When you say the word “Invasion” to a wrestling fan, memories of the infamously disappointing story that should have been great come flooding back, with WCW and ECW looking to take over the WWF. But Wrestling has had a number of Invasions throughout history, with a lot being some of the biggest moments in the sport. As the WWE looks to capture the Invasion magic once again, with Retribution running roughshod on Raw and Smackdown, we take a look back of the best Invasions in wrestling…
CZW Vs. Ring of Honor
An invasion is an opportunity to introduce your audience to new characters, allowing them to gain instant credibility and enter at the top of the card.
CZW and Ring of Honor utilised their invasion to increase interest in both promotions and allow fans the opportunity to see wrestlers they had never before and give hardcore fans indie dream matches that they thought may never happen. The feud between CZW and Ring of Honor began as Chris Hero cut a scathing promo on ROH, criticising them for booking a show in Philadelphia on the same night as his promotion.
At this time, Ring of Honor Champion Bryan Danielson was sending open contracts to different promotions to send someone to challenge him for his title, including the likes of TNA and NOAH. Danielson would respond to Hero’s criticism by sending him an open contract for Hell Freezes Over, the show taking place on the same night as CZW’s An Afternoon of Main Events.
Before his title defence against Hero, Danielson, along with Nigel McGuiness and Roderick Strong, would jump the barricade at CZW’s show and started a brawl with the CZW locker room. Danielson would retain his Ring of Honor Championship later that night against Hero in a 30-minute barn burner.
Hero looked for redemption later in the year as he and Necro Butcher jumped the barricade at ROH’s Tag Wars 2006 to brawl with the locker room. The melee lead to ROH commissioner Jim Cornette losing a tooth before challenging CZW to return if they want to get beaten again. The feud would rumble on throughout 2006, with the promotions sharing victories and regularly turning up on each other’s shows and causing mayhem.
But the feud would culminate at Death Before Dishonor 4 where Team Ring of Honor (Ace Steel, Adam Pearce, BJ Whitmer, Bryan Danielson, Homicide and Samoa Joe) defeating Team CZW (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Eddie Kingston, Nate Webb and Necro Butcher) in a 40 minute Cage of Death match. This invasion added a sense that anything could happen on both Ring of Honor and CZW, helping the feud to feel as if they are really being invaded.
UWFi invades New Japan Pro Wrestling
Although this is not one of the most famous invasions of all time, it is credited as being one of the first major wrestling invasions.
UWFi was formed by former New Japan wrestlers Nobuhiko Takada, Shigeo Miyato and Kazuo Yamazaki, forming the promotion from the ashes of the UWF that they had previously helped to form. As 1995 rolled around, the company were hit by financial issues. In a last ditch effort to save the company, the UWFi contacted their former employers to request a possible co-promotion.
New Japan promoter Riki Choshu agreed to the co-promotion as long as his company would have creative control. As UWFi were so desperate to survive, they agreed to this, and Choshu decided he would capitalise on this by turning it into an invasion. The story centred around the former New Japan employee’s taking issues with the views of Antonio Inoki and they wanted to prove that their approach to wrestling was superior.
The feud kicked off in October 1995 at Clash: NJPW vs UWFi, with the two companies competing in interpromotion matches to prove who was better. New Japan would ultimately come out on top, having booked the show themselves, with Keiji Mutoh retaining the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Nobuhiko Takada.
But Takada would eventually dethrone Mutoh at what would go on to become Wrestle Kingdom, Wrestling World 1996 to claim the title for UWFi. Takada’s reign would last 116 days before he dropped the title to Shinya Hashimoto to bring the invasion to an end. The interpromotional matches between UWFi would regularly main event shows, often in multi man tag matches, but New Japan would regularly come out on top and make UWFi look weak.
Despite this, the influence of this feud was felt across the wrestling landscape as they helped to innovate the invasion angle.