Thursday, October 8, 2020

WWF Vengeance 2001

This is spur of the moment stuff... and yes, I'm using the new Blogger gimmick as the old (good) Legacy version has been excised for good. And I am none too happy about it. But speaking of old, AEW recently celebrated 30 years of Chris Jericho and it was a good show that was dominated by CODY. So instead of writing about that, we're going to muse about that one WWF PPV where Chris Jericho beat The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night and was eventually made to look like a total jabroni, afterwards.

It is Vengeance 2001... named as such because we couldn't use Armageddon since 9/11 was a thing fresh in everyone's mind. The main story is the unification of the WWF and WCW World titles, even though they just called it the "World title" because WCW was no longer a thing, as this was a month removed from the end of that awful Invasion storyline.

Let's get to it...

We open the show with a Vince McMahon promo and my immediate reaction is to shut the show off. I hated this when it happened then and I paid money for this show, but now every WWE show starts with a promo that runs way too long. Fortunately, Ric Flair comes out to start the first match.

Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert defeated Test And Christian in a thing that happened. I had completely forgotten about Scotty & Albert being a thing until I saw this match and... well, let's just say that Albert has come a long way since.

Intercontinental Champion Edge defeated William Regal with a quick spear out of nowhere (or "outta nowhere" as the cool kids call it) to retain the title. This was... also a thing that happened. Regal's a pro's pro and Edge is getting there. I'm sure I would've enjoyed this back then, but nowadays... it's okay, I suppose. I guess... I don't know.

Jeff Hardy defeated Matt Hardy in - you guessed it - a thing that happened... and Lita was the special ref who didn't notice Matt's foot on the ropes during a pinfall and... Yeah, this was a weird thing where Matt and Jeff were feuding with each other for a bit, but it didn't last long before by the time we hit the Rumble, they were back together. So that was something.

Tag-Team Champions The Dudley Boyz defeated Kane and Big Slow to retain the titles in a sad thing that happened. I don't even have the heart to pull the "FUCKING BIG SHOW" gimmick here because Show looked like he was about to pass out at any moment. At least it was short, but not short enough.

Undertaker kills Hardcore champion Rob Van Dam in a hardcore match to win the title because Taker needs a wrecked Winged Eagle to add to the pile of titles. This was shortly after Taker's heel turn where he shoved JR's face up Vince's ass - amazing that I remember every bad thing that has happened to poor ol' JR, but barely remember anything from the legendary career of whoever - and I guess he needed to act like a dick for months on end before beating Hogan for the title in May. The end result aside, this was a fun little bit of violence where they had an old-school ECW match where they fight around the stage and RVD falls through some tables for the finish. Finally, some quality entertainment on this show.

Women's champion Trish Stratus defeated Jacqueline via backslide to retain the title in a relatively short match. "Relatively short" is the nicest thing I could say about this match as it was... eh. Then again, Trish wasn't quite at that level of good that she'd be in a couple years as Jackie... well, she tried.

WWF World Champion Steve Austin defeated Kurt Angle to retain the title and move on to the finals to unify the championships. This was a fun match, but probably nowhere near as good as the match they had at that year's Summerslam. Still, good, fun match with an obvious finish.

Chris Jericho defeated WCW World Champion THE ROCK to win the title via low blow and rock bottom. Almost immediately afterwards, Steve Austin comes out and stomps a mudhole in Jericho's ass. A ref bump and Vince brings out crooked ref Nick Patrick, but Flair shows up and stuff happens. And Booker runs in to cost Austin the match and thus Chris Jericho wins both belts to becoming the "first-ever" Undisputed World Champion, defeating both The Rock and Steve Austin on the same night in back to back matches... that last bit never gets mentioned for some reason.

These last two matches were huddled together to highlight a contrast. See, with the Rock, you had a pretty good match with Rocky giving his all to try and make Jericho seem like a credible threat before the eventual low blow and Uranage for the win. It was a good match and for a fleeting moment, despite the tainted win, it seemed like Jericho was going to finally climb that upper echelon... and then Steve Austin came along, stomped those fleeting moments away, and then a bunch of run-ins and screwjobs happened. All of a sudden, Jericho is the chump with two belts and it felt like the biggest joke in the world when it should've been the biggest moment.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, considering this big supposed paradigm shifting moment took place on a D-level PPV that had a bunch of largely forgettably bad matches. And I recall this show not being well fondly regarded by anyone. Watching this show, I could see why. A largely morbid undercard flanked by a blunder to the nth degree in what should've been a star making performance. And make no mistake, despite the oft-repeated tag line, this whole thing did nothing for Jericho beyond giving him two big old belts to keep warm for McSon-In-Law when he made his return to the spotlight.

Even back in 2001, I had mixed feelings about this one. Because yes, I was thrilled that Jericho won the big one... but I also knew that he'd be fodder for Triple H to win the title at Mania and that dimmed my enthusiasm. The issue isn't with knowing what's coming next, but whether the end result is desirable or not. Because if you have an idea as to what's coming next, you're either looking forward to it because it makes sense and even exciting... or you'll be dreading it because it's the inevitable outcome and there's no excitement. This is more the latter category.

Steve Austin turning heel at Wrestlemania was the first stone tossed at killing the business, but this main event segment was the first crack in the creative drive of the WWF and a taste of things to come in the current WWE climate.

Maybe I should've talked about the CODY match instead.

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