Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Royal Rumble 2001

Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz – WWF Tag Title Championship Match

It seems like in the past couple of months I have spent an inordinate amount of time talking about tag team wrestling.  Tag team wrestling has become one of my favorite wrestling topics to discuss and I think it differentiates itself from the different eras and promotions more than many other facets of pro wrestling.  Royal Rumble 2001 provides a bevy of interesting matches from me to choose from but I want these pre-viewing articles to get a whole sense of the promotion.  Having said that, looking at the opener between Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz, this felt like a natural choice to check out one of the longest straight tag matches between two teams in the “second golden age” of WWF tag team wrestling.

Many people in the biz say the opener is the second most important match on the card.  I tend to agree with this line of thinking and it is something I feel that the WWE has faltered in recently.  I want the opener to be fast-paced, exciting and consequential.  However, it shouldn’t be too consequential.  Having a World Title match as the opener dilutes the rest of the card.  The matches are ideally too long for the opener position and give the viewer the thought that one of the marquee matches is already gone 25 minutes into a PPV.  The match length of this tag match at just over 10 minutes is ideal.  That gives enough time for each team to do their spots, build heat, and tell a cohesive story.  We start with clips showing E&C attacking the Dudley’s and even powerbombing  Bubba Ray through a table on Smackdown in a role reversal from the usual table antics the Dudley’s provide.

As a result of the backstory, Bubba and D-Von come in looking for revenge and have a really good shine sequence to begin.  E&C quickly bail but the Dudley Boyz never back down from a street fight, so we get some outside brawling.  D-Von hits a really good snap powerslam on Edge and Bubba was throwing around punches and armdrags with reckless abandon.  In a classic heel tag team move, Christian is able to wallop an incoming D-Von to the ropes, allowing E&C to gain the advantage.

I was really looking forward to this heat segment to see where E&C stack up against other great tag teams in a featured match like this.  I felt the segment was really lacking overall.  They do focus on D-Von’s head for most of the duration and mix in neckbreakers and other high impact moves focusing on that region of his anatomy, but there also feels like a lot of time-killing techniques and not much sense of either urgency or viciousness.  When Arn/Tully attack a body part, bodily harm against the opponent is conveyed.  We do get some “non-tags” but again on the spectrum of good heel tag work, this is on the lower end.  Edge even cranks out a chinlock and relies on Bubba yelling at him from the apron to provide anything interesting.  We get a quick hope spot from D-Von that Edge stunts with a spinning neckbreaker.  Edge yells at Bubba that he is going to break D-Von like a twig then lackadaisically tags in Christian.  I’m all for trash talk but back it up.  This minute in the match is the worst so far with no sense of direction from the E&C team and Bubba again being the most interesting component of the match while he works the apron.  The crowd is still with the Dudley’s by starting a “We want tables” chant.  D-Von reverses a piledriver attempt and catapults Edge into the turnbuckle where Christian was perched upon.  Double clothesline and D-Von is able to get the hot tag, but the referee doesn’t see it.  This allows E&C to go for a conchairto but they miss and D-Von gets a double clothesline and this time is able to make the legal tag.

Bubba’s house of fire section is really good, throwing both members of E&C around and hitting most of the signature spots like the Bubba Bomb and the Wassup drop.  He inquires D-Von to get the table and we get a good near fall when Bubba rolls Edge up after avoiding a belt shot.  The Dudley Boyz go for the 3-D but E&C thwart that and Edge gets a spear on Bubba for another good nearfall as the match is heating up. E&C then go for the wassup drop but it is reversed and one 3-D later we have new tag team champions.

There are a couple of other points I wanted to mention about this match that are interesting from a modern day perspective.  King and Ross are still very much utilizing a heel/face commentary structure here.  King would be gone fairly shortly after this show and I don’t recall him being as much of a “heel” when he returns.  In this match they were jabbing back and forth throughout.  The second is that one of the narratives going into this match was that Bubba was concussed but still wrestling.  Obviously with all of the concussion issues in the past few years, and the continued research done on the topic, this angle would never happen in current day where Bubba would still be clear-minded enough to wrestle. This felt like a good, definitive win for the Dudley Boyz but the tag title changed hands way too much around this time, lessening the effect.  Overall this match was fine, but in a showcase match like this where 40% of the match is comprised of a lackluster heat segment, I was hoping for more.  I blame most of the transgressions of this match on E&C.  Their comedy routine is humorous and works well with skits and interviews, but when it comes down to the brass tacks of wrestling matches a lot of times I wish they would show more intensity and urgency.

Final Rating: **