Hello! Welcome back to the Royal Rumble series. Today, I will be talking about the 14th annual Royal Rumble. Did you miss any earlier volumes? Links are provided below:
Royal Rumble #14 – New Orleans
With an attendance of 17,137, Rumble 2001 had a smaller crowd than the previous year. The 14th Rumble used the tagline, “30 men. Every man for himself. One victor.“. There was one Sunday Night Heat match before the show, which saw the tag team Lo Down defeat Kaientai in less than two minutes. Usually I only watch the Rumble match, but again (like ’99 & 2000) I decided to watch the whole show. Note: Difficult finding a decent place to watch the show, but if you don’t have the WWE Network or can’t see it any other way, I suggest watching it here:
Before I begin, let me say this was my first Royal Rumble. My 13-year-old self stayed up past midnight in the UK to watch it with my Dad and friends. I remember getting myself a pen and piece of brown card for the Rumble, just so I could jot down all the entrants and who they were eliminated by. It’s one of those memories which sticks in my mind, as I frantically awaited each entrant and wrote down their names.
Trying to keep up with the action was fun, and I remember us all feeling it was worth staying up so late. I’d seen bits of the Attitude Era due to my friend being a massive fan, but 2001 was the year I really got into wrestling in a big way. How time flies .. and here I am 17 years later having seen this PPV for only the second time in my life. I can finally share my thoughts on a PPV which brings a lot of nostalgia and feelings of good times.
#1: Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian (c) for the Tag Team Championships.
Not much to write about this, it was a solid 10-minute opening contest between two teams with excellent chemistry. You can’t fault either team here, and I loved the ending with the delayed 3D getting the fans chanting “3D!” long before thy hit it. New tag team champs. Good way to start.
#2: Chris Benoit (c) vs. Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship.
Mixed feelings. My 13-year-old self was absolutely blown away. It forced me to become an avid fan of Y2J and Benoit. There’s so much brutality .. and the spots, wow. I can’t describe how much I sat and cringed at the way these two battled. I knew it was one of the best ladder matches of all time, and it still stands as one of the best. The image of the upside-down Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder with Benoit screaming (which was Benoit’s idea) was the first thing to pop in to my head when it was announced. The running dive from Benoit head first in to a steel chair was the next. It’s amazing what memories we can pull out from the back of our minds sometimes.
But while the match is one of the best and most brutal ever, the head shots to Benoit will always make me feel uneasy. I won’t go in to his CTE and all that, I’ve done enough on the Benoit Family Tragedy and I’d rather not go into it again. It wasn’t just the headshots, but the extremely intense way Benoit sold moves had me thinking .. “what if?”. What if Benoit had chilled out and not broke his body & brain in every match he was in? Would Benoit and his family be around today had he not tried so hard to set the bar? He was throwing punches like a super heavyweight and selling like he wanted to break the ring with his back. His style was always going to catch up to him, but he must’ve thought he was invincible. He idolized Dynamite Kid who went a similar path. This match is a prime example of how much he sacrificed to get over, and well .. we all know how it ended. It wasn’t worth it.
Enough about Benoit though .. Jericho was excellent. It’s clear he’d worked with Benoit many times before to pull it off. He won the IC title which served as a stepping stone to greater things .. like beating Steve Austin & The Rock in the same night to become the first undisputed WWE Champion! Crazy he’s still setting the world on fire with his work.
#3: Ivory (c) vs. Chyna for the Women’s Championship.
The weakest part of the show. The whole neck injury angle was dumb, even to my 13-year-old self. It was nice to get the payoff at Wrestlemania, but the way Chyna went down after the springboard was strange. The selling of the angle was longer than the match itself. Should’ve been on Raw instead.
#4: Triple H (w/ Steph) vs. Kurt Angle (c) (w/ Trish) for the WWF Championship.
24 minutes of action which seemed to drag on somewhat. The more memorable parts being the catfight between Steph and Trish (with Vince doing a bad job of stopping it), and Steve Austin getting revenge on HHH for costing him the title a few weeks earlier. Sucks when that’s all I can think of to say. Both men were technically heels, so the crowd weren’t sure who to cheer for .. til Austin came out. My 13-year-old self eagerly awaited the Rumble .. and didn’t care who won here.
Before I go into the Rumble match, let me share the story of Drew Carey. He showed up to plug his improv show and came across like he didn’t know much about wrestling. He searched for Vince, but found Trish Stratus instead; who looked as hot as ever. After Vince walked in and found them chatting, his possessive qualities made him assume Drew was trying to hit on his mistress. Vince offered him a spot in the Rumble, which Drew agreed to as Vince said it would be “fun”.
Of course, Vince was trying to get him taken out, but Drew was oblivious to the carnage a Rumble could bring. Vince got someone to hand him some ring gear, and Drew sat smiling backstage having no idea what was in store. — The Rock cut a promo before the Rumble .. the usual stuff. Something about Kane wanting to buy his brother chocolates, and Taker wanting to tickle Kane’s big red nipples. Umm .. what?
Finkel with the introductions. Jeff Hardy out first having “a seizure” according to King. Annoying Right To Censor music for Bull Buchanan without his neck tie. JR told us all entrants would be random except Rikishi, who had earned the right to be #30. With neither getting the upper hand, The Hardy Boyz had the unlucky draw with Matt coming out #3. Double clothesline gets rid of Bull. The Hardys didn’t waste time turning their attention to each other, which isn’t the smart thing to do considering their numbers.
Faarooq storms out next and runs through ’em. Jeff might’ve botched Poetry In Motion, Matt held his side afterwards. Twist of fate! Swanton! And both eliminated Faarooq before turning on each other again. Matt failed to eliminate Jeff, so the brothers took off their tops to the sound of screams from the female audience. Hard right hands as we wait for #5.
Drew Carey! He’s actually entering the Rumble. King says it’s suicide. He takes time getting in the ring. Matt sells a missed dropkick. Drew in the ring now, watching The Hardys fight on the turnbuckle. King tells Carey to take his glasses off as he’s not a Dudley. Jeff suplexes his brother to the outside, and somehow (camera does not pick it up) Jeff falls off and is eliminated as well.
Drew celebrates like he actually did something, as he stands alone in the Rumble. Oh my god .. oh my god .. it’s the Big Red Machine Kane! He slowly walks his way to the ring and circles it. Drew’s trying his best not to corpse, but fails miserably. Kane in the ring with his pyro. Drew waves and says hi. He offers a handshake, but Kane just stares. He offers him money, but Kane smacks it away as the countdown clock comes up. Kane sets Drew up for a chokeslam!
The Hardcore Champion Raven is out with a kendo stick and saves Carey from the chokeslam. Drew waves goodbye and quickly eliminates himself. He smiles and slaps the hands of fans as he gets away unscathed. He gets to the apron and tells Raven to get Kane before heading to the back. And that was a Hall of Fame worthy appearance, apparently. Kane & Raven almost botch a sidewalk slam. Raven rolls to the outside and injects a fire extinguisher and other weapons into the match. Al Snow comes out very early to ambush Raven. Countdown clock ticks down to zero, but Al Snow is already out there. It’s a hardcore Rumble now, with Al Snow smacking Raven & Kane hard with a trash can lid. Al brings more weapons in (plus actual trash), including a bowling ball. For the first and only time ever, a bowling ball is used in the Rumble .. and bowled square in to Raven’s nuts.
Raven and Al Snow team up with trash cans to get Kane down. A mean looking Perry Saturn out next with Terri (JR says, “what is she not wearing??”), and he grabs Kane’s legs to drag him outside the ring. Perry targets Kane’s legs. Perry, Raven, and Al Snow do their best to entertain Kane. More hardcore wrestlers with Steve Blackman running in as #10. He’s got his special sticks with him .. which look like they’re only good for tickling opponents. Blackman takes out everyone except Kane, then gets beat up by Kane .. while the others forget the Big Red Machine should still be the target. Saturn wises up and saves Blackman from Kane. King hates to agree with JR, but they really should get on the same page here.
RIP Grandmaster Sexay is #11. He doesn’t like Snow for some reason. While the rest are fighting, Kane rolls to the outside and picks up a trash can. He gets in and smashes Sexay in the head, sending him flying over the top to the floor. Everyone gets a shot, and the trash can is dead. Kane throws Blackman over but he holds on .. but not for long! Kane grabs a can lid and hits him on the head, forcing Blackman to let go of the ropes and be eliminated. Nice spot. See ya Al Snow. Bye bye Raven. Saturn’s gone too as the next entrant is about to come in .. and it’s the HONKY TONK MAN! OMG!
It’s unbelievable. He gets on the mic and thanks the beautiful audience. He asks Kane to wait while he takes care of some business. What would the Rumble be without the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time? He asks the audience if they want to hear a song. He sings pretty badly along with his entrance music. King helps out. An annoyed Kane grabs his guitar and mercilessly smashes it over Honky’s head with great impact. Epic. Kane shakes his head at Honky. And .. he’s gone! Kane waits in the ring for ..
.. The Rock! Could it be unlucky #13? The Rock layeth the smacketh-downeth on Kane. Wow ok, Kane puts a stop to all that and keeps dominating. Kane beats up on Rock til the “Goodfather” enters .. and well, I really hated RTC for stealing The Godfather from me. He lasted 13 seconds til Rock checked him into the Smackdown hotel. Rock keeps fighting back, but Kane is on fire. It’s Tazz! To think a year ago he beat Kurt Angle in his debut. 10 seconds with Kane was enough to see the former ECW Champion eliminated.
And I HATED this as a kid, to this day I can’t stand what they did to Tazz. The fans get very vocal (screaming) whenever Kane gets close to eliminating Rock. Samoan drop just before the next countdown. Here comes the second Acolyte Bradshaw. He loves to fight, so he takes it to Kane right away and does a really good job. Rock and Bradshaw form an alliance .. for one move, before Bradshaw gives Rock a wicked Clothesline from Hell. Bradshaw takes control for the time being.
Kane finds a way to get the advantage again. Here comes the big young stud Albert. King says he likes to see Albert ‘coz it reminds him of Trish. Bradshaw and Kane team up on the fresher Albert. Kane and Rock take a breather as Albert and Bradshaw brawl. Hardcore Holly #18. Poor Holly, Rock and Kane on him right away. Holly and Bradshaw fail to eliminate Rock. Big Scissors Kick from Albert to the face of Kane, which knocks him down right away.
King mentions how it took six guys to take him down earlier, but Albert did it with one move. Rock comes really close to getting rid of Kane, and the crowd pops. K-Kwik AKA young R-Truth in his first Rumble! Ring starting to fill up. Kane slams Holly and Bradshaw powerbombs Kwik at the same time for double impact. Val Venis out .. and yes King, there are way too many RTC members.
A spear to K-Kwik by Bradshaw? Odd. William Regal out next, and is wrestling with herniated discs .. so won’t be in for long. Bradshaw saves The Rock from Val Venis, just because no one likes RTC. RIP Test is #22. He gets rid of Regal quickly. Just brawling til the next entrant. Wellll…. it’s The Big Show! Returning from a five-month absence. There goes Test. See ya K-Kwik. Chokeslam to Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane!! He goes to chokeslam The Rock, but The Great One low blows, lays the smackdown, and clotheslines him over to the outside!
The carnage. Big Show takes the announce table apart. Out comes Crash Holly. Big Show grabs The Rock and chokeslams him through the announce table! While The Rock’s down, everyone remaining turns on Kane. The countdown clock reaches zero .. “Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin”, it’s American Bad Ass Taker out to save the day! He rides to ringside and quickly stops his bike to get in the ring. He strikes all five men off of his brother.
The Brothers Of Destruction start cleaning house. Bradshaw’s gone. Albert’s gone. Bob Holly’s gone. Crash as well. Venis is the last to be thrown out. There’s a staredown between the brothers. Clock reaches zero and it’s Scotty 2 Hotty. Poor guy, he very reluctantly creeps to the ring .. and foolishly gets in. The brothers beat him up and deliver a double chokeslam before elimination. Rock begins to stir. Bah Gawd! It’s STONE COLD!
Business is about to pick up King. But wait? It’s The Game! He ambushes Austin for costing him the title earlier. While Kane & Taker are busy watching, Rock gets in and throws punches at Kane. Not enough cameras to follow this action. The Brothers dissect The Rock while HHH busts Austin open well away from ringside. Billy Gunn sprints to the ring to help The Rock. The Brothers keep the upper hand though, and officials take Triple H away from the bloodied Austin.
Wait .. who’s this? It’s Haku! What the hell? Wasn’t he wrestling as Meng in WCW just a week before? Well I’ll be. He’s #29 and is always up for a fight. My younger self had no idea who Haku was, but I could tell from commentary he was someone to watch out for. He takes it straight to The Brothers Of Destruction with headbutts and chops. Austin is bleeding so much from HHH’s attack. Here comes the “bad man” Rikishi. He didn’t make it to the ring though, as Austin recovered and brawled with him on the outside!
Austin’s in the ring and hitting everything that moves. He gets rid of Haku. 50 minutes in for Kane. Taker tries to headbutt Rikishi, but it’s not a smart move. Rikishi headbutts him back .. then super kick sends him flying over the top! Undertaker’s eliminated and I didn’t see that coming. Rikishi turns his attention to Rock. He sets Rock up for the Banzai, but Rock gets up and low blows him. With Rikishi stunned on the turnbuckle, Rock easily knocks him off, sending Rikishi to the outside!
Billy Gunn gets the better of Austin and delivers a Fame Asser. He goes to eliminate Austin but it’s reversed and Austin sends Gunn flying to the outside instead! The Rock and Austin are laid at opposite turnbuckles and catch each other’s eye. Rock looks worried. Austin looks scary confident with an evil smirk through his crimson mask.
The two most popular stars of the WWF go at it and trade bombs. Rock tries for Rock Bottom .. but no, it’s a Stunner! Kane is back up but runs into a Lou Thesz press. Rock gets up and surprises Austin with the Rock Bottom! Kane is back though, and is after Rock. Luckily for him, Rock throws him between the top and middle rope to the outside, so he’s still in the match. Austin and Rock beat the holy hell out of each other. Rock goes to eliminate Austin and it looks close but .. Kane gets up and throws Rock out instead!
So it’s down to The Rattlesnake and The Big Red Machine. Kane chokeslams Austin. Kane signals the end is here. Austin low blows Kane again. Kane rolls to the outside and grabs a steel chair. Austin stops Kane from hitting him with it and fights back. Kane tries for the Tombstone, but Austin counters in to the Stunner! Austin picks up the chair. Kane is up already. Austin smashes Kane over the head three times with the chair, sending the monster back to the ropes. One big bounce off the ropes from Austin sends him flying towards Kane with a giant clothesline! Kane’s out! Austin’s the winner and is going to Wrestlemania! Austin becomes the first, and still .. the only wrestler to ever win the Rumble three times. Ohhhh Hell Yeah! And that’s the bottom line! Austin celebrated in the ring with plenty of beers.
Aside from Ivory vs. Chyna, Rumble 2001 was worth watching again for a second time. This was WWF at its peak, and with the competition dwindling and soon to be bought out, the WWF had all the ingredients for a product no one could come close to replicating. There’s stars and Hall of Famers everywhere you look, and most of ’em were used right. I especially enjoyed Kane’s performance, he lasted 53 minutes and set the new record for eliminations (11). And the Rumble match was the main focus, unlike some previous attempts in the 90’s. One of the best things about this PPV was it set us up for the Road to Wrestlemania. And what a Wrestlemania it was .. it remains one of the best shows from top-to-bottom that WWE ever produced.
I won’t say much more as I have a link for an old review of mine below. I can’t say much more about Rumble 2001 really, it’s easier to write more when there’s things to criticize, but I’d feel nitpicky doing it here. It’s way up there in my view, I feel like I’ve seen some of the best Rumbles already and it’s likely going downhill from here on in. But I’ll keep soldiering on, I’d like to complete this series one day lol. Thanks for being patient with me. Next up is Rumble 2002, and I’ll try have it posted by the end of the month. I hope you enjoyed reading my review almost as much as I did reliving this classic.
If you would like to see what happened next .. you can find my old, but freshly edited review on Wrestlemania X-Seven here: >>> Wrestlemania X-Seven