“Dad, just like WCW did in the past, how it kicked your ass in the past…it will again.”-Shane McMahon on the very last WCW Nitro
It was supposed to be the biggest PPV in wrestling history. We all dreamed about it. We all thought it would never happen. We all couldn’t wait.
Alas, in 2001, WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon and, instead of building WCW back up to the prominent company it once was, the WWF decided to jump right into an Invasion angle that ultimately needed ECW to be included to drum up additional interest (and bring Stephanie McMahon back to our TV sets).
Before this website launched, three of the Swoggle Squad members (Tope, Rich and myself) gathered at my old apartment, armed with literally $20 worth of candy, and prepared to watch one of my old VHS tapes my mother had found: WWF Invasion. Unfortunately, the VCR I had at the time didn’t work a lick, so we were rebuked to our fun-filled trip down memory lane and instead got massive stomach aches.
Fast forward a couple years and I finally procured a working VCR. Although Tope was hundreds of miles away, I brought Rich over and we watched this historic PPV together. Here is your WWF Invasion 2001 Retro Diary. Enjoy!
0:30- The opening video brings our first and probably last FDR sighting. He was sitting down. Go figure. Rich: “Was he penciled in for the main event?” Something tells me this opening video is the best part of the show.
1:47- There are two separate entrances on the stage, which I love. TNA really fucked that idea up.
2:00- The show is from Cleveland. Rich loudly laughs and says “Yes!” We see The World in New York City and a guy in an APA shirt raises his arms and his gut falls out.
3:15- Rich: “You want to get the show hot? Get Lance Storm on the mic.” Storm’s partner is Mike Awesome, who Rich didn’t know at all.
4:11- Edge and Christian make their entrance with Edge’s King of the Ring trophy/Stanley Cup. Rich liked it. I didn’t. That’s more than needs to be said about the KOTR trophy.
4:31- I’m not sure what was more obvious: Edge being on the juice in 2001 or Mike Chioda not being on the juice in 2001.
5:35- It took both of us this long to realize that Storm and Awesome didn’t even get intros on a PPV. Invasion!!!
7:19- Rich: “In retrospect, it’s really good that Christian cut his hair.”
8:37- JR tells us that the referees for each match were determined via a coin toss. I can’t wait for the referee War Games.
9:58- Mike Awesome with an Alabama slam. I’m sure if Hardcore Holly was invited to the show, he’d be pissed. By the way, WWE really dropped the ball on Awesome. At least WCW gave him bad gimmicks.
11:14 -Michael Cole says this match is more important than Edge and Christian’s TLC matches. Rich: “Nawwww…”
13:06- Good solid action…and Lance Storm loudly calling out spots. I immediately imagine The Undertaker grabbing Shawn Michaels by the throat.
13:50- Rich can’t wait for the big Mike Awesome comeback. I inform him Mike Awesome is dead and that doesn’t stop him from thinking it can happen.
14:00- Christian spears Awesome and Edge gets the pin. Good start to the show. How can they fuck this up?
15:00- Vince is backstage mimicking Edge and Christian’s celebration. William Regal enters wearing an unfortunate combination of his tights and a gray polo. Regal calls Raven a paunchy little toerag, which may be the most accurate description ever made about anything. Vince tells Regal to beat him like Washington did to the Red Coats. Cleveland totally doesn’t get it.
16:30- Nick Patrick vs Earl Hebner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rich immediately starts digging at his nuts. This match gets a pre-match video. A pre-match video. A pre-match video.
18:16- Mick Foley is the ref. That makes complete sense. Meanwhile, Nick Patrick comes out to a house band riffing on out of tune instruments.
19:41- In a span of one minute, I notice that Brian Hebner was put on the WCW referee team and Rich notices that Nick and Earl were forced to wear their ref gear. The show is obviously not in Canada because Earl gets a great pop.
20:54- Rich: “Without his moustache, Nick Patrick just looks like a really boring dad.”
21:40- As Rich winces, he proclaims that this should have been a LumberRef match. JR wonders how much gas either guy still has in the tank. The match has been going on 90 seconds.
22:39- A ref brawl ensues outside. Rich screams, “Why is the crowd reacting to this?!?!?!”
23:14- Earl Hebner wins with what I can only describe as a Pounce if Marcus Cor Von suddenly had a seizure. Patrick complains to Foley, who gives him a mouthful of Mr. Socko. It seems as though Socko was going through the motions. That’s right: I think a sock took the night off, so to speak.
25:34- Michael Cole with frosted tips and an out-of-date WWF New York shirt. Ten years later, the question has to be asked: is he a bigger douche then or now?
26:17- A backstage segment with Debra and Undertaker’s wife, Sara. So many jokes, so little time.
27:36- The highlights of the APA/O’Haire and Palumbo video: Bradshaw obviously being high in his still photo, Haku standing in the APA meeting wearing an ugly ass shirt and that’s about it.
30:00- Jim Johnston totally gave no effort in the WCW themes. O’Haire and Palumbo run to the ring presumably to avoid hearing it any more.
31:32- This show is starting to depress me. It just shows to me how bad they fucked up some people. O’Haire is one. Rich: “So far, every WCW guy’s gear is for a created wrestler.”
33:06- Faarooq never gets any reaction. Why is that? Nothing on the tag, nothing on a big shoulder tackle. I guess all people wanted from him was an introductory swear word.
34:20- I think we figured out why Chuck never made it big: JR tells us he’s a native of Rhode Island. Rich: “I love the ‘Teddy Long Fan Club’ double sign. I wonder if those guys still have that club.”
36:06- Cole and JR quietly bury the Natural Born Thrillers on commentary with little comments on how uncrisp their moves are. Hey, that’s our job 10 years after the fact. Leave it to us.
36:57- Rich: “One thing I love to do is watch Bradshaw wrestle, pre-titties.”
37:31- A “whiffed” superkick and a Clothesline from Hell ends it. WWF is up 3-0. I am surprised Vince didn’t book 84 matches for the WWF to win just to equal the Nitro win streak.
38:38- Vince is backstage with Jericho. Rich: “If anyone deserved to be burying WCW on this show, it’s Jericho.” Jericho lists a lot of fat words about Paul Heyman and calls him a big, white Shrek. These backstage descriptions are on point.
40:10- Rich thinks Stephanie’s shrieking was the inspiration for Daffney and I inform him that he is wrong again. Heyman builds up Kidman, who cuts a promo that really sucks.
41:00- Yo, you’re dealing with the X-Factor!!!! Rich and I pop huge and both agree: this show just got good.
42:24- Rich: “Seriously, the Light Heavyweight Title shouldn’t have been so small, even the Cruiserweights could palm it.”
44:02- Rich: “How sad is it that, at this same time, I had the same facial hair as X-Pac.” I tell him that is why I wanted him here.
44:50- Rich: “Goddamn, I loved Kidman…especially when he got out of The Flock and stopped scratching.”
45:46- X-Pac does a dive that Rich remarks Kofi gets five feet higher for. I retort with the fact that X-Pac was five times higher than Kofi. We call it a draw.
47:18- X-Pac with a sleeper. Rich: “That’s what people want in a Cruiserweight match!”
48:45- It seems like Jack Doan is fast counting every time, but I think it’s just because he has stubby arms.
49:56- Bronco Buster counter with a boot to the nuts followed up with a shooting star. The crowd stands up like crazy for it. Rich: “Bourne does it so much better and people barely flinch now.” Kidman’s shooting star is more crooked than Perry Saturn’s eyes.
51:30- Torrie Wilson and Stacey Keibler are backstage talking about their tits and legs. Stacey is talking like Drea de Matteo from The Sopranos. Rich: “They don’t like segments like that anymore and they don’t make THEM like that anymore.”
52:35- Raven vs. Regal. I have a smoke. Rich pees. You don’t miss anything.
60:00- Tazz runs out, suplexes Regal and Raven hits the DDT for the win. I checked NXT spoilers instead of watching it.
61:04- Vince is now with The Brothers of Destruction. Undertaker is shadow boxing, Kane is wearing a mask and Sara should be wearing one. Vince riles Taker up and the American Bad Ass is still boring.
62:20- Big Show comes out to a good reaction. Billy Gunn, The One, comes out with the most empathetic reaction ever. We get X-Factor twice!!! Albert gets the pop of an expired gallon of milk. Rich: “How did we get so lucky?”
64:34- WCW’s team consists of Shawn Stasiak, Kanyon and Hugh Morrus. They come out to Mr. Perfect’s music. Rich asks why. I tell him about Perfect Shawn Stasiak. He has no words.
66:51- Stasiak gets into the ring and gets “Meat” catcalls. Rich is right: “Cleveland loves Meat.”
67:46- I hate repeating myself, but… Kanyon wasted. Albert wasted. Billy Gunn: wasting a roster spot. One thing I will say: the crowd is even giving this match a reaction. If this show happened today with TNA and it’s Ezekiel Jackson, Justin Gabriel and still Big Show against Gunner, Hernandez and Rob Terry, it would elicit the response of a wet fart.
69:27- A rushed ending sees WCW lucking into a win. Big Show does the Alley-Oop. This show is coming to a screeching halt.
71:00- Shane is backstage with Booker T. We find out Chavo beat Scotty 2 Hotty on Heat. That is no surprise in any year. Booker T gets pumped up and shows us why he’s a bad commentator now.
72:00- Tazz comes out for his match with Tajiri. Remember all these references to guys being fucked up? Tazz is exhibit A through G.
73:16- Rich: “Why did they give Tazz the gear of a high school gym teacher?” By the way, how Rich felt about Kidman, I feel about Tajiri…fucking loved him.
76:28- These guys are just slapping each other around. I love it. We see a second Alabama slam. Holly had to have heat or something at the time.
78:46- Just once in my life, I want to kick someone hard as fuck like Tajiri.
79:25- Green mist and buzzsaw kick means Tajiri gets the duke. Good match. I was starting to lose faith in this show.
80:00- There is a Hardy Boyz promo that ends with RVD hitting Matt with a chair. Rich: “What joke can be made that hasn’t been made?”
80:53- I was right!!!! Holly is at The World, signing autographs. He rips a guy with a WCW shirt a new one. Rich: “That’s just poor business practices.”
83:00- We won’t be saying much here. This RVD/Jeff Hardy match is crazy good. If only they had kept this up… As Rich said: “They had so much in front of them… it was a really sad moment.”
85:58- Cole has to let people know he’s referencing the movie “The Matrix.” Retrospective! Rich asks me what would happen if The Hardyz were in the original ECW. I deadpan they’d be dead. I am 100 percent serious.
87:05- RVD vs Wade Barrett in a “Mess Up His Hair” match! Book it!
93:58- Nobody takes a DDT like RVD. Also, fuck these guys! See what happens when you put forth a full-blown effort. If Jeff was reading this, he isn’t anymore. I just said “blown.”
95:00- Jeff gets some color and it just looks like a part of his stupid hair. Huuuuuge 5 star and it’s all she wrote. RVD is the new WWF Hardcore Champion. Rich: “What happened to the WCW Hardcore Title?” I explain the awkward Meng/Haku and Barbarian debacle and he is sorry he asked.
97:15- Vince is now with Kurt Angle. Vince tries to motivate Angle up via USA anecdotes, but he responds with “Enough of this Americana bullshit!” Whoa! PPV swear word. Is it like a PG-13 movie? You can get one per show back then?
98:36- Cole takes Angle saying something about “serious behinds” and segues into the video about the Bra and Panties match. Rich mutters something, I ask him what he said and he responds “Nothing, it’s probably best you don’t look over here for the next 10 minutes.”
100:50- Of course Foley is the ref for this match! He likes tits and ass like I like beef jerky. Also, call me a sexist pig, but can we get back to this Divas Division? Rich and I are totally invested right now. So, don’t expect a lot of commentary. Plus, it’s hard to type with one hand. Ohhhhhhhh!
105:47- JR with the line of the night so far: “I’ve been wanting to call a wrestler ‘leggy’ for years.” Rich and I begin to book other Bra and Panties stipulation matches. Survivor Series Bra and Panties matches, Elimination Chamber Bra and Panties matches and even Hell in a Cell Bra and Panties matches are brought up. I mention Punjabi Prison Bra and Panties matches. Rich corrects me: “Poonjabi Prison Bra and Panties matches.”
108:34- JR wonders what Mr. Wilson is doing at home right now. Man, would we find out in less than two years! JR is great at commentary during this match. Lita and Trish win and that was too short. Trish and Lita don’t pay attention to the ramp and almost fall off of it. We almost got through one Divas’ segment without a botch.
110:37- The troops rally backstage! Here we go…
114:10- This video makes the whole story so much better. Highlights of the video: Stephanie’s stupid ECW hat and Freddie Blassie’s awesome promo.
117:12- The Alliance leaders come out. The ECW entrance video is nothing but shots of Stephanie. Grrrrreat. Rich notices Paul Heyman still wears the lanyard and remarks that “he felt that he still had to convince people he was in charge.”
119:13- I don’t know why, but I always liked Vince getting face pops. It’s so weird and rare; it’s always a pleasant surprise.
121:12- Oh, Limp Bizkit. I was really ready never to hear this shitty song ever again.
122:57- Heyman yelling “Gooooooooore” never gets old. Rhyno: another screw up on WWE’s part. Jericho’s music tears the house down. The alternating entrances are very cool except for Booker T coming out before DDP. That’s a big “HUH?”
125:01- Stephanie trying to dance to Booker T’s music equals epic fail. Kurt Angle gets his first face pop ever. Man, 2001 Kurt Angle! This was when he knew to pass the keys to someone else.
126:47- Before Austin can even come out, the two teams start brawling. Disturbed’s awful cover hits and Austin runs out and starts murdering everybody. Remember that…
129:39- Austin superplexes Rhyno. That’s the quickest I’ve ever seen that move done in a match. Rhyno has gotten in as much offense as a Pee-Wee football team playing the Green Bay Packers.
132:41- D-Von Dudley is in this match. Damn it.
133:30- Kane is so jacked and toned. Rich: “It’s like as soon as he lost the mask, he just got…melty.”
134:46- Every time The Dudley Boyz do the belly to back/neckbreaker combo, it’s always called a modified 3D. That bugs me and I don’t know why.
136:00- Undertaker seems so out of it in this character. I’m glad he got in shape and saved his career. This is like watching Undertaker in slow, boring motion.
139:50- Cole busts out a Vintage…and it’s for Booker T?!?! He’s only seen like three of his matches!
142:20- JR worries, if WCW wins, the business would go back to the “dormant, neutered” style. That comment has so much weight to it after 10 years of WWE dormancy.
143:30- I still debate this match choice. It’s decent action, but it’s just not as electric as it should be. The crowd is more interested in chanting “Paul E sucks!” Side note: I’m about 67% sure Rich has fallen asleep.
145:50- Were the WCW rings significantly different? Every time Booker T gets in the ring, he almost trips over the ropes.
146:44- Austin is very rambunctious. He keeps jumping in and nailing DDP and Booker T. Remember that…
149:35- We get an obligatory Pier 6 brawl to pop the crowd. That’s a good thing. I was starting to pull a Rich. It is official: he’s snoring.
150:43- Undertaker gives Little Naitch a Last Ride and we find out Charles Robinson takes a better bump than most of the roster.
151:47- Austin is getting medical attention on his knee while the Dudley Boyz and Kane brawl by the announce tables. Because they probably weren’t gimmicked, Bubba and D-Von get their own from under the ring. And…I was wrong. D-Von through the English table. The Spanish table goes “Awww…but we like sitting in a mess.”
153:20- Ole! Rhyno and Bubba suplex Kane through the Spanish table. Jericho jumps off the apron and knocks Rhyno through the table Team 3D set up. I’ve seen less chaotic Black Fridays.
154:48- Angle Olympics up on Booker T and Bubba, snatches Booker in the Ankle Lock and we get another ref bump.
156:10- Shane and Vince get involved. Angle takes control again with an Angle Slam and Ankle Lock on Booker. Austin throws the ref in the ring and starts beating Angle up like Karen Jarrett in court. Austin throws Booker on top of Angle and gets the win. The crowd boos in a “Man, that’s fucking stupid!” fashion, not in a “Wow, we are supposed to hate that guy!” way.
158:10- Austin and the Alliance leaders celebrate and the crowd still cheers Austin. I think he could line up 8 year old handicapped dogs and shoot them in the head and still get cheered for some reason. They all share beers, JR screams “Why?!?!?!” like Nancy Kerrigan and that’s the show.
159:00- I shake Rich awake and the look on his face indicates he just had a horrible nightmare. I feel his pain. As a matter of fact, everybody that watched WWF in the summer of 2001 feels Rich’s pain.
That’s another Retro Diary in the books. Next time, we’ll remember the candy.