WWE: Raw Is War | 16/07/2001 | Road To Invasion

Providence Civic Center – Providence, Rhode Island – TV Rating – 5.0

This is the go home Raw before Invasion. Team WWE still has no real leader, which is the focus of the video recap that starts the show. Vince begged for the “Old Stone Cold” on Smackdown but Austin was having no part of it. Even when Vince yelled at him and asked for a Stunner.  Tonight Austin isn’t even at the arena, but is at a bar called the Friendly Tap, mulling over his future. 

We start proper with Spike Dudley making his way to the ring, on crutches.  Because this will be a selling point for Invasion won’t it?  He invites Molly Holly out to the ring saying that something has been building up inside him for a while.  I thought we’d already gone through the “Spike loves Molly” thing but apparently not.  Molly says she loves him too. 

He gives her a rose, she has something for him too but can’t give it to him here.  “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you and good night” is Spike’s response.  Before they can go and do whatever Paul Heyman interrupts.  He wants Spike in ECW and says that as soon as he’s taken care of things with Molly, wink wink, he should drop by the ECW office. 

Spike declines, saying he’s going to stay with Molly. Paul says Molly has a place in ECW but it will take liposuction and breast implants. Spike is livid, the Dudley’s come out and for some reason they are as mad at Spike and Molly taking attention away from ECW as they are that Spike cost them the tag belts. As you’d expect this ended up with Molly going through a table. And the point of all this was what exactly?

Backstage Kurt Angle is practising his speech to Vince to offer his services as leader of Team WWE. Vince comes in and ignores that, being more interested in Austin being at the Friendly Tap.

Farrooq Vs Chuck Palumbo

Well this is bound to be a cracker isn’t it?  Bradshaw and Sean O’Haire are at ringside for this one as the two teams will be meeting at Invasion.  Farrooq pretty much dominates but after he hits a Spinebuster, O’Haire distracts and Palumbo hits the superkick for a relatively clean win.  I’m sure they’ll pay for that soon. 

Angle is backstage, talking to Steve Lombardi and saying that he is extreme because he once drank milk that was out of date.  Raven walks by and says Angle isn’t extreme but Angle says no-one has missed Raven from WWE since he “defected”.  Raven cuts a usual mysterious poetry promo and Angle doesn’t know what he’s going on about.  The upshot is a challenge from Raven to an “ECW rules” match later.  Angle accepts but says “WWE rules, pal”. 

Mike Awesome Vs Edge

Pre-match, Lance Storm takes the mic and issues a challenge for him and Awesome against Edge & Christian at Invasion.  The Canadians accept.  They’re working in Jurassic Park references for no reason that I can discern.  Awesome has the better of the early going in the match but Edge fights back.  They battle outside the ring where Awesome sends Edge into the apron and railings.  Back in it looks like Awesome will take the win but the Awesome Bomb is countered into the Edgecution.  Storm saves the day for his man by sneakily putting Awesome’s foot on the rope.  Christian brings in chairs hoping to set up the Conchairto but the referee won’t allow it, Storm superkicks Edge and Awesome picks up another win for the invaders. It was ok, nothing more.

Stephanie is backstage with Booker T, telling him how great he is.  Chris Jericho walks by and exchanges Seinfeld references that were probably old hat at the time, never mind now.  (One of the greatest comedy shows ever, but come on guys).  Jericho calls Stephanie a whore, and a wCw title match is booked for tonight. 

William Regal is backstage warming up for his match with Tazz.  Tajiri wants a commentary gig again.  We then go to Shane, Stephanie and Paul Heyman backstage.  They announce that their five guys for Invasion’s main event will be Booker T, DDP, The Dudley’s and Rhino. 

Elsewhere, Vince has turned up at the Friendly Tap to try and persuade Austin to come to the arena tonight and lead Team WWE.  Austin merely keeps on drinking and then turns his back on Vince.  Vince says he is going back to the arena and hopes to see Austin there before the night is through.

Tazz Vs William Regal

After a brief bit of a slugfest, Tazz hits a suplex and Tajiri hops into the ring.  He takes off his shirt to reveal an ECW tee. Regal is shocked, Taz is happy. But it’s a swerve as Tajiri attacks Tazz and then puts him in the Tarantula.  Again, another storyline that could at least have been drawn out for a couple of weeks is gobbled up in minutes. 

Backstage again and DDP gives Rhyno a “Best of Sara” tape to watch.  Meanwhile back at the Friendly Tap owner Tim White is with Austin and says that he closed the whole bar for him tonight.  Which at least gives an explanation for it being empty.  He trusts Austin to do the right thing.

Booker T Vs Chris Jericho – wCw World Title

Now whatever you think of the way the Invasion was going, this is match that on paper should be a cracker. Two good hands, clashing over the wCw title.  Even allowing for it being on TV there is great potential here.  And in it’s own way the match is good, with some exciting action, back and forth action and lots of close falls.  But then it drops off.  Rather than being a battle between two guys in the main event of Invasion over the World Title, it becomes a set-up for the referee vs referee match at that show instead.  In this one Nick Patrick is being biased towards his WCW brethren and has elbow problems that mean he can’t count Jericho’s pin attempts.  When Jericho hooks on the Walls of Jericho Nick suffers a fit and can’t call it.  This brings out Earl Hebner to count the pin but Shane takes care of him.  Booker rolls up Jericho and a recovered Nick Patrick makes a very fast count to end this.  A good TV match but didn’t we see almost the same finish in a match last week? 

Paul Heyman and Perry Saturn have a nonsensical chat backstage.  Paul wants Saturn to join ECW.  Saturn can only say “Snausages”.  Ok then

Raven Vs Kurt Angle – ECW Rules

Angle is SUPER over with the crowd here.  ECW Rules basically means no rules/Hardcore rules.  Stacking the match with home-field advantage for Raven has no effect.  This is little more than a squash, that Angel takes with an Angle Slam and then the Ankle lock.  Angle keeps on the attack post-match until some mid-card wCw guys run out, but Angle sees them off too with ease.  Still, at least this all makes Angle look like a superstar. 

Back at the Friendly Tap, Austin is playing some pool. 

Hardy Boys Vs Dudley Boys

Totally new and fresh match here.  I kid, I think it’s the 497th match involving these two teams I’ve seen since WrestleMania.  Trish and Lita are kept in the back, much to the upset of some of the fans, and we get the usual stuff from these two teams on TV that they could do in their sleep by this point.  We meander on until Rob Van Dam wanders out and assists D-Von in the pin on Matt.  Post-match RVD hits the Frog Splash on Jeff which might be the only build up we’re getting for their match at Invasion. 

Vince and the Acolytes/APA are chatting backstage.  APA aren’t happy, Vince wants to know what they are going to do about it. 

Shane and Stephanie are elsewhere and they announce during their pep talk that they sold all their WWE stock to finance the Invasion.  Which makes you wonder why Shane could walk around WWE arena’s with apparent impunity for weeks on end.  But there you go.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of Invasion, you could never say that the storyline twists had any logic to them. 

We’re back with the APA who are leading a pep-talk of their own.  Again, this is all stuff that could have been drawn out for a number of weeks but no, we have to stuff everything in six days before Invasion.  Freddie Blassie joins us for some inspirational words.  Austin is watching this on TV at the Tap and when he sees all this he storms off.  Oh where could he be headed? 

Trish Stratus Vs Terri

So on a night of WWE Vs Alliance (not yet called that I don’t think) we get two “WWE” women battling.  Probably because Stacy and Torrie can’t work.  And Terri’s flesh coloured outfit needs another airing.  Trish wins a technical classic with a bulldog.  The wCw women attack post-match but Lita makes the save. 

The Undertaker & Kane Vs Diamond Dallas Page & Rhyno

I think you can imagine where this one is going.  The WWE guys have almost complete dominance from start to finish, generally killing time until the inevitable run-in parade.  And there it is.  There’s even the mid-card guys fighting outside in the parking lot.  The Alliance may even be getting the upper hand but then Steve Austin arrives, knocks a few people out cold with his pool cue then hits the ring (to a MASSIVE pop) and single-handedly  wipes out about 300 alliance guys with Stunners. 

That’s not quite the end though.  Shane and Stephanie, apparently not concerned that their guys have just been wiped out, stop Freddie Blassie as he’s leaving and Steph tells him he’ll be dead soon, just like WWE will be.  Why this was filmed, aired, given the green light or ended the show is beyond me. 

It’s by no means an awful show.  There’s a lot going on and you could never say it’s dull.  You COULD say there’s too much going on and we’re rushing through angles that could have lasted for months. But as much then as ever, if you watch WWE there are just some things that don’t really make any sense that you have at accept…

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