WWF/WCW/ECW InVasion 2001

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For years, Steve Austin has preached “DTA: Don’t Trust Anybody”… but the fans didn’t seem to pay attention, as they once again got 100% behind the Texas Rattlesnake in the past week. And tonight at Invasion, Austin reminded us why he lives by the DTA motto: because he’s a low down dirty bastard with only his own interests in mind.

Steve Austin has doublecrossed Vince McMahon and the WWF to side with WCW/ECW. (WOW)

In the main event of the Invasion PPV, Steve Austin turned on his fellow Team WWF members, helping Booker T to pin Kurt Angle about 35 minutes into the giant 10 man tag match. Austin was one of several wrestlers under the WWF banner with both WCW and ECW experience, though he was the first and only one on the entire show to actually turn evil and join the enemy forces. No explanation was given, though it is now clear that Vince McMahon will have to resort to desperate measures to get the WWF World Title out of WCW/ECW hands.

Sounds like a job for the Rock, doesn’t it?

Besides the heel re-turn for Austin following the action-filled main event, Invasion will likely be most fondly remembered for Rob Van Dam’s outstanding WWF PPV debut, where he defeated Jeff Hardy for the Hardcore Title. Great stuff there, with the fans really getting into the match. Billy Kidman’s win over X-Pac was also pretty good, and along with the Tazz/Tajiri match provided some much-needed highlights on an otherwise lack-luster undercard.

Read on for segment-by-segment results from the just-completed pay-per-view:

– On the live edition of Sunday Night Heat, Chavo Guerrero Jr. struck first, getting a win over Scotty 2 Hotty in a very solid 5 minute bout. Chavo kicked out of “The Worm,” and managed to get the pinfall win with a brainbuster out of nowhere.

– Edge and Christian responded by kicking off the PPV, proper, with a win for the WWF. They defeated Lance Storm and Mike Awesome after about 8 minutes of action. Some early sloppiness got us off to a slow start, but eventually, all four got into a groove. Christian took the brunt of the punishment for an extended period, but once Edge got the hot tag, things turned in favor of the WWF guys. Storm and Awesome appeared to regain the advantage using some crafty double teaming, but when Awesome was going for the running powerbomb on Edge, Christian speared him (causing Edge to come down right on top of Awesome). Edge hooked the leg and got the victory. Good stuff after the sloppy start.

– It was ugly, but it was short: Earl Hebner pinned Nick Patrick in the battle of senior referees. Mick Foley was out as the special official for the match, and it was his decision to eject Patrick’s back-up (the three other WCW refs) from ringside that led to the finish. While Patrick was arguing Foley’s decision, Hebner tackled him from behind and followed up with a cover to get the three count. After the match, Patrick continued arguing, and Foley laid him out with Mr. Socko to a huge pop.

– In the battle of tag team champions, the WWF’s best put WCW’s down for the count. The Acolytes beat Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo after a tepid brawling style match. The fans didn’t really get into it after the jump start, which kind of took some of the sizzle out of things. All hell broke loose late in the match, and in the chaos, Bradshaw KO’ed Palumbo with a clothesline from hell to get the win. If this match were a t-shirt, it’d be an extra-medium, if you get my meaning.

– After three consecutive losses to start the PPV, WCW got on the board in the second champion vs. champion match: Billy Kidman pinned X-Pac after a really good 8 minute match. This match was a first for another reason, too: it was the first match on the card where the WWF guy was booed vehemently by the crowd. The fans, however, didn’t really get all the way behind Kidman… at least, not until he busted out the always-impressive Shooting Star Press to get the pinfall. I liked this match despite the awkward responses from the crowd.

– If the fans were a little bit confused about who to cheer for in the prior match, they were downright befuddled when the impromptu Raven vs. William Regal match hit the ring; they responded by just sitting on their hands throughout the entire affair. It didn’t help that Raven and Regal’s styles clashed, with awkward results. Just as it looked like the crowd would go from apathetic to downright hostile towards the match, Tazz was able to make a run-in and delivered a Tazzplex without being detected by the official. Raven followed up with a DDT to get the win. Nothing pretty about this one.

– Another impromptu, unannounced bonus match saw Chris Kanyon, Sean Stasiak, and Hugh Morrus get a win over Albert, Big Show, and Billy Gunn. This one could have suffered the same fate as the previous match, except things got off to an impressive start when all three WWF’ers gorilla pressed the WCW guys simultaneously. The crowd stayed behind the WWF team until a sloppy schmozz ending that had Stasiak hitting a reverse DDT on Gunn so that Morrus could steal a win. Work-wise, nothing clicked here, though at least the crowd was happy to know who to cheer for again. After the loss, the WWF guys laid out the WCW trio to further enforce their babyface status.

– With the PPV tally at three matches apiece for each faction, Tajiri got the edge back for the WWF with an upset win over Tazz. Good action, and the crowd was definitely back into things here, responding strongly for all of Tajiri’s stiff kicks. Tazz controlled a middle portion of the match, and when it looked like he was about to get a win, Tajiri hit him with the blinding green mist to turn the tide. After a stiff kick to the head, Tajiri got the three count. Really nice stuff, though a bit on the short side to get rave reviews.

– Rob Van Dam staked a very compelling claim to his “Mr. PPV” nickname, making his WWF pay-per-view debut in an absolutely outstanding victory over WWF Hardcore Champ Jeff Hardy. Great counter/chain-wrestling to start, which the fans appreciated (and “RVD” chants were numerous, as well, though the fans were also more than happy to cheer Hardy, too). Eventually the brawling spilled outside the ring, into the crowd, and even included a wicked ladder bump from Hardy. Van Dam won this match clean following a five star frog splash at the 12 minute mark. Really tremendous match, but Jim Ross oversold it like it was a match of the year, which was a bit of a stretch. I’m salivating for the rematch, though.

– Trish Stratus and Lita put the WWF back up by one match going into the main event, stripping Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler down to bras and panties to win the stipulation tag match. Mick Foley was once again the special ref, though his only job here was to watch clothes being removed. This went on for a surprisingly long time, as it took a good 7-8 minutes (with some actual wrestling moves interspersed!) before Torrie and Stacy were stripped down to their respective undergarments. Nothing memorable here, but I’ve also got no complaints about tossing in a little titillation to break things up between the top wrestling matches.

– Steve Austin revealed his true colors, feigning a knee injury partway through the 10 man main event tag match, and then miraculously recovering to turn against Kurt Angle and help Team WCW get the win. After 12 minutes of intros (which included Vince, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon, as well as Paul Heyman coming to ringside), a huge brawl commenced. Austin and Rhyno finally got in the ring to get things officially underway, and we were treated to about 20 minutes of standard tag action, with both teams cycling through their rotations twice. Angle played the “Ricky Morton” role for his team, taking the brunt of punishment while being unable to make a hot tag. Finally, things degenerated again into a giant mess, with all 10 men going at it in and around the ring. Dallas Page and Undertaker actually brawled into the crowd and out of sight; during this exchange, Austin collapsed at ringside, and EMTs eventually hit the scene to check him out. It appeared to be a legit knee injury for several minutes, as the other 7 men now around the ring hit various table-assisted high spots while seemingly “covering” for the injured Austin. Further extra-curriculars saw referees Mike Chioda and Charles Robinson KO’ed, while Shane intercepted the WWF Title belt and used it to paste his dad in the head when Vince tried to interfere. After several minutes of this, Kurt Angle finally stepped up in the ring, isolating on Booker T. Without a ref, Angle’s Olympic Slam and anklelock didn’t really mean anything, however. Finally, with Angle dominating Booker, Austin rose to his feet after his 10 minute break, grabbed ref Chioda and threw him into the ring. Fans were expected Austin to force Chioda to make the count in favor of the WWF, but instead, Austin booted Angle in the head and then delivered a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin draped Booker on top of Angle, and Chioda then made the count. After the match, Austin celebrated with Shane, Stephanie, and Paul E., while JR and Michael Cole sold the enormity of Austin’s defection. The WWF Title is now in “the enemy camp.” All things considered, a very entertaining and action-packed main event… the Austin turn at the end gave it a very “big time” feel, too, though the ultimate value of this latest attempt to turn Austin heel won’t be known till after we hear a promo/explanation on RAW tomorrow.

The PPV matches saw the WWF and WCW/ECW split 10 contests evenly at five apiece. Factoring in the Chavo/Scotty match from Heat, however, WCW and ECW can claim a 6 to 5 win on the night. And I doubt they’ll let us forget it.

Though the undercard was spotty at best, the last 90 minutes of the show were top notch, delivering on a mix of great drama (in the main event), great action (the Hardcore Title contest, as well as Tajiri/Tazz), and amusing fluffery (the bra and panties match). The ugliness of the mis-match of styles in the Regal/Raven contest and the apathy in some other of the prelim matches is easily forgotten in lieu of a memorable pay-off to the night’s 3 hours of action.

I’m sure pundits will judge this show based heavily on how much they approve or disapprove of Austin’s turn… personally, I’m intrigued and believe it can work REALLY well in the long term. And in the short term, hell, it was just good, fun, surprising TV. So with that said, I’m gonna put myself in the Thumbs Up camp. The WWF needed something big tonight, and I think they came up with something suitably newsworthy to complement what was also a decent night for the in-ring work.