- The Invasion (professional wrestling)
:"This article is about the storyline. For the pay-per-view, see WWF InVasion."
The Invasion was a
professional wrestlingstoryline in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) that began shortly after the WWF's purchase of World Championship Wrestling(WCW). It involved the WCW wrestlers "invading" WWF televisionin an attempt to "take over" the WWF.
The idea of a supercard featuring the two top promotions of the
Monday Night Warswas considered to be a "dream match" scenario in the eyes of many fans, as it would allow the fans to see which promotion would be kayfabesuperior. The angle began when Vince McMahon's son, Shane McMahon, announced on "RAW" that he bought WCW from under his father's nose. This led to several run-in appearances of WCW wrestlers during "RAW" and "SmackDown!" over the months after WrestleMania X-Seven. [cite web|title = Smash wrestling|author = Arnold Furious|date = February 14, 2004|accessdate =2007-12-12|url = http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=27730&s_question=invasion&]
In June 2001, the angle grew in intensity as the WWF storylines somewhat abated to make room for the central Invasion storyline. WCW and
Extreme Championship Wrestling(ECW) merged to form The Alliance and challenged the WWF's control over the wrestling industry. An Inaugural Brawl took place at the WWF Invasionpay-per-view, where Stone Cold Steve Austindefected and joined the Alliance. Many inter-promotional matches occurred after the Invasion between The Alliance and the WWF, leading up to the climax of the angle at Survivor Series, when Team WWF (The Rock, Chris Jericho, Big Show, The Undertaker, and Kane) defeated Team Alliance (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon) in a Winner-Take-All match.
Monday Night Wars
During the Monday Night Wars, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the two top
North American wrestling promotions, competed for ratings. Through developments such as the creation of the nWo and the Montreal Screwjob, fans continually compared the two promotions, and the Internet wrestling community was full of debate as to which of the two was superior.
Among other factors, however, mismanagement within WCW (such as allowing wrestlers themselves to book matches) eventually led WCW to a downward spiral from which it never recovered. The Monday Night Wars came to an end on
March 23 2001, when the WWF bought WCW for what was considered to be a bargain price.
The final night of the Monday Night Wars occurred on
March 26 2001: "RAW" primarily focused on the major storylines heading into WrestleMania X-Seven, while "Nitro" held their final episode with a "Night of Champions". Vince McMahon opened up "Nitro" and announced a simulcast later that night to address the future of WCW. Throughout "RAW", McMahon publicly named several WCW wrestlers who would not be retained. After Sting defeated Ric Flairin WCW's final match, the simulcast began. McMahon talked about the buyout of WCW and toyed with the idea of making WCW into a huge media conglomerate, much like the WWF. He asked the crowd who he should keep under his belt by mentioning names of WCW wrestlers and asking for a reaction. Lex Lugerreceived a negative reaction from fans, and Hulk Hogan, Buff Bagwell, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Sting, and Goldberg received positive reactions. Vince then proceeded to fire them all, however, to the cheers of the "RAW" crowd and the jeers of the "Nitro" crowd. McMahon then announced that he would sign the contract and make the purchase official at WrestleMania. Shane McMahon, however, appeared on "Nitro" and announced in kayfabe that he had signed the contract and purchased WCW out from under his father's nose,cite web|author = Nick Ponton|date = March 26, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|title = RAW Results 3-26-01|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw3-26-01.html] planting the seed for what was considered a lucrative future storyline opportunity. The Invasion did not begin immediately afterwards, as the WWF was preparing for WrestleMania X-Seven, the year's largest show, mere days away.
The WWF had effectively doubled the size of its roster through its acquisition of WCW, and as a result, there was not enough screen time for everyone. The original plan was to find a time slot on TNN to continue running WCW as a separate entity. Polls were even put up on WWF.com and WCW.com to decide the name of the new show. These plans fell through when no TV station would touch WCW because of its reputation for losing money. [cite web|title = Smash Wrestling|author = Arnold Furious|date = Nov. 10, 2003|accessdate =2007-12-12|url = http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=24718&s_question=invasion&] The WWF eventually carried out a brand extension, effectively reviving WCW under its own auspices and running two separate promotions, each with one of the WWF's two existing televised shows, "RAW" and "SmackDown!".
As part of its plans,
Lance Stormbecame the first WCW wrestler to appear on WWF programming, by making a run-in during a match on the May 28episode of "RAW". [cite web|title = RAW Results 5-28-01|author = Calvin Martin|date = May 28, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw5-28-01.html] At King of the Ring on June 24, then-WCW wrestler Booker T interfered during the Triple Threat Main Event match for the WWF Championship and almost cost Stone Cold Steve Austin the title. [cite web|title = Angle and Edge rule KOTR|author = John Powell|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/jun25_kotr-can.html] Additionally, Austin suffered fractured bones in his hand from the side slam he took from Booker into an announce table. The next night, a confrontation occurred between WCW owner Shane McMahon and WWF owner Vince McMahon. While Vince was in the ring, Booker T came from behind to deliver his trademark scissor kick to Vince. The WWF roster ran to the ring to the aid of Vince, but Booker T and Shane McMahon escaped through the crowd. This incident marked the official start of the Invasion storyline, to which "RAW" announcer Jim Rossannounced, "The battle lines have been drawn!"cite web|title = RAW Results 6-25-01|author = Calvin Martin|date = June 6, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw6-25-01.html] "
The WWF eventually began to recognize WCW and tested the idea of a brand extension by giving WCW the final twenty minutes of "RAW" with Scott Hudson and
Arn Andersondoing announcing duties in place of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman. During a match between Buff Bagwell and Booker T for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, WWF wrestlers Kurt Angle and WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin interfered in retaliation by beating Booker T up, with Bagwell joining Angle and Austin by attacking Booker T. [cite web|title = RAW Results 7-2-01|author = Calvin Martin|date = July 2, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw7-2-01.html] This match did not go over well at all with the audience in attendance. One source cites that the match should have showcased the best of WCW but instead featured too many restholds and not enough action.cite web|title = This day in wrestling history... (7/3)|author = Buck Woodward|date = July 3, 2006|accessdate =2007-12-12|url = http://www.gamespot.com/pages/unions/read_article.php?topic_id=24766278&union_id=392|quote = what many fans felt was the worst main event in the history of the program... The match was embarrassing, and chants of "Boring" and "This Match Sucks" were clearly heard throughout.] The audience jeered at the wrestlers with chants of "This match sucks!" and "Boring!" A WWF source close to Vince McMahon said that Vince had "absolutely hated" the segment. This was the last time a WWF broadcast would showcase the WCW in this fashion.
Up until this point, the WCW contingent were being built up to being malcontent faces rising up against the heel Vince McMahon, because of Vince's bluster during the final "Nitro" broadcast and Shane's usurping of the WCW ownership. Originally, WCW talents were meant to attack strictly heel WWF wrestlers. The strongly negative reaction of the core WWF viewership to the WCW product and talent, however, coupled with the reality that a WCW wrestling program to appeal to WWF fans would not come to fruition, led to the entire WCW contingent to abruptly turn heel. One example was the heel gimmick of then WCW Alliance Member,
Diamond Dallas Pageengaging in a feud against the babyface The Undertaker. [cite web|title = DDP Interview|author = Patrick Hickey Jr.|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://patrickhickeyjr.tripod.com/ddp_interview.html]
Addition of ECW
July 9on "RAW", Kane was scheduled to face Mike Awesomeand Lance Storm in a handicap match. Chris Jericho came out and offered to be Kane's partner, thus turning it into a tag team match. Near the end of the match, Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on Lance Storm. As the move was being applied, however, Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamerran through the audience and into the ring and started to beat on Kane and Jericho. In response, WWF wrestlers consisting of The Dudley Boyz, Tazz, Justin Credible, Rhyno, and Raven (all former ECW wrestlers) ran to the ring. After a brief stand-off, the WWF cavalry turned around and attacked Kane and Jericho. This prompted Paul Heyman to leave the announce table and enter the ring. After high-fiving the wrestlers, he announced that ECW has been brought into the Invasion. Heyman talked about how tired he was sitting beside Jim Ross and discussing WCW vs. WWF, stating that he felt that everyone had forgotten about ECW and announced, "This Invasion just got taken to the extreme."
Later during the night, Shane and Vince McMahon bumped into each other backstage. Shane told his father that ECW needed to be taken care of and pointed out that there were 10 ECW wrestlers under Heyman's belt. He suggested that he would take five of his WCW wrestlers and have them team up with five of Vince McMahon's WWF wrestler's later that night to take out ECW. Vince agreed but stubbornly insisted that WCW would eventually meet its demise when all was said and done.
At the end of the night, the WCW wrestlers came into the ring, accompanied by Shane McMahon. The WWF wrestlers then came into the ring and, before ECW entered, the WCW and WWF wrestlers started to brawl. The WWF wrestlers cleared the ring but then were stormed by the ECW wrestlers and taken out. After this, WCW's men came into the ring and high-fived the ECW men. Paul Heyman and Shane McMahon then hugged and started to dismantle the WWF wrestlers. Vince McMahon, stunned, came out and asked what was going on. Shane McMahon responded that he was responsible for all the events that just transpired and announced that ECW and WCW merged to form The Alliance. He then announced that the new owner of ECW was
Stephanie McMahon.cite web|title = RAW Results 7-9-01|author = Calvin Martin|date = July 9, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw7-9-01.html]
tone Cold's leave and return
Stone Cold took a change in character during this time. Instead of being a beer-drinking redneck, he was more emotional and tried to cheer-up Vince McMahon, who was clearly stressed from the threat of The Alliance, by doing something generous like giving Vince a cowboy hat as a present. [cite web|title = SmackDown! Results 7-5-01|date = July 5, 2001|author = Calvin Martin|accessdate =2007-12-12|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/smackdown/smackdown7-5-01.html|quote = Austin gives Vince a present from Texas. Austin says he was in such a good mood he bough himself one too. The presents are sterling cowboy hats.] During a
July 12"SmackDown!", Stone Cold played " Kumbaya" and " We Are the Champions" for McMahon, to which Vince was unresponsive. Later that night, Vince McMahon came out and asked Stone Cold to come to the ring, announcing him as the man that would lead Team WWF into the pay-per-view and into victory. Upon entering, Vince McMahon told Stone Cold that he had changed quite a bit since WrestleMania, and when the WWF goes up against The Alliance at the upcoming pay-per-view, he did not need a Stone Cold that gave him hugs and gifts and baked him cookies. He needed the "old" Stone Cold who was a "beer-swilling, foul-mouthed SOB" and the "old" Stone Cold that "didn't take shit from anyone." He asked Stone Cold to knock him down, even yelling to the crowd, "If you want Stone Cold to beat the living hell out of Vince McMahon, give me a hell yeah!" to which the crowd responded enthusiastically. Stone Cold, however, shook his head and proceeded to leave the ring, turning his back on Vince McMahon. Later that night when Diamond Dallas Page and Shane McMahon went up against the Undertaker and Kurt Angle, many members of the Alliance interfered. Kane and Jericho came to help their team, but the Alliance's numbers were too many, and without Stone Cold to back up his teammates, Team WWF was overwhelmed.cite web|title = WWF SmackDown! results 7-12-01|author = Big Calbowski|date = July 12, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/smackdown/smackdown7-12-01.html]
July 16edition of "RAW", Stone Cold was shown drinking and playing pool at a bar downtown. During the night, Vince McMahon held a WWF meeting backstage. Undertaker and the APA gave a motivational speech on how they should not tolerate the Alliance any longer. After they were finished, Brooklyn Brawler wheeled Freddie Blassieinto the room so he could address the wrestlers and pump them up for the night. As the WWF wrestlers united, Stone Cold could be seen watching the events on the television at the bar. He proceeded to slam his cue stick on the pool table and left.
Later that night, DDP and Rhyno faced Kane and the Undertaker. During the match, there was interference from the Alliance. In response, The Hardy Boyz, the APA, Jericho, and Kurt Angle came to help their WWF allies, but more Alliance members came in and overwhelmed the WWF wrestlers. Backstage, many WWF and Alliance wrestlers were fighting each other, and the WWF seemed to be on the losing end of things. A truck was seen driving up to the arena, however, and Stone Cold came out with his cue stick and proceeded to beat down any WCW and ECW wrestlers in his path. He then came to the ring, trash-talking on the way down, and beat down the Alliance wrestlers, giving Stunners to most of the men in the ring. The WWF wrestlers had cleaned house and were standing tall. The WWF seemed to be in good shape for the upcoming pay-per-view with Stone Cold's return.cite web|title = RAW Results 7-16-01|author = Calvin Martin|date = July 16, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw7-16-01.html]
At InVasion, the Inaugural Brawl took place between Team WCW/ECW and Team WWF. The WWF consisted of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Kane, and the Undertaker, who all squared off against the team of DDP, Booker T, Rhyno, and the Dudley Boys. Near the end of the match, all of the wrestlers were outside of the ring except Booker T and Angle. Kurt Angle applied the ankle lock on Booker T, who tapped out, but no referee was there to witness it. Stone Cold then dragged a referee into the ring, but in a swerve, kicked Kurt Angle in the face, hit him with a Stunner, and placed Booker T on top of Kurt Angle and told the referee to count. Team WCW/ECW won the match due to Stone Cold's betrayal of the WWF.
The next night, Austin claimed he joined the Alliance because they appreciated him. He cited Vince's hugging of Angle and calling The Rock on the phone as signs that Vince did not appreciate Austin and accused McMahon of grooming Angle to be the next WWF Champion.cite web|title = RAW Results 7-23-01|author=Calvin Martin|date=2001-07-23|accessdate=2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/raw7-23-01.html]
The WWF gains momentum
Shane McMahon, on the
July 26edition of "SmackDown!", extended an invitation to The Rock, who had not been seen since the "RAW" following WrestleMania X-Seven, to the Alliance. Also that night, Kurt Angle challenged Booker T to a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match, which Booker T accepted. The WWF gained momentum when Angle beat Booker T with an ankle lock, taking the WCW Championship away from the Alliance.cite web|title = SmackDown! Results 7-26-01|author = Big Calbowski|date = July 26, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/smackdown/smackdown7-26-01.html] Angle's title run proved to be short-lived, as Booker T won it back on the July 30episode of "RAW".cite web|title = RAW Results 7-30-01|author=Calvin Martin|date=2001-07-30|accessdate =2007-12-09|url= http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/99654908572507.html]
On that same "RAW", The Rock returned for the first time since his kayfabe suspension on the
April 2edition of "RAW". Shane and Vince McMahon were in the ring that night, and each tried to convince The Rock to join their respective side. Shane McMahon took the liberty of reminding The Rock of how Vince screwed him out of the WWF Championship earlier that year at WrestleMania and also in a steel cage match the day after WrestleMania. Vince McMahon replied that Shane was somewhat accurate in his accusations but ceded that it was wrong for him to back Stone Cold, as he was a rattlesnake that he should have known would eventually bite him. He promised to The Rock that he had no intention of screwing him if he returned to the WWF but also ceded that he could not promise that he never would; if it was good for business, he said, then he just might do it. He told The Rock that he was at least being honest with him and pleaded for The Rock to trust himself, stating that his future was with the fans and the WWF. The Rock, however, gave Vince a Rock Bottom and proceeded to shake Shane's hand, but he then proceeded to Rock Bottom him as well. He picked up the microphone and emphatically asserted, "Finally, the Rock has come back... to the WWF." The Rock had chosen a side, and that side was the World Wrestling Federation.
His return led to a WCW Title match between The Rock and Booker T at SummerSlam 2001, which The Rock won, marking the second time the WCW Championship belt changed sides to the WWF. At that same pay-per-view, Austin retained his WWF Championship against Angle after Angle won by disqualification.
The following "RAW" and "SmackDown!" showings featured primarily interpromotional matches between the two companies. Austin stole Kurt Angle's medals during one of the shows, and on the
August 30edition of "SmackDown!", tied them to a cinder block and threw them in a river. [cite web|title = SmackDown! Results 8-30-01|author = Calvin Martin|date = Aug. 30, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url=http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/smackdown/99922372554703.html] The following "RAW", Debra and Stephanie bought a new truck for Stone Cold, but Angle came up from behind and nailed Austin in the back of the head with a pipe. He put a cinder block and rope in the truck, put Austin in it, and drove away on the truck. He threatened to throw Stone Cold into a river if he did not get a title shot. Austin complied and gave him a shot at the upcoming pay-per-view, Unforgiven. Angle said, however, that Austin was "still going into the water", but instead simply embarrassed Austin by throwing him into a kiddie pool. [cite web|title = SmackDown! Results 9-3-01|author = JARO|date = September 3, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/99957444756401.html] .
The WWF gained even more momentum at Unforgiven, as The Rock retained the WCW Championship in a handicap match against Booker T and Shane McMahon, and Kurt Angle made Austin submit to the ankle lock, winning the WWF Championship from Stone Cold, putting both belts into the hands of the WWF. [cite web|title = Angle wins WWF title|author = John F. Molinaro|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/sep24_unforgiven-can.html]
Jericho and The Rock Feud/The Alliance mounts a comeback
There were several interpromotional matches after Unforgiven. Furthermore, a crucial plot point formed when, on the
October 8airing of "RAW", Jericho and The Rock teamed up against Shane McMahon and Rob Van Dam. During the match, Jericho mistakenly struck The Rock with a steel chair, costing them the match. The Rock confronted Jericho backstage after the match, leading to a brawl between the two. The two of them began a feud, although they often tagged together, had similar gimmicks of hurling comedic insults at Stephanie McMahon, and at one point won the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Also that night, Stone Cold and Kurt Angle faced off for the WWF Championship, and William Regal, who sat at ringside to ensure a fair match would take place, hit Kurt Angle with the championship, thereby backstabbing the WWF and costing Angle the title.cite web|title = RAW Results 10-8-01|author = JARO|date = October 8, 2001|accessdate = 2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/100259759243423.html]
The feud between Jericho and The Rock built up to a match at No Mercy on
October 21, where Jericho beat the Rock to win the WCW Championship (Jericho's first world title), and Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Angle and Rob Van Dam to retain his WWF Championship.cite web|title = McMahons ruin No Mercy|author = John Powell|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/oct22_nomercy-can.html]
October 29edition of "RAW", Shane McMahon told his father, Vince McMahon, that a member of the WWF would jump ship to the Alliance that night. Later that same night, Kurt Angle backstabbed the WWF by hitting Jericho, The Rock, Undertaker, and Kane with steel chairs. [cite web|title = RAW Results 10-29-01|author = Kevin Gregg|date = October 29, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/100441535959993.html] On the November 1edition of "SmackDown!", Angle, who originally led the WWF wrestlers, explained that he represented what is great about America -- he was a winner, and his defection came from his decision to fight along the winning side. That side included Stone Cold, a man Angle claimed knew how to win. [cite web|title = SmackDown! Results 11-1-01|author = Big Calbowski|date = November 1, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/smackdown/100467063665956.html]
The end of the Invasion
November 5airing of "RAW", Vince McMahon countered Kurt Angle's defection by stating that a member of Team Alliance would defect during a match at the upcoming Survivor Series. Stone Cold came out to confront Vince about it, and Vince stated that Stone Cold would be the one to defect. Because of this announcement, many Alliance members began to distrust Stone Cold, looking at him with suspicious eyes, to which Stone Cold vehemently denied the charges and called Vince a liar. [cite web|title = RAW Results 11-5-01|author = Kevin Gregg|date = November 5, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/raw/100502023230576.html] Stone Cold went on to interrogate members of Team Alliance, questioning Booker T and sitting Rob Van Dam down in a room with a light shining on him. [cite web|title = SmackDown! 11-8-01|author = Big Calbowski|date = November 8, 2001|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.lordsofpain.net/reports/smackdown/100527549441968.html]
All of this led to a "Winner Take All" match at Survivor Series 2001, which pitted Team WWF (The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show) against Team Alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Shane McMahon). The final three men in the match were The Rock and Jericho vs. Austin. Jericho was eliminated and, to continue the feud between the two men, attacked the Rock, even though Jericho's future was on the line if The Rock lost. The Rock and Austin continued to battle it out, and the referee was knocked down in the match. Austin stunned the Rock and pinned him, but there was no referee to count it. Austin approached the downed referee to try to revive him. As this was occurring, Angle ran to the ring, picked up the WWF championship belt, and nailed Austin with it, revealing himself to be the defector to which McMahon was referring the entire time. The Rock followed this with a Rock Bottom and a pin on Austin, to which the referee woke up and counted the three count. Team WWF prevailed, thus ending the storyline.cite web|title="WWF pulls out Survivor Series win" and Title Unification Information|author = John Powell|accessdate =2007-12-09|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/nov19_survivor-can.html]
After The Alliance was disbanded, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship would be simply renamed the World Championship, and later unified with the WWF Championship to form the WWF Undisputed Championship. The Undisputed Championship was originally represented with both the original WWF and WCW title belts, as the champion would carry both belts around, until being replaced with a single belt. At the beginning of the WWE Brand Extension, the champion would appear on both "RAW" and "SmackDown!" until then champion
Brock Lesnartook the title to "SmackDown!". Eric Bischoffintroduced the World Heavyweight Championship represented by the former WCW Championship belt and awarded it to Triple H. The Undisputed Championship would be renamed the WWE Championship, as having two world titles contradicted the term "undisputed."
Another WCW championship, the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, was rebranded as a WWE title and replaced the
WWF Light Heavyweight Championshipas the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Additionally, the WCW United States Championship was revived in 2003 as a "SmackDown!"-exclusive title, thus becoming the WWE United States Championship.
Although the WCW brand effectively died once and for all following the end of this storyline, ECW was "temporarily" revived by WWE in 2005 for the purposes of a special "reunion" show, ECW One Night Stand, held on
June 12 2005. [cite web|title = One great Night of hardcore hostalgia|author = Chris Gramlich|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/PPVReports/2005/06/13/1084767.html] The build-up to this one-shot event featured former ECW talent putting over the virtues of the brand versus the WWE product and appearances by several former ECW wrestlers not under contract to WWE. In 2006, it was announced that WWE would be reviving ECW as its third "brand" (to complement "RAW" and "SmackDown!"). The second One Night Stand, held on June 11 2006, led to the official debut of the new ECW the following Tuesday. [cite web|title = "ECW Resurrected at PPV" and comments about ECW's revival|author = Brian Elliot|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/PPVReports/2006/06/12/1628639.html]
Test won the Immunity Battle Royal, which granted him immunity from being fired for an entire year, beginning a storyline in which he would bully other wrestlers simply because he could. Every Alliance member who held championships were also immune from being fired, such as Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and Rob Van Dam. William Regal got his job back by being the first to join Vince McMahon's infamous Kiss My Ass Club. The remaining Alliance members (with the exception of RVD) would associate themselves with Vince, who immediately turned heel, against Austin, who immediately turned face. Kurt Angle remained a heel, despite being the one responsible for the end of the Alliance (it was written that Angle fooled everyone for his own glory). It was during this storyline that Stone Cold Steve Austin coined the "What?" catchphrase, which fans continue to chant to this day, long after Austin's retirement from wrestling. Ric Flair would make a return and become the (kayfabe) co-owner of the WWE with Vince, as Shane and Stephanie (kayfabe) sold their assets to Flair prior to the Invasion.
The Invasion angle was a large storyline that spanned for almost half of 2001 and brought about financial success for the WWF, such as the InVasion pay-per-view being one of the highest non-major event buyrates in the history of pay-per-views.cite web|author = Arnold Furious|title = Smash Wrestling|date=June 27, 2003|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=19473&s_question=invasion&] However, the Invasion storyline has come under criticism by wrestling fans and wrestling media,cite web|title = Rock wins WCW title|author = John Powell|accessdate =2007-12-09|quote = ...they have bungled the WCW-ECW invasion angle so badly that it will go down as the greatest screw ups in the federation's illustrious history.|url = http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/aug20_summerslam-can.html] with the storyline being called a flop.cite web|author = Bruce Chen|title = The Flop of the Invasion|date = May 19, 2005|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/columns/misc/brucec02.html|quote = Eric Bischoff was not present and Paul Heyman was not given as much authority as he could have been] Other media refer to the storyline as "one of the most poorly handled, ego-filled story lines in wrestling history."
The weakness of the Alliance
Throughout the storyline, many interpromotional matches had WWF wrestlers winning over WCW/ECW wrestlers, usually cleanly. In contrast, most of the Alliance's wins were due to interference or disqualification. For example, it took Tazz assisting Raven at InVasion for Raven to beat William Regal. The Rock, however, won cleanly at SummerSlam, despite Shane McMahon's assistance to Booker T.
One particular example of this was during the Inaugural Brawl at the InVasion pay-per-view. Besides Austin's turn in the match that was needed to secure a WCW/ECW win over the WWF, SLAM! Wrestling alleged that the Alliance wrestled poorly in comparison to the WWF wrestlers:
"Portrayed as disorganized and inferior grapplers, the ECW-WCW Team had more than its fair share of mistimed moves which hurt their own team members while the "WWF squad" of course wrestled like a well-oiled machines. The weakening of the ECW-WCW dubbed superstars didn't stop there either. The WWF faction battered their enemy tag partners off the ring apron over and over again making them appear weak and more times than not, the ECW-WCW grapplers gained an advantage only by double-teaming or employing underhanded tactics. The message sent was loud and clear. The best of ECW-WCW is not good enough to hang with the WWF."
It has been speculated that the reason for this was because Vince McMahon did not want the WWF to look weak while fighting the Alliance, as he worked very hard to put down his competition, especially WCW. [cite web|author=Tony Cottam|title=Smash Wrestling|date = June 28, 2003|accessdate =2007-12-09|url=http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=19533&s_question=the+invasion&] [cite web|author=Tony Cottam|title=Smash Wrestling|date = February 22, 2003|accessdate =2007-12-09|url=http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=14919&s_question=invasion&] Smash Wrestling alleges that WWF wrestlers needed to defect to make the Alliance appear to be a credible threat.
Overemphasis on the McMahons
The Invasion storyline was presented with a backdrop of a McMahon feud. In storyline, WWF was owned by Vince McMahon, WCW was owned by Shane McMahon, and ECW was owned by Stephanie McMahon. Although the feud did not center completely around the McMahons, the family feud storyline had been done many times before. [cite web|title=Stephanie betrays Vince at Armageddon|author = John Powell|accessdate =2007-12-09|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/dec13_armageddon.html] [cite web|title=Wrestlemania 2000 a flop|author = John Powell|accessdate = 2007-12-09|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/apr3_wrestlemania.html] In addition to this, the Stone Cold versus Vince McMahon feud was to start again when Vince McMahon hit Austin in the back of the head with a chair at No Mercy. As stated by a SLAM! Wrestling synopsis of No Mercy:
"For fans who didn't catch it the fifth, tenth or twentieth time they've run the angle, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Vince McMahon are about to feud once again... First up was Vincent McMahon labeling Austin with a steel chair as he was waiting to put a dazed RVD away... Three minutes later, it was Shane McMahon's turn to hurl Kurt Angle out of the ring and into a steel ring post. Vince tackled Shane over the announce table and the two began pummeling one another. Back in the ring, Austin laid a "Stone Cold" Stunner on to retain the belt as a disgruntled Vince scowled. Gee, how many times have we seen that scenario play itself out before? Austin wins. Vince fumes. Fans snore. Whatever."
The storyline also allegedly centered too much on the McMahons, who were getting more airtime than the wrestlers.cite web|title = Give It A Rest, Vince|author=Matthew Evans|date = November 8, 2007|accessdate =2007-12-09|url = http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/column.shtml?category=9&id=1186849555|quote = ...one of the most poorly handled, ego-filled story lines in wrestling history.]
It has been argued that the Invasion angle may have been more successful if Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff were perceived as controlling ECW and WCW, respectively, instead of Stephanie and Shane McMahon.
Lack of big-name WCW talent/Overemphasis on WWF defectors
Many fans had dreamed of a day where they could pit WWF and WCW wrestlers against each other, but the storyline's final match ended with four WWF wrestlers brawling it out. As a column in "Online World of Wrestling" stated:
"While it was good TV, it wasn't what everyone thought the WCW vs WWF would have been all about... When the fans of WWF and WCW reminisced about a WCW vs WWF match back in the glory days of Monday Night Wars of around 1997, their match would have probably gone like this: WCW would probably have a team of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, and Ric Flair against... maybe the WWF team of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, the Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and Mick Foley. Something like that anyway, obviously, even if Vince had done this thing right and signed some good WCW talent we would have had a match a little different due to... factors such as retirement or injuries or something, but still similar to that."
It is important to note that some of the WCW wrestlers' absences were out of the WWF's control. Many of WCW's top wrestlers had contracts with
AOL Time Warner, WCW's parent company, and were willing to sit at home rather than wrestle for less money. Ric Flair and Rey Mysterio were not signed until the end of the Invasion because they were tied to their contracts, and therefore their absence was out of the WWF's control. In addition, Scott Steiner was recovering from an injury.cite web|author=Arnold Furious|title=Smash Wrestling|accessdate =2007-12-09|date=June 27, 2003|url=http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=20986&s_question=the+invasion&] [cite web|author = Arnold Furious|accessdate =2007-12-09|date = June 30, 2003|title = Smash Wrestling|url = http://www.firetank.com/smashwrestling/wguruanswer.shtml?autoid=19613&s_question=invasion&] Others, such as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Goldberg, were not signed until well after the storyline finished. Because of this, the WWF's opponent allegedly lacked the strong identity of WCW.
To bolster the ranks of WCW (in lieu of big WCW names), some WWF wrestlers (such as Stone Cold Steve Austin) defected and joined the Alliance and were pushed as the leaders of the Alliance.cite web|title=Austin turns at Invasion |author = John Powell|accessdate =2007-12-09|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingPPV/jul23_invasion-can.html] Austin, who had worked as a mid-carder in WCW and ECW but had found his greatest success in the WWF and was seen primarily as a WWF wrestler, was pushed as the leader of the Alliance and a more important player during the Invasion than the bona fide WCW or ECW members of the Alliance. Several top WCW and ECW talents who were top superstars in their previous companies, such as Diamond Dallas Page, Justin Credible, Raven and Tazz, were put down into low-mid card matches, while lesser-ranked WWF wrestlers who defected to the Alliance, such as Test, were given a greater push.
In the final Survivor Series main event between the WWF and the Alliance, the Alliance was represented by three WWF wrestlers -- Austin; Kurt Angle, who, prior to the Invasion, had never wrestled a match for WCW or ECW; and Shane McMahon -- and only two bona fide WCW or ECW wrestlers, Booker T and Rob Van Dam. McMahon, Booker T and Rob Van Dam were the first wrestlers eliminated on the Alliance's team, resulting in the last survivors representing the ostensible WCW/ECW entity being two WWF wrestlers.
The Alliance (professional wrestling)
* [http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=36249 In My Opinion the reasons why Pro Wrestling took a fall in the early part of this century] by Darrell Mays
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