Royal Rumble 2001 was the fourteenth annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It took place on January 21, 2001 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The main event was the Royal Rumble match, which Steve Austin won by last eliminating Kane to win the match, making it his third Royal Rumble win, the first person to ever do so in WWF history. Kane also set a record for the most eliminations. The match also saw Drew Carey enter the Royal Rumble. Featured matches on the undercard included a ladder match between Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit for the WWF Intercontinental Championship and a singles match between Kurt Angle and Triple H for the WWF Championship.
The main event at the Royal Rumble was the Royal Rumble match, a battle royal in which wrestlers entered the ring at regular timed intervals of approximately 120 seconds, attempting to eliminate each other by throwing opponents over the top rope and both of their feet touching the ground. The winner of the match received a match for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven. The match is scheduled annually and the scripted build up occasionally features qualifying matches. The Rock began discussing the Royal Rumble on the January 4 episode of SmackDown!, when he promised to win the Royal Rumble match for the second year in a row to earn the title match at WrestleMania with the first being the previous year's Royal Rumble event. On the following week's episode of SmackDown!, Vince McMahon, the WWF Chairman, added Stone Cold Steve Austin to the match. The same episode also featured a standard match involving four wrestlers contested between The Rock, Kane, Rikishi and The Undertaker, with the winner earning the right to enter at number 30 in the Royal Rumble match. The match was won by Rikishi.
A featured preliminary match at the Royal Rumble was WWF Champion Kurt Angle defending against Triple H in a standard match. The buildup to the match began on the January 8 episode of Raw, when Angle defended the WWF Championship against Steve Austin, which ended in a No Contest when Triple H interfered and ambushed Austin with a steel pipe. On the January 11 episode of SmackDown!, Vince McMahon announced that Angle would defend his title at the Royal Rumble event against Triple H. Leading up to the event, both men spoke about the match, with Triple H claiming that Angle only held the championship because he allowed him to, and Angle denying this.
Another featured preliminary contest at the Royal Rumble was a ladder match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, in which the champion, Chris Benoit, defended his title against Chris Jericho. In the match, the title belt was suspended above the ring from the ceiling, and the only method to win the competitors had to climb a ladder to retrieve the belt. Their feud started at WrestleMania 2000, when Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho challenged Kurt Angle both the Intercontinental title and the WWF European Championship in a Two-fall Triple Threat match. During that match, both men pinned each other in one fall each to win the respective championship from Angle. Since that event, Benoit would hold three pay per view victories over Jericho esp. at SummerSlam in the best 2 out of 3 falls match. On the January 4 episode of SmackDown!, Benoit defended his title against Jericho in a standard match. During the match, Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo) and Dean Malenko, Benoit's partners in the group of The Radicalz, interfered by attacking Jericho, causing him to win the match by disqualification but not the championship. On the January 8 episode of Raw, Jericho teamed with The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) against The Radicalz (Saturn, Malenko, and Benoit) in a six man tag team match, which Jericho won by pinning Benoit. On the January 11 episode of SmackDown!, Jericho demanded a title match at the Royal Rumble, and Benoit offered to give Jericho any type of match he wanted. Jericho then announced that their match would be a ladder match.
Before the event began and aired live on pay-per-view, an episode of Sunday Night Heat, one of the secondary television programs for WWF, was taped live. The show featured a tag team match between Lo Down (D'Lo Brown and Chaz) and Kaientai (Taka Michinoku and Shoichi Funaki). The match ended after Chaz pinned Funaki. Originally, the winning team was to send one of their members into the Royal Rumble match, but Drew Carey wound up being entered instead.
After Sunday Night Heat, the pay-per-view event began with a tag team match for the WWF World Tag Team Championship, where the champions, Edge and Christian, defended their titles against The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von). Throughout the match, both teams performed many offensive maneuvers, though The Dudley Boyz were able to gain the upper hand when they executed a 3D on Edge. This was followed by D-Von covering Edge for a successful pinfall, resulting in The Dudley Boyz winning the WWF World Tag Team Championship.
The following bout was WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit defending his title against Chris Jericho in a ladder match, which was to serve as the "blowoff" to their longstanding on and off rivalry.
The match featured both men performing a number of attacks and maneuvers on one another in an attempt to disable their opponent long enough to climb the ladder and retrieve the title belt suspended above the ring. At one point in the match, Benoit dove through the ropes headfirst at Jericho, but Jericho struck him in the face with a steel chair. Jericho also applied the Walls of Jericho at the top of the ladder onto Benoit. The end of the match came when Jericho pushed over the ladder while Benoit was ascending it, causing Benoit to fall out to the outside of the ring. Jericho then climbed the ladder and retrieved the Intercontinental Championship belt, winning the championship by doing so.
The third contest had WWF Women's Champion Ivory against Chyna in a standard match for the championship. Both women attempted to gain an advantage over the other, with Chyna controlling much of the match. The end of the match came when Chyna attempted a handspring back elbow on Ivory, who was in the corner of the ring. Chyna, however, fell to the canvas and (in storyline) injured her neck. Ivory then covered her for a successful pinfall, retaining her championship. Following this, commentator Jerry Lawler went into the ring to check on Chyna, and she was removed from the ringside area on a stretcher.
Main event matches
The penultimate match was the WWF Championship match between reigning champion Kurt Angle and the number one contender Triple H. Triple H had been named the number contender by his (then storyline) father-in-law Vince McMahon to set the match up. The match began as a mat based, hold for hold contest, but Trish Stratus then tried to interfere on Angle's behalf, only to then get into a catfight with Stephanie McMahon, who was in Triple H's corner. Stratus (Vince McMahon's storyline mistress) and Stephanie (McMahon's daughter and then storyline wife of Triple H) had been involved in their own feud due to vying for power as the WWF's "dominant female". After the fracas involving the two ladies on the outside (which had to be broken up by Vince himself), both Triple H and Angle accidentally hit the referee Earl Hebner, causing him to roll out of the ring. Triple H grabbed the title belt and tried to hit Angle with it, only to receive a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle then tried to hit Triple H with the belt, but Triple H ducked and gave him a Pedigree. As Triple H went outside to revive the referee, Stone Cold Steve Austin rushed into the arena, beating Triple H and giving him the Stone Cold Stunner as retaliation for Triple H costing Austin the title several weeks earlier on Raw. As Austin left the arena, Angle crawled over on top of Triple H to cover him for the pin, while Hebner recovered and made the count. Angle won the match and retained the WWF Title, with a very angry Triple H vowing to get even with Austin for costing him the match.
Closing the show was the traditional 30-man Royal Rumble match, where the winner would receive a WWF Championship match at WrestleMania X-Seven. The first two entrants were Jeff Hardy and Bull Buchanan (a member of Right To Censor at the time). They were joined by Matt Hardy who entered at No. 3, both Hardys worked together in eliminating Buchanan as well as Faarooq who entered at No. 4. Jeff and Matt then battled each other, and it was during this time that Drew Carey arrived at No. 5, being the first celebrity entrant in Rumble history.
Earlier in the night, Carey was backstage looking to speak with Vince McMahon about how to put together a successful pay per view. After thinking Carey was trying to hit on his (storyline) mistress Trish Stratus, McMahon offered Carey a spot in the Rumble (in hopes of Carey getting pummeled) as a way to promote his upcoming Improv All-Stars pay per view. Once Carey entered the ring, he stood aside, and watched as the Hardys eliminated each other. Kane then entered at No. 6. Carey tried to shake his hand as well as bribe him with cash, but Kane grabbed Carey by the throat and was about to chokeslam him when Hardcore Champion Raven entered the ring as entry No. 7, and attacked Kane with a Singapore cane. This gave Carey the opportunity to eliminate himself safely by climbing over the top rope.
Kane would then dominate the match, eliminating all of the wrestlers who came between No. 7 to 11. The Honky Tonk Man (who had not appeared in the WWF since the 1998 Royal Rumble) came in at No. 12 and started singing his entrance theme "Cool, Cocky, Bad", only to be greeted by a guitar shot in the head by Kane and eliminated immediately after. The Rock entered at No 13 and started brawling with Kane. The ring began to fill up in the next few minutes, and the tide turned when The Big Show made his return from months of inactivity, entering at No. 23. He eliminated Test and K-Kwik, then proceeded to chokeslam everyone else. When he got to The Rock, the Show received a low blow and was clotheslined over the top rope by The Rock. As Crash Holly made his way to the ring at No. 24, an irate Big Show dragged Rock from the bottom rope and chokeslammed him through the announcers' table. Just when the other wrestlers worked together in trying to eliminate Kane, The Undertaker made his arrival at No. 25 and saved Kane, and both of them eliminated everyone in the ring except The Rock (who was still unconscious due to Big Show's assault on him). Scotty 2 Hotty entered the ring at No. 26 and was quickly beaten up and eliminated by both Kane and Undertaker. Steve Austin entered at No. 27, but before he could enter the ring, he was assaulted and bloodied by Triple H who retaliated at Austin for interfering in his match against Kurt Angle earlier. The Rock rolled back into the ring and battled with both The Undertaker and Kane. Billy Gunn, Haku and Rikishi made up the last 3 entrants. Austin (entry No. 27) would actually be the last wrestler to enter the ring as he had just recovered from the beating and was coming to the ring at the same time as Rikishi, the 30th entrant who was the second to try to delay Austin's entry.
Once everybody had entered the ring, Austin eliminated Haku, and Rikishi superkicked the Undertaker, eliminating him. Rikishi then attempted to do a top-rope Banzai Drop on The Rock, but The Rock recovered quickly, giving Rikishi a low blow and causing him to fall over the top rope.
The final four consisted of Kane, The Rock, Austin and Gunn. Gunn hit the Fame Asser onto Austin, but Austin recovered quickly and eliminated Gunn. The Rock and Austin then battled each other after tossing Kane through (but not over) the ropes. Kane came back in moments later tried to eliminate both Rock and Austin, who were fighting near the ropes. The Rock was eliminated, while Austin held on to the ropes. After a minute or so of fighting Austin, Kane went outside the ring, grabbed a steel chair and tried to use it to hit Austin. Austin avoided the chairshot and hit Kane with a Stunner. As Kane got up, Austin hit him in the head three times with the chair and then clotheslined him over the top rope to win the Rumble for a record third time. In spite of his runner-up performance, Kane's 11 eliminations became the most by a single Rumble participant, beating the previous record of ten, held by Hulk Hogan at the 1989 Royal Rumble and Steve Austin at the 1997 Royal Rumble event.
Kurt Angle entered a feud with The Rock again and would go to fight him at No Way Out for the WWF Championship in a Singles Match. Kurt Angle would lose the match after being pinned by The Rock losing the championship to him.
Triple H would continue his feud with Steve Austin at No Way Out in a Three Stages of Hell Match. Triple H defeated Steve Austin by winning two matches with Steve Austin only one. This match finally ended the Triple H/Austin feud that lasted since SummerSlam.
Steve Austin and The Rock would fight once again at WrestleMania for the WWF Championship in a No Disqualification Match. Steve Austin would win the title thanks to an intereference from Mr. McMahon. The two would have another match the next night on Raw for the title this time inside a Steel Cage. The match went to a no contest due to another intereference by Vince's son-in-law Triple H.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sunday Night Heat: Lo Down (D'Lo Brown and Chaz) (w/ Tiger Ali Singh) defeated Kaientai (Taka Michinoku and Funaki) in a Tag team match for a spot in the Royal Rumble match (which ultimately went to Drew Carey) (1:57)
- The Dudley Boyz (Buh Buh Ray & D-Von Dudley) defeated Edge & Christian (c) to win the WWF World Tag Team Championship (9:59)
- Chris Jericho defeated Chris Benoit (c) in a Ladder match to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship (18:44)
- Ivory (c) defeated Chyna to retain the WWF Women’s Championship (3:32)
- Kurt Angle (c) defeated Triple H to retain the WWF Championship (24:15)
- Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Kane (1:01:55)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
A new entrant came out approximately every 2 minutes.
|2||Bull Buchanan||1||Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy||2:08|
|3||Matt Hardy||3||Jeff Hardy||4:45|
|4||Faarooq||2||Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy||0:58|
|11||Grand Master Sexay||6||Kane||1:03|
|12||The Honky Tonk Man||11||Kane||1:16|
|23||The Big Show||17||Rock||1:23|
|26||Scotty 2 Hotty||23||Undertaker & Kane||0:46|
Other on-screen talent
- Steve Austin broke the record for most Royal Rumble wins with his third win. The previous record of two wins was held jointly by himself, Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels.
- Kane broke the record for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble with 11.
- Comedian Drew Carey appeared on the show and in the Royal Rumble match to hype his upcoming "Improv Comedy PPV". He eliminated himself as after the ring had cleared and he was all alone, Kane came out and Carey attempted to bribe him. Carey eliminated himself after Raven attacked Kane with a kendo stick from behind.
- Tonga Fifita who was prior to the event the WCW Hardcore Champion as Meng, made a surprise move to the WWF as Haku. The WCW Hardcore Championship as a result was abandoned.
- Royal Rumble 2001 Official website
- Royal Rumble 2001 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2001 at Online World of Wrestling
- Royal Rumble 2001 on WWE Network
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