Mike Reviews – WWF InVasion 2001 (22/07/2001)

Good Day, You Magnificent Beasts!

Seeing as we’re nearly twenty years to the day of this bad boy happening, why don’t we review it? It wouldn’t shock me if Scott decides to review this one as well due to the anniversary and all, but I’m writing this about a month or so in advance so that means I win I guess?

Anyway, for those who were lucky enough to have missed this pretty rubbish era in WWF history, Vince McMahon finally achieved his dream of conquering American Pro-Wrestling once and for all (Or so we thought) with the deaths of both WCW and ECW in the first Quarter of 2001.

Not only did Vince win the war, but he also got to buy WCW for a comparatively paltry sum and was all geared to bring in WCW as an invading force so he could finally deliver the big WWF Vs WCW feud that wrestling fans had been fantasising about for years.

Of course the feud hit a snag right from the off, as Vince not only couldn’t find a TV channel that would be prepared to give his new wCw brand a broadcast deal, but the fans also rejected any suggestion that the wCw guys might actually be sympathetic babyfaces, infamously booing both Booker T and Buff Bagwell out of the arena when the two had a disastrous “guest match” on an episode of Raw.

As a result of this, Vince got cold feet and decided to start booking wCw as a straight up Heel faction, and then went and gave them a putty patrol by bringing ECW back from the dead and teaming them up into a mega group known as “The Alliance”.

This didn’t work either.

What also didn’t help was that the WWF teased their fans with Stone Cold Steve Austin going back to the cool babyface character he used to play, and fans got suitably jazzed for it, all for it to end up being a SWERVE, which served to just agitate their onions even more.

So yeah, this whole period was one big fat DUD and the WWF brought it to a merciful end at Survivor Series 2001.

However, the initial InVasion pay per view was a gigantic success from a buy rate perspective and had a couple of hot matches on it, so this shouldn’t be too bad of a re-watch. Indeed, the one positive thing you can say about the whole Invasion storyline was that there was some genuinely great level wrestling going on, especially at the top of the card.

This is probably the moment where I’m supposed to “re-book” the whole thing, but to be honest I’m not going to bother. Instead, I suggest you go check out Jed Shaffer’s excellent “Re-Writing The Book” over on Wrestlecrap.com, as he tackled this subject and came up with a genuinely fantastic storyline, which not only stuck within the same parameters the WWF had to bide by at the time but also ended up finding interesting roles for the likes of Dean Malenko, Raven and Mike Awesome.

Indeed, I can’t think of anyone who writes a better Raven then Shaffer does. Sometimes I think Shaffer writes the Raven character better than even Scott Levy does. The way he gets his voice down in promo segments is unreal. Of course in real life his idea probably wouldn’t have worked as it involved a lot of established WWF guys actually making the Invaders look good, which was never going to happen, but I still think that overall it’s the best stab anyone has taken at trying to make this thing work and it’s a genuine “page turner” for good measure.

I’m watching the Silver Vision “Tagged Classics” version of the show, so if what I’m seeing is different from the WWF Network cut then that’s why.

The event is emanating from Cleveland, Ohio on the 22nd of July 2001

Calling the action are Jim Ross and Michael Cole

Sunday Night HeAT Match
Chavo Guerrero Jr. (Alliance) Vs Scotty 2 Hotty (WWF)

Even the HeAT match is an inter-promotional bout! I’m watching this courtesy of YouTube though as it’s not on the DVD.

Strangely they don’t give Chavo his “Lowrider” knock off wCw theme, but I know he’d get it eventually as it was his theme on WrestleMania XIX for the GameCube. Chavo was one of the few Alliance guys who wasn’t completely buried, owing to his family name and the fact that he had enough friends in the WWF that he didn’t get grouped in with all the other Alliance schmucks. He was kept mostly to the weekend shows whilst the Invasion went on, and when it was finally done with he ended up getting a push on Smackdown with his Uncle Eddie as Los Guerrero’s, winning a couple of Tag Titles along the way.

This is a good match, with a few spots where both men wrestle to a stalemate in order to establish parity between them. Both men are on their “A” game here and that comes across in the sharpness of their performance. Chavo works a bit of heat and Scotty sells it well, with the crowd getting behind him. I’m trying to remember if we got to see this match back in the day here in the UK, as we normally got HeAT on Channel 4 but it was usually the special version taped for the international markets. I can’t remember if we got the pre-pay per view cuts of the show.

Scotty eventually manages to catch Chavo with a desperation Stun Gun on the tope rope for a double down, which leads to the crowd getting behind him as he makes the comeback. Sadly they botch the face buster prior to the W-O-R-M, but the crowd pops when he delivers the move itself, only for Chavo to kick out at two. Booooooooooo, I call shenanigans, no one should be kicking out of that! They trade counters following that and Chavo gets a Brain Buster for the clean pin.


Solid match there, the one botch aside

The Pay Per View itself;

We get the suitably dramatic opening video package with the serious music and clips of Roosevelt saying “I’ve seen war, and I hate war”. It’s not quite as good as the opening video from CZW Cage of Death V (I’m serious, that was pretty darn great) but this was still a decent package.

Opening Match
Team Canada (Lance Storm and Mike Awesome) ((Alliance)) Vs Edge and Christian (WWF)

I’m not sure why Elix Skipper didn’t come in with his fellow Team Canada team mates. Did the WWF not pick up his contract or did he not want to come? Storm of course tries to do his usual Heel promo but E & C interrupt him. Edge was the current King of the Ring at the time of this show, and they had already started sowing the seeds of his eventual split with Christian.

This is a very good tag team match, with E & C getting to do a nice babyface shine, which Team Canada bumps and feeds for well, and eventually the Heels cut off Christian when Awesome attacks him illegally. Christian had been a Heel for over a year prior to the whole Invasion taking place, but he slots nicely into the role of being a babyface in peril here, selling well and timing his attempts at fighting back well also. Team Canada’s offence looks good, and being the power guy in a tandem like this is a good use of Awesome, as Storm offsets most of his weaknesses.

They tease the hot tag a few times, and the crowd stays with the match, although they’re not quite as hot as you’d like them to be for the opening match on such a big pay per view. They do pop every time Edge breaks up a pin or hold though, and there’s a moment where Awesome gets a splash from the top rope and you can tell that they’re impressed by it. Christian does eventually manage to fight off an Awesome Super Bomb attempt and makes the hot tag to Edge, who runs wild on the Heels and looks good doing so.

Storm looked great taking Edge’s offence as well, bumping and feeding for him perfectly. The finishing stretch is a little bit messy in places, but it has good energy and there are some fun spots where E & C try to out cheat the Invaders, such as when Christian turns over a Storm inside cradle on Edge. I like that as it shows that E & C are still their same Heel characters at heart, but now the fans like them for it as they are doing it in the name of the WWF. The crowd gets into the near falls and the finish is a good one, as Awesome tries to Awesome Bomb Edge but Christian gives him a Spear and Edge lands on top for three.


Good match, as they worked hard and got the crowd on their feet. I’m happy enough with the finish as well, as it protected Awesome as it took two guys to beat him

Vince McMahon is very happy about that match. Commissioner Regal informs Vince that Stone Cold and Debra have turned up. Vince asks Regal to give Austin some space and then tries to hype up Regal for later by telling him to remember the revolutionary war. He probably would have had better luck by telling Regal to imagine that he’s a Blackpool fan on an away day at Morecambe.

Match Two
Guest Referee: Mick Foley
Nick Patrick w/ wCw referees (Alliance) Vs Earl Hebner w/ WWF referees (WWF)

Patrick was doing the Heel ref routine and Earl didn’t like it, leading to a match as Regal demanded Earl stand up for himself. Patrick had actually wrestled prior to reffing, so it made sense for him to be the Heel trying to hold this together. Foley is the ref due to all the other ref’s being at ringside. Earl is pretty over with the fans, and people have actually brought signs for him!

This is not a great match from a mechanical perspective, but it’s entertaining and the crowd is really into Earl. Patrick sells really well and is able to get Earl through it and they have spots where the referees squabble with one another to distract from the fact that one of the competitors is a non-worker. Earl’s punches aren’t especially good, but he actually bumps and sells pretty well for a guy who isn’t a wrestler.

To be honest, they might have had a better match with Teddy Long in the Earl role, but the match wouldn’t have had anywhere near as much heat from the crowd, so it’s no surprise that the WWF chose crowd reaction over match quality. And to be fair, it’s a comedy match with the ref’s; you don’t really need crisp technical wrestling. Foley ends up sending all of the referees away and that allows Earl to get a running tackle for the three.


Obviously that rating is on a sliding scale, but for what it was I thought it was enjoyable. As the WWE fans on here like to say, I was sports-entertained by it all

Foley introduces Patrick to Mr. Socko following the bout.

We get clips from Smackdown! where Diamond Dallas Page kidnapped Stone Cold’s wife Debra. Debra and Sara Undertaker go to get coffee and talk about how their husbands are going to kill DDP later.

Match Three
wCw Tag Champs Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire (Alliance) Vs WWF Tag Champs The APA (WWF)

Back in 2001 I was still more of a mark and wasn’t fully online yet, so I was kind of bummed that it wasn’t KroniK taking on The APA, especially as they’d basically done the same gimmick in the dying days of WCW with the “Cashing Cheques, Breaking Necks” thing. Of course KroniK would indeed come in later in 2001 and it proved to be a terrible mistake. Neither team’s belts are on the line here, with it instead being the two teams fighting for “bragging rights”. The APA had been rabble rousing backstage a lot in the build to this and had become essentially the leaders of the WWF mid-card.

Palumbo and O’Haire should have been nailed on for a big push due to their size and athletic ability making them the sort of people that Vince McMahon would love to feature, but O’Haire was supposedly rude to Darren Drozdov at one stage, which ended up leading to him getting sent down to developmental and Palumbo getting put with Billy Gunn instead. The APA doesn’t really seem that interested in making their wCw opponents look good, but Faarooq does sell a bit for them at least.

As a match it actually isn’t that bad from purely an action perspective, as all four lads are big dudes who can move, so there’s a decent collection of power spots and the crowd enjoys The APA’s big trademark spots. The match itself doesn’t have that much heat though and the wCw guys aren’t really that over with the crowd. Really they would have been smarter putting the tag belts on a team like The Hardyz and having them sell for the wCw guys until they got the match over.

It’s mostly The APA in control for the early going, but Faarooq ends up getting cut off and worked over for a bit. Faarooq sells reasonably well during that, but you can tell the wCw guys are green because they keep picking him up after bumping him so they can do another move rather than trying to pin him. Bradshaw gets the hot tag but the crowd isn’t really that excited by it. These two teams just don’t seem to have much in the way of chemistry, and the finishing sequence is pretty sparse as Bradshaw lariats Palumbo out of nowhere for the three count.

RATING: *1/2

This was kind of the definition of when you say something was “just a match”

Vince McMahon and Chris Jericho are having a chat backstage, where they talk about how overweight Paul Heyman is.

Paul Heyman, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon and WCW Cruiser Champ Billy Kidman are not happy about that. Kidman is relaxed about his match next.

Match Four
WCW Cruiserweight Champ Kidman (Alliance) Vs WWF Light-Heavyweight Champ X-Pac (WWF)

Uncle Cracker is left intact on my version of this, but Network watchers might not be enjoying its musical excellence. X-Pac is ostensibly a babyface due to being on Team WWF, but the fans don’t really like him that much and Kidman is a good looking lad who does the high-flying, so he gets his fair share of cheers. X-Pac is in fantastic shape here though it must be said, as he was going through a phase here where he didn’t wrestle in a singlet and he actually justifies that choice with his physique.

They do some nice stuff in the opening sections, with Kidman getting in some trademark offence and looking good, leading to X-Pac soup-canning him over the top rope to the floor for the cut off. Kidman sells well as X-Pac works him over. A chin lock slows things down a bit, but aside from that the match is good overall, and they build it nicely for the most part and Kidman looks good when making a comeback. X-Pac would generally make his opponents look good but by this stage he shouldn’t really have been the face of the division anymore.

X-Pac makes the mistake of trying to power bomb Kidman, which ends how you would expect, but the resulting pin only gets two and X-Pac catches Kidman with an X-Factor straight after for a two of his own. That was a good section of near falls. X-Pac tries the Bronco Buster but Kidman gets a foot up to block it and follows with the Shooting Star Press for three.

RATING: **1/2

Decent outing there. X-Pac would eventually defeat Kidman in a rematch

DDP is preoccupied with Stone Cold and Undertaker’s wives, so The Alliance leaders try and refocus him.

Meanwhile, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson do some Adult Movie level acting about their match later.

Match Five
Raven (Alliance) Vs Commissioner Regal (WWF)

I still wonder why they put these two together because it’s such a styles clash and I really can’t see how you would make it work, especially as they only have 7 minutes to work with. Give them a proper storyline, with heat, and 10-15 minutes and maybe you could get a good match out of it, but there’s no way you could just throw them out there like this and expect it to work.

The match has next to no crowd heat and both men are kind of on different pages, but there’s the germ of a good match in there somewhere I think, it just never really has a chance to get going. It’s mostly back and forth action and they some nice pin counters at one stage actually, with Regal busting out the old World of Sport school boy in a moment that popped me if nothing else.

I think with a storyline reason for the crowd to care this match would have had better heat and been a better overall contest. Eventually Raven takes a spill to the floor and distracts the ref, which allows Tazz to sneak in with a suplex on Regal. Raven follows up with a DDT and that’s enough for three.


This match was an odd decision, but the lads tried their best

Regal does a fantastic angry facial expression when he realises he’s been robbed.

Undertaker, Kane and Sara get a pep talk from Vince, and Taker ends up getting him up against the wall.

Match Six
Kanyon, Shawn Stasiak and Hugh Morrus (Alliance) Vs WWF Intercontinental Champ Albert, Big Show and Billy Gunn (WWF)

This match was apparently great on the House Shows so they decided to put it on pay per view as well, but missed the fact that the reason it was good on the House Shows was because the six guys were actually given time to a tell a story and work with the crowd, whereas here they’ve been thrown out cold on a pay per view with 4 minutes and 23 seconds to work with, so there’s no way it’s going to be as good.

The wCw contingent actually comes out to Stasiak’s Mr. Perfect rip off theme, even though Kanyon is arguably the biggest star of the three. The crowd enjoys this for the short time it’s out there; with Team WWF doing Triple Military Press Slam’s to pop them in the early going. Kanyon is the star of the match for me, as his offence looks good and he sells excellently for his WWF foes. Stasiak has a physique and nothing else, whilst Morrus is a solid mid-card worker who you can trust in these sorts of situations.

Albert’s IC Title run didn’t really set the world on fire, on but he looks decent here. There’s a little bit of heat on Billy Gunn, at which point Albert gets the tag and the match breaks down, with Albert hitting all of his trademark power moves to pop the crowd. Watching him powerslam a big dude like Morrus with ease shows just how scary strong he was. Stasiak shows how useless he is in the finish, as he sneaks in with a reverse DDT so that the knocked out Morrus can drape an arm on Gunn, but Stasiak doesn’t leave the ring at first and actually tries to get the pin himself until Morrus actively tells him to leave.

RATING: *3/4

This was way too short, but what we got was fun

Team WWF are sore losers after that and destroy the Heels, which the crowd enjoys at least.

Booker T and Shane McMahon enjoy the fact that Alliance are leading overall.

Regal fires up Tajiri for his match with Tazz next. Regal getting “gobshite” onto a WWF pay per view event in 2001 deserves the heartiest of thumbs up.

Match Seven
Tazz (Alliance) Vs Tajiri (WWF)

Tazz had been a babyface announcer but had gone Heel when ECW reformed and joined up with wCw. This is one of the better matches on the show, as they work hard and the crowd is into Tajiri. Tajiri runs wild in the early going, but Tazz clotheslines him out of his boots and starts working him over. Tazz’s in-ring career was all but over by 2002 due to a litany of injuries, but he looks good here. Not quite the Tazz of the 90’s good, but still good overall.

Tajiri sells well and the match has decent heat, with the crowd booing Tazz and wanting Tajiri to make the comeback, popping whenever he gets a flurry of offence in. Tajiri does eventually catch Tazz in The Tarantula and makes the comeback, getting a running kick to the face for two. The crowd was buying that as a potential finish, which is a credit to how good Tajiri’s offence looks. Tazz fires back with a suplex but Tajiri catches him with the Green Mist and fires off a Buzzsaw Kick for three.

RATING: ***1/4

I seem to distinctly remember that when I watched this show live on Channel 4 back in the day the replay clearly showed Tim White dropping the item containing the mist into Tajiri’s mouth prior to him delivering it, but they’ve obviously cut that out of the DVD version. This was a really good match, with both men’s offence looking good and Tajiri enjoying good support from the crowd

Matt and Jeff Hardy are hanging out backstage. Matt is worried about Jeff in the match with Rob Van Dam, which leads to RVD clocking Matt with a chair and telling Jeff that he’s next.

We see that fans are enjoying the show at WWF New York. Bob Holly is doing autographs and accosts a fan who is wearing a wCw shirt. What a jerk, surely wCw fans are allowed to be there for a cross-promotional pay per view? Ian St. John (RIP) would have probably had a hearty chuckle if he was signing autographs at a bar whilst the Merseyside Derby was on and someone in an Everton shirt came up to him.

Match Eight
WWF Hardcore Title
Rob Van Dam (Alliance) Vs Hardcore Champ Jeff Hardy (WWF)

RVD is the one guy whose stock actively went up during this whole storyline, as he came in and instantly looked like a superstar in the making. They do the RVD/Lynn sequence to start, complete with the standoff, and the crowd loves it. Jerry Lynn was actually in the WWF at the time, but his lone match with RVD on TV was a match on HeAT and they never let them do their thing on a WWF pay per view, which I think was a big mistake as they could have made Lynn a big star overnight with it.

This is basically an ECW match on a WWF pay per view, as they trade momentum and brawl outside the ring as well as in the crowd, with occasional use of chairs for good measure. The most important aspect about it is that they let Rob Van Dam actually be Rob Van Dam, and because he’s wrestling a genuine WWF star in Hardy and looking good in the process it instantly makes him a credible threat. Once this match is over its genuinely “job done” as far as getting RVD over to the WWF fans who perhaps had never seen him before.

Jeff does an A-Class job of putting RVD over too, which was something not enough of the WWF guys were willing to do. He treats him as a threat and an equal right from the opening bell, taking big bumps throughout the match, such as tumbling off a ladder into the aisle way and then taking a spill into the gap in the stage area following a Van Daminator. Indeed, RVD controls the majority of the closing section of the match, with Jeff getting a couple of desperation near falls before getting pinned when RVD puts the belt on his chest and follows with a Frogsplash for three.

RATING: ****

Absolute star marking performance from RVD and Jeff more than held up his end of things, selflessly taking a bunch of big bumps and even blading in order to make the newcomer look like a genuine contender. If all the other WWF guys had cared as much about having good matches and making the new guys look this good then this storyline might have actually worked. Definitely the MOTN and the match from this show you should seek out above all others

Vince McMahon is annoyed at the result of the last match, which leads to a super serious Kurt Angle coming in to receive his pep talk. Angle actually curses, to get across how angry and dangerous he is now. I didn’t like that to be honest, it felt really artificial.

Semi-Main Event
Bra and Panties
Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson (Alliance) Vs Trish Stratus and Lita (WWF)

Lita was with Matt Hardy and Jeff was with Trish in storyline, so the Alliance lasses flirted with them to heat this issue up, because back in 2001 that was how the women were booked. Hence we have a match where the four catty lasses have to rip off clothing from one another. Mick Foley is once again the referee here, and the wCw ladies immediately flirt with him, due to his intense sexual charisma no doubt. Anyway, they have a cat fight, and the wCw ladies lose. Let’s just be thankful that the women are actually allowed to have wrestling matches in WWE these days and pretend this didn’t happen. Nothing against the women in this match by the way, the onus is on the company to have a competently booked women’s division, not them.


We get last minute pep talks from both sides. The Old Stone Cold is ready!

Main Event
Inaugural Brawl
Team Alliance (Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, The Dudleyz and Rhino) w/ Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon and Paul E. Dangerously
Team WWF (The Old Stone Cold, Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle) w/ Vincent Kennedy (Kennedy!) McMahon

The best part of the opening section is the entrances of Angle and The Old Stone Cold, as Angle gets a big pop and The Old Stone Cold gets an even bigger one. Shane in particular gets Angle’s new more serious character over well by doing a fantastic facial expression during his entrance, mixing fear, disgust and respect excellently.

They could have dispensed with the McMahon’s and just had Paul E. lead the invaders and it probably would have been far more effective just due to him being a fresher face and I buy that someone with his maniacal cult leader personality would be able to whip these disparate forces into an efficient outfit.

The Old Stone Cold had returned the previous Monday on Raw, and the crowd had utterly loved it, so of course it wasn’t to last. They do the big jump-start brawl to begin the match, and it’s a fun fight. Once again it’s very ECW styled, as they do the big wild brawl at the start of the match but things then just settle into a standard tag team match after that. I’m guessing Paul E. had some say on the booking at this point? It certainly feels like it when you see the people who have come out of this show looking good thus far.

The tag section of the match is good, as everyone involved in the match knows what they are doing and the WWF guys are all super over with the crowd, with Angle and Jericho especially getting plenty of good reactions. It’s not as good as the ten man tag from Canadian Stampede, but it has a bit of a similar feel to it in that there is one team that’s beloved and one team that is hated and they set up all of the babyfaces to have a moment to look good in an extended shine. It’s not as fun an anarchic brawl as the Main Event of No Way Out 1998, but the tag section is worked much better and they do a better job of giving everyone a moment, which they didn’t in that one. I think Owen Hart doesn’t even legally tag in!

Eventually the Alliance manages to cheat to cut off Jericho with a Stun Gun though, leading to the heat segment. Jericho of course sells that well, and gets in a sporadic attempts at a comeback, observing the “Steamboat Rule” of fighting back every few moves to show he’s still in it. Jericho manages to tag out to Angle, who does a nice sequence where he flings The Dudleyz around, but DDP interferes to put a stop to that, leading to Bubba Ray getting The Bubba Bomb to cut him off for our second heat segment, which makes sense in a big Main Event match like this.

In a real call back we actually get a faint “Paul E. Sux” chant at one stage, which you had to know Paul Heyman was secretly really enjoying. Strangely there are a few moments during the heat where Angle has his back to his team and no one in between him, which you’d expect experienced guys like the Alliance team not to allow because it makes it very easy for him to tag out, and in-turn makes him look silly for not doing so. Aside from that the heat segment is worked well, especially when it comes to the Alliance distracting the ref so that their partners can attack Angle illegally.

Eventually Undertaker gets sick of the Alliance cheating and comes in without a tag, leading into the match breaking down into yet another brawl. That leads to us getting Finisher Madness™, where everyone gets a chance to come in and hit a big signature move. One by one people are taken out, with Jericho putting Rhino through a table set up outside the ring and Austin seemingly having to bow out due to a leg injury. This leaves Booker and Angle alone in the ring, where it looks like Angle is going to tap Booker out for the win. However, The Old Stone Cold decides he wants to go back to being a Heel and drops Angle with a Stunner, draping Booker on top for the pin.

RATING: ***3/4

The closing section where everyone gradually took themselves out of the running was perfect chaotic WWF Main Event Style, and I like the fact they didn’t bother with a hot tag, which meant that Angle was genuinely the legal man when he got pinned in a nice touch. It was ten talented guys working a really strong story driven match with some good action in it, so I went with a high rating as a result. It might have gone on a bit long for some though, clocking in at just under half an hour, although I’d argue that it “earnt” the length due to it being such a big important match and the longer running time meant they could really let the Faces shine in the early going before working the Heel heat segment

Austin celebrates with the leaders of The Alliance following the match, not the actual wrestlers on the team though, because it’s not about them, and that was a big part of the problem. The crowd are of course pissed that The Old Stone Cold is now The Previous Heel Stone Cold That We Weren’t Really Arsed About, and thus the WWF’s hot streak officially ends forever.

In Conclusion

As a show InVasion is a solid effort from a purely wrestling perspective, as there are plenty of good matches and the RVD/Hardy bout is a classic encounter. If you just want a fun show to watch then this will mostly tick the boxes. However, the booking in some areas is questionable to say the least and it was ALL downhill for the Invasion storyline following this, even if we did get some hot matches out of it (Rock Vs Jericho at No Mercy 2001 in particular is utterly fantastic).

Recommended Show

If you’d like to get in touch to suggest shows to review, ask questions, share your love of those wonderful Royal Blue Toffees, or just generally chat the grapple game, then feel free to hit me up at [email protected]