Judgment Day 2001

2 out of 3 Falls Match
Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
This is a match for Angle’s gold medals. Unlike at the UK PPV Insurrextion the falls aren’t straight up, but rather it’s a “three stages” match. The first fall is pinfall only, the second fall is submission only and the third fall, if needed, is a ladder match with Kurt’s medals hanging over the ring. Angle is much angrier here than in their previous bouts as he’s been driven to desperation over the loss of his medals. His first move is to lift the rolling Germans off Benoit, which he absolutely nails. Angle had a very steep learning curve. He tries to steal the Swandive headbutt, which is how Benoit pinned him in England, only to miss and Benoit to lift the Angle Slam for the pin.

Second Fall: Submissions only. Benoit goes right into the Crossface, forcing Angle into the ropes to save his medals. They brawl outside to follow as JR points out Jack Doan is giving them leeway on the rules… but the only rule is submissions win! There’s no DQ in a submissions match. They run a sensational counters sequence from ankle lock to ankle lock to ankle lock to Crossface. The skill level involved is extremely high. The counters continue as Angle goes for the belly-to-belly but Benoit recognises the set up and counters into the Crossface and when Angle blocks that, the cross armbreaker, which was one of the submissions in their ultimate submission match at Backlash. Another of those follows with Benoit hooking a vicious version of the Boston crab, a much more severe hold than the Walls of Jericho. It’s so high up that Angle is able to squirm out though and that’s a tip of the hat to another submission in the aforementioned bout. Benoit switches to a figure four as we get a tour of popular submission holds through the ages. Having adopted Flair’s finish, Benoit starts to borrow liberally from his other work including a shinbreaker before using a Bret Hart-like drop on the ropes and then the dragon screw leg whip a’la Muta. He is busting out moves from all the leg-work greats, and Benoit has so much in his locker it makes for an interesting ride. And it’s all clean as a whistle. Compare that to say, Shawn Michaels when he ventured outside of his comfort zone and tried various different moves far less effectually, and Shawn is one of the best of all time. That’s how good Benoit and Angle are. Angle slam sets up the ankle lock and Benoit has to tap, taking us to the deciding third fall.

Third Fall: Ladder match. Angle starts out by grabbing a ladder only to discover it’s really small and he can barely reach. It’s like a midget comedy ladder. Benoit gets the real ladder and bashes Kurt in the face with it. The creativity and skill these two brought to the submissions section isn’t as evident in the ladder portion of the bout. Angle tries a spot where he runs up the ladder in the corner only for Benoit to tip it over but he loses his footing and it looks dumb. The difficulty level attempted is really high again though. The problem they have is they set up the ladder, then do a spot on it, then set it up again and do a spot on it. The bumps are way harsh but there’s nothing organic about them. Not like Bret-Shawn or even Shawn-Razor. That’s the issue with the ladder match. After one such spot; a suplex onto the ladder, they manage to move from there to a seesaw spot where Benoit tips it into Angle’s face. That’s their best ladder spot as a second spot logically came from the first. Benoit slaps on the Crossface and Angle taps out but it’s a ladder match so that counts for nothing. Edge & Christian run in to attack Benoit, and while they’re doing so Angle pulls the medals down for the win. The middle fall is superb, an extension of the ultimate submission match, but the ladder match didn’t quite click. Regardless it’s top wrestling from two guys on form.
Final Rating: ****

 

Backstage: William Regal is interrupted by the Undertaker while getting treatment on his head. Taker demands No Holds Barred tonight by bullying the authorities. What a prick. “I’m not going to jail” he mumbles. MAAAAAAAAAAAAAARK!

 

Video Control takes us to WWF New York where Jerry Lynn, the Light Heavyweight champion, points out he should be at the PPV defending his title. He moans at JR that he’s only got a promo and asks, mockingly, if it was ok. “I didn’t book him in New York” says JR. Shoot!

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