July 22, 2001
Buy Rate: 1.43
Announcers: Jim Ross and Michael Cole
Sunday Night Heat
Chavo Guerrero Jr. defeats Scotty Too Hotty
Fun Fact: Our first of many debuts tonight is a man with a long lineage behind him. Chavo Jr. is the nephew of Eddie Guerrero. He started in WCW in late 1995 and during that time was a Cruiserweight Champion. However he was also involved in some kooky storylines, including running around with a toy horse named Pepe and shaving his own head in a hair vs. hair match vs. Uncle Eddie. He provided many entertaining moments alongside his uncle and was a big player in the Cruiserweight division in the final weeks of WCW.
1) Edge (Adam Copeland) & Christian (Jay Reso) defeat Lance Storm (Lance Evers) & Mike Awesome (Mike Alfonso) when Edge pins Awesome after a Christian spear at 10:10
Fun Fact: Lance Evers is from Calgary and was trained by the Harts. He and Chris Jericho would wrestle locally, but make their big impact in Smoky Mountain Wrestling as the Thrillseekers in 1994. They would be in a memorable feud with the Heavenly Bodies that culminated with a bloody Tag Team title match in August of 1994. He would join ECW in 1996 and make his mark as part of the Impact Players with Justin Credible and Dawn Marie. Once ECW started to sink financially in 2000 he jumped to WCW and instantly became a top guy, winning the US Title and heading up the heel Team Canada faction. He became the first WCW wrestler to invade a WWF match on the 5/28 Raw, running in on a tag match featuring Steve Blackman & Trish Stratus taking on Perry Saturn & Terri.
Fun Fact II: Mike Alfonso grew up in Tampa and was close friends with Michael Bollea, nephew to Hulk Hogan. They would eventually become cousins when Awesome’s aunt married Hogan’s brother. When Uncle Hulk was The Man in the 80s, both guys decided they wanted to get into wrestling too. Alfonso received training from Steve Keirn’s training camp based out of the Pro Wrestling Federation (PWF). After wrestling for the PWF in 1989, teaming occasionally with Brett Sawyer, Alfonso moved around throughout various independent promotions, including a brief stint in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) under the tutelage of Nate the Rat, a manager there. In that same year, he made his first television appearance for World Championship Wrestling as a masked jobber from San Juan, Puerto Rico named The Pro. He would head to Japan’s FMW in the early 90s and would be there for most of the early part of the decade. Awesome would bounce back and forth between Japan and ECW during those years, but made his biggest splash in 1999 when he won the ECW Title in a three way dance against Tazz and Masato Tanaka, his arch rival from Japan. Awesome’s reputation within the industry was forever stained when he left ECW with the World Title and went to WCW. He said it was because Paul Heyman owed him back pay, but many feel it was still unprofessional to leave a promotion with their World Title belt. So in one of the most bizarre moments in wrestling history, Awesome, a WCW employee, lost the the ECW Title to Tazz, a WWF employee. Tazz had offered to help out Heyman and received permission from Vince McMahon to do so. Tazz would lose the belt a week later to Tommy Dreamer, an ECW employee, but not before losing a match to WWF champion Triple H on WWF TV. Awesome would make his WWF debut on the 6/25 Raw at MSG, the night after King of the Ring, when he defeated fellow ECW alum Rhyno in a sneak attack to win the WWF Hardcore Title.
Scott: The opener is one of many reasons why this entire storyline will be scrutinized to this day. The WCWECW would have worked better if they actually had guys who could wrestle. Lance Storm is an incredible talent, but Mike Awesome is a bumbling tool whose reputation was tarnished to begin with after walking out of ECW with the title belt. Edge is on a roll after winning the King of the Ring, and Christian is slowly building his big turn later in the year. A friend of ours says that Justin Credible should have been in this match to have had a reunion of the Impact Players against Edge & Christian. The crowd was really into the match towards the end, and now the game is tied at one. Grade: 2
Justin: Despite recent tension over Edge’s KOTR win, he and his brother pull it together to pick up a win for the WWF in the PPV opener. All throughout the night, there was a lot of focus put on the score and E&C tie it up here. E&C bust out their typically good teamwork as they took an early advantage. I will take a quick moment to disagree with Scott regarding WCW’s quality of wrestlers. They may have worked a different style, but I think the talent that was absorbed into WWF was all pretty damn good. They may not have been major names, but they all had the talent in the ring, including Mike Awesome. He was coming off a really good ECW run and a solid WCW run and could have been used in a better role if the majority of the WCWECW wasn’t buried out of the gate. Cole also takes the time to put over Storm’s talent, calling him the best athlete on WCW’s roster. Storm & Awesome took control after sending Christian sliding into the post rib first and would work him over from there. Storm would work his crisp offense right into a furious finish that saw WWF’s premier team pick up the win. Also, I went to make one last point about the Storm & Awesome team. It would have been neat to have an Impact Players reunion, but Storm & Awesome were actually a steady team during the final months of WCW after Awesome joined Team Canada. They actually challenged for the tag titles on the last Nitro. So, that team was probably fresher in more people’s minds than Storm & Credible were. Grade: 3
*** Vince McMahon goes crazy in the back after the match and then he tells William Regal to give Stone Cold his space to prepare for the big match. ***
2) Earl Hebner pins Nick Patrick with a spear at 2:50
Fun Fact: Now we obviously know who Earl is, but Nick Patrick has been a WCW referee for almost fifteen years. He plays a good heel though, as he was the official referee for the NWO during their early run in 1996. He was fairly straight laced during his last couple of years in WCW but quickly reprised his role of crooked ref during the Invasion. From the moment the Invasion started, the two sets of referees were at odds and after attacking each other on various TV episodes, Patrick and Hebner decided to square off at the PPV.
Scott: Mick Foley as the special referee was pretty much the highlight of this match, as the rest of it was crap. The WWF is up 2-1. Grade: .5
Justin: Mick Foley appeared on Sunday Night Heat before the show and announced he would be refereeing this match as well as “other matters”. All of the other referees were around the ring to back up their respective representative and they would end up getting involved in the action. Earl gets a nice pop and was on fire to start until Patrick gets a low blow and gains brief control. Foley would end up getting the last laugh when he locked the Socko claw on Patrick and the WWF took a commanding lead. This was good for what it was meant to be. Grade: 1
3) WWF Tag Team Champions the Acolytes defeat WCW Tag Team Champions Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo when Bradshaw (John Layfield) pins Palumbo with the Clothesline from Hell at 7:17; neither titles were on the line
Fun Fact: Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo debuted in WCW in the summer of 2000. Palumbo actually had been with WCW since 1998, but he had mostly wrestled fellow Power Plant graduates on the weekend house show circuit. After O’Haire had won the WCW Tag Team Titles with Mark Jindrak as part of the Natural Born Thrillers, he teamed with Palumbo and they won the titles themselves. They successfully defended the titles on the last two WCW PPVs and then were picked up when the WWF bought the company. Both men debuted on the 6\28 Raw and attacked the Hardy Boys.
Fun Fact II: The Acolytes defeated the Dudleys on the 7/9 Raw in Atlanta to win their second tag team titles. They had assumed the role of WWF locker room leaders during the early part of the Invasion, routinely rallying the mid-card troops before battle. This feud was escalated when Palumbo & O’Haire attacked the APA at WWF NY.
Scott: This was the first case where WCW probably should have gone over. First of all, why are the Acolytes the Tag Team Champions? They weren’t even thought of as contenders since late-1999. Now all of a sudden they get a title shot and they win? Secondly O’Haire and Palumbo were young athletic studs who could have really been taken seriously as tag team and singles contenders, and instead they’re fed the two locker room leaders of the WWF, who really didn’t need the win. The match wasn’t bad, but the wrong team went over here. The WWF now takes a 3-1 lead on the night, but it should be 2-2. Grade: 2
Justin: Our next match features both sets of tag champs stiffing each other up pretty good. Both teams actually looked pretty good here as they put on a basic tag team brawl. The APA would come out on top after a pair of stiff shots with Faarooq drilling O’Haire with a spinebuster and Bradshaw killing Palumbo with the CFH. I think it is fine that the APA got a quick run with the belts, but I agree with Scott in that they could have easily ate a pin here to try and get the young guys over. O’Haire & Palumbo were coming off a pretty heralded tag run in WCW and they could have been utilized as a top team, but it just was not meant to be in this new political landscape that was taking over the WWF locker room. Grade: 2
*** Vince continues to celebrate in the back as he’s chatting with Chris Jericho. Over in the WCWECW locker room, they are clearly pissed off and they tell Billy Kidman this is a must win match. ***
4) WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) defeats WWF Light Heavyweight Champion X-Pac (Sean Waltman) with the Shooting Star Press at 7:12; neither title was on the line
Fun Fact: Billy Kidman was trained by former Wild Samoan Afa, and began his career in 1994 with the name Kid Flash. After winning tag team gold on the Indy circuit, he arrived in WCW in 1996. He began as an entertaining jobber before hooking up with Raven’s Flock as some sort of drug addicted flunky, but soon he broke out as an exciting cruiserweight. He would be a multi time Cruiserweight Champion and be in the Filthy Animals faction also. At this point he is most well known for his mishandled feud with Hulk Hogan, culminating in the shoot-tirade by Vince Russo at Bash at the Beach 2000 which finally drove Hogan from WCW for good. He was on the last Nitro on 3/26 where he and Rey Mysterio defeated Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo to win the short-lived Cruiserweight Tag Team Titles. On the July 5 Smackdown Kidman defeated Gregory Helms to win the Cruiserweight Title, the first ever WCW title change on WWF television.
Fun Fact II: X-Pac defeated Jeff Hardy on the June 25 Raw to capture the Light Heavyweight championship.
Scott: We now start to see the pattern of these matches so far: the WWF faces defeat the WCWECW heels, and the WCWECW faces defeat the WWF heels. The more popular Kidman takes out the less popular X-Pac, even though he was representing the WWF. The match was solid, and Kidman was one that you knew Vince was going to keep around after this was over. Some good chain wrestling from both and some very close pin attempts towards the end. Marc Mero was the last WWF wrestler to use the Shooting Star Press as a finisher, but Kidman’s much better at it. His win puts the tally at 3-2. Grade: 3
Justin: The hook of this match was all the pressure that Stephanie, Shane and Paul Heyman had put on Kidman to win. They were in a hole and they needed to start clawing back in. Kidman started off hot and kept the bout flowing but when X-Pac took over, he grinded things down a bit and slowed up the match. The crowd was sort of out of it in this one as they were booing both men off and on. As Scott mentioned, they would trade some nice near falls but Kidman picks up the big win after he kicks X-Pac low on a Bronco Buster attempt and then puts him down for good with the SSP. The match was a bit erratic but the hot finish definitely saved it a bit. Grade: 2.5
5) Raven (Scott Levy) defeats William Regal (Darren Matthews) with the Evenflow at 6:34
Scott: I’m shocked at what happened to Raven over the past four months. If you go back to the Backlash review, Justin and I were gushing over the crowd’s response to Raven. That match with Rhyno was one of the best of 2001, and Raven was ready for bigger things. Now he comes out to literally no response. The match is crap, as Regal went through this weird stretch where he wasn’t working well with anybody. Tazz comes in to hit a T-Bone suplex and cost Regal the match. No one cared, but the WCWECW has tied it up at three. Grade: 1
Justin: This match was made earlier on Heat but judging by the crowd reaction, they may have been better off not making it. The crowd is just totally dead here and all of Raven’s heat has slowly been sapped with poor booking and the influx of new talent. The match was just sluggish and both men seemed to be moving in slow motion the whole way through. It almost looked like a run through of a match instead of an actual match. Tazz gets the only pop of the match when he hits the ring and takes out Regal to give Raven a win and tie things up. Regal was very good as Commissioner during this run, but he just wasn’t clicking with anyone in the ring. Grade: .5
6) Chris Kanyon (Chris Klucsarits), Shawn Stasiak (Shawn Stipich), & Hugh Morrus (Bill DeMott) defeat Big Show (Paul Wight), Billy Gunn (Monte Sopp), and WWF Intercontinental Champion Albert (Matt Bloom) when Morrus pins Gunn after a Stasiak DDT at 4:23
Fun Fact: Chris Kanyon started training in his spare time in late-1991. He made his debut in 1992 and eventually hooked up with Mark Starr to form the legendary team of Men at Work, mainly known for jobbing duties on WCW Saturday Night. Kanyon would step up a notch in 1997 as part of a failed “Blood Runs Cold” faction. He would don a mask and become Mortis, feuding with fellow faux Mortal Combat character Glacier. He would also feud with and be a part of Raven’s Flock. Among his other characters were CCK (Chris “Champagne” Kanyon) and Positively Kanyon. He was also part of the “Jersey Triad” with DDP and Bam Bam Bigelow. He would make his WWF debut on the July 5 Smackdown in Tacoma.
Fun Fact II: Bill DeMott was trained by Johnny Rodz in 1988, and began his career in the AWF as Crash the Terminator. After a stint in Japan and a very short run in ECW, he arrived in WCW in 1995 as the “Laughing Man” but would eventually settle in as the crazy Hugh Morrus. He would join the Dungeon of Doom and would also make history on September 22, 1997 by becoming the first man to face and lose to Bill Goldberg. He would bounce around with other gimmicks, but would really take command of his comedic side in 2000 when he would help start the group “Misfits in Action”, a military-type group. He would change his name to General Hugh G. Rection and would win the US Title twice before WCW folded. Morrus made his first WWF appearance on the 6/4 Raw, attacking Christian.
Fun Fact III: Shawn Stasiak makes his return to the WWF after last being Meat in late-1999. He was fired after it was revealed he was audio-taping secret conversations with wrestlers backstage. Returning to WCW in 2000, he would feud with Curt Hennig, adopting the nickname “PerfectShawn”, before winning the WCW Tag Team Titles with Chuck Palumbo. He would also be part of the aforementioned “Natural Born Thrillers” faction with Palumbo and Sean O’Haire. Stasiak defeated Bam Bam Bigelow on the final Nitro 3/26.
Fun Fact IV: Albert defeated Kane for the Intercontinental Championship on the June 28 Smackdown in a surprisingly good match.
Fun Fact V: Billy Gunn and the Big Show had started to feel a bit slighted over the last few weeks, so they began teaming up to get themselves back on the winning track. The angle was that they were two underachieving stars that were pushing each other to be better. They would affectionately be known as the ShowGunns but perhaps the funniest moment involving the team also includes Vince McMahon and happened on the July 30 Raw. Backstage, Vince was busy with some Invasion related activities when Show and Gunn approached them looking for assistance in coming up with a new team name. Of course, Vince couldn’t have cared less at that moment and said they could call themselves “Double Trouble Crap on a Stick” for all he cared.
Scott: The WCWECW is up one here but this match was bad for two reasons. First it’s just really bad, as we have six guys who have no chemistry trying to mesh in a six-man tag team match. Then after a really sloppy ending, Big Show takes all three guys and cleans their clocks. So even though the WCWECW takes the lead, the WWF had to get their heat back. Ugh. Grade: 1
Justin: Not much to talk about here with the sole cool spot being the triple press slam by Team WWF. Albert looked good and was put over the most on commentary. His IC title win over Kane was shockingly good and many considered it the best carry job of either man’s career at that point. I thought it was funny when Stasiak came out with the faux Mr. Perfect theme as I think many fans thought it was Hennig himself coming out when the music fired up. Team WCW picks up a win in a basic match, but as Scott said, Show gets all the heat right back by killing them all with chokeslams. It was very unnecessary and made the WCW mid-carders look like losers when they could have been built up as dangerous. Grade: 1.5
7) Tajiri (Yoshihiro Tajiri) defeats Tazz (Peter Senerchia) with green mist and a superkick at 5:43
Fun Fact: Tajiri was trained in both the traditional Japanese style of wrestling as well as lucha libre while in Japan in the late 80s. His only mainstream appearances outside of Japan came in 1997 when the WWF brought him into the burgeoning light heavyweight division that summer. He then migrated to Mexico and during that time he was noticed by Paul Heyman, who brought him up to ECW in December of that year. He defeated Antifaz Del Norte in his very well received debut match. Tajiri took on a new persona during this run, often mimicking his idol, the Great Muta and he even took to blowing mist in opponent’s faces during his matches. Tajiri had a TV title run when he defeated his arch nemesis Super Crazy and a tag title run with stable mate Mikey Whipwreck. Mikey and Tajiri were under the tutelage of the Sinister Minister and dubbed the Unholy Alliance. The loyal Tajiri remained in ECW until it folded in January and then he was quickly snapped up by Vince. He lost his final ECW match to Super Crazy on January 13. Tajiri would be off camera for a while before debuting as Commissioner Regal’s assistant on the May 24 Smackdown. He would provide some funny moments in that role as he often had little altercations with Steve Austin in Regal’s office. Tajiri would only speak Japanese, but Austin would often act like he knew what he was saying and play along with it. It was some tremendous stuff. After ECW and WCW merged to take on the WWF, some started to wonder if Tajiri would follow his roots back to Heyman’s troupe. On the July 16 Raw, William Regal was battling Tazz. As the match was winding down, Tajiri ripped off his shirt to reveal an ECW shirt, bringing a smile to Tazz’ face. As Tazz was expecting Tajiri to help him, Tajiri crushed him with a spin kick to the head, knocking him down. He locked Tazz in the Tarantula and Regal unloaded on him as the crowd popped big time. Tajiri ripped off the ECW shirt and blow his mist on it as he pledged his allegiance to the WWF and his friend, Mr. Regal.
Scott: A fun little match ties things up for the WWF, 4-4. Tajiri was a cult hero in ECW with his tarantula move and the mist. He uses both here and takes out the man who cost Tajiri’s boss his match earlier in the night. This match was very short, and it didn’t give a good indicator of how good the Japanese Buzzsaw can be. The crowd really gets cranking again here, and they don’t slow up again. Grade: 2
Justin: This was a stiff little war between two fellow ECW alumni. Tajiri was quite over with the crowd here and was coming off a big pep talk from the Commissioner backstage. I was at the Raw referenced above when Tajiri showed his WWF loyalty and he received a huge pop for it. JR and Cole talk a bit about how Tazz gave up a very lucrative commentary gig and a future in that role by turning his back and drinking the Heyman Kool-Aid. Tazz dominated down the stretch, but gets misted and kicked and eats the loss as the score is tied up. There was a lot of energy in this one and the crowd was digging it. Grade: 2.5
8) Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) defeats Jeff Hardy to win WWF Hardcore Title with the Frog Splash at 12:24
Fun Fact: Rob Szatkowski trained under the Sheik before making his debut in 1990. He workd a number of Michigan territrories before signing a contract with WCW in late 1992. He had a brief run under the guise Robbie V but his departure was as unheralded as his arrival. After bouncing around a few more Indies and a stint in All Japan Pro Wrestling, RVD hooked up with Paul Heyman’s ECW in January 1996. Van Dam defeated Axl Rotten in his debut match at ECW House Party and his laid back attitude and exicitng in ring style quickly won over the fans. Van Dam’s first major feud came against Sabu as he was determined to gain RVD’s respect, but RVD refused to show any. Van Dam turned heel during the feud and hired Bill Alphonso as his manager. Shortly after their feud, Van Dam needed a partner to battle new arch rivals Doug Furnas and Dan Kroffat, so RVD turned to his enemy for help and a great tag team was born. RVD and Sabu then feuded with the tag team champion Eliminators but couldn’t take home the gold. After intinally being left off ECW’s first PPV card, RVD was inserted at the last minute as a replacement for Chris Candido. He would defeat Lance Storm, but he was not happy about being an alternate and he cut a promo expressing his distaste over it. RVD would also play a major role in ECW’s 1997 invasion of the WWF but he actually sided with the WWF team and forged a friendship with Jerry Lawler. He began touting that he was too good for ECW and belonged on Monday night and thusly dubbed himself “Mr. Monday Night”. After feuding with Tommy Dreamer over the honor of ECW, RVD finally got a tatse of gold when he defeated Bam Bam Bigelow for the ECW TV title on April 4, 1998. On June 27, RVD and Sabu defated Chris Candido and Lance Storm to take the Tag Team titles. They would lose the straps to the Dudleys in October but were able to regain them back in December. On April 17, 1999, RVD lost the tag titles to D-Von Dudley after Sabu was suspended from ECW. RVD would continue to regularly defend his TV title and had a stellar feud with Jerry Lynn throughout 1999. After successfully holding onto his title throughout the year, RVD was set up for a huge champion vs. champion match with Mike Awesome on PPV and Paul Heyman was chomping at the bit to cash in on what he saw as a huge money match. It was not meant to be, however, as Van Dam hurt his ankle in a defense against Rhino on January 29. He was then forced to forefit his TV title. When RVD returned from the injury, he again feuded with Jerry Lynn as well as Scotty Anton and Rhino. RVD was unable to regain his TV title as he was continuisly screwed by Rhino. He defeated Jerry Lynn at ECW’s final PPV and then remained off TV until he showed up on the July 9 Raw.
Fun Fact II: There were a couple of Hardcore Title changes between King of the Ring and now. After Test beat Rhyno on June 12, Rhyno won the title back the night after KOTR at Madison Square Garden. Then after the match, out of nowhere, WCW employee Mike Awesome came in and pearl harbored Rhyno, and pinned him to become the first WCW wrestler to win a WWF Title. Jeff Hardy would win the title from Awesome on the 7/12 Smackdown in Birmingham.
Fun Fact III: This bout is a rematch as these two men had faced off during the original ECW Invasion of 1997. RVD beat Hardy in a nifty little showcase match on the May 12 Raw.
Fun Fact III: Jim Ross says during this match “How do you learn to fall off a twenty foot ladder?” That line is used in all DVD disclaimers of “Do not try this at home.”
Scott: This is clearly the match of the night as “Mr. Monday Night” becomes the first man since Christian to win a title in his first PPV singles match. The two risk takers threw each other all over the ring for their brands, including a look at the Van Daminator for the first time. The crowd was very torn here, as they were big fans of both guys. I think at that moment there was a little bit of an edge for RVD, only because he was new and this was his WWF PPV debut. Both men use the ring, the railing, and the stage to pull off some big spots. Another big spot was when RVD pushed Jeff off one of the bigger ladders under the ring. RVD hits his frog splash for the win in the only title match on the card tonight. That makes the tally 5-4 for WCWECW. Grade: 4
Justin: Of all the matches here tonight, the interest was highest for this one as two of the most athletic forces in wrestling were set to go at it. RVD had jumped Matt Hardy in the back before the match to add fuel to the fire. The bout was fast paced and never slowed down. The crowd was definitely split here as RVD was crazy over from his first appearance on Raw and Hardy was always a big fan favorite. RVD immediately made his presence known here as he hit all of his signature spots for his new fans. There were a number of sick spots, including a ladder tumble to the floor and a beautiful Five Star Frog Splash to finish things off. Hardy hung in there the whole way and definitely raises his stock as a singles star, but it was RVD that clearly had a star aura around him and seemed poised to step up to the next level right out of the gate. Grade: 4.5
9) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) & Lita (Amy Dumas) defeat Torrie Wilson & Stacy Kiebler in a Bra & Panties match when Stacy’s pants are removed at 5:04
Fun Fact: Torrie Wilson is a Boise, Idaho native who started in WCW in 1999 under the name “Samantha” and was used by the NWO to seduce David Flair. She would eventually go by her real name and would manage Billy Kidman when he was in the Filthy Animals and the New Blood in 1999-2000. She would make her first WWF appearance on the 6/28 Smackdown when she attempted to seduce Vince McMahon throughout the night, but they were continuously interrupted by Steve Austin and Kurt Angle. Finally, at the end of the show, she had Vince stripped down in a room and opened the door to allow his wife Linda to see what was happening. That double cross showed Torrie’s allegiance to WCW and Shane McMahon.
Fun Fact II: Stacy Kiebler is a Baltimore native and former Ravens cheerleader. She would win a tryout to become a Nitro girl and she did that, attended school and cheered for the Ravens all at the same time. Her first role would be as “Miss Hancock”, managing Lodi and Lenny Lane in their roles as Standards and Practices. She would wear a business suit and dance provocatively on the broadcast table. She would also eventually become the on-screen, and off-screen, girlfriend of David Flair. After an aborted pregnancy storyline with David Flair, her real name was given and she was taken off television. She makes her debut on the June 14 Smackdown, escorting Shane McMahon to the ring and distract Rhyno in a match.
Fun Fact III: To establish the darker side of the ECW ladies, they began making passes at Matt Hardy, who was dating Lita, and Jeff Hardy, who had linked to Trish on screen in the weeks leading to this show. They even went as far as to kiss both Hardy brothers. Lita and Trish were not impressed and were looking for revenge here.
Scott: A good breather before the main event and a showcase for the four hottest women in the company. Mick Foley comes out to soak up some of the hotness of the match, but really it didn’t matter who lost. All four women showed their stuff and we were all entertained. The win ties us at 5-5 heading into the Main Event. Grade: 1
Justin: Not much here besides a chance to cool off the crowd after our last hard hitting bout. All four of these ladies were quite over and Torrie and Stacey were smoking hot here. The crowd stays into it and all four ladies had a lot of energy and kept things moving. Team WWF picks up the win to set the stage for the big battle to decide it all. Grade: 1.5
10) Booker T (Booker Huffman), Diamond Dallas Page (Page Falkinburg), Rhyno (Terry Gerin) & the Dudley Boys defeat Steve Austin (Steve Williams), the Undertaker (Mark Callaway), Kane (Glen Jacobs), Kurt Angle, & Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) in the Inaugural Brawl when Booker pins Angle after an Austin stunner at 29:03
Fun Fact: The night after King of the Ring is when everything changed in this feud between Vince and Shane McMahon and with the WWF and WCW. Starting with Lance Storm’s run-in on the May 28 Raw, WCW guys had been popping up throughout WWF programming, but it wasn’t really that big a deal yet. On this night at Madison Square Garden Shane and Vince had a confrontation in the ring about WCW, when WCW Champion Booker T came in and dropped Vince with a scissors kick. Suddenly Vince went from arrogant smarmy heel, to the owner of the company that we all watched as kids, being attacked by these rogue superstars from the evil promotion that lost the Monday Night War. On the 7/2 Raw from Tacoma, Vince gave WCW a chance to show their stuff off. The Main Event of that show was a WCW Title match between Booker T and Buff Bagwell. JR and Heyman stepped aside for WCW announcers Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson. This was Arn’s first appearance on WWF TV since 1989. The match was a disaster, as the WCW resthold style of Main Event wrestling was clashing badly with the Attitude crowd. So, Steve Austin and Kurt Angle run in and attack Booker for what he did to Vince the previous week. Then they toss Bagwell out of the building and outside of a quick cameo on that week’s Smackdown, you never see him on WWF TV again. After that experiment, Shane’s stance changed, as he went from just wanting to compete with the WWF, to being a malicious, Bischoff-type heel who wanted to take over and destroy the WWF. Then on July 9 the storyline took another turn during a tag match pitting Kane and Chris Jericho against Lance Storm and Mike Awesome. The following is courtesy of our good friend CRZ: Awesome on Kane – now a doubleteam on Kane – into the ropes…Kane clotheslines Awesome – Storm ducks, but Jericho is back in with a double leg – WALLS OF JERICHO! And Kane has Awesome in the goozle…but before he can hit the chokeslam – whoa! It’s ECW’s TOMMY DREAMER & ROB VAN DAM come to town to stir up trouble, and looks like they’ve succeeded. (DQ 7:05) A SECURITY guy gets up on the apron…then gets the signal that this is part of the show and backs up. It’s four on two as the WCW guys team up with the ECW guys to take out Jericho and Kane… Here comes the WWF LOCKER ROOM – tonight I see Tazz, the Dudley Boyz, Justin Credible… wait a minute – Raven, Rhyno…oh no….oh no. “Staredown” in the ring as Paul gets jolly. “Feel it, JR – FEEL this moment!” The WWF guys slowly turn round – and look at Kane and Jericho. “For the rest of your life – feel it.” And now THEY punk out Kane and Jericho. We’ve got a ten on two here – amazingly, Ross STILL hasn’t figured it out…but the crowd has. Heyman: “Spiccoli Driver by Tommy Dreamer! … Oh my God – it’s the Van Daminator! You wanna know what this is about? I guess you want answers! You want answers? Well I say you finally deserve, JR…a damn answer!” He drops headset, removes his tie, and heads up to the ring. The Dudley Boyz stop him – then part the ropes for him. “Well, I guess now it’s time, JR – that YOU WANT THE TRUTH – so JR, tonight, I’m gonna give you the whole damn truth! I have been sitting, I have been sitting like a damned corporate sellout next to that damn pig – and I have been talking – I have been TALKING about WWF versus WCW – Ihave been spilling my guts about this Invasion, and it seemt to me like everyone has forgotten about the tribe of extreme. It seems to me like these men were too extreme for WWF versus WCW – it seems to ME that this man…and this man have LEFT Shane McMahon’s WCW – it looks to ME like these six men have left Vince McMahon’s WWF – it looks to ME like they all have joined….. E…. C…. W. So Vince – or Shane – any time you guys want revenge – we’ll take on the WWF, we’ll take on WCW – we’re not hard to find, because THIS Invasion just got taken… TO THE… EXTREME.” “Theme from ECW” plays – Jericho and Kane STILL haven’t moved.
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 ten 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 wrestlers 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 ECW wrestlers came into the ring and got into the faces of the WCW wrestlers, but then suddenly turned around and attacked the WWF team. After this, WCW’s men came into the ring and high-fived the ECW men. Paul Heyman and Shane McMahon then hugged and their crew 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 WCWECW. He then announced that the new owner of ECW was Stephanie McMahon. Even though Vince seemed behind the eight-ball, he still had the one person that could take the WCWECW down: the WWF Champion. So on the 7/12 Smackdown, Vince asked Steve Austin if he would help in the takedown of the WCWECW in the Inaugural Brawl at the PPV. However Vince said he didn’t want this current, hug-giving, Kumbaya singing Champion. Vince said, “Do you know what I need, do you know who I need? I need the old Stone Cold!” He wanted the 1998-99 beer-drinking, middle-finger gesturing son of a bitch who kicked ass and took names. Austin looked like he was taking the bait, but instead he said no, and walked away downtrodden. The following Monday on Raw from Providence, Austin was at the ol’ Friendly Tap throwing back beers, upset and feeling betrayed. As he’s playing pool, he sees on TV both the WWF locker room and the WCW/ECW locker room pumping themselves up for the big match on Sunday. As WWF Hall of Famer “Classy” Freddie Blassie tells the WWF superstars to get up and fight. Austin breaks the pool cue off the table and leaves. At the end of the show WCWECW is beating up the WWF guys, when Austin’s black truck peels into the parking lot. Broken pool cue in hand, he cracks a couple of guys over the head with it. We go back to the arena, and the glass breaks. The Providence Civic Center goes insane, as the Austin we all know struts down the ramp talking shit and raising hell. He gets in the ring and sets his own personal record by stunning somewhere between seven and ten WCWECW guys all in succession. The WWF had the flagship on their team, and the stage was set.
Fun Fact II: Steve Austin’s character had changed over the past two months. After Triple H’s injury broke up the Power Trip, Austin started to become paranoid about who he could trust and who he couldn’t, and he was relying on Vince for emotional support and comfort. Instead of being the ass-kicking son of a bitch he always was, Austin started carrying a guitar around, singing songs and giving hugs to Vince. Thus the reason why Vince wanted the old Stone Cold in his war with WCWECW at Invasion.
Fun Fact III: Our final debut is the WCW Champion, Booker T. Raised on the tough streets of Houston; Booker Huffman had become a single father who needed to upgrade his life for his son. So he was recommended by his brother Lane to a wrestling school run by Ivan Putski. They both joined in 1991 and soon were tag teaming in the GWF until 1993 when they were signed by WCW. Originally named Kole and Kane, the team eventually known as Harlem Heat would start as heels in Col. Rob Parker’s team at 1993 Wargames. Sister Sherri Martel would eventually manage them, and they would go back to their indy names of Booker T and Stevie Ray. For the next four years they would dominate the tag team ranks, winning the WCW Tag Team Titles seven times and feuding with the likes of Public Enemy, the Steiner Brothers and the Outsiders. By late 1997 it was clear Booker had what it took to be a singles star, so they broke apart and Booker went on his own, winning the World TV Title in December 1997. He would eventually be involved in a great feud with Chris Benoit over the TV Title, which included a best of seven series that would determine a #1 contender to the TV Title, at the time held by Fit Finlay. He and Stevie Ray reunited and Harlem Heat would win the Tag Titles again in 1999 and eventually Booker T would join the Misfits in Action as “GI Bro”. The real spike in Booker’s career came at Bash at the Beach 2000, the same night Vince Russo fired Hulk Hogan and went into his shoot tirade on the Hulkster. At that show he made WCW Champion Jeff Jarrett face Booker T, which Booker won, joining Ron Simmons as the only African-American World Champions in WCW history. He would win the WCW Title four more times, including on the final Nitro on 3/26 when he defeated Scott Steiner. Statistically he became the most decorated champion in WCW history, winning twenty-three total titles. He would make his first WWF appearance at King of the Ring, when he attacked Steve Austin during his three-way title match with Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho.
Fun Fact IV: This is the first PPV since No Way Out 1998 that doesn’t have a World Title match.
Scott: Our main event is the tiebreaker in the turf war. The show has been exciting, even if some of the matches were complete shit. The pop Vince gets when he comes down the aisle is huge, bigger than during his mini face run in 1999. I enjoyed the introductions, particularly for Angle and Austin. The crowd was ready for Angle to go on a big face run, and when he’s introduced, the place exploded. The match starts with a big brawl, then all the big faces get their spots in, followed by the inevitable heel turn, however watching this match again I was thinking something else. I think it’s safe to say we were expecting the WCWECW to win this match, but who really thought Austin was going to be the one turning? I really didn’t, but watching this match the guy I thought was going to turn was Chris Jericho, for a couple of reasons. First off, he wore purple tights with barbed wire on them to the ring. They were very similar to the ECW logo at that time, eh? Secondly, he was getting fairly clogged in the mid-card with Kurt Angle now being pretty much the #1 face at the moment. So a heel turn might have been a good thing for him. The match was fun, and the high level WCWECW guys like DDP and Booker did look like legitimate main eventers here, and would lead to a fun next few months. The only thing that I think really killed the true legitimacy of the storyline was making Stephanie the owner of ECW. Heyman should have stayed in charge if ECW, and Shane and Steph could have co-owned WCW. The worst thing you can do when trying to legitimize ECW was put the least hardcore person you can think of in charge of it. I know you needed to keep her on camera and a heel, plus she needed to show off her new boobs, but it really dropped ECW’s legitimacy factor down a notch. The match was fun and exciting, and the crowd was off the hook for both Vince and Kurt which is very unique, and the war is officially on. Grade: 3.5
Justin: With the score tied up, the top ten men on each side are set to go to war to defend the honor of their promotion. It was cool seeing Rhyno in the mix here and it helped raise his profile even more. He had worked hard since arriving in March and it paid off with a good run here. Undertaker jumps Page out of the gate as expected and the match was off and running. As Scott mentioned, the pop for Angle was nuts and Austin’s was right there with it. I was at the Providence Civic Center the night Austin returned from the Friendly Tap to destroy everything in sight and the pop was ungodly. That roll continues on here as he kicks ass and takes names all throughout the match. The action was fast and furious throughout and the crowd stayed with them all the way through. In addition to Rhyno’s strong showing, Chris Jericho also was made to look strong here and I think Scott was right in saying a lot people expected he would be the one to go heel. He had been screwed by Austin and McMahon in the past and the rumors of him jumping to WCW after KOTR were still lingering. It would turn out that he was safely in WWF’s camp, however, as the match wore on. Austin was a ball of fire the whole way through and never slowed down until the match was reaching a climax. The crowd would explode for the huge brawl that would break out, but Austin seemingly tweaks his knee and has to bow out and Team WWE looked to be in trouble. Undertaker and DDP ended up brawling through the crowd, but with two of their top men out of the picture, WWF was still poised for the victory as Kurt Angle had the match won. The count never came, though, as Steve Austin turns his back on the WWF and takes out Angle to give WCWECW the win. The crowd was not impressed with Austin’s turn but an interesting line has been drawn in the sand and after looking weak all night long, Shane and Steph’s crew closed out the night with a bang. Grade: 3.5
Scott: This show is really strange for many reasons. It was odd to have two straight play by play guys doing commentary, but really Michael Cole did a pretty good job of getting the show over and he complemented JR’s emotion very well. Unfortunately, due to the lack of chemistry with all these new guys most of the matches were not that good, except for the main event and the spectacular hardcore title match with Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam. RVD made a stellar debut and the crowd was digging him big time, even if he was supposed to be a heel. They were so on their game they get to have a rematch the following month. You can also tell who the fans’ favorites were and who weren’t. X-Pac was supposed to be a WWF face, but was booed and the crowd went crazy when Kidman defeated him. I still think the Acolytes shouldn’t have been champions, much less lost to a younger, more athletic team. The rest of the show was interesting but honestly nothing to write home about. Austin is back to being a heel, however his logic reeks of being a face as we see at the end of the year. One big star comes back soon to help even the odds for the WWF and make for a great Summerslam. Overall this show was average on workrate but did have a boatload of important debuts and storyline twists, so call it down the middle. Final Grade: C+
Justin: Scott pretty much summed this one up as the intrigue for the big showdown was very high and the show drew a lot of interest. If they really wanted to do things right, Team WCWECW really should have dominated the night to set the tone. Then, you have WWF finally poised to pick up a win in the Main Event before Austin screws them. That would have set up a war instead of this back and forth, everybody wins and loses and looks strong and weak nonsense they had going on. Even when the WWF team lost, they usually gained their heat back in the end. It also didn’t help that it took the top WWF guy turning to help the WCWECW team win in the end. RVD was the strongest booked WCWECW guy with Kidman coming in a close second. The crowd was into the show and the angle the whole way through, but some choppy work and curious booking really stunted it from being great. Final Grade: C+
MVP: Rob Van Dam & Jeff Hardy
Runner Up: Billy Kidman & Steve Austin
Non MVP: Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo
Runner Up: William Regal & Raven