Friday, July 11, 2014
Through The Years: Vengeance 2001 Review
December 9th, 2001 – San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, California
The Invasion angle is officially over and WCW/ECW is dead. The night after Survivor Series it was revealed that Shane and Stephanie McMahon sold their 50% of the company to Ric Flair. The Nature Boy was now 50/50 owner of the WWF along with Vince, quickly turning Mr. McMahon back into a heel character because that's what's best for business. Heading into Vengeance there was still a WCW Champion and a WWF Champion. That needed to be fixed so it was time for a mini-tournament to rectify that situation. That tournament is seriously the only thing I remember from this show but I hope it can build on a solid Survivor Series show.
2001 was a year for great Pay-Per-View theme songs as this one has Drowning Pool's “Sinner” which is a forgotten favorite of mine. Vengeance is live from the 619! Where's Rey Mysterio? Mr. McMahon's theme hits as one of the bosses comes out and here comes a promo to open a Pay-Per-View, and I've mentioned how much I hate those. He complains about something that happened to him on the previous Smackdown. Seems like The Rock shoved Vince's face into Rikishi's behind. HE DID IT FOR DA ROCK. The Nature Boy interrupts him with a hearty “Woo!” to start the show.
Christian is still the European Champion here and that's awesome. The fight starts at the bottom of the ramp surprisingly. Scotty and Christian start, with Scotty winning their exchange. Tags are made and the epic explosion of T&A is going down! Albert incorporates dancing into his offense, which would prepare him for his run as a member of Tons of Funk. TAG FORMULA as the heels beat on Scotty and cheat behind referee Teddy Long's back. I think Teddy put “only referee tag matches playa” in his contract. Hot tag to the Hip Hop Hippo, who combined bad dancing with mediocre wrestling. Giant swing on Christian, but it's no Cesaro Swing. Test pulls Albert out of the ring when he tries the Baldo Bomb and Scotty's Worm attempt is stopped with a reverse DDT. Christian goes for his own Worm, but Albert interrupts it. A big boot on Albert gets a two when Scotty breaks it up and he hits the Worm on Test. That ridiculous move is so over. Christian goes for the Unprettier on Scotty, but is met with the Baldo Bomb for the finish. I was not looking forward to this match, but it was a fun, short opener and that's all you could ask for.
Future ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman is standing by with William Regal. He questions Regal's methods and besmirches the man. Regal says that he's successful and he will beat Edge tonight. Intense promo.
in 9:07 to retain the title
Two of my favorites wrestling for a title that I love. Should be good. Nice opening wrasslin sequence that Edge wins with a second rope dropkick. Regal regroups outside but takes it to Edge when he decides to follow. The physical style of Regal is great and he just brutalizes Edge with European uppercuts and knees including a knee trembler. Regal stays in control until a swinging neckbreaker from Edge swings the tide. See what I did there? Edge hits one of my all time favorite moves, the Northern lights suplex for two. Regal gets knocked outside in an unorthodox way before taking Edge out. He retrieves some brass knuckles from under the ring but doesn't use them quite yet. Back in the ring, Edge gets two near falls and an elbow to the jaw for his troubles. Back to back butterfly suplexes get Regal a near fall and he's pissed. He goes for the knuckles but is cut off by a Spear that gets Edge the three. Solid match that shows Edge's resilience.
The Nature Boy is in his office when Kurt Angle walks in. He calls Flair a 14 time World Champion, though I'm pretty sure Flair was already a 16 time Champion by 2001. Anyway, Kurt keeps talking about how he great he is and Flair seems to agree. Kurt doesn't understand why he's agreeing as he's used to arguing with Stone Cold so much.
Lita is shown in one of the greatest special referee attires of all time. Aww shucky ducky quack quack. Matt Hardy arrives to sweet talk her about how he's the better Hardy. I don't think you need to convince her that you were better than Jeff, you need to show her that you're better than Edge. Lita promises to be a fair referee and Matt says he will wipe the mat with his brother. Hmm, first seeds of a heel turn maybe?
As noted a moment ago, Lita is a very sexy referee. This all started because Jeff takes dumb risks and Matt wants him to relax bro. The Hardys theme stays on for both brothers. Some basic wrestling starts the match until Matt starts to heel it up. The crowd is not into it, either because two high fliers are trying to mat wrestle or because they don't want to see the Hardy Boyz fight. Matt misses a leg drop from the top and then Jeff hits one. Matt puts Jeff in the tree of woe, doesn't listen to Lita's five count and then gets pissy at her for telling him about himself. Sunset flip bomb to the outside is sloppily reversed into a hurricanrana by Jeff. He takes a risk and messes up his knee. STORYTELLING! Matt instantly targets that leg now and applies possibly the worst single leg crab ever. He again mostly ignores Lita because HE HAS UNTIL FIVE! Bryan Danielson reference for the uninitiated. Jeff's knee goes out again like he's Kevin Nash but he still hits an enziguri. He goes for the Swanton but Matt stops it and slams him from the top. Matt taunts his brother and gets his Twist of Fate reversed but reverses Jeff into a backslide for two. He tries using the ropes for an unfair advantage, Lita catches him and he argues with her. Matt makes the mistake here, trying a top rope Twist of Fate that Jeff blocks. He follows with the Swanton Bomb and wins. Disappointing. They seemed to not have chemistry, which is a lie since their 2009 matches were good. The crowd wasn't into it, which hurt.
Matt Hardy pleads his case that he got his foot on the ropes, which he did. Lita didn't see it and Matt storms off in a pouty mood. This went nowhere though because the Hardys and Lita were taken off of TV for a while and when they did return, they were a team again.
The Rock and Trish Stratus talk backstage and she gives him a good luck kiss on the cheek. These two make every man and woman in the crowd jealous at the same time. He says that he's focused on the belt tonight, but after the show, she can smell what the Rock is cooking. Then he walks off...of his own locker room. That ruined the segment for me, though Trish seemed to enjoy it.
in 6:51 to retain the titles
Big Show and Kane made a pretty good team in 2006 if I remember correctly so let's see if their younger selves could do the same. Kane has decided against his badass Survivor Series attire. Show and Kane dominate early on, with D-Von even refusing to tag in against Show despite Bubba Ray begging him. It is absolutely 100% one sided. Stacy gets in the ring to try and rally the Champions but Show removes her skirt and spanks her. He doesn't shush the crowd beforehand though. The Dudleys finally get some offense because Show and Kane have chemistry issues and continually hit each other. The Dudleys retain after a double flapjack onto an exposed turnbuckle. Bad match that even Jim Ross acknowledges. “That was not a pretty match.” It did have a good amount of Stacy booty though.
Lita is in the back apologizing to Matt but he packs his bags and leaves. She is clearly frustrated. Maybe Edge can comfort her. I'll stop, the Edge/Lita jokes aren't funny.
in 11:05 to win the title
After the Invasion, The Undertaker turned heel because he had been kissing Vince's ass (figuratively) for years and now other people should have to kiss Vince's ass (literally). I hated Undertaker's hair cut during his heel American Badass run. RVD is still incredibly over. Early on, RVD goes for his shoulder thrust spot in the corner but is met with a big boot after the back flip. He does hit a front flip off the top and starts the match hot. Undertaker big boots him to the outside to change that. They brawl outside and it spills into the crowd. The fight moves up by the stage where RVD blinds Booger Red with a fire extinguisher. He leaps off a section of seats onto Undertaker in a cool spot that Seth Rollins borrowed at Extreme Rules this year. Behind the titantron they go, which is something you don't see often. Undertaker hits snake eyes into the steel of the stage and he goes for the Last Ride, but RVD blocks it by climbing some of the stage. Rolling Thunder on the stage gets two. RVD blocks a Tombstone, Undertaker ducks the Van Daminator and chokeslams RVD off the stage and through tables to win the Hardcore Title. Fun brawl where RVD got in a lot of offense. The Undertaker's best match since WrestleMania X-Seven.
Ric Flair is on the phone again when Chris Jericho and his red highlights walk in. He says that Flair doesn't have confidence in him, but Flair assures him that if he wins, he has no problem with it and would be proud. Jericho and Angle are both insecure it would seem.
in 3:35 to retain the title
Oh Trish Stratus, how you helped me get through puberty. Nobody cares about Jacqueline as she gets no reaction. She needs the guy I pointed out at Survivor Series who had the “Let's Go Jackie” sign. Trish was still unproven here, so putting her with a veteran was for the best. Trish kicks Jackie and checks if she's okay, which leads to her getting kicked very hard in the face. Rookie mistakes and all. A sloppy short arm clothesline gets Trish a near fall before Jacqueline reverses a kick by sweeping the leg Karate Kid style. They badly botch a unique rollup. Jacqueline blocks Stratusfaction and dropkicks the champion in the back of the head for two. Trish uses a backslide from out of nowhere to win. Trish wasn't really good yet so this was below average.
The video package to “Sinner” for these matches is pretty awesome. That's all I wanted to say here.
in 14:59 to retain the title
Wanna know how I know that Austin is a face? His theme has been changed back. Jim Ross states that Angle can't brawl with Austin, but we saw that he could back at SummerSlam. Early on, Austin holds serve, beating Angle from pillar to post. Angle gets the Ankle Lock to turn the match around, but Austin reaches the ropes. Kurt goes old school when he locks on the ring post figure four! Someone has been watching Bret Hart in 1997!Back in the ring, Angle works the leg and shows that he too can be a badass. He hits rolling Germans but misses his perfect moonsault and I have to wonder if he watched any of the Hardy Boyz feud. He'd know what high risk moves are bad. Austin gets a near fall after a Lou Thez press. Austin now hits five straight Germans as he learned something from his wars with Chris Benoit earlier in the year. Angle hits a low blow and the Angle Slam but only gains a near fall. He blocks one Stunner, but runs into another and Austin retains his belt. These two can do better. Their SummerSlam and Unforgiven matches are better. Of note, Angle kicked out of three Stunners at SummerSlam but lost to one here.
Trish Stratus is in her locker room in a towel when Test barges in like an animal. He offers to kiss her and says that if she tries to kick him out and get him fired, he has immunity. So basically, he feels like he has a rape and get out of jail free card? She kicks him out of the room anyway so that was a pointless segment.
in 19:05 to win the title
I loved their No Mercy match and hope that this is on par with that. Jericho is in full heel mode, which is just how I like him. Some good wrestling exchanges early on before the action spills outside for a few. Back inside, Jericho hits a back elbow and a suplex before going for his awesome cocky cover. Jericho slaps on the sleeper hold for a while but the Rock fights back and dodges a Lionsault. A face buster and Lionsault connects this time, but Rock kicks out. Jericho is really controlling a majority of the match, which helps it. He catapults the Rock into the post, which Rock always sells great. Jericho goes for a Rock Bottom through the table but Rock counters into a DDT. Rock tries a Rock Bottom in the ring, but Jericho counters that in Breakdown. Time for the Jerichoholic Elbow, but Rock catches the leg and gets the Sharpshooter in a great reversal. But Jericho turns it into his own Sharpshooter! Tremendous stuff! Rock reaches the ropes and Jericho attempts it again, but Rock pulls him into a small package for two. Rock Bottom from out of nowhere brings out Vince McMahon to distract the referee while Rock covers. Right hand for Vince, spinebuster for Jericho and it's time for the People's Elbow. Rock makes the mistake of focusing on Vince, allowing Jericho to hit a low blow. In a great display of arrogance, Jericho wins it with the Rock Bottom. Another great match between the two, about even with the No Mercy one. The ending sequence was fantastic.
in 12:36 to unify the titles
Austin's music hits less than a minute after Jericho wins which is unfair. Kirk Angel rushes out and takes out Austin with the chair just before the bell officially rings. Rock decides to hit Jericho with a Rock Bottom too. Fans chant for Triple H though they're about a month ahead of schedule. When both men get up, Austin takes control, especially when it goes outside. Austin exposes the concrete floor in one of my favorite old school spots but Jericho gets him on the announce table. Austin counters a suplex, Jericho counters a Stunner and Austin counters the Walls of Jericho, sending Jericho to the concrete. A sickening sounding suplex follows. Back inside, Jericho awesomely kicks out of a pin, right into an ARMBAR. Earl Hebner catches him using the ropes for leverage and kicks him off. He gets the Walls locked on in the middle of the ring but Austin powers to the ropes. Jericho accidentally takes out Hebner so of course it's shenanigans time. He hits the Stunner but both men are down. Vince shows up, frantically waving down Nick Patrick. Flair shows up and pulls out Patrick, even though he didn't do anything wrong. Flair and Vince get into it in a preview of their Street Fight the following month. Austin cheats first, hitting a low blow before rolling outside to beat down on Vince. Inside, he catches Jericho's dropkick and puts him in the Walls, leading to Jericho tapping out. DA BOOKA MAN runs in and hits Austin with the WWF Title. It's like King of the Ring all over again. Except without Benoit. Just how WWE likes it. Jericho covers and takes the cheap win. Another goodie, that was hampered by all of the interference. To be honest, McMahon/Austin was getting tired at this point.
Overall: The second half of this show saved it. Nothing besides the Tag Team Title match is bad, but nothing is memorable. The Hardcore Title match is fun and the three Championship matches are really good, even if they're riddled with interference. Worth a look for the historical value, but only above average.