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WWE: Retro Review | Raw is War | 23/07/2001 | The Invasion Alliance

First Niagara Center – Buffalo. NY – TV Rating –  5.4

And so it’s one night removed from Invasion and The Alliance left that event…well who knows.  They “won” the night thanks to the dastardly Stone Cold Steve Austin but there was no real thing “at stake” there. Perhaps tonight will reveal all…

After being told that tonight we’re getting The Undertaker Vs Rhyno and Trish Status Vs Torrie Wilson in a Spanking match we start the show proper with Stone Cold Steve Austin coming to the ring, flanked by Shane, Stephanie and Paul Heyman.  With two great speakers out there of course we start with Stephanie.  And look, she improved as a promo exponentially over the years, but in 2001 she was awful.  She’s not surprised the fans are angry but she said WCW/ECW would win the ten man match and they did.  They said they would kill the WWE, and now they have the champion in their corner.  Paul says he hates to say they told you so. But they told you so.  Shane waffles on about dominance.  We then finally get to hear from Austin. 

The fans are chanting rude things at him so at least that “heel turn” has worked.  Austin says he was no longer appreciated by Vince.  He saw Vince hugging Kurt Angle and he thinks that Vince is calling back The Rock.  The fans aren’t going to kick him around anymore and so he jumped to a team that appreciates him.  Furthermore he’s not going to back down from anyone. 

Cue Kurt Angle, and the fans are really behind him.  I’m repeating myself a bit, but for all the wrong’s of the Invasion storyline, they (maybe inadvertently) got some things right.  Austin mocks Angle’s American pride and says that Kurt is scared of him.  Angle runs in and takes out Austin with a belly-to-belly.  The McMahons hold back Austin as Angle celebrates in the ring.

Backstage RVD is talking to his ECW guys.  He will show Matt Hardy tonight why they call him Mr. Monday Night. 

Rob Van Dam Vs Matt Hardy – Hardcore Title

RVD/Jeff was arguably the match of the night at Invasion so there’s at least some sense to this one.  And let’s face it, Matt is the more expendable Hardy so can do the job here.  Not to spoil things. Matt jumps the champ before he can even get in the ring which sets the tone for the usual sub 5 minute Hardcore TV match.  Matt has a go but it’s all about Van Dam.  To finish he traps Matt in the ladder and hits the Five Star Frog Splash for the win. 

Edge & Christian bump into the Dudley’s backstage, who challenge them to a Tables Match.   Christian says that the only reason the Alliance won last night was Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Which is true, of course, but lays bare some pertinent issues with the whole Invasion.  Booker T comes out, upset he’s being dissed, and Bubba adjusts the challenge to a six man match, to be fought under elimination rules.  Christian asks if Booker is related to Mr. T. Cutting edge comedy.   Edge “pities the fool who goes through a table”.  We’re not left with any clue as to who will be joining E&C. 

DDP is backstage and Chris Kanyon comes in for a chat.  Just so we’re sure who the REAL stars still are DDP says that the Debra abduction from Smackdown was all Austin’s idea.  Kanyon’s shirt says he is the “Invasion MVP”. Which he argues that he was because he won the six man tag he was in almost single-handedly and as the Alliance won 6-5 that means it was all on him. 

Albert Vs Lance Storm – Intercontinental Title Match

Those WWE Vs WCW matches we’ve all been fantasy booking for years just keep on coming don’t they?  Storm wants to be serious for a minute but Albert’s music interrupts that.  Albert completely dominates until Mike Awesome comes out for some distraction.  X-Pac tries to stop him but Hugh Morrus tips the odds again.  All of this allows Storm to hit the superkick, after Morrus has clobbered Albert with the ring bell, and get the pin to win the Intercontinental belt.  All this takes about two minutes.  The mid-card locker room (plus Kane and E&C) floods the ring.  Needless to say the WWE guys get the upper hand . Plus ca change!

The McMahons, the Austin’s and Paul are celebrating Storm’s win backstage.  Chris Kanyon runs in and in yet another reminder of who the real stars are, Austin not only takes offence to Kanyon’s “MVP” tee, but also appears not to know who Kanyon is. 

Torrie Wilson is backstage, preparing for her upcoming “match”.  She’s admiring her own, erm, you know what and says that she will take out Trish tonight.  Stacy Keibler agrees. 

Elsewhere, Commissioner Regal hypes up for his match with Raven later tonight.  Elsewhere again, Edge & Christian are talking to someone and telling them they should put their differences aside for the benefit of WWE.  Yes, Kurt Angle will be their partner tonight!

Tajiri Vs Raven

Tajiri beat Tazz last night, Raven defeated Regal (in an awful match).  So here we are.  This is not the Raven of, say. 1996.  It’s not even the Raven of 2000.  Tajiri controls the early going, Raven wears him down in the middle ground, before Tajiri hits a missile dropkick, locks on the Tarantula and kicks Raven in the head for the win.  Fans don’t really care whenever Raven is on the attack but they pop for Tajiri’s signature moves and win. 

Paul Heyman, a past master at championing lost causes, preps Rhyno for his match with Taker.  There is literally no chance he’s winning.  None.  Elsewhere, Angle is being congratulated by the APA for what he did to Austin tonight and they offer him a beer.  Angle is reluctant to drink but chugs it anyway.  “This stuff is pretty tasty, when did they start making this?”

The Undertaker Vs Rhyno

Taker has Sara with him.  The Sara who he didn’t want to have any part of being in the business.  Michael Cole covers this by saying that being by her husband’s side is the safest place when DDP is around.  I don’t think that is going to end well, regardless of that being nonsense.  Taker takes control from the bell and apart from Rhyno escaping a chokeslam and attempting a Gore he does almost nothing.  DDP comes out but this can’t help Rhyno, who takes a chokeslam and takes the loss. 

DDP attempts to go after Sara but Taker gets to him first.  They brawl around the ring and into the crowd.  You’ll be astounded I’m sure to learn Taker dominates this.  Sara even gets in some stomps on Page when they come back to the ring.  But the dastardly Page pulls her into the way of a chair shot from Taker.  Oh no!  Taker is distraught.  After the break, Taker won’t let Sara get medical attention.  Because of course not.  Maybe he’s worried that “I hit my wife with a chair” won’t go down too well at the hospital.  DDP is shown leaving the arena.  But not before he says how much seeing Sara in pain turned him on. 

Chris Jericho Vs Chris Kanyon

Whilst not a “dream match” in the truest sense, this is a match that could have a lot of potential.  But it’s on Raw.  And we’ve already ascertained that Austin doesn’t know who Kanyon is and Jericho runs him down pre-match. He’s an “annoying ass-clown” and says that every Jericholic is better than Kanyon.  He asks a few people at ringside what their names are and says they are all better than Kanyon.  I know it’s Jericho’s character, but this is doing nothing at all for Kanyon. As you’d expect, Jericho dominates from the start, even hitting the three amigo’s on his larger foe.  Kanyon is allowed a couple of moves (Alabama Slam) though I am sure that the fact that JR & Cole talk about the upcoming spanking match and tonight’s main event over most of Kanyon’s offence is a mere coincidence.  Jericho builds up his routine but Kanyon blocks the Lionsault with knees.  Kanyon hits the Flatliner but can only get 2.  Jericho ducks an enziguri and locks on the Walls of Jericho for the win.  The match is not bad for a five minute TV Raw encounter.  I’m biased as someone who thought Kanyon was vastly underrated and criminally underused but this is not the way that a WCW gut that most WWE fans have no interest in gets over.  Remember that when we get to Summerslam.  It’s almost as if they are making stuff up as they go along in 2001 isn’t it? 

A limo pulls up to the arena, and it’s Vince!  Turning up late to a show one night removed from his WWE guys taking the big L at Invasion.  Luckily he’s shown up when there’s no match happening so he can make his way straight to the ring.   He congratulates the Alliance on their win but says that WWE will win in the end.  This really sells the point that the Alliance dealt the WWE a blow last night doesn’t it?  Well if Austin defecting means that the Alliance want a nuclear war then Vince can go one better.  He will reinstate The Rock.  Vince knows that The Rock won’t just come back so he has some motivation for him.  If Rock comes back the people will cheer him.  That should do it huh? The Alliance vs One Rock

After adverts, Kurt Angle walks into Vince’s office.  Vince asks Kurt if he’s been drinking.  All the banter.  Angle is in favor of bringing the Rock to fight The Alliance back but that Angle is the true leader of Team WWE.  Vince says actions speak louder than words.  Kurt pins Vince to the wall and says he will prove himself tonight. 

Billy Gunn and Big Show are at WWE New York.  I smile because it means that they won’t be wrestling tonight.  Show wants to order food and asks Billy if he wants some bitchcakes…sorry Crabcakes.  More lol’s.  Show says he has lost some weight and Billy says that if he looks behind him he will find it. Show orders a salad.  Considering this skit started with both men saying they wanted more respect from the WWE they went a funny way about trying to get it. 

Back in the arena, Torrie Wilson approaches Jeff Hardy, spanking paddle in hand.   Trish walks by and isn’t amused.  She slaps Torrie and the Jeff has to hold her back from attacking more. 

Trish Stratus Vs Torrie Wilson – Spanking Match

Torrie was never a “wrestler”.  Trish isn’t really one at this point.  So it’s not exactly a classic.  They pretend to wrestle for a bit, Trish gets the paddle. Torrie runs away from the paddle but is able to get it when she drop-kicks Trish.  A spank or two later, Torrie has won.

It’s been at least five minutes since we’ve seen Shane so we have to see him giving a pep-talk to Booker and The Dudley’s (which sounds like a great rock ‘n’ roll band) ahead of their main event match tonight. 

Kurt Angle, Edge & Christian Vs Booker T & The Dudley’s – Elimination Tables Match

For some reason you still have to tag in and out of this one.  They get fifteen minutes so there is at least an attempt to build to the table spots.  As should happen in a match like this the “good guys” lose the first, erm, fall when the Dudley’s eliminate Christian about five minutes in.  The bad guys really stack the odds when Booker T then eliminates Edge a few minutes later.  Can Kurt Angle defeat the odds?  You’d imagine so given this is Invasion.  He eliminates D-Von and then eliminates Booker. Say what?  The ref takes a bump, Nick Patrick runs out and moves a table just as Angle is about to hit the Angle Slam on Bubba.  Austin runs out and attacks Angle and a Stunner leaves our Olympic Hero down and out and Bubba powerbombs him through a table for the win.  Post match some WWE guys run in and chase Austin off.  To turn a fifteen match into one paragraph may seem stingy, but it’s about all it deserved. 

Like many shows around this time, this was fun.  Up to a point, anyway.  If you can ignore the Invasion storyline per se (as in all the problems and wrong turns) this isn’t a bad show at all.  But it lays bare that the previous night’s Invasion didn’t really change anything, other than Stone Cold now being the headline figure of the Alliance.  There was actually no jeopardy at all in the PPV.  Still, an enjoyable enough show.

Could The Rock really topple The Alliance? Do you fear The Alliance? – Let us know on Twitter

Matthew Roberts
Matthew Roberts
"Who's your daddy, Montreal?" - Shawn Michaels
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