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WWF Invasion Review 7.22.01
by Alex Carnevale

Liiiiive from the Gund Arena
Cleveland, OH
Announced attendance: 17,964

Thanks to [slash] wrestling for this and match times.
The show starts off with what was maybe the best opening promo for a PPV I've ever seen, topping Vince McMahon's Utopia by a wide margin. They use FDR in the promo for godsakes. The, twenty-seventh president of the United States! I know!!!

1. Lance Storm/Mike Awesome v. Edge/Christian Not what I would have picked as the opener, but okay. Edge v. Storm, and the jitters are evident as they blow a dropkick spot early. Then, in a few spots, 18-20 people almost die. Christian totally blows Poetry in Motion outside of the ring, taking an ugly fall that had me scared for his life. Tremendous. Double armdrag from the 7-time champs. Lance Storm and Mike Awesome then begin to administer a brutal beating to Christian, just murdering him with everything in their arsenal. Storm, for instance, hurls Christian right into the post back-first at full speed, working over the boy's innards. What a beating. Lariat, and Awesome hits the running splash for two. Rib-breaker and knee to the gut for two. Christian hits a running crossbody and sells the ribs. Hotshot sets up an Awesomespinebuster with a bridge (!) for two. Awesome extends the moveset for two. Another Storm backbreaker sets up the frogsplash, but Edge saves. Awesome goes for a top-rope Awesomebomb, but Christian backdrops him. Thank God. Edge cleans house. Thanks for wrestling, buddy. A miscommunication on the apron leads to a roll-up for two. Small-package but no ref. Christian switches the small package to a WWF advantage...for two. Christian double flying clothesline! Spear for two. Edge takes a superkick but Christian takes Storm out of the ring. Awesome, meanwhile, goes for the Awesomebomb- but Christian runs in, clips the knee and Edge falls on top for three at 10:11. ***3/4 Aside from the sloppiness, this was the best evidence yet that Christian is the real deal and the WCW team is the next British Bulldogs. Great opener.

Foley will be the ref for the ref's match, for no reason at all it would seem.

2. Nick Patrick v. Earl Hebner. This is nothing shit on a card that didn't need it. Hebner pins Patrick with a spear at 2:50. Whatever. Foley assaults Patrick with Socko to a mediocre pop. I guess nobody does care about you, Mick. Are you in...or are you out?

3. O'Haire/Palumbo v. APA. Kevin Nash receives his first WWF mention in a while by JR before the match. Bradshaw plays Ricky Morton, hot tag. This one is Crowd Killer, Inc. Match is boring, even more so than usual. Bradshaw nabs a powerslam for two. Fallaway slam, reversed for two. Bradshaw eventually wins this debacle with the clothesline from hell at a brutally bad 7:17. 1/2* This match called for a brawl and we were given a wrestling match. And it suuuuuuuuuuucked.

Vince & Jericho are ready for the main event.

4. Billy Kidman v. X-Pac. It's a relief to finally get a real singles match. Ross shoots on X-Pac's FedEx firing from WCW. Kidman goes shirtless and with tights for this one. Oooh, that's a new look. To my surprise, X-Pac plays the clear heel in this match, weathering many of his usual chants. Waltman hits Kidman and gloats to huge heat. Kidman and Waltman do a nice counter sequence to start. Rana, and Kidman follows it up with an enziguiri. He runs and slides out of the ring to hit a bulldog on Waltman to the floor. Neat. Headscissors, but Kidman takes a nastay bump to the outside. Waltman hits a nice-looking plancha and at this point the match goes into the trash. MMA Kick for two, and X-Pac kills the crowd with a sleeper. Kidman fights out, reversal comes eventually but Waltman hits a belly-to-back. X-Pac misses the senton and takes the Rydeen Bomb for two. Ten punch count, but Pac powerbombs out and tries a rope-assisted pin for two. YOU CAN'T POWERBOMB KIDMAN. Kidman goes for whatever off the top, but Pac counters with the X-Factor! Kidman kicks out at two! This is what Cobo and Shaddax and I were talking about in the '94 J-Cup: get over WCW by kicking out of the WWF finishers. Still, I don't think that's what they were going for. Bronco-buster is stopped, and Kidman hits the SSP for three at 7:13. **3/4 At least the right guy went over. Kidman was lookin' shaky on that SSP, by-the-by.

DDP is a douche backstage.

Torrie and Stacy do a lesbian tease for their match that I'm sure Eric S. will devote a paragraph to. I thought it was boring.

5. Raven v. William Regal. Now would it have been so hard just TO BOOK A FUCKING ANGLE FOR THIS MATCH!?!?!? Sorry. This bout has potential, but I won't hold my breath. The atmosphere does feel like WM. Butterfly suplex, and Regal goes for the STF, but Raven rolls out. Regal's chest is beet red, and I don't think anyone's slapped it. These guys work a decent, stiff match but the crowd could give a fuck. All the usual spots, with a typical nice build by Regal. This match really could have been something with more time, you know? Regal roll-up for two. Elbow for two. Northern Light release suplex for two. They both try the finishers, neither is successful. Tazz comes in and hits Regal with a suplex, setting up the DDT for three in 6:35. **1/2 They tried, but no angle=no heat.

6. Big Show/Billy Gunn/Albert v. Shawn Stasiak/Hugh Morris/Chris Kanyon. I spelled Hugh's name the way the WWF is spelling it. The WWF team starts off the match with stereo military presses, which is a nice visual. They keep it real, real short, and Kanyon puts himself over, so I can't complain. This match could have used Too Cold Scorpio. Billy Gunn hits a few nice moves too. I don't remember how the WCW team won, but they did. In 4 F'N :23, as it happens. Big guys punked them out with Showstoppers afterwards. Say it with me: This could have been on Heat instead of the decent Scotty 2 Hotty v. Chavo Guerrero match. Actually, don't say that with me.

7. Tajiri v. Tazz. I was eating during this one so I didn't write down any play-by-play, but it was certainly a decent little encounter. And by decent I mean little. And by little I mean both guys are like 4'11". Tajiri won clean with the green mist and a kick to the head in 5:44. Tajiri's snappy kicks got oohs and aahs from all of us. And by all of us, I mean me and Dave Meltzer. I rated it **, but your mileage may vary. Woo-ha. Ha. Fine match.

8. Rob Van Dam v. Jeff Hardy. The threat of a fatality in this one was very, very real. Van Dam may have the gayest tights I've ever seen. He looks like a baby lion cub. Huge pop for Jeff Hardy-but during the match itself ALL the heat is for RVD. He is over beyond belief in Cleveland, lemme tell you. A lot of flip-floppery, which we had to expect. Jeff kicks RVD in the face, dropkicks him into the turnbuckle, and hits a nice legs-only roll-up for two. Atomic drop, but RVD hits a standing moonsault for two. SUWA Driver (up-and-down pedigree(!)) and more flipfloppery for two. RVD takes a hu-age bump to the outside. Baseball slide sets up Running the Rails, but RVD steps up and knocks Jeff into the crowd. RVD moonsaults off the little balcony on the floor for two. RVD suplexes Jeff on the barricade and hits an ugly spinkick onto Jeff that hurt my eyes. Huge RVD chant for that one. RVD bows. Jeff hits an ugly-awful-nasty sunsetflip powerbomb on RVD to the floor. Holy shit. Sorry, what happens is Jeff climbs the huge ladder for no reason and RVD pushes it over so that Jeff lands on the rampway. Holy Jesus. RVD grabs a chair, but Jeff hits him with the fallen ladder and takes the chair. He nails RVD, but RVD hits the first believable Van Daminator. Awesome, awesome spot. Jeff takes another huge bump off the rampway on the Van Daminator. Twisting legdrop on the rampway is so out of place, but it gets two anyway. A running Van Daminator to Jeff in the corner sets up the split-legged moonsault-which hits knees. BRUTAL DDT for two. BRUTAL German suplex for two. Jawbreaker from Jeff sets a Swanton that misses. A Five-Star frog splash on the Hardcore Belt later, and RVD is your new WWF Hardcore Champion in 12:32. **** Two guys out there to destroy themselves to put on an awesome show succeeded. Not a MOTYC, but match of the night just the same. If, in hindsight, it turns out I overrated this bad-boy, fine. You can tell me it was spotty but I won't flinch.

McMahon sets up things with Angle in the back, as Angle says all the things that Meltzer always wanted him to say.

JR is on tonight with Cole doing the majority of PBP. JR was always a very good color man.

Foley refs this match for no reason whatsoever. It's so frustrating when they waste him like this.

9. Trish Stratus/Lita v. Torrie Wilson/Stacy Keibler. Trish reverses a victory roll pinning predicament and takes off Torrie's pants. JR- "That was one of the most scintillating reversals I've ever seen." Cole and JR are pretty funny throughout this one. Bulldog, and Lita hits the buttugly moonsault. WCW gets stripped in 5:03. * Not an awful match. Not enough gratuitous shots of the WCW ladies afterwards, though.

So the announcers plug that it's five to five going into the main event. The previous match ended before 10, but the entrances and buildup take so much time, it works out.

10. Inaugural Brawl: Dudley Boyz/Rhyno/Diamond Dallas Page/Booker T v. Kurt Angle/Kane/Undertaker/Chris Jericho/Stone Cold Steve Austin. Huge...uhhh...brawl to start. Entrances took up half the evening, by the way. Austin v. Rhyno to start, which invalidated Meltzer's claim that Austin would sit on the apron the whole night. Austin gets the better of that. Meltzer and I are shocked Austin's wrestling this much of the match. Austin hits a superplex in the opening minutes. Lunacy! Heresy! Rhyno v. Jericho now, and Booker tags in to pretty big heel heat. Bulldog for two. Springboard dropkick by Jericho. Missile dropkick on Booker. Halfway through Angle takes over as the superstar of the match and started "bringing it." The Dudleyz nailed the diving headbutt and eventually Page hit the diamond cutter before Taker starting the no-selling again. Heel miscommunication and Charles Robinson, meanwhile, took a Last Ride. Taker and Page left the match, and Austin starts calling a knee injury that had me scared. Kane chokeslams D-Von straight to hell through the announce table and Rhyno and Bubba Ray retaliate by suplexing Kane through the spanish table. Jericho takes Rhyno out but jumping off the apron and putting him through a propped up table. Angle begins to clean house, and he slaps the ankle-lock on Booker T. Booker's tapping, but there's no ref. Austin hauls a ref in, and then stunners Kurt Angle to turn on Team WWF. Booker T covers for the 1, 2, 3. Austin poses with Team WECW afterwards. ***1/4 Match did not fill the gaping hole in all of our lives. Why they couldn't just have an awesome match is beyond me, but from the use of the announce tables to the regular tables to the lack of nearfalls to the lack of selling this match had mediocre written all over it. A real disappointment.

But that's not what needs to be talked about, I guess. Was the turn the right thing to do? It was the only thing to do now, but it could have been set up about 400x better. My biggest fear is that this becomes all about Hogan the same way the nWo did. Austin should have cut a promo just like Hulk did right after the pay-per-view to explain his motives and put over the angle. Instead they held hands and once again the WWF has outsmarted its audience, putting them in their place, telling them again not to cheer for who they want.

I just don't think reducing Austin's marketability is the long-term solution for making the WCW-ECW angle profitable. But without Goldberg or Sting or Ric Flair or Scott Steiner, I'll resign myself to the fact that for now, it's the best bet-everything else will have to come later. There's no rushing this angle. I just know I won't be happy when The Rock pins Stone Cold to bring the title back to the WWF at Summerslam, because that payoff won't be enough for me. I'll wait for the long-term payoff-but I may be waiting a long time.

Thumbs up for Invasion, but it wasn't the blow-away show I know it could have been. Enjoyable all the way through, though, with a disappointing finish.

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Alex Carnevale
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