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Opinion

Matt’s Retro Review: WWF Championship 2001

Matt Davis is back with a look at the WWF Championship in 2001. This edition features The Rock, Kurt Angle, and Steve Austin!

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Kurt Angle WWF Championship

Matt Davis is back with a look at the WWF Championship in 2001. This edition features The Rock, Kurt Angle, and Steve Austin!

Welcome to the 16th edition of the Retro Review on The Chairshot! This will be a biweekly article here on The Chairshot because we have a lot to discuss! In starting, my question for you is; have you ever had a discussion with a friend or in a group online about who is the greatest champion of all time? What is your defense of your claim? Wins? Quality of matches? Length of reign? In this weekly article, I will be looking back one year at a time and evaluating one specific championship in each article, with a yearly grade ranking and overall grade ranking and as we progress through the years, I will reveal who I believe is the best champion of all time.

To start us off, I am going to discuss the most recognizable championship in the history of wrestling, the WWE Heavyweight Championship. These articles will not discuss the “Big Gold” World Championship, Universal Championship, or any other recognized heavyweight championship in WWE, those will be discussed in other articles. During these reviews, I will count matches aired on weekly television, PPV, and matches also released on VHS and later on home media.

Kurt Angle (October 22nd, 2000 – February 25th, 2001)

  • Record: 18-13
  • Clean Losses: 5
  • Successful Defenses: 4

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Kurt Angle d. The Rock, October 22nd, 2000, No Mercy
  • Kurt Angle d. Steve Austin, Undertaker, The Rock, Triple H, & Rikishi (Hell in a Cell), December 10th, 2000, Armegeddon
  • The Rock, Steve Austin, & Undertaker d. Kurt Angle, Kane, & Rikishi, January 18th, 2001, Monday Night RAW
  • Kurt Angle d. Triple H, January 21st, 2001, Royal Rumble
  • Kurt Angle d. Triple H & The Rock, February 1st, 2001, Smackdown

Thoughts: Overall, it’s a strange reign. To me, the WWF Championship didn’t feel like it belonged to a legitimate main eventer here. That is not an insult to Kurt Angle’s amazing technical skill, but, look at the surrounding talent- Undertaker, Kane, Rock, Triple H, Steve Austin.. that’s a who’s who of main eventers all involved with chasing the title during this reign. Angle was definitely overshadowed. One could argue that star power is what did make him a star, being able to put on top quality matches with these guys in main events of PPVs is what legitimized him, but, during this actual reign he was made to look sloppy and lucky, often barely escaping. They never pulled the trigger, often hiding Angle in a lot of tag team and six man tags throughout this reign, which is why he had 13 losses but was only pinned 5 times. 

Grade (A+ through F ): C-

The Rock (February 25th, 2001 – April 1st, 2001)

  • Record: 7-2
  • Clean Losses: 1
  • Successful Defenses: 0

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Steve Austin d. The Rock, April 1st, 2001, WrestleMania X-7

Thoughts: Ooomph. Like hearing the sound of a car crash here. Rock wins the title from the floating turd that was Angle’s reign and didn’t exactly look great for beating such a “low hanging fruit”, to never defending the championship once over five weeks to having arguably, and by arguably I mean there’s no argument at all, the single greatest three week build to a Wrestlemania main event ever with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Their match is regarded as one of the most exciting Wrestlemania main events ever, with a heel turn absolutely no one saw coming. In fact, many people believed it was The Rock who would turn heel, because he was leaving shortly to begin filming a movie. It gets points for how important and exciting the road to WrestleMania was, but nothing else.  

Grade (A+ through F ): D+

Steve Austin (April 1st, 2001 – September 23rd, 2001)

  • Record: 13-12
  • Clean Losses: 6
  • Successful Defenses: 5

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Steve Austin d. The Rock, April 1st, 2001, WrestleMania X-7
  • The Rock d. Steve Austin (Steel Cage), April 2nd, 2001, Monday Night RAW
  • The Hardy Boyz & Lita d. The Power Trip, April 9th, 2001, Monday Night RAW
  • Steve Austin & Triple H d. Undertaker & Kane, April 29th, 2001, Backlash (WWF Tag Team Titles)
  • Steve Austin d. Undertaker, May 20th, 2001, Judgement Day
  • Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho d. Steve Austin & Triple H, May 21st, 2001, Monday Night RAW (WWF Tag Team Titles)
  • Steve Austin d. Chris Benoit (by referee stoppage), May 28th, 2001, Monday Night RAW
  • Steve Austin d. Chris Benoit, May 31st, 2001, Smackdown
  • Steve Austin d. Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho, June 24th, 2001, King of the Ring
  • Team WCW d. Team WWF, July 23rd, 2001, InVasion
  • Kurt Angle d. Steve Austin, September 23rd, 2001, Unforgiven

Thoughts: There are not enough words to emphasize how great this reign is. It was methodical in almost every way. Steve Austin did what no one thought was possible, he carried the WWF Championship as the most hated heel in the WWF for six months, and made almost every single marque he had must watch. 11/25 matches are “Recommended Matches” with five of those being on weekly television! Here’s the important part: I usually hate when champions lose cleanly in non-title matches and mark down reigns because of it. But not here. He only lost cleanly three times, and all three times felt like it was special and important to the person who beat him. They either won a championship, defended a championship, or received a championship opportunity because of it. That aside, I also want to point out that the world of wrestling received a shock wave of changes immediately before this reign happened, and the ripples effects and after shocks of both ECW and WCW going out of business were felt in this reign. The Two Man Power Trip was as exciting as you could get in terms of hating two men who were so vile and bad, you wanted to see them lose, which sold tickets and sold PPV buys. But after Triple H was hurt, and The Rock left, the company was forced to dig deep, and Austin carried the company through one of it’s most awkward times. The InVasion. He was masterful. Unlike most other WWF talent which “turned face” during the InVasion, Austin actually joined the Alliance in the summer, to continue his amazing heel run. This reign has created some of the most memorable moments in WWF history, including the creation of The Hurricane character, the singing of Wind Beneath by Wings from Stephanie to Austin, the What?! chants, Jimmy Crack Corn, among others. From Power Trip to the Invasion and everything inbetween (including one of the best matches of the year in the triple threat match at KOTR), Austin was gold. He was so good in fact that when he finally lost the championship to Kurt Angle in Angle’s hometown the reaction from the crowd is one of the biggest cheers you’ll ever hear. This is his best reign as WWF Champion and one of the best reigns of all time.

Grade (A+ through F ): A+

Kurt Angle (September 23rd, 2001 – October 8th, 2001)

  • Record: 4-2
  • Clean Losses: 1
  • Successful Defenses: 0

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Kurt Angle d. Steve Austin, September 23rd, 2001, Unforgiven
  • Kurt Angle & The Rock d. The Dudley Boyz, September 27th, 2001, Smackdown
  • Steve Austin d. Kurt Angle, October 8th, 2001, Monday Night RAW

Thoughts: Historically interesting reign here, even though it was only two weeks long. He obviously didn’t have a chance to defend the championship, but half his matches being Recommended is a good ratio! The reaction of the championship change when he won it makes this more than a nothing reign. It was absolutely needed and the exact right time to do it, to prove Austin was vulnerable. Nothing is more dangerous than a vulnerable and paranoid Rattlesnake. That being said, not much else happened in this reign, other than the WWF and WCW World Heavyweight Champions teaming up on RAW, which was cool.

Grade (A+ through F ): D

Steve Austin (October 8th, 2001 – December 9th, 2001)

  • Record: 8-5
  • Clean Losses: 2
  • Successful Defenses: 4

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Steve Austin d. Kurt Angle, October 8th, 2001, Monday Night RAW
  • Steve Austin d. RVD & Kurt Angle, October 21st, 2001, No Mercy
  • Team WWF d. The Alliance, November 18th, 2001, Survivor Series
  • Steve Austin d. Kurt Angle, December 9th, 2001, Vengeance
  • Chris Jericho d. Steve Austin, December 9th, 2001, Vengeance

Thoughts: The end of 2001 saw the 6th and final reign of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the end of The Alliance/invasion, and the beginning of a new era in the company as a whole. You could say that The Attitude Era officially died the night Jericho unified the world championships, though many have different arguments. Vengeance saw the first ever tournament to crown an Undisputed Champion, with Chris Jericho defeating The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night, catapulting his career from good and enjoyable to legendary in one night. The ability to say you beat two of the best of all time in the same night for both their championships is something no one else can say, and beating Austin in the last match was the right call. It was yet another example of Austin knowing when and how to lose, when he gave Jericho a career defining victory. This entire reign was a transitional reign to put Jericho at the top of the company, but also to end one of the greatest years in company history on an amazing note. Austin had his best reigns with the title as a heel, holding it twice, and having overall better and more enjoyable reigns as champion in 2001.

Grade (A+ through F ): C


Overall WWE Champion Ranking

  1. Hulk Hogan (January 23rd, 1984 – February 5th, 1988) – A+
  2. Steve Austin (April 1st, 2001 – September 23rd, 2001) — A+
  3. The Rock  (June 25th, 2000 – October 22nd, 2000) — A
  4. Bret Hart (March 20th, 1994 – November 26th, 1994) – A
  5. Triple H (January 3rd, 2000 – April 30th, 2000) — A-
  6. Yokozuna (June 13th, 1993 – March 20th, 1994) — B+
  7. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (April 5th, 1992 – September 14th, 1992) – B
  8. The Rock (November 15th, 1998 – January 4th, 1999) — B
  9. Undertaker  (March 23rd, 1997 – August 3rd, 1997) — B
  10. Shawn Michaels (November 9th, 1997 – March 29th, 1998) — B
  11. Bret Hart (October 12th, 1992 – April 4th, 1993) — B-
  12. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (March 27th, 1988 – April 2nd, 1989) – C+
  13. Triple H (September 26th, 1999 – November 13th, 1999) — C+
  14. Steve Austin (October 8th, 2001 – December 9th, 2001) — C
  15. Sgt. Slaughter (January 19th, 1991 – March 24th, 1991) – C
  16. Hulk Hogan (April 2nd, 1989 – April 1st, 1990) – C
  17. Triple H (August 23rd, 1999 – September 16th, 1999) — C
  18. Bret Hart (August 3rd, 1997 – November 9th, 1997) — C-
  19. Kurt Angle (October 22nd, 2000 – February 25th, 2001) — C-
  20. Hulk Hogan (March 24th — November 27th, 1991) – D+
  21. Undertaker (May 23rd, 1999 – June 28th, 1999) — D+
  22. The Rock (April 30th, 1999 – May 21st, 2000) — D+
  23. The Rock (February 25th, 2001 – April 1st, 2001) — D+
  24. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (March 29th, 1998 – June 28th, 1998) — D
  25. Ric Flair (January 19th, 1992 — April 5th, 1992) — D
  26. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (June 29th, 1998 – September 27th, 1998)– D
  27. The Ultimate Warrior (April 1st, 1990- January 19th, 1991) – D
  28. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (March 28th, 1999 – May 23rd, 1999) — D
  29. Ric Flair (September 14th, 1992 – October 12th, 1992) — D
  30. Diesel (November 26th, 1994 – November 19th, 1995) — D
  31. Triple H (May 21st, 2000 – June 25th, 2000) — D
  32. The Rock (February 15th, 1999 – March 28th, 1999) — D
  33. Kurt Angle (September 23rd, 2001 – October 8th, 2001) — D
  34. Big Show (November 13th, 1999 – January 3rd, 2000) — D-
  35. “Stone Cold Steve Austin” (June 28th, 1999- August 22nd, 1999) — D-
  36. Mick Foley/Mankind (January 4th, 1999 – January 24th, 1999) — D-
  37. Bob Backlund (November 23rd, 1994 – November 26th, 1994) — D-
  38. Psycho Sid (November 17th, 1996 – January 19th, 1997) — F
  39. Psycho Sid (February 17th, 1997 – March 23rd, 1997) — F
  40. Mick Foley (January 26th – February 15th, 1999 ) — F
  41. Shawn Michaels (January 19th, 1997 – February 13th, 1997) — F
  42. Bret Hart (February 16th, 1997 – February 17th, 1997) — F
  43. Undertaker (November 27th, 1991- December 3rd, 1991) – F
  44. Hulk Hogan (December 3rd, 1991 – December 4th, 1991) – F
  45. Kane (June 28th, 1998 – June 29th, 1998) — F
  46. The Rock (January 24th, 1999 – January 26th, 1999) — F
  47. Mick Foley (August 22nd, 1999 – August 23rd, 1999) — F
  48. Yokozuna (April 4th, 1993 – April 4th, 1993) — F
  49. Hulk Hogan (April 4th, 1993 – June 13th, 1993) — F
  50. Vince McMahon  (September 16th, 1999 – September 20th, 1999) — F

**Speaking of championships, I am currently designing custom made championships and shirts for your wrestling figure collections! Check out the page at Grand Slam Creations – Custom Wrestling Belts & Accessories on Facebook, give us a like and a follow and share with your friends! 


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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