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PostSubject: 2001 Discussion   Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:17 pm

Discuss Raw in 2001.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:53 am

Steve Austin v Chris Benoit (RAW, 5/28/01)
- I used to think this was better than their Smackdown! match from three days later. Don't think that now, but it's still really good. It's more or less a smaller scale version of their next match, actually, in that they use spots here that they'd build on later, like Austin front suplexing Benoit on the barricade twice, which he'd "upgrade" to with the announce table on Smackdown! three days later. Huge pop for the sharpshooter in this as well. We get another screwjob finish here since they're in Canada and Vince can't seem to go to Canada without reminding them of Survivor Series '97. It's not really done well, though. Hebnar sucks, too. It was pretty obvious that they were gearing up for something screwey as soon as Fink announced who the referee for the evening was. Still, great match that I'll watch again and no doubt enjoy just as much if Cal ever gets around to putting out those '01 sets. ***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:56 am

Steve Austin & HHH v Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho (RAW, 5/21/01)
- Watched this yesterday morning, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't really, like, enjoy it, y'know? I was planning on talking about it at some point yesterday, but I never got around to it for whatever reason. So I watched it again today. This time I didn't just enjoy it; I actually enjoyed it. Italics and shit, y'know? The first few minutes aren't really your typical southern tag 'babyface shine' minutes, because Benoit and Jericho don't get *that* much more offence in than Austin and Triple H do, but the heels frequently have to cut Benoit and Jericho off by taking a shortcut, eg thumbing them in the eye, double teaming in their corner, etc. It's all really intense and spirited; you get the sense the double Chris' are totally geared up for this - Jericho in particular is animated to high Hell, sprinting across the ring at one point and elbowing Helmsley square in the jaw for breaking up a Benoit pin attempt - and that Austin and Trip are in for a fight if they want to keep the belts. Really dug the transition spot into Benoit playing face-in-peril -- Benoit manages to hook in a surprise Crossface on Austin and Jericho springboard dropkicks Trip off the apron before he can break it, but that of course forces the ref' to put Jericho out and in turn let Helmsley waste Benoit with a chair. Crowd expects that to be all she wrote since the Power Trip have been doing shit like that for weeks now, so the pop for Benoit kicking out is crazy. Benoit's subsequent stretch as FIP is great, too. He's not as charismatic as Jericho, but he's a better bumper and seller, and Jericho's an awesome cheerleader on the apron anyway, so the crowd remain rabid for all of it. Hunter and Austin's beatdown is really solid; Austin is especially good, coming across as being totally unglued. There's one part where he's elbowing Benoit in the head, grating his face into the canvas and the crowd start an "Austin Sucks" chant, so he gets up and yells "AAAHHHHHH" at a section of the crowd like a fuckin' lunatic. Then he goes back to dropping elbows on Benoit. Great moment later on where Trip has the ref' distracted and he just stomps right on Benoit's plums. This is also about as close to seeing Helmsley work effectively as a "cerebral assassin" as I can recall. He's actually a pretty great compliment to Austin here, in that Steve's a batshit maniac, so Trip coming in and working simple "methodical" spots like an assisted abdominal stretch and cutting Benoit off with a sleeper hold adds a lot to this. Sort of like the Robin to Austin's Batman, if Batman was a bald sociopath and Robin was a He-Man action figure. And if Helmsley's ego would allow himself to portrayed as anybody's 'Robin'. That's an atrocious analogy (I'm not even sure it's an analogy at all), but I'm drawing a blank on any decent pop culture comparisons right now so fuck it. He also throws great shoulderblocks in the corner. I mean, Helmsley seriously has great corner shoulderblocks, not just in this match but a lot of the time. I watched a bucket load of RAW matches from 2000 a few months back and I found myself thinking "Man, Helmsley has a sweet corner shoulderblock." I kinda wish he decided to use shoulder-based offence as his mid-level signature stuff rather than his fairy-like knee-based offence. His jumping knee looks piffly more often than not. His shoulderblocks look like they'd cave your ribcage in. I like how they incorporate the phantom hot tag into this. They tease it at first, with Benoit almost getting there and Austin distracting the ref', but then Benoit gets up and nails Hunter with an enziguri instead. Austin's reaction rules; cursing and punching the turnbuckle because Benoit's an inch away from making the tag. Then Benoit does make the tag, but Austin manages to distract Hebnar for the second time and Jericho gets promptly tossed. At this point Jericho throws a paddy and BAH GAWD HE'S HAD ENOUGH. First he takes Austin out on the floor and then he hits a missile dropkick on Helmsley while Hebnar's tending to Austin. Thought that was a great payback of sorts after all the shit Hunter and Austin have pulled already, and the hot tag is HOT. It's here where Jericho gets the Walls on Austin and Trip tears his quad by breaking it up. It's also here where they sort of teeter on the line between 'crazy and out of control' in a good way and 'crazy and out of control' in a clusterfuck kind of way. For starters you've got Jericho - the legal man - putting the WoJ on Helmsley out on top of the announce table, while Benoit - not the legal man - gives Austin the diving headbutt for a phantom pinfall (Earl's out on the floor with Jericho and Trip), only to stand up, yell at the ref' to get his ass in the ring, and turn around into a Stunner. Hebnar starts a count anyway, so Jericho - the babyface - drags him out, and Hebnar goes ahead and sells this for a while. Back in the ring Jericho hits the Lionsault, so Hunter gets back in with a sledgehammer and winds up blasting his own partner, at which point Benoit tackles him out of the way and Jericho covers Austin for the three. Now, honestly, I can't say any of that bothers me at all, in fact I actually like Jericho stooping to the heels' level by dragging Hebnar out, because I thought it was a great 'taste of your own medicine' spot. I even thought the sledgehammer finish was good, because the signs of dissension between the Power Trip had been popping up already, and I get the feeling this might have been the catalyst to them EXPLODING~ had Helmsley not ripped his leg apart in the process. Hebnar starting the count on the wrong guy was silly, but shit, IT'S A WARZONE OUT THERE and all that good stuff, plus he's terrible anyway, so I'll give him a break for the stupidity. BUT I could just as easily see someone saying all of it takes away from everything that had come before it (which had been excellent), and I wouldn't really argue with them. So yeah, I thought this was terrific. Don't think it's the best tag match the company's ever ran, but I'd probably call it the best one they ran that decade without thinking too hard. And major respect to Helmsley for taking the Walls like he did. As someone that's had/will continue to have their fair share of sporting injuries, that was some heavy duty shit. This is a definite for my list and could finish as high as my top 20. ****1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:26 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. William Regal – RAW 01/01/01
Pretty much a basic squash the entire time. The match was literally 99% Austin 1% Regal. Stephanie as referee was actually fun in a sense that it allowed an almost comedic aspect to be added to the match. Anything Stephanie said to do, Austin would do the exact opposite just to annoy the shit out of her. That, and he didn’t mind kicking her out of the ring ass-first. Only stuff Regal would do was hit the odd forearm and try get lucky with a low-blow. This wasn’t exactly memorable but it was fine for 6 minutes, it served it’s purpose of furthering the Austin/Steph storyline but not much else


Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle – RAW 01/08/01
It’s insane how much I love this match. It’s not the greatest quality wise but for some reason I just consider this one of my favorites, not just of 2001 but both men’s career’s. This match pretty much began the streak of great matches that would occur in 2001. This was technically the first real WWF show of 2001 anyway since the previous Raw and Smackdown were taped before the new year. The story going in was simple enough, Austin is determined as fuck because has his first one-on-one title shot since returning and he’s against a new champion in his rookie year. Literally everybody in that arena wanted Austin to come out as champion.

Austin started off all guns blazing, but he made the mistake of playing the suplex game with Angle which cost him. Angle may have been the less-experienced of the two but he certainly wasn’t going to be suplexed around like a nobody. Austin was able to settle down into what the Rattlesnake knew best, brawling. That worked for a while on the floor but once things moved back into the ring, Angle reverted back to hitting suplex’s. It worked the first time, why not try it again? Once Angle got firmly in control, he let his inner-asshole begin to show by throwing out heelish maneuvers like choking Austin with the ropes etc.

Austin was able to pick his spots correctly and gradually build up a comeback which was so effective that it wouldn’t have surprised me to see him win the title there and then. Fortunatley for Angle, HHH denyed Austin the title in the final moments. The preceeding beatdown from HHH was seriously well-done. I just love JR’s commentary of the intense staredown; ‘You can see it, You can feel it, You can taste it!!!’. So yeah, putting two very different personas like Angle and Austin together, especially in this case, just feels right. Brilliant match and I’m surprised it doesn’t get mentioned too often.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:27 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin & The APA vs. Kurt Angle, Edge & Christian – RAW 01/15/01
This one actually started out as a real sprint, non-stop action for a while. The smile on Steve’s face was marvelous as he saw Kurt’s reaction to him getting the APA. Even moreso the look on Angle’s face as he watched E&C get their asses dominated. It resembled that of a scared and nervous child more than a WWF Champion. At one point E&C paniced and tried a conchairto on Austin, it’d been effective on the Dudleys earlier in the night, may as well try it here. Fuck the match, just save Kurt’s ass. Saying they failed would be a severe understatement.

Things just broke down into Angle/Austin again as everyone else just buggered off to the back. Even though things went off track from the original 6-man, we had Austin/Angle again. The world was now right. There wasn’t much to what they were doing, just some real nice back-and-forth shit.

One thing I did notice was a sweet callback to their previous match. Austin had failed to hit the superplex last week, but this week he got the best of Angle and hit that god damn superplex! Kurt tried something off the top rope but the guy was a stooge for basically the whole match, so it’s no surprise that he got caught in a Stunner coming off the turnbuckle leading to the W. Perfectly good match for a sub-10 minute sprint. I can only hope for more of the same as the year continues. The upper-midcard/ME scene at this time was so good that it would’ve been hard to have anything but quality.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:27 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs. The Rock & Kurt Angle – RAW 02/05/01
Pretty much just a fun sprint to cap off TV. Angle played bitch to Hunter and Austin most of the time, taking out their anger on Angle since they weren’t allowed to do so on eachother. Rock got taken out by Big Show and didn’t really contribute too much to the match anyway, just a couple of crowd-pops and it’s time to hit the showers. The stuff between Hunter and Austin was actually pretty great as build-up to their 3SOH match a few weeks later. They didn’t just tag eachother, they would slap eachother. Austin seemed the more sly of the two in this since he wanted to get little ounces of payback on Hunter for the contract-signing attack a little while prior. Little things like Austin suttlely holding the rope down so Hunter would trip to the floor were great. Hell, I even loved Austin and Hunter taking turns at smashing Kurt’s head into the announcer’s table as a test of strength to see who could hit him harder. SO! I didn’t really expect too much quality from a quickie Raw-tag like this, didn’t seem like any of the guys were going for that anyway but instead of amazing in-ring work, I got enormous enjoyment from the method of storyline progression. This one was simply adding fuel to the HHH/Austin fire, quality fuel though.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:28 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Rock vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit – RAW 02/19/01
Hmmm, I’m not too sure what to think of this one. It wasn’t ‘bad’ per se but I just found it hard to get into in-ring wise. The mannerisms between HHH and Austin felt way more compelling than anything going on in the ring. Benoit & Angle were actually believable as a team here (no surprise they ended up tagging a year later) but Rock & Austin didn’t have a lot of chemistry as a team. At parts, it simply seemed like they were trying to ‘out-pop’ eachother. Should also mention, that I hate how Angle takes a Stunner, fucking Stephanie McMahon took it better earlier in the show. In the end, Benoit & HHH look like stooges and Rock scores the win. By no means a classic, but this was suffice for 10 minutes
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:28 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Rock vs. Triple H & Kurt Angle – RAW 03/05/01
Real nice tag-match here. Austin’s FIP was pretty awesome considering he wasn’t given a huge amount of time, but he did what he does best and make it as good as fucking possible. HHH and Kurt had some decent chemistry as a team, even the commentators noted so. Don’t think there was enough of it to merit going full-time as a team, but you know what I mean. Rock just did his usual shtick, hit a couple of slaps, bust out signature moves etc. I’m not complaining though because like always he got the crowd going mental! I thought the ending was a nice touch to how Rock/Austin were building up their Mania match in promos. Angle locked in the ankle lock and Austin sprinted in there like Speedy Gonzalez to break the hold, not to prevent losing, but moreso to prevent Rock from getting injured since Austin kept driving home to the point ‘Stay Healthy’ to him. Rock also got some nice heat on Austin by mooching off Austin’s efforts to get the win to wrap this one up. Can’t really ask for more out of this, above average tag-team material and awesome storyline progression. *Thumbs Up*

Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Rock vs. The Undertaker & Kane – RAW 03/26/01
Yeah, this was kinda crappy compared to some of the previous stuff. Essentially, the entire match is just B.O.D dominating Rock & Austin. There actually isn’t much else to it. Match was short as hell anyway. Triple H run-in ended things and gave Austin a cheap win. Austin didn’t seem too interested anyway (neither was I to be frank), instead of begging for a tag, he would stand in the corner like ‘Tag me, Whatever...’, but I suppose by this stage, He’d stopped caring if Rock was healthy or not, he just wanted that damn title around his waist as soon as fucking possible! Fin.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock – RAW 04/02/01
Big night, right off the heels of Austin’s heel turn. The Rock’s looking to get the title back already and granted he does get his rematch and fair enough, it looked like he might have a chance at winning the title back within a day even if it would’ve been nonsensical booking. This match was EXACTLY was it needed to be in order to establish Austin as a legit heel, phase out The Rock and begin the ‘Power Trip’. All of those things were accomplished in the most perfect way. For a 10 minute cage match, (although there was lots of brawling on the outside), it was pretty damn good. Seriously good actually! I’ll probably like this more than most but I can REALLY into it which amazed me considering it wasn’t lengthy by any means. * McDonalds Theme* I’m lovin’ itttt.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:29 am

Steve Austin, Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs. The Hardy Boyz & Lita – RAW 04/09/01
This was actually a tonne of fun, which I wasn’t expecting at all for some reason, I feel bad for doubting myself now actually. Things start well with Hardy’s fighting off Power Trip and showin’ off some of that fancy flippy stuff and those young kids do. Austin & HHH show some hope spots, which I wasn’t expecting either since they’re the dominant mofo’s and Matt & Jeff are like baby monkeys. Things started gettin’ real good once Austin hit a spinebuster, that lead to a whole lotta’ heelin’ it up. Power Trip really showed insane chemistry for a team that was only a week old at this stage. Things just end out of seemingly nowhere as Lita hits a Moonsault on Steph while everything else went haywire on the floor. After the match, the infamous Lita beat-down occurred. Say what you want, but I thought it did an amazing job at getting Austin over as a heel. The sadistic fucker looks like he’s legitimately enjoying beating up a woman.

***1/4

Steve Austin, Triple H, Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz, Undertaker & Kane – RAW 04/23/01
Bleh, I can’t really say that this was anything special in my eyes. Austin doesn’t feature much so I’m automatically bummed out. The main thing about the match was heels working over Kane’s arm but the faces would always put a halt to it. I expected better given who was involved but with such small time given trying to fit in and make everybody look good was always going to be a challenge. Alas, this is still fun to watch and did a bad-ass job at making the Brothers of Destruction look like worthy contenders against HHH & Austin.

**1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:30 am

Steve Austin vs. The Undetaker – RAW 04/30/01
This wasn’t anything noteworthy by any means, it’s your typical big-name RAW main event. Throw the big names in there to pop a rating, have them brawl a little bit and then do a screwy finish. Most the focus is on Austin being a cunt by attacking Kane backstage instead of coming out for the match. More of a segment than a match really. Austin & HHH kick ass as per usual. Kane’s left looking like a beat up hooker at the side of the road, just how I like him.

Steve Austin vs. Rikishi – RAW 05/07/01
This was about as good a match as you’re going to get out of Rikishi, who was thrown in this match for being a twat to Vince earlier on. There was never really any sense that Rikishi had any chance of winning but still, he got his shit in and even looked like a little more than your everyday bigman. Austin was Austin, heelin’ it up like only he can. Stalling, chit-chatting with Vince, low-blows, you name it. The stuff with Austin attacking Foley afterwards was more entertaining than the match itself but then again, it was Foley & Austin so ‘ol Kishi didn’t stand a chance.

Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Kane – RAW 05/14/01
Another average enough affair. If I’m honest this wasn’t much in-ring wise but it did a pretty good job of keeping the whole Power-Trip/Brothers of Destruction feud going strong. Basically, Kane’s the wounded animal and Power Trip are the ballsy fuckers who’ll kick him in the dirt without thinking twice about it. Austin & HHH do just that, well Kane gets a few hope spots but you know what I mean. I liked the whole use of the chain throughout, at points it was like HHH was saying ‘This is how it’s done motherfucker! THIS IS HOW YOU USE A CHAIN YOU RETARDED MASKED FUCK!”. I’m in love with the image of Austin looking crazed and talking about telling ‘Taker his wife’ll be just fine as the show goes off the air. He’s too good.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:30 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit - Raw 05/21/01
Aye, it goes without saying that this is an absolute diamond. You've got a crowd that's hotter than hell and chomping at the bit for a babyface win, and when the four of these guys are in the ring together in this time-frame, it'd be hard for this match not to be brilliant. We all know how good Benoit's FIP is here, but the real gem for me was the facial expressions in the opposing corners, they both reeked of absolute desperation for a win. The whole quad situation still makes me cringe, I can't even begin to imagine what kind of pain HHH felt during that finishing stretch. It's unbelievable really. I have no problem with calling this my favourite Raw match ever, I can watch it anytime, anyplace and still feel that same entertainment factor with wrestling that I did as a child.

****3/4

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit - Raw 05/28/01
Yet another great outing. Like I said, it'd be hard to have a bad match with these guys. Benoit's ribs have been through hell between 5 falls at JD, the tag-match, TLC3, If that doesn't garner some top quality babyface heat, then nothing will. Canadian crowd are red hot, as proven by the reaction to the sharpshooter. That nearly blew the roof off the place. Austin's got a real nice mix of desperation and cowboy confidence going on here. He's addicted to that title and tries to wriggle out of submissions at any chance, despite Benoit's injury, he's still scared about losing the belt. The finish felt a little cheap but it's typical Vince-In-Canada shizz. Austin's on a roll holmes. A ROLL.

***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:31 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho - Raw 06/04/01
Austin's still on a roll with good matches. This time-period really is just amazing. Austin attacks Jericho right from the outset and controls most of the match. His facial expressions are godly, you could have a match with his face alone. Jericho gets the odd bit in to look like he has some sort of shot but it never lasts long and the crowd doesn't seem to be THAT behind him. But after the accidental chairshot from Foley to Jericho, when Jericho kicks out, Holy Hell! The crowd just erupt like Vesuvius on Wednesdays. It doesn't last long but for those few seconds, Jericho was the most over guy ever. Austin wins with a quick Stunner after that, what an adonis.

***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:41 am

Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit (WWF Raw 5/28/01)
-Not as good as their Smackdown match the next night, but still really great. Big match feel, and the Canadian fans are insanely hot for it. Worth noting that Stu Hart is in the crowd. ***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:48 am

Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin (1/8/01)
This match is significant for being the starting point for 2 of the best calender years I've ever seen. Both Angle and Austin had amazing 2001's, and this was the jumping off point for both guys. This was Austin's first one on one title match since he returned from surgery and this was a defining match for the super goofy Kurt Angle. This is really when Kurt began to look like he could be a legit killer out there. The "random suplexes" he threw all were done with awesome precision and they turned Austin into mush. As good as Angle was kayfabe, he just wasn't at Austin's level yet. The ending with HHH waiting until Austin saw who pulled the ref out, so he could see him punch the ref was brilliantly evil. Match itself was fantastic and probably one of the most underrated of the year. N-N-N-Nominated.

****
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:43 am

Raw 2001 - Kurt Angle vs The Rock vs Chris Jericho (Undisputed Championship Match)
The energy's really good here. You get a sense of urgency for the whole 12 minutes and all three men put in sharp performances. The psychology is focused around Angle and Jericho double teaming The Rock, which is actually better than it sounds. The reason? The stick with that plan, right until like the last 2 minutes - even after accidentally hitting each other a few times earlier. Both men know what is at stake and realise they have to get rid of the biggest threat at all costs. It's like a standout handicap match for 10 minutes with a cool "all out" style of climax at the end where everybody just throws everything at each other.

The timing and such is done well in this. Half the time the heels look like a well oiled machine, viciously tearing Rocky apart without sacrificing the pace. There's no boring methodical sections even during the beatdown periods. All three guys bust their ass for the full amount of time so that there's no filler. Some cool revenge and comedy (in a good, satisfying way - not cheap) spots with the heels getting what's coming to them. The whole match is layed out pretty successfully, because the momentum is constantly changing and they nail that unpredictable, ever changing environment of a triple threat match. This has slipped through the cracks somewhat, but was a lot better than the average meaningless Raw main event. Good, solid match that achieved exactly what it needed to.

***
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:22 am

Raw 2001 - Chris Jericho vs The Rock
This is a No Mercy rewatch, but I'm not sure of the exact date. It's 15+ minutes and a corker of a match really. It's a lot less complex, well rounded and meaningful than No Mercy. The intangibles aren't even half as good and the story is nowhere near as compelling. It's not deep, overly memorable or a match important enough to watch many times. That's all the stuff that puts it behind No Mercy or holds it back from being really fantastic. However, when just looking at it as a regular TV match, this is freakin' great. Action wise it's got a lot of similarities to No Mercy and there's plenty of structural comparisons you could draw. As usual these two meshed together superbly, worked at a first rate pace and had a hard hitting, high octane main event that went way above and beyond the regular TV main event from this year. Everyone should give it a watch, because it's a hell of a TV battle considering I've never seen it mentioned. Rating wise we're looking at *** - ***1/4 I guess. Probably the latter. Main factor that would stop me going that high is that it's a match I could easily totally forget about it within a couple of weeks. It's a good ride while it lasts but is basically a watered down NM 2001 encounter if you wanted to look at it critically, which is why it lacks replay value.
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:43 am

Raw 2001 (January 8th) - Kurt Angle vs Steve Austin
Crazy, intense, big time match that acts as a worthy addition to the credentials of Austin's 2001. Austin is one of Angle's greatest opponents and he comes out on fire. Angle played a successful persona during this reign as the guy who survived when he had no right to - which is why he works so well at taking a beating without whoring out a heap of big time moves. Basically that means the story can be kept simple but it always works effectively. The simple backbone of the match is a pissed off Austin getting his first one on one title shot in a long time, against the heel that everybody finally wanted to see get what's coming to him. Austin comes out in a frenzy, going for a superplex in the first minute - which costs him. Standard heel taking advantage of the face's overeagerness, but I always enjoy touches like that.

Austin outdoes Angle for a while with some crazy brawling, while soon enough Angle's desperate suplexes break up the onslaught and get him back on top. There's plenty of desperate, asshole moves by Angle such as choking him against the ropes. His character playing during this time was mostly superior to in later years. Austin's heated come back was excellent too, with HHH denying him of a title win at the end. Two excellent characters, the king of brawling tuning in a top performance and Angle doing everything required of him = a hell of a fun match. Has a good shot at my list.

***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:44 am

Raw 2001 (19th of February) - Angle & Benoit vs Rock & Austin
Both the Austin/HHH and Angle/Rock feuds are pretty big at this point, with this being the last interactions before No Way Out. All guys involved have great chemistry with each other and are in good form at this point, so this was never gonna be anything less than good. Even before his heel turn Austin was absolutely on fire with the intensity he brang to his matches - making everything a big ol' fight. Austin and Rocky bring the energy + charisma, while Benoit & Angle bring smart work and effective heel wrestling to the table. It's a nice clash. Austin grabbing the ropes during an abdominal stretch on Benoit and laughing at an irate HHH is my favourite part of the match. More good stuff, that's so easy to sit through even though it's nothing that's really complicated.

***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:47 am

Raw 2001 (28th of May) - Steve Austin vs Chris Benoit
They have a bunch of great themes to play off here. Basically Benoit has been through hell lately, wrestling 5 falls at JD, had a brutal battle with the Power Trip and of course suffering collosal damage in the TLC match. Plus he has injured ribs and is recovering from a concussion. So there's the whole babyface facing adversity schtick cranked up to a maximum, with Benoit getting his first babyface title shot. It's Austin in 2001 - so you know it's awesomeness. His sadistic stare and smile at the start tells the story. Straight away he viciously attacks the ribs like an animal. Of course, Benoit bumping and selling wonderfully makes an already great section better. The thing keeping Benoit in it is that Austin seems helpless against The Crippler's submission arsenal, getting easily caught in several exchanges.

It's mostly an out of control brawl, with some exciting wrestling exchanges thrown in for good measure. No wonder Austin was so physically and mentally burnt out by 2002. He poured his heart, soul and body into every match during 2001. Benoit's aggressive comebacks are played out well too. This is a worthy contender to Austin/Angle from January, so it's must watch material. There's a rabid crowd as well. Benoit continued to be groomed into a hell of a superstar kayfabe wise, so this match has a sharp purpose too. The booking with Benoit and Jericho around thsi time was spot on. A pissed off Benoit, deranged Austin, a good story and a wild brawl means it would be impossible for this NOT to be great. Another excellent encounter between two guys who meshed together brilliantly.

***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:50 am

The Rock Vs Steve Austin - WWF Title Steel Cage Match - April 2nd 2001
Its the night after WM17, and The Rock gets a rematch inside the steel cage. It was exactly what it needed to be; a vicious brawl, with Austin further establishing his heel character that he turned into the night before, and The Rock giving the fans what they wanted by beating the hell out of Austin and nearly winning the title, and taking it to McMahon too.

Of course, the fans didn't get everything they wanted, as The Rock didn't win the title, and HHH aligned himself with Austin and Vince, who proceeded to beat the shit out of Rocky.

It doesn't hold a candle to their WM 17 or 19 matches, but LOL, its still better than their Rebellion match later in the year .

Rating: ***
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:51 am

Chris Jericho Vs Kurt Angle - Raw 16th April 2001
Similar in ways to the Angle/Austin match from earlier in the year, at least from Angle's offence and strategy anyway. Jericho of course isn't the bawling kind of guy for the most part, so he adds something new and fresh compared to the Austin matches. Anyway, enough of that lol. There is some hate between the two guys, as they battled numerous times in 00, and were now getting mixed up in each other's feuds (Benoit feuding with Angle, Regal feuding with Jericho), and this was part one of two in terms of that. Angle again uses the suplexes smartly instead of randomly for the hell of it. Jericho sells well, and his comeback spots are nice too. It has a nice fast pace to it, considering its only about 10 minutes long (give or take a few minutes). I don't really know what else to say about it other than its a very nice match between the two as per usual. Regal comes out to attack Jericho, causing a DQ, which brings out Benoit who does an awesome attack on both guys (Regal gets knocked down, Benoit hits a German release and Angle does a backflip, landing on Regal. Could have been a little better without the ending, but it all makes sense storyline-wise.

Rating: ***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:52 am

Chris Benoit vs. William Regal - Raw April 16th 2001
Benoit is pissed off, so he goes for the finish straight away, dropping Regal with a back suplex, and then hitting the ropes for the headbutt, but he missed and Regal is able to gain control of the contest. Angle and Jericho are on the outside, watching the match after brawling a little at the start too lol. Its Benoit and Regal, so we are still treated to the stiffness we have come to expect from the two of them, however its toned down a LOT compared to their matches in WCW and their matches in 05 onwards. Regal's chest still gets turned redder than Sheamus would be if he spent any time in the sun. Jericho and Angle get involved in the finish too, and Benoit is able to get the win.

Rating: ***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:53 am

HHH Vs Jeff - IC Title (same show as the other 2 matches)
HHH is seriously pissed off that Hardy beat him on SD a few days ago, so he is out to prove that it was nothing more than a fluke that Jeff won. He goes right on the attack from the moment Jeff hits the ring, and goes right after the mid-section of Hardy. A lot of this match reminds me of HHH/Jericho LMS match, except it does have a boring period in the middle where HHH spends about 10 minutes locking in the same submission hold... . Jeff's comeback is pretty darn good with how they go about it; they really put over Jeff as the underdog who is able to beat HHH by out-cheating him (Matt and Lita helped out on SD), as he levels the Game with the IC title belt, sending HHH flying over the announcers table. Jeff is doing really well until... he goes to the ropes for a high risk manoeuvre and it doesn't pay off. HHH makes the same mistake too, and Jeff looks like he is going to retain, but ANOTHER high risk move from Jeff puts an end to any momentum he just had. Matt gets attacked backstage by Austin, so Lita goes to help him, but is cut off by Steve coming out to the ring. While we see Austin make his way down the ramp, we MISS Triple H winning the match! Way to go WWF, you killed this match . I loved everything about this match apart from the fact they screwed up the finish by NOT SHOWING IT.

Rating: ***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:56 am

Some matches from May 28th 2001 Raw:

Chris Benoit Vs Rhyno
This is just a few days after TLC III on SD, so Benoit's ribs are pretty much fucked. He and Jericho came out at the start of the show and mocked Vince (stand back! ), so Vince set up matches for Benoit and Jericho, and whoever performed the best would get a WWF Title shot against Austin later in the evening. Benoit knows he is injured, so he goes right for Rhyno, landing some vicious looking Germans to try and put the Man-Beast away early. But as quickly as Benoit wants to finish off Rhyno, Rhyno wants to finish Benoit just as quick, which is shown when Rhyno lands a SICK Gore right to the ribs of Benoit! Unfortunately for Rhyno, Benoit falls out of the ring, and this match won't end straight away. Rhyno tried to put away Benoit after the Gore, but the fighting spirit of Benoit is too much for even Rhyno to withstand, and its not long before the Man-Beast is tapping out to the Crossface following a cool reversal to the Gore. Short match, but Rhyno hits enough powerful offence to Benoit to really take advantage of the injured ribs and make it seem that Benoit was in a war, regardless of the time.

Rating: **

Chris Jericho Vs The Big Show (Hardcore Title Match)
Jericho is hurting as well, with his arm taped up, so he has an even bigger mountain to climb while facing The Big Show. Big Show dishes out one hell of a beating, hitting a couple of really awesome and unique moves with the weapons. Jericho might not be hurting as much as Benoit, but in a hardcore match with The Big Show basically makes them even I think lol. Like Benoit, Jericho sucks it up and manages to pick up a HUGE win, by beating Show for the hardcore title! He doesn't keep it for long though, as he gets a Gore on the top of the ramp, and Rhyno wins the belt .

Rating: **

Steve Austin Vs Chris Benoit (WWF Title)
Benoit gets the title shot because he was the most "impressive" to Vince McMahon. Of course, we all know its because he is the most injured, and gives Austin the biggest chance of retaining his belt. CF mentioned this in his write up of the match, with Benoit having wrestled numerous matches/falls at the JD PPV, then the next night he and Jericho faced Austin and HHH to win the tag titles, then defended them on SD a few days later in a TLC match, and now just a few days after that, he faced Rhyno to "impress" Vince enough to get a title shot... on the same night. Benoit has definitely had one hell of a week, and he was pretty much the FIP before the match even started, giving the match a solid story going into the thing. Earl Hebner is the referee, which only really matters because we are in CANADA for this Raw, and with McMahon and Austin working together, no doubt people were expecting a screwjob . Austin's game plan is simple; go after the ribs, and that is exactly what he keeps going to every time Benoit gets in some offence. Benoit's game plan is also simple in theory, but harder to execute because of those ribs; he needs to hit Austin with everything he has got, and keep going for submissions and pin attempts until he gets the job done. The fans are firmly behind Benoit, going fucking insane every time he locks in a submission hold, believing every time that Austin is going to tap out. Austin seems to realise after a few submission holds, that just kicking and kneeing those injured ribs of Benoit isn't enough to take him out, so he goes to the outside and uses the security wall to his advantage. We even see a suplex on the announcer's table, which doesn't break (and when the table doesn't break, I always think it looks even more brutal). The fighting spirit of Benoit comes out in this match too, as he puts himself at risk in order to beat Austin and finally win the big one. Benoit's selling of those ribs, and everything that he has been booked in for the last week really helps put over the resiliency of Benoit, and that magnifies ten fold when he kicks out of things like a superplex. The finishing stretch is pretty good, and the crowd are hot as hell for it all. They really believe that Benoit is going to win... until we get the damn screwjob. A really great match here, loved the whole Benoit story going into the match, and the way Austin worked the ribs and the match in general. Could have done without the screwjob, but whatever lol.

Rating: ****
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:58 am

Jericho Vs Austin - Raw June 4th 2001
Last week Benoit got a shot, but he was injured and didn't have much of a chance. This week, Jericho seems to be healthy, and with McMahon barred from ringside and Foley as the special enforcer, the odds are not in favour of the champion!

Austin tried to take Foley out of the equation at one point, as he launches Jericho right into the former commissioner, but Foley can't be taken out that easily. Austin seemingly gets taken off his game for just a moment because he is concerned with Foley, and it nearly costs him, but he manages to get his knees up for the Lionsault, and the sadistic champion is back on the attack.

Austin is back on top on this match, but again he loses concentration and turns his attention to Foley for no reason, and Jericho is able to take full advantage with a low blow.

One ref bump later, and Jericho locks in the Walls, and Foley takes over as ref, causing Regal to come out, and we get a big brawl on the outside, a chair shot to Jericho by Foley (unintentionally), and a near fall by Austin who manages to take advantage of the mayhem on the outside!

One stunner later and Austin still manages to do it, even with the odds stacked against him.

This one is a big step down from the Benoit matches, as there wasn't that instant story with the injury like the Benoit matches, and the only thing the match really had going for it is the fact that Jericho was desperate to beat Austin and become champion. Still a good TV match, but not something I will nominate or have on my list.

Rating: ***1/4
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