October 31, 2010
Invasion 2001, July 22, 2001, Gund Arena, Cleveland, OH
Announcers: Jim Ross & Michael Cole
At one time there were interpromotional rivalries that fans believed in, and perhaps none was bigger than the rivalry between the then World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. When these companies were at their hottest in the late 90’s, fans of both sides fantasy booked their dream supercards and debated about who might come out on top, but the possibility of any of these matches ever taking place seemed slim. That was until 2001, when the WWF ended up purchasing what was left WCW, and even though it was well known that they were now under the same ownership, fans were still excited about the idea of the two groups battling each other to the point where this show ended up being the most successful B show PPV in history. The mistakes that ultimately made The Invasion one of the bigger disappointments (giving away too much too quickly making it all less special, not bringing in enough of the top WCW stars, ruining the interpromotional aspect by using mostly turned WWF guys as top stars of the Alliance, making it just another chapter in the McMahon family saga, ect.) in wrestling history are a discussion for another time because on this night all that mattered was that the WWF and WCW were finally going head to head, and the people couldn’t wait.
Opening Match: Lance Storm & Mike Awesome (Alliance) vs. Edge & Christian (WWF)
The Setup: Storm and Awesome were one of WCW’s top tag teams late in the life of that company, so they carry over here to take on one of the WWF’s top teams of the same period.
The Action: It goes back and forth early on. Edge sends Storm and Awesome to the floor, but then when Christian goes for a dive he trips on the ropes which didn’t look good. Back in, Christian goes up but gets pulled down by Awesome and then knocked into the barrier by Storm. So he’s caught in the corner now as the work him over for awhile. Awesome sets up a top rope Awesome Bomb, but Christian backdrops him off and makes the hot tag to Edge who runs wild on both guys. They then go into a pretty hot sequence of finishers and nearfalls with partners saving and so on ending with Awesome going for an Awesome Bomb on Edge, but Christian spears him and Edge falls on top for the pin at 10:11.
The Verdict: This was a good, hot opening tag match, and it kicked the show off right with the babyfaces taking the early lead. ***
Vince McMahon celebrates the win and then William Regal walks in and lets him know that Stone Cold has arrived. Vince decides to give him some space because he knows he’s in a bad mood.
Nick Patrick (w/WCW referees) (Alliance) vs. Earl Hebner (w/WWF referees) (WWF)
The Setup: Even the referees were involved in the overall feud as the senior officials from each side were booked against each other after many disputes between them over officiating calls in previous matches. With all the regular refs having a vested interest in the match, Mick Foley will serve as ref for this match.
The Action: Obviously these guys aren’t wrestlers, so what they do doesn’t technically look good, but it gets tons of crowd heat as the fans are really behind Hebner here. It goes to the floor where the WCW refs go after Hebner and the WWF refs make the save so Foley ejects everyone. Patrick argues this with him so Hebner takes advantage and hits something where it looks like he couldn’t decide between a spear and a clothesline and ended up trying to do both and failing, but it gets the 3 count in any case at 2:50.
The Verdict: I had no expectations here and as a match it was definitely a DUD, but the crowd was super into it and I liked the idea of having this match just to show that the rivalry was between more than just the wrestlers.
We then get a very poorly acted skit where Debra and Sara Undertaker discuss their recent harassment at the hands of DDP. They agree that he’ll get what’s coming to him later tonight.
APA (WWF) vs. Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo (Alliance)
The Setup: It’s WWF Tag Team Champions vs. WCW Tag Team Champions, but neither Title is on the line.
The Action: The match is pretty much just a back and forth brawl with neither side gaining a sustained advantage. Faarooq briefly gets worked over on the floor, but when he gets back in he tags out pretty quickly. Bradshaw gets Palumbo with a big boot and powerslam for 2 before getting superkicked by O’Haire. Faarooq takes him out, then eats the Jungle Kick from Palumbo, but Bradshaw is up and he nails Palumbo with the Clothesline From Hell for the 3 count at 7:17.
The Verdict: This was ok, but there was nothing special or memorable about it either. *
Shane, Stephanie, and Heyman lament that they’ve now lost three straight matches, but Kidman tells them not to worry because he’ll get the job done.
X-Pac (WWF) vs. Billy Kidman (Alliance)
The Setup: Just like the last match, it’s Champion vs. Champion, in this case Light Heavyweight vs. Cruiserweight, but again no Titles are on the line.
The Action: Even though the “us vs. them” deal theoretically makes all the WWF guys babyfaces, the crowd still hates X-Pac. And they definitely anticipated that because he plays the heel while Kidman plays the face. Kidman gets to show some stuff early on before X-Pac slows it down with a sleeper. Kidman reverses, but gets suplexed. X-Pac the misses off the top and takes a sitdown powerbomb for 2. X-Pac makes the mistake of going for his own powerbomb and gets faceplanted for 2. Kidman then goes up, getting caught with the X-Factor on the way down, but that only gets 2. Bronco Buster is then blocked and Kidman connects with the shooting star press for the 3 count at 7:14.
The Verdict: This was another unspectacular and forgettable match. The idea of champion vs. champion seems like it should be much bigger, but it was hardly even played up. **
DDP then lets everyone know that he’s fired up for the main event. That’s followed by Stacy and Torrie talking about what a shame it is that no one is going to see them in their underwear later on.
Raven (Alliance) vs. William Regal (WWF)
The Setup: They had a confrontation on Heat so the match was made.
The Action: Regal is on him early, but Raven takes over by tossing him and driving him to the barrier with a Russian legsweep. He goes for the DDT a couple of times, but Regal keeps managing to counter. The end then came when Raven distracted the ref so that Tazz could run in and hit a suplex. Raven then followed with the DDT and got the 3 count at 6:35.
The Verdict: This was just a nothing match and the crowd crapped all over it. It seemed like they were on different pages and the results were not good. ½*
Vince then motivates Undertaker and Kane.
The Big Show, “The One” Billy Gunn, & Albert (WWF) vs. Shawn Stasiak, Chris Kanyon, & Hugh Morrus (Alliance)
The Setup: This match was another last minute addition on Heat, basically just to get more guys on the card.
The Action: Team WCW attacks, but then ends up taking a triple press slam. The fans chant “Meat” at Stasiak, and then it gets worse as Albert kills him with the Baldo Bomb, but Morrus makes the save at 2. Gunn gets the tag and hits the Fameasser on Morrus, but Stasiak comes from behind and hits an inverted DDT, then puts Morrus on top for the 3 count at 4:23. Team WWF then gets the heat back when Big Show kills everyone just so you know that these other guys are nobodies.
The Verdict: Sometimes less is more as by now it’s very apparent that they just crammed too much stuff on to this show. ½*
Shane is in a much better mood now because taking the match on Heat where Chavo Guerrero beat Scotty 2 Hotty into account, The Alliance is now up 4-3. He and Booker T then discuss the main event and agree that suckas will be goin’ down. We then get a pissed off William Regal sending Tajiri out for revenge against Tazz.
Tazz (Alliance) vs. Tajiri (WWF)
The Setup: Tajiri, in spite of having ties to ECW, decided to remain with the WWF and attacked Tazz to prove his point and set this match up here.
The Action: Tajiri starts off with the kicks until getting suplexed. Tazz then works him over for a bit until Tajiri comes back with a springboard elbow. He hooks the Tarantula and hits a seated dropkick for 2. After more kicks he gets caught with another suplex. Tazz then shoves the ref out of the way and that brief moment is all Tajiri needs to use the green mist and another kick to the head to get the 3 count at 5:42.
The Verdict: After several bad and pointless matches in a row, at least it was nice to get a better, albeit still pointless one. **
Matt and Jeff Hardy are talking about Jeff’s upcoming match with Rob Van Dam when RVD suddenly comes in and lays Matt out with a chair. He lets Jeff know that he’s next.
Then we have Hardcore Holly signing autographs at WWF New York. A guy comes up in a WCW shirt so Holly cuts a promo on him and rips the shirt off.
Hardcore Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (WWF) vs. Rob Van Dam (Alliance)
The Setup: Jeff brought the Title back to the WWF by winning it from Mike Awesome and now had to defend it against another ECW representative.
The Action: RVD gets cheered here in spite of his affiliation with the Alliance, but the fans aren’t against Jeff or anything. They trade stuff to start with RVD connecting with Rolling Thunder, but then going up and getting shoved off to the barrier. They go into the crowd for a bit where RVD hits a moonsault off the hockey boards. Back to ringside where Jeff does a sunset flip powerbomb off the apron to the floor. He then pulls out a ladder and climbs it for no apparent reason as RVD isn’t is position to take a move. And of course RVD tips it over and Jeff takes an unbelievably stupid fall to the floor from about twelve feet up with nothing to break his landing. He gets a chair, but Jeff nails him and grabs it. RVD begs off, but when Jeff goes to swing it, RVD gets the Van Daminator which is a nice uncontrived way to work that move in. Back in the ring he dropkicks a chair in Jeff’s face, but hits knees on a split legged moonsault. Jeff hits a DDT for 2 and a German suplex for another 2, but misses the Swanton. RVD goes up and nails the Five Star frog splash for the 3 count and the Title at 12:33.
The Verdict: Now this was a really good match as they actually wrestled for most of it and the hardcore elements, except for that ladder bit, were worked in in ways that made sense. ***1/2
Vince then meets with Kurt Angle who needs no motivation because he’s already fired up.
Bra & Panties Match: Torrie Wilson & Stacy Keibler (Alliance) vs. Trish Stratus & Lita (WWF)
The Setup: We have to have the obligatory women’s match, but since Torrie and Stacy aren’t wrestlers, it’s just a bra and panties match. Welcome to the WWF, ladies.
The Action: Mick Foley does a double shot tonight as he gets to ref this match as well. They start with a double catfight before going to a tag match. Lita gets Stacy’s shirt off, but then gets lured into a double team and has her shirt pulled off. Trish and Torrie then go with Torrie getting her shirt off, but Trish rolls her up and gets her pants. She tags Lita and they double team Torrie’s shirt off, and then they drag Stacy in so Lita can hit a moonsault and then they get her pants off for the win at 5:03.
The Verdict: Well, it was everything that it was intended to be. DUD This makes the score 5-5 going into the main event.
Team Alliance has one final meeting before the Main Event. Then Vince finds Stone Cold, who’s ready to kick some ass.
Main Event, “The Inaugural Brawl”: The Dudley Boyz, Rhyno, Booker T, & Diamond Dallas Page (w/Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, & Paul Heyman) (Alliance) vs. Kane, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, & Stone Cold Steve Austin (w/Vince McMahon) (WWF)
The Setup: Our main event sees the top guys on each side facing off in a ten man tag supported by the respective owners at ringside. Most of the buildup centered around Vince McMahon attempting to recruit “the old” Stone Cold (after he had turned heel and gone soft) for team WWF, which he was finally successful in doing last Monday on Raw.
The Action: Undertaker jumps DDP during his entrance which triggers a huge brawl, with Austin as the last guy to be introduced then coming out to a huge pop and killing everyone. It gets into the ring and settles down into a tag match with everyone taking a turn in. DDP wants in when Taker is in trouble and works him over for a bit. Eventually the Alliance works a relatively extended heat segment on Angle, which includes a false tag to Austin, but the ref didn’t see it. DDP hits the Diamond Cutter on Angle and instead of building a hot tag, it just breaks down into a brawl at that point. Everyone gets laid out with Kane, Rhyno, and D-Von all getting put through tables while DDP and Taker brawl through the crowd and are never seen again. Finally the only ones left alive are Bubba and Booker who double team Angle. Angle fires back and Angle Slams Bubba, and then puts Booker in the ankle lock, but Booker breaks it and bumps the ref in the process. Vince tries tossing the WWF belt to Angle, but Shane intercepts and knocks Vince out. Angle takes care of Shane and puts Booker back in the ankle lock while Austin gets the ref back in the ring. But sadly for everyone, Austin then turns on Angle with a Stunner. He puts Booker on top and forces the ref to count 3 at 29:04. The show closes with Austin, Shane, Stephanie, and Heyman sharing some beers.
The Verdict: This was a really good and tremendously heated match, and was a great way to cap off what hadn’t been a super exciting show up to that point. Hindsight shows us that turning Austin at Wrestlemania was a mistake and also that teasing his babyface return only to take it away again here was another one, but for what they wanted to accomplish at the time they went about it fine. ***3/4
Overall Thoughts: My biggest problem with this show, which I touched on earlier, is that they tried cramming too much stuff on here. Ten matches in three hours is a lot and it means that many of them were short and meaningless. The show was sold more than anything on WWF vs. WCW/ECW rather than any individual matches but that still doesn’t mean that the matches should just be slapped together like some of these were. The only two matches that were given the chance to stand out were the main event and Hardy/RVD, and both of them definitely succeeded so it’s certainly not a bad show overall, but there’s still a lot of filler to sit through. Nothing was bad though, except for the two matches involving non-wrestlers, but I can hardly hold that against the show too much, so I’m going to call it a very mild Thumbs Up for Invasion.