Looking Back at the WWF vs WCW Invasion (Part One)
With recent events going on in WWE with NXT invading both Raw and Smackdown and the timing of my vintage viewings has reaching the summer of 2001. I figured now would be a perfect opportunity to write up a series of articles looking back at the WCW invasion of WWF in 2001. I’ll recap critical moments involving WCW during this timeframe and give my analysis of the good and bad during this saga. I’m sure Survivor Series 2019 will come and go before I conclude this series. However it’s going to take some time to watch every Raw, Smackdown, and pay per view so bare with me.
Perhaps we better start from the beginning. September 4, 1995 WCW Monday Nitro made it’s debut going head to head with WWF’s Monday Night Raw. Okay maybe not that far. Let’s fast forward 288 episodes. The final episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Vince McMahon of course made the major announcement at the start of both programs that he was buying WCW and would wait until Wrestlemania and have Ted Turner deliver the contract himself to make it official. However someone else swooped in and put the pen to paper before Vince. It was none other than Vince’s son Shane McMahon. Shane showed up to the final Nitro and told the world he owned WCW. Things got worse for Vince when Mick Foley announced that he was the special guest referee for his street fight match against Shane at Wrestlemania 17.
The match was of course filled with Shane McMahon crazy spots. Trish Stratus pushed out Linda McMahon in a wheelchair who has been heavily medicated ever since Vince wanted a divorce and started a fling with Trish. Stephanie and Trish of course had their rivalry and brawled to the back. Mick Foley of course didn’t want Linda out there so he tried taking her back, but Vince took him out and put Linda in the ring. Vince assaulted Shane, but Linda low blowed Vince. Mick Foley then got revenge on Vince for attacking him and setup Shane to hit the Coast to Coast with a trashcan on Vince to secure the win.
Shane McMahon wasn’t around alot after Wrestlemania, but Vince’s shocking alliance with Stone Cold Steve Austin made for some interesting WWF television for the next few weeks. The Two Man Power Trip with Triple H was formed and The Rock was suspended indefinitely by Vince eliminating their biggest rival. Triple H then won the WWF Intercontinental Championship and The WWF Tag Team Champion Brothers of Destruction challenged The Two Man Power Trip in a match for all the titles which Austin and Triple H won. Triple H ended up losing the Intercontinental Championship at Judgement Day to Kane in a Chain Match, but Austin survived the Undertaker in a WWF Championship No Holds Barred match. Earlier in the evening, Chris Jericho and his mystery partner Chris Benoit became number one contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship winning a tag team turmoil match. This is pivotal for what happens shortly. In what many regard as one of the greatest matches in Raw history. The Two Man Power Trip defended the WWF Tag Team Championship against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. Triple H tore his quad in this match knocking him out of action for up to six months. This allowed Benoit and Jericho to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. With Triple H out, the Two Man Power Trip was finished and one can only wonder if this sped up what happens next.
May 28, 2001. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Many wrestlers claim Calgary as home. One wrestler in particular though always uttered those three words in his opening promo. This individual happened to show up on Monday Night Raw and superkicked Perry Saturn in the head contributing to the massive amounts of head trauma he suffered. Lance Storm in wrestling attire attacked and ran thru the crowd. The invasion has begun.
May 31, 2001. Kurt Angle had some ongoing issues with Shane McMahon. McMahon interrupted his ceremony where he recovered his gold medals from Chris Benoit a few weeks prior and Angle gave Shane the Angle Slam. McMahon got payback during Angle’s match against Chris Jericho on Smackdown. He distracted Angle allowing Spike Dudley who had his own problems with Kurt Angle for bullying him and his relationship with Molly Holly and took him out with the Dudley Dog. This allowed Jericho to get the victory. A furious Kurt Angle demanded to Commissioner Regal he have a match with Shane McMahon at King of the Ring.
June 4, 2001. This episode of Raw featured Kane and Christian wrestling in a match that ends up going outside. No big deal. Edge gets taken out inside the ring and all the sudden we see a new WCW logo and Hugh Morris hits the No Laughing Matter on Edge. Meanwhile Shane McMahon is shown in the production truck celebrating. Another strike from WCW.
June 11, 2001. Other than the random stalker vignettes that have been airing for a few weeks involving the Undertaker’s wife Sara, all is quiet. However Shane McMahon decides to stir the pot when he sees Kane backstage. Shane tells Kane that Kurt Angle has been known in the past to mess around with people’s marriages. Example of course being the Triple H and Stephanie McMahon love triangle. Undertaker is trying to find out who’s stalking his wife so Shane tells Kane that Angle might be the guy Taker is looking for. This leads of course to the Undertaker attacking Kurt Angle in the ring. Shane McMahon then sneaks in and takes Angle down with his own move the Angle Slam and escapes. Meanwhile Test is at WWF New York addressing the rumors of him going to WCW since he’s friends with Shane. Test says he may want a piece of that action.
June 14, 2001. Smackdown features a WWF Hardcore Title match between Rhyno and Test. All the sudden Shane McMahon shows up with Stacy Keibler. Keibler gets on the apron and distracts Rhyno. This gives Test the opportunity to throw a trash can to Rhyno and then take him down with the big boot. Test pins Rhyno and becomes the WWF Hardcore Champion.
June 18, 2001. After weeks of wondering who was stalking the Undertaker’s wife Sara, we finally get our answer. It’s none other than it’s me, it’s me, it’s DDP. Diamond Dallas Page is the one going after the Undertaker and his reasoning is because he wants to go after the biggest dog in the yard. He challenges the Undertaker to make him famous.
June 21, 2001. Smackdown features the four men in the King of the Ring Edge and Christian taking on Kurt Angle and Rhyno. Angle and Rhyno are victorious, but Shane McMahon strikes again hitting Angle with a kendo stick. Undertaker of course calls out DDP, but DDP isn’t there. DDP is at Undertaker’s house and begs him to make him famous at King of the Ring.
June 24, 2001. King of the Ring starts with Diamond Dallas Page saying he’s going to make the Undertaker famous, but Taker is nowhere to be seen. The main event of the evening features Stone Cold Steve Austin putting the WWF Championship on the line against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit in a triple threat match. Rumors of course are running wild that if Benoit or Jericho win the WWF title that they’ll defect to WCW with it. Both of them of course were asked the question and denied it. The first semi final King of the Ring match featured Kurt Angle and Christian. Angle of course was looking to become the first two time King of the Ring winner, let alone doing it back to back. Christian looked like he had the match won after he took advantage of a distraction from Shane McMahon. However Shane pulled Christian out of the ring. This allowed Kurt Angle to win and move to the finals. Mind games at their finest. Edge defeated Rhyno meaning Edge and Kurt Angle were going to face off in the King of the Ring finals.
DDP is interviewed at ringside and all the sudden videos of him start showing up on the screen. He doesn’t like it all and wants the Undertaker to make him famous. This happens frequently during the evening as Page gets more and more frustrated. Edge and Kurt Angle face off and of course the ref happens to go down. This gives Shane McMahon the window to spear Kurt Angle and Edge follows up with a DDT to secure the King of the Ring. Kurt Angle’s dream of winning back to back King of the Ring’s is over thanks to Shane McMahon. More videos of DDP are being shown and he’s losing it. Sara reveals herself as the one making the videos and the Undertaker goes to the ring to make DDP famous. Taker of course takes his time walking to the ring, even stopping to put on his gloves. Undertaker destroys DDP for the most part during this brawl. DDP was able to sneak a low blow in, otherwise it was all Taker. Sara comes down and starts filming the assault on camera. DDP finally manages to escape into the crowd, but he got destroyed.
Shane McMahon faced Kurt Angle in a street fight. This was Kurt Angle’s third match of the evening. Angle dominated most of the match. Shane of course is known for his high risk spots including a shooting star press attempt that went bad when Angle moved out of the way. Announcer table, weapons, it was your typical street fight. The match ended up on the stage and this is where the memorable spot takes place where Angle suplexes Shane into the glass KOTR panel shattering it. Blood everywhere and Angle tried suplexing Shane again thru another glass panel. Twice it wouldn’t break so Angle just grabbed Shane and tossed him thru. Angle tried going for a pinfall cover, but it wasn’t falls count anywhere. Angle had to get Shane back in the ring so he used a storage cart nearby and wheeled him back down. Angle went for the cover, but Shane kicked out shocking everyone. Shane managed to get some offense in with a trash can lid, but it was Angle who took control again. He put a board on the top turnbuckle and managed to Angle Slam off the top rope thanks to this board putting him away once in for all. This wasn’t the last WCW incident of the evening though. The main event we seen WCW World Heavyweight Champion Booker T attack Stone Cold Steve Austin and tossed him into the the commentary table. While Austin survived as WWF Champion even after his attack from Booker T, this rivalry is far from over.
Steven’s Take: As much crap as people give Shane McMahon these days, this match he had against Kurt Angle at King of the Ring was top notch for a street fight. I also enjoyed watching the friendship of Edge, Christian, Kurt Angle, and Rhyno disintegrate once they were all vying to become King of the Ring. Looking back though, the WCW Invasion kind of starts off a little weird and slow. Why are WCW wrestlers running in with their wrestling attire on? I never understood why Lance Storm and Hugh Morris were wearing their attire? Let alone they only made one appearance and then vanish for how long. The biggest WCW rivals in the first month were Shane McMahon and Diamond Dallas Page. It’s also worth noting the WWF doesn’t have The Rock since Vince suspended him and Triple H is out indefinitely with a quad injury. This would be a great what if story if Triple H never gets injured here. How much longer does the Two Man Power Trip last? Did the WCW Invasion get launched early because of Triple H’s injury? Where does Triple H play in all this? The other question is Chris Benoit. After King of the Ring, he’s out indefinitely as well with a neck injury. Benoit was a former WCW guy so were the rumors true of him possibly defecting? With that, I’ll have to continue watching as I relive the Invasion of 2001 and we’ll see what happens next.