The Invasion Angle
A look at one of the most surreal moments, and panned angle in Pro Wrestling history
So, growing up in the 90s you had 3 wrestling promotions to choose from, you had the good old WWF(now known as WWE) the classic promotion with stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Rock, Bret Hart and Undertaker (to name a few), then you had WCW which made use of former WWF stars such as Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Randy Savage, along with a select few of its own talent, namely Goldberg, DDP, Sting and Lex Luger. For the wrestler seeking an alternative, you had ECW, which made use of many different superstars, but mainly Raven, RVD, Sabu, Taz, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman and Shane Douglas.
WCW started the Monday Night War with WWF in 1996 with its ground breaking NWO Angle, an angle where you were led to believe Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were invading WCW and taking it over on behalf of the WWF. The (arguably) biggest shock in Pro Wrestling History came when Hall and Nash were facing Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger in a handicap match, saying that their third man would be there later. The Outsiders had the WCW Superstars in a tough spot, but suddenly Hulk Hogan came to the rescue. Hogan threatened the Outsiders, who backed away but suddenly *BOOM* Hogan just hit his signature Leg Drop on Randy Savage. "HOGANS THE THIRD MAN!" the crowd went livid and started pelting Hall, Nash and Hogan in garbage.
Meanwhile, WWF was utilizing top guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Mankind while grooming younger stars like Steve Austin, The Rock, Owen Hart, Triple H and others. 1997 became the start of the attitude era, when the Montreal Screwjob occurred. The Screwjob was a non-kayfabe (meaning: Not Staged) happening at the 1997 Survivor Series, Vince knew Bret Hart was leaving for WCW, but wanted him to drop his WWF Title. Hart agreed but also refused to lose in Canada, stating that he will lose the belt on Raw the next day. Vince was already sketchy about it as a few years early, WWF Womens Champion Alundra Blayze threw the title in the trash can live on Monday Nitro. Vince did not want to risk that happening to the WWF title, so he basically had Shawn Michaels put Bret Hart in his own finishing submission; The Sharpshooter and the ref called for the bell. The fans went nuts, Bret spit in Vince's face and a whole bunch of shit went on in the back. This became the start of the infamous Mr. McMahon Character. WWF was reaching its peak, but still was behind WCW in the Monday night wars.
WWF eventually overtook the Monday Night Wars, as WCW grew very stale with constant Rehashes of the NWO Angle, Vince Russo (a man who helped bring WWF to success) jumped to WCW and began writing there. However, in WWF Russo had Vince McMahon to filter all the bad ideas out WCW was so desperate that they just let Russo go wild, endless on a pole matches, pointless run ins and constant face/heel turns plagued WCW until late 2000, but the damage was done. between 1999 and 2000 many WCW Mid-carders jumped ship, including Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, The Giant (now known as the Big Show), Perry Saturn, Raven, and Eddie Guerrero. WCW was stuck with Hogan and his creative control clause, which held down lots of fine talent. That, combined with WWF's pushing of new superstars such as The Rock, HHH, Edge and Christian, The Hardyz and more, along with signing of many ECW stars was another nail in the coffin of WCW.
By 2001 when WCW was actually starting to get better, Time Warner pulled the plug and sold it to Vince McMahon, for 3 Million Dollars. Which is a very low price for what was once a multi-million dollar wrestling promotion, Chris Jericho once stated that he would have bought it if he knew how cheap it was going for. On a memorable last Nitro, Vince showed up on air and announced that he bought it, but in storyline it turns out Shane his son bought WCW and appeared live on Nitro in one of the most surreal moments in wrestling history. Thus began the WCW invasion.
Starting in the Summer of 2001, we saw more WCW stars debuting, starting with Top Dog Diamond Dallas Page, WCW champion Booker T and many more. A lot of WCW stars were still under contract to Time Warner and could not participate, but WWF had the foundation to do a decent angle, and they fucked it all up. through June and July we saw WCW guys attack WWF guys, now the original idea was actually for Vince McMahon to run a WWF weekly show and a WCW Weekly show, that fell through so Vince decided to throw the Invasion together. Shortly after WCW attacked WWF, ECW superstars debuted and Paul Heyman announced that he had sold ECW to Stephanie McMahon, forming the WCW/ECW alliance. A match was booked for the Invasion PPV. WCW and ECW's team vs Team WWF. The Alliance took their top 5 guys (Rhyno, DDP, Booker T and The Dudley Boys) vs WWF's top guys (Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Undertaker and Kane) and we had a show. Invasion also featured The APA (WWF Tag Champions) taking on Sean O'Haire and Chuck Palumbo, X Pac taking on Billy Kidman, Rob Van Dam taking on Jeff Hardy for the Hardcore title in a fine match, Edge and Christian against Mike Awesome and Lance Storm. So far the event wasn't terrible, it just wasn't great. Then they blew it all away with this one part.
Thats right, Stone Cold Steve Austin joined the Alliance. You know? WCW the company that basically fired him over the phone allegedly because Ric Flair wanted it. Anyway, we had the Alliance, which Consisted of
Stone Cold Steve Austin, DDP, Kanyon, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Rhyno, The Dudley Boys, Lance Storm, Mike Awesome, Shane and Steph McMahon, Test and like a bunch of guys who either got sent to developmental or were released. It was bullshit, it really was. They made WCW seem so weak unless Austin was helping them.
But, we got to see the WCW Champion face the WWF Champion...ON RAW....AND IT WAS STONE COLD AND THE ROCK! Vince McMahon really dropped the ball on this one, and what was worse was that the final confrontation between WCW/ECW and WWF at Survivor Series was the team of Big Show, Kane, Y2J, THe Rock and Undertaker vs Team WCW: Stone Cold, Booker T, Shane McMahon, RVD and Kurt Angle, So there was only 1 WCW wrestler in that mix and 1 ECW Wrestler. God it was terrible, luckly they unified all the titles, and buried WCW for good. ECW came back a few years later, and it was meh.
So that was a brief examination of the Invasion, I know other matches happened In between, but it was all the same, Kurt Angle vs Stone Cold was the main Feud, and Rock vs Booker T was another one. We had some good matches with Jeff Hardy and RVD, Rhyno and Chris Jericho, Tajiri and X Pac (even though they were both WWF) but the fact remained this was a waste and I was glad to see it end, especially because WWF turned into WWE and immediately got better with the first ever Draft.