Happy Saturday Everyone!
We’ll bring our trip down memory lane of WWF/E running shows in the UK to an end with this show, which happened at the tail end of the Attitude Era and just before the all-time terrible InVasion angle. We’ve got Regal Vs Jericho and Benoit Vs Angle on this one, so at least two of the matches can be budgeted in for being good if nothing else.
The event is emanating from London, England on the 5th of May 2001
Calling the action are Michael Cole and Paul Heyman
Commissioner Regal is on the phone to Kurt Angle to tell him that the entire events card has changed. Vince McMahon storms in unhappy about the changes, but Regal informs Vince that it’s Linda McMahon who has made the changes. Regal and Vince were very entertaining here, with Regal’s reactions to Vince’s freak out being classic Regal. Linda of course comes in and Vince has to suck up to her as he was afraid of her divorcing him and taking half his money at the time. Linda says she was going to change the handicap Main Event between Stone Cold and Triple H against The Undertaker but Taker demanded it remain that way because he wanted a piece of both of them.
Eddy Guerrero Vs Grand Master Sexay
These two would actually wrestle one another again in the UK in early 2002 when they had both left the WWF on the British Revival event for Bravo. I don’t know if there was much of an actual storyline reason for this match, as Eddy had been wrestling the European Title division whilst GMS had been tagging with Steve Blackman due to Scotty 2 Hotty being out with an injury. Eddy and GMS wouldn’t end up lasting the year though, as they both ended up leaving the WWF in less than auspicious manners.
Eddy is actually great in this match, showing off some fantastic Heel charisma and delivering some solid wrestling in the bout itself. GMS works well as a babyface, with his act being perfectly suited for openers like this, and the crowd is pretty much hot for everything both wrestlers do. There’s a fantastic sign saying “I bought Road Dogg on eBay” which was a reference to Road Dogg having bids in order for him to fly over and spend an hour with a “lucky” UK based fan and their family. I think the auction ended up getting closed due to breaching eBay’s terms of service.
Eddy works a bit of heat, doing some lame dancing moves and just being a fantastic Heel in the process. GMS ends up making the comeback but misses the Tennessee Jam when Eddy is able to roll out of the way. GMS ends up missing another attempted move in the corner and that allows Eddy to roll him up with his feet on the ropes for the three count and a chorus of boos.
WINNER: EDDY GUERRERO
A fine opener. It would have been nice for GMS to win in order to pop the crowd, but he wasn’t really a star on Eddy’s level so they kind of had to go with the finish they did. At least Eddy was very generous and made GMS look strong in defeat
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are hanging out backstage, and Triple H is very calm about the Main Event. He of course makes sure to insult England for cheap heat.
The Radicalz (Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko) and Terri Runnels Vs The Holly Family (Hardcore, Crash and Molly)
Saturn hadn’t gone nuts and started dating a mop in storyline yet, as I think that would come after he roughed up wrestler Mike Bell on an episode of HeAT/Shotgun (delete where appropriate). Terri says she will refuse to wrestle because they don’t have any wrestling gear for her, but Molly doesn’t care about that and attacks Terri with some nice looking offence, including a Giant Swing. Molly was such a fantastic babyface and I have no idea why WWE were so obsessed with booking her as a Heel.
It does seem like the match will indeed just be a standard tag following that initial exchange, and its good action for the most part as all four of the competitors are solid workers. Malenko and Crash actually had a decent mini-feud for the Light Heavyweight belt on HeAT around this time, which I remember because HeAT was the only show I was watching at the time as it was on Channel 4 here in the UK and I didn’t have Cable/Satellite TV in order to watch the other shows on Sky Sports.
Strangely enough the Heels actually work some heat on Hardcore of all people, as opposed to the much smaller and less explosive Crash. Hardcore does a decent job selling it all at least and the crowd gets behind him. The crowd have been excellent thus far actually, as they’ve been in to everything and it’s given the show a good atmosphere. Crash does eventually get the hot tag and runs wild, doing a decent stab of it actually.
Things break down following that, with things getting a bit sloppy but the action continuing to be fun. Terri ends up getting involved, so Molly and her end up having an ECW styled CAT FIGHT. Whilst that is going on, Saturn catches Crash with a spinning suplex and that’s enough for three. I’m not sure why we needed another Heel win when the crowd has been hot thus far and clearly want to see a babyface pick up a win.
A solid under-card tag match, although it was a little bit sloppy at points
We see footage of Commissioner Regal doing a lot of press around the UK. As usual though the WWF is demanding he work as a Heel for tonight rather than just doing the old Hart Foundation thing and letting him work as a babyface for the night due to the show being in his home country. Regal came across well here and it made him look like a big deal here in the UK, which he is.
We then get a segment backstage with Commissioner Regal where he’s on the phone to his uncle. He insults all of the other UK sports stars and says he’ll get a hero’s welcome later on.
We see footage of Big Show injuring Test on Smackdown, meaning the match between the two men now cannot take place. Big Show joins us though, unhappy that his match has been called off, and demands that the cowardly Test come down to face him. Test joins us, and we can see that he’s got a serious case of DDPitis with some heavily taped up ribs. Big Show of course attacks Test the minute he gets in the ring like the good Heel he is, because it is actually Big Show who is really the coward. Test gets a brief flurry but soon gets cut off and worked over, as they seem determined to flatten out this hot crowd tonight. Big Show talks some more smack on the mic whilst the referees and medics attend to Test, which leads to Bradshaw coming down to answer the challenge.
The Big Show Vs Bradshaw
Bradshaw has a bit of a flurry with punches and chops but doesn’t really get anywhere with Big Show. We see that Test is still out there at ringside, which telegraphs that he will be having some kind of involvement before this is over. The ref ends up getting bumped when he tries to stop Big Show using a chair, which leads to Big Show attacking Test and the EMT’s (with one of the EMT’s clearly laughing). Test ends up kicking the chair into Big Show’s face though and Bradshaw gets a clothesline for a three count from the revived ref
This was more an angle than a match, but the crowd enjoyed it when Bradshaw got the win so I’ll call it a success overall, even if it was a bit longwinded in getting to the payoff
Big Show seethes following that.
Jonathon Coachman is backstage with WWF Champ Stone Cold Steve Austin. Stone Cold thinks The Undertaker is stupid for demanding a handicap match tonight, and of course insults England again like all the Heels are doing tonight.
Edge and Christian Vs The X-Factor (X-Pac and Justin Credible) w/ Albert Vs The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) Vs The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff)
E&C, The Dudleyz and The Hardyz had been feuding with each other for over a year at this stage, with X-Factor being added here in order to mix things up a bit from the usual formula. Matt was the European Champ at the time of this show, but he’s not defending it here tonight, which seems like a bit of an oversight when the event itself is actually happening in Europe. Someone has a “why is X-Pac still alive?” sign in the crowd, which strikes me as being especially mean, but people DID NOT like X-Pac during this Era.
The Hardyz are probably the most over team in this one, with Jeff in particular getting some loud reactions from the ladies in the crowd. The match itself is all-action and good fun for the most part, with the crowds unbridled hatred for X-Pac actually being pretty funny. At the time it was frustrating seeing him getting pushed over more popular acts, but 20+ years it’s kind of become entertaining to see just how viscerally he was hated. X-Factor is actually the first to go as well, as Jeff gives X-Pac a Swanton to send him to the showers. Jeff then gets distracted by the other X-Factor members attacking Matt though, which leads to Christian getting the Tomikaze to eliminate The Hardyz.
X-Factor eliminated by The Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz eliminated by Edge and Christian
So now we have a standard tag team match between E&C and The Dudleyz, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just do X-Factor Vs Hardyz and E&C Vs The Dudleyz instead of bothering with the four corner elimination thing? These two teams had wrestled one another many times by this stage, so this section of the match is well-worked and the crowd gets behind The Dudleyz whilst the Heels work D-Von over in their half of the ring.
Bubba eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, with the Heels bumping around nicely for him and the crowd digging it. It’s good old fashioned tag formula done well, and that almost always works, especially when you have a hot crowd who gets into it all. Wassup Head Butt gets delivered and tables are called for, which the crowd goes nuts for, but The Dudleyz get interrupted before they can use it. Rhino ends up showing up and delivering a GORE to Bubba so Edge can get the win.
The Dudley Boyz eliminated by Edge and Christian
WINNERS: EDGE & CHRISTIAN
Good stuff there. Not sure it needed to be a four way elimination bout as they could have just ran E&C Vs The Dudley Boyz and got the same result, but the match itself was fun and the section with the final two teams was good old fashioned tag team wrasslin’
The Dudley Boyz get their heat back following the match when Little Spike Dudleymakes the save and Rhino ends up going through a table.
Linda McMahon gets to make herself look good by holding a charity dinner. I’m not shocked that a career in politics was in her future when you see stuff like this. Richard Keys of Sky Sports fame even shows up at one stage. Michael Cole was there and got slapped by Stephanie McMahon, much to Paul Heyman’s amusement.
We have some celebrities in the crowd, such as breakfast TV host Eamon Holmes, Chris Tarrant from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Gianfranco Zola, a footballer who played for the likes of Chelsea, Parma and Napoli. Hey, I actually know who all three of those guys are! Zola’s kids seem to be awestruck that he got such a reaction.
Jonathon Coachman is backstage with Kurt Angle, who is annoyed that Chris Benoit stole his Olympic Gold Medals.
Stevie Richards and Ivory of Right To Censor are here to annoy the crowd and complain about page three in The S*n and Star. Rupert Murdoch of course owns those disgusting rags, as well as ironically Sky Sports, the station that the WWF was running on in the UK at the time. I hate The S*n for many reasons, most notably their disgusting coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. Anyway, Richards winds up the crowd and notes that he’s cancelled the ladies battle royal after speaking with Commissioner Regal. This leads to Jackie Moore, Trish Stratus and Lita joining us. They of course aren’t happy that their match has been cancelled and that leads to them stripping Ivory down to her panties before then putting a beating on Richards for good measure. The crowd enjoyed it when the three babyface women beat up the Heels, so this worked for what it was. It didn’t help in regard to making the show itself just feel like a slightly longer episode of Raw as opposed to an actual pay per view event though.
We get a video package to hype up the following match between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. Benoit defeated Angle at Backlash in an Ultimate Submissions match (basically an Iron Man match but with submission rules only) which led to the two getting into a fight on Raw, where Benoit ended up stealing Angle’s gold medals.
Two out of Three Falls
Kurt Angle Vs Chris Benoit
We have some duelling mics to start, with Angle wanting his medals back and Benoit telling him they are in a warm safe place. Foreshadowing! This is the usual great match between the two, with them doing some nice technical wrestling to start before Angle turns it more into a slugfest in order to get the cut off and then starts working Benoit over with his vast array of suplexes. It’s really good wrestling, and the crowd responds well to it. Benoit eventually fights back with suplexes of his own, leading to the diving head butt off the top rope for three.
Kurt Angle 0-1 Chris Benoit
So Angle now needs to win two straight falls in order to emerge victorious in the bout overall. Angle jumps Benoit right at the start of the fall and takes the fight to the outside, where he flings Benoit into the ring steps. Benoit of course sells all of that impeccably, with Angle’s offence being first class, as you would expect from someone with his talent. Benoit manages to fight back and goes for the head butt again, but Angle is able to move out of the way this time and there’s no water in the pool. Angle tries the ankle lock following that, but Benoit fights out of that and gets an inside cradle to win it two straight
Kurt Angle 0-2 Chris Benoit
WINNER: CHRIS BENOIT
Benoit reveals following the bout that the warm safe place where the medals are kept is actually in his crotch. The commentary team tries to push that Angle worrying about the medals put him off his game and that’s why Benoit was able to sweep him 2-0.
Stone Cold and Triple H are strategizing backstage, which leads to Stone Cold, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon requesting that Debra get them some beverages. Debra isn’t having that though and says Taker might destroy them tonight.
We get a video package to hype up the feud between Commissioner Regal and Chris Jericho, which began when Jericho besmirched Regal and soiled his tea. Jericho won at WrestleMania X-Seven whilst Regal won at Backlash, so this is in effect a rubber match between the two.
Commissioner Regal Vs Chris Jericho
Regal gets a mixture of cheers and boos for his entrance, so the attempts to make him a bad guy in the backstage segments were only half-successful. Honestly they should have just booked Regal against a Heel like someone from X-Factor and let him wrestle as a babyface for the night. I just don’t get the obsession with making the home country guy a Heel in a situation like this. It’s a show literally just for the UK, make the UK guy a babyface. You have nothing to gain from stubbornly trying to keep him a Heel, especially when some of the fans will refuse to play along anyway.
They have a really fun hard-hitting match, which I can tell because I’ve spent most of the bout watching and enjoying it without actually recapping it. Regal and Jericho both like to work snug and demand that the other lay it in so that it looks good, so they both happily fling meaty strikes and hearty throws at one another, with the crowd digging the action. The crowd is kind of divided, with Jericho being popular but some of the crowd clearly are in Regal’s corner here, so the match has an interesting atmosphere but it’s not as good as it would have been if they’d just let Regal work as a babyface against someone.
Regal does eventually cut Jericho off for the heat and works him over with punishing holds and strikes, as well as throwing Jericho into the ring post outside the ring at one stage. Jericho sells that well and makes some nice sporadic attempts at a comeback, one of which gives us an Aloha-Regal moment. Regal ties Jericho up in the ropes and punches away at him, which some of sadistic fans in the crowd actually chant along with in a funny moment, even though it’s a clear Heel spot.
Its interesting hearing Heyman gush over Regal on commentary as Regal actually tried getting into ECW back in the day and Heyman didn’t even get back in touch with him. I honestly think Regal coming in to ECW and doing a shooter gimmick would have been pretty cool, especially after Taz had left and there was a slot open for someone to play that sort of character. Jericho eventually manages to catch Regal with an enziguri for a double down and makes the comeback, with the stiff shots flying and some of the crowd booing because they are backing Regal.
We head into the closing stretch, with both men having chances to win it and the crowd biting on some of the near falls. Jericho counters a suplex into THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB at one stage and Regal quickly taps out to give Jericho the win. That was kind of an abrupt finish actually as I was expecting Regal to struggle a bit and do a longer submission tease before finally submitting.
WINNER: CHRIS JERICHO
This was a great match with the weird obsession for the WWF to make Regal a Heel in his home country the only thing dragging it down for me
Regal beats up Jericho following the match, still getting some cheers.
We get a video package to hype up the Main Event. Stone Cold and Triple H formed an alliance, injuring Kane in the process. This has wound up The Undertaker and now he’s coming for payback.
Champ: Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H w/ Stephanie McMahon Vs The Undertaker
Taker has to pin Austin in order to win the belt here. Triple H was also the Intercontinental Champ during this period whilst holding the Tag Titles with Austin at the same time. The idea was that Triple H would eventually turn babyface to feud with Austin over the summer, but then Triple H tore his quad and they had to pivot to Austin feuding with Kurt Angle over the summer months instead. Austin did a glass in the eye gimmick on Smackdown and he’s still got cuts on his face.
Rollin’ really was awesome entrance music and was almost always guaranteed to get Undertaker a big pop whenever he came out. It was such an automatic pop getter that they ended up having to give Taker more generic dirge when he went Heel in 2002 because otherwise fans would have just kept cheering him. Undertaker is of course outnumbered here, but that just means the crowd really gets behind him when he gallantly fights back. It’s a simple story, but they tell it well and it works when you have a babyface people care about.
They fight on the outside of the ring and entrance area during the early stages, which allows Undertaker to keep his two opponents at bay by using the surrounding area as a weapon. It’s a good brawl and the crowd enjoys it. Things eventually settle into tag rules eventually, with one of the Heels waiting for a tag whilst the other wrestles inside the ring, which leads to them working some heat on Undertaker. Undertaker actually does a good job selling for that and they sprinkle in hope spots for Undertaker to keep the crowd invested.
The heat segment maybe goes on for a little bit too long to the point that it almost becomes silly that the two top Heels in the company can’t put Undertaker away when they’ve worked him over so much and he doesn’t have anyone to tag out to, but aside from that this is a well-worked match and the crowd sticks with it. The crowd in general have been great on this show, one of the best we’ve had for one of these UK shows actually. If they’d actually done some TV tapings over in the UK during this period then it probably would have been fantastic crowd reaction wise.
Undertaker eventually manages to mount a comeback, giving Triple H a Choke Slam through the commentary table at one stage to get Triple H out of the way for a bit and leave it as a one on one contest. Stephanie distracts the ref so that Austin can clock Taker right in his exhaust pipe though, which leads to Undertaker getting busted open somehow, probably a result of Austin’s knee brace catching him. Taker gets a Choke Slam on Austin following that, and you can audibly hear Triple H yelling “pin him” so that he can come in and break up the fall.
Vince McMahon joins us with a chair, but ends up hitting Triple H instead. Taker takes care of Vince and then Choke Slams Triple H, which is enough for the three count. However, as he didn’t pin Austin that means he doesn’t win the belt. The crowd still seems happy regardless though.
WINNER: UNDERTAKER (AUSTIN RETAINS AS IT WAS TRIPLE H WHO WAS PINNED)
Good match, although it dragged a little bit in the heat for my tastes. Aside from that they worked it well and the crowd enjoyed it, so that’s enough for a thumbs up from me
Undertaker clobbers the Heels with a chair following that in order to make up for him not winning the belt, and the crowd is HOSS for him!
I’ve said this previously in these reviews, but this show really just felt like a slightly longer episode of Raw or Smackdown. You got nothing here that you wouldn’t get on a good episode of the weekly television, so in that regard it wasn’t really a pay per view quality event. However, viewed as just a show without that context this show was pretty darn watchable, with a number of good matches and nothing I’d really say was overly bad. If you have a couple of hours to kill then this wouldn’t be the worst use of them.
Mildly recommended show