SummerSlam 2001

Chris Jericho vs. Rhyno
Rhyno is Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley’s hand-picked monster in her continuing attempts to shut Jericho’s mouth, though the impact of Rhyno Goring Jericho through the SmackDown! stage set is somewhat lessened when they cut to an angle that shows it basically consisted of a thin sheet of plastic and little else. This also comes from what you might loosely term the third “rut” of Jericho’s WWF career, as he entered the promotion in 1999 to tremendous fanfare before quickly finding himself in the doghouse for apparently not knowing how to work “WWF style.” He followed with a Chris Kreski-led resurgence in 2000 but found himself bouncing around the midcard once more come the autumn until another renewed push kicked in heading into 2001. By May, he and Chris Benoit were beating Steve Austin and Triple H for the tag titles in a killer RAW main event, but with Benoit’s injury and the commencing of the invasion angle, he finds himself lost in the shuffle yet again. It’s just too bad the WWF didn’t go full circle a second time and book him against X-Pac at Unforgiven for the third straight year for a real chuckle.

Rhyno blocks the Walls of Jericho early but Stephanie grabs Jericho’s leg when he goes up top, and the distraction sees him eat a Gore on the floor on the way down. Rhyno follows that with a flying body splash, which is one of the dumbest things he could conceivably do. His name is Rhyno and he’s being pushed as the “Man Beast”, he should be steamrollering Jericho head on, not taking to the skies. That’s so ridiculously out of character. Jericho doesn’t fare much better, badly blowing a Lionsault, then slipping off the top on a missile dropkick attempt and almost breaking his neck in the process. Worse still, he repeats the spot immediately, albeit from the middle rope, and for those of you watching the edited home video version, the removal of that botch is absolutely seamless.

Stephanie distracts the referee (four for four) so Jericho plants a big sloppy one on her, indirectly setting up their union in early 2002, and the Lionsault gets two but Rhyno fights back with a spinebuster and the Rhynotamer. Jericho makes it to the ropes so Rhyno sets himself for the Gore, but Jericho avoids that and finishes with the Walls. Decent match, blown spots aside.
Final Rating: **¾



– Backstage, Commissioner Regal bumps into the Rock, who admits he’s hurting having been Bookended through a table last Thursday on SmackDown!, but this is SummerSlam and he’s ready to go. The big joke of the otherwise serious promo is Rock taking a single step back as Shawn Stasiak barrels between the two and smashes into a wall before Rock steps forward again and finishes his speech to Regal. It was to become, quite literally, a running gag.

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