By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Chris Jericho © vs The Rock 11/5/01
WCW World Heavyweight Title Match
When WCW was subsumed within WWF as a promotion, the title belts were not long for this world. Whilst the Invasion angle played out, they acted as a further token to build a feud around for a bloated roster. As thing began to settle down and the Alliance was defeated, the title would eventually lose the WCW at the beginning of it before the Vengeance PPV saw the first Undisputed Champion created as Chris Jericho won a mini-tournament including Steve Austin, The Rock and Kurt Angle.
That made The Rock the last wrestler on the roster to have something of a run with the title.
A simmering feud between Jericho and the Rock that had already seen the WCW World Heavyweight Title won by Jericho at No Mercy would see both men have to begrudgingly stay on the same side of the divide as the Alliance and the WWF continued to do battle. Played out against the backdrop of Kurt Angle and Steve Austin’s defections to and from the WWF respectively in the lead up to a WWF and Alliance elimination contest at Survivor Series, the two would meet in the main event of Raw with the crowd responding raucously to both entrances as they were the very definition of fan favourites.
As this was Jericho’s first world title run, he was willing to do anything to defend the gold. An early exchange saw Jericho slap the Rock around the face, with several knees to the gut to follow up. Paul Heyman on commentary would crow about the WWF imploding so close to the big match at the Survivor Series, whilst Jericho picked up the first nearfall after a missile dropkick off of the middle turnbuckle. Both men teased their finishers early, with Jericho blocking a Rock Bottom and the Rock fighting his way out of an attempted Walls of Jericho, only for a springboard dropkick to send the Rock to the outside.
A crotching on the top turnbuckle and a superplex turned the momentum in the favour of the Rock, with a clothesline shortly after halting a brief Jericho comeback and an eye rake showing that the Rock was happy to break the rules where necessary. A Jericho DDT left both men down for a countout tease and as they beat the count, Jericho found a second wind and began to put the pressure on the Rock with a swinging neckbreaker and a top rope back elbow.
Closed fists, handfuls of hair and eye rakes continued to be the order of the day as the animosity between the two threatened to completely boil over. A Jericho mistake saw him jump into a Rock Sharpshooter, but after a struggle in which he threatened to tap out, the champion made the rope. Looking to put the match to bed, the Rock landed a spinebuster and went for the People’s Elbow, only to miss. A Jericho Rock Bottom threatened to add insult to injury, but the Rock was just able to kick out before the three count.
This caused Jericho to snap somewhat, sending the Rock to ringside and driving him through the announce table with the Breakdown facebuster, the move had had debuted to win the WCW World Title in the first place. Rather than settle for a countout victory, Jericho broke the count several times and pulled the Rock back into the ring. Three smashes to an exposed turnbuckle continued to work on a bloody Rock led to the Walls of Jericho, yet the challenger somehow made the ropes.
A second attempt at the submission saw the Rock roll-up Jericho for the three count, taking the world title off of him in the process. This was enough to fracture Jericho’s fragile ego and he wailed away on the Rock with a chair to finish the show. To further cement his heel turn, Jericho also attacked the Rock after being eliminated in the Survivor Series main event, effectively turning his back on the company. However, it would be Jericho who would have the last laugh only a month later when he first defeated the Rock, then Austin, to practically retire the WCW World Title and become the sole champion in the promotion. With that, the ten year, increasingly rocky, lineage of the belt went with it.