|Date||Sunday July 22 2001|
|Location||Cleveland, Ohio, USA|
WWF Invasion 2001
WWF Invasion 2001 was the culmination of years of fantasy warfare between the WWF and WCW in the minds of wrestling fans. Finally, the two companies were going head-to-head, and with ECW thrown in for good measure! Okay, so most of WCW’s headliners – and even two of the WWF’s three top stars of the era – were absent, but the novelty of the inter-promotional conflict was enough to make this a must-see, and this ended up being one of the most successful B-shows in WWF/WWE history. But did Invasion live up to the hype? Let’s take a closer look.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!
Edge & Christian vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome
Opening the show, we had Edge & Christian in the somewhat unfamiliar role of being a babyface combination against The Alliance’s Lance Storm and Mike Awesome. Although the inter-promotional feud suggests a thoroughly serious tone to proceedings, that wasn’t entirely the case, with an example being how Edge and Christian were initially offended by Mike “Totally Not” Awesome due to him essentially taking away from the awesomeness that E&C claimed to continuously reek of. This was a pretty good tag team bout, with fans well into the action all the way. In the end, Christian Speared Mike as he held Edge in Awesome Bomb position, allowing Edge to fall on top of him and score the pin.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST PPV OF THE YEAR? READ OUR WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 2001 REVIEW!
Mick Foley Is Special Guest Referee
Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick
Our second bout was an extreme rarity, as referees of rival promotions battled it out. Though comparisons may have been occasionally made, it was hard to envision that anyone ever viewed Earl Hebner battling Nick Patrick as a dream match, but it’s got what we got nonetheless. Mick Foley was brought in as the special referee since it would have been unreasonable for either party to have one of their own officiating the contest (mind you, Foley was a WWF guy through and through so he was still partisan to be biased in Earl’s favour, but never mind). If you take this for what it was – a harmless and short attraction – then this was fun to see, and Hebner got the feel-good victory when he pinned Patrick after a shoulder block. Foley trapped Patrick in the Mandible Claw afterwards, but it wasn’t all bad for Nick, as he ended up keeping a job as a WWF/WWE referee for more than seven years after this.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWF KING OF THE RING 2001 REVIEW!
The APA vs. Chuck Palumbo & Sean O’Haire
The Tag Team Champions of both promotions collided next. A few years earlier, that would have meant The New Age Outlaws vs. The Outsiders which would have been a true battle of the tag team titans, or if you go back over a decade to when the WWF/WCW feud was first flaring up in the late 1980s, we could have got an even bigger match in Demolition vs. The Road Warriors. Instead, we had the fourth-tier WWF tag team of the era squaring off against a combination which would lose its titles a few weeks later and never reunite again. It’s no surprise that this match was totally forgettable, with The APA winning after Bradshaw walloped Chuck with a Clothesline From Hell.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE VERY FIRST WWF PPV? READ OUR WWF THE WRESTLING CLASSIC 1985 REVIEW!
X-Pac vs. Billy Kidman
Up to this point, The Alliance had nothing from the main show to brag about (Chavo Guerrero pinned Scotty Too Hotty, which was a rare moment of a pre-PPV Heat match actually mattering as this was factored into the inter-promotional score card for the night), but that was about to change. Billy Kidman was one of WCW’s top cruiserweight names, with only Rey Mysterio (not on board yet) and Dean Malenko (phased down and about to retire by this point) arguably being more suitable candidates as the WCW Cruiserweight Champion fought the WWF Light Heavyweight Champion. Indeed, Kidman scored the victory after a Shooting Star Press, and Pac’s night was made worse by him being the only WWF guy to receive boos all evening (bear in mind that the whole WWF were basically de facto faces now). Mind you, Pac did capture Kidman’s title in a rematch eight days later on Raw, so it wasn’t all bad for the former 123-Kid.
William Regal vs. Raven
Honestly, when this match was announced, the first thing that occurred to me was how both Regal and Raven were omitted from the videogame WWF No Mercy as both debuted (or returned depending on your point of view) too late to make it into the game (and I remember this because they were the first two wrestlers that I created on the game for that very reason). The fact that this stands out more than their PPV encounter tells you that this wasn’t particularly memorable; it wasn’t bad, but the fans weren’t very interested, and when the fans aren’t reacting, it usually means that the match is not going to make a big impact. As it turned out, it was two in a row for The Alliance as Tazz’s interference allowed Raven to capitalise and hit Regal with a DDT for the three-count.
Six-Man Tag Team Match
Big Show, Albert & Billy Gunn vs. Chris Kanyon, Hugh Morrus & Shawn Stasiak
This was absolute filler, which is bizarre when you consider the match possibilities which should have made this a PPV that had an obvious card from top to bottom. Even odder is that this was the bout which had the reigning Intercontinental Champion (Albert) thrown in, just to give him something to do. Besides an early spot where all three WWF faces held up an Alliance adversary for simultaneous gorilla press slams, nothing stood out from this brief encounter, which ended when Morrus pinned Gunn. Moving swiftly on (which again sounds strange to say about an event that, in some form, had been anticipated for years).
Tajiri vs. Tazz
Before the match, Commissioner Regal gave his new pal Tajiri a pep talk, and advised him to beat Tazz, who he referred to as a “gobshite”. That line, and knowing that it probably went right over the heads of both American fans and the WWF writing team in general, made me laugh out loud. It was also more noteworthy that anything which occurred during this match; again, the action wasn’t poor by any means, and the fans were invested into this one (particularly when Tajiri trapped Tazz in the Tarantula, which was one of the most popular WWF moves at this point), but it didn’t provide anything which would make you want to watch this bout again and again. The poison mist allowed Tajiri to knock out Tazz with a Buzzsaw Kick, meaning that the score was now 4-4 between the companies on the night, and with just three matches to go (not that the score was ever mentioned again after Invasion went off the air).
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LATEST PPV? READ OUR WWE THE HORROR SHOW AT EXTREME RULES 2020 REVIEW!
WWF Hardcore Championship Hardcore Match
Jeff Hardy (C) vs. Rob Van Dam
Up until this point, Invasion had been rather underwhelming, feeling more like a special house show than a major PPV event with historical implications. Thankfully, the tide finally changed here as Jeff Hardy and RVD put on an incredible weapons-based scrap. Van Dam had attacked Matt Hardy (who strangely wasn’t booked in a match) backstage beforehand, and this helped his cause as it meant he and Jeff would not have anyone interfere in their offensively-spectacular brawl. The action was fought at a fast pace and was executed crisply, with fans quickly warming to the sheer charisma and comparative freshness of Rob’s act. Jeff brought a ladder to ringside, only for RVD to shove it over, tipping Jeff down onto the ramp. A Van Daminator later sent Jeff flying off the stage to the arena floor, and RVD eventually wrapped it up with a Five Star Frog Splash, becoming the Hardcore Champion in what was the only title bout of the night. This match made an instant star out of RVD, and his rapid rise up the ranks was one of the highlights of the entire WWF-Alliance storyline.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWF SUMMERSLAM 2001 REVIEW!
Tag Team Bra & Panties Match – Mick Foley Is Special Guest Referee
Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Torrie Wilson & Stacy Keibler
To give fans a chance to calm down after the excitement of the Hardcore match, we had a WWF first: a tag team bra & panties match, which meant that at least two of the women involved would be stripped down to their drawers. That might sound creepy, but that’s what the WWF audience were interested in at that time, and the WWF happily gave such moments to them. It also marked the first of only a handful of times down the years that longtime rivals Trish Stratus and Lita formed a solid alliance. Foley was back in the officiating garb for reasons unknown (perhaps he wanted to replicate The Big Boss Man pulling double duty in non-wrestling fashion from SummerSlam 1990), other than he was Mick Foley and the WWF wanted to make the most of his star power. It should come as no surprise that Trish and Lita were successful in disrobing their opponents to pick up the win, meaning the score was 5-5 as we headed into the main event.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWF SUMMERSLAM 2001 REVIEW!
The Inaugural Brawl
Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker & Kane vs. Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno & The Dudley Boyz
The final match was a ten-man tag team match pitting the WWF’s top five available stars (The Rock was almost ready to return from Hollywood and Triple H was on the shelf after his first torn quadriceps injury) against the best that The Alliance had to offer. The story setting this main event up is best remembered due to Stone Cold Steve Austin: the then-heel WWF Champion started to demonstrate his comedic skills with some classic segments involving Kurt Angle, but Vince told Austin (after a hilarious backstage moment where Austin agreed with McMahon’s every word as he tried to rally the troops) that he didn’t want “this” Austin, but rather the “old Stone Cold” of yesteryear, the ass-kicking, beer-drinking, Stunner-dropping Texas Rattlesnake who almost single-handedly helped the WWF to win the Monday Night War. After some time to contemplate his options, Austin interrupted a huge inter-promotional brawl by opening up perhaps the biggest can of whoop-ass ever in a truly great Raw ending. The old babyface rebellious Austin was back, but not for long as it turned out.
The match itself (which saw participants enter alternately in a face-heel format in an unusual move) is fairly entertaining to watch, but is not exactly a must-see attraction; the eventual ten-man tag team scrap to blow off the whole angle at Survivor Series is far better. This still has its moments, though, and it was enhanced by the presence of Vince, Shane and Stephanie McMahon, as well as Paul Heyman, at ringside (I should have mentioned that Jim Ross and Michael Cole formed a short-lived total babyface announcer’s team after Heyman helped to form The Alliance; Heyman was back behind the commentary desk just eight days later), as their reactions helped to heighten the drama. As they worked to the finish, Austin seemed to suffer a knee injury, but it was a ruse: when Angle (who was suddenly super-over as a babyface now) trapped Booker in the Ankle Lock, Austin attacked Angle, turning back heel and Stunnering the Olympic hero, allowing Booker to score the pin. Afterwards, Austin booted Angle out of the ring and Stunnered Vince, and he celebrated with Shane, Steph and Heyman to officially join The Alliance. The invaders had won the night 6-5, and Austin was back to being a wicked villain. Kurt would then enter into a WWF Title feud with Austin, with several awesome matches in the months to come.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!
Under different circumstances, WWF Invasion 2001 would be remembered as an all-time legendary show. Instead, while certainly not forgettable – almost everyone who has been watching wrestling since 2001 or earlier remembers it – the card stands out solely for one match, that being the Hardcore Title classic between RVD and Jeff Hardy. Steve Austin establishing his allegiance to the Alliance is far less remembered than his WrestleMania X-Seven heel turn, or even the angle on the previous Raw of Austin destroying various Alliance members. Still, this is a historic footnote for sports entertainment, and that alone justifies watching the major matches from this event.
WANT TO RELIVE WWF INVASION 2001? WATCH IT RIGHT NOW ON WWE NETWORK!