The King of the Ring pay-per-view became WWE’s annual June event starting in 1993. Every year from 1993 to 2002 (it was discontinued by 2003), WWE crowned a new King of the Ring. In 2001, the event happened at a time when WWE had purchased WCW three months earlier and they were on their way to beginning the WCW/ECW Invasion angle.
Two of WWE’s biggest names were missing from King of the Ring 2001. The Rock was gone filming The Scorpion King (his first starring role in a major motion picture) while Triple H was out of action for about seven months after a torn quad suffered in an awesome tag team match on Raw in May 2001. Here’s Alex Podgorski with a review of that Raw match. With Rock and Triple H out of the picture, they needed other wrestlers to step up, so Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit were elevated to the main event level for this show. This was also a show where Kurt Angle wrestled three times and it was less than two years into his WWE career, but it just showed how good he was already.
King of the Ring 2001 did a strong number on PPV with 445,000 buys. It was nearly more than Survivor Series, but did trail the other major WWE PPVs (WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam) as expected. It also trailed No Way Out 2001, which had a loaded card (Austin vs. Triple H, Rock vs. Angle) and Invasion 2001 that did a HUGE number due to the WWE vs. WCW/ECW storyline. However, when you compare this King of the Ring to other King of the Ring shows, it was second only to King of the Ring 2000 as the highest King of the Ring PPV buyrate ever.
This show followed WrestleMania 17 a few months earlier. As of this writing, I haven’t reviewed Backlash 2001 and Judgment Day 2001. The PPV after this was Invasion 2001, which was a huge show at the time.
Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:
“Edge, Kurt Angle, Rhyno, and Christian compete in the yearly extravaganza to determine who will be crowned King of the Ring. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin defends the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match. Plus Kurt Angle takes on Shane McMahon in a Street Fight and more.”
The DVD is what I used for the main event. The poster looked like this:
Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.
WWF King of the Ring
June 24, 2001
Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey
The opening video package covered the main matches going into the show.
There was an impressive pyro display to start the show. The building was sold out in New Jersey with signs all over the place. They showed a sold out WWF New York restaurant as well. The announce team of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman were at ringside to call the action. Jerry Lawler was away from WWE for about ten months in 2001.
Diamond Dallas Page entered the building by coming in through the crowd and he was dressed in all black with a jacket. Page let The Undertaker know that Diamond Dallas Page has arrived. Page said he saw The Undertaker on Smackdown and he looked pissed off. Page told Undertaker that he should be thanking Page because what he showed was PG while Page said that the private collection of Undertaker’s wife Sara gets more than a thumbs up. Page said that he is going to kick the Big Dog’s ass all over his yard. Page said tomorrow on Raw, he’ll become the first WCW superstar to ever step foot in Madison Square Garden. Page held up his ticket saying he’ll be sitting right there in front row. Page said he’ll be the guy with the sign. It said: “Make Me Famous” with a down arrow pointing at his head. Page sat in a seat in the front row.
Analysis: It set up the future showdown with The Undertaker and DDP. The storyline wasn’t very good although it was a big deal that DDP was a part of WWE since DDP was a big WCW guy.
The announce team of Ross and Heyman talked about the rumor that Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho could join WCW if they win the WWE Title.
Kurt Angle entered for his first match of the night. Angle got a bit of a pop because even though he was a heel, he was starting to get cheered a bit more. Christian was the opponent that was an ally of Angle sometimes.
King of the Ring Semifinals: Kurt Angle vs. Christian
Pre-match notes: Kurt Angle was a heel and Christian was also a heel. As I said, Angle was getting cheered a bit because of some of his actions leading up to this show. Angle won the 2000 King of the Ring tournament, so he was going for a repeat.
Christian charged with punches and kicks, but then Angle came back with a running slam. Angle stomped on Christian against the turnbuckle. Angle with a charge, Christian moved, Angle with a sternum bump and Christian hit a neckbreaker for two. Angle went for an Ankle Lock, Christian kicked his way out of it, Christian with elbows to the head and Angle hit a belly to belly overhead suplex. There was a loud “Let’s Go Angle” chant for Kurt. They were on the floor with Angle sending Christian’s head against the announce table. Christian sent Angle into the steel steps two times. Back in the ring, Christian went up top, Angle shoved him off and Christian bumped into the barricade. Back in the ring, Angle hit a belly to back suplex. Angle stomped on Christian, looked at the crowd and there were multiple chants going on. Angle hit a suplex for two. Christian got an inside cradle for two and Angle hit another suplex. They ran the ropes with Christian hitting a spinning heel kick to knock Angle down. That led to Shane McMahon walking down to ringside in a WCW shirt. Angle with a clothesline on Christian with Angle telling Shane to get out of there. Angle went up top, moonsault missed because Christian moved and Christian got a two count. Christian with a reverse backbreaker for two. Angle tripped up Christian going for an Ankle Lock, Christian tripped the referee and got to the ropes. Christian hit the Unprettier, but then Shane pulled Christian off Angle. The referee did not see that as Shane went to the back. Christian was on the apron, Angle hit the Angle Slam from the outside back in and Angle pinned Christian to win at 8:17. Shane smiled about what happened.
Winner by pinfall: Kurt Angle
Analysis: *** This was pretty good with a lot of action in a match that went under ten minutes. Angle has talked about how he suffered a concussion during this match although it wasn’t obvious when that happened. Shane got involved to further the story that he wanted Angle to get tired out by wrestling another match before Angle faced Shane later in the show. Christian wasn’t getting pushed that much as a singles guy yet, so it made sense for Angle to win.
Steve Austin, the WWE Champion, was backstage talking to his wife Debra. Jonathon Coachman showed up for an interview with Austin asking if Coach has seen Vince McMahon. Coach said Thursday on Smackdown, Vince said he wasn’t coming. Austin said that Vince is such a kidder, he’ll be here. Coach told Austin about the rumor that Benoit or Jericho could win the WWE Title and go to WCW. Austin was shocked by that, stared at coach and said nothing.
Analysis: That whole thing was a swerve because it ended up being Austin who defected to WCW as the WWE Champion about one month after this.
There was a video package about The Undertaker’s feud with Diamond Dallas Page. The story was that DDP was filming The Undertaker’s wife Sara at her home. It included footage of Sara walking around her house, going in a pool and so on. The big reveal showed that it was former WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page. That led to DDP telling Undertaker to make him famous. The Undertaker said he would give DDP the biggest ass kicking he’s ever given out.
Analysis: I thought this story was a big failure from the beginning. DDP was such a natural babyface, so WWE brings him in as a heel that’s stalking The Undertaker’s wife? I don’t think it was a good idea.
Paul Heyman tried to interview Diamond Dallas Page at ringside. Page said he had balls for going after The Undertaker. They showed a video of The Undertaker eating in a restaurant with DDP telling Taker to make him famous.
Edge entered for the next King of the Ring semifinal match. Rhyno was the opponent.
King of the Ring Semifinals: Edge vs. Rhyno
Pre-match notes: Edge was a heel. Rhyno was Edge’s buddy that was also a heel early in his career, but there were some cheers for him.
The fans chanted “ECW” for Rhyno as Edge got a whip into the ropes followed by a spinning heel kick. Rhyno with a back elbow and a chop. Edge sent Rhyno to the apron, then a dropkick and Rhyno hit the floor hard. Edge left the ring, Rhyno sent Edge into the barricade and Edge crotched Rhyno on the barricade followed by a lefty clothesline by Edge. Edge whipped Rhyno into the barricade. Edge charged at Rhyno, who sent Edge into the barricade two times. Rhyno exposed the middle turnbuckle and then whipped Edge into it so Edge’s sternum hit the turnbuckle. Rhyno with a shoulder tackle against the ropes along with a running knee. Rhyno applied a body scissors as he continued to focus on the ribs. Rhyno went up top and hit a Superfly Splash for two. Rhyno didn’t do that very often. Edge got some offense going with a boot to the face and then a stun gun into the ropes. Edge with an atomic drop, clothesline and neckbreaker. Edge hit a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top while Edge was on the middle rope. Rhyno hit a spinebuster. They did a collision spot during a Gore/Spear exchange, so both guys were down selling that. Edge got a rollup for two. Rhyno charged, Edge avoided him and Edge sent Rhyno into the exposed turnbuckle. Edge hit the Impaler DDT for the pinfall win at 8:53.
Winner by pinfall: Edge
Analysis: **3/4 This was a good match. It was the battle of the Gore vs. the Spear so it was clever that they did that collision spot when they were going for those moves. It was an even matchup the whole way with Edge outsmarting Rhyno by avoiding the corner charge, Rhyno hit the turnbuckle that he exposed and Edge capitalized to get the win. Well booked.
Spike Dudley with Molly Holly were interviewed by Lilian Garcia on Heat earlier in the night. Spike Dudley said he wanted to have a tag team partner against The Dudley Boyz later in the show.
Spike Dudley and Molly Holly were backstage talking about how Spike has found a partner. The Dudleys showed up to talk trash to Spike.
Chris Jericho was interviewed in the locker room by Tazz, who mentioned Jericho might take the WWE Title to WCW. Jericho said that since WCW has a true boss like Shane McMahon, maybe it won’t be so bad after all. Jericho said he was aware that there were rumors. Jericho said he was going to “shut the hell up” as far as those rumors were concerned.
The Dudleys made their entrance as the WWE Tag Team Champions. A clip aired from Smackdown showing how Steve Austin cost Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit the titles. Spike Dudley entered with his tag team partner, the Intercontinental Champion Kane. Big pop for them.
WWE Tag Team Championships: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) vs. Kane & Spike Dudley
Pre-match notes: The Dudley Boyz were the heel champions while Kane & Spike were faces.
Kane cleaned house early with a double clothesline and he punched D-Von out of the ring. Spike hit a hurricanrana on Bubba, Kane with a clothesline on Bubba and Spike with punches. Bubba tossed Spike onto Kane, but then Kane tossed Spike back onto Bubba. D-Von tagged in against Kane, who no sold punches and Kane hit a powerslam. D-Von did a leapfrog against Spike, then he faked a leg injury to distract the referee and D-Von pulled Spike down by the hair. Bubba worked over Spike with punches. Bubba hit a sidewalk slam and then D-Von jumped off the middle turnbuckle with a leg drop. Bubba back in and he hit a back body drop on Spike. Bubba missed a splash on Spike, who moved and then Bubba did a monkey flip across the ring. Spike went for a hurricanrana like move, but Bubba got a hold of him and hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Spike moved out of the way of a D-Von splash, so that led to Kane tagging in. Kane with a back body drop on Bubba, Kane with a clothesline on D-Von and a neckbreaker by Kane on Bubba got a two count. Kane with a sidewalk slam on Bubba for two. Kane tossed D-Von over the top to the floor and Kane hit a powerslam for two, but the weird thing was referee Teddy Long stopped counting and D-Von was supposed to break it up and was too slow. Bubba really kick out, but they had to say that he did because D-Von was supposed to break it up. The fans booed that because they saw what happened. Kane punched both Dudleys to knock them out of the ring, Spike tagged in and Kane launched Spike over the top onto both Dudleys. Back in the ring, Kane with a clothesline off the top on Bubba and Spike got a two count. Spike hit the Dudley Dog neckbreaker on Bubba for two, but this time D-Von was there to break up the pin. Dudleys hit a double suplex on Kane and D-Von hit the Whassup Drop headbutt to Kane’s groin. Spike back in with a double dropkick. D-Von countered Spike’s next move attempt and the Dudleys hit the 3D for the pinfall win on Spike at 8:52.
Winners by pinfall: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley)
Analysis: **3/4 A solid tag team match with the Dudleys controlling the action against Spike as the face in peril and the hot finish after Kane got the tag. There was that awkward spot in the match where D-Von was slow to make the save for Bubba and referee Teddy Long had to stop the count, so it just looked bad. Kane didn’t take a lot of punishment, but I guess the headbutt to the groin was enough to take him out to stop him from saving Spike at the end.
After the match, D-Von set up a table in the ring. Kane hit D-Von with a Powerbomb. Kane hit a Chokeslam on Bubba through the table. Kane helped Spike out of the ring. Kane’s music played to end it.
Analysis: It was a way to make the fans happy after the faces lost the match.
Edge was shown in the locker room where his “brother” Christian showed up to wish Edge good luck. Edge thought that Christian was there to complain that Shane McMahon cost Christin his match against Kurt Angle. Christian said he really hopes Edge wins this.
There was a video of Diamond Dallas Page leaving a building and going into a car. DDP in the building complained about it saying he didn’t like it that somebody was following him.
They showed 1999 King of the Ring winner “The One” Billy Gunn at WWF New York. Gunn complained about how he wasn’t at the arena or even in the tournament. Gunn said he doesn’t give a crap about who wins the tournament while adding that he only cares about himself.
The entrances took place for the King of the Ring finals with Kurt Angle out first and then Edge was next. Edge was favoring the left side of his ribs.
Angle did a pre-match promo saying he was sorry for getting mad at Edge last week. Angle said he didn’t want anything to get in the way of their friendship and they shook hands. Angle said he has a Street Fight with Shane McMahon. Angle wanted Edge to forfeit the match to save Edge the embarrassment of losing to Kurt and to keep Kurt fresh for later. Edge punched Angle.
King of the Ring Finals: Kurt Angle vs. Edge
Pre-match notes: Angle was the heel that was the 2000 King of the Ring. Edge was a heel although he was turning face. They were allies for most of the last year. The pre-match promo from Kurt made sure that he was the heel in the match too.
Edge was aggressive with punches and then a flapjack to send Angle into the mat. Angle came back with punches, but then Edge hit a jumping kick to the head. They did a big spot where Angle gave Edge a belly to belly suplex over the top to the floor. Angle sent Edge into the steel steps with Edge selling the ribs again, so Angle stomped on the ribs repeatedly. Angle with a belly to back suplex and a regular suplex for two. Angle with a chinlock, they battled by the turnbuckle and Edge got a rollup for two. Angle came back with a belly to belly suplex across the ring for two. Angle with a chinlock, Edge fought back with punches and then Angle tossed Edge over the top to the floor. Angle suplexed Edge ribs first across the top of the barricade. Angle went up top, Edge dropkicked the leg and Angle was crotched on the top rope. Edge hit a hurricanrana off the top for two. Edge with a back body drop. Edge held onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick and Edge hit a catapult that sent Angle into the top rope. Edge got a rollup for two. Angle tripped up Edge for the Ankle Lock, but Edge countered into a rollup for two and then Edge hit a sitout neckbreaker. Christian went down to the ring and on the apron to distract. Angle rolled up Edge for two. Edge with a running clothesline, Angle moved and Edge hit the referee with a clothesline. Angle with an Ankle Lock on Edge, who tapped out. No referee. Shane McMahon went into the ring and hit a Spear on Angle. The referee didn’t see it. Edge hit the Impaler DDT on Angle and the referee woke up for the pinfall win at 10:21.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW King of the Ring: Edge
Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good match that went just over ten minutes. It was clear at this point that WWE had high hopes for Edge as a singles star, so it wasn’t a surprise that he won since Angle won King of the Ring in 2000. Even though Edge was the babyface in the match, he got some help to win the match because of Shane hitting a Spear on Angle since Shane had issues with Angle going into their match later in the show. Edge and Angle had really good chemistry together. They would have better matches a year after this.
Edge walked to the back alone. No crown or anything here. Shane McMahon was happy about what happened.
Chris Benoit was interviewed backstage by Tazz, who asked if Benoit is taking the WWE Title to WCW. Benoit asked Tazz what the hell kind of question is that. Benoit said “actually it’s a pretty good one” and Benoit left.
Diamond Dallas Page was shown again at ringside.
Edge was interviewed in the locker room by Jonathon Coachman. Christian said he was trying to help Edge, who asked what else would you be coming out there and then Edge said so begins the “era of awesomeness.”
Analysis: Christian would turn on Edge, which led to Edge fully becoming a face and that was the end of the “brother” tag team.
Kurt Angle was shown backstage walking by security guards. Angle said now it makes sense because Shane helped him beat Christian so that Kurt could have an extra match and then Shane cost him. Angle complained about how it’s not fair.
Jeff Hardy entered as the Light Heavyweight Title and got a pretty good pop. This was early in Jeff’s WWE career. X-Pac made his entrance as the challenger. They plugged the next PPV as Fully Loaded, but that would end up being changed to Invasion.
Light Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Hardy vs. X-Pac
Pre-match notes: Hardy was the babyface Light Heavyweight Champion. X-Pac was a heel representing the X-Factor group.
X-Pac with a shoulder tackle and Jeff came back with an armdrag takedown. Jeff hit a headscissors that sent X-Pac out of the ring. Jeff ran across the barricade leading to a clothesline on X-Pac on the floor. Jeff went for a twisting dive off the top, but X-Pac moved and Jeff hit the mat hard. X-Pac applied an abdominal stretch, then Jeff Hardy tried to counter it, but X-Pac delivered a hiptoss over the top to the floor. X-Pac with a springboard cross body block from the inside to the outside on Jeff on the floor. Back in the ring, Jeff ran the ropes and X-Pac hit him with a spin kick to the face. X-Pac with a chinlock, Jeff fought out of that, ran the ropes and X-Pac hit another spin kick to the face. X-Pac went for the Bronco Buster, but Jeff moved and X-Pac hit the turnbuckle. Jeff came back with a dropkick, then a forearm to the head and the double leg drop to the legs. They blew a spot where Jeff charged, X-Pac was probably supposed to jump over, didn’t get high enough and they both collapsed. They were onto the next spot with Jeff hitting a twisting splash off the ropes for two. Jeff hit a cross body block off the top, X-Pac floated over and got a two count. Jeff was punching X-Pac by the turnbuckle, then X-Pac did an eye gouge and hit the X-Factor for two with Jeff getting his foot on the bottom rope. The referee counted three initially, but then he saw Jeff’s foot on the bottom rope. Jeff hit a sitout jawbreaker. Jeff went up top, X-Pac hit the ropes to knock Jeff down and then Jeff shoved X-Pac off the top rope. Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb off the top for the pinfall win at 7:11.
Winner by pinfall: Jeff Hardy
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match. They are two of the fastest guys in WWE history, but the pacing wasn’t that quick. They messed up a few spots and then it felt like they were told to “go home” early because the finish was rather sudden. Most of the match was X-Pac on offense, Jeff selling and then Jeff found a way to get the win.
Jeff Hardy left with the Light Heavyweight Title while holding his ribs.
Analysis: X-Pac won the Light Heavyweight Championship the next day on Raw, so Hardy’s reign ended after 20 days.
They showed Commissioner William Regal in his office with Tajiri. Austin went into the room to use the phone to call Vince McMahon. Austin mentioned the rumor that Benoit or Jericho was going to defect to WCW. Regal spoke on the phone saying Austin was telling the truth. Austin told Vince to get his ass there. Austin: “Thank you, Vince. Please hurry. Bye.” Austin left.
There was another video shown of Diamond Dallas Page arriving at the arena earlier in the day. DDP was furious about being shown on camera and said he was right there.
Let’s Hear from DDP…Again
Diamond Dallas Page went back into the ring with the microphone. DDP said he called out Undertaker, so he told him to get out of there now. Heyman wondered why Page was doing this. They showed a video of Diamond Dallas Page arriving at the arena earlier in the day. The camera panned over to show that it was Sara (Undertaker’s wife at the time) and she said it was time for DDP to become famous.
The Undertaker’s music hit (“Keep Rollin’” by Limp Bizkit) and that led to The Undertaker walking out to the ring. This was originally announced as a match, but it ended up being a confrontation. The Undertaker put his leather gloves on.
The Undertaker’s Confrontation with Diamond Dallas Page
The Undertaker got into the ring with DDP, who delivered punches and then Taker punched Page repeatedly. Taker mounted Page leading to a lot of punches. Taker stomped on DDP, but then DDP came back with a low blow uppercut. Page delivered punches, Taker punched back and a punch knocked DDP out of the ring. Sara made her way down to the ring with the camcorder as she recorded Taker beating up Page. Taker whipped Page into somebody around the ringside area. Page came back with a chair shot to the ribs, then a chair shot to the back and Taker tackled Page over the announce table. They went back into the ring with Taker delivering knee lifts along with punches to the body. Taker rocked Page with another punch. They were in the ring, Page wanted a timeout and Taker kicked Page in the face to knock him out of the ring again. Page left over the barricade. Page walked toward the backstage area while Undertaker celebrated in the ring with Sara.
Analysis: It was no match as I said. It was just a lot of brawling with Taker punching Page repeatedly. This feud sucked. I didn’t find this brawl to be interesting at all. If you’re wondering about Sara, she was used more in this storyline. The Undertaker had two kids with Sara before they divorced later in the decade and he married Michelle McCool.
Steve Austin was out in the parking lot letting a guy know that Vince McMahon was going to arrive soon. Austin told the guy to tell Vince to come see Austin as soon as he arrives. Austin left.
The video package for the Kurt Angle match against Shane McMahon. Angle had a medal ceremony for himself, then Shane showed up and that led to issues between both guys. As the feud progressed, Shane hit Angle with an Angle Slam. Angle challenged Shane to a Street Fight at King of the Ring. Shane got the advantage on the last Smackdown with a kendo stick shot to Angle’s head.
Analysis: It was a good feud, but it also was a bit confusing because Shane was the face going into it, yet he acted like the heel with the cheap attacks that he did. Angle was the heel, but he was representing WWE and Shane was WCW, so were we supposed to boo Shane and cheer Kurt? It wasn’t really clear.
Shane McMahon entered first to his “Here Comes the Money” theme song with the crowd giving him a solid reaction. Shane was introduced as “The Owner of WCW.” Kurt Angle was next for his third match of the night.
Street Fight: Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon
Pre-match notes: Shane McMahon was more of the face and Kurt Angle was more of the heel, but as the summer went on, those roles would change.
Angle with a tackle followed by a waistlock takedown. Shane tried to get going, but Angle knocked him back down with a knee to the ribs two times in a row. Shane came back with a leg lock takedown and an arm drag with Shane leaving the ring to take a break. Angle had a small cut above his eye. Angle dared Shane to try a takedown leading to Angle rolling through and punching Shane repeatedly. Angle with a gutwrench suplex followed by a belly to belly suplex. Angle worked over Shane with hard forearms to the face. Angle dared Shane to try to take him down again, but this time Shane kicked Angle in the ribs. Shane with a jumping elbow smash, two clotheslines and Angle did a waistlock takedown. Shane managed to send Angle out of the ring. Angle chased Shane while they were on the floor, Shane went to the barricade and Shane hit a back elbow. Shane followed up with a clothesline off the barricade onto Angle on the floor. Shane hit Angle with a kendo stick to the ribs followed by kendo stick shots to the back, but Angle shoved Shane back first into the ring post. Shane gave Angle a clothesline over the barricade and into the crowd. Shane with an arm drag that sent Angle into the barricade. Shane with a running shoulder tackle that sent Angle back first into the steel steps. Shane kept going for pin attempts, but Angle powered out every time. Shane tossed some trash cans into the ring along with a board and a street sign. Shane worked over Angle’s back with a street sign followed by a jumping shot to the head with a street sign. Angle missed an enziguri kick and Shane slapped on an ankle lock, but Angle kicked him to get out of it. Angle missed a corner charge leading to Shane hitting a DDT. Shane attempted a Sharpshooter, he did not apply it very well, but it was good enough that Angle was selling it. Angle managed to get to the ropes to break the hold, Shane held on and Angle broke the hold with a kendo stick shot to the back. Angle tried an attack with the kendo stick, but Shane avoided it and worked over Angle with a punch combo leading to a two count. Shane hit Angle in the head with a trash can followed by Shane hitting Angle in the ribs with the trash can two times. Shane put the trash can on Kurt, who held the trash can, then Shane jumped off with a Shooting Star Press, but Angle moved and Shane went ribs first into the trash can. The fans chanted “Holy Shit” for that as Angle got a two count.
Angle picked up Shane and dumped him over the top to the floor. They went up the aisle with Angle whipping Shane into the barricade. Shane countered a suplex into a suplex of his own. That’s a spot where Angle has talked about where he thought he broke his tailbone when his butt hit the floor. You could tell Kurt was in a lot of pain from that. (Angle has said that wasn’t a planned spot – he called it on the fly and he regretted it immediately.)
They got into a slugfest where they exchanged punches followed by some beam that was holding up the King of the Ring staging area. They went over to the entrance area where they were on the concrete floor in front of the “KOR” glass. Angle gave Shane a belly to belly into that glass, it did not break and Shane landed ON HIS HEAD~! You can hear the “thud” noise when Shane’s head hit the cement. Absolutely fucking brutal landing. The referee Mike Chioda checked on Shane and Angle was checking on him too. The glass was supposed to break according to Angle, who said it was supposed to be sugar glass (which is breakable and is used in movies), but they had plexiglass there because somebody didn’t put the right glass. Somebody in WWE thought that if they used sugar glass then it might break during the opening pyro. Angle gave Shane another belly to belly suplex that put him through the glass. Shane was bleeding hardway on the top of his head. There was another glass there, so Angle went for another suplex into the glass and once again it did not break! Shane landed hard on his head, but this time Angle did a nice job of catching him before he hit the cement hard again. Angle tried a belly to belly suplex again, but the glass did not break and Angle caught him on the landing. Angle had enough of that, so he just whipped Shane through the glass. Shane was a bloody mess with the fans chanting “Holy Shit” about what happened. Damn right that “Holy Shit” chant is deserved. Angle tried to pin Shane to end it, but Chioda told him the match had to end in the ring. Angle had blood all over his arms. Angle could barely walk because of the broken tailbone. Angle grabbed an equipment case, he picked Shane up, put him across the case and rolled Shane towards the ring.
They went back into the ring with Angle covering for a two count. That drew a good pop from the crowd because Shane appeared to be out of it. Angle went for a trash can lid attack, but Shane countered with a punch to the groin. Shane hit Angle in the head with the trash can lid three times and Shane hit the Angle Slam (or Olympic Slam) for a two count with both men looking exhausted. Angle, who could barely move because of the tailbone injury, gave Shane the catapult into the turnbuckle. Angle grabbed a board and hit Shane in the back three times. Angle set up the board on the top rope, he stood on it, Chioda held the board to help keep their balance and Angle hit the Angle Slam off the top (off the board) and the fans chanted “Holy Shit” chants again. Angle covered with his left arm across the chest of Shane for the pinfall win at 26:05.
Winner by pinfall: Kurt Angle
Angle had his arm raised as the winner. JR said the match was amazing and it was absolutely off the page. Heyman put over Shane for taking the fight to Angle.
Analysis: ****1/2 What a match. Absolutely crazy. The first ten minutes or so weren’t that wild, but then it really picked up in the middle portion of the match and the finish was very creative. That was a very intense brawl with several scary moments for both guys. I’m amazed at how impressive Angle was in his third match of the night while Shane more than held his own against Angle, who was arguably the best wrestler in the company at this point. The spots with the glass by the entrance were brutal to watch in 2001 and it’s tough to watch again nearly 20 years later. I admire the guts of both guys although if they had stopped the match when Shane’s head bounced off the concrete the first time, that would have been understandable. If it was 2019 I think the match would have stopped there. Angle getting the win made sense since he was a full timer, but I think Shane showed his toughness by doing as well as he did in this match. You know how some matches get “Holy Shit” chants for spots where they probably don’t deserve it? These guys deserved it. I wouldn’t call it a match of the year contender because there were so many great WWF matches in 2001 (Austin/Rock and TLC 2 at WM17 come to mind), but it was one of the most memorable matches in WWF history.
Analysis x2: Angle had a concussion from earlier in the night, he needed five stitches above his eye and ended up with a cracked tailbone. It wasn’t broken. He was back in the ring wrestling regularly 15 days later because he wrestled Booker T on the July 7 edition of Raw. It’s amazing that he was back in action that quickly after having this brutal match.
BONUS ANALYSIS: If you want even more coverage of this Angle/Shane match, I reviewed a 2019 episode of WWE Untold RIGHT HERE. It featured comments from both guys as well as others that were at the show. For example, Al Snow helped put the match together, so he provided a lot of insight on the match as well. Kurt Angle also talked about the match in-depth on his podcast with Conrad Thompson recently. I learned some things from that too. Kurt kept using the word “crazy” to describe Shane and I think that was accurate!
Angle was helped to the back by two WWE referees. Angle had a limp to his walk probably caused by the broken tailbone he was dealing with.
Shane McMahon was helped out of the ring by referees and the fans gave him a standing ovation out of respect for what he did in that match.
Analysis: I forgot about that fan reaction, but it was really cool to see that the fans cheered Shane like that. By the way, when Shane and Kurt went to the back, they were congratulated by Vince McMahon, but he also was scared during the match and nearly stopped it after seeing what Shane went through. Kurt and Shane went to the hospital after the match to get checked out. They ended up being okay.
They showed Chris Jericho walking down a hallway, Chris Benoit warming up in another part of the building and Steve Austin was out in the parking lot looking for Vince McMahon. The Brooklyn Brawler (Steve Lombardi) walked out to tell Austin his match is next. Austin told a security guy to tell Vince to come to the ring when he gets there.
The video package aired for the WWE Title match. Austin blamed Triple H for being selfish and Austin didn’t care about Triple H. Austin said he can beat Benoit and Jericho in the ring at the same time. Linda McMahon announced that the main event should be Austin vs. Benoit vs. Jericho. Austin told Vince McMahon it was a conspiracy with Austin telling Vince he had to pick between himself or Linda. Austin cost Benoit and Jericho the WWE Tag Team Titles in the build up to this show. Vince told Austin to leave King of the Ring as WWE Champion or they are through. Austin kept on complaining about how he had to defend the title in a triple threat.
Chris Benoit entered first as one of the title challengers. Chris Jericho was next to a bigger pop than what Benoit got. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was next as the WWE Champion carrying the title down to the ring.
WWE Championship: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Pre-match notes: Steve Austin was the heel WWE Champion while Benoit and Jericho were faces.
The match started with Benoit and Jericho taking turns punching Austin as they brawled into the crowd. It was a lot of the faces punching and kicking Austin repeatedly. Austin with a back body drop on Jericho at ringside. Benoit tossed Austin back into the ring and Heyman called Austin the most persecuted champion in the history of points. The two faces took turns chopping Austin against the turnbuckle. Austin with a kick to the chest of Benoit, but Jericho came back with a forearm and Benoit pulled Jericho off a pin attempt. Austin with a forearm to Jericho’s back followed by Jericho avoiding a suplex, so then Benoit and Jericho took turns punching Austin. Jericho went for a spin kick, Austin moved and Jericho hit Benoit. Jericho stomped away on Benoit, so Austin took the top turnbuckle off to expose the steel buckle. Jericho countered a Thesz Press into the Walls of Jericho, Benoit broke that up, Jericho hit the exposed turnbuckle and Benoit suplexed Jericho over the top to the floor. Benoit went for a Crippler Crossface on Austin, but Austin got to the bottom rope to stop that. Benoit with a snap suplex along with a back elbow. Austin managed to avoid a charging Benoit and toss him over the top to the floor. Austin whipped Benoit into the steel steps. Austin gave a middle finger to a fan, which was pretty funny to me. Austin worked over Benoit with chops along with a knee drop. Austin with punches, Benoit with a sunset flip for two and Jericho was back up on the apron, so Austin threw Benoit into Jericho leading to Jericho bumping to the floor. Austin hit a running splash on Benoit’s back against the turnbuckle. Austin went for a Stunner, Benoit shoved Austin into referee Earl Hebner and Benoit hit a Stunner (Austin sold it okay but not great) and a dazed Hebner counted a two count for Benoit. That led to Benoit bringing in the WWE Title and he hit Austin with the title for two as Jericho broke up the pin. Jericho and Benoit got into a brawl on the floor with Jericho sending Benoit into the ring post.
Jericho was back in the ring for a two count on Austin. They battled over submission holds with both guys able to avoid them. Heyman wondered where Vince McMahon was as Jericho hit a suplex on Austin for two. Jericho was sent into the ropes with Austin hitting a spinebuster for two. Austin hit a side Russian legsweep for two. Austin applied a sleeper hold on Jericho for about a minute until Jericho hit a belly to back suplex to get out of it. Austin and Jericho got into a slugfest as they exchanged punches, Jericho with a forearm and two clotheslines. Jericho with a springboard dropkick on Benoit to the floor. Jericho with the bulldog on Austin followed by a Lionsault attempt with Austin getting the knees up to block. Austin hit the Thesz Press. Benoit brought a chair into the ring, Austin ducked and Benoit hit Jericho. JR said it wasn’t a No Disqualification Match, but in later years all WWE triple threat matches were No DQ and when Benoit hit Jericho, referee Hebner did nothing about it. That was a brutal chair shot to the head. Austin ducked a chair shot from Benoit and Austin hit a Stunner on Benoit, who rolled to the floor. Austin covered Jericho for one…two…and no because Jericho got his left shoulder up. Austin set up Jericho on the top rope and Austin hit a superplex off the top. Austin delivered a second superplex on Jericho for a two count. Austin teased going for a third superplex, but Benoit was back in with German Suplexes on Austin – there were five in a row and then Austin hit a low blow kick. All three guys were down in the ring. The referee saw the low blow and did nothing, so there were not disqualifications in the match. Jericho tripped up Austin, Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on Austin and Benoit applied the Crossface on Austin at the same time. Austin was tapping out during the double submission, but referee Hebner said no because only one guy can cause a submission. The fans booed. Benoit applied the Canadian Crossface, Jericho got out of it and Benoit avoided a Walls of Jericho move. Benoit hit a snap suplex on Jericho. Austin grabbed a chair at ringside, but Benoit did a baseball slide kick with the chair hitting Austin in the ribs. Jericho countered Benoit by tossing him over the top to the floor while Jericho bumped against the ropes. That set up the next spot as Booker T made his WWE debut! Booker T was the WCW Champion that beat on Austin with punches and an ax kick. Booker gave Austin a belly to back suplex through the Spanish announce table. Booker told Austin he was WCW and the fans popped for that. The security guys showed up, so Booker left through the crowd.
Analysis: That drew the biggest reaction of the match up until that point because Booker T appearing on a WWE event had never happened before. It was huge. Austin ended up suffering a back injury going through the table. He didn’t blame Booker and on the recent Booker T Biography on A&E, Austin called it an accident. Austin broke a few bones in his back and didn’t wrestle for a few weeks after that, but Austin did wrestle at the next PPV, Invasion.
Back to the match, Benoit with two German Suplexes on Jericho and Jericho rolled through leading to the Walls of Jericho submission. Benoit got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Should there be rope breaks in a match without disqualifications? I’m not sure about that. Anyway, Benoit sent Jericho into the middle turnbuckle. They exchanged holds, Benoit hit a body slam and went up top. Jericho was back up with a slam off the top and a running bulldog by Jericho on Benoit. Jericho hit a Lionsault on Benoit, who was far away and moving, so Jericho didn’t hit it smoothly leading to a two count. Jericho hit a running cross body block on Jericho to send both guys over the top to the floor. Austin was still out by the announce table. Jericho pulled Austin back into the ring with Austin selling his lower back that was injured. Jericho went up top for a moonsault, he jumped off the top and hit the moonsault for two with Benoit breaking up the pin. Benoit went up top and hit the headbutt on Austin for two with Jericho pulling referee Hebner out of the ring during the count. Benoit set up Jericho on the top rope in a seated position. Benoit delivered a belly to back suplex on Jericho. Hebner was back in the ring while Austin rolled over to Benoit (who just delivered the belly to back suplex) and Austin hooked the leg to cover Benoit for the pinfall win at 27:52.
Winner by pinfall: Steve Austin
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a pretty good match between three of the best in-ring performers from this era or any era. I think it went too long, which tired out the crowd a bit. The fans were behind Jericho and Benoit to a degree, but it’s not like they were that popular or getting big pops for nearfalls. The big spot near the end was when Austin tapped out to Jericho and Benoit applying submissions at the same time, but they did not do a title change because it had to be one guy causing a submission. Booker T’s appearance was the most shocking moment of the match because I don’t think people expected that to happen, but this was when the WCW Invasion was really starting to kick off. I think Austin should have won with a Stunner to make it look more decisive. Winning with a belly to back suplex off the top (that Benoit delivered to Jericho) just didn’t feel as special or impactful. I guess the reasoning behind that was because they wanted to make it look like Austin escaped with the title rather than winning in a convincing way.
Austin left with the WWE Title in his hands while limping away. Austin’s back was hurting a lot and he was grabbing his back as he went towards the backstage area. They showed some replays including Booker T attacking Austin and Austin leaving with the title. That was it.
Analysis: Austin suffered a back injury with a few broken bones, but he was able to get cleared and return for the Invasion PPV one month later. With Austin unable to wrestle, that led to a lot of funny backstage segments with Vince McMahon, Kurt Angle and Austin’s wife at the time, Debra. As for Chris Benoit, he suffered a serious neck injury at some point during the match. Benoit would end up missing a full year after major neck surgery. It was similar to Steve Austin missing a full year after neck surgery in 1999-2000 as well. Jericho escaped the match without an injury and was heavily involved in big storylines in the months ahead.
This event had a runtime of 2:46:49 on WWE Network.
Show rating (out of 10): 7
I thought King of the Ring 2001 was a pretty good show overall with Kurt Angle really standing out with his performance after wrestling three matches in one night. Angle’s “Street Fight” with Shane McMahon is one of the wildest WWE matches ever and scary to watch due to all the crazy spots they did throughout the match. It was memorable for sure, but it’s also the kind of thing that you wish guys were safer throughout the match.
The rest of the card was solid with Austin/Jericho/Benoit having a good match. It wasn’t great or some all-time epic match like those three guys had in their careers with other wrestlers, but still a competitive main event. Plus, it was Booker T’s WWE debut, so that’s a cool moment in his career even though Austin got hurt (he was fine by the next PPV). The King of the Ring tournament matches were fine although two of them did have interference.
The Undertaker/DDP fight (not a match) was boring. That storyline sucked big time. Other than that, I liked most of the card and nothing was really that bad in my opinion.
- Kurt Angle
- Shane McMahon
- Steve Austin
- Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit
Best Match: Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon (****1/2 out of 5)
Worst Match: Jeff Hardy vs. X-Pac (**1/2)
Most Memorable Moment: Kurt Angle suplexing and throwing Shane McMahon through glass multiple times. Booker T attacking Steve Austin in the main event was very memorable as well.
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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