Torch Flashbacks RAW RETRO: Beginning of the End of the WCW-WWF Invasion Angle 14 yrs. ago
Jul 2, 2015 - 1:22:28 AM
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The planned WWF/E vs. WCW "invasion angle" was over before it began 14 years ago on Raw TV. Included was a main event of Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell, which was supposed to represent the best of WCW, but it was not. And, it occurred in Tacoma, Washington, which was as far away from WCW Country as possible.
The plan at the time was for Raw to become a "WCW show," which did not materialize after the poor reception to the first "WCW Raw" main event. The main event also captured that the invasion angle was not going to work without access to the big-name WCW stars. Booker had been WCW World Hvt. champion, but Bagwell was not viewed at the level of a Sting, Goldberg, or Hulk Hogan.
The following is the PWTorch Cover Story from July 2001 describing what the working plan was at the time of the start of the invasion angle...
PWTORCH NEWSLETTER #660
COVER STORY HEADLINE: Raw takes first step toward becoming WCW show
SUBHEADLINE: The new WCW won't necessarily look much like the old WCW as wrestlers will be divided up in draft
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
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The WWF continues to take steps toward relaunching WCW as a separate brand and ostensibly a competitor to the WWF. On Raw on Monday, a WCW match headlined Raw as Booker T fought Buff Bagwell to a no contest ending when Steve Austin and Kurt Angle interfered, attacking Booker. Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson called the match from ringside, replacing WWF Raw hosts Jim Ross and Paul Heyman. A WCW ring apron replaced the WWF ring apron, a WCW logo appeared in the corner of the screen, and the WCW logo was projected on the ring itself. It was supposed to be a history moment in Raw.
It turned out to be a downer of a match, choppy in execution, drawing the worst kind of crowd heat possible, and causing WWF wrestlers and personnel backstage to cringe. The WCW relaunch is turning out to be a more daunting task than Vince McMahon initially believed, but as of now the plan is to go all-out with a full-on WCW relaunch.
After the Invasion PPV, the plan is for Linda McMahon to announce that the co-existence of the WWF and WCW on the same programs cannot continue. The chaos between the two sides will have become too disruptive, therefore she will be making WWF Raw a WCW program.
Because the acquired WCW talent isn't considered strong enough to support a full-fledged separate promotion, the two rosters are going to be combined into a giant pool with a draft taking place to divide the talent into two groups (included in the draft will be the announcers, any of whom could end up in either promotion). It's not clear whether that draft will include every name or just most names, or whether the draft will be televised. Either way, later this summer the WWF roster will consist of fewer WWF wrestlers, but a number of wrestlers formerly primarily identified as WCW wrestlers.
By the start of the new fall season, the plan is for WCW to be portrayed as an entirely separate promotion, although its roots to the old WCW may not be significant. The draft could be booked in a way that does include Shane McMahon leaning toward drafting WCW names over WWF names. Without Ric Flair, Goldberg, Sting, Lex Luger, The Outsiders, Jeff Jarrett, or for that matter Tony Schiavone, there isn't much left that longtime WCW fans identify with.
Since WCW is basically going to be portrayed as an equal to the WWF, and because it will be operated in the same way as the WWF, management doesn't expect there to be a stigma attached to being "drafted" by WCW. The strongest concern on the part of wrestlers may be that their pay for house shows or PPVs may go down if they are part of WCW since WCW is likely to lag behind the WWF in terms of house show and PPV revenue - at least at first.
There have been times in the last 20 years that the WWF has run up to three shows per night on weekends. The terms used were A-show, B-show, and C-show. Wrestlers who worked A-shows were considered to be part of the A-crew during that tour. Generally the A-show was reserved for Madison Square Garden and other larger venues, while B-shows were reserved for mid-sized markets, and C-shows were for high schools and community centers.
Although WWFE staff will be involved in running two promotions, it won't be much different than in past years when the WWF ran two or three shows per night on weekends. The difference is one of the house shows will be branded a WWF product, while the other will be branded a WCW product. Otherwise, the logistics of booking the event, buying ad revenue, setting up itinerary for the wrestlers and staff, and set-up procedures are all familiar to those who were around during the A-show/B-show days.
The difference is the WWF doesn't want to portray the WCW shows as B-shows. WWFE management is going to strive to build both promotions as the equal of the other. That perception will be necessary for the eventual big payoffs - the interpromotional PPVs - to be effective. WWFE will have the ability to manipulate the rosters in order to be sure the two promotions stay nearly equal, akin to if the NFL owned all pro football teams and made sure every market's team had a fighting chance at a decent record by orchestrating jumps. In the case of the WWF and WCW, it will be easier than orchestrating 30 football teams would be.
If one promotion suffers a series of major injuries, a few jumps could be made to help soften the blow. The use of "jumps" will have to be executed with as much caution as "turns" and "title changes" have been - if not more. Just as too many turns or title changes water down the shock value and thus the effectiveness of each, too many jumps will render each less special and newsworthy.
The co-existing of two separate promotions could go in a lot of directions, some yet to be imagined. For instance, WCW could end up being stronger in the South because of loyalty to the name brand or the familiarity with more of the wrestlers. Or WCW could end up being more appealing with a T&A crowd, or fans of a hardcore ECW-like style, or fans of a more family-friendly style. Each promotion, by the nature of the roster and the direction that storylines flow in, could end up taking on a distinct personality different from the other, despite both being under the same corporate umbrella.
All indications now are that WCW and WWF programs will be written by the same writing team, although over time one subgroup of writers may end up becoming primarily responsible for one promotion while another subset of writers writes the other, with Vince McMahon overseeing both.
On an interpersonal level, the splitting of the WWF and WCW will separate friends who are used to traveling with each other. On the other hand, it will afford WWFE management the opportunity to separate two wrestlers who don't get along, yet are both considered valuable performers.
WWFE management anticipates that cutting back the WWF to two hours of primetime first run programming per week will freshen the product, despite the fact that the roster will be at least initially watered down relative to the past few years due to the draft.
Intangible benefits include viewers once again being able to compare the quality of Raw vs. Smackdown each week similar to how they used to compare Raw to Nitro or Raw to WCW Saturday Night before Nitro was around. That added dimension, plus the anticipation of jumps and presumably the annual "dream PPVs," could help elevate WWFE's business to a new level.
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