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'
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. ****½ 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
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.*½ NB: For those who missed that episode of Heat, the Ninjette was,
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!
R.I.P The Shooters
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