Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Royal Ramble: 2001

Rolling into the 2000s with the 2001 Royal Rumble, perhaps one of the better Rumble shows that I've seen live. Let's see if it still holds up.

The Dudley Boyz defeated WWF Tag-Team Champions Edge and Christian to win the titles in a pretty fun tag match that hit that sweet spot of telling a good story, giving us some good action, and all within a short enough amount of time that it felt right and yet left you wanting more... and more is what you'd get a couple months later, but that's another story. Good tag-team wrestling from two great teams.

Chris Jericho defeated Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit in a ladder match to win the title. Setting aside who's in this match, this was an awesome ladder match with two superb talents giving it their all, beating each other up, and giving us some satisfying ladder bits. Great stuff.

Women's Champion Ivory (in her Right To Censor Granny outfit) defeated Chyna to retain the title in a lame match. From what I remember, Chyna had a "neck injury" of some sort and this played into the finish, where Chyna did one of her handspring elbow moves and then collapsed, allowing Ivory to go for the quick pin. I don't know how many people bought into this whole thing, but hey, it was okay for what it was; a segment building to Wrestlemania X-Seven, where Chyna would squash Ivory for the title, do nothing of note, and leave the company shortly thereafter. That's rather sad, now that I think about it?

WWF Champion Kurt Angle defeated Triple H with an assist from Stone Cold Steve Austin to retain the title. Austin's helping hand had less to do with helping Angle win and more to do with Hunter not winning the title, so this finish makes some sense. Hunter would return the favor later on

And in the main event and for the third time in his career, Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble. And unlike in 98 where his winning was a foregone conclusion, the endgame was a little more open. Rock could've won it, Kane could've won it given the impressive showing he's had here... hell, I could even have bought in the returning HAKU as a possible winner.

Yes, HAKU; fresh off winning the WCW Hardcore title and never having lost it because he wasn't under contract and nobody in WCW had a fucking clue, made his return to the WWF... and did nothing of note. Made for a nice surprise at the time.

This is the same Royal Rumble that featured an appearance by Drew Carey, who popped in, tried to bribe Kane with money and almost get chokeslammed, and promptly dropped out. This is somehow worthy of inclusion in the WWE Hall Of Fame. But hey, at least it was a fun spot and if nothing else, Drew Carey will be the cleanest motherfucker in that HOF compared to the rest of the herd.

I've jinxed it, haven't I?

Out of all the Rumbles I've watched live, this stands out as the best one. It had its share of potential winners, had some great moments like the brief Hardcore brawl and some surprises here and there, and it was actually fun. This had slow moments, but never felt like a waste of time. It was the fastest hour plus that I've sat through and what a ride it was. It still holds up, so people who want to book a good Rumble match should watch this match and take notes, but this is a textbook example of how to make a tried-and-true formula work extremely well and send the people home happy.

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