Timeline of Wrestling in 2001.
ECW - The beginning of the year started with the Guilty as Charged Pay Per View on January 7, 2001 which saw RVD finally winning the ECW Championship from Jerry Lynn, after the PPV however there's was a lot of uncertainty over the promotion, with Tuner advertising campaign for the Pay Per View and McMahon willingness to work with Heyman at the time there's was growing tensions within the company, nevertheless the show must go on as they say which ECW did, Heyman would feel lost within his creation of the fact that he wanted to change the philosophy of ECW, the company had been known as the land of extreme which Heyman wanted to distance himself from the label, the new philosophy of the decade was known as work rate in essence the term "work rate" mean rewarded by the in ring work instead of the hardcore factor which the whole industry would evolved from, Heyman would "leave" ECW while still remaining both ownership and creative, McMahon offered Heyman a job at the WWF to be a commentator which he agreed with on the terms that he could still run ECW, with Heyman "leaving" everyone began to wonder their place in the company, famously the champion at the time RVD said that "the whole company that we build up only for the owner of the company to jump ship is not just disgusting but a disgrace to the boys in the back", this was a worked shot angle known as the "Heyman sold out" storyline, it was a cover up for the new philosophy of which the company was taking and for Wrestlers in ECW to find work for the landscape at the time was uncertain, many wrestlers turn their head toward WCW since the company has been rumoured that Bischoff was interested in bringing in a few ECW guys for his new reboot, Bischoff was more than happy to negotiations between him and wrestlers, meanwhile you wouldn't know since the television were doing well with the Living Dangerously in March gaining a good reception among both fans and critics.
The rumours about the ownership of the company began to spread around the Internet regarding the "real owner" of ECW, the rumours began from the Internet Wrestling Community when an post was made "confirming" that the WWF has made a purchase of ECW in the coming month of April, while there were some people who dismissed the information as false many other believe that this was Vince's way of getting back at Bischoff for screwing him out off buying WCW, Heyman did comment about the rumours saying "there's nothing to worry about it's only temporary." When April came round there were a announced that the WWF were interested in buying ECW, there's were even one rumour that one Donald J. Trump was interested in running a New York based wrestling promotion in which if he brought ECW there's would be changing within the company but luckily talks about the purchase of ECW fall through. Vince did agree with keeping ECW afloat in order for more competition and the WWF could used the company as a vessel for talent.
Many originals would leave ECW such as RVD dropped the title to Rhino at the CyberSlam PPV in order for him to join WCW in May, the others joined the WWF since Heyman works their and their hope that Heyman would protect them from the other WWF guys, this was a good advertising campaign for ECW due to them being on the same network with the WWF, the original storyline were a ECW invasion of the order of Heyman who wanted to get his revenge on Vince McMahon who he believes betrayed him by cutting the head of ECW in coup attempt at controlling the wrestling world, the storyline didn't go anywhere but at least they try to explain why the ECW roster was there.
The ECW on TNN had some cross over with the WWF with wrestlers from the WWF would come to ECW to challenge the wrestlers there who believed that they were below them, wrestlers such as Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit would go down to the ECW arena in order to get some buss for the show, the ECW championship was even defended on WWF television from time to time since they were both on the same network they was no rules against cross over, the company saw new talent from the indies scene of trying them out to see if they were comfortable with working for the television, wrestlers such as CM Punk and Bryan Danielson were there for the tryouts, many fans of the original ECW which was more hardcore in nature saw less of the brutality of what they wanted instead they got lot more technical wrestling matches, there were some hardcore elements such as blood and weapons but it was more timed than it was before.
November saw the return of Paul Heyman to his creation and was a on scene character, Heyman was there to negotiations between the two companies that were having disagreement over whether ECW should become a developmental scene for the WWF than a competition, there were some booking disagreement over the championship in ECW which the WWF believed they had a say on the championship mainly who was champion, ECW response was to have a WWF star to job on ECW television to show their message to the WWF, negotiations broke down by December and the two companies didn't have a agreement with the crossover the two had, in short order ECW began to shooting on the WWF which was the end of the partnership between the two, Heyman was caught up with the two which Vince wanted Heyman to work with him instead of his creation, Heyman stayed in ECW for another month before selling his shares in the company in February 2002, the company was renamed from Extreme Championship Wrestling to Evolve Championship Wrestling with began their new philosophy younger guys of the next decade.
WCW - the most important year of the company's history, the beginning of the year saw Ted Tuner himself selling the company while keeping some stocks within, it was Eric Bischoff who was lucky enough to buy the company from Tuner with a ten year television deal on the Tuner Network, no one knows about the meeting of the two which had the deal finalists for the company, Bischoff tells the story differently each time he tells it while Tuner remains silent about the meeting, the company was changing its philosophy of old this new WCW would be focusing on the younger talents which help build the company, there were some theories of the older guys such as Kevin Mash and Ric Flair and how they would fit in this new version of WCW, Bischoff stated in a interview "they still have a place in WCW, they are the guys who will put over the younger generation and if willing help with the new version of WCW." There were much speculation about the payment of the wrestlers while Bischoff brought the company from Tuner they would still be on their Time Warner contents until resigning for a new one under the new regime,it didn't take long until the online wrestling community began to theories that some of the guys might be jumping to the WWF until their contracts run out.
The last ever Monday Night Nitro on TNT happen on the 26 March was a farewell from the show and amity also a defeat for the company owner pride, while being off air Bischoff decision to run a Clash of the Champions in April to get some buss around the Big Bang PPV, the three hour special which aired on TBS from April 19, 2001 dub the Night of Champions was well received by fans, while still airing on TBS Bischoff wanted to find a time slot for Nitro sine he believed that the shows still has name value, Tuner didn't want Nitro on his network so Bischoff went to other television stations in order to find a way to revive Nitro, there were two networks who were out of the negotiations they were the USA Network since they were hosted the WWF and SpikeTV who were airing the WWF at the time, Bischoff found his station in FX which was hesitant at first about airing Ntiro, Bischoff negotiations with the Network of the details of the show such as time slots, it was agreed upon by both parties that Nitro would aired on FX but with a different day of not having to run the same hour as the WWF to being in more viewers without the worries about changing the channel, the day that was agree to was Wednesday with a two hour two slot from 8 pm to 9 pm,the only question that remains was the announcement of the day Nitro would aired.
The Big Bang PPV aired which was received well by both fans and critics, the general consensus about the PPV was that it was a good step in the right direction for the company, the PPV prove that there were some fans willing to pay for WCW and the return of the southern style of wrestling was a welcome return to many, during the end of the PPV it was announced that Nitro would return on FX to many surprises, the first Nitro on FX was a success with a viewership of 4.6 million people tuning into the show.
The rest of 2001 for WCW saw great growth in both terms of revenue and precaution, no where near as they once were but recovered from the downturn that they once were, the philosophy of the show began to pay off with the younger guys having more time to develop and the older began to put them over, Ric Flair would leave the company in November after having a loser leaves the company match against DDP at Halloween Havoc, there were rumours about Kevin Nash leaving the company as well by next year which was confirmed by Nash himself as he lost to Scott Steiner at Starrcade for he released by Bischoff, by the end of the year the company show great promise and hopefully would keep the good will that the company has.
WWF - the WWF still remains both the largest and most popular wrestling show in North America as McMahon's wrestling empire continues to grow, the year 2001 might be a turning point in the WWF while its remaining popular with fans there's a stagnation in terms of viewership and growth, the company had its most successful PPV with WrestleMania 17 which was praised by both fans and critics apart from one shadow over the event which was the ending, the ending saw the anti hero Stone Cold Steve Austin turned on the fans by seemingly siding with McMahon himself or as JR called it shaking hands the Devil Himself, lucky Austin stunted Vince but remains a heel, the heel turn is a mix bag for the wrestling community on the one hand Austin wanted to turn heel in saying that he done everything he do as a face and wanted to be a heel, on the other it's Steve Austin how could you boo the man who been the top face for the past four years, it was a challenge which the WWF hadn't considered the possibility of the turn backfiring on them, Austin became a lone wolf type of character akin to his early days of the characters with a bit more brutality mixed within, Austin wouldn't back down from a fight from anybody and the ones who dare challenging him ends up being much more beating up in the end, it was the rematch between the Rock and Austin which main event Summer Slam with the rock picking up the victory after a hard turn battle With Austin, The Rock would have the championship for two months until dropping the title to Chris Jericho at No Mercy, Jericho would have the title for the rest of the year until dropping it at WrestleMania.