WWE hit its peak at the beginning of 2001. The first three pay-per-views of the year are three of the best in company history with WrestleMania X-Seven taking the top spot in most people’s eyes.
After that show, however, the quality of WWE programming took a sharp dip. Steve Austin’s heel turn and the terrible Invasion angle ran off a lot of fans and is generally seen as the beginning of WWE’s decline in popularity.
This is still being felt 20 years later. However, there were still many great pay-per-view matches in 2001.
Some members of the roster were forced to take time off due to injury but others stepped up in a big way.
These are the eleven best WWE pay-per-view matches of 2001.
11. Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon – King of the Ring
Shane McMahon’s match with Kurt Angle at King of the Ring 2001 is probably the best match of his career. It is also the most brutal.
Angle and McMahon had a 26-minute Street Fight that not only had good wrestling, but some of the most sickening bumps in WWE history.
The ones that stick out in everyone’s minds are Angle’s attempts to throw Shane through the glass set. Unfortunately for Shane, the glass didn’t break. Shane hit the glass and dropped upside down, right on his head.
Brutal doesn’t even begin to cover it.
10. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock – No Mercy
WWE tends to ignore this match when they talk about Chris Jericho winning his first world title.
While he did win the Undisputed Championship at Vengeance 2001, his first world title win came two months earlier at No Mercy, beating The Rock to win the WCW Championship.
The title didn’t mean as much at the tail end of a terrible Invasion angle but at least Jericho won it in a great match. He and The Rock had great chemistry together and this match was a big moment for Jericho as a main event talent.
He also used the Breakdown here. His oft-forgotten finisher that would later become The Miz’s Skull-Crushing Finale. Just a neat tidbit really.
9. Kurt Angle vs. The Rock – No Way Out
Had Earl Hebner not ruined the finish of this match, this probably would have placed higher on this list.
The Rock and Kurt Angle were two of the biggest stars in the promotion in 2001 and the winner of this match would defend the WWE Championship in the main event of the biggest WrestleMania to date.
After a great back and forth match, The Rock had things won when Hebner stopped his count for no reason. He thought it wasn’t the finish and just stopped counting, taking much of the wind out of the match’s sails.
The Rock hit another Rock Bottom and got the win but talk about a wet fart of an ending.