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2001: A Wrestling Odyssey


tiger_rick
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The number of times this year I've nearly created a thread because it's been 20 years since... is, well, loads. Has there been a more pivotal or noteworthy year in wrestling?

The year ECW died. The WWF bought WCW. The WWF ended their own boom by turning Steve Austin heel (twice). Triple H's quad died, RIP. The Invasion PPV became the most bought non-Mania PPV ever. The Invasion angle tanked. Booker T and Buff Bagwell put on the greatest main event in Raw history. RVD became a Superstar. Ric Flair returned. The Rock left to make movies and was never full time again. Chris Jericho beat Austin and The Rock in the same night.

Twenty fucking years. Man I feel old.

Best and worst bits of 2001? Don't dissect the Invasion. It's been done to death.

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I'll always have a soft spot for that rumble and the no way out show into mania. 

I really enjoyed Austin v HHH, rock v angle was great, the hardcore bollocks was fun, the 4 way was great and even Steph vs Trish delivered something. Taker & Kane building a smackdown feud with Meng & rikishi to the detriment of E&C and the dudleys I could do without though. 

It's been years since I watched it but from what I remember Angle v Austin at unforgiven was great after a disappointing summerslam match and a underwhelming rest of a card. 

Vengeance finished the year on a real low for me though, undertaker putting RVD in his place, a tournament that looked like it could be good turning out as a disappointing pile of shite and Hardy vs Hardy & Regal v edge in two undercard pairings that never seemed to click or mesh well. 

It's the second and last noteworthy UK PPV after hbk vs bulldog in giving us one of the very few, if not only, heel Austin vs face Rock matches. 

Edit: according to cagematch.de excluding dark matches and house shows its one of only 2 televised 1-1 matches in those roles, the other being the raw after X7. 

Edited by Tommy!
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2001 was an absolute peak of my wrestling fandom - I think I’d struggle to name any worst bits. I’d got hooked in summer of 2000, so 2001 could virtually do no wrong. Here’s a short list of what comes to mind.

Kane in the Royal Rumble. Walls of Jericho on a ladder. Haku! ‘Rollin’ and ‘My Way’. SmackDown Extreme. X-Pac gets new purple gear. Commissioner Regal. Tajiri. Rhino. Everything about WrestleMania X-Seven. Heel Austin. Spike and Molly. Jeff Hardy wins the IC Title. TLC3. Steve Blackman teams with Grandmaster Sexay. Edge wins KOTR. Shane gets chucked through the glass. Rob Van Dam! ‘Let the Bodies Hit the Floor’. Angle becomes a legit American hero. The piledriver on the concrete angle. Heyman on commentary. Torrie and Stacy. The first ‘Sacrifice’ video. The winner takes all match (honestly). The Hurricane. Vengeance on Channel 4. Bossman is back! 
 

Actually, one worst bit. The ‘three stages of hell’ with Triple H and Austin. Stone Cold’s stuff was a slog before the heel turn. Oh, the supermarket brawl as well, I hated that at the time. My dad walked in on it partway through and from a “what is this shite you’re watching” perspective it was indefensible.

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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Wrestlemania X7. Still probably the best WM top to bottom. 

Stephanie comparing 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Steroid trial.

Video packages. This was, again the year of the video package and this was a golden period.

WCW/Raw telecast. Was like when Marvel vs DC happened in comics, something which seemed impossible was suddenly possible.

 

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4 minutes ago, Hannibal Scorch said:

Video packages. This was, again the year of the video package and this was a golden period.

Good shout. Lots of great ones but the lonely road of faith vid was the highlight. If there's ever been a better one, I haven't seen it.

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Just now, tiger_rick said:

Good shout. Lots of great ones but the lonely road of faith vid was the highlight. If there's ever been a better one, I haven't seen it.

I agree, but that one was from early 2002 - on TV they had Flair show it to convince Vince not to bring in the nWo.

@Tommy! I can’t say I’ve watched it since the Benoit murders, but I always enjoyed doing that move in the SmackDown games so it gets a pass from me!

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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You know how your perception of time can get a bit disjointed as to events and their timeline? It still doesn't seem correct that WM17 was in the same year as 9/11 - feels like it happened a long time previous. I guess because 9/11 felt like a waypoint for when the world suddenly felt different.

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For all its bad points, I actually enjoyed heel Austin in 2001. He’d become beyond stale since returning the previous year and it was refreshing to see him do something else. 2001 was one of his better years in the ring as well, I thought. His matches with Rock, Angle, Benoit, the triple threat with Angle and RVD, even the mini angle and match with Spike Dudley on Smackdown, all good stuff. In hindsight though, I’ve always thought that heel run sped up his career ending. He was bumping around like it was the 1992 Stunning Steve days for Undertaker and Kane and taking endless German suplexes from Angle and Benoit for a big old chunk of the year. By 2002 he was bollocksed and having pretty rotten matches left and right. 

Most of my other good things from 2001 have been mentioned already. The Regal and Tajiri pairing was a real highlight for me though. And although I generally can’t stand him, the promo Heyman cut on Vince just before Survivor Series. 

As for the bad - 2001 was the year the ‘What’ chant was born. Enough said on that. Rancid.

Also, Kronik. More specifically, the awful match with Taker and Kane at Unforgiven. I remember seeing them show up and destroy Kaientai (was it them?) on Smackdown and thinking they might have a decent run. Then that Unforgiven match shat the bed and they were never to be seen again.

DDP coming in as a stalker. The initial debut with him taking the mask off to a huge reaction was great. Everything after that was arse. 

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Other things will probably resonate more in the memory, but the final three months of WCW were very watchable too. The ascent of Helms, O'Haire and Palumbo, the introduction of the Cruiserweight Tag Titles, all sorts. There's a six-man on a Nitro putting Scott Steiner, Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell against DDP, Booker T and The Cat... watch it, it's a blast.

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1 minute ago, wandshogun09 said:

For all its bad points, I actually enjoyed heel Austin in 2001. He’d become beyond stale since returning the previous year and it was refreshing to see him do something else. 2001 was one of his better years in the ring as well, I thought. His matches with Rock, Angle, Benoit, the triple threat with Angle and RVD, even the mini angle and match with Spike Dudley on Smackdown, all good stuff. In hindsight though, I’ve always thought that heel run sped up his career ending. He was bumping around like it was the 1992 Stunning Steve days for Undertaker and Kane and taking endless German suplexes from Angle and Benoit for a big old chunk of the year. By 2002 he was bollocksed and having pretty rotten matches left and right. 

Subjectively, I agree. I detested his comeback in 2000, him mullering Rikishi, who'd been a real highlight and then that interminable feud with Triple H. I'd had enough of him so him turning heel wasn't a big deal to me. 

His work as a heel was great. Pre-Invasion, the stuff with Kurt and Vince was pure brilliance and then through to the summer, his ring work was magnificent. The character had become a bit naff by then with "what?" and the invisible watch but the matches were great.

We're both wrong though. There's no way to look at objectively as anything but a dreadful decision. The Invasion gave them a get out of jail free card and then they turned him again! Insane stuff.

Agree with a lot of your bad stuff. It can all be simply filed under The Undertaker. He had a fucking awful year. The novelty of BikerTaker wore off long before the end of 2000 and his crap work and paranoia combined to make almost everything he was involved in absolutely abysmal. Chuck Kane in too by association. 

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