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Retro Wrestle Respawn – WWF Raw Is War Christmas Eve 2001

Still no internet at my gaff, but I crashed at my parents this weekend and used their internet connection to watch this holiday themed episode of Raw from Christmas Eve 2001. This was during the period between the WCW/ECW Invasion angle ending in November 2001 and the Smackdown Vs Raw brand split era beginning in April 2002. It was a period where the WWF went through quite a bit of change, but this show should hopefully be more of a fun seasonal edition of the show that doesn’t focus too strongly on storylines.

The event is emanating from Miami, Florida on the day of Christmas Eve 2001

Calling the action are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Jerry Lawler excitedly hypes up an “Eggnog Match” between Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson later in the night, whilst Jim Ross instead chooses to focus on a title match between Chris Jericho and The Rock.

Speaking of The Rock, the hometown lad joins us to start the show out, wearing a Miami Hurricanes jersey no less. Ross seems convinced that Rock will win the title tonight, which is usually a kiss of death to anyone challenging for a belt in wrestling. Rock is, not surprisingly, mega over in his hometown and revels in the cheers from his fellow Floridians. Rock declares that not only will he win the title tonight, but that The Hurricanes will conquer all in the football arena. Following the crowds roar of approval, Rock then reads a Christmas Eve themed poem, wherein he pokes fun at Jericho for another pop from the crowd. Hot Take: The Rock is excellent on promos.

Rock’s poem is interrupted by Kurt Angle however, to much disconcertion from the Miami crowd. Angle, after eating a customary insult from The Rock, declares that Vince McMahon has added him to the title match later, making it a triple threat match. Rock is unimpressed by Angle’s announcement and insults him once again before confidently stating that he will win the title tonight regardless. That was a good opening segment which set up the main event for later.

Meanwhile, we cut backstage to see that Vince McMahon has set up a Christmas Eve party for all the heels on the roster. We see that Bubba Ray Dudley is dressed as Father Christmas and has Stacey Keibler sitting on his knee. Booker T shows up and thanks Vince for a recent contract that Vince had offered him. Booker had originally been fired following the Invasion but, after costing Stone Cold Steve Austin the Undisputed Title, Vince decided to show his gratitude by hiring him back. Vince brings in some fit birds to dance for everyone.

Commercial

Opening Match
Rikishi Vs Test

Test had won an “Immunity Battle Royal” at Survivor Series 2001, which afforded him the protection of not being fired for an entire year. Rikishi had given Test a Stinkface the prior week on Raw to set this one up. Test threatens the referee early on, knowing that he can’t be fired for attacking him. Rikishi runs wild to start, but misses a charge in the corner and gets turned inside out from a Test clothesline.

Test hammers away on Rikishi, threatening the referee every time he tries to make him follow the rules. Test dares referee Timmy White to hit him, and white obliges for a big pop and rings the bell for an apparent disqualification. I’m not sure how a referee punching a wrestler leads to the wrestler in question getting disqualified, but the crowd popped for it at least

WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION – RIKISHI
RATING: N/A

Too short to rate. They never really did anything interesting with Test’s immunity and the angle kind of just petered out, as most things tended to do with him. Test clocks the referee following the match, but this allows Rikishi to rally and deliver the Bonzai Drop before tending to White.

We cut backstage to see that WWF Co-Owner Ric Flair is hosting his own Christmas Eve party, with his own Father Christmas in the form of Tajiri, complete with Torrie Wilson. Tajiri presents Torrie with some sexy nickers, which she is delighted to receive. Albert and Edge try to help Kane get into the Christmas spirit, whilst Big Show does an impression of Hulk Hogan for the babyfaces. Sadly Debra, Stone Colds wife, shows up with some of her trademark horrible cookies to spoil things. She does reveal however that Austin is coming to the party, which causes much rejoicing. Flair was so unbelievably over the top and wacky in this segment, it was fantastic!

Commercial

Back from the break, the women are still dancing at Vince’s Christmas Eve party, much to the delight of the perverted men in attendance. Not so ambiguously gay duo Billy and Chuck aren’t interested in the dancing women however, and instead give each other matching headbands as presents. Tazz questions Bubba’s portrayal of Santa however, feeling that it’s not especially classy, so Bubba kicks him out of the party in response. Howard Finkel brings Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah into the party, much to Vince’s disgust.

Match Two
Acolyte Protection Agency (Faarooq and Bradshaw) Vs Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo

Billy and Chuck were in the early stages of a push here that would eventually see them winning the WWF Tag Team Titles in early 2002. The APA jumpstart things right from the off, but Billy and Chuck manage to trap Faarooq in their corner and start working him over. Faarooq manages to DDT Chuck however and tags in Bradshaw who runs wild on the heels with standard power fare.

Faarooq hits Billy with a spinebuster, but this leaves him open to a Jungle Kick from Chuck. Bradshaw is able to smash Chuck with a Clothesline from Hell, but when he goes for a blockbuster slam on Billy, Chuck is able to trip him up and then holds his leg down so that he can’t kick out when Billy falls on top for him.

WINNERS: BILLY AND CHUCK
RATING: N/A

Again, far too short to rate. Just a quickie match to let Billy and Chuck get a tick in the win column.

We see that Rob Van Dam is searching for someone backstage

Commerical

Back from the break, we find out that Rob Van Dam was looking for Chris Jericho. He kicks down the door to Jericho’s locker room, but finds only Lance Storm. Storm tells Rob that Jericho doesn’t want to face him, so Rob challenges Storm for match later.

Back at Ric Flair’s Christmas Eve party, Arn Anderson shows up, as does Stone Cold Steve Austin. Everyone is happy to see Austin, and he doles out beer to everyone before sitting on Tajiri’s lap and reading out his Christmas List, which gives the crowd a chance to yell “WHAT?” after each item.

Match Three
Rob Van Dam Vs Lance Storm

RVD was attacked by Jericho on a previous addition of Sunday Night Heat, so he’s going to take out his frustration on Jericho’s lackey here. This is another quickly paced match, as Storm hits a clothesline from the top before applying a chin lock. RVD fights off a German Suplex and kicks Storm down before following up with the Rolling Thunder for two.

Storm replies with a super kick for a two of his own, before setting RVD up on the top rope for a super back drop. RVD manages to land on his feet however and hits a big spin kick before heading to the top rope for the Five Star Frogsplash to earn himself a three count.

WINNER: ROB VAN DAM
RATING: N/A

This was again far too short to rate, but it served its purpose in giving RVD a clean win whilst also giving the crowd a chance to pop for his high flying move set.

Back at Vince’s Christmas Eve party, Test is eyeing up one of the dancing tarts, but then turns his attention to Terri Runnels. He produces some mistletoe and tries to wrangle himself a kiss, but she is having none of it and refuses. Backstage interviewer Sharmel then decides this would be the perfect time to interview Tough Enough winner Maven, who is just hanging out at the party. He says that he really enjoyed Stone Cold beating up Booker T last week on Smackdown, which leads to Booker challenging him for a match later. That was pretty tactless from Maven in all honesty, especially as Booker was there in the room.

Commercial

“Match” Four
Eggnog Match
Stacy Keibler Vs Torrie Wilson

Stacy was with The Dudley Boyz during this time, whilst Torrie was with Tajiri, and the two had come to blows during matches between their men. This is the typical pre PG and “Women’s Evolution” treatment of the women, as they roll around in a big pool of *Insert relevant seasonal foodstuff here* until one of them arbitrarily gets pinned. In this instance it’s Stacy, who gets pinned with a school girl roll up. The ref also ends up in the Eggnog, in a moment of such hilarity it’s a miracle that the sides of everyone in the arena managed to remain unburst during the whole ordeal.

WINNER: TORRIE WILSON
RATING: DUD

Urgh. Stuff like this always makes me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan

Meanwhile, back at Vince’s Christmas Eve party. Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho storms in and complains to Vince about the triple threat match later. Vince tries to explain his decision making, but Stephanie interrupts the proceedings by showing up with a gift. Stephanie had turned on Vince during the Invasion, and she’s all apologetic here. Vince is unaccepting however and kicks her out of the party.

Commercial

Match Five
WWF European Championship
Champion: Christian Vs The Hurricane w/ Mighty Molly

Christian was very much in the dead zone of his career here, as he was relegated to the lower-middle section of the card and was eventually booked into having a losing streak gimmick in the build up to WrestleMania X8. Hurricane runs wild to start and sends Christian outside before following with a dive. Back inside, Hurricane goes for The Eye of the Hurricane, but Christian mule kicks his way out of that to take control of the match.

Christian targets Hurricane’s mid-section and works it over with gut busters and knee strikes. Hurricane gets the occasional spurt of offence to show he’s still in the match, and is eventually able to start his comeback following a distraction from Molly. Hurricane hits the Over Castle, but Christian is able to kick out at two, before back dropping Hurricane out of the ring. Christian goes to baseball slide Molly, but Hurricane pushes her out of the way to take the move himself. This allows Christian to chuck him back inside and hit The Unprettier for the win.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRISTIAN
RATING: *1/2

As with every other match tonight, this was a bit on the short side, but it was the first match with some decent length that had an actual seven point structure to it. If they’d had a big longer to tell more of a story, it likely would have rated higher.

Back at Ric Flair’s Christmas Eve party, Tazz comes in says that he approves of Tajiri as Father Christmas. Stone Cold suggests a Tajiri Vs Bubba match in a Santa Vs Santa battle for the ages

Commercial

Match Six
Booker T w/ The Bossman Vs Maven

This was a weird period where they brought Bossman back, essentially in his Big Bubba Rogers gimmick of suited bodyguard, to be Booker’s hired heavy. Apparently, the role was originally supposed to go to Booker’s brother Stevie Ray, which would have made far more sense, but Vince McMahon decided to go with Bossman instead as he liked him and wanted to give him a gig. I’m not sure if it was an improvement or not in all honesty, as Stevie Ray is famously one of the very worst in ring performers to ever get a sustained push in a major company. Bossman at least used to be good at one point.

Maven had earned himself a WWF contract by winning the inaugural Tough Enough competition. Maven actually got pretty over as an underdog babyace during this period, but sadly he was too inexperienced in the ring to really make anything of it. Maven unloads with a pair of dropkicks to start, but Booker swipes away the third one and starts working the young rookie over.

Booker draws decent heel heat as he batters poor Maven, but wastes time instead of going for a cover whilst he has Maven down. Maven makes the odd spirited fight back, but Booker easily cuts him off each time and hits the Scissors Kick. Booker hits a big 110th Street Slam, and that’s enough to pick up the three count.

WINNER: BOOKER T
RATING: N/A

Just a squash, but it served its purpose.

Commercial

Match Seven
Bubba Claus w/ D-Von Dudley Vs Annual Gift Man Tajiri

Bubba certainly looks more like a traditional Father Christmas, owing to his jelly belly. Bubba hammers away on Tajiri to start, but Tajiri replies with a spin kick to send Bubba outside, where he follows with an Asai moonsault. Back inside, Tajiri hammers away but runs into a Bubba Bomb. Bubba sends Tajiri outside so that D-Von can get some cheap shots in, before hitting a splash back inside for two.

Bubba undoes his belt and starts whipping Tajiri with it, before hitting a Rude Awakening for two. Bubba heads up to the second rope, where he goes for a senton back splash, but Tajiri is able to move out of the way and hits a seated dropkick for two. Tajiri hits a handspring elbow and then heads up top, but D-Von crotches him on the top rope, which allows Bubba to hit a big superplex.

Bubba is really getting into this whole Santa thing, guffawing and rubbing his belly at every opportunity. D-Von tries to illegally interfere, which causes the ref to step in and stop it. During the confusion, Tazz runs down push D-Von off the top rope. This allows Tajiri to spit red mist into the eyes of a distracted Bubba before hitting a big kick for the win.

WINNER: TAJIRI
RATING: **

This was a lot of fun actually, with some good wrestling and some genuinely funny comedy.

Everyone at Vince’s Christmas Eve party is upset at Bubba losing. Kurt Angle comes in to reassure them all by stating that he will cheer them up by winning the title tonight and stripping The Rock of his dignity. Mae Young hears the word “strip” and decides that wouldn’t be so bad of an idea, and starts taking her clothes off, whilst being cheered on by Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco.

Commercial

We get a video recap of The Undertaker battering Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and Lita. This would lead to all three returning at the Royal Rumble to assist with Maven eliminating Undertaker as a measure of revenge.

Meanwhile, at Vince’s Christmas Eve party, Mae Young continues to strip, which provides a useful distraction for Stone Cold to storm in and beat up the stooges.

Commercial

Main Event
WWF Undisputed Heavyweight Title
Champion: Chris Jericho Vs Kurt Angle Vs The Rock

Jericho had won the title back at Vengeance 2001, pinning both The Rock and Stone Cold in the same night, although he needed assistance from Vince McMahon and Booker T respectively to win those two bouts. Angle and Jericho team up on Rock to start, much to the crowd’s annoyance. Rock does his best to fight back, but the numbers game makes it difficult for him. This is resembling a handicap match more than a triple threat one right now, which Jim Ross openly bemoans.

Rock finally manages to lay Angle out outside the ring and starts bringing the fight to Jericho back inside, only for Jericho to catch him with a spin kick for two. Rock looks to be getting the better of things again, only for Angle to trip him from the outside to restore the two on one advantage for the heels. Jericho gets knocked outside and its now his time for a lie down outside, whilst Angle goes at it with Rock inside the ring.

Rock manages to get a belly to belly suplex on Angle, but Jericho comes back in to break up the resulting cover. Rock finally manages to hit both heels with a jumping double clothesline for the triple down, as the fans try to get behind the hometown hero. Rock unloads on the heels with punches, with the fans reacting louder to each punch, and manages to inadvertently send Angle falling down face first into Jericho’s crotch for a humorous low blow.

Rock goes for the Sharpshooter on Angle, and has him in the middle of the ring, but Jericho comes in to break it up. Rock sees him coming however and lays him out with a spinebuster before hitting The People’s Elbow, but Angle breaks up the resulting cover by putting Rock in the ankle lock. Jericho breaks up the ankle lock however, and it appears finally time for the two heels to start fighting one another.

Angle and Jericho fight over submission attempts, which sees Angle get the better of things and apply the ankle lock. Rock breaks that up however and the referee soon gets bumped by an accidental Jericho flying forearm. Rock puts Jericho in his own Walls of Jericho and actually makes Jericho tap, but the referee is down and can’t register the submission. Angle comes in with a chair and goes to hit Rock, but Rock dodges it and the chair hits Jericho instead.

Rock hits the Rock Bottom on Angle, but the referee is still down, which allows Angle to hit Rock with a DDT onto the chair. However, Angle is unable to make the move count and falls down away from The Rock, which allows a battered Jericho to drape an arm over the out cold Rock and pick up a three count from the now recovered referee.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRIS JERICHO
RATING: ***

This was an enjoyable TV main event. Rock was incredibly over but it was far too soon to take the belt off Jericho, so this finish was probably the best one they could have done in the circumstances. Jericho and Rock would go on to have an excellent match at the Royal Rumble, which would see the rare instance of Jericho actually retaining the title on his own terms for a change rather than relying on someone to do the work for him, as he would pin Rock by putting his feet on the ropes in classic Flair fashion.

Final Thoughts

This wasn’t really a show that advanced any storylines, but it had a couple of decent matches and an enjoyable main event. The Christmas Eve party skits were generally fun thanks to both Vince McMahon and Ric Flair being supremely entertaining on screen characters. Bubba Ray going full bore with the Santa gimmick was pretty awesome as well, as he really committed to playing it to the hilt and it was immensely entertaining as consequence.

If you’re looking for some seasonal themed wrestling action to enjoy on the WWE Network this holiday period, then you could do far worse than tucking into this delicious slice of wrestling Christmas pudding.

Whilst you’re here, why not take a goosey gander at Ian’s review of Just Cause 4? You can see what he thought by clicking right HERE

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely holiday period!

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