Upon further review, the Invasion never had a chance.
I know what you, reader of this page on this website, are thinking. Surely it did have a chance, Eddie Mac. If only WWF brought in this guy or that guy or made these guys look credible… hell, I even wrote about why the Invasion failed once.
I get all that. But no. It never did. To understand this fact, you must first understand that it was Vince McMahon writing the story. After nearly being driven out of business by WCW, he was going to take every opportunity to stick it to WCW and its fans, and ultimately, even WWF fans suffered for it.
“Booking for one” is a term often thrown around wrestling Interneters, but never has it felt more so than during the summer and fall of 2001. He was the surviving general in wrestling’s biggest ever war, and he was going to gloat about it for as long as necessary, lost money be damned. He chose being right over being rich.
So allow me to say it again: the Invasion never had a chance. The biggest story in wrestling history was in essence one man’s victory lap.
Never was that more apparent than on the July 2, 2001 episode of RAW is WAR, which is best remembered for what was called on its 12th anniversary the most awkward match in WWE history.
That’s the focus of this edition of the Cageside Seats Live Retro Blog. Showtime is 8pm ET Saturday. That’s 7pm CT, 6pm MT, 5pm PT, 3pm in Hawaii, and 1am in Brittania. World Time Buddy for everything else.
As always, we’ll be watching the WWE Network version of the show. You can subscribe here if you don’t have it (free month if you’re new), or if you’re not about giving out your credit card number, you can pick up a sub at any 7-Eleven, Gamestop, Walmart, or wherever subscription cards are sold.
Hi! I’m Eddie Mac. So... it was quite the interesting week in the WWF before this episode. Here’s a quick recap:
- Booker T debuts and injures Stone Cold Steve Austin.
- Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon damn near kill each other on PPV.
- Mike Awesome, a WCW guy, wins the WWF Hardcore Championship in WWF’s home away from home, Madison Square Garden.
- Booker T scissor kicks Vince McMahon in Madison Square Garden.
- The remains of the Natural Born Thrillers, Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire, invade the Garden, only to come face-to-face with some serious vengeance.
Yeah. The assimilation of WCW has gone from minor inconvenience to major headache in three months. And WWF might have a crisis on their hands if they can’t get it under control.
Previously on RAW is WAR, WCW ran up on Madison Square Garden. Are you afraid of competition? Also, the July PPV is now called Invasion. And it's WWF versus WCW. Are you afraid, Vince?
THORN IN YOUR EYE! PYRO AND BALLYHOO!
RAW is WAR Episode #423. July 2, 2001 from the sold-out Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman at ringside.
NO CHANCE! Vince talks Invasion on July 22, and compares WWF to WCW like WWF is Washington, DC (where the power lies and stuff), and WCW is the state of Washington (where you have... lousy weather and apples). There won't be an Invasion on July 22. There will be an annihilation on July 22. The comparisons continue to the two companies' champions. Booker T, WCW Champion: sneak and cheat. Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWF Champion: champion of champions and man among men.
Enter Kurt Angle. He says Booker doesn't have the three Is, yet immediately contradicts himself by showing Booker outsmarting Austin three times last week, making him look a jackass.
BROKEN GLASS! DISTURBED!
Enter WWF Champion/jackass Stone Cold Steve Austin, who calls Kurt a jackass. Austin's not buying Kurt protecting Vince McMahon from Booker T or anyone. Hero! Jackass! Hero! Jackass! Vince tells the two to fight it out, but instead Angle hugs it out with Vince. Then Austin hugs it out with Vince. This is weird.
HERE COMES THE MONEY! Shane McMahon has a modest proposal. An "Inaguaral Brawl", as in a tag team match. Oh, and he makes the main event for tonight's show for... reasons. Booker T versus Buff Bagwell for WCW world title. No shenanigans from Stone Cold, after all, we wouldn't wanna upset mom, wouldn't we Vince? Tonight, R-A-W becomes WCW.
Backstage, the APA watch the end of last week's Smackdown. They break down the events of last week and they hit upon something: there's a mole in the yard and he or she's gotta be weeded out.
Highlights of Albert defeating Kane with unexpected (or unwanted) help from Diamond Dallas Page for the WWF Intercontinental title brings us to the following contest.
Match 1: The Undertaker defeated Albert via disqualification in a WWF Intercontinental Championship match at 2:46. Diamond Dallas Page hits Taker with a chair as he had Albert up for the Last Ride, drawing the DQ. Post-match, Page delivers the Diamond Cutter and locks eyes on Sara. Sara pushes DDP from behind. Big mistake. But Sara wants to square up with the future yoga instructor.
O hai Kane. Brace yourself, fool. Sara restrains Kane and punts DDP between the uprights. Kane delivers DDP to Taker. He gets a few shots in before Albert gets the jump on Kane. And DDP bails as Albert gets double teamed by the Brothers of Destruction.
Backstage, Torrie Wilson, looking lovely in blue, meets Howard Finkel. They shake hands for (and I'm not joking) 25 seconds. Anyway, Torrie's looking for Vince. She's looking for a job. Obviously.
Match 2: Molly Holly defeated Crash in an intergender match at 2:04. Crash nearly necked himself on the bottom rope about halfway through. Post-match, Jackie with a step-up tornado DDT to Crash.
Backstage, Debra looks on as Vince tries to get Angle and Austin to coexist, but Austin's having none of it. A wild Torrie Wilson appears. Vince's is quick to intoduce himself, but Kurt Angle, Olympic Gold medalist, shakes her hand first, then Austin, then Debra, then Vince. Torrie wants to talk business with Vince. You know, contract and shit. Austin suggests Debra and Kurt leave, but instead, it's Vince and Torrie that leaves. Austin hugged Vince on the way out. And Kurt and Stone Cold are fighting again. Or... something.
A beautiful day in Tacoma as we get an outside shot of the TacomaDome.
A recap of Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire invading the Garden, but the WWF invading back. Video's above.
Meanwhile, Christian looks at Edge's King of the Ring trophy, saying that if the bracket was different, he would have won the whole thing. But it's cool though, because Christian has a shot at the light heavyweight title tonight. Edge promises to be in his corner, and Christian takes off with Edge's trophy... to get it polished up or... something.
Meanwhile, WWF Commissioner William Regal tells Tajiri to watch out for the Worm against Scotty 2 Hotty. Enter the Dudley Boyz. They wanna know why they, the WWF Tag Team Champions, have to face Chris Jericho. Regal says he heard a rumor that Jericho would defect to WCW with the WWF title had he won it and this is his punishment. So... you know, put him through a table, k? Thanks, bye.
Backstage, the Acolytes are MOLE HUNTING. They find Hardcore Holly, who says he ain't the mole, but he thinks whoever keeps letting the WCW guys in probably wasn't in on the beatdown.
MEANWHILE, Torrie Wilson and Vince McMahon talk contracts in a shower. Because obviously. Torrie asks if the two could get together this weekend and says she'll do anything to get to the top of the WWF. The two are about to do things when A WILD STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN APPEARS. Austin speaks for all of us when he asks why are they talking contracts in a shower. Vince replies, sometimes there's no other place to business besides the shower. I... I guess. Anyway, Vince suggests a more private place.
Match 3: Tajiri defeated Scotty 2 Hotty in 2:50. It was a match that happened. Points for Tajiri's Worm-blocking by using the mist.
Backstage, Vince and Torrie meet in a mop closet. Enter Kurt Angle who speaks for all of us and asks why they're in a mop closet. Kurt's all LOOK AT MY MEDALS LOOK AT THEM LOOK AT THEM. Torrie leaves while Vince gives Kurt a dirty look.
After the break, Booker T gets himself a Pepsi when Test walks by. Booker asks if Test ever considered going to WCW. Test says if the competition and money are right, he'll consider. Maybe it'll be Test challenging Booker for the title one day. Good luck, champ.
Match 4: Chris Jericho defeated The Dudley Boyz in a handicap match at 4:55. Spike gives the Acid Drop to Bubba and lands on D-Von. A Jericho Lionsault makes it academic.
Backstage, Torrie and Vince make out in the bathroom and then Perry Saturn appears. You're welcome.
We get a look at Chris Benoit's doctor visit prior to neck surgery.
Match 5: X-Pac defeated Christian in 3:34 to retain the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. Christian had a visual pin, but the ref was distracted. That distraction allows X-Pac to title shot the future Captain Charisma.
Backstage, The Acolytes think they have their mole in Test. He wasn't there when Chuck and Sean were catching that beating down, and he wasn't there when they were chasing Booker T out of the Garden. They run into referee Jack Doan and asks where's Test. Jack says he's getting ready for his match with Rhyno. EMERGENCY MOLE MEETING RIGHT NOW.
After the break, we see Tazz at WWF New York. He’s in a bad mood after what after to him and Michael Cole on Smackdown. He does sign an autograph though. Seriously, Tazz. Eat your food before it gets cold.
Match 6: Rhyno defeated Test in 2:15 to earn a WWF Hardcore Championship match at Invasion. Bull Buchanan and Hardcore Holly jump on the ring apron and so do the Acolytes on the other side. Bradshaw clotheslines Test, Rhyno GORES Test, and Rhyno's Invasion-bound. Post-match, Test catches a beatdown and the Acolytes doublebomb the mole.
Match 7: Matt Hardy and Lita defeated The Big Show and Trish Stratus in an intergender match at 3:20. Post-match, Big Show goes after Trish, but Jeff Hardy with a missile dropkick to Show gives Trish the out.
Backstage, Vince is still trying negotiate a deal with Torrie, and suggests maybe he should wait until after the show. Torrie says she knows of a place where they can talk in private.
Meanwhile, Shane McMahon wishes Buff Bagwell luck on his WCW title match. Buff says he doesn't need luck; he's got skill on his side and he's gonna be the new WCW Champion.
After the break, the Acolytes hold a party saying they killed themselves a mole, but keep your eyes open. Enter Sgt. Slaughter with some bad news: Test isn't the mole, you guys. He was with him at his post. Slaughter also said Test didn't have his cell with him, so it couldn't have been him. Oh dear. If not Test, then who?
Jim Ross and Paul Heyman discuss this latest development in brief before turning the show over completely (as in they're clocking out, kids) to WCW. Don't blame the WWF for what's about to go down.
And they go full out with it: new graphics, new ring announcer (Stacy Keibler), new commentators (Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson), new lighting, new referee (Nick Patrick, who gets a chorus of boos... never forget Starrcade '97, you guys). William Regal and Tajiri's out, and they're escorting Shane out. Shane doesn't put up a fight and he leaves with security.
Match 7: Booker T defeated Buff Bagwell via disqualification to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at 4:55. Booker's WCW United States Championship was not at stake. Yup. This... this was bad, everybody. Boring chants. This match sucks chants. The match is only saved by Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, who get cheers. Buff was not up to snuff, and Booker did not having his working boots on for this one. Post-match, Austin, Angle, and Bagwell put the beatdown to Booker T.
MEANWHILE, Vince and Torrie are in the laundry room. Vince strips and Torrie says to close his eyes because she's got a big surprise. That surprise: Linda McMahon. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Also, is Torrie hired or nah?
In the back, Austin, Angle and Bagwell continue to beat on Booker T before Austin sends Booker out the building. Angle and Austin soon throw Buff out too. Reprise the theme song and roll the credits.
EDDIE MAC'S QUICK REVIEW
So... this was a show. THIS WAS A SHOW, you guys.
Full disclosure: I've never seen the full episode until preparing this review. THIS WAS A SHOW. Ok, here's another reason why the Invasion failed: until Invasion, many parts of it were played for comedy. Vince's infatuation with WCW star Torrie Wilson (getting him in trouble with wifey YET AGAIN; I mean, you'd think he would have learned something from the whole Trish Stratus debacle, but nah).
Austin and Angle, supposedly the two men that are supposed to be on the front line of this invasion, continuing to fight for the affection, love, and attention of Vince. Not enough meaningful guys on the roster are taking it seriously yet. I mean, when the two most important guys on the WWF side at this point are the Acolytes (not counting the Undertaker), you're probably in trouble. Oh, and the WCW guys have looked like complete goons.
And that's not even getting into the WCW title match, which was supposed to serve as a reintroduction to WCW. That had no chance. You can't drop another promotion's title match on a paying crowd on a couple hours notice and expect them to care, especially when said paying crowd has been told for years how much the competition (i.e. WCW) sucks. It also didn't help the match was both terriboring and horribad. So horribad in fact, Buff Bagwell was given his pink slip before the week ended.
There were a lot of high stakes on this show, and WWF lost a huge portion of their chip stack by overplaying a hand that was a coinflip to win at best. Three months post-Monday Night Wars and two weeks into the story proper, WWF's gonna need a miracle to salvage this sinking ship.
As for this episode, watch it once to say you did, but not after that. Unless you're really into Torrie Wilson. She's everywhere on this show. But nothing I can recommend beyond that. 3 out of 10. I mean, they at least did pay the shows B-plot off. Also Torrie.
It's totally what it looks like.