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WWE: Retro Review | Smackdown July 12th 2001 | LONG LIVE THE ALLIANCE

BJCC Arena – Birmingham, AL | TV Rating –  4.0

We start with a video recap of the event of Raw.  The events on Raw could have been spread out over weeks, if not months.  But there’s no sense in going over that ground again.  Although I’m sure I will have to… Welcome, to the Alliance.

We then get footage of earlier in the day when Vince McMahon and The Undertaker had a meeting.  Vince tells Undertaker he’s got what he wanted (he and Kurt Angle will be taking on DDP & Shane McMahon tonight) so now Vince wants his part of the deal and Taker to be on Team WWE at Invasion.  Vince asks how Sara is but Taker doesn’t even want him to mention her name ever again.   Taker says a deal is a deal but that if Vince screws with him he’s going to have a lot more problems than dealing with WCW and ECW – The Alliance.

As we note that Jim Ross has replaced Tazz at ringside for commentary with Michael Cole, Shane O’Mac’s music hits up and he’s out there with his WCW crew.  He and DDP will show their dominance tonight and then he waffles on about shocking the world on Raw.  But he can’t take sole credit for that, so he brings out Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman and the new ECW contingent.   Heyman cuts a typically strong promo even if the content (Vince stole all his ideas, concepts and talent) is a bit old hat twenty years on when we’ve heard it a thousand times.  He ties up some loose ends by saying that it was him all along that was the “mole” within WWE and says that his info helped Shane gazump, Vince, to buy WCW and that he was able to lure Stephanie to the cause by offering her the chance to run her own company and make her own decisions.  Unfortunately, this means that Stephanie now gets on the mic.  “Paul, from now on you can just call me BOSS”.  Great.  She and Shane now have the power to put Vince out of business and that is their intention. 

So a once in a lifetime WWE Vs WCW Vs ECW feud (Soon to be called the Alliance) is now largely about Vince Vs his kids.  Brilliant.  You could also point out that they make no mention of how they are going to go about destroying WWE and there’s still nothing that’s really on the line at Invasion. 

William Regal is backstage and isn’t happy at what he’s just seen.  I doubt many of us were really.  He points out that without Vince there would be no WCW or ECW (Or even an Alliance)  He praises Tajiri for remaining with WWE and asks if there’s anything he wants.  He speaks in Japanese and Regal agrees to the request…to do some commentary.

Vince is elsewhere backstage and looks rather subdued.  The Austins pay him a visit but not even a hug can cheer him up.  Vince is upset his whole family has turned against him (what’s new?) but Stone Cold assures him he sill has him and he has something that will solve all his problems.  Austin heads out whilst Vince tells Debra how much he’s looking forward to this. 

After the break, Tajiri is joining us for commentary as JR wonders if he can even speak English.  “Biz-neese is about to peek up” is his response. Well, it made me laugh. 

Tazz Vs Hardcore Holly

The re-set on Raw has meant that loads of stuff is left hanging.  Tazz now seemingly doesn’t want a piece of Steve Austin for battering Micahel Cole but has now instead stopped returning Cole’s phone calls and Cole’s kids are upset about that.  The match itself is two and a half minutes of two “tough guys” slapping, punching, kicking and suplexing each other.  Tazz wins with the Tazzmission.  Post-match, he attacks Tajiri and renders him unconscious with the Tazzmission too.  Cole asks what’s got into Tazz but he walks off without giving an answer.

Vince is now wondering what Austin is going to do about the Invasion.  Debra doesn’t know but Austin is back…with a guitar.  Vince is incredulous and asks if Austin is going to smash someone over the head with it but Austin says violence is not the answer.  He then starts “singing” Kumbaya my lord.  Vince doesn’t know what to do or think about any of this. 

Lance Storm Vs Chris Jericho

Lance tells the WWE fans that they may be used to their cartoon characters but he’s not like that.  Before he can say much more, Chris Jericho’s music kicks in.  Jericho agrees that Storm isn’t a cartoon character, but he is a movie character.  Forest Gump.  Inspired… Jericho then says he’s going to get even for Monday and rushes the ring and we’re on.  Of course, this battle of the Thrillseekers could be very good indeed.  But we’re on WWE TV in 2001 so they get less than three minutes. They pack all they possibly can into that before Jericho locks on the Walls of Jericho and Storm taps out.  A tap out that WCW referee Nick Patrick acknowledges and calls for. Maybe he just doesn’t like Storm.  Maybe Shane has told him he has to be fair when he referees now.  Maybe we are just supposed to ignore it.

Austin is singing Camptown Ladies to Vince when Kurt Angle walks in.  Austin isn’t happy and says Angle is jealous of his relationship with Vince and the fact that he can sing.  Kurt retorts he was in Glee Club and can play the ukulele.  Angle grabs the guitar and plays “Jimmy Crack Corn”.  This is too much for Vince who storms off. 

Trish Stratus is apologising backstage to Jeff Hardy for kissing him on Raw but Jeff doesn’t seem to mind.  Matt Hardy and Lita appear and Lita wants to settle her issues with Trish tonight before they head to Invasion to team together.  Trish has no problems with that. 

Mike Awesome is meeting with the seamstress backstage.  He wants new ring gear, specifically pants.  With Awesome down the side of both legs so people can see how Awesome he is from every angle.  Edge & Christian have been watching this on a backstage monitor and say they are the only awesome ones in WWE. 

Vince has gathered Team WWE (Austin. Angle, Taker, Kane & Jericho) in his office for a pep talk.  They all have to stick together and he wants all five to pledge commitment to the cause.  They do. 

After a break, Vince is on his way to the ring.  Perhaps he’s upset he wasn’t the McMahon opening the show with an interminable promo.  He brings out Stone Cold as the leader of Team WWE.  He tells Austin though that he wants the “old” Stone Cold, not this new version that hugs and sings songs.  The fans want that too but Austin just shakes his head and walks away.  Vince even begs Austin to come back and give him a stunner but no dice. 

After seeing Stone Cold and Debra leaving the arena we see Vince heading to his limo.  Kurt Angle pops up and asks why Vince isn’t staying to watch his match.  Vince has to go off and find Austin and to talk some sense into him. 

Kane Vs Rhyno

Finally a wrestling match again. The Big Red Machine dominates the early going but when he goes to the top rope Rhyno is able to crotch him and get a little bit of control himself.  By throwing Kane into the barriers at ringside he can even start to get a little momentum himself but it’s not too long before Kane fights back.  Kane goes for an Avalanche but Rhyno dodges and the referee takes a hit. This enables Nick Patrick to run to the ring and make a quick three count when Rhyno rolls up Kane and grabs the tights for leverage.  So that’s Nick Patrick who earlier didn’t seem to want to help out Lance Storm.  Still, not a bad match for the three and a half minutes we got.

William Regal is consoling Tajiri and offers him a match at Invasion with Tazz to attempt to get revenge for what happened earlier in the night.  Earl Hebner comes in and Regal isn’t happy with his efforts.  Or more specifically his lack of effort in repelling the wCw referees.  He fires up Earl to the extent that he is going to go straight over to Nick Patrick and challenge him to a match. 

Lita Vs Trish Stratus

I suppose it’s commendable that the WWE would try and wrap up this storyline at least a little bit.  Even if the “it’s business at Invasion” from Lita would suggest the two could agree to disagree and resume hostilities after that event.  This isn’t a great match but Trish is slowly showing signs of improvement and both women are over so it seems a lot hotter of a match than it really is.  Lita wins after a Twist of Fate and a Moonsault.  As she celebrates she sees live footage on the Tron of Torrie Wilson and Stacy Kiebler introducing themselves to Matt and Jeff Hardy.  Torrie kisses Jeff, Stacy kisses Matt, Lita is not very happy at all.  And neither is Trish.  This is, it seems, what will bring them together as a team. 

Shane, Steph and DDP watch footage of Raw and what happened with The Undertaker there.  Shane thinks they need to be careful because DDP is in Taker’s head.  DDP doesn’t point out that of course, he is because that’s been the point of the whole stalker thing all along, just settling for saying that’s what he wants. 

We then see Earl Hebner, backed up by some WWE referee buddies, march into the locker room and challenge Nick Patrick.  Patrick accepts and now that is confirmed for Invasion. You can say a lot about the problems and issues with Invasion but booking these two in a match…well, let’s just say I doubt it was on anyone’s list of dream matches when they were fantasy booking Invasion.  Or fantasy booking anything. 

Mike Awesome Vs Jeff Hardy – Hardcore Title

I think we’re supposed to have forgotten that Rhyno had earned the right to a Hardcore Title match at Invasion.  Or that Awesome went to such lengths to steal the title from a fellow ECW guy if this Shane/Stephanie plot was bubbling along all the time anyway.  Let’s be kind and say that it was only spoken of on a “needs to know” basis and Awesome didn’t need to know.  Timeline wise I’m not sure yet if Undertaker has decided that Awesome doesn’t know how to work and again we’ll be kind and say that his loss here (and it was a loss) was tying up loose ends from panicked booking rather than punishing him.  It’s your usual Hardcore TV match until Edge & Christian run out and attack Awesome with a Conchairto allowing Jeff to hit the Swanton Bomb for the win. That means that this year alone Jeff has been Hardcore Champion, Tag Team Champion, Intercontinental Champion and Light Heavyweight Champion.  Go, Jeff!

The Undertaker is backstage and is telling Kurt Angle, Kane and Chris Jericho about how he’s going to beat up DDP tonight. Of course, you are mate, you always do.  Angle thinks he should be the leader of Team WWE tonight with Vince and Austin gone but Taker’s look suggests that isn’t happening. 

The Undertaker & Kurt Angle Vs Diamond Dallas Page & Shane McMahon

The WWE guys are out first.  DDP and Shane stall on the ramp to talk tactics but then rush the ring.  Only for DDP to stop short and leave Shane in there alone.  That makes no sense, but there you go.  Shane goes it alone anyway because he’s super tough but he gets pummelled.  DDP nips in and out with some interference but when Taker challenges him he runs away into the crowd because having DDP stand up for himself will do nothing for the Invasion buy-rate will it? We end up with Taker giving Shane the Last Ride as Angle puts DDP in the Ankle-Lock.  Taker isn’t letting it finish that way so he pushes Angle away and attacks Page.  Then a bunch of WCW/ECW/ Alliance guys run in for the no-contest. 

Of course, Angle and Taker are able to fight them off with ease and clear the ring so another batch of jobbers, sorry SUPERSTARS, are sent out to attack.  Eventually, even the 456-on-2 advantage can’t be overcome but here come Chris Jericho and Kane to even things up.  The low-card Acolytes-led crew are nowhere to be seen.  The four WWE guys are on top so even more of Shane and Stephanie’s crew run-in.  The now 942-on-4 advantage means Taker is subdued enough for DDP to hit the Diamond Cutter on him and we end the show with the McMahon kids posing and celebrating. 

If you disassociate yourself from the idea that “logic” matters within the context of a wrestling show you can certainly make the point that this is an enjoyable show.  Yes, once again, we’re seeing weeks/months worth of angles being rushed through but you have to accept that at this point.  WCW and ECW aligning themselves together to make the Alliance, certainly made the invaders more of a threat and for once they are allowed to look a threat for the most part throughout this episode.  All the matches are at least passable and this results in an hour and a half (sans advert breaks) that flies by even if ultimately at times it doesn’t withstand looking at what happens too closely or critically. 

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