November 18th 2001. Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s regarded as one of the biggest disappointments in WWE history and the “InVasion” angle was finally put to bed at Survivor Series 2001. Matthew Roberts once again hops into the TWM Time Machine to take a look a the event, twenty years on.
I was always one who insisted that the Invasion wasn’t as bad as some people would have had you believe. At the very least it led to some relatively entertaining PPV’s. Having sat through the entirety of the TV, twenty years on, though perhaps it was irredeemably awful. There were certainly great swathes of Raw and Smackdown that were an illogical, sometimes unwatchable. But at least Survivor Series promised to put the whole thing out of it’s misery.
Essentially Survivor Series was built around the “winner takes all” concept of the main event. Whichever side won would have control, presumably because they never really explained it, of the TV shows and all the wrestlers would keep their jobs. Everyone on the losing side would be fired, unless they held a title or won the Immunity Battle Royale on this show. If those seem like high stakes, they weren’t really and one of the biggest problems of the whole angle was the lack of jeopardy or anything really at stake. Still “the problems with the Invasion angle” is another story for another time…
Survivor Series 2001
WWE European Championship
Christian Vs Al Snow
The winner of this gets immunity from being fired no matter which side wins the main event by virtue of them being a champion. Sure they will be holding a title that is so important that when the Smackdown taping a few weeks ago where Christian won the belt from Bradshaw overran that was the match that was cut from the broadcast. But hey. It’s championship gold. Other than Tough Enough I’m not entirely sure that Al Snow has done anything of any note on the TV’s leading up to this event but it at least promises a decent opener. Which is exactly what we get. It’s a good back and forth affair that Christian wraps up with the Unprettier after around six and a half minutes .
Backstage Steve Austin and Debra arrive to find Shane & Stephanie (along with Booker T, Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam) in their locker room and they are very upset that Austin hasn’t returned their calls. So much is made of Austin being the “mole” in the Alliance who will defect to WWE in the main event that it’s perfectly clear it won’t be him.
Elsewhere Vince and Linda are also just showing up at the arena. Because on a night where their entire life’s work is on the line they don’t need to show up early to rally the troops or anything like that. Michael Cole quizzes Vince about this possibly being the last night of WWE ever then William Regal comes along and insists that Steve Austin is a fully paid up member of the Alliance and won’t be “defecting” tonight.
William Regal Vs Tajiri
The dastardly Regal of course had already defected to the Alliance for seemingly no other reason than to fill up some TV time. Because he beat up Torrie Wilson (who is as WCW as they come in some respects but is effectively on Team WWE now for some reason) on Smackdown Tajiri is up for revenge here. Not attempting to unify the Light Heavyweight title with his Cruiserweight title because no one in the office cares about either of those belts. Tajiri runs through his signature spots before Regal finishes things off with the Butterfly Bomb in less than three minutes.
Post-match, Torrie comes out to check on Tajiri so Regal returns and gives her a Tiger Driver. Poor girl…
Backstage Test is oiling up with Janet and chats up Stacy Keibler. Elsewhere Jonathan Coachman interviews Edge about how he could be out of a job come tomorrow. Edge is unconcerned and instead says that Test has been dumped by every “chick” on the planet.
Survivor Series 2001 | United States/Intercontinental Title Unification Match
Edge Vs Test
JR and Heyman do at least try to hype things up here and give it some seriousness. The fact that both titles have been shared around with half the roster (or so it seems) in the past six months makes any idea of “prestige” rather meaningless. This isn’t a bad match at all. Test dominates for the most part but can’t put Edge away. The US Champion rallies anyway and eventually picks up the win after countering the Full Nelson Slam with a roll-up.
Backstage Stephanie is whining to Kurt Angle that she’s put everything on the line in terms of money and power and it’s all come to this. And she’s worried that if she loses then she will have to become a “normal person”. Kurt assures her that she’ll never be normal. And he will see the Alliance home tonight.
Elsewhere Lita is with Jeff Hardy and she’s asking him why Matt has been acting weird lately. Lo and behold Matt comes out of the adjacent locker room and explains that the magnitude of the whole thing has stressed him out. Lita seems to believe him until Trish Stratus comes out of the same locker room. INTRIGUE!
WWE Vs. WCW Tag Team Championship Unification Match | Steel Cage Match
The Dudley Boys Vs The Hardy Boys
Heyman once again attempts to add some gravitas to this by reeling of a list of classic World Tag Team Champions. Which might work if this wasn’t the 983rd Dudleys/Hardy’s match I’ve seen in the past few months. Or that the titles which are being unified here had already recently been unified before being split again. Or, even allowing for the fact that Dudley’s have genuine ECW heritage, this is two WWE teams battling it out in reality. The rules are those odd, pinfall or BOTH members escape the cage ones but at least that plays into the finish here.
Matt Hardly climbs out and the fans who haven’t been paying attention to the rules think that that is it.
To be fair I’m not sure it was ever explained on TV. Go figure. Anyway, this leaves Jeff alone against both Dudley’s but Jeff is in control and after laying D-Von on a table he starts to climb up the cage. Matt shouts at him to come down the other side so they can win but Jeff wants to hit a Swanton instead. Which misses. And so Bubba gets the cover and the win. A neat finish but a match that we’ve seen done better a hundred times before (or so it seems).
We join Mick Foley at WWE New York who is again moaning about WWE storylines. But not about a retirement stipulation being overturned three weeks later so someone can get a Mania payday…
Back at the arena, Test attacks Scotty 2 Hotty and claims his spot in the Immunity Battle Royale. Which makes no sense really. Does he have to beat someone up to take a spot. Why not just enter the match anyway. Doesn’t seem like anyone would stop him. And to make things even more illogical, he walks out with the Alliance members for that match so why was he allowed to take a WWE spot? Anyway…
Survivor Series 2001 | Immunity Battle Royale
The winner of this keeps a job regardless of which side wins the main event AND cannot be fired for twelve months. The likes of Bradshaw, Hurricane Helms. Diamond Dallas Page, Hugh Morrus, (who only turn up mid-match), Tazz, Billy Gunn et al are on hand. It’s your usual Battle Royale stuff before we get to a final four of Gunn, Test, Bradshaw and Lance Storm. The latter two battle near the ropes so Test throws them both out. Gunn charges and ducks one big boot but cannot avoid a second and that’s your lot.
Backstage Shane McMahon, who an hour ago was convinced Austin was going to turn on the Alliance now tells Booker T that he’s sure Austin is 100% with them.
Trish Stratus Vs Jacqueline Vs Lita Vs Ivory Vs Mighty Molly Vs Jazz
Survivor Series 2001 | WWE Women’s Title
The title has been vacant since a certain someone left under a cloud. Jazz makes her debut here which begs the question of why Shane and Stephanie would be signing new talent to their organisation given how stressed they are about things potentially all going wrong for them. Paul Heyman has no idea that Jazz was the third Alliance member of this match. Although this is fought under “one-on-one, you must make tags” rules it’s also first pinfall wins. There’s a couple of highspots but not much else and it’s all wrapped up within five minutes when Trish hits the Stratusfaction on Ivory and picks up the win. The best I can say is that it was inoffensive and filled PPV time. And at least brought the Women’s Title back into circulation.
Backstage Vince rallies his team with his usual pep talk. Again there’s an attempt to build up the gravitas of the whole “winner takes all” concept but no-one is buying that at all are they?
Survivor Series 2001 | Team WWE Vs Team Alliance (AKA WCW & ECW)
So what could have been the “biggest angle of all time” (which it couldn’t have been if you look at the logistics, although there is no doubt that the WWE could have done a LOT more with it) sees the opposing team comprise of two WWE guys, one WCW guy, one ECW guy and the son of the WWE owner who has never worked for any other wrestling promotion than the WWE in his entire life. Amazing scenes, hey?
The match itself isn’t bad once we past the first half or so which sees the WWE team dominate the Alliance guys only for Shane to keep making the save when his guys are beaten up. Eventually Shane pins The Big Show after everyone else has hit their finishers on him only for all the WWE guys to hit their finishers on Shane.
We carry on from there and eventually see that it wasn’t Austin who was going to defect to the WWE at all but Kurt Angle. Wow, no-one saw that coming did they? In the end The Rock pins Austin after Angle reveals his true colours by smashing Austin.
The match itself goes around 45 minutes and once Shane has been got rid of is very good. But it was all largely meaningless if we’re honest. Farewell Alliance, we barely knew thee.
There’s been plenty of worse shows in wrestling history, that’s for sure, and you couldn’t say that Survivor Series 2001 didn’t have its moments. Indeed the main event, as a match, is very good. It’s just a shame then that the mis-steps with the Invasion/Alliance storyline really all come to bear here. Still it’s a mercy killing here and essentially 24 hours later the WWE reset and everything was pretty much as it was in March. But it’s a decent show that ends things on a relatively high note… to finally put me out of my misery!