Thursday, 7 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Invasion 2001

WWF Invasion PPV Review
July 22, 2001 
Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

On Monday, March 26th, 2001, WWF Raw came live from the Gund Arena in Cleveland Ohio. It was on that broadcast that Vince McMahon revealed that he had bought his competition and was now the owner of World Championship Wrestling.

It was also on that show that Vince's son Shane - coming live from the final WCW Nitro broadcast Panama City Beach - surprised the elder McMahon by revealing that it was actually he, not his father, who was now in charge of WCW.

Thus began The Invasion - a storyline which wouldn't pick up steam until well after Wrestlemania 17 when Lance Storm became the first WCW star to "invade" during an episode of Raw live from Canada. 

Many criticized Storm's appearances as a sure sign that the company lacked enough genuine WCW star power to make an Invasion angle work, a point that was emphasized when they brought in ECW wrestlers to form an "Alliance" with WCW because nobody wanted to see Shawn Stasiak wrestle every week. 







As lacklustre of a start as it may have been, it nonetheless back full circle, back to the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for the first -and only- WWF Invasion PPV.

Here's what went down.

The Most Serious Threat the World Wrestling Federation Has Ever Faced

Tonight’s opening video package was pretty awesome. Likening the invasion of a pro wrestling company to the actual events of World War 2, the video interspersed historical footage (including a speech from President Franklin D. Roosevelt) with shots of the big stars in tonight’s show.


Sure, it was a little overdramatic, but when was pro wrestling ever not?

Coming live into the arena, we got the usual crowd shots from both Cleveland and WWF New York as commentators Jim Ross and Michael Cole welcomed us to the show.

This opening also showed us the pretty cool entrance for tonight’s event, with the stage splitting off into two separate entrances for the warring factions. Weirdly, we didn’t see our first two wrestlers using that entrance as the show then jumped awkwardly right to Lance Storm and Mike Awesome in the ring.

Lance Storm & Mike Awesome vs. Edge & Christian

WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Lance Storm addresses the crowd
We last saw Storm and Awesome teaming up as Team Canada back at WCW Greed. Now they were on the ECW side of the alliance and ready to get the crowd riled up.

If he could be serious for a minute, Storm wanted to tell us all the reasons why the WCW/ECW Alliance was better than the WWF, but they were interrupted by their opponents, Edge & Christian.

What followed was as solid an opening tag team match as you’d expect from wrestlers of this caliber.

Despite a scary spot in the early going when Christian tried to use Edge as a springboard to hit a suicide dive but ended up tumbling arse-over-tit over the top rope, it was a  very enjoyable contest.

Things started hot, lagged a little while Christian played face-in-peril for eight hours, then picked up steam with an exciting finish that saw the WWF guys pick up the first win of the night.
Your Winners: Edge & Christian

Backstage, a jubilant Vince McMahon was seen celebrating Edge & Christian’s victory when Commissioner William Regal arrived to inform him that WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and Debra had arrived.

McMahon told Regal to give the duo some space and focus on crushing Raven in their upcoming match.

Nick Patrick vs. Earl Hebner

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Nick Patrick argues with Mick Foley
This was WCW referee Nick Patrick’s first PPV match as a competitor since he faced Chris Jericho at WCW World War 3 1996. As far as I recall, it was the first time Earl Hebner had ever had a match, at least on PPV.

Mick Foley was the special guest referee for this one and was, unsurprisingly, the most over person in the match.

It wasn’t a surprise either that this wasn’t very good. It was a dumb kind of nothing, but I’ll give it a pass since Nick Patrick was always pretty awesome.

Sadly, he lost the match when Earl a Hebner just sort of...bumped into him.
Your Winner: Earl Hebner

Afterwards, Patrick argued with Foley so Mick knocked him on his ass and slapped on Mr Socko.

DDP is a Perv

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Debra and Sara 'Taker discuss what a pervert Diamond Dallas Page is
Backstage, Debra and The Undertaker’s wife Sarah bonded over coffee and a mutual disdain of Diamond Dallas Page

While Sarah’s troubles with Page have been well documented, I should probably point out that the reason Debra hated the former WCW champion is that he kidnapped her on Smackdown.

Both women agreed that Dallas was both a perv and a psycho and couldn’t wait until their husbands kicked his ass.

Non-Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw) vs. WCW Tag Team Champions Chuck Palumbo & Sean O’Haire

Though it was markedly different from the fast-paced, technical-based opener, this was another good tag team match.

Built around power and size, it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, but the crowd were definitely into it as all four men gave it some serious effort.

After a decent bit of back-and-forth, Bradshaw decapitated Chuck Palumbo to put the WWF at 3-0.
Your Winners: The APA

To be honest, that really strikes me as a missed opportunity to get a hot, young team like Palumbo & O’Haire over and really establish them as a credible threat, but hey ho, on we go.

WCW/ECW Will Never....EVVVVER...Be the Same...AGAIN

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Chris Jericho tells Vince McMahon how disgusting ECW was
Out in the back, Chris Jericho spoke to Vince McMahon and recalled that the one thing he’d learned the most for while working for both WCW and ECW was that while the former was a leaderless, lawless place where the inmates ran the asylum, the latter had a leader who was a psychopath named Paul E. Heyman.

‘You know what the E. stands for?’ asked Jericho. ‘Ewwwww.’

Y2J went on to tell McMahon that Heyman was just as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside, and the two agreed that when all was said and done, the alliance would never...EVVVVVVER be the same, again.

Delivering that last line in unison, both Vince and Jericho were a riot here.

Across the way, Shane, Steph, and Paul ‘Ewww’ Heyman freaked out over their losing streak, insisting that the fate of the entire alliance now rested on the shoulders of Billy Kidman.

Wearing actual wrestling attire for the first time in his career rather than Jean shorts and a vest, the Cruiserweight champion remained calm, cool, and confident that he could beat X-Pac in our next contest.

WWF Light Heavyweight Champion X-Pac vs. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - X-Pac battles Billy Kidman
Well, this was easily the best match on the card so far. It was also the first match in which the crowds were firmly on the side of The Alliance rather than the WWF.

Still, despite the strong ‘X-Pac sucks!’ chants, the Light Heavyweight Champion put in one of his better performances if not of the previous several years then at least of the previous 12 months.

After a strong contest, Kidman’s earlier confidence paid off as he clocked up the first win for The Alliance.
Your Winner: Billy Kidman

Backstage, Shane, Steph, and Paul’s celebration was cut short when DDP burst into the room all excited about kidnapping Debra on Smackdown. The Alliance leaders quickly had to get Page’s head in the game ready for tonight’s main event.

Elsewhere in the arena, Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler boasted about how hot they both were and how unfair it was that the audience wouldn’t get to see them in their undies in tonight’s bra and panties match. Obviously, both women looked stunning but this was such a cringe-worthy segment that I feel embarrassed just writing about it.

Raven vs. William Regal

Though it wasn’t bad as such, this was a pretty underwhelming nothing match that might have been better used to kill a few minutes on Raw.

Following a few minutes of uninspired action, Tazz (who has been feuding with Regal and Tajiri) ran in and suplexed Regal behind the referee’s back.

Raven hit the Even Flow DDT and that was that.
Your Winner: Raven

Backstage, Vince McMahon got Kane and The Undertaker all fired up by reminding them of all the dastardly things that had been done to them by the ECW/WCW contingent.

Six-Man Tag
The Big Show, ‘The One’ Billy Gunn, and WWF Intercontinental Champion Albert vs. Shawn Stasiak, Chris Kanyon, and Hugh Morrus

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Intercontinental Champion Albert
This was the Invasion version of the ‘get-everybody-on-the-card’ matches we’re family with from Wrestlemania.

It wasn’t terrible or anything, but it was just an average filler match with nothing memorable happening outside of Big Show hitting the Flapjack finisher he was trying out.

After several minutes of forgettable her inoffensive action, Shawn Stasiak drilled Billy Gunn to the mat and draped a prone Hugh Morrus over the top of him.

One three count layer and Team WCW were victorious.
Your Winners: Chris Kanyon, Shawn a Stasiak, and Hugh Morrus

Afterwards, Big Show destroyed the WCW stars with chokeslams and flapjacks.

All Fired Up

WWE/ WWF Invasion 2001 - Shane McMahon psyches up WCW US and World Champion Booker T
Backstage, Shane McMahon gave Booker T a pep-talk, getting the WCW World and US champion fired up for tonight's main event.

Across the arena, William Regal did the exact same thing with his buddy/lackey, Tajiri, getting The Japanese Buzzsaw in the right frame of mind for his upcoming match with Tazz.

Tazz vs. Tajiri

This was an interesting one in that whenever Taz was in control it was kinda meh, but whenever Tajiri took charge it was a lot of fun.

The highlights came in the form of Tajiri's huge kicks to Tazz's head, after which the New Yorker had enough, cradled Tajiri like a baby and suplexed the holy bejeebus out of him.

Tajiri eventually won and the war between WWF and The Alliance continued.
Your Winner: Tajiri

Backstage, Matt Hardy warned his brother Jeff to be wary of going up against hardcore veteran Rob Van Dam in their upcoming title match. As if to prove Matt's point about how dangerous he could be, Mr Monday Night came up and whacked him across the back with a chair.

Meanwhile, at WWF New York, Hardcore Holly took umbrage with a fan’s WCW t-shirt and ripped it off the poor kid’s body, because that’s not a lawsuit waiting to happen.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam

You’d have to be pretty dam cynical not to love this match.

Easily Jeff Hardy’s best solo outing to date; the champion threw his body around with reckless abandon in an absolutely tremendous effort.

Vam Dam was no slouch either, clearly giving it his all in his WWF PPV debut before finally capturing the title thanks to a Five Star Frog Splash.

One of the things that made this so good was that it wasn’t your typical hardcore match.

Sure, they took a walk through the crowd and used a few weapons, but this was more of an actual wrestling match rather than your typical garbage brawl, and it was awesome.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Rob Van Dam

1.39.43 - BRA AND PANTIES

Out in the back, an intense Kurt Angle told Vince McMahon that he was going to kick some serious ass, not just for his company, not even for his country, but for himself.

It was true, dear readers. It was damn true.

Bra & Panties Tag Team Match
Torrie Wilson & Stacy a Kiebler vs. Trish Stratus & Lita

Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

At this point in her career, Trish Stratus wasn’t the accomplished performer she’d later turn out to be and, let’s face it, neither Torrie Wilson nor Stacy Keibler were ever known for their in-ring prowess.

So this match definitely had the potential to suck, but somehow didn’t thanks to the sheer hard work of all four competitors.

OK, so it was hardly a technical classic or anything, but it certainly wasn’t offensive.

In fact, the worst part about it was JR and Michael Cole coming across like pervy old men on commentary.

After a few short minutes, Trish and Lita stripped their rivals down to their underwear and this one was over.
Your Winners: Lita & Trish Stratus

Somehow there’s still 50 minutes left on this show and only one match to go. A small amount of time was killed by the last of our backstage skits.

First, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman gave their squad one last pep talk, with Steph screeching at the top of her lungs in a way that was so loud and annoying it ruined the whole segment.

Then, Stone Cold Steve Austin promised Vince McMahon that he wouldn’t be the guitar-playing, cowboy-hat-wearing goofball he’d been on TV for the last few weeks, but rather the hell-raising, ass-kicking Bad MF’er most fans had grown to love over the years.

Finally, after one last video recapping the invasion story so far, we went back to the ring.

The Inaugural Brawl
The Alliance (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley, Rhyno, Diamond Dallas Page, and WCW United States and World Heavyweight Champion Booker T w/ Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Paul Heyman) vs. Team WWF (Kane, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, and WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin w/ Vince McMahon)

We got a unique start to the match with each side taking it in turns to send a member of their team to the ring.

First came The Dudleyz, then Kane & Undertaker, then Rhyno and so on.  Things remained fairly civil until DDP made his way out and was immediately attacked by his arch-rival, The Undertaker.

This was the cue for a mass brawl and the inevitable arrival of Stone Cold Steve Austin, who immediately began laying waste to The Alliance.

Eventually, things settled down and we got ourselves a standard tag team match in which everyone was given ample opportunity to shine.

It was more or less entirely enjoyable right up until the finish.

The whole match once again broke down into wild and entertaining brawl, with bodies crashing through tables and general mayhem all around.

Then, just as it looked as though Kurt Angle was about to earn Team WWF a victory, Austin turned on him and lay a prone Booker T on top of him.

One three count and later and The Alliance reigned supreme.
Your Winners: The Alliance

Post-match, Austin first glared at Paul Heyman and the McMahon siblings before sharing a beer with them as WWF Invasion went off the air.







Let’s be honest, that finish was poor. I always hate matches in which one guy turns on his partner(s) and joins the very same guys he’s been fighting for the whole match.

Unless it’s done in the way Arn Anderson turned on Dustin Rhodes at WCW Bash at the Beach 1994 (Arn didn’t tag in once before turning) it simply makes no sense.

Why would Austin spend all that time kicking Booker T’s ass only to hand him the victory?

Other than that, Invasion wasn’t actually a terrible show.

Match of the night clearly went to RVD/Hardy, a match that may well have been the best match involving the hardcore championship in the entire history of that particular title.

Elsewhere, the rest of the show was mostly inoffensive but not really worth investing your time in other than for the historical significance.




Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 

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1 comments:

Watching the Inaugural Brawl, the guy that I thought was going to turn heel was Jericho, for two reasons:

First off, he wore purple tights with barbed wire on them to the ring. They were very similar to the ECW logo at that time, eh?

Secondly, Jericho was getting fairly clogged in the mid-card with Angle now being pretty much the #1 babyface at the moment.

So a heel turn might have been a good thing for Jericho.

On an unrelated side note, regarding the Edge & Christian vs. Storm & Awesome tag match, I was disappointed that the booking team didn't reunite Storm with his old Impact Players teammate Justin Credible.

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.