Mike Reviews: WWF Action!

Hello You!

I’ve had this particular DVD in my collection for a while and have never gotten around to giving it a proper looksee, so I decided to do a review on it.

I actually bought this as part of Silver Visions “Tagged Classics” range, which was where they would put two releases in one DVD box from their cavernous back catalogue. One good thing about these releases was that they kept the old WWF “scratch” logo on them, which meant that pre-WWE Network they were by far the best option for watching retro WWF events, as they weren’t full of the horrible blurring and sound edits you’d find on regular WWE releases.

Released in September of 2001, “Action!” is meant to be a collection of all the “most thrilling” events that took place in 2001. Somehow I kind of doubt that, but hopefully there’ll be some interesting nuggets of gold nestled amongst the usual pap. This is the sort of thing they’d just put on the Network in the form of a playlist these days, rather than going to the trouble of doing a whole standalone DVD/VHS release.

The other DVD in this Tagged Classic collection is simply called “Hardcore”, and features lots of matches from the hardcore division (Although I’m sure some stores got a bit confused and thought the DVD might need to go in the adult entertainment section of the shop). If you like this one then I might review that one in the New Year.

Anyway, less jibber jabber from me, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling eh?

Jonathan Coachman is our host as he calls 2001 “The dawn of new millennium…so to speak”. Who even talks like that FFS? He sends us to a match that “epitomises the efforts of the WWF Superstars”.

Raw is War – 1st of January 2001
Hardcore Title
Champ: Raven Vs Taz

We join the bout in progress with Raven putting a noose over Taz’s head and then dragging him through the crowd to the backstage. Raven had just managed to recently upset Steve Blackman (The man who was being called “The Greatest Hardcore Champion” of all time). Both men brawl into the women’s locker room, where Taz gives Raven a swirly.

We cut to Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly and Steve Blackman adding themselves to the brawl, as the Title was currently being defended under “24/7” rules. Raven uses the commotion to hit Crash with a piece of wood (possibly a chair leg) and get the pin before scampering off.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: RAVEN
RATING: N/A

This was clipped and we missed a large chunk of the match, so I don’t feel fair in rating it.

Raven flees now that he’s retained his Title whilst the other men fight with one another.

Raw is War – 21st of May 2001
Hardcore Title
Champ: Rhino Vs The Big Show

We join this in progress with Rhino hitting Big Show with road signs outside the ring and peppering him with punches. We cut to Big Show going for a choke slam in the ring, but Rhino fights him off and works the big man over with a metal bin lid. Rhino goes for the GORE, but Big Show holds up a chair to block. Rhino tries to throw a bin at Big Show, but Show puts a stop to any follow up attack by kicking Rhino down and then choke slamming him onto the bin for the three count.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BIG SHOW
RATING: N/A

Again, I can’t rate it because it was probably a minute of clips, if that.

I wonder why they bothered sticking Hardcore stuff on this when they specifically gave the Hardcore Title its own DVD that was also released around the same time period?

Raw is War – 28th of May 2001
Hardcore Title
Champ: The Big Show Vs Chris Jericho

We join this with Jericho trying, and failing, to get something going against his monstrous opponent. Big Show sits Jericho on the top rope and tries to hit him with the ring steps, but Jericho kicks the steps into his face with a missile dropkick in order to win the Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: CHRIS JERICHO
RATING: N/A

You know the deal.

Jericho’s reign is sadly short-lived, as Rhino GORE’s him in the entrance way and wins the Title back. This pisses off the Canadian crowd, who were overjoyed that Jericho had won the Title.

Coach is back in the studio, where he sends us to some Bra & Panties action.

Smackdown – 29th of March 2001
Bra & Panties Match
Trish Stratus Vs Ivory

Vince McMahon apparently ordered his mistress Trish to get it on in this kind of bout so he could enjoy some “stress relief”. Ah, the women’s division in the Attitude Era eh? Ivory was the Women’s Champ during this period and was also a member of the anti-fun “Right To Censor” group. Ivory of course doesn’t want to compete in such a match, but Trish drags her into the ring to start it.

Both women roll around for a bit, which ends when Chyna (Ivory’s opponent at WrestleMania X-Seven) comes down and strips Ivory down to her bikini as a way to embarrass her ahead of their big Title match.

WINNER: TRISH STRATUS
RATING: DUD

I’ll be upfront and honest by stating that I just hate Bra & Panties matches, so this could be a rough section of the tape for me.

Ivory flees whilst Chyna laughs at her. Well, that’s one way to hype a blood feud for the biggest show of the year…

Raw is War – 21st of May 2001
Bra & Panties Match
Terri Vs Trish Stratus

Trish was a face by this stage and I think they were doing a thing where she was teaming with Steve Blackman until both of them got injured. Terri slaps Trish to start, so Trish chases her around ringside and then puts her back inside the ring for a bulldog. Trish removes Terri’s top (With great difficulty) but stops to celebrate and that allows Terri to go for hers.

The usual Bra & Panties cat fight action takes place, as Terri does her usual manager offence and removes Trish’s top. Both women are kind of making an effort to wrestle a bit here at least, I’ll give them that. Perry Saturn (Terri’s on-screen boyfriend at the time) comes down to the ring in his own pair of Bra & Panties (They were doing an angle where he had been knocked “goofy” by The APA) and that distracts Terri long enough for Trish to rip off her pants for the win.

WINNER: TRISH STRATUS
RATING: ½*

I’ll be somewhat lenient as they were kind of trying in that one.

Terri is in a quandary after the match as she doesn’t know whether to cover Saturn or herself up with a towel.

Coach gives us the backstory on Saturn, as Faarooq and Bradshaw gave him two stiff powerbombs to seemingly give him some kind of brain damage. In real life this angle was actually a punishment to Saturn as he beat up enhancement talent Mike Bell on one of the weekend shows and this was how the company decided to deal with it. We see that Raven added to Saturn’s issues by DDT’ing him on a chair. Saturn’s brain damage essentially causes him to say random things in the voice of a child, causing all kinds of bafflement and annoyance for tag partner Dean Malenko and girlfriend Terri. Yes, they had Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn as a tag team in 2001 and THIS was what they thought the best use of them was. They could have been having great matches with all the excellent teams they had during this era, but no, they had to do silly comedy instead.

Anyway, we move on to a tag match between The Dudleyz and Saturn/Malenko, as Saturn joins in with the “wassup drop” on his partner and demands that D-Von “get the muffins”, which earns him a 3-D for the three count. Bubba Ray and D-Von seem more bemused by the situation than anything else. Next we go to a double date, where Terri and Saturn go out with Malenko and a model one of Dean’s friends set him up with called Sherri. Of course “hilarity” ensues when the model actually finds Saturn’s nutty character to be charming and they get on like a house on fire as a result. Terri of course gets jealous and tries to hit Sherri with a metal tray, but she ends up getting Saturn instead, which leads to Saturn yelling “YAHTZEE”, which Saturn actually delivers with some decent comic timing at least.

Next we get clips of Test defeating Saturn in a Hardcore Title match when Saturn gets distracted by a mop. However, Saturn ends up becoming enamoured with the mop and starts calling it “Moppy”, which serves only to annoy Terri even more. So the next logical step in the story is for Terri to get “jealous” of the mop and demand Saturn choose between it and her. Saturn chooses the mop, because…

Thanks, Cenk.

So yeah, Saturn chooses the mop, which led to him bringing the mop down to the ring with him for his matches. The mop even made it into Smackdown Just Bring It on the PS2 of all things. The mop would eventually get put into a wood chipper by Raven and Saturn would flounder until he left the WWF in 2002.

Coach is back in the studio and says that being in the WWF isn’t easy when you’re as attractive as Trish Stratus and then sends to clips of her relationship with Vince McMahon. Basically Vince demanded a divorce from long time wife Linda McMahon (Thus turning the soap opera aspect of the show up to 11) and then took on Trish as a mistress just to really ram home the point that he was a seedy jerk. However, his daughter Stephanie got jealous of Trish, in a story that was actually quite creepy the more you think about it, thus leading to them having cat fights and the like. They actually had a pretty decent brawl at No Way Out 2001, which ended when Regal laid out Trish with the Regal Cutter to give Stephanie the win.

This seemingly infuriated Vince and he demanded a Regal and Stephanie Vs Vince and Trish match. However, it all ended up being a ruse, as Vince eventually sided with Trish and allowed Stephanie to dump faeces on her. Vince even delivers the “you were just a toy I got bored of playing with” line, which is something most of the WWE roster can sympathise with these days. This leads us to Trish begging Vince for forgiveness on Raw, so Vince makes her get on her knees and bark in order to prove it. Trish relents and does so (Whilst the crowd roars it’s approval like an absolute bunch of weapons) in a scene that was actually cut from the UK version of the show because it was considered too risqué (And this is coming from the country that thinks “Love Island” is a good idea)

Thankfully Trish ended up getting some measure of revenge on Vince by helping Shane McMahon defeat him at WrestleMania X-Seven. They even went on to say that Trish had been a double agent during most of the period she was degraded, as she had managed to get Linda McMahon off her medication so that she could regain control of the WWF. Whether that was always the intention I couldn’t say, but at least they made a bit of an effort to give Trish some form of agency and all her sacrifices weren’t for naught.

Coach is back in the studio and sends us to a recap of the Spike Dudley and Molly Holly relationship. This was essentially a version of Romeo and Juliet, as the other members of the Dudley and Holly clans were against the idea of the two getting together. It was actually quite a sweet little story line, as Spike and Molly had good chemistry as the two nicest characters on the roster and the story of them overcoming all odds to become a couple was a fun one. Sadly it didn’t last long as Molly ditched Spike later in the year to join up with The Hurricane as his new sidekick. One of the best bits of the story was Spike laying on a table to try and stop The Dudley’s putting Molly through a table, only for them to do it anyway and turn heel in the process. In a cute bit all Spike and Molly care about when they are being tended to by medics is how the other one is doing. Both wrestlers are just so earnest in their delivery that it really works. This is one of the highlights of the tape. The pop from the crowd when Spike and Molly eventually kiss shows how over the story was getting.

Back to Coach in the studio, as he gives us a recap on Stone Cold Steve Austin going heel at WrestleMania X-Seven, which led to a very entertaining heel character but ended up killing off the Attitude Era as the character wasn’t a success at the box office. Stone Cold ruined things right out of the gate by doing the old “I don’t owe you an explanation” non-explanation for his heel turn, which is a sure fire way to make people not care about a new heel character pretty much instantly. They tried really hard to get him booed, by having him beat up best friend Jim Ross (Whilst Vince McMahon yelled “open him up” like the biggest jerk bully enabler on planet Earth) and then wellying the crap out of Lita with a steel chair.

They then jump from April to June, showing the hype video for the Austin Vs Jericho Vs Chris Benoit match from King of the Ring 2001. This leads to him going nuts and hugging Vince McMahon after years of hating him, causing Vince to be mightily weirded out in a hilarious sell job from both men. Make no mistake, this character was hugely entertaining and reminded me a lot of Steve’s old Hollywood Blondes gimmick with Brian Pillman, but with a rougher meaner edge to it. Upset by the idea of a triple threat match, Austin gets a petition together to get the match changed, but when he insults Molly Holly it causes Spike to rip the petition up. The two ended up having a week and half long mini-feud that really got across Austin’s insufferable heel bully character and actually made Spike look like more of a star by standing up to him. Sadly they weren’t interested in actually giving Spike anything much in the matches themselves, which was all the feud was lacking to really help get Spike to the next level.

Austin getting progressively more paranoid that Vince might no longer be on his side is great stuff and the two men are just fantastic in all the skits. It’s just a shame that, good as they were, the skits just weren’t what the fans wanted Stone Cold to be doing and house show attendance and TV ratings reflected that.

Coach is back in the studio and sends us to highlights of all the crazy stuff Vince McMahon got up to in 2001. This led to a now revived Linda McMahon demanding a divorce of our own, thus giving Vince a taste of his own medicine for his antics earlier in the year. Vince is of course terrified of getting divorced, not because he loves Linda but because he doesn’t want to give up half of his assets to her in the resulting divorce agreement. This leads to Vince giving a pandering interview in the ring, saying he will fight the divorce because he thinks divorce is wrong because he’s a role model. Vince as the insincere heel trying to avoid his comeuppance by twisting things is always funny.

Things pick up a bit for Vince, as he manages to put WCW out of business. However, in typical Bond villain style, Vince decides he’ll sign the contract to buy WCW at WrestleMania X-Seven, which gives Shane McMahon time to sneak in and sign the contract out from under his father. That was always such a great little story detail, as Vince’s arrogance and hubris ended up costing him big time. With WCW now under enemy control once again, Vince decides to buddy up to Kurt Angle, much to Austin’s chagrin. Austin getting jealous of Kurt leads to some genuine hilarity, with Kurt actually getting over as a babyface in the process due to being so entertaining in the role.

So with that important plot point established, we get the Invasion, as WCW guys start showing up on Raw to cause bother, with Mike Awesome firing the first shot by pinning Rhino for the Hardcore Title. WCW were actually pushed as the underdog babyfaces to start, which ended up having to be changed because the WWF fans had been fed on a prolonged diet of being told to hate WCW, which meant they were never going to get on board with WCW as the faces in this feud. WCW was actually supposed to get their own show around this time, but they couldn’t secure a deal for another network to host it and both TNN and UPN pretty much vetoed the idea of Raw or Smackdown becoming a WCW show instead. Thus WCW had to just” invade” every week until they were just regular characters on the show, which severely lessened the impact of them even being there to begin with.

Vince gets up to his usual perving ways when Torrie Wilson shows up to try and get herself a job. In a funny moment Kurt Angle is the perfect gentleman and shakes her hand when she shows up, thus causing both Austin and Vince to glare at him. Vince ends up getting embarrassed as usual, as Torrie gets him to strip, just in time for Linda McMahon to show up and catch him in the act. Vince McMahon booking himself to snog Torrie on literally her second day in the company is one of those things that makes me wonder how Linda has stayed with him all these years. It’s also something I don’t think he’d remotely get away with these days either.

Coach is back in the studio and sends us to more clips of the build up to Invasion, as the all the ex-ECW guys on the WWF and WCW rosters join up with Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer to form a third ECW faction in the Invasion. It was actually one heck of an angle and they probably could have milked it for weeks with ECW attacking both WWF and WCW until eventually picking a side, but sadly they just blew it all off in the same night when the ECW guys joined up with the WCW ones to form “The Alliance”. Ultimately this was down to the fact that the WWF didn’t actually own the ECW name at this stage and were essentially leasing it for each show, so they needed to team up the ECW guys with the WCW ones so they could justify the name change. Personally I liked Jed Shaffer’s idea to call them “The Fringe” in his excellent “Re-writing The Book” article where he tackled the Invasion, and that would have at least allowed the third faction to cause more havoc before finally joining up with the WCW guys. To be honest, ECW joining up with WCW wasn’t the silliest of ideas, as the WWF being the last company standing meant that it made sense for the two dead companies to band together, but making Stephanie McMahon the owner of ECW instead of Paul Heyman just made the story feel like another “McMahon Vs McMahon” feud, rather than something special.

The dates for this are all over the place by the way, as we cut to Stone Cold playing the guitar, which according to this tape was the 5th of April 2001, when it really happened during the Invasion which was 2-3 months later. Kurt Angle comes in to play some guitar as well, and plays “Jimmy Cracked Corn” for Vince with his own homemade lyrics, thus getting one of the biggest laughs from a crowd I’ve ever heard. These three together were a riot. Austin and Angle as squabbling kids trying to gain Vince’s approval is fantastic.

We get a video package next of Vince McMahon begging Austin to go back to being “the old Stone Cold”. Austin refuses at first, but eventually relents on the go-home Raw for the Invasion pay per view. This would have been the perfect time to turn Austin back, as the crowd were ready for it and his wacky heel character had pretty much peaked by this stage as well. Sadly the WWF had other ideas and decided to not only keep him heel but to also make him join The Alliance by helping them win the main event of Invasion. Austin at least deemed us worthy of an explanation this time, as the reason for him turning heel was that he was jealous of Vince giving Angle so much attention. The angle where Austin shows up to rescue the WWF from The Alliance is fantastic and you can see why the Invasion show did such a good buy rate because the fans had wanted ass-kicking babyface Austin for months and the tantalising possibility of him being back energised the fan base.

We close off with Vince McMahon ending The Rock’s “suspension” (In real life he had gone to make The Scorpion King so Vince storyline suspended him after Mania) so that he can return and help in the invasion. Shane McMahon tries to get him to join The Alliance instead.. Strangely they end the tape with Kurt Angle beating Booker T for the WCW Title though rather than showing Rock returning to the WWF. Was there any particular reason for such a cliff hanger? Did they have an “Action! Volume II” in the works or something?

DVD Extras

These are a mixture of matches and angles

Where’s Old Stone Cold?

From the 21st of July Smackdown (Although take with a pinch of salt considering how some of the dates on this have been all over the place)

Vince McMahon comes down to the ring and tries to convince Stone Cold Steve Austin to go back to being the old Stone Cold again. He even goes as far to offer himself up for a Stunner, but Stone Cold isn’t down with it and walks away as Vince gets increasingly more desperate. This was a decent enough segment and Austin finally coming back as his old self on the following Raw was great stuff, but sadly they decided to revert him back to being a heel a week later despite the crowd clearly being ready to cheer him again.

Smackdown – 26th of July 2001
WCW Title
Champ: Booker T Vs Kurt Angle

This is in Angle’s hometown of Pittsburgh and came about because Austin ducked out of defending his WWF Title against The Olympic Hero by offering up Booker T instead.  Booker T and the WCW guys had mostly been faces when they debuted but he’s a sneering anti-WWF heel now that the invasion has kicked into full swing. Angle is of course hugely over in his hometown and the announce team of Jim Ross and Michael Cole push that he can get the WWF back on track here by finally taking one of the major Titles off an Alliance member. At the time I think The Alliance had quite a few WWF belts in their stable, so Angle taking one of theirs would be a big deal.

Angle gets the better of Booker in the early going, running wild with punches and clotheslines as opposed to technical wrestling. Booker flees the ring, but Angle follows him out and continues to clobber him all over ringside before putting him back in for a vicious looking release German Suplex. Angle makes the mistake of heading up for a moonsault though, which Booker dodges by rolling out of the way. Booker covers the downed Angle following that for two and then starts working the challenger over.

Booker throws Angle out of the ring and then takes the fight into the crowd. Angle manages to fight back momentarily, so Booker flings him into the steel steps to put a stop to that. Booker is working well as a ruthless cold heel here, which was kind of new for me as I first started watching WCW in 1999 when it hit Channel 5 here in the UK, and Booker was pretty much a face for that entire run. Angle makes the odd sporadic comeback attempt, but every time he does Booker is able to cut him off again.

The fans stick with their hometown hero though and he eventually makes the comeback before getting an overhead belly to belly suplex for two. Angle sets Booker up on the top rope and brings him down with a big superplex, which is the cue for The Alliance and WWF factions to run down for a big brawl. Kanyon (Who was actually getting a bit of push before it got curtailed for whatever reason. I’m guessing that being associated with Diamond Dallas Page probably didn’t help him) hits Angle in the back with a chair during the commotion for a double down.

The two factions brawl into the crowd, whilst Booker makes a cover back in the ring for two. Angle keeps fighting but Booker is able to catch him with an awesome jumping side kick for two. That was a proper Inoki kick out for Angle there, as he basically just raised his shoulder with little to no fanfare. Earl Hebner ends up getting bumped by Booker, which means he isn’t there to count the pin when Angle gets the Olympic Slam. Angle goes to the ankle lock, but that’s Stone Cold’s cue to come down to the ring with a Stunner. Booker laughs thinking the win is academic, but Angle catches him with the Ankle Lock out of nowhere for the submission win.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: KURT ANGLE
RATING: ***1/4

This was a really good TV main event, with it basically being all action from start to finish. I actually thought the finish was really clever, as pretty much all the crowd thought it was over after the Stunner but they subverted your expectations by having Angle still find a way to win and also made Booker become a victim of his own hubris. If he’d just gone after him right away he might have won, but he didn’t because he’s a HEEL and its okay for heels to be overconfident jerks that end up getting hoist by their own petard. This was also a big step in making Angle come across as a leader on the WWF side, as he overcame the odds to win the Title despite half the planet running in to try and stop him. Sadly they ruined it a bit by taking the belt off him the next week, but he restored a bit of his lustre by having a great match with Austin at Summer Slam.

Austin seethes from the aisle way, shocked that Booker somehow managed to lose, whilst Angle celebrates with the WCW Title in front of his adoring hometown crowd. Hey, guys winning in their hometown is kind of awesome, maybe they should do it more? Nah, that’s obviously CRAZY talk on my part!

Smackdown – 12th of April 2001
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Triple H Vs Jeff Hardy

This happened the show after Triple H and Stone Cold left The Hardyz and Lita in a broken heap. As a way to sort of make up for it, they gave Jeff a Title shot at Triple H here and had Matt win the European Title (Which he held for a pretty long time all considered). Jeff had attacked Triple H, Austin and Stephanie earlier in the night to set this one up, so Triple H is majorly nettled and hammers away on Jeff right from the off.

Jeff eventually manages to get a bit of a shine with some dropkicks, and even manages to get the Whisper in the Wind for two. Triple H throws Jeff outside to buy himself some time and then follows him out there, only for Jeff to fight back, much to the chagrin of Stephanie who is watching backstage. Interestingly they just shoot Stephanie sitting down and watching the TV like a normal human rather than making her stand at a weird angle so that she can be fully in shot. I wish they’d go back to that quite frankly, as the way they do it now looks really fake and lame.

Jeff goes for his sloppy running cross body off the barricades, but Triple H counters it into an equally sloppy powerslam. Clearly unhappy, they just have Jeff jump off the apron so that Triple H can do the move again, and that looks to be the cut off. Why not just cut the first cross body out? It’s a taped show, you might as well. Jeff keeps trying to fight back, with the crowd being with him every time he does, whilst Triple H seems happy just to lay a whupping on his challenger without really trying too hard to win.

Triple H locks in a sleeper hold (Which he actually used to beat Jeff in a 2002 match they had) but Jeff fights out with a jaw breaker and gets a Russian Leg Sweep before heading up top for the Swanton Bomb. Triple H shoves referee Tim White into the ropes to cause Jeff to fall however and then knocks White down when he complains about it. This allows Matt Hardy to come in with a chair shot however, which leads to Jeff Hardy getting the Swanton for the three count.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: JEFF HARDY
RATING: **1/2

There were some awkward moments in this one at times as they didn’t always seem to be on the same page, but overall it was fine for a TV main event and the pop for Jeff winning was great. One of those matches that is more a great moment rather than a great match.

We don’t get much time to see Jeff celebrate, as he and Matt flee whilst Triple H looks angry.

Smackdown – 5th of April 2001
WWF intercontinental Title
Champ: Chris Jericho Vs Triple H w/ Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley

For some reason this is after the previous match on the match listing, even though it happened the week before. As you can see, they were playing hot potato with the belts quite a lot during this period and it was doing a pretty effective job of sapping them of their prestige. Triple H had only just joined up with the newly heel Stone Cold on the previous episode of Raw, so this match was to ensure that both Austin and Triple owned the two main singles Titles in the company.

Vince McMahon apparently set this one up as a way to punish Jericho for helping Trish Stratus against Stephanie on the previous show. Triple H jump starts things from the beginning and clobbers Jericho with punches and stomps. Jericho fights back with punches of his own and then back body drops Triple to the outside before following him out with a cross body. Michael Cole does his usual shtick of repeating whatever buzz word was fed to him on that particular day by constantly referring to Jericho as a “lone wolf” and a “vigilante”. I’m not sure those two nicknames lasted long.

Jericho puts Triple H back inside and goes for a missile dropkick from the top rope, but Triple H dodges it and starts getting some heat on the Champ. Stephanie gets some cheap shots in as well whenever the opportunity allows. Jericho eventually manages to fight out of a sleeper and counters a Pedigree attempt into a catapult into the turnbuckle. Bulldog and Lion Sault look to end things, but Stephanie distracts the referee.

Whilst the referee is dealing with Stephanie, Jericho locks Triple H into the Walls of Jericho and Triple H actually taps out, but the referee is too busy to notice. This allows Jericho’s rival William Regal to come down with a chair. Jericho clocks Regal with the chair and then puts Stephanie in The Walls, but this allows Triple H to brain Jericho with a sickening chair shot for two. Triple H is undeterred though and simply spikes Jericho with a Pedigree to win the Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: TRIPLE H
RATING: ***1/4

They protected Jericho really well there by giving him two visual victories and also having him kick out of the chair shot before finally succumbing. The match itself was really good, because it was Triple H Vs Chris Jericho and I can’t remember the last bad match they had. Even the match they had a Mania X-8 was good, the crowd was just knackered after Hogan/Rock.

Triple H goes to celebrate with his new belt when the video cuts back to the main menu. I’m unsure why they had to cut away so quickly there, at least let us see the celebration.

Smackdown – 22nd of March 2001
Edge, Christian and Rhino Vs Bubba Ray, D-Von and Spike Dudley

Rhino had only just recently debuted in the WWF and was getting protected pretty well due to Paul Heyman having some influence on the booking. Spike had only recently just debuted as well in the unusual role of actually being on the same side of his half-brothers. Any keen watcher of ECW from about 1997 onwards would know that Spike had been feuding with Bubba Ray and D-Von non-stop for years prior to coming to the WWF.

This was just after the announcement of TLC II at WrestleMania X-Seven and it’s a fast paced match, with both teams trading the momentum and making a lot of quick tags. Spike gets a series of roll ups on Christian but ends up on the wrong end of an Edge assisted hotshot, which leads to him taking the heat. Spike not surprisingly sells the beat down really well, and is eventually able to dodge an Edge elbow drop before making the hot tag to D-Von.

D-Von runs wild on the heels and gets a lovely powerslam on Christian, only for Rhino to come in and mow him down. The Dudleyz almost kill Rhino with a flapjack and then do the WASSUP head butt before heading outside for tables. Christian moves the table out of the way and stacks it in the corner, which ends up leading to Edge taking out both Dudleyz with sick chair shots for the DQ.

WINNERS BY DISQUALIFICATION: THE DUDLEY FAMILY
RATING: **

A nice quickly paced TV match that gave everyone a chance to hit something. The finish was ultra-lame, but I guess they didn’t want either team doing a job so close to Mania?

Rhino GORE’s Spike through the table post-match.

Raw is War – 8th of January 2001
WWF Title
Champ: Kurt Angle Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin

I think we’re mostly getting matches from the TV shows here because they didn’t want to eat into the sales of the pay per view video releases. Angle was essentially doing a modern day Honky Tonk Man gimmick here, in that he was a totally undeserving Champion who only ever managed to retain his Title if someone ran in to help him or the match ended in a count out/DQ. Whilst that character would have been fine for one of the secondary Titles it really didn’t work for the World Champ. They eventually had him become an insane ankle locking nutter by the time he dropped the belt, but it was a little too late.

Austin clobbers Angle in the early going, but Angle is able to block a superplex and get a brief spurt of offence in before Austin starts beating him up again. This tended to be an issue with Austin’s babyface act during this era, as he would just gobble up his heel opponents most of the time and wouldn’t let them get some actual heat on him, aside from Triple H. Angle tries getting some quick roll ups to put Austin away, but Austin kicks out and then throws Angle to the outside of the ring, where he follows up by clotheslining the Champ into the front row.

William Regal runs down with a metal pipe to try and attack Austin, but Austin fends him off and then clocks him with a chair (Thankfully Regal got his hands up before the chair connected, because he’s not an idiot). Austin clearly has his working boots on tonight, as he dives off the barricade with a clothesline onto Angle and then puts the Champ back in for two from Earl Hebner. Austin gets ten punches to a downed Angle and makes the cover for another two. Amazingly the crowd totally bought that as a near fall too, which shows just how lowly they thought of Angle during this reign.

Angle manages a desperation overhead belly to belly suplex and that finally allows him to work over Austin for a sustained period of time. Austin takes a bunch of suplexes here, which probably didn’t do his surgically repaired neck any favours. That being said, Austin was busting out great matches with lots of different people during this run, and a lot of it was down to him pushing himself physically. It didn’t help him out in the long run, but it did add more top matches to an already stellar collection.

Austin fights back and opens a can of the ass whip on the Champion, with the crowd going nuts for basically everything. Austin gets a spine buster and then comes off the second rope with an elbow before prepping for a Stunner. Angle manages to block the Stunner on two occasions but third time ends up being a charm and he delivers it seemingly for the three count. However, Triple H pulls out Hebner on the count of two, which causes Jim Ross to yell “damn his soul!” on commentary.

Austin calls Triple H into the ring so they can settle their long running issue, which leads to them trading punches to a big pop from the crowd. I’m not sure if the match has actually ended here or not as we haven’t had the bell ring and there’s been no official announcement from the ring announcer. Earl Hebner recovers as Triple H clocks Austin with the steel pipe that Regal brought down to the ring earlier, which busts open wide open. That would look to be the end of things as refs swarm both men.

NO CONTEST
RATING: ***

That was well on its way to being one heck of a match until the terrible finish.

Austin would get revenge on Triple H at the Royal Rumble by costing him his Title match with Kurt Angle, which would set up the big blow off between the two men at No Way Out 2001.

Raw is War – 25th of June 2001

This is the awarding of the King of the Ring trophy to Edge

William Regal and his assistant Tajiri come out, with Tajiri carrying the KOTR trophy. Regal says it is honour to award the trophy to King Edge. Edge’s win was lessened somewhat by having the final so early on in the card and the fact he needed Shane McMahon to help him win. Regal does his un-hip Bumbling Englishman shtick, which leads to Christian hogging the trophy and trying to make the moment about him, teasing his eventual heel turn later in the year. Edge says that it’s now time for “The Era of Awesomeness”, which actually gets a pop from the crowd. Billy Gunn (The 1999 winner) interrupts though to complain about not being allowed into the tournament and essentially turns himself heel by calling the crowd morons. Edge puts him in his place though, by saying that he won’t “Billy Gunn” his King of the Ring Title. A challenge is made for a match later, and Edge closes the promo by calling Gunn “Billy Bitchcakes”. Wow that was an utter evisceration. I wonder who Gunn pissed off to get that sort of treatment?

Raw is War – 2nd of April 2001
WWF Title
Steel Cage Match
Champ: Stone Cold Steve Austin w/ Vince McMahon Vs The Rock

This is the rematch from WrestleMania X-Seven the previous night, with the freshly heel turned Austin defending his newly won Title. Rock can’t wait to get his hands on Austin, but this allows Austin to slam the door on his face and drag him out of the cage for a brawl. Rock fights back and clocks Austin with the WWF Title belt, which opens up a cut on Austin’s head. Rock eventually puts Austin’s bloody and battered body into the cage to start the match properly. Tim White enters the cage as well, making me think that pins and submissions count in this one. And indeed, as I type that Rock makes a cover for two.

Austin fights back however and slugs away on his challenger, catapulting him into the top turnbuckle and then delivering a spine buster for two. Vince toadies for Austin, handing him a chair so he can work Rock over with it. Rock replies with The Sharpshooter and cinches it in, which leads to Austin actually tapping out but the referee is distracted by Vince, so the match keeps going. Rock gets The People’s Elbow next, but Vince drags White out of the cage, so White actually shoves the boss down and gets back in the ring, where Rock delivers the Rock Bottom.

Vince comes into the ring to just straight up attack White this time, so Rock clobbers him in return, but that allows Austin to catch him with a low blow. Austin and Vince put the boots to Rock, which is Triple H’s cue to come down to the cage with a sledgehammer. The fans are ready for a Triple H face turn, but Triple H attacks The Rock instead to establish him and Austin as a heel tag team. The plan was to eventually have Triple H turn on Austin in time for Summer Slam, but plans changed when Triple H tore his quad in May.

NO CONTEST
RATING: ***

Good brawl that the crowd was super invested in. Just a shame they couldn’t at least bother to have Austin pin Rock officially so we could actually have a winner.

Austin, Vince and Triple H share a beer post-match (Although I’m sure Triple H took little more than a sip of his).

Raw is War – 4th of June 2001
WWF Title
Special Outside The Ring Ref: Mick Foley
Champ: Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Chris Jericho

Linda McMahon had apparently made Foley the ringside ref here after Vince McMahon had screwed Chris Benoit the previous week. Austin jumpstarts things (Anyone else noticing that a lot of the matches on this DVD all kind of follow the same formula? Things were getting very samey at the top of the card during this Era, which is probably why it isn’t as fondly remembered. Pretty much every match on this has featured the heel jumping the face to start out the match with the face then fighting back to do the shine).

Case in point, Jericho fights back from Austin’s jump attack and applies The Walls of Jericho, which leads to Austin crawling to the ropes to break the hold. Austin bails to the floor and cuts Jericho off, but he stops to jaw with Foley whilst standing on the apron and that allows Jericho to dropkick him back down to the floor. Austin replies by throwing Jericho in to Foley to bump him. Jericho fights back though and Foley recovers quickly enough to throw Austin back into the ring.

Bulldog looks to set up the Lion Sault, but Austin gets his knees up to block it, in a counter that would hurt even more taking into account Austin’s big heavy knee braces. Austin gets the heat on Jericho now, stomping away and just generally being a jerk. Paul Heyman is great on commentary, just sucking up to Austin and calling him an “American Hero” on par with the likes of Richard Nixon. Jericho eventually manages to catch Austin with a low blow as payback to a previous one from Austin earlier in the match, and then makes a comeback with punches and kicks in the corner.

Jericho snaps off a super rana from the top rope, but Austin is able to kick out at two. Earl Hebner gets bumped when Austin ducks a Jericho flying forearm, which leads to Jericho applying The Walls of Jericho. This brings down Regal to attack Mick Foley in order to stop Jericho from winning. Jericho attacks Regal, but when Foley tries to hit Regal with a chair he gets Jericho instead. Austin rolls Jericho back in and makes the cover, but Jericho is able to kick out. Austin quickly snaps off a Stunner though, and that’s enough for the three count.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
RATING: **

This didn’t really do much for me and it was essentially the Triple H match form earlier, with Jericho having it won until Regal ran in, before eating a chair shot for two and then finally succumbing to the heels finisher.

Jericho and Foley batter Regal post-match whilst Austin flees.

Need A Hug?

This is from the 2nd of July episode of Raw is War in Tacoma. This was I believe the show where Booker T and Buff Bagwell had that awful match for the WCW Title which caused them to essentially “reboot” the whole invasion storyline.

Vince McMahon comes down to the ring, still acting like a heel, as WCW were still meant to be the babyfaces in the storyline at this point. Vince hypes up the Invasion pay per view, comparing the WWF to Washington DC itself, whilst WCW is the rest of Washington State. Vince begins to guarantee that the WWF will win at Invasion but he gets interrupted by Kurt Angle of all people. Angle sucks up to Vince, saying that Booker T lacks Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence, before sending to footage of Booker T attacking both Stone Cold and Vince McMahon in subsequent nights. Angle places the blame for this on Austin, saying that Booker has been making the WWF Champ look like a jackass. This is all that Austin can stand to here and he storms down to the ring. Angle tries to calm the situation down by saying that he vows to protect both Austin and Vince from further Booker attacks. Austin is having none of that and says that he and Vince don’t need Angle, because they are a team and it’s Angle who is the jackass. Austin demands that Vince tell Angle that he’s a jackass, but Vince instead suggests that Angle and Austin fight one another. Angle crosses the line at this stage by hugging Vince, which causes Austin to lose it and hug Vince himself! That is Shane McMahon’s cue to come out onto the ramp way, where he suggests a 10 man tag match for the main event of the Invasion pay per view. He then books Booker T Vs Buff Bagwell for the WCW Title, and warns Vince that Linda McMahon is watching, so he best be on his best behaviour. As you can see Linda was working the whole “let’s peacefully coexist” angle here, which would change in about a weeks’ time when WCW became pure heels. Sadly the disaster that was the Booker Vs Buff match is not included. This segment was wildly entertaining when Austin, Angle and Vince were interacting, and less so once Shane showed up.

Alliance Prepares For…

This is just a video package showing the gifts that The Alliance and Team WWF bought to try and entice The Rock to join their side. William Regal wins with his completely straight delivery of saying that he’s bought some cherry and apple pies for Rock, at which point Vince has to correct him by saying that Rock likes a different kind of pie. Regal was great there, with excellent comic timing.

In Conclusion

The WWE Network has kind of made DVD releases like this obsolete, as there’s nothing here you couldn’t find on there with liberal use of the search function. The main feature having so many video packages instead of just showing us the actual angles themselves didn’t help things either, as it just made the whole thing feel rushed and thrown together.

If you’re a WWF completest who wants to fill out your WWF/E collection, and you like the idea of having all of the matches in one easy to find place, then I guess it might be worth heading to Amazon or eBay to find this. Otherwise my recommendation would be to avoid WWF Action!

That’s all for today and I hope to see you all on Christmas Day for another review of ECW Hardcore TV, the last one of 1999!