WWE: Retro Review | Smackdown July 19th 2001 | The Old Stone Cold?

The go-home show for Invasion.  And ratings are down from last week.  Albeit by 0.1.  But still… After a recap of Raw and other Invasion shenanigans, we start properly with Shane and his WCW crew making their way to the ring.  But we’re not stopping there. Here comes Stephanie and her ECW roster.  Paul Heyman is there too.  Which you become thankful for in a few minutes after Shane has waffled on about his “investment” in WCW and Stephanie asks if we think Freddie Blassie or Stone Cold Steve Austin could make a difference against them.  Actually, Steph, with the booking as it has been no one is under any illusions as to what chance the Alliance has.

Thankfully Paul takes the mic and shows the McMahon siblings how to cut a promo.  It’s nonsense in some ways (Heyman says Vince was the reason his father died – which cause JR to go off on one, talking over what comes next, calling Heyman a liar) but it’s powerful nonsense which has some meaning even when Heyman tries to suggest that this invasion is all about wanting to bring back “wrestling” over “sports entertainment”.  We sure Shane and Steph agree with that?

Vince has been watching this backstage in his office and Chris Jericho pops in for a word. He asks Vince if he heard what he called Stephanie on Raw and in case we didn’t he repeats it  Vince is upset…but only because he thinks Jericho didn’t go far enough in his comments. A neat segment for 2001. Wouldn’t work in 2021

Diamond Dallas Page Vs Chris Jericho

With Nick Patrick as a referee, there is at least the mystery of wondering whether he will be biased towards his WCW   guys this week or forget to be and randomly call a match down the middle. Newsflash, he doesn’t  So what is a reasonable enough TV match soon becomes a case of Patrick being “unable” to count pinfalls when Jericho tries them but speeding up when DDP has his go  Jericho gets frustrated and smacks Patrick who has no hesitation but to call for the DQ  Post-match Jericho puts the Walls of Jericho on Patrick and then when DDP attempts to stop it he slaps one on him too. Patrick comes back with a chair, Jericho chases him off and then hits DDP with the chair

We are in Commissioner Regal’s office next and he has a visitor in the form of Paul Heyman  Heyman tries to recruit Regal saying that ECW stands for “Extremely Classy Wrestling” but Regal is having none of it  Regal angrily telling people to “bugger off” is always funny.

Lance Storm Vs Christian

The two will be on opposite sides of the tag team match on Sunday so after Mike Awesome Vs Edge on Raw we get this tonight  As Mike got the win on Monday we all know who is going over here  It’s a good enough five-minute sprint (which as we have found is about as good as we can expect in 2001) and this week it is Earl Hebner who stops the dastardly WCW   guys using a chair (after a WCW   referee stopped Christian on Raw) and after an Edge spear Christian picks up the win.

In a nothing segment, Sgt Slaughter has some news for Vince McMahon… Stone Cold Steve Austin is in the building!

In the WCW locker room, which isn’t very busy, Stacy Kibler and Torrie Wilson discuss their upcoming arm wrestling match with Lita and Trish Stratus later tonight  Nick Patrick comes in and tells them he will be the referee  So the WCW girls are even more confident now. Elsewhere, Tajiri is very excited that he will be teaming with Undertaker and Kane tonight and they come in to join the fun. Tajiri has a little fun (almost cracking Taker, but not quite) and that’s about that

Austin arrives in Vince’s office and Vince is ecstatic  But when Vinnie goes in for a hug, Stone Cold stops him  He says he wants some water and beer and Vince heads out to, presumably, get some

The Dudley’s & Tazz Vs The Undertaker, Kane & Tajiri

Not even the presence of Tajiri in this one leads to ANY doubt about the outcome  It’s a serviceable brawl that ends when Taker breaks up the Tazmission on Tajiri and choke-slams Tazz for the pin

Backstage Trish and Lita are getting ready for their arm wrestling match  Earl Hebner pops in to say that as Nick Patrick is no-good cheating so and so, HE will be the official for the arm wrestling match later  Oh, the tension

Sean O’Haire Vs Bradshaw

Another “tag team match on Sunday and the two other people on the teams fought on Raw so let’s switch it for Smackdown” match  As lo and behold, Farooq was beaten by Palumbo on Raw so Bradshaw evens things up here with a possibly unnecessarily stiff Clothesline from Hell  What a surprise, huh?

Trish Stratus Vs Torrie Wilson – Arm Wrestling Match

If you have ever seen professional wrestling at least once in your life you know what happens here without me even typing it  Trish is about to win when Nick Patrick blindsides Earl Hebner, which somehow allows Stacy to help Torrie to get the “win”  The WWE girls then make sure they get their heat back by attacking their upcoming opponents AND Patrick

It’s then Vince time again and he’s on the phone  He hangs up and tells the Austin’s that it’s good news  His divorce proceedings are officially on hold  They are clearly just making up the booking as they go along at five minutes notice now aren’t they?  Vince has a great way to celebrate in mind and says he will be back shortly

Rob Van Dam & Billy Kidman Vs Jeff Hardy & X-Pac

Even with “all that is at stake” at Invasion, WWE fans still detest X-Pac  They LOVE Rob Van Dam though and pop for everything he does  So allowing for all that it’s no surprise that X-Pac pins RVD to wrap things up  No, don’t worry. Only joking. Jeff misses a Swanton which opens him up for the Frog Splash from RVD. X-Pac breaks up the pinfall attempt but Kidman hits a Kid Crusher on Pac for the win. A very good five-minute match

Back with Vince and he has brought Austin a guitar. Vince is singing a “welcome back, Austin” song but Stone Cold thinks the guitar is a little out of tune  He takes it and then smashes it over Vince’s head  We swiftly move to Shane and Stephanie giving their Invasion main eventers a pep-talk  They need to make a statement tonight ahead of making a statement on Sunday  The (not yet called) Alliance doesn’t play fair and this Sunday Heyman promises the WWE will be taken to the extreme  We then switch back to Vince who is being tended to when Kurt Angle runs in  He asks Vince if he’s ok to which he replies that he’s never felt better.

Booker T & Rhyno Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin & Kurt Angle

Does it even count as a match if it goes one minute, with Austin battering both WCW guys before it goes to a no-contest when footage of DDP having locked Debra in the boot of his rental car comes up on the Tron. Taker tries to attack Page backstage as Austin scoots out of his match to make his way there  There’s a huge brawl between loads of people which gives DDP the time to get in his car, with Debra still in the boot, and speed off  Austin commandeers another car to make chase  Back in the ring Angle gets Booker in the ankle lock but the Dudley’s make the save and put Angle through a table,  The show fades as Shane and Steph celebrate with their boys…

There’s a certain novelty value in seeing the multitude of WWE Vs WCW  /ECW matches on display here  Some of them are even good by the general quality of WWE TV in 2001  And as I’ve said before, there comes a time when really you just have to ignore the very obvious problems with the invasion storyline as a whole and just try and enjoy these shows on their own merits  So yes, the problems with it all still exist but this is nevertheless a fun-packed show which if not exactly making Invasion any more “must-see” does sort of get the juices flowing in anticipation of that event  So that’s something at least.

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