WWF Smackdown 5/31/2001
Written by: Adam King
Thursday, May 31st, 2001
Taped (5/29) from the Skyreach Centre in Edmonton, ALB
List of WWF Champions at the time:
● WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin (4/01/2001)
● WWF Intercontinental Champion: Kane (5/20/2001)
● WWF World Tag Team Champions: Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho (5/21/2001)
● WWF European Champion: Matt Hardy (4/26/2001)
● WWF Hardcore Champion: Rhyno (5/28/2001)
● WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Jerry Lynn (4/29/2001)
~ Smackdown comes on the air with clips of the Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho vs. Steve Austin/Vince McMahon saga from Raw, including the controversal ending. After the intro Michael Cole welcomes us to the show along with Tazz.
~ Things kick off with Chris Jericho coming out to the ring to a great reaction and he’s quickly followed by Chris Benoit, who gets a huge ovation from his hometown fans. Jericho grabs a mic and says he and Benoit have discussed what happened on Raw and came to two conclusions, the first being that they enjoyed beating up Vince McMahon and Steve Austin. Jericho then mentions he and Benoit won the Tag Team titles 10 days ago and never gave the former champs a rematch but Austin doesn’t have a partner with Triple H injured and out for six months. Jericho suggets that Vince could possibly be Austin’s fill-in partner and offers the duo a Tag Team Title match tonight. Benoit takes the mic and accuses Austin of hiding behind the power of the company owner then offers to welcome him to the ‘house of champions’ where Mark Messier won the Conn Smythe trophy, where Wayne Gretzky broke the NHL scoring record and where the Oilers won four Stanley Cups. Almost on cue Vince McMahon comes out to the stage with his own mic and thanks the fans for their warm reception. Vince gives Benoit and Jericho props for being great entertainers on Raw and thus finds their challenge entertaining, but feels if he and Austin accept their challenge, they would be the ones leaving with the belts. Vince decides to spare the Chrises the indignity of losing the titles in their home country but does have plans for them individually. Vince first books Jericho against something Canada has never had and that’s an Olympic hero, Kurt Angle. Vince then tells Benoit that he’s lucky that they didn’t accept the challenge, since he would have pinned him, but Benoit responds by threatening to beat him within an inch of his life if he steps in the ring with him. Vince says he knows Benoit wants a WWF Championship rematch with Austin but that’s not going to happen because Austin has a well-deserved night off. Before Vince can go on further Austin comes out to the stage and takes the mic from him telling Vince he appreciates it but does not want the night off. Austin says ever since their match on Raw, everyone he’s bumped into has been saying how he never really beat Benoit and that Benoit has his number. Austin claims that when he had the Crossface on Benoit he heard him scream like a dog but nonetheless decides to give Benoit another shot at the title tonight! Vince seems surprised by this decision but Austin insists, pointing out how he’ll have back-to-back victories over Benoit once he pins him tonight. Vince and Austin argue over his decision as they head to the back and we finally wrap up after 20 minutes.
Let’s look at this for a second. Granted the finish to the Raw match was bad but could have been used to build toward a rematch on pay-per-view. Instead they’re going to hotshot the rematch just days after the original bout. Granted this may be Benoit’s hometown but if they were going that route they should have just waited to do the original match here and not on Raw.
- WWF INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: Kane © vs. Edge
It’s another title defense for the Big Red Machine and Edge is going it alone tonight as Christian is still recovering from last week’s TLC match, at least accoring to Cole. Edge charges at Kane to start and ducks a clothesline but runs into a boot. Kane whips Edge into a backdrop but misses a right hand and Edge gets in some offense. Edge attempts a whip but Kane counters it into a short-arm clothesline which sends Edge rolling out to the floor. Kane goes out and scoops Edge onto his shoulder but Edge slips off and shoves Kane into the ringpost. Kane comes back and rams Edge into the apron then Edge rolls back in the ring but yanks on Kane’s broken arm as he climbs over the ropes. Edge hits an armdrag then climbs to the top and connects with a missle dropkick to the bad arm for a two count. Kane whips Edge into a corner and goes for a back suplex but Edge flips out of it and hits an armbar takedown for a two count. Edge works over Kane’s bad arm in a corner then hits the count-along punches to the arm but Kane drops him on the top turnbuckle. Kane hits a clothesline then whips Edge and plants him with a sidewalk slam. Kane whips Edge into a corner and charges but Edge sidesteps him and connects with the spear. Edge pins Kane with his feet on the ropes but only gets two! Edge sets Kane up for a DDT, Kane counters with a backdrop but Edge goes into a Sunset Flip for a near fall. Edge goes for a backslide but Kane flips Edge over his back in front of him then hits a powerbomb to finish it. (3:30) A little short but still a solid encounter. Plus Kane’s getting some title defenses under his built to give some credability to his reign. **
~ The Dudleys are seen walking backstage, with Bubba Ray about to take on Hardcore Holly tonight. Spike Dudley comes up expecting to be in their corner but D’Von tells Spike to stay backstage. Bubba tells Spike that ever since he met Molly Holly he’s caused them nothing but problems so they ask him to do them a favor and leave them alone. The Dudleys storm off leaving Spike visibly upset as we go to commercial.
- Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D’Von Dudley) vs. Hardcore Holly (w/Crash)
The Dudleys won the tables match on Raw but apparently that’s not enough to end this feud so here we go. Both men exchange shoves before locking up and Bubba manages to get a headlock, Hardcore shoves Bubba off but eats a shoulderblock. Bubba whips Hardcore and hits a backdrop and follows up with a clothesline and a slam. Bubba goes for a whip but Hardcore reverses and hits the dropkick then kicks at him in a corner. Hardcore goes for a whip but Bubba reverses him into the opposite corner and hits a Bubbabomb. Bubba goes for the ropes but Crash grabs his leg from the floor so Bubba pulls Crash onto the apron and rams him into the turnbuckle. However this allows Hardcore to drape Bubba on the top rope and kick him in the chest. Hardcore slams Bubba then climbs to the top rope and leaps off for something but Bubba gets the boot up to block it for a near fall. Bubba hits a back suplex for another two count then hits a chop in a corner. Bubba goes for a whip, Hardcore reverses him into a corner but eats an elbow then Bubba hops to the middle rope and hits a big splash for a two. Crash hops onto the apron and Bubba slings him in the ring then Crash rolls back out the other side where D’Von greets him with a right hand. D’Von goes for a clothesline but misses him and runs into the ringpost while Bubba backdrops Hardcore over the ropes. Bubba goes to suplex Hardcore back in but Crash trips Bubba and holds the foot down down while Hardcore falls on top and gets the three. (3:48) And for once Hardcore seems pleased that Crash helped him out. The Hollys walk off in triumph while Bubba curses at Crash from the ring. **
~ Backstage Vince is reading a magazine when William Regal barges in with Tajiri but looking a little flustered. Vince offers Regal a carrot which Regal declines before saying security has reporteded a limo circling the building all night. Vince isn’t too concerned with it until Regal reports the licence plate reads ‘WCW 1′ Vince figures Shane McMahon is up to something again and tells Regal they can’t afford another WCW incident so he sends Regal to inform security to be on the lookout. Regal departs while Tajiri raches for Vince’s veggie tray but Vince slaps his hand away.
~ Back from break Johnathan Coachman interviews Spike backstage about his sacrificing himself for Molly Holly on Raw. Spike says this whole thing is a misunderstanding, that Molly never meant to set the Dudleys up, and feels he needs to sit down with his half-brothers to straighten this out. Spike says Molly is home nursing her sore neck but will be back soon then then looks into the camera and tells Molly he really like her.
~ Out in the arena Cole and Tazz start talking about someone supposedly stalking the Undertaker’s wife as they show the disturbing video from Raw.
~ In the lockerroom Lillian Garcia interviews Kurt Angle on facing Chris Jericho tonight. Angle feels that as an American Olympic hero he should be facing a Canadian Olympic Hero but the only Canadian Olympic hero was Ben Johnson, who cheated to win a gold medal and had it taken away. Angle says Jericho isn’t an Olympian or even a her and Canada is going to rename Gretzky Blvd. ‘Angle Blvd’ after he wins. Angle then mentions the rumors of Shane McMahon’s limo circling the building so he dares Shane to try and get involved in his match before he walks off.
- Chris Jericho vs. Kurt Angle
These two have fought plenty of times before, so what’s one more time. Incidentally extra scurity is surrounding the ringside area, perhaps waiting for Shane or anyone else to try and interfere. Both men lockup to start and Angle hits a Fireman’s carry into a Fujiwara armbar. Jericho tries to get to his feet when Angle throws him back to the mat with a headlock but Jericho counters with the headscissors and htis an armdrag into his own armbar. Angle counters with his own headscissors and goes into a waistlock, Jericho rolls Angle to the mat and Angle bridges out into a backslide for a two count. Jericho whips Angle and hits a backdorp then throws him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Jericho goes out to the floor then pulls Angle out and suplexes him on the floor. Jericho rams Angle into the ringsteps before throwing him back in the ring then climbs to the top rope and goes for a missle dropkick but Angle swats him away. Jericho is clutching his left knee as Angle lays the boots to him and hits a suplex then slaps on a chinlock. Jericho fights out of it when Angle rakes the eyes then whips him but lowers the head and Jericho kicks the face followed by an enzuigiri. Jericho chops Angle into the ropes and goes for a whip, Angle reverses but Jericho connects with a flying forearm. Jericho goes for the bulldog but misses it, Angle goes for a German suplex but Jericho counters it into a rollup for a two count. Jericho goes for a whip, Angle reverses him into a corner but Jericho lifts himself up and over Angle then get Angle in the Walls of Jericho. Angle grabs the bottom rope and Jericho aruges with the referee as Angle charges at him but Jericho sidesteps it and hits the bulldog. Jericho goes for the Lionsault when Angle avoids it and Jericho lands on his feet but hurts his leg. Angle goes for the Olympic Slam and Jericho floats over him, but his leg is still hurting him. Jericho goes for a suplex but Anlge counters with a kick below the belt and slaps on the Anklelock. Suddenly Shane McMahon runs through the crowd and hops onto the apron, getting Angle’s attention as security tries to drag him away. Now you’re thinking this is setting up another surprise WCW appearence, right? Instead it’s Spike Dudley who comes out and lays out Angle with the Dudley Dawg. Jericho hits the Lionsault on Angle and clutches his leg but gets the pin. (5:48) Jericho limps away from the ring while Shane celebrates Angle’s loss as he’s dragged away. The usual good match we’ve come to expect from these two, but seems like a wasted opperunity not to have a WCW guy appear. Heck, they should have had Lance Storm interfere to really build Angle’s issues with Shane. ***
~ Back from break Regal and Tajiri are flabergasted at Shane’s interference when Angle barges into his offce and demands a match with Shane at King of the Ring. Regal promises to do whatever it takes to make it happen while Tajiri bows at both men but Angle beats him down and demands he stop bowing. Angle storms off while Regal stares down at the falled Tajiri and chuckles.
- WWF HARDCORE TITLE: Rhyno © vs. Raven
Rhyno has the Hardcore strap back around his waist and is facing an old challenger. These two had a pretty good match way back at Backlash so let’s see if they come close to matching it here. Raven brings out his shopping cart of plunder which he throws in the ring. Rhyno charges at Raven to start but Raven sidesteps him and rolls him up for a quick two count. Raven whips Rhyno into a corner and hits a clothesline followed by a kneelift then nails Rhyno with one of the trashcans. Rhyno goes for a whip but Raven reverses and trips him into the trashcan for a two count. Raven clocks Rhyno with a trash lid then goes for a whip, Raven goes for a Sunset Flip, Rhyno rolls out of it and goes for a rollup but Raven grabs the lid and waffles Rhyno in the head for a two count. Raven knocks Rhyno out through the ropes with the lid then goes out but Rhyno greets him with a road sign. Rhyno pulls out a table and slides it in the ring before throwing Raven back in. Rhyno props the table up in a corner then scoops Raven up and tries to ram him into the table but Raven slips out. Rhyno comes back with a clothesline then wedges a trashcan in a corner between the ropes before hitting Raven with another can. Rhyno goes for the Gore but misses it and charges literaly into the can in the corner. Raven catapults Rhyno into the turnbuckles then grabs a kitchen sink and clubs Rhyno with it for a near fall. Raven goes for a whip but Rhyno counters and drives Raven through the table in the corner and the pin is academic. (3:40) Okay stuff but the Backlashmatch was definitely better. **
~ Backstage Austin and Debra are talking when Vince comes in asking Austin to reconsider his title defense tonight, since he’s got a funny feeling about it. Ausitn says he has his own funny feeling, that he’s going to beat Benoit but Vince points out this is Benoit’s hometown and again asks him not to go through with it. Austin feels Vince doesn’t believe he can beat Benoit just like everyone else and wants to prove them all wrong. Vince tries to assure Austin that he believes in him but Austin feels no one else thinks he can do it, not even Debra. Debra denies ever saying it but with Austin feels she’s thinking it. Austin insists he wants to prove all the doubters wrong and Vince wishes him luck as we go to commercial.
~ Back from break we again get the video on Triple H’s recent surgery. After that Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley shares some pre-taped comments from HealthSouth in Brimingham. Stephanie says Triple H is doing as well as expected despite the immense physicle pain from the surgery. Stephanie says Triple H is also feeling emotional pain after what Steve Austin said about him suppsoedly being selfish last week and deserving the injury. Stephanie wants to know what’s so selfish about ripping his quad and wanting to finish the match, feeling it was heroic and not selfish. Stephanie also mentions what Ausitn said about not caring about Triple H while he’s the WWF Champion, since Triple H is the reason he still has the title. Stephanie admits it may be a long while before Triple H returns but once he does Austin may just get what he deserves. Again it seems to be to hinting at a Triple H/Ausitn showdown but it never happens.
~ Backstage Matt Hardy and Lita are making out with Jeff sitting around the corner when Eddie Guerrero barges in and tells the couple to get a room. Matt points out this is their room and that Eddie didn’t knock but Eddie goes on about how they’re a team against a tough group like X-Factor. Eddie says he had to prepare to beat Albert on Raw and suggest they might want to do the same but Matt takes offense with his comments while Lita tries to play peacemaker. Eddie reminds Matt they’re a team and tries to get them fired up.
~ Elsewhere we find Chris Benoit getting his injured ribs taped up as we go to commercial.
- The Hardy Boyz & Eddie Guerrero (w/Lita) vs. X-Factor
X-Pac’s crew has been having issues with the Hardys and Eddie so here’s the showdown. Matt starts off with Justin Credible and gets a quick rollup for a two count but Credible works him over in a corner. Credible goes for a whip, Matt reverses him into the opposite corner where Credible lifts himself up wit the ropes but Matt doesn’t go for it and htis a suplex. Matt tries to tag in Jeff but Eddie takes the tag instead. Eddie slams Credible then goes out and slings himself over the ropes into a hilo. Eddie whips Credible into a corner but eats an elbow and Credible hops to the middle rope and hits a bulldog. Albert tags in and Eddie greets him with some shots but Albert shoves him down. Eddie gets right back up and again tees off on Albert but Albert stops that with a right hand. Albert throws Eddie into his corner and distracts the referee while Credible and X-Pac double-team him. Eddie fights out of there but Albert stops him with a bodyblock. X-Pac tags in when Eddie goes to whip him, X-Pac reverses it but Eddie ducks a clothesline and hits a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker. Jeff tags in and connects with a dropkick then goes for a whip but X-Pac reverses it and Albert grabs Jeff from the apron. X-Pac charges but misses Jeff and knocks Albert off the apron. Jeff slings himself over the ropes but Albert catches him and rams him into the ringpost. Albert throws Jeff back in the ring and X-Pac cuts Jeff off from making a tag. Albert tags in and throws Jeff across the ring then goes for an Avalanche in a corner but Jeff sidesteps him and tags in Matt. Matt hammers Albert into a corner then catches X-Pac and Credible as they come in and knocks their heads together. Matt drills Albert with a tornado DDT when Eddie comes in and pummels Credible in a corner while Matt and X-Pac clothesline each other. Albert grabs Matt for the Baldobomb but Eddie makes the save and Matt knocks Credible throught the ropes. Howeber Albert press slams Eddie over the ropes to the floor and Eddie is holding his knee as Lita checks on him. Matt hits Albert with a neckbreaker then hops to the middle rope for the guilltoine legdrop but looks over and sees Lita tending to Eddie. That allows Ablert to grab Matt and hit the Baldobomb for the win. (4:00) Lita goes in the ring to tend to Matt but he gives her a look. Sadly whatever resolution was going to happen between Matt, Eddie and Lita will forever remain a mystery as Eddie would disappear off TV following this match for a number of reasons, causing the storyline to be aburptly terminated. **
~ Backstage we find Austin admiring his WWF Championship belt, perhaps for the last time, as he heads out for the match.
~ Back from break Cole and Tazz start talking about the WWF Championship match next…when they’re interupted after another strange video cuts in. The mystery voice narrates from a garage as the Undertaker and Sara ride off in ATVs, with him saying how they’re having fun like two little kids. The stalker then says he’s having fun too because he’s with them and enjoying this as much as they’re enjoying themselves.
~ After the video Chris Benoit comes out for his second shot at the title. However instead of Ausitn, Vince McMahon comes out wearing a referee’s shirt and announcing he’s going to serve as the special ringside enforcer to ensure the rules are adheared to. Benoit is not happy with this as Austin then comes out and chats with Vince as we go to commercial.
- WWF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: Stone Cold Steve Austin © vs. Chris Benoit
So after getting screwed out of the title on Raw, can Benoit make this second chance count in his hometown? Benoit goes right to work on Austin then whips him and hits an elbow followed by a clothesline. Benoit stomps Austin down in a corner and Austin rolls out to the apron then snaps Benoit’s neck on the top rope. Austin is back in and goes for a whip, Benoit reverses it but lowers the head and Austin hits a neckbreaker for a two count. Austin goes for a suplex but Benoit floats over and goes right for the Crossface! Austin scampers for the ropes but Benoit pulls Austin back to the center and slaps on the Crossface! Austin manages to grab the ropes but Benoit pulls him off and slaps the Crossface on again! Austin again reaches the ropes and referee Earl Hebner forces a break before Benoit locks in a fourth Crossface but once again Ausitn grabs the ropes. Ausitn bails out to the floor for a breather but Benoit goes out and knocks Austin into the announce table. Benoit lays the boots to Austin then pops him back across the table and hits a chop. Benoit rolls Austin back in the ring then clotheslines him over the ropes on the other side and stalks him around ringside. However Austin catches Benoit with a kick to the injured ribs and rams him into the announce table before throwing him back in the ring. Austin brings his WWF Title belt in but Earl Hebner tries to keep him from using it and the two argue when Benoit nails Ausitn from behind, knocking him into Hebner. Benoit chops Austin to the mat then whips him into a corner and hits a DDT onto the title belt as Vince looks on in shock. Benoit climbs to the top and goes for the diving heatbutt but Austin blocks it with the title belt and gets a two count out of it. Ausitn hammers Benoit and covers for another two count then slaps him in the Sharpshooter. Benoit is screaming while bleeding from his cheek but manages to power out and puts on his own Sharpshooter on Austin! Austin powers out of it and goes back to his Sharpshooter while sitting back on it as Benoit manages to crawl over and grab the rope. Austin pulls him back to the center of the ring but Benoit reverses it into his own Sharpshooter. Austin grabs the rope and Benoit pulls him off but Austin grabs the ropes again and this time Benoit breaks it. Benoit clubs Austin in the back and tries to for a suplex but Austin counters with a kick below the belt. Austin climbs up to the top rope but Benoit cuts him off then goes up and hits a superplex but can’t make the immediate cover and only gets two.
Benoit locks in the Crossface but Austin grabs the bottom rope again then rolls out to the floor trying to regroup. Benoit goes out after him but Austin throws Benoit into the announce table then suplexes him onto the table. Benoit fights back but Austin suplexes him onto the edge of the table!! Austin taunts the crowd before choking Benoit on the floor. Austin grabs Benoit by his waisttape and slings him into the ringsteps twice. Ausitn rolls Benoit back in the ring and attacks the injured ribs then slaps on a chinlock near the title belt while taunting Benoit. Benoit fights out and rams Austin repeatedly into the turnbuckle then goes for a whip but Austin reverses and hits a spinebuster followed by an elbowdrop for a near fall. Austin then applies a Boston Crab and Benoit is screaming as Vince tells him to give up. Benoit manages to grab the ropes but Austin lays the boots to him and slaps him in the head before pounding him. Benoit starts to fight back when Austin goes for the Stunner but Benoit shoves him off and hits a German suplex. Benoit holds on and hits a second suplex, followed by a third, but Benoit keeps holding on and hits a fourth suplex, followed by a fifth! Benoit still holds on and hits a sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth suplex!! Vince hops onto the apron but Benoit shoves Austin into him, knocking Vince to the floor, before locking in the Crossface. Before Austin can submit Vince brings a chair in the ring and decks Hebner. Vince readies the chair but Benoit stops him with a kick to the netherregion then grabs the chair and viciously wears Vince out with it. However Ausint rolls Benoit up for behind and grabs the tights for the 1..2..3! (19:39) Austin wearily takes his belt and stumbles up the ramp before collapsing on the stage but the fact remains he’s still WWF Champion as Smackdown goes off the air. Just an all-out awesome match there that easily blows away the Raw match. Again Austin and Benoit demonstrated great chemistry and was allowed to go all-out while the match was packed with great action, drama and psychology, plus the crowd was hot throughout. ****½
Unfortunately now that we have personally seen what happened down the road, this still felt like a lost oppertunity, that the bookers wanted to get Benoit’s shot out of the way at the first oppertunity instead of building toward King of the Ring or another pay-per-view. So this was pretty much the closest we ever got to a pay-per-view style meeting between Austin and Benoit, and it is an excellent match, but it just felt wasted on a random Smackdown.
Conclusion: Pretty good episode of Smackdown this time around. The in-ring action was solid enough with no real bad matches to speak off and was capped off by an amazing main event. But at the same time a few of the storylines they were trying to build would be cut off without much resolution, and having Benoit lose to Austin in back-to-back main events would start building concern for Benoit’s push (or Jericho’s for that matter). Still in itself the Austin/Benoit match is well worth seeking out but you’ll have to get a tape of this show or a comp tape since there’s no chance of it ever being released on DVD.