Arnold Furious: 2001 was a year where a big deal was made of the WWF’s glass ceiling and that certain wrestlers were doomed to a career of midcard efforts. It was very similar to the same situation that had held back the likes of Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko in WCW. Perhaps it was pointed out to the WWF that they were going down the same road and employing the same main events over and over, and it forced their hand. So here, Jericho and Benoit found themselves elevated into the main event because the WWF didn’t want to repeat WCW’s mistakes. It was almost a wink to the recently defunct organisation to say “we learned from your mistakes”. And yet they didn’t. The WWF’s initial attempts to push Jericho and Benoit came in 2000 and when those pushes faltered, due to an obsession with having the same four guys headline every show, it took the edge off their characters. If you’re going to push someone do it properly first time around. The teased pushes only served to invigorate grass roots support for the duo but the masses saw both wrestlers as “nearly-men”, wrestlers who were entertaining but were ultimately destined to not win the WWF Title. When their 2001 pushes came round the WWF had to create a scenario to get them over again; hence the big RAW win over Steve Austin & Triple H. But Hunter got injured in the process and the WWF had to decide which one, Benoit or Jericho, would get the big opportunity. As per usual they couldn’t decide and gave it to both guys. Benoit actually had a serious neck injury so perhaps it wasn’t the smartest of moves to involve him before having surgery but they’d already shot themselves in the foot with singles as both guys had come up short against Austin one-on-one. Again, questionable booking had wrecked a big opportunity. And that was nothing compared to the invasion angle. That kicks off properly here with DDP confronting the Undertaker. What should have been the first shot from WCW in the war ended up being a total burial. What else should we expect from a guy called the Undertaker?
We’re in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which is too small to be acknowledged and instead the onscreen says “Continental Airlines Arena” because it sounds bigger. Hosts are Jim Ross and Paul Heyman. Before we get underway DDP runs down from the crowd.