Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WWF King Of The Ring 2001

So WCW was bought out by Vince a few months ago... and the Invasion has begun bit by bit before going full swing. In the meantime, we have a King Of The Ring to crown and that's something we'll be taking care and promptly forgetting about. Anyway, moving right along...

In what may be a positive sign of sorts, this year's King Of The Ring PPV event has opted to leave the quarterfinals to TV, leaving us with the final four participants of the tournament to duke in out three somewhat longer contests. Not only that, but one of the participants has a match with Shane McMahon. Oh boy, how exciting.

KOTR SemiFinal: Kurt Angle defeated Christian to advance to the finals. Fun, action-packed match that went by quickly. This would plant the seeds towards the eventual splitting from Edge and the crybaby gimmick that Christian would eventually adopt.

KOTR SemiFinal: Edge defeated Rhyno to advance to the finals. I liked this match too, with Rhyno focusing on the ribs to inflict maximum damage with the Gore (essentially a spear), only to succumb to an exposed turnbuckle. Told a good story, kept me engaged, can't complain.

WWF Tag-Team champions Dudley Boyz beat Spike Dudley and mystery partner Kane to retain the titles. Dudleyz tried to put Spike through a table afterwards, but end up eating wood thanks to the Big Red Dentist or something. Hey, I actually enjoyed this one. Went by rather quickly, finish made sense, and the table breaking bit was a nice capper.

Edge beat Kurt Angle in the finals to win the King Of The Ring. Finish came about when Christian distracted the ref who gets bumped, allowing Angle to catch Edge with the Ankle lock, only for Shane-O-Mac to spear Angle down and allow Edge to get the win. And that's it. I don't think Edge ever got a goofy crown and cape, but he did get a trophy... that Christian would carry around forever and ever until the eventual heel turn came along and... well, shit.

Light heavyweight champon Jeff Hardy defeated X-Pac to retain the title in a forgettable match. X-Pac would win the title the next night on RAW. This was during that time when he was leading that X-Factor faction that comprised himself, Albert (the guy who'd eventually be the NXT trainer), and Aldo Montoya... er, I mean, Justin Credible.

Okay, I've been avoiding this particular nugget because I honestly don't want to touch on it, but since it takes up a good chunk of the show, I might as well bring up the whole DDP vs Undertaker thing. Let's provide some context.

In the weeks prior, there have been stalker videos airing on RAW of Undertaker's wife (at the time) Sara doing normal things that an Undertaker's wife (at the time) would do. The episode of RAW prior to this show. The stalker was revealed to be former 3-time WCW World champion Diamond Dallas Page, the first major WCW star to appear on WWF television since the beginning of the WCW castoff incursions that began with Lance Storm.

So DDP buys a ticket and sits in the front row - where he gets interviewed by Paul Heyman and see videos DDP's leisurely activities. Said stalker of these videos end up being Undertaker's wife (at the time) and this prompts a completely one-sided brawl where Undertaker beats the ever-living crap out of DDP as though he was The Goon. Even back in the day, I saw this for what this was; an ego-stroking by the WWF to have their top guy kill their former competitor's top guy... you know, the former competitor that they bought out... and then they wonder why plans for a revived WCW brand went the way of the doo-doo.

Not only that, but it seems that nobody bothered to clue WWF in that DDP had a hot wife (at the time) in Kimberly, who was a smoking hot lady with a pretty face. So why he'd want to stalk or have affections for Undertaker's wife (at the time) Sara, who was... not so hot... and not so pretty faced.

Kurt Angle defeated Shane McMahon in a street fight that included the poor kid getting tossed through glass and just taking a beating. Kurt got hurt while doing this match and he still managed to come out on top. What a guy. I wanted to say that this was fun to watch as a sort of trainwreck, but I really can't since this turned out to be quite decent. Say what you will about Shane's offense looking a bit spotty, but the guy could take a beating and make it look good. Certainly helps that you got one of the best wrestlers in the company to pull his weight around. Good stuff that still holds up today.

WWF champion Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho in a triple-threat match to retain the title. Benoit would take a several month long hiatus due to nagging neck injuries shortly there after, which explains the finish; Benoit hits Jericho with a superplex and then Austin casually pins Benoit for the win. It's the oddest finish I've seen and probably happened because Benoit was injured and couldn't do whatever they originally intended. Either way, that came out of nowhere and not in the pleasant way. Aside from that, the match was alright. Had some good action, gave the impression that Austin was in danger of losing his title (even though he never really was), and there was even a nice cameo by Booker T who went ahead and axe kicked Austin through an announce table (thus hurting him in the process. Good job, Book!)

For all intents and purposes, the Shane McMahon/Kurt Angle street fight is this show's sole claim to fame, but the triple threat match was pretty good stuff, the tag title match was decent, and even the one forgettable match was just forgettable and not overly offensive and lousy. If this had been the last King Of The Ring PPV event, it would've been a solid note for the franchise to go out on... but alas, it was not to be. As it is, it was just a pretty good show and one I wouldn't mind revisiting again years down the line.

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