King of the Ring
The next night on RAW, Vince announces that he is seeking legal action against Bischoff and WCW, and once again assures the audience that WCW talent will never again appear on WWF television. Shane McMahon interrupts and tells Vince he is embarrassed by how badly Vince has handled this crisis. Had Shane been in charge of the WWF, he'd have smoked out the WCW contigent long ago and challenged them to an all-out war. "Dammit, you're Vincent Kennedy McMahon! Are you scared WCW might actually win? Over the collection of talent we have??" Vince looks down, despondent, unsure what to do. Shane slaps him across the face and begins to berate him, which brings out Kurt Angle to Vince's defense. "How dare you slap this man? He is your father, and my friend! Anyone who questions Vince's manhood will have to answer to me!" Vince tries to calm the situation down but Angle jumps on Shane and pummels him. Vince pulls Angle off and yells at him. Angle says, comically, "I was helping you!"
The KOTR tournament starts, and plays out mostly like it did in real life. Over the next couple weeks it boils down to Angle, Edge, Christian and Rhyno.
Steve Austin petitions Vince for another match against Booker, but Vince unequivocally refuses to sanction another match with any WCW talent. Instead he sets up a gauntlet match, with Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Undertaker, Kane, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. The match starts with Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy. Jeff wins with a Twist of Fate after seven minutes. Then Kane enters and Jeff beats him with a Swanton after six minutes. Triple H is next, and he gets caught by surprise with a rollup after three minutes. Jericho is next and he dispatches an exhausted Jeff with a Lionsault after five minutes. Undertaker is next, and they have a helluva big man-little man match, where Jericho counters a Last Ride with an over-the-top sunset flip after ten minutes. Finally Benoit enters, and it's a classic technical match. After twelve minutes Benoit hits a German suplex and the ref counts three. But its revealed that both men's shoulders were down. The show goes off the air with no official decision.
Over the coming weeks Angle pesters Vince to let him fight Shane at King of the Ring. Vince says, "No, you're already in the tournament." Angle kisses up to Vince, saying what Shane said was way out of line. Shane cuts another promo saying he would love to fight Angle. To make it interesting he proposes that if he wins, he gets control over the WWF, and will deal with WCW in the most aggressive manner possible, which is what Vince should've done if he really had "grapefruits." Vince finally says, "You think you have the grapefruits to beat an Olympic gold medalist AND run this company? Fine! But whatever Angle does to you is out of my hands." Shane agrees, and also proposes a Street Fight, so there's no excuses.
To determine the #1 Contender between Jericho and Benoit, Vince sets up a one-on-one match, but as it's about to begin, Bischoff hacks into the show again and says, "I'm glad to see two of my former talents about to lock horns for a shot at your company's top Championship. Especially because both Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit have reached out to me in recent weeks, pledging their loyalty to WCW! Whoever wins tonight, at King of the Ring, the WWF Title will be ours!" The announcers express shock and outrage, and Benoit and Jericho look at each other accusingly. The match officially starts, and they begin to wrestle. But a few minutes in, Steve Austin storms the ring, grabs a mic and says, "Eh-eh, we ain't havin' a #1 Contenders match tonight. If either one of you bastards is thinkin' about jumpin' ship to WCW, the company that fired Stone Cold while he was home nursin' an injury, then I'm gonna kick both yer asses at King of the Ring! If you wanna see Stone Cold stomp a mudhole into these two sonsa bitches, gimme a 'Hell Yeah!' Sign it Vince. A Triple Threat match for the WWF Title!"
The match is made official, and it's also announced that since Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H in the gaunlet match, he'll get an Intercontinental Title shot at King of the Ring.
The King of the Ring lineup is:
Kurt Angle vs. Christian - Semifinal match
Edge vs. Rhyno - Semifinal match
?? vs. ?? - Finals
Undertaker & Kane (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz - Tag Team Titles
Triple H (c) vs. Jeff Hardy - Intercontinental Title
Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon - Street Fight (If Shane wins he gets control of the WWF)
Steve Austin (c) vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - WWF Title
At King of the Ring, Angle beats Christian, and Edge beats Rhyno to advance to the Finals. Jeff Hardy upsets Triple H to win the Intercontinental Title in an excellent 14-minute bout. Edge beats Kurt Angle to win the King of the Ring.
Taker & Kane and The Dudleyz have a wild tag team brawl, and near the end of the match Taker and Kane hit stereo Tombstones. Suddenly the lights go out. Lightning flashes inside the arena, and a crow caws. The lights come up and Sting stands in front of the Brothers of Destruction. The Dudleyz lay behind him, and the referee is unconscious outside the ring. Sting bludgeons both Brothers with his baseball bat, Kane falls through the ropes to the outside, and Sting nails the Scorpion Death Drop on Taker. The lights go out again, we hear the crow again, and when the lights come back up, Bubba is covering Taker while the referee, now back in the ring, counts three. The Dudleyz are the new Tag Champs.
Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon plays out exactly as it did in real life, the only difference being that near the end of the match Vince comes out and shows real concern for Shane's well-being (Understandable given that Angle threw him through two panes of glass and he's bleeding everywhere). Angle hits the Olympic Slam and goes for a cover. Vince yells, "Just end it, dammit!" But to Vince's horror, Shane kicks out. Finally Angle sets up the plywood atop the turnbuckle and lands the Olympic Slam from there, mercifully ending the match.
The main event is a much more urgent version of what we got, with Austin really wanting to beat the tar out of the Chrises for their presumed treachery. Booker T interferes mid-match, as he actually did, but security swarms ringside and he escapes through the crowd. The Chrises jockey for position in trying to pin Austin and end up vigorously fighting each other. The match ends with Benoit hitting a top-rope belly-to-back suplex on Jericho. He goes for the pin but Austin pulls him off and swings him toward the apron. Benoit stands up on the apron and Austin hits a Stunner from inside the ring that sends Benoit crashing to the floor. Jericho recovers and attempts a Stunner on Austin. Austin blocks and pushes Jericho off while holding his wrist, then pulls Jericho toward him, kicks him in the gut, and hits another Stunner for the pin. After the match Austin stomps the crap out of both Chrises. He throws Jericho out of the ring and pummels Benoit with a chair. Vince runs out to congratulate Austin, but Austin more or less snubs him. Bischoff appears on the Titantron again and says, "Congratulations Steve! Well done on your WWF Title defense. Oh, by the way, neither Benoit nor Jericho ever contacted me about rejoining WCW. I made that up. But thanks for disposing of two of your best allies for me!"
Continued in Part 5......