Royal Rumble 2001

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The sheriff was back in town. After nearly a year on the shelf, Steve Austin returned to the WWF at Unforgiven 2000. And there was going to be hell to pay. He first found the man who had hit him with car and put him on the shelf. That was revealed to be Rikishi. Then Triple H was revealed as Rikishi’s accomplice. Both of them were met with the wrath of Stone Cold. And at the Royal Rumble the 29 men standing between Steve Austin and the WWF Championship were next on the list.

The Rest of the Card:

-The Dudley Boyz defeated Edge & Christian to win the World Tag Team Championship

-Chris Jericho defeated Chris Benoit in a Ladder match to win the Intercontinental Championship

-Ivory defeated Chyna to retain the Women’s Championship

-Kurt Angle defeated Triple H to retain the WWF Championship

The Match

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary.

Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan of The Right to Censor is #2. Matt Hardy is #3 and he and Jeff make quick work of Bull. Jeff and Matt proceed to fight. Because they’re dumb. #4 is Faarooq, he doesn’t last long. Twist of Fate, Swanton Bomb, he’s gone. Matt tries to eliminate Jeff but fails. They really should just rest and then work together. #5 is Drew Carey. Matt and Jeff eliminate each other as Carey gets into the ring. #6…is Kane. Carey tries to pay him off. Doesn’t work. Kane sets up for a Chokeslam but they’re interrupted by Raven at #7. Raven is the reigning Hardcore Champion and brings weapons to the ring with him.

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Carey climbs over the top rope to eliminate himself. Al Snow is #8, Perry Saturn is #9, Steve Blackman is #10. Kane continues to smash everyone. #11 is Grandmasta Sexay. He doesn’t last long before being tossed by Kane. Kane gets hot and clears the ring, eliminating Snow, Saturn, and Blackman. #12 is The Honky Tonk Man! Damn, I love Honky. He gets in the ring on the mic, says the crowd wants to hear him sing, and proceeds to sing his theme song. Kane smashes his guitar over his head and tosses him.

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#13 is The Rock and business is picking up. The Goodfather is #14, he lasts less than a minute before Rock dumps him. Tazz is #15, he lasts literally less than ten seconds before being eliminated by Kane. If he hadn’t already, this should have been about the time he realized it wasn’t going to work out for him as a wrestler in the WWF. Bradshaw is #16. #17 is Albert. Hardcore Holly is #18. JR is talking about Albert winning. Guess we need to pretend like something crazy could happen. K-Kwick is #19. Feel like this was just about the end of his initial run.

Val Venis is #20 as this match has settled into a rut. European Champion William Regal is #21. Test is #22 and he eliminates Regal.

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#23 is Big Show and business picks up. He hadn’t been seen since the summer when he was sent down to OVW to lose weight. He looks fatter than ever here though. Show eliminates Test and K-Kwick. He then dishes out Chokeslams to everyone in the ring but Rock. Rock goes toe-to-toe with Show and eliminates him! Show gets revenge by dragging Rock out to the floor and Chokeslamming him through the announce table.

#24 is Crash Holly. Everyone gangs up on Kane, but Undertaker shows up at #25 to bail him out. Defensible move because they proceed to team up and clean house. Everyone gets tossed until we’re down to Kane and Undertaker. They’re interrupted by Scotty 2 Hotty entering at #26. He’s gone in ten seconds. #27 is Steve Austin! Here we go. But he gets jumped by Triple H in the aisle. Triple H beats Austin down and busts him open. In past years the rule was that if you failed to reach the ring before the next entrant you were eliminated, but there’s no mention of that here.

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#28 is “The One” Billy Gunn. They didn’t put a whole lot of work into that gimmick. Rock drags himself back into the ring and gets pounded by Undertaker. #29 is Haku, making his return after years in WCW. #30 is Rikishi. He and Austin get into it on the ramp. Austin’s in the ring and firing on everyone. Austin eliminates Haku. Rikishi eliminates Undertaker with a Superkick. Rock dumps Rikishi after a low blow.

Down to four: Austin, Rock, Kane, and Billy Gunn. Seems like there’s always an odd man out. Gunn does manage to score with a FameAsser on Austin. But Stone Cold comes back and tosses him. Rock and Austin stare down and the crowd goes wild for it. Austin blocks a Rock Bottom and hits the Stunner. Austin and Kane got at it until Rock sneaks in for a Rock Bottom on Austin. Rock throws Kane through the ropes to the floor. As Austin and Rock are struggling Kane sneaks in and dumps Rock.

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Down to Austin and Kane. Chokeslam on Austin. At this point I actually wondered if they might go all the way with Kane after how strongly they had put him over. Kane brings in a chair, but Austin knocks it away. Austin escapes the Tombstone and Stuns him. Then he gets the chair and hits one shot, two shots, three shots to send Kane over the top to the floor and win the Royal Rumble.

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Rating: ****½. One of the best Rumbles. MVP is clearly Kane, he lasted over 50 minutes in there. Set the record for eliminations. So much good stuff here: Drew Carey, the Hardcore division, Big Show cleaning house, Austin’s fight. The battle between Austin and Kane alone was spectacular. And Jim Ross is at peak here as he’s putting over the moment of Austin having overcome spinal surgery. One year ago his career was in jeopardy, now he’s going to Wrestlemania.

The Aftermath

Austin would go to Wrestlemania to face The Rock, who defeated Kurt Angle to win the WWF Championship at No Way Out. In one of the most infamous moments in wrestling history, Austin would make a deal with the devil and align himself with Vince McMahon in order to win back the title he coveted.

 

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