Philips Arena – Atlanta, GA – TV Rating – 4.7
We’re firmly in wCw territory here, so will tonight mark an upswing for the invading forces? After highlights of what has passed for an invasion so far, Jim Ross and Paul Heyman welcome us to the show with the news that the first inter-promotional match will take place tonight as The Undertaker goes, erm, one-on-two against Mike Awesome and Lance Storm. That bodes well… But if you thought that the wCw matches were a thing of the past, as a result, think again. Because we’re starting with one apparently.
Shane McMahon Vs Diamond Dallas Page
So, DDP led some of the wCw roster in an attack on Shane last week. Apparently, Shane suffered a separated shoulder. So of course, a few days later he’s fine and books himself in this match. But it’s not DDP that follows Shane out, it’s Taker (with Sara). And he kindly asks Shane to step aside because he wants a piece of DDP tonight…
The Undertaker Vs Diamond Dallas Page – Streetfight
Rather than asking for this match in the first place, Taker is booked in another match but that’s only wCw guys so of course he can just waltz out and accept this. Anyone who has spent the last thirty years plus watching professional wrestling can see what’s coming a mile off. Even without “hindsight”. DDP stalls so Taker comes out of the ring to get him. Page can’t escape because Shane is in the way, Kendo stick in hand, so he has to take another in-ring beating from Taker. As he is doing so there is the swerve that absolutely no one saw coming and Shane attacks Taker from behind the two to take him down. Sara saves her husband but tastes the Diamond Cutter as a result. She leaves on a stretcher as the dastardly wCw duo celebrate.
This is nonsense. Spread over a good few weeks there MIGHT have been legs in the Shane/DDP scenario. But DDP attacks him for no reason last week, they have a match scheduled and then they join forces again. I know this is wrestling, but what would they have done if Taker hadn’t randomly turned up looking for the match. And as it’s a ruse why couldn’t Shane have actually sold the “separated shoulder” he apparently got last week. Just think, doctors refuse Shane the chance to compete, Taker turns up and takes his place, swerve back happens. At least that might have made some sense?
After some ads, Sara is off to the hospital and Taker goes in the ambulance with her. I guess we’re not getting the advertised handicap match then.
The Dudley’s Vs The Acolytes – World Tag Team Titles
Well, at least you have a pretty good idea of what this match is going to be like…i.e not at all pretty. And in reality, it’s pretty dull. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why this is happening although in my mind I surmise that someone in management is looking to reward the challengers for their efforts in repelling the wCw invading forces. Even though they’ve largely failed to a certain extent. JR informs us that Spike Dudley broke his leg last week so will be out for months. If Russo was still booking then you’d be nailed on from a run-in from the runt of the litter…oh wait. That is what we get. He hobbles down to the ring and smashes his crutch over Bubba and the distraction allows Bradshaw to get the pin on D-Von. Very boring stuff really, presumably only happening because someone has decided that The Acolytes will be the ones to officially destroy wCw Tag Champs Palumbo & O’Haire so we might as well make that champions vs champions.
Vince and the Austin’s are backstage for the first time tonight, though I doubt the last. This week Angle (still wearing the kid’s cowboy hat) has gifts and they are toy sheriff’s badges. Naturally, Angle himself has the gold version. In amongst all this Austin gets Angle riled up about Booker T and pumps up Angle to go and challenge Booker T to a title match. Because of course, they are going to throw away the first WWE challenge for the wCw title on free TV with no prior warning/advertisement aren’t they?
Kane is arriving at the arena. As it’s the era before cell phones he will have no idea what has happened to Taker and Sara earlier.
Albert Vs Rhyno – Intercontinental Title
Albert’s IC title reign continues to baffle me. He’s got X-Pac with him at ringside but no Justin Credible. (The previous night on heat X-Pac had put himself and Albert over for holding titles when Credible didn’t and also refused to let Credible speak). Rhyno is over in a way that the Champion never will be so of course he’s losing this one. And he loses clean, allowing for a little bit of X-Pac distraction. So that’s wins over Kane, Edge and Rhyno in recent weeks. Imagine what that kind of impact that winning run could have made to someone who was over and talented enough. (Albert had to go to Japan to finally click as a wrestler).
Booker T is backstage when he is approached by Kurt Angle who chastises Booker for attacking him last week and wants a wCw Title shot tonight. Booker accepts but asks where Angle’s cowboy hat is. Angle’s response is to say “yippie-kay-ay, mother hubbard”. For no real apparent reason.
William Regal is on the phone when he is rudely interrupted by Kane, who has just heard what happened earlier. Regal says that the doctors have said Sara is fine but is being kept in for observation overnight. (I like this touch if only for the reason it explains why Taker won’t be back tonight). Kane demands to get the handicap match against Storm and Awesome tonight. Because obviously, that’s his priority rather than trying to find DDP. Regal sanctions it.
Jeff Hardy Vs The Big Show
I can sense what is coming here. And I don’t like it. Show and Billy Gunn beat the Hardy’s on Smackdown so that’s why we have this singles match. Even though the match is less than two minutes we still have shenanigans as Trish Stratus walks down the ramp. She has little effect on the match as Show wins clean. Trish then attends to Jeff, helps him to his feet and then kisses him. Which I guess at least might mean that’s what fans are left with here, rather than Jeff jobbing.
Angle is warming up for his match with Booker as Vince tells him how important this match is. Austin is more concerned about the “Inaugural Brawl” coming up at Invasion and wants to be the captain. Angle thinks he should be the captain. You can see where this is going. It’s essentially the same thing we saw last week. Vince cuts it short (or long) by saying both are on the team, along with Taker. Before Austin can say any more Chris Jericho walks in and says the rumours about KotR were nonsense, he’s WWE for life and wants in on the team too. Austin laughs but Vince seems to like the idea.
As JR informs us that Lita & Trish Stratus against Torrie Wilson & Stacy Kiebler will happen at Invasion, in a Bra and Panties match, we go to WWE New York where Matt Hardy and Lita are presenting. Lita seemingly can’t hear what’s being said to her, or else is a lousy promo. Matt has to fill in awkwardly. Lita then kisses Matt. Presumably to show Trish something or other.
Back in the arena, Booker T is with Shane. Because of course, Shane has to be involved. Despite Shane definitely being a heel earlier he now expects fans to cheer for Booker because we’re in Atlanta. I have a feeling that isn’t going to go as planned for Shane. Elsewhere Vince is pumping up Angle and Angle declares he doesn’t need any help tonight, just like he didn’t need any help winning his Gold Medal. All this is stirring stuff but shouldn’t be happening in one night on a whim.
Booker T Vs Kurt Angle – wCw World Title
No, it’s not even the main event. Which flags up shenanigans of one sort and, when we get to the end of the show, shows just how rushed this all is. Months worth of potential storylines are hot-shotted in the space of weeks, out of panic and desperation. This is the first official WWE Vs wCw match, it’s for the wCw title (although JR and Heyman are on commentary) and we’re finally getting what people want to see. Not wCw matches. I’ve said it before but you have to acknowledge that in 2001 fans who had paid to see WWE did NOT want to see lesser wCw names duking it out between themselves. The match itself is good without ever becoming great. But that’s fine for TV purposes. Booker actually looks competitive, even if he needs some distraction from Shane and some dodgy refereeing from Nick Patrick to aid him. In fact, throughout, Patrick ignores stuff, refuses to count Angle pinfalls and contrives to miss Booker T tapping out. Eventually, Earl Hebner comes in when Patrick takes a bump which eventually leads to the two going at it. Eventually, a THIRD referee in the form of wCw’s Charles Robinson runs in to count the pin after Booker smashes the title right into Angle’s face. This is a good match and wCw come out on top. It did exactly what it had to do, I guess.
Back from break Angle is furious about the dodgy refereeing. Elsewhere Scott Hudson is asking Stacy and Torrie what they think about the bra and panties match at Invasion. The highlight is Torrie calling Vince a dirty old man.
Kane & Chris Jericho Vs Lance Storm & Mike Awesome
This should have been Taker in a handicap match. As he’s at the hospital looking after his wife Kane took up the mantle. But before it starts Chris Jericho wants to show his loyalty to WWE so he turns up as an unannounced tag team partner for the Big Red Machine. This is actually a very solid match. The commentators mention Storm and Jericho’s history as the Thrillseekers. The match is a competitive one and the wCw guys are allowed to look good. There are famous shenanigans of course as after seven minutes or so we get a DQ ending as Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam do a run-in and help Storm and Awesome attack the WWE personnel.
What happens next is more memorable of course. As the beatdown continues the WWE mid-card team run out to even up the odds. But as they square up you notice that it’s The Dudley’s, Raven, Tazz, Rhyno and Justin Credible…and sure enough the now ten-strong group of ECW alumni all target the WWE duo. The fans love it. JR can’t seem to comprehend what’s going on. Heyman gets in the ring and cuts a promo about being sick of being a corporate sellout and that he’s tired of talking about WWE Vs wCw. ECW is back and somehow Paul has got the money to band together these ten stars and he dares Vince and Shane to come after him. This is a great angle. And a great twist. Is it all too soon though? We’ll get to that.
Backstage Vince and Shane bump into each other which is fortunate as they were both apparently looking for each other. I’m sure they would have had each other’s cell phone numbers. Shane is upset he’s lost two of his guys and points out to Vince that he’s lost half a dozen. Since Heyman has ten guys, Shane suggests 5 of his wCw boys and 5 of Vince’s WWE guys band together to take them on. Vince agrees but says it doesn’t change anything long-term.
X-Pac Vs Scotty 2 Hotty – Light Heavyweight Title
Because of course even with all that’s going on tonight, X-Pac must get a match. Of more interest than the match itself is that X-Pac doesn’t seem remotely concerned that his X-Factor buddy Justin Credible has defected to ECW. Or indeed about anything that’s happening Invasion wise. X-Pac wins a match that is nothing but filler on a card that doesn’t really need any filler.
Backstage Vince and Shane are addressing their 10 man team. Vince has chosen The Acolytes, Billy Gunn, Hardcore Holly and The Big Show. Shane has chosen Chuck Palumbo, Sean O’Haire, Mark Jindrak, Shawn Stasiak and Chris Kanyon. Ok then… The gist is the two forces have to join forces to repel ECW tonight but then normal hostilities will resume.
Twenty Man Tag Match WWE & wCw Vs ECW
The main event without any main eventers. Just how important is it to Vince that he sees off ECW? The WWE & wCw guys come out first but they are struggling to co-exist even now and naturally, the two sides start going at each other before the ECW guys have even shown up. WWE kills the wCw crew as the ECW contingent make their way through the crowd. Someone must have been to the liquidators as they are all wearing ECW tees. The ECW guys manage to clear the ring of the WWE guys whilst the wCw guys watch on. They then dare the wCw to step into the ring. They go face to face and then…exchange high fives! Yes, another swerve on a show of swerves. Shane and Heyman embrace and then the new alliance beats up all the WWE guys one by one. Shane takes the mic and tells Vince he can’t beat his chequebook but he can outsmart him. wCw and ECW have now merged. Which makes the final moment of the show completely illogical. Shane announces that ECW, who has merged with his wCw let’s not forget, have a new owner. And it’s Stephanie McMahon. Well, of course, it is.
You can’t say that this show was boring. And you can’t say that it didn’t contain some iconic moments. You can say though that out of desperation and panic the WWE throw away months of storylines in one night. In one sense it’s irrelevant. The WWE (i.e. Vince) would never have booked a year-long storyline where they go head to head with wCw in a back and forth fashion. And you can argue that with the Time Warner contracts stopping the big boys from joining in that at least the ECW swerve propped up the enemy side of things. Yet here we are, with the first-ever WWE Vs wCw match thrown away without prior advertising, a potential build-up to the ten-man tag team match that could have lasted a few weeks thrown away within an hour of ECW “returning”. And yes, just so we’re clear of who the real stars of everything are, the Invasion is effectively reduced to Vince Vs Shane & Stephanie. Wonderful.
Worth a watch for the iconic moments and to be baffled by the rushed booking.