Minutes to Bell Time

Looking Back at SummerSlam 2001

Image Credit: WWE

SummerSlam 2001

I was 17 years old and an enormous pro wrestling fan in the year 2001

One of the things I’ll always remember about that period is how I borrowed a line from Chris Jericho whenever a girl at school got on my bad side. It’s true, I would call her a “dirty, disgusting, bottom feeding, trash bag, ho.”

With the benefit of hindsight, I can say with confidence that I should have just left the insult slinging to Chris Jericho. I’m sorry.

The feud between Stephanie and Jericho led to a match between Chris Jericho and Rhyno at SummerSlam 2001. A match that Chris Jericho won!

As we approach the 20 year anniversary of SummerSlam 2001 (August 19, 2001), I decided to give the event another look.

The 2001 edition of SummerSlam included an 8 match card that sold out the Compaq Center in San Jose, CA with 15,293 fans in attendance (per Wrestling Observer Newsletter 8/27/01).

Place in History

The 14th edition of SummerSlam was heavily influenced and colored by its timing in pro wrestling history.

WWE purchased their primary competitor, WCW, five months earlier in March. In storyline, Shane McMahon purchased the company (behind Vince McMahon’s back). The McMahons (Shane and Vince) competed in a Street Fight against each other at WrestleMania X-7 (April). Shane won that match and in the following months WCW talent interfered in matches ultimately leading to Shane formally declaring the “Invasion” on the June 25th episode of Raw is War.

Two weeks after Shane’s declaration (July 9th), Paul Heyman announced that ECW was joining the Invasion and taking it to the EXTREME. In reality, WWE purchased the assets of ECW in April 2001, but in storyline Stephanie McMahon was revealed as the new owner of ECW.

Shane and Stephanie joined forces creating the WCW/ECW Alliance kicking off a five month Invasion angle that culminated at Survivor Series 2001.

One month prior to SummerSlam (July 2001), the famous WWF Invasion PPV saw Steve Austin turn his back on the WWF and join the WCW/ECW alliance.

Austin would defend the WWF Championship against Kurt Angle at SummerSlam 2001.

The buzz of WCW and ECW going out of business in 2001 was perhaps the only circumstance capable of distracting the industry from the absence of The Rock from April to July of 2001.

Following his loss of the WWF Championship to Steve Austin at WrestleMania X7, The Rock left WWE for his first major acting role in The Scorpion King. 20 years later, we can look back at that short 5 month break as the beginning of the end for The Rock in WWE.

The Rock would return and challenge Booker T for the WCW Championship in the SummerSlam main event. It was a battle of The Rock Bottom v. The Book End (the same move).

The Show

SummerSlam 2001 received universal praise by fans and critics alike.

  • 89.1% of voters in the Wrestling Observer poll gave the event a Thumbs Up.
  • Wade Keller wrote in the August 25th edition of the PW Torch, “SummerSlam didn’t feature one below–average match. It was never boring. It peaked with a classic between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle. It ended with the top babyfaces capturing a World Title cleanly in the middle of the ring.”
  • Dave Meltzer wrote in the August 27th edition of the Wrestling Observer, “SummerSlam, traditionally the WWF’s second biggest PPV event of the year, was more of a by-the-book show, with a strong line-up presented and a straight forward approach with few swerves and curves. The show was largely well received and had little controversy afterwards aside from analysis of whether the WWF title match or Rock should have gone on in the main event position.”

As indicated by both Meltzer and Keller, the event was highlighted by Kurt Angle v. Steve Austin – a 4.5 star match as judged by both journalists.

Even with Austin and Angle having a match of the year candidate, the silly DQ finish would have left a somewhat deflated feeling if it closed the show.

Instead WWE sent fans home happy with a feel good moment of the Rock defeating Booker T to capture the WCW Championship in the main event.

Interesting Trivia

SummerSlam 2001 is the only SummerSlam event to include the WCW Heavyweight Championship, the WCW Tag Team Championships, and the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.

Final Thoughts

20 years have gone by, and I remembered very little of this crazy event.

What does it say about me that the major memory I have has nothing to do with the Invasion, The Rock’s return from Hollywood, or the silly finish to Austin v. Angle?

I’m terrified for some psychologist to come along and reveal the what it says about me that all I can remember is the look on Stephanie’s face when Jericho called her a dirty, disgusting, bottom feeding, trash bag, ho?

Quick Results

  1. Edge pins Lance Storm to win the Intercontinental Championship – 10:21
  2. Test and The Dudleys defeat The APA and Spike Dudley – 7:17
  3. X-Pac pins Tajiri to become WCW and WWF Light-Heavyweight Champion – 08:38
  4. Chris Jericho defeats Rhyno by submission – 12:34
  5. Rob Van Dam defeats Jeff Hardy to win the Hardcore Championship – 16:33
  6. Undertaker and Kane defeat Dallas Page and Kanyon to capture the WWF Tag Team Titles and to retain the WCW Tag Team Championships in a Cage Match – 10:15
  7. Kurt Angle defeats Steve Austin by DQ – 22:30. Austin retains the WWF Title.
  8. The Rock pins Booker T to win WCW Heavyweight Title – 15:22


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