Tacoma Dome – Tacoma, WA – TV Rating – 3.8
I’ve by no means an encyclopaedic memory of all the WWE I’ve watched over the years and the summer of 2001 was a time where I didn’t have easy access to Sky TV and so wasn’t watching all of the shows. But this Smackdown with two wCw title matches seems to have completely passed me by in the past 20 years. Maybe it’s because it was sandwiched between two Raw’s which “changed the course of the business” (or not).
Of course, we have to start with a video package of the whole Vince/Torrie/Linda farrago from Raw. Because THAT’S what will sell tickets to the Invasion isn’t it?
Michael Cole and Tazz welcome us to the show (the latter as much as no selling that moody sat in WWE New York thing from Raw) and tells us that Chris Jericho and Spike Dudley will be challenging for the Tag Team Titles tonight and there will be a wCw World Title match between DDP and Booker T. As noted above, in twenty years this has completely passed me by.
The Dudley’s Vs Chris Jericho & Spike Dudley – WWE World Tag Team Titles
Spike helped Jericho defeat his brothers in a non-title handicap match on Raw, so this is a logical progression. Of course, Jericho was in control of most of that match and didn’t really need Spike’s help so he should be a shoo-in to grab some gold tonight shouldn’t he? Or maybe not. It’s actually an alright match. Nothing spectacular but entertaining enough and feels like an epic given that it’s a tv match that lasts nearly seven minutes! As you might expect, Spike gets pinned, the champs retain. Filler, but entertaining filler.
Vince is backstage when Steve Austin and Debra join him. Vince is apparently depressed but Debra says he got what he deserved on Raw. Steve has a present for Vince….a Cowboy hat. Furthermore, Austin has got himself a matching one. For some reason, this cheers Vince up. Kurt Angle comes in and is upset that there’s no gift for him. But Austin hasn’t left him out at all. No, he presents him with a children’s cowboy hat. Which Angle wears and seems to enjoy wearing. Daft stuff, but very funny.
As the commentators talk about growing tensions between the WWE and wCw we see a clip of Earl Hebner and Nick Patrick arguing in the locker room earlier in the day. Although we don’t know it at the time, this is beginning the set-up for the two to have a match at Invasion. Because THAT’S the dream match we’ve all been waiting for isn’t it?
Crash Holly Vs Jacqueline
These two have had an on and off alliance on TV, usually seen them lose then argue. They had a falling out on Raw so Crash wants revenge here. Again this is far from a classic but it’s well put together for what it is and the fans are quite into it, especially when Jackie wins after a Frankensteiner.
Backstage Trish Stratus visits Jeff Hardy to thank him for saving her on Raw. Thanks which Jeff accepts whilst saying that he didn’t really do it for her. Matt Hardy and Lita come in and Lita isn’t happy that Trish is there but Trish backs off and says she was only in here to thank Jeff.
After a re-cap of the Booker T/Biff Bagwell debacle from Raw, we see earlier footage of Booker T arriving at the arena. The mid-card goons are waiting for him. Hardcore Holly taunts him about Monday before the Acolytes also tease him about what happened. Booker admits he got his ass kicked and that he may get it kicked again but he is the wCw Champion and he will defend that title tonight. Bradshaw seems almost impressed by Booker standing up to him.
Vince is backstage and is asking Steve and Kurt what Booker T is doing here. You know, he’s in that match for the wCw Title that’s been talked about all night? Anyway, Angle lets someone in who turns out to be someone serving Vince with a court summons for a divorce hearing on July 23rd…the night after Invasion. Coincidence? We’ll see. (The belief is that this was the start of the set-up that would have seen WWE and wCw become two separate entities again, with one taking over Raw and one taking over Smackdown after Vince and Linda’s divorce saw a 50-50 split of their assets. It’s interesting to note that even though the belief is that Raw’s main event killed that idea off for good, it’s still being pushed here).
(Shane) Gregory Helms Vs Billy Kidman – wCw Cruiserweight Title
wCw is so important that there’s been no hype for this title match and given Tacoma’s reaction on Monday you fear the worst. Shane Helms has to be Gregory Helms by the way because we can’t have two Shane’s can we? The fans don’t completely turn on this one (though with it being taped, some of the crowd “reactions” we can hear are clearly not real) and whilst it would be a stretch to say they get into it, the action is decent enough that they tolerate it and even seem to appreciate parts of it. Kidman pulls off the win which presumably should fill him with cheer that there are plans for him.
Vince is again backstage and is accusing Linda and Torrie of trying to ruin his reputation. Well, they can only do that if he lets them and so he plans to go to the ring and tell the public his side of the story. Because of course, what is a WWE TV show without an in-ring Vince promo these days?
Before he makes his way out we get another Edge and Christian chat where Christian hugs the KotR trophy.
Vince is now out and waffles on about his reputation and that he was never going to go “that far” with Torrie but was testing her loyalty. Angle and Austin are watching on from backstage. Vince tells the world he is sorry if he has caused anyone any pain, goes to his knees and starts to cry. This brings out William Regal (and Tajiri) for a pep talk and it has the desired effect. Vince decides nothing is his fault and even hugs Regal (much to Austin and Angle’s disgust). It’s not Vince’s fault women find him irresistible and he’s proud to be Vince McMahon. What a waste of ten minutes that was.
The Hardy’s Vs “The One” Billy Gunn & The Big Show
Show was embarrassed on Raw by the Hardy’s so scours the roster for a partner and picks Billy Gunn. This is a very basic (i.e. boring) match that is made even worse when Gunn and Show win. There are no redeeming features about this one at all so we’ll just leave it there.
Vince, again, is backstage but is now happy. He’s going to take the rest of the night off and even takes Tajiri with him in search of the nearest strip club. Regal is here and Austin and Angle are upset that he hugged Vince and tell him never to do it again. There’s plenty of GOOD comedy in the skits between Angle/Austin/Vince but the alliance (of sorts) has barely started and it’s already being over-exposed.
Albert Vs Edge – Intercontinental Title
More horrid wrestling. The only redeeming feature of this match is the pre-match promo where Edge says this is a mixed blessing for him as whilst he gets a shot at the IC title no one will be watching it because as soon as they hear Albert’s music they’ll switch channels. And yes, even worse, Albert wins without too much fuss. What a start to Edge’s KotR reign huh?
Backstage the Acolytes and the WWE mid-card crew attempt to apologise to Test for beating him up on Raw. Test has no interest in listening. Because we haven’t seen enough of them tonight, Austin and Angle want to address the crew. They all have to stick together to defeat wCw and they are all buying Austin’s rhetoric until Angle chips in saying that he and Austin could do it themselves if they wanted. Thus Bradshaw’s idea of them all sticking together is going to get a beer.
Scotty 2 Hotty Vs Dean Malenko
No one realised it at the time but this was quite a historic match. I believe it’s Dean Malenko’s last ever match on WWE TV and indeed he would only ever step into the squared circle on a few more occasions before retirement. I always dug the “James Bond rip-off” theme he uses here and if it’s not exactly a great ending to an on-screen wrestling career it’s a solid enough match even if we have to put up with more antics from Perry Saturn at ringside. Scotty wins with the Worm.
DDP is warming up backstage when a wCw referee wishes him well for tonight’s match. DDP is confident he’ll win, knows that Kane is watching Sara and dares Taker to show up so he can Diamond Cutter him. After highlights of the new Tough Enough series Austin, Debra and Angle are backstage talking trash about Booker T. There’s no need for it. You can only assume that it’s there to tease that they will get involved in his match because the WWE feat the audience will turn off if confronted with a straight wCw match.
Booker T Vs Diamond Dallas Page – wCw World Title
Booker is billed as World and US Champ on his graphics but the US title is nowhere to be seen. This is far better than the abomination on Raw but there’s no getting around the fact that the majority of the crowd have ZERO interest in seeing two wCw guys go at it in a WWE ring, especially when it’s two guys with no previous WWE history. (Page driving a Cadillac to ringside at WM 6 doesn’t count!).
The two have a solid enough match which is nevertheless several notches down from what they could do at their best and even though generally it’s a normal singles match there still has to be minor shenanigans. Taker walks to ringside and this distracts DDP enough for Booker to roll him up for the win.
Post-match Taker storms the ring but DDP runs away. Taker gives chase whilst Kurt Angle comes out and attacks Booker T. Because Angle isn’t a true WWE main eventer a la Austin or Taker, Booker is actually allowed to leave him laying after a belt shot. We then follow the action backstage as Taker is looking for DDP. He finds him but it’s all a trap as he finds himself surrounded by wCw guys. One of them is Buff Bagwell so he survived at least one more night after Raw. We also see the likes of Lance Storm, Shawn Stasiak, Mike Awesome and Chris Kanyon. To my surprise, even Taker can’t fight them all off. Maybe he needed Sara by his side. They leave Taker laying after Awesome spears him into a garage door and we finally start to believe that this storyline is being done properly.
Sadly we don’t end there. Shane comes out and orders DDP and the wCw guys to back off. Ok. DDP then knocks Shane out (I popped) and for some reason when Booker T comes out to calm things down the wCw guys attack him too. Because obviously when invading hostile territory you’d do that.
There’s some awful stuff on here. Yes, I’m looking at whoever decided to put Albert, The Big Show and Billy Gunn over in matches against young WWE talent here. But there are times on the show when they look like almost getting it right. There’s still no getting away from the fact that WWE fans did not want to see “wCw” matches on their show but there are some effective segments where wCw appear to be on the rise. Which are then shot down because this HAS to all be about Vince and Shane.
That said, I enjoyed this show. Maybe it was because I’d no memory of seeing it previously. Maybe it was because the previous Raw was so “bad”. Either way, relatively entertaining overall.