wrestling / Video Reviews

Random Network Reviews: Invasion 2001

December 21, 2016 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: Invasion 2001  

July 22nd, 2001 | Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio | Attendance: 17,019

When the WWF purchased WCW in March of 2001, everything changed. There was no longer real competition, the WWF could be stagnant if they wanted to and they were about to have a super talented roster. Before all of that, they gave us something we never thought we’d see. An invasion angle. The problem was that the biggest names from WCW (Goldberg, Hogan, Sting, Steiner, etc.) were all sitting out their contracts so this totally lacked star power. Still, people were excited as this show earned the highest buyrate in history for a non-WrestleMania Pay-Per-View. It was the only Invasion PPV in history.

As usual, the opening video package is top notch. Paul Heyman and the three feuding McMahons all do voiceovers while highlights of the invasion are shown along with clips of war. Just a great feel for what we’re about to witness. Jim Ross and Michael Cole are on commentary.

The Alliance won a match on Heat to take a 1-0 lead.

Edge and Christian vs. Lance Storm and Mike Awesome
Lance Storm tried to cut one of his “if I could be serious for a minute” promos but Edge and Christian interrupt. Edge had just won the King of the Ring and Christian was carrying around Edge’s trophy. This started as your basic tag team match. Edge and Christian have more experience as a team and it showed. They messed up a spot where Christian went to dive off of Edge’s back and he spilled to the outside in ugly fashion. Christian ends up taking the heat, where he bumps very well for his opponents. He even takes a trademark Bret Hart ring post bump at one point. I really wish they would have done more with Mike Awesome. Edge got the hot tag and did his thing for a while. He ended up in a small package but Christian turned it over, leading to a near fall. Awesome went for the Awesome Bomb but Christian speared him, allowing Edge to fall on him, earning the three.

Winners: Edge and Christian in 10:11
Just about what I want from an opening contest. Hot crowd, fun action and they didn’t overdo anything, leaving room for the rest of the card. Off to a good start. ***

Vince McMahon is excited about the win backstage, doing his own five second pose. William Regal shows up to inform him that Steve Austin has arrived. Vince tries to hype Regal up for his match later but doesn’t do a good job.

Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick
Oh my goodness, this got an actual video package. Mick Foley was the special guest referee since he worked for all three companies. Each referee came out with the rest of the officials from their respective companies, though I’m pretty sure I saw Brian Hebner with Nick Patrick. When the match started, they just threw punches at each other. Patrick used a low blow that Foley somehow missed. The highlight of the match came when the WCW officials attacked Hebner outside, so Chad Patton laid one of them out with a flying forearm that was better than most of the roster could have probably done. Foley kicked out the ringside refs and Patrick argued with him. Hebner tackled him to win.

Winner: Earl Hebner in 2:50
I won’t give it the DUD rating because it was short and about what I expected from two non-wrestlers. Putting it on the PPV is not something I would have done but whatever. ¼*

Nick Patrick eats some of Mr. Socko after the bell.

WWF Tag Team Champions The APA vs. WCW Tag Team Champions Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire
Somehow, this also got a hype video. Pitting tag champions against each other is kind of a no-brainer in a situation like this. They started by brawling with the APA getting the upper hand. Sensible considering their penchant for bar room brawls. The teams began trading some unenthusiastic stuff and the crowd didn’t seem to care. How did the Tag Team Titles go from the great E&C/Hardys/Dudleys rivalry back to the APA? Palumbo completely whiffs on a superkick but they acted like he hit. Bradshaw laid him out for his troubles with the Clothesline from Hell.

Winners: The APA in 7:17
Almost everything about this was dull. They hit a few power moves, but even with that, I was mostly bored. The decision to have the APA win was pretty dumb too. Palumbo and O’Haire, while not exactly future stars, were a fresh, young team that could have done a bit more.

Backstage, Chris Jericho badmouths Paul Heyman to Vince McMahon. Stephanie, Shane and Billy Kidman watch backstage and Stephanie just complains about hating Jericho. They want Kidman to win and get them on the board.

WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman vs. WWF Light Heavyweight Champion X-Pac
X-Pac has the Uncle Kracker X-Factor theme here. The quality of the show picked back up here. Both guys worked at a quick pace, which was very welcome after the previous two matches. In an odd twist, the WCW guy was the more popular worker for the first time tonight. X-Pac hit a nice dive outside but got greeted with boos. Jim Ross did a good job in putting over X-Pac applying a chin lock, saying that in a battle of aerial specialists, the one who grounds the other usually has an advantage. It’s a small thing to say but I feel like it was a nice addition. Kidman got a near fall on the Sky High, YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE! X-Pac proved to be the first WWF heel, trying to use the ropes for leverage. He made the mistake of trying to powerbomb Kidman, which we all know you can’t do. He counters it but ended up diving into the X-Factor. Somehow, Kidman got the shoulder up. He then got his foot up to block the Bronco Buster before climbing up and wowing the fans with his mediocre Shooting Star Press, defeating X-Pac.

Winner: Billy Kidman in 7:12
WCW is on the board! Not the greatest match but a fine change of pace between two solid guys. Kidman was the right guy to get a win for WCW. I enjoyed the pace and near falls of this match. **¾

DDP creeps out Stephanie, Heyman and Shane when talking about how Debra is no Sara. He eventually just gets hype about the main event. They cut to Torrie and Stacy literally talking about their tits and ass. It’s not a bad segment at all.

Raven vs. William Regal
Babyface William Regal is such a strange sight. They traded blows early but this was the first match that the crowd didn’t really seem into. They did some awkward looking spots, like Regal hitting a slingshot where Raven just hit the ropes. Raven did some second rope offense that Regal put an end to but again, the fans were just not feeling any of this. They did a series of rollup near falls that next to nobody bit on. ECW’s Tazz ran in and Tazzplexed Regal while Raven distracted the referee. Raven won after hitting the Raven Effect.

Winner: Raven in 6:34
Almost as bad as the referee match earlier though it’s far more disappointing considering I actually like both guys involved. They never found a flow, the crowd never cared and all of it was uninteresting.½*

Vince McMahon angers Undertaker by discussing DDP stalking his wife. Undertaker nearly attacks him, which Vince likes as it means Taker is pissed.

WWF Intercontinental Champion Albert, Big Show and Billy Gunn vs. Hugh Morris, Kanyon and Shawn Stasiak
Who put this on the Pay-Per-View? Also, why was Albert the IC Champion in an era that was this loaded with talent? I don’t dislike the guy but come on. The WCW team came out to Stasiak’s bootleg Mr. Perfect theme. The WWF faces all hit gorilla press slams at the same time early on. It broke down to a regular six man tag with neither team gaining a clear advantage. Stasiak was greeted with “Meat” chants as he got in some offense. Albert got to strut his stuff a bit, overcoming some a sneak attack from Morris. Despite Billy Gunn hitting the Fameasser, Stasiak laid out Gunn and Morris draped his arm over him to steal it and even the score at 3-3 on the official PPV.

Winners: Hugh Morris, Kanyon and Shawn Stasiak in 4:23
Another relatively boring match. Unlike the previous one though, the fans were surprisingly interested in this. Most of the work was uninspired but it was kept short and to the point. Also, why couldn’t WWF win this and APA lose earlier? *

Shane McMahon and Booker T, with both the World and United States Title, get hype for the main event. I really feel like they were just throwing in as many rapid fire backstage segments as possible. An angry William Regal also demands that his little buddy, Tajiri, win his upcoming match.

Tajiri vs. Tazz
With the score tied currently, this is a pretty unimportant outing to be the swing match. They did have a fun ECW Title match at Heatwave two years prior. Thanks to Regal being angry beforehand, this started like it was kind of personal, with Tajiri hitting the ring. Tazz threw him around with a few Tazzplexes and managed to avoid some of Tajiri’s signature kicks. Tazz tried using some submissions, including a cross armbreaker, but Tajiri survived. Tazz did hit a very impactful concrete crash for a near fall. Tajiri did his trademark stuff like the handspring elbow and tarantula as part of his comeback. He used the green mist and a big kick to win.

Winner: Tajiri in 5:42
While it wasn’t great, it was a definite upswing in quality after the previous few matches being pretty bad. They worked at a good pace, had some close near falls and didn’t overstay their welcome. Solid enough. **¼

Backstage, the Hardy Boyz are discussing Jeff Hardy’s upcoming match. Rob Van Dam appears with a steel chair and lays out Matt. Cut to WWF New York where Hardcore Holly is signing autographs. He sees a fan with a WCW shirt and kicks him out while ripping the dude’s shirt. What a dick.

WWF Hardcore Championship
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Rob Van Dam

It always made me chuckle as RVD comes out and realizes he’s getting cheered so he stops to look at the fans and smiles to himself. Although this was for the Hardcore Title, neither guy went for weapons early on. They chose to have some great back and forth that excited the crowd, which was now hot again. RVD had Jeff well scouted, interrupting his guardrail run attack, which we had never really seen before. Commentary did a good job in hyping the similar styles and the importance of this being the only title match on the show. Finally, weapons came into play after some fighting in the crowd when Jeff brought out a ladder. RVD shook the ladder and sent Hardy falling into the aisle. Jim Ross got to say a bunch of lines that would be used in future WWE “Don’t Try This at Home” ads. They fought up to the entrance, where RVD nailed the Van Daminator that sent Hardy off the stage. Back in the ring, RVD got to showoff more of his stuff for the WWF audience, while also bumping well for the champion. Jeff missed the Swanton Bomb before RVD nailed the Five Star Frog Splash with the Hardcore Title on Jeff’s chest to become champion.

Winner and New WWF Hardcore Champion: Rob Van Dam in 12:24
2001 proved to be the best year ever for the Hardcore Title and this might have been the best Hardcore Title match ever. It was the perfect way to truly introduce RVD to the WWF audience as he faced a similar performer and got to do a lot of his key stuff. Both men worked hard and had a great match that stole the show. ****

More backstage segments as Vince tries to hype up Kurt Angle, who says the word bullshit on television.

Bra and Panties Match
Lita and Trish Stratus vs. Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson

Brilliant Mick Foley made himself the referee for this match. There wasn’t much to really write about here as this wasn’t placed here to be a great wrestling match. JR did deliver the classic line of “thongs are legal.” Neither WCW girl wanted any part of Lita, who brought Stacy in the hard way. Stacy and Torrie struggled with almost all of their spots. Stacy lost her shirt first and ran, leading to Lita chasing her and getting stuck before having her top removed. Trish had her shirt taken off but removed Torrie’s pants instantly in one of the best camera angles in WWE history. The WWF girls did some Hardy Boyz poetry in motion and Lita hit a moonsault on Stacy as they removed the rest of their opponents clothing.

Winners: Lita and Trish Stratus in 5:04
Torrie and Stacy were incredibly green and not really ready to do any in ring work. Lita and Trish did their best to overcome that though it wasn’t enough. The crowd was obviously excited for it and they put in a good effort. In terms of pure enjoyment, I’d say over four stars. As a match, it ranks much lower.

Inaugural Brawl
Team WCW (WCW World and United States Champion Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, the Dudley Boyz and Rhyno) w/ Paul Heyman, Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon vs. Team WWF (Chris Jericho, Kane, Kurt Angle, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the Undertaker) w/ Vince McMahon

Including Heat, they are tied 5-5. After the owners and Heyman came out, the teams alternated entrances which I found really cool. Undertaker attacked DDP before the entrances were over, leading to a big brawl. The “old Stone Cold” showed up last and got right into the brawl. When things calmed down, everybody got a turn in the ring, with the match getting ample time to showcase all ten men involved. The Dudley Boyz became the first guys to really take a clear advantage, using their experience as a duo to do so. Undertaker ended up mostly putting a stop to that. Surprisingly, when DDP and Undertaker went at it, it didn’t get as personal as expected. Outside of Austin, Angle got the best pops throughout the match and was well on his way to being a top babyface in the company for the remainder of 2001. With so many moving parts, the match manages to never get dull at any point. Angle played the face in peril and they held off the big hot tag to Austin with some smaller ones to other guys. The match got out of hand, with Undertaker and DDP fighting in the crowd while everyone else fought at ringside. Austin seemed to have injured his knee during all of this. There were about three table spots in a row with Rhyno, D-Von and Kane all going through them. Angle made the babyface comeback and put Booker T in the Ankle Lock after taking Shane out, who hit Vince with a title. Austin got back inside as Booker tapped out and kicked Angle. He planted him with a Stunner, allowing Booker to win it for the Alliance.

Winners: Team WCW in 29:03
As noted, this moved along rather nicely and was entertaining throughout. Everyone got a chance to shine for the most part, with almost all of them bringing their working boots. The crowd was molten hot throughout and the final few minutes were pretty chaotic in a good way. The swerve finish was pretty good too since the crowd badly wanted the old Austin and he wouldn’t give it to them. His reasoning for this and the booking of the entire invasion following this were horrible though. ***½

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
The invasion angle itself could have been something amazing but instead, it was poorly handled for the entire duration. This was the first real stop and it was a mixed bag. Some of the matches were dreadful (Raven/Tazz, Patrick/Hebner, the six man tag) most were middle of the pack and a few were good. I enjoyed the main event and loved the Hardcore Title match. There was a lot of potential here, but a good chunk of it went wasted.