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Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship
World Wrestling Entertainment was in a state of chaos at the time of the 2001 edition of No Mercy. The annual pay-per-view spectacular was headlined by a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship between defending champ Stone Cold Steve Austin and challengers Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle. On paper, the match appeared to have all the makings of an instant classic, and the competitors delivered nothing short of just that, a WWE classic.
Led by WWE Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, and seconded by then Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam, the Alliance was stronger than ever and on the verge of taking over the sports-entertainment world. Mr. McMahon's WWE was led by overwhelming fan-favorite Kurt Angle, whose ongoing rivalry with Stone Cold was among the most heated in WWE history. The wild-card coming into the contest was Van Dam, whose status in the Alliance was in question due to both the constant recruiting of Mr. McMahon, and his shaky relationship with Alliance leader Austin.
Early on in the contest, the Alliance stuck together as Van Dam and Austin teamed up to take Angle out of the equation. However, with the WWE Championship on the line, the partnership didn't last long. Austin and Van Dam immediately turned their aggression towards each other in pursuit of the coveted gold.
Not long after, the ever-resilient Angle returned to the action, reversing a Stunner attempt into the Ankle-Lock. As Austin prepared to tap however, Van Dam broke things up and attempted to follow it up with a soaring double Frog Splash. But, RVD's high-risk attack backfired, as both opponents rolled out of the way.
As the action picked up, the near falls came fast and furious. Each man, landed consecutive high-impact signature maneuvers, coming within seconds of victory before the third man disrupted the count.
Austin's Stunner on Angle was broken up by Van Dam. RVD's Split-Legged Moonsault on Austin was broken up by Angle, and Kurt's Angle Slam on RVD was broken up by an exhausted Austin. The unpredictable action left WWE Chairman Vince McMahon with no choice but to come to ringside for a closer view.
With his opponents grounded, RVD looked to take his attack back to the air. Angle however was ready, and pounced on the prone RVD, launching him off the top turnbuckle with a superplex. Stone Cold followed with a Stunner on Angle, which chased the Olympic Gold-Medalist from the ring, opening the door for the Chairman to make his mark on the action.
As the Rattlesnake eyed a vulnerable Van Dam, Mr. McMahon entered the ring and leveled Austin with a steel chair. Sensing a golden opportunity, Van Dam returned to the top turnbuckle and proceeded to deliver a thunderous Five Star Frog Splash.
However, Van Dam was never able to score the pinfall, as Angle somehow gathered the strength to return to the ring and lay out Van Dam with three German Suplexes and an Angle Slam. Before Angle could record a pinfall, the Chairman's son, Shane McMahon, stormed the ringside area and threw Kurt over the top rope. Outside the ring, Mr. McMahon took out his Alliance-supporting son.
The melee outside the ring provided just the distraction that Stone Cold needed to retain his WWE Championship. The angry Texan waited for a disoriented Van Dam to climb to his feet and finished him with off a devastating Stunner to record the one-two-three. Once again, Austin had brawled his way to an unlikely victory.