Jim Ross has opened up about the change of WWF pay-per-view names in 2001 and early 2002 in order to reflect the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
After 9/11 occurred, wrestling fans saw a sudden change in the promotion’s pay-per-view calendar. Gone was the annual Armageddon event in December which had been present for the past two years and in its place was Vengeance. An event that would take place twice within the space of seven months.
The change was made so that the then World Wrestling Federation didn’t appear inconsiderate following the devastating events three months prior, though the decision to alter the event has rarely been spoken of until now.
AEW Commentator, Jim Ross, has sat down on his Grilling J.R Podcast to talk about the meeting that was held in WWF HQ following 9/11 and who had the final say on altering an event which the year before had provided one of the most famous matches in the company’s history:
“We had a square table meeting. It was in Vince McMahon’s office, and what he said was what we did. Sometimes in McMahons world, things like that [9/11] could not be recognized. You have to go back and say how can we make this viewer-friendly under the guides of the times we live in? We didn’t do a lot of those kinds of meetings. We had a small group that made decisions. He liked it that way; he didn’t like sharing information with non-wrestling people in a big group. And what kind of feedback are you going to get?
Vince just came up listening to somebody, and they reminded him that this isn’t real sensitive and Armageddon probably isn’t the right name for this damn thing and what it signifies. I remember us talking about it and saying we got to rebrand some of these shows. Quite frankly, it’s not a bad idea. Wrestling fans love new and fresh. You don’t screw with your 4 [major] pay per views. The others, to me, they can all be changed. What’s it going to do?”
Fresh off of the much talked about invasion of WCW/ECW, WWF decided to make Vengeance a brand new beginning for the company as it was for America.
Stripping The Rock of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and Stone Cold Steve Austin of the WWF Championship, both men along with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle – who had been the saviour of Team WWF at Survivor Series – were put into a four man tournament to crown the first WWF Undisputed Champion.
Though the event itself was largely forgettable, the tournament was the making of Chris Jericho as a main event star, defeating both The Rock and Austin in the same night, back-to-back, to lift the strap.
Credit for the interview: Grilling JR Podcast
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.