taker a cross body block off the exit area and landing onto some wood that was around there. The referee was there to count the pin for two. RVD sent Taker into a steel beam. They went back up some steps that led them to the stage with RVD kicking Taker down for a two count. They were on the stage with RVD doing a trash can lid shot followed by a spinning leg drop for two. Taker with a headbutt to take control followed by Taker driving RVD head first into a steel structure that was part of the set. Taker teased a Last Ride on the stage, but RVD got a hold of the steel structure to break free. Taker knocked RVD down with a punch. Taker grabbed a chair, RVD hit a spin kick to the chest and RVD hit a kick to the ribs. RVD did a Rolling Thunder splash on the stage for two. RVD hit a Van Daminator where he kicked the chair in Taker’s face for a two count. RVD went for a spin kick again, but Taker moved and Taker hit RVD with two chair shots to the back. Taker teased a Tombstone on the chair, RVD got out of that and RVD went for a spin kick again, but Taker avoided it. Taker gave RVD a Chokeslam off the stage onto a table off the side of the stage. There was padding and cables there below where RVD landed, but it was still an impressive bump.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Hardcore Champion: The Undertaker
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a very good match with a lot of action and unique spots. A lot of the match was out of the ring, but that was common sometimes for these kinds of matches. As I noted earlier, Taker had a bad run as a face in the months leading up to this, so it felt fresh to see him in a heel role again and RVD was the right kind of opponent for him in this match. The final spot in match was laid out well with the padding as part of the bump under the table. It’s still not easy for somebody to take a bump like that, so kudos to RVD trusting Taker to hit that Chokeslam perfectly and to do a big move like that.
The Undertaker left on his motorcycle with the Hardcore Title around his neck.
Chris Jericho walked into Ric Flair’s office with Ric on the phone again. Jericho said he knows Flair doesn’t believe him in. Jericho said that he has beaten The Rock twice and tonight he’ll beat him for the third time. Jericho said after that he’s going to beat Angle or Austin. Flair told Jericho if he can pull it off then he’ll be The Man. Jericho said that tomorrow night on Raw, Flair can present Jericho with the Undisputed Champion. Flair said that he’ll walk the aisle on Raw and he’ll crown someone as the Undisputed Champion while telling Jericho if he can pull it off tonight then more power to him.
Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Jacqueline
Pre-match notes: Trish was the babyface Women’s Champion. Jacqueline didn’t have much of a reaction either way. It was a match without much of a story. Trish won the title at Survivor Series.
They did a spot where they both ran into the ropes leading to Jackie getting a rollup pin. Jackie with a back body drop with the fans chanting “we want puppies” so Lawler said they were his kind of people. Trish with a kick to the chest, but then Jackie came back with stomps. Jackie with two body slams in a row. Trish with a clothesline for two, then she went for a kick and Jackie did a sweep kick. Trish avoided a charging Jackie, then Trish tried to wrap up the legs for a pin, but Jackie got out of it. Jackie with a clothesline and a back body drop. Trish came back with a chop and she went for a Stratusfaction, but Jackie pushed her off and hit a low dropkick for two. They did a collision spot out of the corner so both women were down for a bit. Trish did a backslide pin for the victory at 3:34.
Winner by pinfall: Trish Stratus
Analysis: * A passable match just to give Trish a win to continue her reign as champion. Jacqueline was a credible veteran that was there for Trish to beat. Sadly, they didn’t give much time for women’s PPV matches and that’s why it was under four minutes.
Post match, Trish was handed her title while Jackie shook her hand.
There was a video from three days earlier on Smackdown when The Rock nearly made Vince McMahon kiss his ass, so Rock told Vince to kiss Jim Ross’s ass, but Rock was just teasing. Trish Stratus was next, Vince was very excited to kiss that ass and Rock blocked that from happening with Rock calling Vince a “sick freak.” The other plan was forcing Vince to kiss Rikishi’s ass. Rock gave Vince a Rock Bottom and Rock shoved Vince’s face into Rikishi’s ass. JR: “Thank God! There is a God in this world!” Rock said that the Vince McMahon “Kiss My Ass Club” was officially closed.
Analysis: It was a very memorable Smackdown segment with Vince having to kiss some ass after months of forcing people do it. To Vince’s credit, it showed he was willing to do anything he made the superstars do.
Rikishi was shown at WWF New York and he laughed about having Vince McMahon’s face shoved up his ass. Rikishi said he was back and ready to back that ass up again.
The video package aired to set up the three matches to end the show. At Survivor Series, Kurt Angle cost Team Alliance by hitting Steve Austin with the WWE Title and then The Rock beat Austin to win the match for WWE. Vince wanted to give the WWE Title to Angle for his loyalty, but then Ric Flair came back as the new co-owner of WWE since he bought Shane and Stephanie’s stock, so he was Vince’s partner. Vince was freaking out about it. Flair mentioned the WWE Champion Steve Austin against World Champion (was known as the WCW Championship) The Rock, but then Vince suggested Austin vs. Angle for the WWE Title, Rock vs. Jericho for the World Title and the winners face off to become the Undisputed WWE Champion.
Analysis: It was a unique idea to set up three major title matches on the show. They could have just done Austin vs. Rock, but they wanted to do something different and this was a creative way to do it.
Kurt Angle entered first in a red, white, blue and gold singlet along with medals around his neck as usual. The legendary “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was up next as the WWE Champion and he got a big pop. Austin did his usual corner posing.
Analysis: Austin was back in babyface mode after Survivor Series with fans chanting “WHAT” during his promos in support of him. Austin was not as popular as ever at this point, but clearly, the fans were behind him again. The origin of the “WHAT” chant was for Austin to be annoying as a heel, so he started doing it a few months before this. As a face, the fans chanted along with it and Austin would incorporate it into his promos. Two decades later and we still hear “WHAT” chants at wrestling shows all the time whether people like it or not.
WWE Championship: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle
Pre-match notes: Austin was the babyface WWE Champion while Angle was the heel challenger. Austin beat Angle for that title about two months earlier. This also took place on Angle’s 33rd birthday.
Austin got into a staredown with Angle while the crowd did some “WHAT” chants of course. Angle and Austin locked up against the ropes in the early part of the match and then Austin stared at Angle while backing out of the corner. Angle overpowered Austin into the turnbuckle after that. There were loud “Angle sucks” chants. Austin unloaded on Angle with hard chops leading to Angle bailing to the floor. Angle with a shoulder tackle, Austin came back with an elbow to the chest and hard chops. Austin went for an armbar, Angle broke free, Austin with an eye poke and some choking across the middle rope. Austin with more strikes, Angle ran the ropes and Austin tossed Angle over the top to the floor. Austin sent Angle left shoulder-first into the ring post three times. They went back into the ring with Angle getting some offense, the fans chanting “WHAT” and Austin did an armbar takedown for two. Austin worked over Angle with chops, Angle tripped up Austin into an Ankle Lock and Austin was close to the ropes, but then Angle pulled him back to the middle. Austin crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. The fans chanted “Angle Sucks” as Austin hit a back body drop over the top to the floor. Austin was limping to sell the left leg injury as he tossed Angle into the announce table and unloaded some chops. Angle tripped up Austin and wrapped the left leg around the ring post. Angle with punches and chops on Austin. Angle applied the Figure Four Leglock on the ring post! That’s one of my favorite moves ever when Bret Hart was doing it in 1997 and others have used it since. Angle went for an Ankle Lock again, but Austin kicked him to break free. Angle hit a belly to belly release suplex. Angle with a blatant eye rake, then punches and kicks to keep Austin down against the turnbuckle. Angle with a whip to the turnbuckle, Austin took it sternum first and Angle hit three German Suplexes in a row for a two count. Angle went up top, he jumped off with a moonsault, Austin moved out of the way and Angle hit the mat hard. Austin came back with clotheslines, the Thesz Press followed by punches and a spinebuster for two. Austin hit two German Suplexes of his own, Angle with elbows and Austin hit three more German Suplexes. Austin normally didn’t do German Suplexes and his form was worse than Angle’s, but it was the same bump. They battled by the ropes, Angle hit a low blow kick and Angle hit the Angle Slam for two. Angle went for a Stunner, Austin shoved Angle into the ropes, kick to the gut and Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner for the pinfall win at 14:55.
Winner by pinfall: Steve Austin
Analysis: ***3/4 It was the usual very good match from these two greats that wrestled a lot in the months leading up to this. There were some slow parts to it, but then the pace picked up and there were some exciting moments towards the end of the match. Austin kicking out of the Angle Slam was big, then Angle went for the Stunner, Austin got out of that and finished him off with the Stunner. I’m glad there was a clean finish especially because of the two matches that followed. It’s Austin and Angle, so of course the fans were into it.
The win meant that Austin was still the WWE Champion and he would wrestle again after the next match. JR speculated on if it would be Austin vs. Rock as a lot of fans expected. Austin was selling the physicality of the match as he went to the back.
They showed Trish Stratus in a dressing room touching up her lipstick with a towel around her. Test barged into the room saying last week, Trish gave rock a thank you kiss and now Test was going to give her a congratulations kiss. Test rambled saying that “once you have Test, you forget about the rest.” Test ripped on Trish for being “one of those chicks” and wondered if she could get him fired while saying nobody can get him fired. Trish shoved him out of the room.
Analysis: I guess the idea was that Trish was getting ready to hang out with The Rock after the show, so that’s why she was touching up her makeup. The stuff with Test there and some of the dialogue was pretty bad. I’m surprised they didn’t take that out of the WWE Network version.
The Rock made his entrance as the World Heavyweight Champion with the fans popping big for him. As I mentioned earlier, it was the WCW World Championship that they just renamed the World Title. It’s the “big gold belt” to some people. Chris Jericho was next as the heel opponent.
World Heavyweight Championship: The Rock vs. Chris Jericho
Pre-match notes: The Rock was the babyface World Heavyweight Champion and Jericho was the heel. Rock won this title at SummerSlam, lost it to Jericho two months later at No Mercy and then Rock won it back a few weeks after that.
Rock was in control with an armbar, Rock hit a clothesline and Jericho hit a spinning heel kick that knocked Rock out of the ring to the floor. Jericho with a springboard dropkick. Rock sent Jericho into the hood of the announce table a couple of times, but then Jericho sent Rock into the stairs. Jericho up top and he hit a back elbow off the top to knock Rock down. Jericho with a suplex, then he did the cocky pin and Rock knocked the foot off. Rock came back with a leaping clothesline, but then Jericho hit a belly to back suplex. Jericho with a clothesline. Rock hit a belly to belly suplex followed by a Samoan Drop for two. Jericho applied a chinlock for over a minute, Rock with punches and Jericho hit a back elbow. Jericho went for a Lionsault off the middle ropes, Rock with punches and Jericho hit a bulldog followed by a Lionsault for a two count. The Lionsault was a finishing move at times, but most of the time it got Jericho a two count in his career. Jericho was mad at Earl Hebner, so they shoved eachother a couple of times. Jericho with a suplex. Jericho went up top, Rock bounced into the ropes and Jericho was crotched on the top rope. They battled on the top rope, Jericho shoved Rock down and Jericho hit a cross body block with Rock floating over for a two count. Rock avoided a charging Jericho and Rock sent Jericho over the turnbuckle into the ring post. Jericho hit the ring post (with his hand), but made it look like it was his head. Jericho sent Rock across the barricade followed by a catapult into the ring post. Referee Earl Hebner was on the floor with them, so there was no countout as there should be. Jericho took the monitors off the English announce table. Jericho into the ring to break the count that didn’t exist and then back out. Jericho set up for a Rock Bottom on the table, but then Rock countered with a DDT through the table. The part of the table where they landed broke and the other side of the table didn’t break as easily. Rock got back up, Hebner told him to go back into the ring and Rock shoved Hebner. Rock brought Jericho back into the ring.
Rock set up for a Rock Bottom, Jericho elbowed his way out of it and Jericho hit a legsweep into a facebuster sometimes called the Breakdown and then Jericho hit a senton splash on Rock’s body. Jericho set up for his own version of The People’s Elbow as Jericho threw off his elbow pad, he went for the elbow, but Rock was up with a Sharpshooter attempt. Jericho countered it into a Sharpshooter of his own. Rock sold it like he was passing out, but then Rock powered out of it and got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Rock with an inside cradle for two. Jericho charged towards Jericho, then Rock got a hold of him and Rock hit a Rock Bottom. Vince McMahon went down to ringside as Rock covered Jericho, so Hebner was distracted by Vince’s presence. Rock punched Vince off the apron. Rock with a spinebuster to Jericho. Rock with a People’s Elbow to a huge ovation from the crowd as Rock brought Vince into the ring. Rock punched Vince a couple of times. Jericho with a low blow on Rock (the referee was looking at Vince) and Jericho hit a Rock Bottom on Rock for the pinfall win! It went 19:05.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW World Champion: Chris Jericho
Analysis: **** A great match with Jericho picking up the cheap win that was something we had seen in the past with him against Rock. I don’t think Rock had a problem with doing clean job. It was just how WWE liked to book these kinds of matches by protecting Rock as much as they could. The refereeing was questionable since they were out on the floor with no count, but that’s how things were in this era sometimes. I liked the Sharpshooter spot with Rock looking like he was going to lose to it, but then he came back for more. Vince McMahon’s presence tainted Jericho’s win because Vince didn’t want Rock to win since Austin already won earlier in the night, so Vince was against having two faces as the winner. Plus, Vince wanted revenge on Rock for the Rikishi ass-kissing moment. Anyway, I liked how it was all put together and Jericho hit the low blow into a Rock Bottom combination to get the win.
Chris Jericho was handed the World Championship and then Steve Austin’s music hit. Austin didn’t have the WWE Championship with him.
Austin went into the ring to go after Jericho with punches, but then Angle showed up and hit Austin in the head with a steel chair. Austin got his hands up to protect himself. Rock went back into the ring and hit a Rock Bottom on Jericho. Rock left the ring and chased Angle up the ramp to the back. The bell rang to start the match with both guys out on the mat.
Undisputed WWE Championship Match: Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho
Pre-match notes: Chris Jericho was the heel World Heavyweight Champion while Austin was the babyface WWE Champion.
The match began with referee Earl Hebner counting both guys down and Jericho covered Austin for a two count. Jericho with a running forearm followed by punches, clotheslines and more punches/kicks against the turnbuckle. Jericho swore, so there was a bleep. Austin tackled Jericho followed by punches. Austin took over with punches and he knocked Jericho off the apron to the floor. Austin sent Jericho throat first across the barricade and into the ring post. Referee Earl Hebner left the ring with the wrestlers so there was no count as Austin whipped Jericho into the ring post again. Austin pulled up the mat on the floor to expose the concrete floor. Jericho knocked Austin down so Austin sold it like his neck hit the concrete (it did not). They battled on the Spanish announce table, Austin sent Jericho off of it and Austin suplexed Jericho on the exposed concrete. They went back into the ring where Jericho was able to regain control by whipping Austin’s left shoulder into the turnbuckle/ring post two times. Austin held onto the ropes after he was sent into them, then a catapult into the ropes and Austin hit a clothesline. Jericho applied an armbar on the left arm with Jericho using the ropes for leverage while the referee didn’t see the rope usage until about 20 seconds after.
Jericho with a suplex. Jericho went up top, jumped with a double axhandle, but Austin was back up with a punch to the ribs. Austin worked over Jericho with chops, then into the ropes and Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho submission. Austin was in the hold for about one minute until Austin got to the bottom rope to break it. Austin ducked a charging Jericho and Jericho hit a forearm on referee Earl Hebner by accident. Austin with a back elbow, Jericho with a low blow punch and Jericho hit a Stone Cold Stunner on Austin although it wasn’t executed perfectly. Vince brought out corrupt referee Nick Patrick, who tapped Jericho on the shoulder and told him to cover Austin. Ric Flair grabbed Patrick and punched him. Vince punched Flair and whipped him into the ring post. Austin got a low blow uppercut punch on Jericho. Austin went after Vince on the floor with Austin connecting with punches and kicks. Austin hit the Thesz Press leading to punches and an elbow drop. Austin with chops to the chest, Jericho got a boot up on a charging Austin. Jericho went for a missile dropkick, Austin caught him and applied the Walls of Jericho (Walls of Austin?) with Jericho tapping repeatedly. There was no referee to see it. Booker T slid into the ring (behind Austin) with the WWE Title and he hit Austin in the back of the head with it. Booker ran away through the crowd with the announcers saying Booker doesn’t work there. Jericho covered Austin while Vince sent Hebner back into the ring. Hebner counted the one…two…and three! Chris Jericho was the new Undisputed WWE Champion. JR: “For the love of God I cannot believe this!” It went 12:31.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Undisputed Champion (WWE & World Champion): Chris Jericho
Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good match that wasn’t at the same level as the two matches before it and also was shorter. This was still fun to watch although I wouldn’t say the crowd was that loud for a match for two major titles. Jericho was on offense for most of this until the referee bump leading to the chaos. It was yet another cheap win for Jericho, which was consistent for his character at this point. The attack by Booker T felt random, but it was a way to set up a new feud for Austin. Considering how much time they spent outside the ring, they should have announced this as a No Holds Barred type match. A lot of overbooking involved with the referee bumps, low blows and other hijinks, so it’s tainted a bit, but still a solid match overall.
Vince McMahon was on the stage laughing hysterically since he did a speech earlier about how he was going to have the last laugh. Vince did some over the top laughing while Jericho left the ring with both titles. The Vince laugh would turn into a GIF many years later as well. Jericho held up the two titles as he went up the ramp as confetti filled the arena. Vince went over to Jericho and raised his arms. Austin was shown looking pissed off. Vince and Jericho left. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I remember being so happy for Jericho. Yes, it was cheap, but so what? He was a heel. That was his character. I doubt many people went into this show thinking Jericho was going to leave as the Undisputed WWE Champion. I think WWE realized they needed more main event talent and this was a way to elevate Jericho into that spot. Austin and Rock were well established with Rock venturing into movies already while Angle was already a top guy, so giving Jericho the win was a smart move.
This event had a runtime of 2:37:51 on WWE Network.
Chris Jericho Comments on Vengeance 2001
Here’s a funny quote and clip from Jericho talking to my friends at Inside The Ropes about winning the Undisputed Title.
“You know how I found out I was going to become the first ever Undisputed Champion? You know how? Hmm? I was in catering and I was sitting there, minding my own beeswax, eating my food and right over here was Vince McMahon and The Undertaker. And Vince starting talking loudly where he knew I could hear him but he wasn’t talking to me and he said ‘hey Taker! You know how you know the business is going down the toilet?’ ‘How Vince?’ ‘Well we’re putting the belt on Jericho! PWAH!’ Is there another Jericho? And that’s how I found out. Literally hours before the show with a thinly veiled insult.”
There’s more in the clip below.
Show rating (out of 10): 7
It was a good show overall. I wouldn’t say it was great at any point, but I think the historical significance of the event makes it feel important. Jericho was the guy that they chose to unify the WWE and WCW Titles together on this show. Should they have saved it for a bigger show in another month? Maybe, but it was picked for Vengeance and I thought the matches were pretty good in the second half. Starting with Undertaker/RVD, then the women’s match was short, then the three title matches followed and Jericho/Rock was my favorite out of those. I think the two Austin matches with Angle and Jericho were both pretty good too.
The first half of the show was definitely weak and there were moments when the crowd wasn’t into it. However, by the time the second half started with those titles on the line as well, things did pick up for the better. Was it the best PPV of the year? Not even close to the best of that year with shows like WrestleMania 17 and Royal Rumble.
This was truly one of the biggest nights of Chris Jericho’s career. We know he has bragged about it a lot over the last 20 years and he should, but it doesn’t necessarily mean this was some all-time great show. It’s still a big moment for him personally. As a Jericho fan, I’m happy he had something so monumental happen in his career.
- Chris Jericho
- Steve Austin
- The Rock
- Kurt Angle
- The Undertaker
Best Match: Chris Jericho vs. Rock (**** out of 5) – The Austin/Angle match was close, but I liked Jericho/Rock a bit more even with the cheap ending.
Worst Match: Trish Stratus vs. Jacqueline (*) – It’s nothing against the ladies. They just didn’t have much time in a match that only got four minutes.
Most Memorable Moment: Chris Jericho beating The Rock and Steve Austin back to back to become the Undisputed WWE Champion. It was cheap, but it was still a big deal at the time and all of these years later.
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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