WWF No Mercy 2001 Review feat. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam

Logo for WWF No Mercy 2001
Image Source: WWE
CompanyWWF/WWE
EventWWF No Mercy 2001
SeriesNo Mercy
Edition4
FormatPay-Per-View
DateSunday October 21 2001
VenueSavvis Center
LocationSt. Louis, Missouri, USA
Attendance15,647

WWF No Mercy 2001

WWF No Mercy 2001 was held at a time when the WWF vs. Alliance conflict was still in full swing. The inter-promotional rivalry would be brought to an end the following month at Survivor Series, though we didn’t know that here. It’s often stated that the WWF entered a tailspin in 2001, specifically after WrestleMania X-Seven. And there may be some truth to that. But the company was very much able to deliver great supercards, with this being strong supportive evidence.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

WCW World Tag Team Championship Match

The Hardy Boyz (C) vs. Lance Storm & The Hurricane

By this point of the WWF-Alliance saga, the two sides had taken to capturing one another’s belts. This is how you have Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy, two WWF performers, defending WCW gold. Their opponents here would not exactly sound like an obvious tag team at first glance. But the wannabe superhero and the straight-laced technician could certainly provide a formidable challenge to Matt and Jeff. And so they did in what was an enjoyable opener to start the night on a high note. Lita, Mighty Molly and Ivory would not only be at ringside for this one, but each female would be involved in the action. Amidst the chaos, The Hardyz struck Hurricane with their Twist Of Fate/Swanton Bomb combination to retain.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWF NO MERCY 2000 REVIEW!

Kane vs. Test

Between his awesome Royal Rumble showing, several title reigns and some PPV main event cameos, 2001 could be considered Kane’s greatest year. Test was not doing too shabby at this point here, having become one of the bigger threats offered by The Alliance after his August defection. Indeed, besides his stint in The Un-Americans in 2002, this period would be as close as Test got to becoming a main eventer. Therefore, having him face and defeat Kane would seem like a logical booking decision.

And that is what we got here at No Mercy 2001, as Test struck The Big Red Machine with a match-winning Big Boot. Still, the focus was on Kane, who Chokeslammed referee Nick Patrick twice and Powerbombed him. Damn! This was due to Patrick (an Alliance official) denying Kane the chance to use a steel chair. So, the post-match scenes arguably overshadowed Test’s big victory. Not that it mattered much, as Test would be back in the lower mid-card region within a few months.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWF UNFORGIVEN 2001 REVIEW!

Lingerie Match

Stacy Keibler vs. Torrie Wilson

Next up, a treat for the male fans. Shocking, I know. Previous Alliance member Torrie had defected to the WWF via her on-screen relationship with Tajiri. Stacy was nonplussed, and so we had this showdown. Now, you may wonder what the difference is between a Lingerie match and a Bra & Panties match is. Well, firstly, the two women would wrestle the entire match in their underwear, rather than them stripping one another to such a state of undress to triumph. Secondly, “lingerie” sounds more exciting than regular female undergarments. Seriously.

Stacy took her time to remove the robe that would reveal her clothing of choice, though she did give Matt Hardy a sneak peek backstage. (That laid seeds for him to have some issues with Lita, which is kind of fun.) Keibler did remove her gown eventually, before whipping Torrie’s rear end with a belt, as well as striking referee Jack Doan’s behind as well. Doan’s response? A nod of approval. The Attitude Era, folks (and before you leave a comment, yes this was still the Attitude Era). Despite her flirtatious actions, though, Stacy would lose after Torrie hit a Tajiri-style handspring elbow (I miss the days of partners/associates kayfabe teaching each other moves).

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWF NO MERCY (UK) 1999 REVIEW!

WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match

Edge (C) vs. Christian

It’s strange to think that Edge and Christian would only ever have one proper feud. Even stranger is the fact that many would view it as a disappointment. I assume the expectations were so high, partly due to a lengthy build-up, that the Canadians (still relatively young back then) couldn’t live up to them. Nevertheless, if you accept “good but not great” as being good enough, then their bouts are worth checking out. That includes this one, with their signature Ladder match stipulation to boot.

Christian had made things personal by jumping to the Alliance six nights earlier, after feigning that Edge’s mother had been in a car accident (well, I say “Edge’s”, but both were still regarded on-screen as brothers back then). This meant that Edge now had an extra motivation on top of being betrayed and losing his IC gold to Christian one month earlier at Unforgiven.

This is an underrated Ladder match; it’s not as famous or hard-hitting as their efforts as a tag team, but it’s still definitely worth a look. And it has a climactic ending, with Edge laying Christian on top of two ladders horizontally. There, the future Rated R Superstar struck with a one-man Conchairto, knocking Christian down, thus allowing Edge to win. Aside from a Steel Cage clash at Rebellion, this would be it for their rivalry. And that’s sad, because I would have loved to have seen these two collide again, especially in 2009 or 2010 with both men ready to battle at a main event level. Supposedly, there were plans for a 2011/2012 feud, but Edge’s retirement prevented that from happening.

WWF World Tag Team Championship Match

The Dudley Boyz (C) vs. Big Show & Tajiri

There isn’t much to say about this one. Bubba Ray and D-Von were starting to become stale by this point due to their lack of fresh, credible opponents. The thrown-together (though mildly interesting) team of Big Show and Tajiri hardly represented a major threat. Even if you factor in Show’s size, he was regularly staring at the lights during this timeframe. Therefore, a Dudleyz win would be an inevitability. And so it proved, as after Rhyno interfered to hit Show with a Gore, Tajiri tasted 3D to allow The Dudleyz to retain. Bubba Ray and D-Von would lose their belts the very next night to The Rock and Chris Jericho (more on them shortly).

Going back to Show for a moment, given his WCW history, he could have played a much bigger role in the WWF-Alliance saga. He would be a part of the Survivor Series main event, but otherwise he only offered minor contributions. It’s one thing to not use former WCW headliners who were on long-term contracts. But to not effectively use a former WCW headliner already employed by the WWF? That’s bizarre.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST EDITION? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2017 REVIEW!

The Undertaker vs. Booker T

In hindsight, it’s amazing that Booker T was able to have a Hall Of Fame-calibre career in the WWF/WWE. I say that because he would lose to virtually every headliner from the Attitude Era whenever he would battle them. He had already lost his WCW World Title to The Rock. Booker would infamously lose multiple times to Triple H in the future (albeit years later). He never faced Stone Cold Steve Austin in a major match, but he did get destroyed by him in a (hilarious and classic) supermarket brawl. And against The Undertaker, he would also always come up short.

At least he put up a good fight, though, unlike Taker’s previous foe Diamond Dallas Page. DDP had seen his profile already plummet after the unfortunate “stalker” storyline. Booker would not exactly suffer that fate, but he did lose this match. The finish would come straight from Taker’s clash with Triple H at WrestleMania X-Seven. Booker had Undi’ in trouble in the corner, only to taste a Last Ride that earned the victory for Taker.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 2001 REVIEW!

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match

The Rock (C) vs. Chris Jericho

When people discuss the failure of the Alliance angle, it will be mentioned that the WCW/ECW guys were made to look weak. Whether that is true or not is debatable. But it’s hard to argue when considering this match. After all, here we have The Alliance’s top prize, the WCW Championship. And yet it would be on the line in a match involving two WWF guys. Never mind Jericho’s previous WCW/ECW histories; that should simply not be the case. If Jericho had defected to the Alliance, that would be different. But either way, it sums up one of the problems with the booking of The Alliance.

Nevertheless, if you ignore that aspect, you can then enjoy this match for what it is. Because this is superb. Rock and Jericho had tremendous in-ring chemistry, and this may have been their best bout against one another. For over 20 minutes, they put on an absolute barnstormer that was lapped up every step of the way by the crowd. The Jerichoholics were also happy to have their voices heard, since this potentially marked Chris’ biggest bout to date. And the occasion would be matched by the result for Y2J.

Funnily enough, Chris’ longtime nemesis Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley tried to interfere (at least we would have some Alliance involvement). After Jericho chased Steph for a bit, Rock, the perfect gentleman, drilled her with a Rock Bottom. Again, the Attitude Era, folks! However, this allowed Chris to hit what would later be called a Skull-Crushing Finale onto a steel chair for the victory.

Post-match, Jericho taunted Stephanie, and later dedicated his win to Eric Bischoff, who had never given him a WCW Title opportunity in the past. Though Y2J had shown signs of a potential heel turn, he remained a babyface after this win. But the attitude adjustment would come. After Rock regained the belt from Jericho on November 5, Chris turned heel proper at Survivor Series. This would famously lead to Jericho beating Rock and Steve Austin at Vengeance to become Undisputed Champion. He may have told you that once or twice before.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING EDITION? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2002 REVIEW!

WWF Championship Triple Threat Match

Stone Cold Steve Austin (C) vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam

Time for the main event, then. Steve Austin and Kurt Angle had been feuding for months, as well as trading WWF Title wins. Angle had submitted Austin for the gold the previous month at Unforgiven. Stone Cold would regain the belt on October 8, just 13 nights prior to No Mercy 2001. Therefore, this contest would seemingly be the blow-off to a feud that delivered nothing less than excellent in-ring action. But a funny thing would happen along the way.

Rob Van Dam had gotten over huge with WWF fans during his three months in the company. So much so that RVD held wins over both Angle and Austin on television. The dissension within the Alliance ranks between Stone Cold and Van Dam was starting to overshadow the Austin-Angle issue. In the end, returning WWF Commissioner Mick Foley added RVD to this very bout (well, he announced a three-way, but you get my point). Meanwhile, Vince McMahon would return to television, hinting that RVD might jump ship to the WWF, and as WWF Champion to boot.

Besides ECW One Night Stand 2006, this is probably RVD’s biggest moment in the WWF/WWE. And it thankfully came in the form of a great match. All three men were performing at their peak here, delivering an exciting and unpredictable headline clash. Though Van Dam becoming WWF Champion so soon seemed unlikely, it felt like he had a real chance to capture the biggest prize in the industry, such was his popularity. We’re talking one level below Daniel Bryan in 2013-2014 here. Except that the fans were never going to rebel if they didn’t get their own way.

And they wouldn’t do so here, as Austin capitalised on a ringside brawl between Vince and Shane McMahon by catching RVD with a match-winning Stone Cold Stunner while Angle had been knocked to the ground by Shane O Mac. As fascinating as it is to consider how RVD’s career might have transpired had the WWF pulled the trigger here, it simply wasn’t going to happen. Mind you, if Rob had been kept red-hot for long enough, a Royal Rumble 2002 win followed by a WWF Title win at WrestleMania X8 may have been possible. But that wouldn’t happen either. Oh, hi, Triple H!

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

WWF No Mercy 2001 is a forgotten gem of a show, with a great double main event and a very good Ladder match further down the card. Don’t let anyone tell you that the WWF product sucked due to the Alliance feud being a letdown. Events like this demonstrate that while the WWF’s Attitude-related heyday may have been in the rearview mirror, the company could still deliver an awesome PPV.

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