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Ian Challis

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THE YEAR IN TELEVISION

Well, we're gimping our way to the end of another year of professional wrestling, and what a year it's been. No, really, that's not sarcasm. We've now got only one big-ass American company, Chris Jericho is a heel, and Steph's tits are even bigger than before. That's a pretty darn good calender year from where I sit. Now, most people usually look back and see the best pay-per-views of the year and remember the preceding twelve months that way. Because I'm a fan of SHOCKING SWERVES, I'm going a different route. I'm looking at TEEVEE, baby. Let's see what the best month of wrestling was this year, and let's look back at some of the gems that graced our screens on the week nights of 2001.

But first: the rules. Number One: Any title change, no matter how unimportant or awful, makes it onto my tapes. Number Two: Matches that sucked but had meaning make it onto my tapes. Number Three: Unless they immediately precede or follow a match, or are really important, interview segments are not included here. They're an important part of TV, I know, but they're just BORING to recap.

Everything has gone under my consideration, and thanks to my meticulously collected match tapes, I've a wealth of information at my fingertips, ready for recapping. First stop on this massive rollercoaster of wrasslin' quality: January.

Dateline: January-Let's Get Ready To Rumble

  • WCW Cruiserweight Title Match: Chavo Guerrero, Jr. Vs. Shannon Moore (8/1/01): Chavo's just about morphed into an ultra-asshole here. He makes the match for the title, just piss off the number one contender HurriShane Helms, who's sitting at ringside doing colour. Moore kicks it off with some brawlin' on the floor, and they head inside for a criss-cross sequence. Chavo sends Moore to the apron, who hits a corkscrew moonsault for two. Chavo takes a leg lariat but comes back with a belly-to-back for two. Chavo takes over and bullies Moore a bit, but Moore slips out of a suplex and hits a heel kick. Victory Roll gets two, and Chavo fires back with a lariat. Moore reverses a slam into a rollup for two, then hits the Show Stoppa (springboard FameAsser) for two. Moore blows a spot in the corner, tumbling off the top, and Chaco covers it with an axe handle off the top for two. Moore gets a flying headscissors, but Chavo's in the ropes. They exchange suplex counters, and Chavo blocks a sleeper drop but gets rolled up for two. Chavo rolls through the pin and hit a barinbuster for the pin to retain at 5:54. Well, that was as good a start as could be hoped for. **1/2. Post match, Shane helps his partner up and tosses Chavo. Play his music! Oh, shit, it's Three Count-DON'T PLAY HIS MUSIC! Cruiserweights-perhaps the only part of WCW worth watching towards the end.

  • WWF Title Match: Kurt Angle Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (8/1/01): Yep, it's THAT match. Austin poses with Angle's belt pre-match, and we're away with Austin beating the living shit out of the champ. BMF Elbow and a suplex, but Angle blocks a superplex into a front superplex. He stomps a mudhole, but Austin comes back with rights and a pair of elbows for two. Gutwrench suplex gets two. Snap suplex gets two. A second is blocked, and Angle hits a side Russian legsweep, then goes for the neck. Angle crossbody gets two. Inside cradle gets two. Austin takes it outside and they brawl into the crowd. Austin tosses Angle back over the barrier and dodges an interfering William Regal, then clobbers him with a chair. Angle tries to take advantage of the distraction, but Austin throws him into the crowd again and follows with a flying clothesline. Austin rams Angle into the ringpost (Whoa! Spooky!) and throws him inside for a two count. Ten-punch countalong for two. Austin goes upstairs for a double sledge, but Angle blocks-and hits an overhead belly-to-belly. Both men fight up, and Angle hits another belly-to-belly off the ropes. Back to stomping on the neck, and a snap suplex. And another. And a THIRD. All that gets two for the champ. Pair of belly-to-backs gets two. Angle's getting frustrated. Gutwrench suplex, and Austin fights back, but Angle gets a crossbody for two. A second gutwrench suplex, and Angles preps for the Olympic Slam, but Austin fights back with knees to the head and puts Angle down. Both men go down, and Austin's up first at nine. The comeback's on and Austin beats the holy Hell out of Angle, then hits a spinebuster. Angle blocks the Stunner-twice-but Austin ducks a clothesline and nails it. Cover-and Triple H makes his return from Hell In A Cell injuries, pulling out Hebner and pasting him on the floor. It's a big no-contest at around 12:20-but we're not done yet. There's a big ol' staredown between HHH and Austin, and Hunter gets in the ring as the crowd reaction grows. Hunter's shaking with anger-and he rushes Austin, causing the building to explode with cheers. They stay toe-to-toe, beating the Hell out of each other, then Austin gets control. To the floor and Austin clotheslines Trip over the announce table, but Trip grabs Regal's steel pipe from earlier and SMASHES Austin with it. Austin comes up gushing blood, and Hunter beats him some more. Trips chokes Austin down on the table, and stands victorious over him as Motorhead fires up. Just awesome. **** for the whole shebang. This has the virtue of being both praised and maligned by the internet intelligentsia, for being a superb segment that you couldn't fail to enjoy, but for also involving Triple H in a prominent role. What a bitch being a smark is. You've never seen this segment? For God's sake, FIND IT.

  • Hair Vs. Hair Match: Konnan Vs. Mike Awesome (15/1/01): I think we all know why this one's on my tape. Who's hair is Konnan defending? Kidman's, silly. WCW LOGIC, BABY! Awesome pounds Konnan to start, but gets caught with a flying headscissors. Tumbling lariat, but Awesome blocks a corner charge and gets a German suplex for two. Konnan goes for a top rope arm drag and Awesome rolls to the floor. Awesome creams Konnan on the floor, hitting a chair shot. He grabs the steps, but Konnan chairs them back into his mush. Konnan takes it back inside and goes up top-but leaps onto a raised foot. Awesome Bomb setup, but Konnan escapes and hits a facejam for two. Konnan tries a powerbomb (dumbass), and Awesome gets one of his own. Upstairs-Awesome Frog Splash for...two. What a crock. To the third level again, and both guys fight it out, then Konnan takes Awesome down with something vaguely resembling a DDT. And that, as they say, is that at 5:04. * Wanna know what killed Awesome's career? THERE YA GO. Konnan grabs the shears and begins snipping. I can't watch. A fine example of how WCW was flushing away their talent, even at the end. Unless you subscribe to modern theory, which states that Undertaker destroyed Awesome's career. Hey, maybe he booked this match!

  • Rikishi/Kane/Kurt Angle Vs. The Undertaker/Steve Austin/The Rock-Special Referee: Triple H (18/1/01): This makes it on here by virtue of capturing the entire WWF main event in one match-at the time, anyway. Trips makes a big show out of checking Austin for weapons, then Angle and Austin hook up to kick off the festivities. Trips stops Austin's punches, allowing Angle some offence, but Austin comes back with a spinebuster. Slow count only gets to one. Austin clobbers Angle some more and tags in Taker. Old School is followed with a back elbow, then a powerslam. Rikishi makes the save and eats a right, allowing Angle to fight back. Tag to Rikishi, who promptly gets his ass handed to him by Taker. Flying clothesline gets two. Taker stares down Rocky, then tags in Austin, who chokes Rikishi down. Trips signals to break it up, and gets a finger for his troubles. Clothesline on Rikishi, but he gets in a headbutt and tags Angle. Stunner attempt is blocked, but Austin gets the Thesz press and BMF Elbow. Vertical suplex and a second rope elbow, and Austin tags Rocky. He beats on Angle with rights and gets a powerslam for two. Angle catches him with a belly-to-belly and tags Kane in for a sidewalk slam. Kane stays in charge for a bit, but Rocky hits his flying lariat. DDT gets one, and Rocky gives Taker a rather rough tag. Taker stares at Kane...And offers Angle a free shot. He and Rikishi lay into Taker, and Kane tags in the Phat Man. Rikishi shoots Kane a confused look, then beats Taker down and hits the Cheek Charge. Big ol' belly-to-belly gets two, and Rikishi follows that with a big fat legdrop. Angle tagged in and Taker immediately starts firing back offence, but walks into a drop-toe-hold. Taker gets a Dead Man DDT to come back, and Austin gets the tag. He beats down Angle, but Trip gets involved, then Angle shoves both men down. Trips retaliates with a Pedigree on Angle, and he and Austin go at it. Rikishi knocks down Austin with a superkick, and all Hell breaks loose. Taker and Rikishi take it to the floor and Rocky tags himself in. Spinebuster for Kane sends him outside, and Angle stumbles into a Rock Bottom for the pin at 10:11. Phew. Pretty nice match, if a complete train wreck-hey, it's ALWAYS that way before the Rumble. *** Trips mocks Angle-and walks into a Stunner from Austin. Now there's a stare-down between Austin and Rocky-and Taker and Kane come in and chokeslam both men! The Brothers share a look, and Taker leaves on his chopper as Kane sets the posts alight. Not a bad segment, but it sure did underline how shitty Angle's first title run was.

  • WWF European Title Match: William Regal Vs. Test (22/1/01): Regal gives us a British speech beforehand, then gets creamed by Test. He takes Regal outside and throws him around a bit, but gets caught coming back in. Test swiftly comes back with the Boot Of Death, and follows up with a Savage Elbow for the pin and the title at 1:30. DUD Pretty much a squash-Regal was injured and about a month away from becoming commissioner, and Test was at the start of another quasi-push.

  • Chris Benoit/The Big Fat Muthafuckin' Show Vs. The Rock/Chris Jericho (22/1/01): Were this match to take place today, it would rife, RIFE, I say, with issues. This is, of course, the night after Show's triumphant return at the Rumble, and he's looking fatter than ever. Jericho and Benoit start, and Jericho takes over with the flying jalapeno and a bulldog. Show catches him in the ropes and yanks him down, and Benoit follows up with a snap suplex. Tag to Show, who press slams Jericho and tags Benoit back in. Jericho mounts a comeback with an enzuiguri and tags Rocky. Samoan drop and the ULTRA-LOOSE BELLY-TO-BELLY OF DEATH for two. Rocky punches Show off the apron, but walks into a belly-to-back from Benoit for two. Jericho saves, then attacks Show on the floor. Big mistake-Show catches him coming in and delivers the chokeslam on the floor. Owwww. In the ring, Benoit hits a backbreaker for two, as the referees check out Jericho on the floor.Show gets the tag and chokes down Rocky as Jericho is helped to the back. Short clothesline by Show, and a tag to Benoit. Snap suplex gets two. Rocky fires back some punches, but Benoit nails a German suplex for two. Bodyslam sets up Air Canada, which gets a delayed two-count. Tag to Show, who hits a sidewalk slam for two. Show makes the International Sign Of The Chokeslam, but Rocky fights out of the goozle and knocks Show down with a flying clothesline. Show makes the tag to Benoit, who promptly gets DDT'd. Rocky fights both guys off and sends Show to the floor, then hits the Roody Poo Spinebuster on Benoit. That gets two before Show pulls Rocky outside. Rocky clobbers him with the ringbell to put him down, but walks into the Crippler Crossface in the ring. Rock makes the ropes. Rocky sidesteps a Benoit charge and sends him outside-where a returning Jericho pummels him. Benoit tossed back inside, and a Rock Bottom finishes quickly at 10:43. Show sneaks in the ring and chokeslams Rocky to Hell, then delivers the same to Jericho. Benoit's in to protest Show's vanishing act at the end of the match-and there's a chokeslam for him as well. They really went all-out with a Show push for about a month, before shunting him into the Hardcore Title scene in February. Pretty decent match, and Show looked energetic. ***

  • WWF Hardcore Title Match: Raven Vs. Al Snow (22/1/01): Pretty much the only solid feud Raven's been in here, aside from the Saturn debacle. See, he put Snow out of action for a month with a cinder block, and now Snow wants REVENGE. Wouldn't you? Snow jumps Raven to start and they fight to the stage. They disappear under it, and a flash of pyro goes off, then we see both competitors and the ref writhing in pain. Cute. Snow crawls over for a cover, but the ref is still down. Raven sprays Snow down with an extinguisher, they fight backstage. Snow utilises an ironing board and the catering table, then a potted plant. Raven does the bar-room slide along another catering table, then comes back with a baking sheet. Snow keeps him at bay with pieces of fruit, or something. They brawl outside and Snow whips Raven into some metal fencing and pounds him with a piece of wood. Snow bitches Raven out and gives him one final whack, then covers for the three at 3:35. What, you don't remember this title reign? Of course not-because here's the Ninjette, with a 2x4 to Snow's head. Raven rolls onto Snow, and gets his title back at 3:48 total. Pretty indicative of the crap the Hardcore title-and Raven-were reduced to at the start of this year. One has recovered in glorious fashion, while the other has crashed and burned. Such is life.* NB: For those who missed that episode of Heat, the Ninjette was, indeed, Tori.

  • Michael Modest Vs. Fallen Angel Chris Daniels (23/1/01): This would be Tuesday Nitro, and perhaps the match that made me most angry this year. You may remember Daniels from having a swank match with Jerry Lynn on Metal a while back...Or not. They do a neat li'l criss-cross sequence to start and Modest gets a shoulderblock and a hiptoss. Modest goes to work on the arm but Daniels launches a mini-comeback. He tries a no-hands quebrada..and slips, landing directly on his head. Shit. Modest stands by as the ref checks on Daniels, then goes back to the arm. Daniels fights back and hits a weird suplex variation. Modest cartwheels out of a snapmare and hits a clothesline to the back of the head and pounds Daniels with forearms. Daniels gets an enzuiguri that sends Modest outside, and they brawl on the floor. Daniels gets back inside and dropkicks Modest through the ropes, then skins the cat back in. Swank. Cameras miss Daniels' followup-dickheads. Back inside, and a dropkick gets two for Daniels. Split-leg moonsault gets two, and Modest comes back with a release Dragon suplex for two. Modest goes upstairs, and Daniels brings him down with something resembling an Iconoclasm for two. Daniels goes upstairs, but Modest headscissors him down. Modest splash hits canvas, and Daniels hits a nice double jump moonsault for two. Modest hits a jumped-up Flatliner for two. Kryptonite Krunch by Modest, but Daniels' foot is on the ropes. Modest tries it a second time, but Daniels breaks loose and hits Angle Wings (double underhook spinning facebuster) for two. A reversal sequence sends both guys to the floor, and hereeeeee's Scott FUCKING Steiner to ruin it all. Blockbuster suplexes all round as the bell sounds, and it's a no-contest at 6:55. What a pile of shit. Steiner "snaps" each guys' leg with a metal pipe, just to ensure that their careers in WCW would never go anywhere. Not that they would have gone anywhere anyway, seeing as shit like THIS had already damaged the company beyond repair. God-fucking-dammit. *** for the match, minus ten for the completely BULLSHIT ending. What a fucking farce-no wonder the WCW name meant shit when the Invasion began.

  • Cruiserweight Gauntlet Match For No. 1 Contendership-First Round: Sugar Shane Helms Vs. Elix Skipper: It ain't right seeing Helms without the face-paint now. That's the sign of a good gimmick. And yes, it continues to sadden me that Elix was released without so much as a chance at exposure. Skipper gets a headscissors takedown to start, and they exchange complicated reversals. Helms comes out of that with a snapmare, but Skipper drop toeholds him and slaps on a headlock.Hurricane gets an atmoic drop, and an OMEGA neckbreaker for two. Elix catches the Sugar Smack and hits a double underhook suplex for two. Slam, and a pump legdrop for two. He misses the Play Of The Day, however, and Helms capitalises with the Vertebreaker for the pin at 1:43. Who's next? Why, Evan Karagias, of course! Evan's in with a springboard crossbody for two, but he misses a LionSault and Helms puts him away with another Vertebreaker at 2:31. Batting third, Billy Kidman!

    Kidman sends Helms to the floor quickly and hits a running dive to the outside. Back inside, and Helms gets his fireman's carry/knee face-buster combo. Kidman dodges the Nightmare, however, and hits a Rydien bomb for two. Helms gets the X-Plex for two. He sends Kidman to the apron and they slug it out, then Kidman gets a springboard bulldog back into the ring. It gets two, and Kidman tries the Kid Krusher. Helms reverses to the Vertebreaker, and Kidman reverses again to the Kid Krusher. That's enough for the elimination at 4:35. Next up is Yang, and boy his sideburns are big.

    Kidman stays in charge, natch, and sends Yang outside early on, but Yang hits a neckbreaker over the ropes to come back. Kidman dropkicks him to retake control, and hits a nice back suplex, but Yang hits a headscissors in the corner. He nails some shoulder thrusts in the corner and runs up the chest (showoff) but Kidman ranas him for two. Yang slide sout of a suplex and hits an armbar takedown for two. Kidman hits a sitout Pedigree (swank) for two. He goes up top, but Yang cuts him off and pulls out the CROSS-ARM ICONOCLASM for two. So that's where Kidman picked it up. Yang rolls him up for another two and goes upstairs, but Kidman turns that into a middle-rope Kid Krusher for the pin at 8:20. If you're thinking that Kidman used his influence to beat him, well you're probably right. Who's that runnin' down to the ring? Jamie Knoble!

    Knoble comes in with a springboard dropkick for a quick two count, then follows up with a flying forearm for two. Kidman flips out of a back suplex and hits an inverted suplex. Back up top we go, and Jamie follows and ranas him down for two. Kidman reverses him into the ropes, and hits an Ocean Cyclone suplex for two. Once again they go to the third strand, and Kidman hits a top-rope Michenoku Driver for two. Jesus, they're pulling it all out here. Kidman tries the Kid Krusher, which is reversed into a Tombstone, which is reversed again, which is reversed a THIRD time to the Tombstone for the Knoble pin at 11:00. It's the biggest win of his career, ya know!

    Straight up next is Rey Rey, and he wastes no time in taking it outside. Jamie gets backdropped to the floor, and Rey follows with a tornado DDT UNDER the ropes. That truly is swank. Back inside, and Rey springboards right into a powerbomb. Oops. Jamie tries the Tombstone, but Rey escapes and hits a bulldog. A springboard diving headbutt finishes at 12:39.Who's left? Rey Rey, Shannon Moore, Kaz Hayashi and THIS man, Lash LeRoux. Gee, I wonder who'll win. Lash hits a tilt-o-whirl slam right off the bat, and a dropkick for two. Bourbon Street Blues is successful, but Rey counters a powerbomb into a facejam. There's the Bronco Buster...and there's a split legged moonsault for the pin at 13:52. Sing along with 3 Count, because Shannon "Fired" Moore is out next.

    They mess around on the apron for a bit, and Shannon gets a weird-looking springboard legdrop for two. He misses a corkscrew, and Rey hits a slide-under rollup for the quick pin at 14:57. And the final entrant is Kaz Hayashi. Or "Tajiri Jr.", some might say. He proves that name accurate with some stiff kicks to the legs and face for two. Rey tries a springboard rana, but Kaz counters into a BIG-ASS spinning powerbomb for two. They do-si-do across the ring abit and Rey tries a sunset flip, but Kaz rolls through. He eats post seconds later, and Rey takes him upstairs. The attempted rana is blocked, but Rey turns the counter into a bulldog for the pin at 16:43. The good news? Possibly the last great WCW television match. The bad news? Rey got put over the entire cruiserweight roster in one match. Ah well-they'd all be off television within three months anyway. ***3/4

    Match Of The Month: Kurt Angle Vs. Steve Austin

    Final Thought: As usual, January was somewhat of a slow month for television, so as not to blow everything before the WrestleMania buildup. But the few great matches put on laid the groundwork for the more memorable and long-term angles of the year, and what WAS good was VERY good. I'd say an average month for TV, with nothing really worth checking out-except, of course, the infamous Angle/Austin match.

    Next Week: February-Life Support! TOODLES!

    Ian Challis
    R.I.P The Shooters

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