"And when Vince McMahon saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."
Paul Heyman said these words one week prior on RAW is WAR just days after the World Wrestling Federation bought its biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling.
This week's Cageside Seats Live Retro Blog looks back on the first day of a new era; an era where there is only one wrestling superpower. We look back at the April 2, 2001 episode of RAW is WAR from the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the first show following the all-time classic Wrestlemania X-Seven (which we did a live retro blog of a little over a year ago).
Of course, the big story coming out of that Wrestlemania wasn't necessarily Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the WWF Championship for a fifth time (though that is a big deal; only The Rock, Bret Hart, and Hulk Hogan got to five at this point), but how he won it: he needed help from his one-time archrival Vince McMahon. This is as if Batman and The Joker joined forces. Or Superman and Lex Luthor. Or Vince McMahon and Ted Turner. Too soon?
Anyway, why did Stone Cold do it? Why is he with that man? Why? WHY? WHY? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SOMEONE TELL ME WHY!
Sorry. Digressing. Anyway, all you need to join us is a broadband Internet connection (you're on this site, you probably have one) and the WWE Network (which is free to new subscribers for the first month if you do not have it). And maybe about an hour and a half of your time.
We kick it off at 8pm ET. That's 7pm Central, 5pm Pacific, 3pm Hawaiian, and 1am in Britain. Everywhere else, figure it out.
One last thing: I'm relaxing the no pics/no GIFs rule for now. But don't abuse it, as the thread will be refreshed frequently as the show progresses.
Hi! I'm Eddie Mac. Who wants to watch some retro wrestling?
RAW is WAR April 2, 2001 from the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
Pyro and ballyhoo open RAW episode 410. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman at ringside, and Stone Cold Steve Austin is the WWF Champion again. But why did he shake hands with Vince McMahon. He's gonna have a lot to answer for this evening, I bet.
The first person out is a McMahon, but it's Stephanie McMahon with a leather strap. Hey, Steph, whatever you do in your humble abode is your business. But Steph announces that she will take on Trish Stratus in a "whipping" match. Whatever that means.
Now comes Vince, "the most important man in sports entertainment". Hard to argue against that. Despite the beating he took (and he took a beating) at Wrestlemania, he came out clean on the other side. He promised shocking, and he delivered. McMahon then chastises Jim Ross for calling him the devil. JR retracts his statement (sort of). Vince then opens a gift he says he got from some fan, and surprise, it's a cowboy hat. And surprise, Vince stomps on said cowboy hat.
Oh, hai Rock. And he's not smiling. No, in fact, he's quite pissed, thanks. He demands a rematch for the WWF title tonight. Vince is like... no. Rock is like... okay. Tell me no again. Vince is like... no. Rock drops Vince where he stood, puts him in the Sharpshooter (not much better than last night, Rock, but it'll do), and Vince caves in. The Rock gets his rematch tonight—in a steel cage.
Match 1: Test and the Acolytes (Faarooq & Bradshaw) defeat The Radicalz (Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero) in 4:07. Test delivered THE WHITBY BOOT OF DEATH to Saturn as Perry saved Terri from impending harm. Thing said by Paul Heyman: "Chivalry will bite you in the ass every single time." Probably so, but not with a boot to the face.
Backstage, Fighting Commissioner/Goodwill Ambassador William Regal's talking with his mom about Chris Jericho. Stephanie barges in (seriously? Seriously? The man's talking with his mom!) and wants to know if the whipping match is still on and there's no way Trish can weasel her way out. Regal ensures there is not, but asks if Stephanie really wants to do this. She whips the desk, and says some unkind words about Trish. I'm guessing that's a yes.
Five titles changed hands at Wrestlemania, including the tag titles which are once again in the hands of Edge and Christian. Still pics from last night's show, including the TLC 2 bout.
Vince McMahon says he's got business to take care of and asks Regal to do what needs to be done in regards to the Stephanie-Trish business.
Meanwhile, Michael Cole runs into Triple H, who lost to The Undertaker. Basically H says the win was a fluke, but he promises a different result next time around. Cole then asks about Vince McMahon aligning with Steve Austin. Haitch is not amused. Turns out he's just now hearing of this. I'm guessing he didn't order the replay or you know, read the Internet.
Trish Stratus with strap in hand prepares for the whipping match.
Following the break, Steven Richards talks about how despite going 0 for 2 at Wrestlemania, his Right to Censor still have their convictions and Kane will find out how deep their convictions run tonight in the hardcore title match.
Match 2: Stephanie McMahon and Trish Stratus fight to a no contestu at 4:55. Regal came out and delivered a Regal Cutter to Trish, and Stephanie got a few free shots in until Chris Jericho ran the Commissioner off.
Backstage, Stephanie berates the Commish for letting Chris Jericho ruin the match, and Regal promises to make it up to her by booking Jericho in a 1-on-2 handicap match against himself and Kurt Angle.
Match 3: Rhyno defeated Crash Holly in just 56 seconds. He done got GORED, yo. Side nugget: Crash was the only champion not to get on Wrestlemania last night. Wasn't even on Heat (that was Scotty 2 Hotty & Steve Blackman losing to X-Factor. Justin Credible got on Wrestlemania sort of, but not Crash. Mkay.) Post-match, Molly gives the Molly-Go-Round to Rhyno, but Rhyno returns the gift with a GORE. GORE. GORE. Yikes.
Backstage, Kevin Kelly asks Debra why Vince McMahon aligned with her husband. She doesn't know either and she's just as surprised as everyone. We get stills of the handshake that shook the world as we go to break.
A second appearance from Vince McMahon as he has the WWF Championship belt over his shoulder. He berates the fans that once cheered Steve Austin (and cheered him last night, yet they're booing him now). Vince said Stone Cold did what he had to do to win the WWF Championship, and that brings out the new champion.
Austin takes the mic and asks if they wanna see Stone Cold beat up Vince McMahon to give him a hell yeah. "HELL YEAH!" Obviously. That's not gonna happen tonight. Steve basically says he's done with the fans sponging off him and he doesn't owe them an explanation, and he will not be a 24-hour champion and he'll beat The Rock again, and that's the bottom line, and so forth and so on. Backstage, Triple H is not amused. The Rock in a separate locker room is also not amused.
Match 4: Kane defeated Val Venis at 5:44 to retain the WWF Hardcore Championship. Post-match, Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather run out to help their fallen RTCers, but then the Undertaker comes out. Chokeslam to Val. Chokeslams to Goodfather and Bull as the brothers stand tall. If the Right to Censor's next feud is with The Undertaker and Kane, I'm probably starting the clock on them.
Backstage, Triple H wants Vince McMahon and he demands an explanation from Commissioner Regal. Regal dislikes his tone, but Haitch don't care, saying that if he finds out Regal was in on this new alliance, then there will be hell to pay.
Triple H finds Vince McMahon after the break and he wants to know what is up with this alliance. Vince said it wasn't his business; Austin came to him for help and he helped him and he won. Triple H didn't come to him for help, and he lost. Haitch loses his shit at the catering table. There goes dinner.
Match 5: Kurt Angle and William Regal defeat Chris Jericho in a 2-on-1 handicap match at 4:35. The double-team beatdown continues post-match until Chris Benoit runs in and makes the save. Or did he do it just to get at Kurt Angle? Probably the latter. Benoit and Jericho stare each other down, and Jericho walks away. No handshake, but no punches thrown either. Might wanna keep an eye on this.
Footage of Shane McMahon arriving at WWF New York earlier as we go to break. Surely he's going to talk about his big win last night.
WWF Slam of the Week is Edge spearing Jeff Hardy straight dead.
Match 6: X-Pac defeats "The One" Billy Gunn in 3:05. Both Justin Credible and Albert play in the outcome of the match and the post-match beatdown.
Footage of Shane McMahon shaking hands with fans at WWF New York. He'll talk about his big night... after the break.
As the ring crew sets up for the main event, we get still shots of the McMahon on McMahon violence from last night before cutting to Shane McMahon in WWF New York. Shane has conflicting feelings on the beating he gave (it's his pops after all), but he had to do what he had to do. And as far as WCW's concerned, things are going to get interesting soon. And he hopes the next time his mom kicks him, it's in his checkbook, where it really hurts.
Backstage, Michael Cole interviews The Rock. No "Finally..." bit this evening. Rock knows why Austin did what he did: Austin can't beat him one-on-one. He saw it in his eyes last night. The Rock says Austin may not owe the fans an explanation, but he owes the fans that good ass whipping he's about to catch.
Match 7: Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock fight to a no contestu in a steel cage for the WWF Championship at 10:57. Gotta talk about the last few minutes. Triple H came down to make the save The Rock—this is just all sorta of wrong, by itself, but it was probably because he's pissed that Austin and McMahon are an alliance and he's gonna fix it everyone, you'll see—with sledgehammer in hand, by the way. Austin and Haitch stare each other down...then Haitch nails Rock with the sledgehammer. It's a BEATDOWN, and the three-man alliance of Vince McMahon, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H stand over the bloody, beer-soaked corpse of The Rock as we fade to black.
EDDIE MAC'S QUICK REVIEW
Toto, I don't believe we're in Kansas anymore.
Right away, two problems emerge: first, nobody was going to boo Steve Austin in Texas. God bless them for trying, but it just wasn't going to happen. Now, get him away from Texas, and we'll see how it goes. Second, with The Rock gone indefinitely, we don't have a clear babyface challenger to the Austin throne. Unless it's Triple H who could be pulling a double swerve. As for the rest of the proceedings, it was unremarkable, which is not really a surprise considering they were coming off arguably the greatest show in company history.
It's interesting to see what a RAW after Wrestlemania looked like before the "Smarkamania" crowds of recent years. They were, quite honestly, just like any other episode of RAW save for one or two big moments. The Rock would be gone for four months, during which the much-maligned Invasion angle kicked off. The show did very well in the ratings (5.65, the highest-rated RAW of the year to that point), but the ratings would trickle down soon enough. The Austin heel turn, no Rock for a few months, and the schizophrenic Invasion booking would all play a part in the WWF losing 30% of its audience by the end of the year.
Honestly, there's very little from this episode that is worth a second watch. The main event and...well, that's... that's about it. With that, I give this RAW a 6 out of 10.