WWF Raw Is War 4.02.2001
WWF RAW IS WAR
Monday, April 2nd, 2001
Live from Fort Worth, TX
List of WWF Champions at the time:
● WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin (4/01/2001)
● WWF Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho (1/21/2001)
● WWF World Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian (4/01/2001)
● WWF European Champion: Eddie Guerrero (4/01/2001)
● WWF Hardcore Champion: Kane (4/01/2001)
● WWF Women’s Champion: Chyna (4/01/2001)
● WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Crash Holly (3/18/2001)
~ Raw comes on the air and goes right to the intro with Jim Ross and Paul Heyman welcoming us to the show. Wrestlemania was last night and ended with Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the WWF Championship but joining forces with Vince McMahon. JR is still crying about Steve Austin selling out and hopes we get some answers tonight.
~ So not surprisingly it’s Stephanie McMahon who comes out to the ring with a leather strap in hand for our opening promo. Stpehanie gets on the mic and rants about Trish slapping her father (Vince) in the face after all that he’s done for her then says she’s going to get some payback because she’s been granted a “whipping” match with Trish tonight. Stephanie then says tonight isn’t about Trish as she introduces “the most important man in sports-entertainment”, Vince. Vince comes out carrying a gift box and hugs Stephanie before she heads to the back leaving Vince to do his thing. Vince takes the mic and asks for some respect then feels people are asking why he’s so happy after losing last night. Vince says he’s happy because he gets to hand the WWF Championship belt over to Steve Austin once he arrives. Vince admits that maybe he shouldn’t be smiling after Trish slapped him in the face, his wife Linda got out of her wheelchair and kicked him below the belt, Mick Foley hammered him “without provication” and Shane dropkicked a trash can into his head, but ‘all’s well that ends well’ and that Wrestlemania ended just fine for him. Vince says he promised something shocking at the show and standing united with Austin over The Rock fit the bill. Vince then leaves the ring and gets in JR’s face about calling Austin a “S.O.B.” who “sold his soul to the devil” himself before forcing JR to own up to it and saying he’s not the devil, though they have a lot in common. Vince also claims once Austin got his hand raised there was a temondous outpouring of support from the Texas fans. Vince then says that someone in Texas got him a gift then opens the gift wrapped box to reveal a white cowboy hat. Vince slips the hat on and does a stereotypical cowboy act then shows what he thinks of Texas by stomping the hat.
Finally The Rock makes his way out to the stage and doesn’t look too happy at being cheated out of the title last night. Rock gets on the mic and demands that Vince grant him a WWF Title rematch with Austin tonight “right here in Texas”. Vince responds by saying Austin isn’t here yet and that the match isn’t going to happen even with Rock’s fan support. Rock decides to change Vince’s mind and climbs in the ring before giving Vince one last chance to book the match. Vince refuses and warn Rocks not to touch him when Rock drops him with a right and puts him in the Sharpshooter! Vince is screaming in pain and slapping the mat but eventually caves in and grants Rock his title rematch for tonight! Rock starts to leave when Vince tells him that he does have his rematch, only it’s going to be held inside a steel cage. Yep, folks, a rematch of the Wrestlemania main event just one day later, and a cage match to boot.
~ Back from break we get a replay of Rock forcing Vince to grant him a rematch for the title tonight. Which begs the question of why are they still bothering with these replays? It’s not like there’s another wrestling show on Mondays anymore.
~ Out in the arena newly crowned European champ Eddie Guerrero leads his crew to the ring for a six-man tag. Test makes his way out next when Eddie gets on the mic and brags about Test missing the European Championship and also claims Test is missing a couple of partners to help him compete tonight. But right on cue out comes…
- Test & The Acolytes vs. Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn (w/Terri Runnels)
Malenko and Saturn helped Eddie beat Test for the title last night so here’s his shot for a measure of revenge. Bradshaw and Faarooq duke it out with Saturn and Malenko while Test goes after Eddie who bails to the floor. Bradshaw whips Malenko and hits a shoulderblock then helps Faarooq plant Saturn with a double neckbreaker. Things settle down to Faaqoor and Saturn in the ring and Faarooq goes for a whip but Saturn hits a flapjack. Saturn gets in his shots then comes off the ropes but Faarooq comes back with a powerslam then tags Bradshaw. Bradshaw whips Saturn but Saturn hits a neckbreaker then tags Malenko but Malenko runs into a shoulderblock. Bradshaw fallaway slams Malenko when Eddie climbs to the top rope and leaps off but Bradshaw catches him and Bradshaw hits another fallaway slam. Saturn comes in and nails Bradshaw then hits an exploder suplex. Eddie and Malenko double-team Bradshaw while the referee keeps both Faarooq and Test from coming in. Eddie chokes Bradshaw before tagging Malenko in and Malenko whips Bradshaw and hits a spinning heel kick. Saturn tags back in and works Bradshaw over when Bradshaw fights back but Saturn stops that with a knee. Saturn whips Bradshaw into a corner but Bradshaw comes out with a shoulderblock and crawls to his corner. Saturn somersaults over Bradshaw to tag in Eddie but Test also gets the tag and Eddie backs away from him. Eddie tries offering a hand but Test slaps it away then pulls him down by the hair and hits a pair of clotheslines. Test whips Eddie and drops him onto the top buckle with the Snake Eyes then hits a gutwrench powerbomb. Test covers Eddie when Malenko makes the save then comes off the ropes but runs into a tilt-o-whirl slam. Saturn comes in and suplexes Test then hits the three-fingered grendunza and covers him but Faarooq saves it. Everyone pours in and goes at it before the Acolytes, Eddie and Malenko spill out to the floor to fight it out. In the ring Saturn scoops Test up but Test floats over him and hits the Full Nelson slam but only gets a two count. Terri hops on the apron when Test pulls her in the ring by the hair and sets her up for the pump-handle slam but Saturn pulls Terri away to safety. However Test nails Saturn with the big boot and grabs the pin to get a measure of revenge. (4:07) The Acolytes celerbate while Test glares at Eddie who reminds him that he lost the match but still has the belt. And in a funny moment Heyman calls this an example of how chilvary will bite you every single time. **
~ Backstage we find William Regal talking on the phone to his mother about what a miserable little troll Chris Jericho is wehn Stephanie comes in and wants Regal to assure her that there’s no way Trish can weasel out of this match tonight. Regal asks Stephanie if she’s sure she wants this match and Stephanie starts whipping his desk and yelling about Trish.
~ Back from break we get an exterior shot of the building as JR and Heyman hype the ‘whipping’ match later. JR and Heyman then talk about five championships changing hands last night as stills are shown from the pay-per-view, including the TLC II bout.
~ Backstage Vince McMahon visits William Regal saying he has some business to take care of with Steve Austin soon but doesn’t want to have to worry about his little girl facing Trish. Vince asks Regal if he knows what to do and Regal assures him he knows what to as Vince heads out to take care of his other business.
~ Elsewhere backstage Michael Cole runs into Triple H and interviews him about his loss to The Undertaker last night. Triple H reminds Cole that there are 365 days in a year and in 364 of those days he’s beaten everyone in the WWF but on one night Taker got the better of him. Triple H even gives Taker props for showing that he is the big dog but that he loved every punch and kick and promises a different result the next time he and Taker meet in the ring. Cole then asks him about Steve Austin aligning himself with Vince and winning the WWF Championship with his help. Apparently this is the first time Triple H has heard of it and doesn’t seem too thrilled as he storms off. More on this in a moment.
~ Trish Stratus is shown with a leather strap in hand making her way to the ring as we go to commercial.
~ Back form break we get a 360° camera pan of Steven Richards as he addresses his Right To Censor brethern. Richards tells the crew how they must get up after they fall and fight the good fight because it’s bigger than all of them. Richards mentions they lost the tag match and the Women’s title at Wrestlemania but they didn’t lose their convictions. Richards says they will fight fire with fire tonight by going after the one thing they despise the most, the Hardcore Title. Richards proclaims that tonight they will show Kane and the rest of the world how deep their convictions run.
- Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley vs. Trish Stratus – ‘Whipping’ Match
Stephanie takes Trish down on the ramp and they go rolling down to ringside where Trish gets the advanatage. Trish throws Stephanie in the ring then brings in one of the leather straps but Stephanie greets her with a stomp. Stepahnie throws Trish into a corner then grabs a strap and tries to hang her with it while standing on the ropes. Stephanie snapmares Trish by the strap and drills her with a DDT then proceeds to whip her with the strap. Trish eventually kicks Stephanie away and rams her into the mat then slaps her around and hits the bulldog. Trish grabs the strap and starts whipping Stephanie who tries to escape to the floor but Trish goes after her. Trish continues whipping Stephanie as she rolls across the announce table as the referee tries to break it up. Trish moves in but Stephanie grabs Lillian Garcia and holds her in front of her then shoves her into Trish. Stephanie tosses Trish back in the ring and hits a short-arm clothesline then whips her with both straps. Stephanie stomps Trish down then climbs the ropes looking for the Vader splash but Trish trips her by the leg. Stephanie ends up draped over the top rope as Trish grabs the strap and proceeds to wail away at her rear end. Suddenly William Regal runs in and takes Trish out with the inverted neckbreaker (with Trish dropping to early). Regal then holds Trish up by the arms as Stephanie grabs the strap and whips her repeatedly in the chest. Now Chris Jericho runs in for the save and pounds away at Regal while Stephanie and Trish roll out to the floor. Jericho tosses Regal over the ropes then goes out and stops Stephanie from using the strap on Trish any further. Jericho chases Stephanie up the ramp and I guess that’s the match, such as it was. (~6:00) Definitely not their encounter at No Way Out. DUD
~ Back from break Stephanie is berating William Regal for letting Chris Jericho come out and ruin her match like that. Regal promises to make it up to Stephanie by booking Jericho in a handicap match against himself and Kurt Angle.
- Rhyno vs. Crash Holly © (w/Molly Holly) – Non-Title Match
Does anyone remember Crash’s Light Heavyweight title run during this time? Did’t think so. Both men stand nose-to-nose before exchanging shots but Rhyno takes control and pummels Crash in a corner. Rhyno whips Crash into the opposite corner and charges but eats a boot. Crash is able to get in his offense and goes for a whip, Rhyno reverses it but Crash comes back with a headscissors then kicks away at him. Crash goes for a whip, Rhyno reverses him into a corner and charges but misses and runs into the turnbuckles. Crash climbs to the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick then celebrates but Rhyno opos right up. Rhyno then spears Crash with the Gore and the three count is academic after an easy match. (0:56) A squash, plain and simple. NR
After the bell Molly climbs to the top rope and takes Rhyno down with the Molly-Go-Round. Molly checks on Crash but Rhyno no-sells that move as well and nails Molly with the Gore for good measure.
~ Backstage Kevin Kelly interviews Debra on why Vince McMahon helped her husband win the title last night. Debra claims she was as surprised as everyone else out there that night and that she can’t talk about it right now. That’s followed by stills of the shocking Austin/Vince handshake as JR hopes we get an explanation from Austin next.
~ Back from break Vince heads to the ring a second time, this time with the WWF Championship belt over his shoulder. Vince gets on the mic and says he couldn’t help but notice a few boos once Steve Austin’s name was mentioned earlier. Vince says he’s perplexed after the fans cheered Austin’s title win last night and after everything he’s done for them. Vince mentions every person in the building has a boss they suck up to every day and what Austin did is no different. Vince says Austin did what he had to do to win the WWF Title then proceeds to bring out the new champ himself. Austin does his posing and the react from the crowd is pretty restrained but there’s no real boos as of yet. Vince thanks the fans for their Lone Star reception then presents the belt to Austin when he swipes the mic from him and tells the fans that he got what he wanted from Wrestlemania before asking if they want him to beat Vince up. The crowd responds in the affirmitive as usual … only this time Austin tells them that’s not going to happen tonight. Austin says he’s not going to grant the fans’ every little wish and allow them to sponge off him like he’s done before. Austin says everyone wants an explanation on why he sided with Vince but feels he owes the fans nothing so no dice. In other words we’re not going to get an explanation tonight because the writer’s haven’t quite worked it out just yet. The crowd starts chanting “Rocky” as Austin tells Rock you simply don’t put “Mr. McMahon” in the Sharpshooter. Austin says he’s not going to be a 24-hour champion and will beat Rock once they drop the steel cage around them. Austin says that’s all he has to say about it and lets Vince give the bottom line as the two stand together.
Now right from the start you could tell how the Austin heel turn tanked. Instead of letting it progress naturally, the bookers were worried that the fans weren’t booing and jeering Austin fast enough and tried a little too hard to get Austin’s heel run rolling, even though they should have realized the Texas fans just weren’t going to boo Austin.
~ We get a shot of Triple H watching a monitor backstage and doesn’t look too happy with this new alliance. We see The Rock also watching a monitor elsewhere and he doesn’t seem too pleased with this development either.
- WWF HARDCORE TITLE: Kane © vs. Val Venis (w/Steven Richards)
Another funny moment from Heyman who mocks Ross for kissing up to Austin and crying about his heel turn. Heyman also mentions how he supposedly heard the RTC want to win the Hardcore Title just so they can retire it. Val comes out with sone garbage cans then greets Kane coming in with one of them and gets in the first shots. Val goes for a whip but Kane holds onto the ropes so Val gets in a few more shots then goes for the whip again. Kane counters and throws Val into a corner then pummels him and hits a uppercut and chokes him with his boot. Kane clotheslines Val and follows with an elbowdrop then scoops him onto his shoulder but Val fights out of it. Val hits several knees then comes off the ropes but Kane catches him with a powerslam with for a near fall. Meanwhile Heyman is still bickering with JR about his constant whining on Austin joining forces with Vince. Eventually JR tells Heyman to know when to step off or he just might wind up back at a bingo hall. Zing! Kane plants Val with a sidewalk slam then grabs a lid when Richards comes in but he runs right into a big boot. Kane clobbers Richards wit the lid when Val nails him with a trash can then clotheslines him over the ropes. Kane lands on his feet but Val nails him with a baseball slide then goes out and throws Kane into the ringsteps. Val grabs a road sign and whacks Kane with it then tosses him back in the ring and hits a DDT for a near fall. Val chokes Kane on the ropes and gets in his offense but Kane regains the advantage with some hard rights. Kane whips Val when Val goes for a Russian legsweep but Kane stands firm and Val ends up slipping off. Val hits a boot from the corner then hops to the middle rope and hits a clothesline but only gets a near fall. Val stomps Kane down in a corner and chokes him with the boot then wedges a can in the ropes in a corner. Val goes to whip Kane into the can but Kane reverses it and it’s Val going back-first into the can instead. Kane climbs to the second rope and connects with the flying clothesline and thankfully that gets the pin. (5:44) Boring match that was less than six minutes but felt a lot longer than that. DUD
Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather run in and help Val gang up on Kane when Undertaker runs out for the save. Kane chokeslams Val before he and Taker chokeslam Goodfather and Buchanan simultanelously and stand tall.
~ Backstage Triple H runs into William Regal and demands that he tell him where Vince just might be found. Regal is hesitant as Triple H rants about Vince screwing him over by hiding his new alliance with Austin from him. Regal dislikes Triple H’s tone but Triple H gets in his face threatening to beat him up if he knew anything about this.
~ Back form break Vince gets himself some coffee when Triple H comes up to him yelling about being kept in the dark. Triple H rants that he spent the past year beating Austin for both of them only for Vince to make an alliance with him and wants to know why he wasn’t let in on this deal last night. Vince says he smply felt it wasn’t his business then claims Austin came to him for help and won his match at Wrestlemania while Triple H lost without his help. Vince then walks off while Triple H angrily messes up the catering table. Again more on this in a moment.
- Chris Jericho vs. William Regal & Kurt Angle – Handicap Match
As mentioned earlier Regal made this match after Jericho meddled in Stephanie’s match with Trish. Amazingly Regal’s chest is still sporting the welts from suffering Jericho’s big chops in their battle last night. Regal looks to start off against Jericho when Angle tries a sneak attack but Jericho catches him with a right. However Regal is still able to get in the first shots then whips him into a corner and charges but eats an elbow. Jericho hops to the middle rope and hits a missile dropkick then Regal tags in Angle who runs into a hip toss. Jericho decks Regal and clotheslines Angle then knocks Regal off the apron with the springboard dropkick. Angle nails Jericho and goes for a suplex but Jericho rolls through it and puts Angle in the Walls of Jericho. Regal breaks it up with a kick to the face and Angle lays the boots to Jericho before tagging Regal to take over. Regal takes Jericho over with an armwhip then wrenches the arm and caps it off with an European uppercut. Regal goes for a whip, Jerihco reverses him into a corner and Regal stops himself but Jericho hits a heelkick. Jericho hammers Regal with chops and goes for a whip, Regal reverses but Jericho elbows Angle off the apron. Jericho drills Regal with the bulldog then connects with the Lionsault and covers but Angle makes the save. Angle rolls back out to the apron when Jericho decks him off again then goes out and throws him into the steps. Jericho turns back to Regal as he climbs to the top but Angle pulls his leg causing him to straddle the buckle. Regal then goes up after Jericho and plants him with a buttefly superplex but that only gets a two count. Angle tags back in and pounds away on Jericho then whips him but lowers the head and Jericho kicks the face. Jericho comes off the ropes but runs right into the Olympic Slam…then Angle decides to let Regal grab the pin. Regal tags in but wastes too much time waving to the crowd before covering Jericho and only gets a near fall. Regal hits Jericho with the kneelifts to the face then whips him but Jericho comes back with a flying forearm. Jericho goes for the ropes looking for the bulldog but Angle grabs a chair and whacks Jericho in the back. Regal follows it up with the inverted neckbreaker and this time is able to grab the three. (4:35) Nice match but since Jericho wasn’t Austin or Rock the result wasn’t in doubt. **
Angle and Regal decide they’re not done yet and double-team Jericho before Angle slaps on the Anklelock and Jericho starts slapping the mat. Suddenly Chris Benoit comes in and decks Regal then chases Angle from the ring. Heyman claims Benoit only came out to get a piece of Angle, feeling that he would never come to Jericho’s aid. Benoit then clears Regal from the ring then turns back to Jericho and the two Chrises share an uneasy stare as everyone’s wondering if they’re going to go at it or shake hands. Eventually Jericho leaves without incident and this would begin Benoit’s face turn.
~ We then get footage of Shane McMahon arriving at WWF New York earlier as JR says we’ll hear from him later.
- “The One Billy” Gunn vs. X-Pac (w/Justin Credible & Albert)
Heyman feels this match was made because Billy was shooting the breeze with Shane McMahon on Smackdown and Regal wanted to teach the roster not to fraternize with the competition. That I can believe, who wants to be in a match with X-Pac knowing he’s almost guaranteed to go over every time. Both men lockup to start and Billy goes into a headlock, X-Pac shoves him away but Billy hits a shoulderblock. Billy comes off the ropes and X-Pac leapfrogs over him but Billy counters a hiptoss and hits a Russian legsweep. Billy applies an armweringer but X-Pac manages to duck in the ropes to ward him off then gets in his offense. X-Pac goes for a whip, Billy reverses it and hits a powerslam then lunges at Credible when he tries to come in. X-Pac charges but Billy tosses him over the ropes then rams him into the barrier before tossing him back in. Credible then goes for a superkick and Billy catches it but that allows X-Pac to nail him with a baseball slide. X-Pac heads in the ring and distracts the referee while Credible works Billy over before throwing him back in. Billy starts fighting back and comes off the ropes but runs into a spining heelkick that gets X-Pac a two count. X-Pac kicks Billy down in a corner and hits the Bronco Buster but Billy comes back with a tilt-o-whirl slam. Billy follows it up with a pair of clotheslines then whips X-Pac into a corner and hits a sloppy press slam. Billy decks Credible then drills X-Pac with the Rocker Dropper and covers but Credible distracts the referee. Albert comes in and nails Billy with the Baldobomb and X-Pac is able to score the cheap victory. (3:05) Albert whips Billy into a corner and Avalanches him then rams him into a double superkick for good measure. *
~ We then get more footage of Shane at WWF New York earlier shaking hands with the fans in attendance. Again JR mentions we’ll be hearing from Shane later tonight as we go to commercial.
~ Back from break the ring crew is getting the cage put together signaling the main event is coming up next. But first we get more stills from Wrestlemania detailing the Vince/Shane street fight and what went down.
~ We then cut to WWF New York to speak with Shane about his victory last night. Shane says Wrestlemania was awesome but he does have conflicting feelings about beating up his own father. Shane says he’s still proud of what he’s done because Vince had it coming and he was the one to deal the punishment. In a weird twist the crowd behind Shane starts chanting “WCW!” Shane says now that Wrestlemania is done and his mother is okay he can turn his attention to his other business. Shane says as far as WCW goes, its starting to shape up and that things are going to get interesting very soon. Shane then says he hopes the next time Linda kicks Vince is somewhere where it really hurts, in Vince’s checkbook.
~ Backstage Michael Cole interviews The Rock but Rock is serious since he doesn’t start with his “Finally..” bit. Rock says Steve Austin may not want to explain his actions last night but he knows why Austin did what he did. Rock feels Austin knows deep down inside that he can’t beat Rock one-on-one and it’s something that’s eating him up. Rock says he saw the desparation and fear in Austin’s eyes after he kicked out of every Stunner and every chairshot. Rock syas Austin may not owe the fans anything but he owes the fans whipping Austin all over the Lone Star state.
- WWF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: Stone Cold Steve Austin © vs. The Rock – Steel Cage Match
They hadn’t quite gotten the fans to boo Austin but they’ve at least gotten them cheering Rock. Rock comes out first and awaits Austin in the cage while Vince McMahon gives Austin a personal introduction and the two make their way down the ramp together. Austin starts to enter the cage but Rock makes it hard for him to come in so Austin slams the door on his head. Ausitn pulls Rock out to the floor and pounds away on him as the bell sounds with both guys outside the cage. Rock fights back and decks Ausitn over the announce table then grabs the legs and nails him below the belt. Rock rams Austin into the timekeeper’s table then grabs the title belt and clocks Austin with it, busting him open. Rock hammers away at Austin’s open cut then tosses him into the cage wall and grinds his face across the mesh. Rock tosses Austin in the cage then heads in and finally we’re officially underway two minutes after the bell. Rock stomps Austin down when Austin fights back and whips him but Rock comes back with a clothesline. Rock goes for a whip but Austin hits a knee then takes him down by the legs and catapults him into the buckles. Austin plants Rock with a spinebuster for a two count then unloads on him and stomps him in the netherregion. Austin has Vince pass a chair to him and jabs Rock repeatedly with it, just like he did at the pay-per-view. Austin readies another chair shot but Rock takes him down by the legs and puts him in the Sharpshooter. Austin frantically crawls for the ropes but Rock pulls him back while the referee keeps Vince from coming in. Austin starts tapping out but the referee doesn’t see it as he’s still busy trying to keep Vince from interfering. Couldn’t the outside referee have seen the submission from Austin and called for the bell?
Eventually Rock releases Austin to tell the referee to do his job then catches Austin coming with a spinebuster. Rock follows up with the Peoples Elbow and covers as the referee counts 1..2..but Vince interupts the count. Vince pulls the referee out to the floor and yells at him until the referee shoves Vince down and heads back in. Rock plants Austin with the Rock Bottom and the referee counts 1..2.but Vince nails the referee just before 3. Vince has some words for the referee but Rock stops Vince from leaving the cage and throws him into the wall. Rock closes the door and pounds Vince then sets up for a Rock Bottom but Austin saves him with a low blow. Vince decks the referee and helps Austin double-team Rock … when Triple H makes his way down the ramp? Yes, Triple H storms in the cage with his sledgehammer and shoves Vince aside then stands nose-to-nose with Austin as the crowd urges him to nail Austin. Austin and Triple H are still exchange words when … Triple H turns and nails Rock with the hammer! Austin is all smiles as Triple H pummels Rock with the hammer and the two of them procced to destroy Rock so we’re just going to call the match right there. (~11:00) Yes, folks, the perfect oppertunity to turn Triple H face and have him be Austin’s next big challenger. Instead the WWF balked at it and had him join forces with Austin, despite the fact that they had waged a very intense blood feud just a month ago. All in the name of getting the fans to boo Austin right away. ***
Anyway Triple H throws Rock into the wall and hits him with the Pedigree. Austin adds the elboddrop off the ropes, Triple H follows up with a knedrop then holds Rock up as Austin flips him off and finishes him with the Stunner. Austin and Triple H both have some parting words for Rock and Vince gets in a few stomps for good measure. Austin calls for his beers to be thrown to him then he, Triple H and Vince share a toast over Rock’s corpse. And that’s pretty much the last we see of The Rock for the next four months.
Conclusion: Not a very good first step into the strange new era, with the WWF pretty much all alone in the pro wrestling universe. It seemed like most of the effort in this episode went to getting Austin over as a heel and the bookers tried too hard with that as they jammed the turn down everyone’s throats, to the point where they just about screamed “Austin’s a heel now! Boo him!” Plus with The Rock about to take a sabbatical for Hollywood, the moment was right there for Triple H to take his place as the top babyface. Instead they wussed out and as a result there was no other strong hero for the fans to get behind, another reason the turn tanked. The rest of the show as unmemorable as the WWF was mostly catching its breath after a successful Wrestlemania and didn’t exactly know how to progress toward Backlash just yet. So I’m going to have to go thumbs in the middle leaning down.