Thursday, 25 March 2021

Top 8 Best Things About The WWF Invasion Storyline

Top 8 best Things About the WWF Invasion Storyline
The WCW/ECW vs. WWF Invasion storyline that dominated Raw and Smackdown throughout the majority of 2001 has gone down in history as a disaster, ranking up there only with Katie Vick and The Gobbledygooker as some of the worst things McMahon & Co. ever forced upon their audience.

Still, despite its lasting legacy of terribleness, The Invasion angle did occasionally produce some good stuff too.

Sure, the WCW contingent that invaded the WWF boasted practically zero star power, and the two bonafide stars it did have (DDP and Booker T) were buried beyond belief. 

Sure, it gave us head-scratching defections like Christian joining The Alliance for no other reason than lumping him in with the other heels. That's not to mention Kurt Angle likewise jumping ship in literally in the last few weeks before the whole thing ended, despite the fact that he’d spent all summer feuding with Alliance leader Steve Austin.

And sure, the whole thing became more about The McMahons than any attempt at presenting a seemingly legitimate Invasion attempt, but honestly, it really wasn’t all bad.

Over the last few months, I’ve been documenting the Invasion-era PPVs here on Retro Pro Wrestling and watched the whole storyline play out, including all of the Raw and Smackdown shows in between.

Having done so, I genuinely believe that some of it was very entertaining.






Don’t believe me?

Here’s the eight best things to have come out of the WCW/ECW vs. WWF Invasion Storyline.

8. Kurt Angle Douses The Alliance in milk


It was a scene that would play out countless times over the years and was even referenced in Kurt Angle’s Hall of Fame induction; the Olympic Gold Medalist driving a milk truck to the ring and spraying everyone in sight with the white stuff.

The spot was, of course, a spoof of Alliance leader Stone Cold Steve Austin’s beer bath angle from March 1999, and served as the perfect spot for Angle to stick it to his arch-rival.

It went over huge too, partly because of the absurdity of it all, but mostly because Angle was enjoying a huge run as one of the company’s top two babyfaces. In fact, during the few months after Wrestlemania 17 while The Rock was away filming The Scorpion King, Angle had been the top face and would remain hugely over until his utterly nonsensical heel turn in the last few weeks of the Invasion.

Of course, it also gave us one JR's classic calls:

"The Billion Dollar Princess has become the dairy queen!"

7. Shane Helms Becomes The Hurricane 


Shane Helms had begun to get over in WCW’s Cruiserweight division during the dying days of the company’s existence.

He even had a terrific outing with Chavo Guerrero at WCW Greed, emerging victorious to become the new Cruiserweight champion and bringing that title with him over into the World Wrestling Federation.

There, he quickly lost the title to Billy Kidman and spent the first half of the invasion as a non-descript background character.

Things changed when he started appearing on TV wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt and professing his admiration for Hal Jordan’s alter-ego.

Not content to leave it there, Shane ‘Hurricane’ Helms decided to ditch his civilian name altogether and began referring to himself simply as The Hurricane, complete with superhero attire.

Despite being part of the heel Alliance faction, Hurricane soon became one of the more popular fan-favorite characters of that group, with only RVD (more of whom later) getting larger pops while part of the Alliance.

Hurricane was soon rewarded for his growing popularity with a European title run of not insignificant length (at least not in the modern age) and soon adopted himself a sidekick in the form of ‘Mighty’ Molly Holly.

In fact, Helms was so over with this gimmick that when he basically stole Molly from her then-boyfriend (and sympathetic babyface) Spike Dudley, the crowd continued to cheer him despite it being a pretty dick move.

The Hurricane would remain a popular act within the WWF for most of his run, even getting a high-profile match with The Rock. Alas, the WWF being the WWF, the ever-popular super hero would later ditch his alter-ego and go back to being regular old Gregory Helms.

5. Rob Van Dam’s Feud With Jeff Hardy


Not long after he arrived on the scene as part of the WCW/ECW Alliance, Rob Van Dam entered into a wildly entertaining feud with Jeff Hardy which resulted in some quality matches over the hardcore title.
The two would face off at the Invasion PPV, again at Summerslam 2001, and at least once on an episode of Smackdown.

While there wasn’t much to the storyline beyond both men wanting to outdo one another and prove themselves to be the superior wrestler, the actual matches between them were mostly excellent and a real highlight of the first few months of the Invasion.

When it was over, Jeff went back to teaming -and later feuding- with his brother Matt, enjoying a brief run with the WCW tag team titles while RVD emerged from the feud with the hardcore title still around his waist and would hold onto it until well after the whole Invasion storyline was over.

4. Rock vs. Jericho 


OK, so you could argue that a battle between two WWF stars such as The Rock and Chris Jericho could have still happened without the invasion, but this is one instance where the WWF vs. WCW/ECW storyline bombing so bad actually resulted in something awesome.

Owing to the lack of star power and generally poor ratings the Invasion was getting, Vince had The Rock come back after filming The Mummy Returns, immediately bury Booker T with his “who in the blue hell are you?” line and then beat him for the WCW Championship.

The Great One would then team with Chris Jericho for reasons that I can’t remember and probably don’t matter, but when Jericho accidentally whacked his partner with a chair, this caused a rift between the two.

The Rock began to remind Jericho that he’d never captured ‘The Big One’ and insulted him for his lack of success in high-profile matches while Jericho claimed this simply wasn’t true and promised to dethrone the WCW Champion at WWF No Mercy 2001.

True to his word, Y2J captured The Big Gold Belt from his partner/nemesis thanks to some botched shenanigans from Stephanie McMahon. The match was awesome and must have surely been in the conversation when most people were naming their Match of the Year picks.

Simply a great singles match and one of the best from the entire Invasion.

3. Paul Heyman Gives Vince McMahon a Piece of His Mind 


In the build-up to the final battle at Survivor Series 2001, ECW leader and then color commentator Paul Heyman was given a microphone and free reign to say whatever was on his mind.

It turned out what was on his mind was how much he hated Vince McMahon. After talking in general about his disdain for the Chairman, Vince Himself made his way to ringside and that's when Heyman really let him have it.

Though this cynical fan really doubts that it wasn't entirely a "shoot" promo as it was presented to be, it was certainly incredibly compelling and one of the most enthralling spots in the storyline.

2. Sing-Along With The Rock and Stone Cold 


Heyman wasn't the only one to deliver an excellent promo in the build-up to Survivor Series. On the go-home Raw, WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and WCW Champion The Rock met face-to-face in the ring to deliver a promo for the ages.

It started with the two snatching the microphone from one another and building up epic amounts of tension and ended with them singing Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville as a duet before Rock planted Austin with a Rock Bottom. 

Though it wasn't as soaked in realism as Heyman berating of Mr. McMahon, Rock and Austin's verbal jousting looked like the most fun two wrestlers could ever have and was simply a joy to watch.

1. The Rise and Rise of Rob Van Dam

Having impressed in that aforementioned feud with Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam quickly caught fire as one of the most popular stars in the company throughout the duration of the Invasion storyline. 

In fact, I'd even dare to say that the reactions he received were on a par with the likes of headline acts like Austin and Angle. 

His popularity didn't go unnoticed and despite being aligned with The Alliance for the duration of the storyline, he was presented as a babyface and was even teased as rivaling Stone Cold Steve Austin for the title of Alliance leader.

This led to him being placed in a WWF title match, taking on champion Austin as well as Kurt Angle in a triple threat match. Though you could easily be skeptical and say that RVD's role in the match was simply to give Austin a win without Angle suffering a loss, if you followed the entire storyline, Van Dam's rise to the main event seemed entirely fitting and a natural result of his growing stardom.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to last.

Just a few months after the Invasion storyline ended, Van Dam found himself in a nothing mid-card feud with Goldust. Sure, that feud gave us a decent match at No Way Out 2002, but it seemed like such a comedown after The Whole F'N Show had proven himself to be one of the company's most over stars in 2001. 






2001 Reviews:

1 comments:

Hopefully AEW vs TNA (or whatever they call themselves today) will learn from the mistakes of the Invasion.

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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.