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.

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Mike Reviews: WWF Action!

Hello You!

I’ve had this particular DVD in my collection for a while and have never gotten around to giving it a proper looksee, so I decided to do a review on it.

I actually bought this as part of Silver Visions “Tagged Classics” range, which was where they would put two releases in one DVD box from their cavernous back catalogue. One good thing about these releases was that they kept the old WWF “scratch” logo on them, which meant that pre-WWE Network they were by far the best option for watching retro WWF events, as they weren’t full of the horrible blurring and sound edits you’d find on regular WWE releases.

Released in September of 2001, “Action!” is meant to be a collection of all the “most thrilling” events that took place in 2001. Somehow I kind of doubt that, but hopefully there’ll be some interesting nuggets of gold nestled amongst the usual pap. This is the sort of thing they’d just put on the Network in the form of a playlist these days, rather than going to the trouble of doing a whole standalone DVD/VHS release.

The other DVD in this Tagged Classic collection is simply called “Hardcore”, and features lots of matches from the hardcore division (Although I’m sure some stores got a bit confused and thought the DVD might need to go in the adult entertainment section of the shop). If you like this one then I might review that one in the New Year.

Anyway, less jibber jabber from me, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling eh?

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NXT invasion.

I know invasion storylines have been done to death, but do you think now would be the perfect time to have NXT invade WWE?   If WWE treated NXT as something special that is ONLY available on the WWE network, I think it would sell many people on the network.  I mean they should still keep it as the developmental show but there are enough wrestlers on the show that can have 10-15 minute matches on Raw already. They would basically be debuting 10-20 new wrestlers at once, but they don't all need to get regular TV time.  With Night of Champions supposedly being the second most important show of the year, they could even have Adrian Neville defend again John Cena as the start of the storyline (with Brock v. Roman Reigns as the other big match).

​Honestly, there's just not a lot of depth in NXT to bring up that many people.  Plus then you're paying out a lot of main roster money instead of developmental money and it's a big investment without a lot of upside.  They've been "prepping" the Ascension for a year and a half now and they're STILL not ready yet, for example.  Bringing up Neville will immediately expose him for being smaller than everyone else and probably kill him off.  NXT has been struggling to find its own direction as of late, and now would be the worst time to gut it further.  ​

How will they book Wrestle-1’s invasion of TNA?

> Scott,
> Since you know you love to take questions regarding a certain invasion…I figured I'd throw this question to you. Wrestling news sites are reporting that The Great Muta's new Wrestle-1 promotion is in talks to have a talent exchange with TNA. How would you book this? Would you have them invade TNA? Or do you just see them simply sending talent back and forth like New Japan did with Okada, Tanahashi, Naito, Yujiro a few years back and having that talent wrestle meaningless matches? 
> Here is Wrestle-1's roster so far for when they have their debut show 9/8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrestle-1#Wrestlers
> I know Mutoh showed up at a TNA PPV in the locker room to confront then World Champion Christian, but hopefully this time he'll get in the ring. Imagine Sting vs. Muta in 2013! But seriously, Muta throwing on the old facepaint and challenging Kurt Angle or Samoa Joe has awesome written all over it. Kai would make a great X-Division competitor. The rest of Wrestle-1's roster would be great to see in the ring with TNA wrestlers as well. I enjoy when stuff like this happens because it would NEVER happen in WWE, so seeing other promotions working with each other can't be bad for the business and it's fans.
> Do you think the Wrestle-1 guys have a chance in hell of getting over in the United States? I can't think of one successful Japanese talent that has come overseas and really drew money. 
> Anywho, have a good one! Somehow I don't see this changing the landscape of TNA.  This is the same company that couldn't figure out how to use Okada, after all.

WCW and the WWF Invasion of the Mid-90’s


Going through the WCW PPV's, and I'm just beginning in 1995, having watched all of 94.  I haven't seen these since I was a kid.  Looking back, you can see that it looks like a bunch of old WWF guys retreading their characters and stories in the WCW.  Sounds lame, bad booking, and such.  But to my surprise, the crowds are HOT.  When Austin jobbed to Hacksaw in 12 seconds or whatever it was, the crowd exploded.  The crowd is hot for all these guys in their matches so far, even in through this terrible Superbrawl V PPV.  So my question is, are the crowds hot because these guys are talented workers and know how to pull them into the match?  I mean, this retreading of WWF talent always seems to get a bad rap, considering it led to the departure of some home grown guys who had big careers.  But was the money coming in, considering how hot these crowds are?

WCW was doing OK for itself, if that's what you mean.  The Savage-Flair program in 95 and the first part of 96 especially did surprisingly well on top, like shockingly well.  Duggan always gets a big pop so I wouldn't read much into that reaction, especially since he was mainly positioned to be the guy that Vader beat up anyway.  But in a larger sense, yes, certainly the older WWF guys had longevity because they knew how to work a crowd and get themselves over and all that good stuff.  The main problem was that Hogan wasn't drawing money proportionate to his ridiculous contract until they did the heel turn.  The other guys were making far less money and were doing fine for themselves mostly.  

More on the Invasion…

Bet you're sick of stuff regarding the Invasion now, but it still seems to be a popular topic on the BLOG!~! so here goes….
One thing nobody's neccessarily brought up yet and just a thought – was the 'Invasion' really neccessary in the first place? Think about it like this – WCW had lost all credibility with wrestling fans by the point that Vince bought them out, right? So realistically, turning the whole shebang into "two separate companies" was never going to work – look at the reaction it got in Tacoma when they did 'WCW' at the end of the show with Bagwell vs. Booker, and that was really before they'd totally botched the angle (outside of DDP….). And really, was it "WWF vs. WCW" that the fans were clamouring for, or was it more stuff like Rock vs. Hogan, Austin vs. Goldberg, just as matches?
Basically what I'm getting at is this – would it have been smarter to just bring the big stars from WCW in as their own acts – essentially like how Goldberg and Steiner were eventually brought aboard – just to run dream matches that way, rather than even making use of WCW as a company? That way none of the younger wrestlers (O'Haire, Palumbo, Lance Storm, et al) would've had the WCW stigma attached to them like they did post-Invasion, and natural babyfaces like DDP and Van Dam could've just played those roles without being shoehorned into heeldom due to their WCW links. So basically, it's an injection of talent to freshen up the roster, rather than an 'Invasion'. Think of the buyout as bringing in more wrestlers rather than the tainted WCW name.
This worked well for UFC in bringing the PRIDE stars across, did it not? Some fans wanted a UFC vs. PRIDE type thing there but in reality UFC probably drew more by establishing guys like Rampage and Wanderlei as stars in their own right and by running the dream matches that the fans had wanted for years anyway (well, most of the time…). I dunno, just some food for thought.

Yeah, but that's apples and oranges.  PRIDE had zero value except for the talent, whereas WCW's only value was the name.  While freshening up the roster also could have worked as a strategy, clearly the MONEY ($$$$$$$$$$!) was in pulling the trigger on the one feud that fans had been waiting for 20+ years to happen:  WWF v. WCW itself.  Guys like DDP and Van Dam were useful as new uppercard players, yeah, but the only storyline that the fans wanted to see was them invading from another promotion.  It was a rare case where the fans were almost literally trying to give the promotion their money and only needed the slightest excuse.  

Could the Invasion really have worked?

Discussion for the mailbag:
I've seen various ideas on how the Invasion could have been made better.  Some are better than others.  However, could it have ever really worked as a true "WCW Invasion" in 2001?  WCW was a joke of a promotion that nobody cared about or watched by the time it folded.  The WWF had many of the greatest wrestlers of all-time in their primes at the time.  It is pretty certain that for the Invaders to be taken seriously, they would've had to convincingly destroy/go over the WWF guys for a while before the WWF got their revenge.  So, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Buff Bagwell, DDP, etc. were supposed to just roll over Austin, Rock, HHH, Taker, etc. for six months or so?  It's not believeable and no one would buy it.  They didn't have the option of guys like Sting, Flair, Hart, Goldberg or Hogan at that point, so honestly what could they have done differently to make a full-scale "invasion" better.  Plus, Hogan's reaction at WM X8 showed that the crowd thought of most of those established WCW guys as nostalgia acts by that point anyway.  I think Vince did the best he could with what he had, it just wasn't much.  I personally believe several "Radicalz" like factions showing up over time would've been more effective.

Wrestling is WORKED.  Booker T and DDP absolutely should have come in and rolled over everyone for six months because Vince controls the outcomes of the matches and owns all the properties.  It was entirely in his best interest to make people care about the WCW name.  You know how you make people believe someone can beat Steve Austin and The Rock?  You have them beat Steve Austin and The Rock.  
And they absolutely did have the option of Goldberg and Flair, they just didn't want to pay them.  Big difference.  
The invasion absolutely would have worked 100%.  If they had done a triple main event at the Invasion PPV with Goldberg v. Austin, Booker T v. HHH and DDP v. The Rock they could have done rematches and six-mans and switched them around in different combinations for months afterwards and printed their own money for five years.  As it was the PPV did one of the biggest buyrates in history for a non-WM show with a shit main event,so obviously people bought it no matter how lame it was.  

The InVasion

Scott, love the blog and your work.  The Rocks past run has re-engaged my interest in WWE after being driven away due to the atrocity that was the Invasion period.   I’m sure you’ve answered this somewhere, but in your opinion why did the Invasion angle blow so much?  Was it because Vince didn’t pay out for the big guns?  Was it the wretched involvement of the McMahons on every second of tv, or just terrible overall booking?  This should have been a great time to be a fan but ended driving me completely away for a decade.  Most importantly, what do you think would have been the most effective way to play this out?  Thanks MH

The main reason was because Vince didn’t want to treat WCW as an equal to the WWF, even though he owned both promotions.  The money in the angle was simple:  WCW are the invaders and that’s the last bit of kayfabe that fans would wholeheartedly accept.  So they immediately burned through that entire angle, plus the ECW involvement, in one show and had nowhere else to go with it.  As well, they were doing a half-assed attempt to keep WCW running as a second touring company (an idea which eventually became the RAW/Smackdown brand split) and just couldn’t decide what they actually wanted to do with the whole thing.  So yeah, TERRIBLE booking plus Vince’s ridiculous need to “humble” people who dared work for his competition equaled the most money left on the table in wrestling history.  And the thing is that they didn’t even NEED the big guns.  The novelty of seeing DDP and Booker T would have been enough to make them into featured attractions, but again they didn’t fit with Vince’s mentality and so WWF guys had to become fake WCW invaders instead.  It was really cutting off your nose to spite your face.