PPV LOOKBACK: WWF INVASION
JULY 22, 2001
AIRED LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW
Ahhh, invasions. They’re good on “Game of Thrones,” so surely, they’re good in wrestling. Or at any rate, I’m sure they at least began with good intentions.
The WWE-WCW Monday Night wars ended when the McMahons bought WCW and Vince and Shane famously sparred live on both networks. For some reason, Shane’s character thought that a struggling company’s leftovers would be enough to face off against the winning company for supremacy. While WWE vs. WCW could have been a massive hit, and would have been four years earlier, it instead burned brightly and fizzled quickly, and existing WWE guys had to “jump” to the other side to salvage it.
But hey, in the short-term, people were excited. Invasion did a bigger buyrate than any WWE Pay-Per-View in history, outside of various Wrestlemanias.
July 22, 2001. As usual, the show is teed up by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We get a lot of highlights from both companies. Naturally, the logo is made up of McMahons.
The crowd is hot in Cleveland. There are an annoying number of signs in the crowd.
(1) Edge & Christian vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome
Edge is fresh off his win in the King of the Ring tournament. Christian and Awesome start, and Awesome pounds Christian to start but gets taken down with a drop toe hold. Edge is in and the two trade control until Storm comes in to rather strong boos, surprisingly. They go 50-50 until a flying dropkick from Edge. The action spills out and Edge resets in the ring with a backbreaker for two on Storm. Christian is in and they do the armdrag double-team. Storm kicks out and goes for a superplex, but gets thrown off by Christian. Awesome interferes to knock Christian to the outside. Christian is isolated and beaten down. He gets tossed into the steel post and Awesome continues with the short clothesline. My wife, who doesn’t care about wrestling, mentions how stiff the match looks, and I guess it kind of has been.
Storm is back in and they continue to work over Christian. Hope spot is cut down and awesome bridges into a two-count. Edge saves, but we continue with Christian in peril. Awesome goes high and hits a pretty decent frog splash. Edge saves again. Awesome sets up a top-rope powerbomb but Christian reverses into a back bodydrop. Tag to Storm. Hot tag to Edge. Edge beats down both guys and gets a two on Storm. A series of rollups get two for both guys. Small package by Edge for two. Storm tags Awesome and the heels miss a clothesline on Edge and walk into one by Christian. Edge spears Awesome for two. Big brawl leaves Edge and Awesome in the ring. Awesome attempts a running powerbomb but Edge spears Awesome and Mike Chioda shrugs and counts the three, displaying subtle company bias. Fun match.
Vince, in the back, cheers this development. William Regal runs in and gets a lecture about his match with Raven. Raven is a toe-rag, Regal says. Vince says all he’s got to do is bloody up Raven like George Washington bloodied up King George. “Maybe that’s a bad example.”
We get a rundown of the referee feud that I had thankfully forgotten. Earl Hebner and Nick Patrick, I hate to say it, had a pretty good build for the feud. That effort probably could have been better spent elsewhere, but whatever.
(2) Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick
Mick Foley is refereeing this all-important bout. I would have figured on a referee from each company just to drive home the nuttiness. Generic rock music for Nick Patrick, who enters to actual heat. Earl Hebner enters to cheers. Cleveland is really into this, gang. Jim Ross assures us this will not be a pretty match.
Patrick and Hebner are in their referee outfits. Hebner gets the early advantage and whips Patrick for two. Hebner mounts Patrick for some brutally sad-looking punches to a huge reaction. Patrick reverses and his punches look pretty good, actually. Action heads outside, and it’s more or less a lumberjack match as both get pushed back into the ring. Low blow by Patrick and he hits a decent baseball slide to send Hebner to the outside. Foley sends the interfering WCW referees to the back. Patrick complains, then turns around into…a…shove? Hit? Spear-ish thing? Anyway, it gets three. On one hand, super lame as a wrestling match. On the other, strong storytelling can generate heat no matter who’s in the ring.
Patrick jaws with Foley and gets a beating and Mr. Socko for his troubles. Foley’s music plays as the announcers talk up WWE being 2-for-2.
Tough Enough commercial. It’s hype for the episode where they all went into a strip club. Wrestling!
Rundown of the five-on-five Inaugural Brawl. These computer graphics for the match didn’t age well.
Setup for the APA vs. O’Haire and Palumbo involves a recap of Faarooq and Bradshaw making nationalistic speeches that amount to “They’re not like us! GET ‘EM!” and the lower-midcarders all nodding in agreement.
(3) APA (Bradshaw & Faarooq) (WWE Tag Team Champions) vs. Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo (WCW Tag Team Champions)
O’Haire and Palumbo trot to the ring and cut off Howard Finkel’s introduction and rush the APA. Bradshaw and Palumbo start, and Bradshaw controls until O’Haire intervenes. O’Haire tags in and takes control with a clothesline, but gets suplexed in retaliation. Faarooq tags in and gets double-teamed before long in the heel corner. Faarooq fights back with a shoulder block and tags in Bradshaw, who punches a lot. I know I watched Bradshaw wearing long hair for a decade, but man, it’s weird to see now. Bradshaw and Palumbo trade power moves and Bradshaw makes the hot tag to Faarooq. O’Haire hits a clothesline from the apron and Palumbo ties up the ref while O’Haire works over Faarooq. Palumbo covers for two when Faarooq is tossed back in the ring. Heels dominate Faarooq and O’Haire tags in. O’Haire gets caught in a spinebuster by a desperate Faarooq, and both teams tag. Bradshaw tosses around Palumbo and gets a powerslam for two. Lots of heel double-teaming amounts to nothing as Bradshaw hits a Clothesline From Hell on Palumbo out of nowhere for the three. Both teams got their moments, but it’s already easy to see how little Vince is invested in treating this feud with respect. The match was whatever, with power spots but no real flow. The crowd was hot for the entrances and finish but fairly flat for the match.
Backstage, Vince tells Chris Jericho WCW is getting the annihilation they deserve (for what?). Jericho runs down Paul Heyman and hypes the 5-on-5 and does his “Never….EEEEVER” catchphrase with Vince.
Elsewhere, Stephanie, Shane, Kidman and Heyman are annoyed about losing and want to turn the tide. Really terrible acting from Stephanie here, who was a real late bloomer as a performer.
(4) X-Pac (WWE Light Heavyweight Champion) vs. Kidman (WCW Cruiserweight Champion)
Feeling-out process to start. X-Pac with an armdrag and he overly celebrates to draw “X-Pac Sucks” chants. X-Pac with the headlock and then a shoulderblock, but Kidman fights back and slaps around X-Pac to cheers in the first instance of the WCW guy being the face. Huracanrana by Kidman, then enzuigiri to the outside and Kidman stays on offense until X-Pac sidesteps him and tosses him from the ring and goes up for a plancha. Kidman goes in but is hit with a thrustkick for two. Headlock by X-Pac. More “X-Pac Sucks” chants. Kidman fights out of the headlock but lands back in it to boos. Kidman elbows out and then hits a sleeper himself, but gets suplexed. X-Pac goes up and misses a senton. Kidman knocks down X-Pac with punches and dropkicks, and powerbombs for two. Kidman punches X-Pac in the corner. Kidman counters with a powerbomb for two. Kidman counters the X-Factor for two and heads to the top rope. X-Pac counters and hits the X-Factor, but only for two. X-Pac sets up the Bronco Buster to boos. Kidman puts up the foot for a low blow on the charging X-Pac. Shooting Star Press finishes for Kidman, as WCW wins for the first time tonight. Decent, though X-Pac looked like he was running at about 50%.
Backstage, Shane gives a pep talk to DDP. More ridiculous mugging from Steph, whose cornrows must be mentioned.
Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson talk about their amazing legs and breasts, respectively. That’s the entire segment. Yikes. They try to do this heelishly, leaving the the males in the crowd with no idea how to react.
(5) Commissioner William Regal vs. Raven
Raven had been with WWE, but was persuaded by Paul Heyman to join the ECW side. Jim Ross says the ECW guys have been “drinking the Kool-Aid for some unknown reason.” Was there any stated reason for why WWE was the good guy here, and not just a different brand of Kool-Aid? That’s a real question, as I didn’t see a lot of wrestling that summer for various reasons.
Crowd is kind of limp for this one, with no champions in the match and the fact that we’ve settled into the show. Regal mostly dominates the early going until Raven draws Regal outside and beats him against the barricade. Back into the ring where Raven controls and a clothesline gets two. Chinlock. Regal fights to his feet and counters with a suplex for two. Raven goes up and hits a chop for two. Raven goes up again but Regal counters. Raven small packages Regal for two. Ross explains the dead crowd by mentioning that Regal isn’t a fan favorite. Running bulldog by Raven for two. Rollups are traded for two. Restless crowd is chanting “Boring.” Raven is dumped outside and Tazz runs in and suplexes Regal while the referee is distracted. Raven hits the Raven Effect DDT on Regal for three. These two didn’t mesh at all, as it was unclear who was supposed to be the heel.
Vince pep talks Undertaker and Kane. Undertaker shadow boxes while Kane…stands around. Undertaker’s wife at the time, Sara, is on hand. This segment is important because it establishes that Vince wants the WWE to win. Vince talks about the videotape DDP has of Sara, which breaks Undertaker from his trance, and ‘taker chokes Vince against the wall.
(6) Six-Man Tag Team Match: The Big Show & “The One” Billy Gunn & Intercontinental Champion Albert vs. Sean Stasis & Chris Kanyon & Hugh Morrus
Cole talks up the WCW guys as up-and-comers. Big Show has an eye-rollingly stupid shirt that says “Big Show” and points down at his junk. Meanwhile, Billy Gunn and Albert have dropped their dirty nicknames, heading in the opposite direction.
WCW guys are all lifted up over the heads of the WWE guys (Big Show handles Morrus, naturally) and they get slammed. Kanyon and Billy Gunn start, and Kanyon jumps in on an unready Gunn. Gunn backdrops Kanyon to turn the tide and bridges out of a pin attempt and reverses for two. Gunn goes off the ropes and gets hit by Stasiak, and is covered for two. Stasiak enters and the crowd yells out “Meat” at him, not eager to let him forget his previous horrible wrestling name. Gunn fights over to tag Albert, who takes over, but the action breaks down and everyone gets in the ring. Albert gives Stasiak the big boot, then fights off the WCW guys and hits the powerbomb for two. Morrus tags in but Albert tags in Gunn. Gunn hits the Fameasser and then fights off an interfering Kanyon. Stasiak attacks Gunn while the ref is distracted, and Stasiak covers Gunn for three. Big Show never entered the match, but he lays waste to the heels and his music plays. This match represents most of the wins for Stasiak, Kanyon and Morrus on WWE Pay-Per-View.
Shane talks up Booker T in the back. Book is fiery and cocky. While it’s a nothing segment, he really stands out as one of the few real WCW talents left.
Elsewhere, Regal gives Tajiri a pep talk ahead of his match.
(7) Tajiri vs. Tazz
We’re not even halfway through this show yet and this is match seven. I guess they really wanted everyone on the show.
Tazz was enjoying a bit of a renewed push here, as he was treated like a small man and jobbed out relatively quickly in WWE but he was a major player in ECW. Tajiri rushes in. Tazz controls for a second but Tajiri hits a spinning heel kick and covers for two. Tajiri runs at Tazz who hits a T-bone suplex. Another suplex is blocked and Tajiri hits his quick kicks until Tazz counters with a clothesline. Snap mare by Tazz and he follows up by attempting a rear choke. Tazz has Tajiri on the mat and he gloats for a moment. Tazz chops Tajiri in the corner and knocks down Tajiri for two. Tazz hits an elbow lock and Tajiri reaches the ropes. Tajiri hits the springboard elbow and tosses Tazz. Tazz takes control outside and waits in the ring for Tajiri. Tajiri comes in and hits the Tarantula, then a dropkick for a nearfall. Tajiri kicks Tazz in the chest but gets suplexed. Tajiri spits green mist in Tazz’s face and hits one more high kick to the chest and gets the three. Mist is everywhere, so it’s a bit silly the ref didn’t disqualify Tajiri. Decent, although with time these two are capable of much more.
The Hardy Boyz chat boringly until Rob Van Dam comes in and chairs Matt. Jeff is displeased.
Hardcore Holly signs autographs at WWE New York. He bullies a fan who wears a WCW shirt to the signing and the crowd applauds like he’s a hero. Really stupid.
(8) Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Rob Van Dam for the Hardcore Title
Both guys miss moves to start. Good reaction for Hardy. RVD mugs to the crowd for some reason and Jeff dropkicks him in the back. Another dropkick into the turnbuckle gets two. After another two, RVD fights back and hits the rolling senton for two. Van Dam goes to the top but Jeff tosses him to the outside and into the barricade. Dropkick as RVD attempts to re-enter the ring. Hardy attempts to run up on the barricade. He’s all over the place so RVD bails him up by running up and shoving Jeff into the crowd. That was dangerous all over. Action spills to the crowd as security backs off the fans. RVD jumps up to a landing and has to grab a fan to keep his balance before a moonsault. These guys are dancing on the edge of a lawsuit.
They go back out to the floor outside the ring. RVD lays Jeff over the barricade and jumps down to drop the leg on Jeff. He covers outside the ring for two (falls count anywhere here). “RVD” chant and Van Dam gives a proper bow. RVD is powerbombed off the apron to the floor. Jeff grabs a ladder to a pop. It’s a huge ladder. Jeff goes up and mugs to the vocal ladies while RVD gets in the ring and pushes the ladder over. Jeff flies to the floor and rolls through at the end. This is where you get Jim Ross’s famous line “How do you learn to fall off a twenty foot ladder?” Funny, because Jeff does the proper roll at the end. He has definitely learned. Jeff brings the chairshots to RVD’s back. Action heads up the ramp. Jeff sets up another chairshot but RVD quickly hits a Van Daminator after playing possum, and the momentum shoots Jeff to the floor from the ramp. RVD jumps down to the pit and tosses Hardy back up to the ramp. RVD has the chair. He decides to toss it away, and hits a legdrop for two. RVD rolls Hardy back into the ring and bats him down some more. He hits another Van Daminator in the corner. He goes up for his moonsault and Hardy lifts the knees. Hardy with a DDT for two. The Hardcore Championship is in the ring. Jeff flies off the ropes with a Swanton and misses. Van Dam sets the title on Jeff’s chest and hits the Five-Star Frog Splash for the pin and the title. A pretty okay spotfest, with some very scary moments.
Kurt Angle heads into Vince’s room backstage and Vince uses Kurt’s interests as fodder for a pep talk. Angle busts out “Enough of this Americana bulls–t.” I’d forgotten about that. He adds an “ass” and “damn” for good measure.
Our first-ever bra and panties tag match is next. Trish and Lita are feuding, but on the same side. They’re feuding over a boy, of course, because the women’s revolution isn’t exactly right around the corner. Lots of porn music in this video package which, by the way, is one of the longest video packages of the night.
Mick Foley is your special guest referee.
(9) Bra and Panties Match: Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Torrie Wilson & Stacy Keibler
Torrie and Stacy get separate entrances, which can’t be said for any of the other WCW guys in tag matches yet tonight. The WCW girls cozy up to Mick, even blocking Trish from view as she’s introduced. Lita gets the biggest pop by far. I’m wondering if this is the phase where Lita was botching a lot of moves and nearly killing herself and others. I guess we’ll see!
Tornado rules here. Ross said he studied film of the Briscoes and the Funks in preparation for this match, and then says he’s wearing a thong in recognition of this match. Ross is very Lawler tonight. Okay, I guess we don’t have tornado rules, but they made it seem like we did at first. To keep it somewhat believable, the wrestlers from WWE slaughter the WCW girls. Lita takes Stacy’s shirt. Double-team on Lita removes hers. WCW girls botch a tag and have to repeat the spot. Really. Torrie dominates Trish…sigh. Trish loses her shirt but rolls up Torrie and rips off her pants to big pops. Poetry in motion and Torrie loses her shirt. Lita moonsaults Stacy and takes her pants to finish. At times, this was almost a wrestling match. Baby steps.
Trish and Lita celebrate up the ramp. Trish almost steps backward and falls into the pit, and Lita catches her at the last second. That was potentially disastrous.
Steph and Heyman pep up the WCW five-man team. Steph is just so comically bad here. It’s crazy what progress she made once she took real time off.
Vince sits down with Steve Austin. Austin has been kinder, gentler Steve up to now, but he shows “the old Stone Cold” to a pop.
Ross says we head into the final match tied, according to his math. Well, there have been nine matches, sooooooo…(okay, so Chavo Guerrero beat Scotty 2 Hotty in a dark match. I assume Ross was counting this. Okay then)
(10) The Alliance (Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno, Bubba Ray, and D-Von Dudley) defeated Team WWF (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, and Kane)
Well, we knocked out nine matches in two hours, but our last one is getting humming with 45 minutes remaining. Of course, entrances will be endless. We look back at Vince begging Steve Austin for help as he drinks alone in a bar. Sad music plays. More replays of pep talks. Freddie Blassie is brought in to rev up the WWE. From Raw, we see Austin running to the ring to clear out the WCW and stand with his partners in tonight’s match. A few words are bleeped throughout this package, which is funny given Kurt Angle’s promo earlier.
Shane McMahon gets his own entrance. Why not? Stephanie and Heyman are next. Steph’s cornrows, gang. HER CORNROWS. Vince is introduced next and he stays on the apron. Dudley Boyz enter. Kane. Undertaker. Ryhno. Weird that the sides are taking turns. Chris Jericho. Booker T. The announcers are all over him and say he has no character or integrity and is just another sellout. There just isn’t the storyline to back this vitriol up. Kurt Angle is introduced next. DDP is WCW’s last introduced person. Brawl erupts on the ramp and Austin is introduced. He beats down the WCW-ECW alliance (Rhyno specifically).
Austin rolls Rhyno in the ring and the bell sounds. Mudhole stomp in the corner, and Austin fights off interfering Alliance members. Thesz Press and punches. Cover for two. Austin busts out a superplex for two; D-Von breaks it up. Austin tags Jericho, who continues the onslaught with a flying elbow. Rhyno recovers enough to clothesline Jericho and make the tag to Booker, who receives a lot of heat. Chops to Jericho. Spin kick misses and Jericho hits a hiptoss and a bulldog. Rhyno attempt the save but Jericho springboard dropkicks him to the outside. Jericho goes to the second rope and hits a dropkick for two. Angle is tagged in. “Angle” chants and he’s revved up as he hammers Booker. Booker hits a spinkick and tags D-Von. D-Von kicks Angle down and tosses him to the corner, but Angle fights out with a clothesline and tags Kane to surprising pops. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was a pretty good era for Kane. Clotheslines in the corner for D-Von. Sidewalk slam and DDP breaks up the count. Clothsline misses but Kane grabs D-Von for the chokeslam and Bubba interferes to break that up. Kane slams D-Von, who makes a blind tag and they hit a 3-D for two. That was kind of out of nowhere. Bubba controls for just a moment before he gets hit with a big boot. Kane goes to the top rope and hits a clothesline. D-Von breaks up the pin. “Good teamwork,” says Ross. It’s been a long time since we called that “cheating,” hasn’t it?
Undertaker tags in (he’s in biker mode at this time). Undertaker clotheslines Bubba and tosses DDP from the apron for fun. Legdrop. Old School and clothesline. Undertaker pounds the Alliance in the corner but DDP drops his neck on the top rope and Bubba tags out to Rhyno, who stomps a mudhole in the corner. DDP tags in to decent heat and continues the beating. Clothesline for two. Hope spot is cut off and DDP hits another clothesline, then an elbow and a DDT for two. Booker tags in hits a big kick. JR goes off on the Spinaroonie like it’s the worst thing in wrestling. It’s kind of funny how thick they lay it on.
Austin tags in and kicks Booker in the corner. Booker rakes the eyes to get back into it but gets clotheslined. Stunner is countered and Austin tosses Booker to the outside. We fight into the crowd, because Hardy and Van Dam did it so safely earlier. Austin rolls Booker back into the ring and tags Jericho. Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho but DDP interferes. Walls for DDP and he exits. Lionsault for Jericho but Jericho gets stuck in the wrong corner and quintuple-teamed. D-Von is back in and he roughs up Jericho in the corner. Bubba is in. Punches are thrown, elbows are dropped. JR likes the WWE style, and doesn’t want to go back to the “neutered” style of WCW. Jericho fights off the Dudley Boyz and makes the hot tag to Angle, who cleans house. Belly-to-belly for both Duds. Cover on D-Von but Bubba breaks it up. DDP interferes from the outside and Bubba hits a sitout powerbomb after significant time spent in the ring illegally. Why would Mike Chioda, WWE referee, allow this? Rhyno tags in and kicks and punches Angle in the corner. Belly-to-belly but Austin breaks it up, then flips off Chioda for old time’s sake. Bubba is back in and he and Angle trade punches. “Austin” chants, though it’s nothing like 1998-2000. D-Von is in shortly, then tags Booker as Angle continues to be the face in peril. Axe kick, Spinaroonie and a cover gets two. JR spits vitriol. Tag to DDP and a double-team. Tornado powerbomb, but Austin breaks up the count.
Short clothesline by DDP, then a tag to Bubba Ray. “Wazzup” spot as D-Von tags in and covers. Jericho breaks it up. DDP is back in and he hits a front-facelock and takes down Angle for two. Jericho fires up the crowd and tries to will Angle back into it. Angle lifts DDP and carries him to his own corner. He makes the hot tag to Austin but Chioda doesn’t see it because Bubba interferes. Angle is yanked back to the Alliance corner and DDP hits a Diamond Cutter, but a pier-ten breaks out and Rhyno accidentally gores Booker.Faces clear the ring of all but DDP, and Undertaker sidewalk slams him, then hits a chokeslam. Charles Robinson attempt to toss Undertaker from the ring and he receives the Last Ride. Cole asks what Robinson is doing, as if two full minutes of the illegal man being in the ring should be allowed.
Austin is hurt outside the ring and Kane uncovers the English announce table, but the Dudleys turn the tide and beat down Kane and toss him to the steps. Dudleys grab a table and set it up against the barricade. Kane fights back and chokeslams D-Von through the English announce table. Bubba and Rhyno double-team Kane to slow his momentum and they double-suplex him through the Spanish announce table. Rhyno walks too close to the table at the barricade, and Jericho flies off the apron to put him through it. Angle and Booker are legal in the ring, still down in opposite corners. Cole asks “Who the hell are the legal men?” after JR has announced this at least three times.
Booker and Bubba double-team Angle but Angle punches both down. German suplex for Booker. Angle Slam for Bubba. Anklelock on Booker is reversed and Booker flapjacks Angle. Shane enters the ring with a title belt and knocks out Vince with it. Angle fights him off and puts Angle in the Anklelock. Booker taps, but the ref doesn’t see it. Austin wakes up Chioda, hits a Stunner on Angle out of nowhere and forces Chioda down to make the count. Austin’s music plays after this hilariously illogical turn of events. Austin beat up the Aliiance all throughout the match and even broke up a pin. There had to be a better way to tell this story. The match itself was a fun brawl and the long heat segment on Angle was properly tense and exciting, but man, this ending just sucks the life out of the crowd, who opt for silence in place of booing. JR yells “Why, Austin? Why?” as we fade out.
Legacy of InVasion 2001
A WWE-WCW storyline was bound to fail from the beginning, regardless of who won the Monday Night Wars. In theory it could be pretty exciting, but in practice, the losing side was probably going to be depleted of its roster and credibility to the point that it just didn’t make sense to put any of them over. Thus, we get The Alliance (who would officially start using that nomenclature the next night on Raw), and to make it work, stars like Austin and eventually Angle would join that side, and before long The Alliance had almost no connection to its roots, which were never properly defined in the first place. WWE banked on the WCW being the bad guys because they were the other guys. Vince has a bad habit of assuming everyone shares his viewpoint (granted, sometimes this works out to the tune of millions of dollars) and it took a while for the Alliance to really look like a heel faction. By the time this story was over, after it dragged on for months past its usefulness, most of the original players from the Alliance were either deemphasized or gone altogether.
A bigger problem than that, perhaps, is that when a single “Us vs. Them” story plays out on TV, the writers get a bit lazy. Every backstage segment in this show is some form of “win it for our side.” It happened eventually with the nWo and it happened here. There are very few personal issues, which are your major selling points in wrestling. This show did monster business, but it was also the first show of its kind, and could only be sustained if it became more than a vanity experiment for both sides. I’m not sure it ever really did.
So, then there’s the wrestling. There are a lot of wrestling minutes in this show, due to a desire to get nearly every semi-important character some screen time. As a result, seven of the ten matches are under eight minutes long and are only getting started when they end. Then you have the opener going just over ten minutes, a decent Hardcore Title match and the long main event with the swerve. This is very much an episode of Raw, as many of the Pay-Per-Views had become at this point. Another five-on-five would happen at Survivor Series with many of the same participants. It was booked as “Winner Take All,” though it was not stated what “All” entailed. Winner…take the win, I guess.
How much more could be done with the Alliance angle? Probably not much. The audience was never going to buy into the idea that Austin and especially Angle were WCW-ECW sympathizers. They just became face and heel sides, at which point, why is there the need for labels at all?
This was a one-and-done for a lot of the Alliance members on Pay-Per-View. Lance Storm hung around given his great in-ring work, but Mike Awesome would be gone less than a year later, and had extremely negative comments about the politics in WWE, which was interesting since guys who jumped from WCW to WWE often said the opposite. Awesome retired in 2006 and died of a suspected suicide in 2007.
Kidman would wrestle in the lower midcard for about four years, never finding a hook that led him to major title wins. He works for WWE as a road agent. Hugh Morrus worked with NXT until controversy saw him released. Sean O’Haire remains a surprising missed opportunity by WWE, who pushed him a couple of times and pulled the plug.
Booker T, unsurprisingly, was the major pick of this litter. He was the only guy from the scrap heap of WCW who would find world title success in WWE and is now part of the wallpaper around there. He’s a bit insane on the mic, but for whatever it’s worth, my daughter absolutely loves the “Shucky Ducky Quack Quack” moment on the Pay-Per-View pre-shows.
You probably wouldn’t look at a list of non-Wrestlemania shows and say this was the one that did the biggest business, but for a moment, the idea of WWE vs. WCW captured the minds of wrestling fans who had wanted to see it happen in the best days of the Monday Night Wars. I’d urge these fans to watch the Monday Night Wars documentary series itself (or the red-hot Raws and Nitros of 96-99 or so).
For now, this is the only invasion we’ve got, I guess. And with WWE’s not-quite-a-monopoly in wrestling today, the only one they can run is Raw vs. SmackDown Live, which always falls flat because faces are faces and heels or heels. Just tell us some stories, guys. That’s all we want.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S PPV LOOKBACK: The first-ever Royal Rumble Special on USA Network including Steamboat vs. Rude, Hogan-Andre hype
(Kelly Wells will feature a “PPV Lookback” as a new regular feature in the Specialists section of PWTorch.com where he reviews a past PPV from the perspective of today, and assesses the legacy of the PPV and its place in pro wrestling history.)