July 22, 2001
The invasion angle is now known as, possibly, the WWF’s biggest epic failure of all time. But, at the time, believe it or not, this was actually one of the most anticipated WWF PPV shows that wasn’t one of the big four. This show drew a huge buyrate, which shows just how much interest there was in this angle and how badly the WWF screwed it up.
Billy Kidman . . . does everything he can to drag a good match out of unmotivated X-Pac.
Tajiri . . . proves his worth the WWF by outworking half the roster in a five minute match.
Steve Austin . . . tries to shock the wrestling world, a la Hulk Hogan, but fails to make even a fraction of the impact.
EDGE/CHRISTIAN vs. LANCE STORM/MIKE AWESOME
I’d quit watching WCW for the most part in 1999, so I don’t know if they had any teams that could have had a good match with E&C, but Storm and Awesome sure aren’t it. It’s worked mostly by the formula, with Awesome and Storm mostly being a total bore when they’re working over Christian. Christian takes a nice bump into the post that leads into Awesome working over his ribs with the big splash and a powerbomb, but that’s as good as it gets. The match is mostly about teasing dissension between E&C than it is about the WWF vs. WCW/ECW feud. The dissension is teased with spots like Edge’s failure to give Christian enough of a boost for his dive, Edge running into Christian on the apron and knocking him off, and Christian (the illegal man) dodging Storm’s superkick so Edge eats it. E&C, at this point in time, put their personal issues aside for the good of the WWF, and wind up winning when Christian spears Awesome while he has Edge up for the powerbomb. If nothing else, it’s an inventive finish, but it’s somewhat prophetic that the first official match of the feud was all about the WWF.
EARL HEBNER vs. NICK PATRICK
Expecting anything out of two career referees is expecting too much, although Patrick’s baseball slide looked surprisingly decent. The crowd cares more about Mick Foley being the ref than they do anything else about this match, not that one could blame them. The pop is huge when Mick ejects the WCW referees for attacking Hebner on the floor, and when Mick counts the pin after Hebner’s ugly tackle/spear/whatever it’s even bigger. So I guess this is a good example of how much fan interest there really was in this angle as a whole, but it’s not worth analyzing beyond that.
FAROOQ/BRADSHAW vs. CHUCK PALUMBO/SEAN O’HAIRE
There isn’t much to see here besides roughneck brawling, which isn’t much of a surprise with the APA being involved. If nothing else, the brawling looks good, which speaks somewhat to how seriously all four are taking the WWF/WCW rivalry, but that’s about all there really is to say about the match. There’s no attempt to take the match anywhere or tell any kind of story. It also doesn’t help that APA didn’t seem to care much about helping their opponents look good, just look at the finish, Bradshaw blows off Palumbo’s superkick and kills him with the lariat. It’s fine that APA went over here, the pop at the end is enough to justify that, but it’d have been nicer to see this as more of a roller coaster ride, than an extended squash.
X-PAC vs. BILLY KIDMAN
At first his looked like it was going to be a good junior match, especially after Kidman started taking to the air and sent X-Pac to the floor and then followed him out with the sliding facebuster. Then X-Pac went on offense with extended chinlocks and this started going downhill in a hurry. Things pick up a bit toward the end with Kidman dives into the X-Factor for a near fall. X-Pac makes the same mistake of going for too much too soon when he tries the Bronco Buster and Kidman get the foot up, showing he remembered what Shane McMahon (who’d feuded with X-Punk in ‘99) told him about needing to outsmart X-Pac to win. Kidman quickly follows up by hitting the SSP and finally getting WCW on the board. It’d have been interesting to see how Kidman against TAKA, Essa Rios, or Dean Malenko might have turned out, but this is still the best match of the show up to this point.
WILLIAM REGAL vs. RAVEN
This isn’t much more than a shorter and less lopsided version of the APA match. The intensity is nice, and, again, it speaks volumes for how much importance the workers are trying to place on the overall feud between the promotions. Both guys are able to wind up looking good at times, but their work is ugly more often than not. A good example of that is when Raven throws Regal to the corner and tries his lariat. Regal didn’t seem to know the spot was coming and just sold the corner shot, causing Raven to have to stop and reposition himself to hit the lariat. Regal also tries some chain wrestling toward the end, which doesn’t go well, but I do give Raven some props for showing that he could actually wrestle. The run-in from Tazz could have been done without, but it wasn’t totally worthless either. Tazz hitting the suplex behind the ref’s back enabled Raven to finally hit the DDT, which he’d been have trouble doing, so it had its place, but clean finishes are always preferred on PPV.
BIG SHOW/BILLY GUNN/ALBERT vs. CHRIS KANYON/SHAWN STASIAK/HUGH MORRUS
Normally I’d complain that six wrestlers only got four minutes, but it’s probably for the best with the talent involved here. The Kanyon/Gunn exchanges are the best of the match by a mile. Kanyon takes a nice bump from the Electric Chair and sells it appropriately. Kanyon has his own nice moment when he gives Gunn a Russian legsweep and rolls through it and does the Stroke. There isn’t much else that’s especially notable, although the triple military press at the beginning was fun, but the match is too rushed to really amount to much. Stasiak cheap shotting Gunn to let Morrus steal the pin was fine in theory, but with such a short match, he needed something bigger than a reverse DDT to keep Billy down. The result here led to Kanyon declaring himself the MVP of the show and led to a little push for him, so something good did come out of its existence.
TAJIRI vs. TAZZ
Even though this is also really short, it winds up being rather good although it helps that these two worked together before in ECW. The hatred that had been present throughout the night is still there, and these two even attempt some storytelling with Tajiri being the underdog, but showing that he could take it to Tazz when he gets the chance. Tazz makes a good bully, although there are more physically imposing wrestlers on the roster than him, he drops Tajiri with suplexes, stiffs him with chops, and at one point cross faces the hell out him, just because he could. In fact, the only reason that Tajiri really gets in anything is because Tazz takes him lightly and opens the door for it. Tazz stops to play to the crowd and Tajiri does the handspring and knocks him to the floor, Tazz walks into the Tarantula and the hold wears him down enough for Tajiri’s near fall with the seated dropkick. Tazz taunts Tajiri after countering the kick into the capture suplex and gets the green mist, which lets Tajiri hit the buzzsaw kick for the win. This was what the APA tag match really needed to be, something for the fans to get emotionally invested in before giving them the result they’re hoping for.
JEFF HARDY © vs. ROB VAN DAM (WWF Hardcore Title)
This winds up being a lot like the Kidman/Waltman match, it starts off looking like it’s going to be good, and then crashes back to earth. They start out by scouting and avoiding each other’s shots, and doing it very smooth, which is impressive since they’d only worked together in a quickie squash match on RAW four years before, which isn’t even brought up by the announcers. It gets better when Hardy starts taking advantage of RVD’s crowd playing to get him in bigger trouble. The first one is Rob stopping to do his taunt, and Hardy dropkicks him over the top rope. A bit later Van Dam shows off by leaping up to the top rope when Jeff whips him into the corner, but Jeff follows him in and pushes him to the floor. RVD gets his own chance to outdo Jeff when Jeff tries his rail run, and RVD jumps up and meets him halfway and then knocks him off.
However, that’s as good as the match gets, after Jeff’s tumble from the rail it turns into mostly a stunt show (I almost feel like Ole Anderson writing that). Jeff climbs a ladder to dive onto RVD, and RVD gets out of the way and pushes the ladder over, Jeff takes a big spill on the floor. Jeff quickly gets on his feet and stalking Van Dam with a chair like he’s Jason Voorhees. Keep in mind that a similar bump had taken Jeff completely out of the WrestleMania XVI ladder match. Van Dam outsmarts him again and kicks the chair into his face and knocks him off the stage, which is somehow more deserving of a decent sell job than the ladder fall he’d taken five minutes earlier. They get back in the ring and RVD starts running through his usual spots like the corkscrew legdrop and the chair in the corner for near falls. Hardy gets his knees up on the moonsault and starts running through spots of his own as though he’s completely refreshed, if you just started watching the match at this point, you’d think that Hardy had been owning RVD the whole time. Jeff wipes out on the Swanton and is back to being all but dead. Van Dam’s selling was top notch during the stretch, but make up your mind, Jeff! RVD quickly finishes off Jeff with the frog splash before he has any other bright ideas. This got high praise at the time, mostly because the stunt show aspect was still somewhat fresh, but a match between these two in 2006 or 2007 would probably have been a whole lot better.
TRISH STRATUS/LITA vs. TORRIE WILSON/STACY KEIBLER (Bra and Panties Match)
Trish was a couple of years away from becoming the best woman worker in the fed (and not just by being the least horrible), but she looks far away from it here. This isn’t the sort of match you go into looking for good wrestling, but they impress with a few smart moments. The best one is Lita chasing Torrie around the ring and getting ambushed by the WCW girls and then stripped of her shirt. There’s another fun moment when Trish reverses Torrie’s victory roll and takes off her pants. There’s even some psychology involved, with Trish and Lita making sure Stacy is down for good before they try to take off his pants and win the match, Trish lays her out with the bulldog and then Lita does the moonsault just for good measure. The rest of this is about what you’d expect from a tag match with only one fully trained wrestler, but it’s surprisingly not too hard on the eyes.
STEVE AUSTIN/KURT ANGLE/CHRIS JERICHO/THE UNDERTAKER/KANE vs. BOOKER T/DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE/RHYNO/BUBBA RAY DUDLEY/D-VON DUDLEY
This is remembered more for Austin turning on the WWF and joining up with the invaders than it is as a match. That’s also probably for the best, because the match itself isn’t much more than thirty minutes of filler before the big swerve. Despite having thirty minutes to lay some groundwork, there’s nothing as far as establishing any story or weak link for team WWF before Austin lays out Angle. There’s some occasional respect given to the storylines with UT’s feud with DDP as well Austin going after Booker in revenge for his attack the month before. Beyond that, there’s very little else of any real substances, there’s even a noticeable lack of hatred and intensity throughout the match, and, if anything, this should have most hatred of any of the matches on this show. Everyone just comes in and does their stuff without any real thought put into anything. There’s no build to Austin’s turn, not even something simple like Angle bumping into him and knocking him off the apron, which would have made perfect sense with Austin’s knee suddenly bothering him after doing nothing for fifteen minutes. The match just breaks down for no good reason after Page gives Angle the Diamond Cutter and everyone brawls, leading to a few tables breaking. Angle is on the verge of winning when Austin gives him the stunner and lets Booker get the pin.
This was supposed to be the WWF’s answer to Hogan joining Hall and Nash at Beach at the Beach, and it’s sort of similar. Hogan and Austin’s turns were both on PPV shows in the month of July. It’d have been just like Hogan’s turn if Hogan had been all over WCW TV before the show, if he’d been a heel from March up until a week before the PPV, and if Hogan had feuded with Sting and Luger in April and May and then feuded with Savage in June. So yeah, it’s just like when Hogan turned heel and shocked the wrestling world . . .
Conclusion: What makes this show such a disappointment is the fact that the fans were red hot for the whole show and they never got a good payoff from their investment. None of the matches are especially worth going after, and unless you want a good example of how even the almighty titan can screw up something easy, then this is something to skip.