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Steve Austin in 2000


Scott, 
          Just curious.  How differently do you think things would have been in 2000 had Steve Austin been healthy?  I'm torn here, personally, because Austin is one of my favorite performers ever, but there's a lot of awesome stuff from that year we probably wouldn't have gotten with him there.  HHH-Foley, HHH-Rock Ironman come to mind, for example.  Do you think Austin would have been overlooked in the booking for HHH and Rock, and he would have just gotten frustrated with the WWF two years earlier than he did?  I know as a fan, it felt like Austin was returning to a completely different WWF in late-2000, and in someways, he actually felt out of place to me for a while, until he really got back in the groove of things.

Thanks,

Adam Moore

Yeah, it was weird, even as early as 2001 it was starting to feel like Austin was a bit of a relic. A lot was the heel turn destroying his character for good, but there was a point where guys like HHH and Jericho and Angle needed to break through and it would have been tough with Austin around.      

Comments

  1. Austin's the rare guy that feels like he showed up and disappeared at exactly the right times.

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  2. Having no Austin in 2000 really opened things up and made for a fantastic year. Austin was just simply tired at that point as a character. The McMahon/Austin feud had run it's course. He needed some time off to freshen up and it gave others like Rock, Angle, and HHH time to really grow and take the spotlight. He came back fresh and had a great match with HHH and a fantastic buildup to WM17.


    What is strange about Austin is the consensus was that it was time for him to turn heel. The consensus back then was definitely that, while turning him heel in his home state might have been less than ideal, a heel turn was needed. I know I personally was tired of face Austin and I loved all the heel stuff, both the two man power trip and the goofy Austin. That said, there is some evidence that his heel turn was directly related to WWF starting to cool down. However, it is important to note that it coincided exactly wtih WCW going out of business. I believe to this day that the lack of "competition" (even as little competition as there really was by that point) started an exodus of some casual fans who came along for the ride during the attitude era. But there is no arguing that ratings did start to drop a little after those two events and then took a precipitous drop again when Hogan returned and got a run on top and Austin again left.

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  3. If only Cena had done that years ago.

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  4. My friend just told me that he hated Droz passionately. What a strange guy to hate.

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  5. YankeesHoganTripleHFanJanuary 2, 2015 at 7:48 AM

    Between The Rock and Triple H being at the top of their games, Angle, Jericho, E and C, and the Hardy's becoming rising stars, The Radicalz coming in, and Foley bringing the hardcore, then as commissioner, the comedy, you hardly even noticed he was gone. That's not a knock on Austin mind you, merely a compliment to the other guys.

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  6. Austin feeling like a relic in early 2001 may be because of his absence for the majority of 2000. My theory is Rock and Foley would have feuded because that's what Foley said he was aiming for in an attempt to put Rock over huge, and that would mean Foley not working with HHH. Austin would probably chase HHH for the title until winning at Wrestlemania. HHH probably wouldn't have had as good a year as he had, and would probably still be at the same level as he was at the end of 99.

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  7. This is a really interesting notion that isn't considered enough. Austin's time off actually probably gave him greater longevity as a draw and character, and the opening up of the main event echelon freshened up the product significantly. Austin is of course one of the all-time greats, and easily one of the biggest draws of all time, and it would be revisionism or fraud to claim otherwise. However, even in 1999 post-Mania, when he'd only been on top (really) for a year, chinks were beginning to appear in the armour. The McMahon/Austin stuff was tired, and he was so dominant that it was difficult to book him in meaningful feuds or create worthwhile, credible opponents. Undertaker was about the only guy bought as a threat to him, and even then just barely. Creative didn't have anything fresh for him, hence the pointless and boring continuation of the Corporation stuff with the Ministry.

    The Rock only grew to comparable levels of legitimacy in his absence, likewise HHH. I'm not sure where the product, or Austin himself, would've been at the end of 2000 if he hadn't taken time off. You can't have the red hot HHH/Foley and HHH/Rock feuds with him in the mix. You can't have the rise of Jericho and Angle with him there either, I'd wager. Even when he intervened at Backlash as a barely mobile recovering cripple, he completely overshadowed the Rock/McMahon-Helmsley stuff, and his toasting of the belt at the end basically highlighted that Rock was a placeholder for his proper in-ring return.

    It's amazing to think about how brief Austin's run at the top was - he was 'the' guy for about 18 months from WM XIV until HHH's win (admittedly he was completely unopposed during this time, really), then he spent another year (2001) roughly in that role (a position he wouldn't have held, arguably, if Rock and HHH were properly around), and come Jericho's title win his significance had been greatly diminished. He was basically a midcarder until he left the next year. I wonder if, had he stuck around consistently and been the focal point of the promotion without pause from 1998 - 2002, he'd have started receiving reactions from the crowd comparable to Cena now (or, indeed, Rock's 2002 run).

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  8. He probably would have had six more matches with Taker.

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  9. Considering he got a bug up his ass whenever he wasn't booked at the top spot, I'd say things would have been much different - and not for the better. His absence in 2000 was much needed and the company did fine without him.

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  10. It's almost like if the top guy is out of the picture it really gives you a chance to develop new top guys. Not that that has anything at all to do with the product today, though.

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  11. Agreed, a lot of people look back on the heel turn as a mistake but when Austin came back in September 2000 I found his act to be really stale (especially compared to what Rock, HHH and Angle were doing) and I remember reading a lot of similar views. Credit to WWF for trying to freshen things up - even if WM17 didn't work out as they wanted, at least they took a risk.
    I also agree that it's a misnomer that Austin's heel turn led to WWF's decline. WCW going out of business was a big factor but I think Rock's absence after WM17 really hurt them as he should have been the top babyface (HHH's injury didn't help matters either). Without him, we got an Austin feud with Undertaker (which was boring) and they didn't seem to want to push Jericho as the main face.
    And on a personal note, I'll never begrudge a heel turn that gave us those Austin-Angle-McMahon segments in 2001 - probably the best comedy WWF/E has ever done.

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  12. It's like the territory days where the big star leaves and comes back to new match ups, or old match ups but where the familiar opponent is better than before or slightly different (like Rock vs HHH at different stages of their careers)

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  13. That's not really fair, Cena took a few hours off after beating Brock at Extreme Rules.

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  14. He wasn't anything special as a wrestler, but I always dug him just for his look/gimmick, kind of like Gangrel. I was at the show where he got hurt, it was the first wrestling show I ever went to actually. That was fuckin' scary.

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  15. Austin's style of main event, where they would brawl all over the arena just kicking and punching for five times as long as they spent in the ring, disappeared pretty much when he did. For the better, I'd say.

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  16. If he never returned after leaving for surgery in late '99, I think everything (from a business perspective) would be the same. That's not a knock on him. That's a compliment to the entire roster as a whole and the state of wrestling at the time. Austin saved the company, but after that, wasn't really needed anymore. For comparison's sake, if Hogan ever disappeared in 1987, it would have been disasterous for the WWF

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  17. I will defend Austin's heel turn until I'm dead & gone. He was stale as hell by 2001 and needed a new direction. I don't care if it was in Texas or not, it was time. Otherwise, he would have basically been the tired, lame "Sheriff" 2 years before he reached that point in the booking.

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  18. That sucks, I'm sure it was traumatizing.

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  19. And to echo some other comments here, I think the decline in ratings was inevitable. The closing of both WCW and ECW signaled the end of the wrestling boom period, and I believe that a lot of casual fans were ready to move onto something else at that point.

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  20. Totally off-topic, but every time I see your icon I get flashbacks to that damn "drop uppercut"... damn do I hate that guy.

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  21. Because it was a taped show, they didn't rush him out of the ring like they had to do with Owen Hart. It felt like they were tending to him down there for ever, then once they'd finally stretchered him out Lawler tried to get the crowd back by going off on how the Mets suck.

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  22. The only saving grace of Austin turning heel for I were the Angle matches and that fun 3 way with RVD. At the time I was quite sour on the whole Austin was a heel but in hindsight I could totally see why peop

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  23. There was nowhere left to go after Austin/McMahon. Anything would have been a step down.


    So the time off was a blessing in disguise. Had he stuck around he would have gotten stale feuding with the likes of Triple H and Big Show because the feuds would have been poor extensions of the Austin/McMahon feud.


    The botched invasion was the final nail in Austin's coffin. If that had been done better, Austin could have easily had a second act as a top face or heel.

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  24. I'd have taken all the Austin I could if it would have kept HHH off my TV.

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  25. There were a lot of miles to his "Talented veteran driven to paranoia and desperation" stuff.

    That kind of a character has the nice side effect of making everyone targeted seem like more of a big deal.

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  26. "There were a lot of miles to his "Talented veteran driven to paranoia and desperation" stuff."


    Exactly. It was a fantastic character that could go in so many directions. Hell, the man made Spike Dudley seem like a big deal for a brief period of time. We'd seen all the beer bashes and middle fingers we could handle. It was time to get way deeper into who Steve Austin was, and his heel character did that perfectly.

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  27. Austin started to get boring around spring 99. He refused (allegedly) to work with anyone new so we kept getting McMahon, UT, Kane, and Mankind rehashes. Everyone loves the build to WM17 but even that felt like more of the same.

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  28. Tangent thought:

    We know Austin refused to job to Triple H and put him over. We know Triple H is an insanely paranoid guy about his spot and feels that "no one laid down for him" even when people did. Is it possible that the Triple H reigns of terror were Austin's fault?

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  29. It's funny, the build to X-7 was actually completely useless, and widely condemned online. It just goes to show how effective a good video package can be - the Limp Bizkit soundtracked trailer managed to make a tepid and uninspiring cobbled together feud (Debra! You will manage Rock for no apparent reason, other than giving Austin and he a reason to scrap!) seem incredibly significant and rife with tension. There was much sighing when it became apparent that Rock/Austin was the set in stone main event for the show.

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  30. Deborah's cookies!!!!

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  31. The show must go on, I guess but LOLMets?

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  32. And yeah, 99 was just a generally horrible year. The product was so hot it's easy to forget that WWF wasn't that far removed from WCW in terms of being stagnance and stupidity that year. As I alluded to in my earlier post, the Fed was stuffed without any credible challengers to Austin; Big Show's credibility was ruined, Kane wasn't taken seriously as a top guy, Foley likewise had already been vanquished on several occasions, Rock was nowhere near on his level, etcetera. HHH was not bought as a legit main eventer initially for much the same reasons.

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  33. That's not true, is it? He didn't job at SummerSlam 99 because of Jesse Ventura's bizarre preference to raise the hand of a face rather than a heel, then SCSA jobbed pretty much clean at No Mercy two months later. He jobbed again to HHH, entirely clean, at NWO 2001.

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  34. I'm completely with you on Austin's heel turn. Austin was exponentially more interesting and did awesome work as a heel, too. But, we're the minority that's not obsessed with vicariously sticking it to my shitty boss and stunning everything in sight.

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  35. Indeed. It was actually quite a ballsy decision by the Fed, because much of the audience were almost certainly on the verge of turning on him, but equally he was still a hero to them. It was a gamble that didn't really work, but if he hadn't have turned when he did, the fanbase would've rejected him a few months later anyway. I think his heel character was absolutely fantastic, and showed what a great, creative mind Austin had.

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  36. Yep. Austin would have suffered the same fate as The Rock at Summerslam 2002.

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  37. What if austin didn't't leave in summer of 2002 and didn't retire at wm 19? Would he have changed characters again? He already seemed stale again in the summer of 2002 and needed something new again.

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  38. Yeah, personally, I would have probably kept him face through WM17 have him come up just short to The Rock leaving his career in doubt and then turned him at the start of the Invasion.


    But the Invasion needed Eric Bischoff first and foremost, not the McMahon kids. If they had Bischoff in the fold from the beginning (could have been as simple as Shane hired him to manage his assets from a story standpoint), he would have been a much better foil to Vince.


    And then I think you kick it into over drive with questions about Austin's loyalties, play up the years of disagreement and bad treatment by McMahon and then you turn him heel by basically having him cut a promo saying he wants to watch the WWE burn. Have him indict the fans for buying into Vince McMahon's crap for all these years, putting money in pocket etc and play up that he's signed a deal with the devil (Bischoff) to burn the company down.


    And the announcers and top face (Rock) just portray it as Austin is bitter and paranoid that he could no longer cut it in the WWF.


    Would have worked well.


    But it needed the authentic heat for Bischoff at the time attached to it.

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  39. I can't speak to 2002, that's hazy for me, but WM19, if he wrestled after that he really should have become the first part time 1-2 matches a year guy at that point.


    He was a legacy guy at that point in his career. You break him out a couple times a year, in his Attitude era babyface role and the scattered appearances keep him fresh.

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  40. It's pretty amazing how fast Austin became part of the "old guard". He was on fire in 1997 and 1998, but by the end of '99, there wasn't much left for him. They burned through him in record time.

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  41. A naive Shane bringing in Bischoff against sincere warnings of doom from Vince? That's the kind of comic book soap opera they built their company on.

    At that point, you're basically redoing the NWO angle.

    In a good way. Not the WCW way.

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  42. I think Shawn went on a rant that got him sent home saying Austin wouldn't put HHH over at Summerslam. I recall the rant but also the theory that Ventura wanted a face to win.

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  43. Oh creatively Paranoid Austin was great and really could have been explored. He was already dangerous, now he's psychotic and dangerous!

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  44. I remember not really wanting Austin back in late 2000 and being kind of hostile to him. The storylines took a nosedive as soon as they had to start shoehorning him in.


    In hindsight they should have done something like make his return at the Rumble or even make his Rumble return a surprise. The whole September 2000 to December 2000 is a pretty regrettable chapter in Stone Cold History.

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  45. Ahh the low hanging fruit from the King.

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  46. Its funny to think that if Austin was healthy and still around the mid-2000's, I wonder how much heat he would be getting from the IWC about how the new comer John Cena can't break through the old veteran Steve Austin's glass ceiling.

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  47. Heh....Austin sticking around long enough to frustrate HHH into either quitting or jumping to WCW in 2000.....


    Entertaining.

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  48. I'm wondering if that style comes back with the Bionic Bryan (Bionic Goat?) ? I mean, they need to protect the guy's body for as long as they can, right? And it DID extend Austin's career for a bit.

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  49. I've never heard that one before but that's so strange that Jessie wanted to raise a face's and after spending his entire career putting over the heels. What...did he think that raising the hand of a heel would be bad for his political career or something? A sitting governor refereeing a wrestling match was already enough of a joke. I don't think his approval rating would be affected by whose hand he raised. And really, to a Minnesota resident that didn't follow WWF but saw clips of Jessie's involvement in that match, raising the hand of a normal-looking wrestler like HHH would come off better than raising the hand of a weirdo like Mankind.

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  50. To be fair, the roster was very, very thin until late 1999. The 1998 and 1999 Rumbles betrayed that palpably. There was no one else even approaching Austin's level until he left, really.

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  51. It's funny, I watched the HHH/Austin match from SS 00 to see whether it was as bad as I remember it. The ending with Austin raising up that car that clearly does not contain HHH (with HHH's shrieks of horror piped in) is not only hilariously terrible, but also totally amateurish and bush league.

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  52. Yeah, I don't really get it either.

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  53. Even when I was eight, Austin seemed a little weird in 2000. He may have only been a year removed from everything but his entire character just felt like a relic even though he was still getting huge pops. So much had changed about the roster and style in 2000 that a lot of the 97-99 elements of the Attitude era just fell to the wayside.

    By 2001, though, I thought he fit back in.

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  54. It was typical Russo goofiness during a time where the WWF had outgrown it.

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  55. Russo wasn't in the company at that point, so can't really blame him.

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  56. I had the same problem with Austin that I do with bands like rage against the machine - awesome rebellious stuff at first. Ok, still pretty cool on the second pass. After that, I'm just not buying it anymore.

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  57. I think he meant more that it was reminiscent of Russo's inane excesses, at a time when the product - and the promotion as a whole - had matured significantly.

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  58. Oh, that would be awesome. Vince going full Walter White and dropping the cartoon supervillian persona the second Shane mentions Bischoff and trying to appeal to him as a concerned father would make for tremendous TV.

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  59. I'd say they've gotten better but they've done silly stretcher jobs pretty much every other match this year and how many times has someone been put through a television or some part of the set or soundboard STILL?

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  60. "But, we're the minority that's not obsessed with vicariously sticking it to my shitty boss"


    Exactly. That's why the character resonated so hard with people in the first place, and why although the new character was so interesting it was doomed to fail with wrestlings major fanbase.

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  61. Everything dialed back to the intellectual pitch of January to September 99 when Austin came back.

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  62. Orton trying to blow up Cena with fireworks was pretty much the definitive spot

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  63. Let's not kid ourselves. Intellectual and wrestling have no business being in the same conversation.

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  64. I'm not calling the 2000 storylines Shakespeare but they were way, way ahead of the curve for wrestling and they were adult without over-relying on "adult content". It was actually a little smarter than most of what was on TV at the time.

    Part of why wrestling feels so bad is that they dialed down to PG and played toward the kiddies at the exact same time there was a major revolution in television and the quality of shows on the whole improved tremendously.

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  65. And they're bros now! Even though he's tried to murder him, made multiple assaults on his family, invaded his home, etc...etc...

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  66. Wrestlemania 2000 would have been Rock v Austin II and Wrestlemania X-Seven would have been Rock v Austin v HHH. That is all.

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  67. Well, he also kicked Steph in the head and HHH didn't seem to mind so much.

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  68. At least HHH aligning with Orton was meant to show what a slimy, corporate sleazeball HHH had become, teaming up with the guy who beat up his wife violated her while she was unconscious for the sake of getting the title off of some midget.

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  69. Even that felt realllllly far-fetched. I realize that this is a unique time in wrestling where you have top guys who hang around longer than 4 or 5 years (isn't it incredible now to think that Bret Hart's run as a main eventer in the WWF was only 5 years long) so you kind of have to do a little bit of retconning and playing around to get flexibility with the storylines but when stuff gets escalated to a really vile level you need to come up with something pretty compelling to make me understand why these guys would align. The Authority didn't really do it for me but at least it was better explained than Cena and Orton being friends because hurr durr Orton is good guy now.

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  70. I'd like to kick Steph in the head.

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  71. Hey, at that point, we might have gotten Thuganomics Cena vs. Redneck Austin.


    RAP IS CRAP, ROUND 2! FIGHT!

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  72. Also one thing I forgot to mention was that the Austin return also coincided with them moving from USA to TNN. It seemed like TNN immediately lowered the production quality of the show, ruined the flow by pumping ten times as many advertisements in them, and before annoying the fuck out of us with Twitter was a thing they introduced those god awful banners. The five years that Raw was on TNN/Spike TV it was just a totally unsuitable home for it. They never did a good job with that.

    Counter that with how much I wish the UFC was back on Spike and how much better they did with presenting the UFC than Fox does. Fucking gambling odds during the intros, really?

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  73. I think everything still works out. They were so loaded at the point, they were regularly cycling guys in and out of the main event in different combos.

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  74. I'm almost positive Jesse debunked that theory. I think from both their DVDs, the story is that Austin didn't want to put him over in a three way.

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  75. He was a real son of a bitch...

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  76. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:09 AM

    I know people like to say the heel turn destroyed him, but does anyone actually remember just how boring his character had got by late 99?


    I'm probably a bigger Austin fan now than I was then. I was always more of a fan of the underdog (Foley), than a guy just running the show.


    He was going to retire soon, anyway, and it was a massive swerve. I just think it was a big error doing it in Texas, where the fans were going to love him no matter what he did. It really set the heel turn off on the wrong foot.


    But his character was good. I really liked the paranoid side to him, and it gave us some hilarious moments. I don't think it 'destroyed' him, it was just a totally different Austin. We were always going to remember the 'true' Austin of 97-2000, anyway.


    And, y'know, the fact this whole thing was going down during what should have been the BIGGEST angle in wrestling history. It was just a weird, unthought out time, but I think the heel turn was necessary.

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  77. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    Are we talking about the same theme?!


    Totally ruled. Really suited.

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  78. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    Yeh, the Debra managing thing was so fucking weird and stupid.


    But My Way RULED.

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  79. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    HHH/Steiner - oh boy!

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  80. I liked the Disturbed theme, but man, his original was fucking classic.

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  81. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    Yeh, nail on head.

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  82. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    All great.


    What the invasion needed was:


    *Bischoff
    *And, erm, y'know, WCW?

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  83. Absolutely. Whilst Raw and Smackdown were ultimately still wrestling shows - grotesque characters, comedy skits, OTT soap opera stuff etc - the writing was grounded in something like reality. Angles like Kurt/Stephanie etcetera were actually very well written and nuanced bits of TV.

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  84. They didn't go far enough.


    Ideally he needed to go full corporate. Suit, tie, maybe even a wig. Just make him a pathetic sell-out. Turn the Stunner into a 'hits it after taking a beating, wins' move. Instead they spent a month trying to make him be a paranoid bad-ass, then turned him into a chickenshit heel, then turned him face, and then turned him into an insane heel, and then he went face again.

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  85. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Wow, did they really switch-a-roo him that much?! Never knew. I started to tune out at the point in utter frustration at my lack of ECW and WCW, and how badly fucked up the invasion was.


    I turned to the East/West coast indy war, which was pretty fun, at least.

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  86. the post-WrestleMania cooldown also might have had to do with the next top program being Austin vs. Undertaker, something we had seen countless times before.

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  87. Austin was really stale by the end of 1999. They had essentially been running Austin vs. McMahon from Fall 1997 until Fully Loaded in July 1999 (when McMahon was supposed to "leave WWF TV forever", which characteristically lasted less than 2 months). Most of the PPVs were some endless variation of Austin vs. Undertaker, Austin vs. Kane, Austin vs. Foley, or Austin vs. Rock.

    As much as I loathed seeing Triple H during the reign of terror, when he FINALLY got to the main event level in late 1999 (and especially after his series with Foley in early 2000), it was like "Thank god for new blood."

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  88. Hate, hate, hate, hate those themes. Especially the Disturbed one. Why would you ever mess with one of the best marriages of theme and character ever in wrestling? It's like that god awful "Woo!" they put before Ric Flair's music, like you don't fucking know who it is from hearing the 2001 theme.

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  89. It's a cover story.

    Austin didn't want to put HHH over. And he was right. By the time Austin was back at No Mercy, HHH was ready. That two months made HHH hotter than he was, likely the anger made him want to prove Austin wrong. Then when Austin came back in 2000, HHH was full-on a main event talent.

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  90. what would be the Hogan "jump off" point? 1989? or 1990?

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  91. Yeah. His initial heel persona was unrelenting and callous (not too far removed from the SCSA we knew and loved), then he became needy and feeble, then he turned face for the Invasion before pointlessly joining the Alliance, before becoming a face at the arse end of the year. I still can't believe that WWE pulled the trigger on the Invasion so early, without having any kind of plan in place. I also can't believe it was allowed to fizzle out so quickly. But we've spent cumulative years on here discussing that topic to death, so let's leave it.

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  92. When he did his "second" heel turn during the Invasion, I was hoping they would use his history with Heyman as the reason he turned.

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  93. didn't they basically quit the whole Debra thing a few weeks (?) before the show? (even in the mentioned video package they shortly highlight it a the beginning and than totally no sell it and go for another approach instead)

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  94. Oh, I agree with that entirely. I just don't think the fans overall were ready to boo the guy yet. He missed a year of action!

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  95. It's rarely brought up that in 2000 HHH was a fucking beast in terms of trying to get other people over. Benoit, Jericho, Angle - ultra competitive matches. And this was at the same time Undertaker was treating Angle like a fucking jobber on a near weekly basis, the big red cunt.

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  96. To me, it seemed like they didn't do enough to really drive home how paranoid and delusional he was. Granted, 2001 was a long time ago, so I may not be remembering very well. As good as the comedy stuff with Vince and Angle was, it wasn't what the character needed, in my opinion.


    But, yeah, I thought Austin did a fantastic job with the run.

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  97. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    I did a lot of research in to it and it's fascinating. They really DID have a plan in place, but for whatever reason, it all fell through.


    They were going to run WCW separate. Jim Ross and Johnny Ace were heading it, if I remember correctly.


    There's even a video floating around on YouTube advertising WCW's first house show under the WWE banner.


    Would have been so, so much better.

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  98. But then, you-know-who couldn't have had the Big Gold Belt glad-handed to him by Bischoff himself.

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  99. Over/under on WWE using Bryan's surgeries to get him over as the "Bionic Goat"? Or "Bionic Bryan"? Hey, worked for Austin, right? Right? *sigh*

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  100. The trouble with that heel turn was the wrong side in the Invasion were the heels. So, you join heels that aren't heel enough to make the face look heel.

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  101. Yeah, all this was my point when I was writing Scott. It's hard to imagine us getting the two HHH-Foley classics if Austin is still around. And the McMahon-Austin stuff was definitely played out by 1999; I can't even imagine what the fan reaction would have been had they kept it up into 2000.

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  102. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    I'm sure it would have been a disaster, come to think of it. But I really appreciate how much of an effort they appeared to make at creating separation (thanks, Cole).


    The philosophy was to create big time competition and keep each brand fighting, and, y'know, make some money.


    A 'jump' would have been such a big deal.


    But to me, the farce that was Survivor Series really summed it up. WWF vs. WWF... wow.

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  103. Oh, absolutely. Triple H had an incredible run from January 2000 through the quad injury in May 2001. It was in 2002 when things started to get ugly.

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  104. Yeah, he pretty much carried Raw for 2 hours a week/ 52 weeks a year. He was one of the best characters of the time, but even Tony Soprano couldn't be on TV 100 hours a year and remain edgy and relevant.

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  105. Good matches, agreed for the most part. Trying to get those guys over? Ehhh, numerous people have suggested otherwise, especially with Jericho and Angle. But, agreed that Taker's cuntness in ~2000 was easily the worst at the time.

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  106. MikeyMike, JuggernautJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Austin getting hurt really made me disinterested in the product. I didn't really become happy as a wrestling fan until Rock won the Title at Backlash.

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  107. Especially since Shane purchased WCW as a face, and had a gruesome street fight with Kurt Angle who was Vince's heel lapdog. Then a month later we're supposed to hate Shane & love Kurt. Confusing times

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  108. Worst_in_the_WorldJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:47 AM

    "Rebooking the Invasion" I know I know, but....
    As stale as Austin might have been by 2001, I still maintain that had they kept him face he could have easily had another hot year or so as WWF's #1 face against the heel WCW threat. Do the Mania 17 main event with both Rock & Austin turning down Vince's help, Austin wins clean but shakes Rock's hand to keep them both face. Vince goes crazy and brings in the WCW invasion himself (which also retcons out the Shane as WCW owner angle) and BOOM... 2001/2002 you've got much better face/heel alignments with Austin/Rock/Shane defending WWF against Vince/WCW and say Angle as the turncoat.


    Basically, WWF had just signed a massive new group of potential heels (WCW) for Austin to feud with, so turning Austin heel at that point was totally unnecessary.

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  109. Did they hotshot the Invasion as a panic move b/c HHH & Benoit got hurt back-to-back?

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  110. Worst_in_the_WorldJanuary 2, 2015 at 11:49 AM

    Yup, that's what killed things for me in the post-Mania 17 period. They were flip flopping the heel/face alignments so badly that basically nobody meant anything beyond "Oh yeah that's a big star I guess."


    I mean, they built the biggest angle around face Vince vs heel Austin? No wonder the business declined like crazy.

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  111. I was sick of HHH before SummerSlam '99.

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  112. also Shane was super-sympathetic leading up to WM17, fighting for his mother's honor, etc. Then--poof--he's a heel, and he never did anything evil enough for me as a fan to want to see his super-evil father take him down

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  113. Like most Invasion ideas, reality ruins it. You'd have to very strongly build the WCW heels to be legit competition for Rock & Austin, that would require like nWo level. Good luck getting Vince in his bubble to go along with that.

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  114. I think a major mistake with the WCW invasion was that he should have restrained it to more a mid-card thing for a while. The only two legit main event guys to come in at the time of the Invasion were DDP and Booker T. They could have had the lower and mid-card WWF guys complaining they built this and hating the WCW guys as scabs and created rivalries there while the main event guys went along with business as usual until some of the main event WCW guys were ready to challenge (or showed up for that matter).

    I also think that if they were going with the ECW route then the ECW guys should have been wild cards in the whole thing. Basically, Paul should have been using Stephanie as a money mark and it should have ended with RVD getting her high and Rhino piledriving her through a table.

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  115. Agreed. And that's how it started for the first month or so with Lance Storm and DeMott interfering. Then they had to go through with the Invasion PPV which drew one big buyrate and plop.

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  116. they would've just used Angle as the face of WCW

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  117. I think it was also because of the Bagwell/Booker-T match flopping. But even then,all they had to do was wait an extra fucking week when they were in Atlanta, where they were sure to get a great reaction for the WCW presentation no matter how shitty the match was.

    Ideally, WCW would've spent a few months as its own thing, and then once Ric Flair arrived in November, they could've plant the seeds of the Invasion and broughtit full swing once the nWo returned.

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  118. Worst_in_the_WorldJanuary 2, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    Yeah, I guess it came down to Vince not just ponying up and paying for the big contracts of at least a few more of the actual huge WCW stars. DDP and Booker are a great start, and if they had been able to add Flair, Scott Steiner, and Goldberg (along with turning say Angle and maybe 1-2 former WCW guys like say Benoit and Jericho) that would have been more than enough to make WCW a credible heel group against Austin/Rock.


    To me, the second WCW gets sold to WWF, the plan should absolutely have been how to build towards face Austin vs heel Goldberg at Mania 18.

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  119. Worst_in_the_WorldJanuary 2, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    Totally. The face/heel dynamics were just a disaster at that point. That whole period was a huge example of bulldozing through any semblance of what the audience actually wanted. Heel Austin, face Vince, heel Shane--- total mess. Forget how they booked the WCW guys, the biggest problem of that period was the face/heel dynamics turning off the audience imho.

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  120. Heading into WM X7, the WWF was confiscating tons of 'Die Rocky Die' and 'Rocky Sucks' signs. As a huge Austin fan, I was annoyed he was spinning his wheels instead of going for WWF title when he came back.

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  121. To do so you needed bigger WCW stars than Booker T and DDP.

    What killed the invasion angle was A) Vince's reluctance to show WCW on WWF's level and B) the fact that Goldberg, Sting, Flair, Hogan, Savage, Nash, Hall, Steiner, Mysterio and/or David Arquette weren't involved.

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  122. And wasn't Linda McMahon, a face, one of the instigators for WCW for a little bit? Nothing made sense.

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  123. You know what? That was actually one of the more clever nicknames, even it was the most obvious.

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  124. Another problem was Stephanie became head of "creative" right when Austin came back.

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  125. And that they mixed the Invasion with WWF guys like Austin and Angle.

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  126. Hilariously enough, that storyline of "McMahon leaving TV forever" had the same exact stipulation as the most recent "Authority Leaves TV forever". Both Austin and Cena had the power to bring them back.


    Only Austin was smart and used his to get McMahon to grant him a title shot against Triple H.

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  127. Worst_in_the_WorldJanuary 2, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    Totally, but I really don't think you needed many more. To me Goldberg was the absolute key, since he could have been an absolute MONSTER heel that WWF could build up via reputation and squash matches against WWF mid carders. Face Austin vs Heel/WCW Goldberg would have been a MASSIVE match for Mania 18, and a year long build towards that could have kept things way hotter than how it actually turned out.


    Other than Goldberg, signing Scott Steiner as megaheel #2 would have been my other priority. Throw in Flair or Bisch as the WCW mouthpiece and turn a few WWF guys (Angle? Benoit? Jericho?) and I'd say that's a strong enough group to feud with Austin/Rock/Taker for the year.


    And honestly, I don't think Hogan/Hall/Nash were ever really needed to make the Invasion worked. They were always NWO or WWF guys to fans, not WCW, so bringing them in would have muddied the waters anyway. I think bringing them in as that second wave actually worked well enough.

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  128. If Vince is the "head of WCW", MAYBE he's willing to push Booker, DDP, and MAYBE he gets one or two of the biggest names to come in to work with him.


    But MAYBE I'll win the PowerBall one of these days, from a ticket given to me by someone else. That has about the same chance of happening.

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  129. Fans loved Kurt though. That guy was OVER going up against Austin.

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  130. Well, they didn't have a choice to be honest. Team ECWCW didn't have any big stars outside of Booker T, so WWE had to artificially create "WCW" stars

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  131. This has been a HUGE problem. Stephanie overseeing writing anything other than zeroes on paychecks is a BAD idea.

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  132. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    I just think it was an easy way to have 2 'companies', you re-launch WCW, along with Nitro etc. Give everything a fresh lick of paint.


    Get a few 'outsiders' to turn up at Nitro ala Hall/Nash, create some buzz again.


    Then you alternate PPV's - 1 month WWF, 1 month WCW, then have supershows where you have cross promotional matches.


    Surely it's NOT THAT HARD?

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  133. Yeah. It was introduced and then quietly forgotten in the space of a fortnight, then there was that awkward sitdown interview with the two of them. The feud felt rushed and directionless all at once. Creative editing and smart use of music made both plot points seem pretty thrilling in the package.

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  134. 100%. Just ONE major WCW star would've done it (and preferably Goldberg). I just put the nWo guys on the list because WWE needed SOMEBODY to lead the WCW invasion from WCW.

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  135. They didn't beat HHH, but they were booked as his equal in the matches. Save for SS 2000, but a Pedigree through a table is a stupid fucking spot and ridiculously dangerous.

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  136. And, you know, the whole "Steve Austin" connection.....you're right. In retrospect, it was pretty brilliant.

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  137. That's bullshit.


    Austin had a knee injury and couldn't work a proper one on one match. That's why they did the whole "let's shuffle the main event around a bunch" before they finally just inserted Foley into the match.

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  138. Shawn ranting about someone not putting someone over is like Hitler telling Stalin he's killing too may people.

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  139. When didn't Austin have an injury?

    The dude wrestled against Kane with a staph infection and put on a solid brawl, before losing. If he wanted to lose to HHH, he could've.

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  140. His knee was fucked, hence why he took off a couple of weeks afterward and didn't wrestle again until No Mercy in October.

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  141. it was more than just Vince. Many folks are on record as nothing Kevin Dunn constantly made disparaging remarks about WCW and how WWF fans would never buy a WCW guy beating a WWF guy.

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  142. The attitude era itself made turning Austin heel problematic. Because faces and heels wrestled (and still do) the same in that period, it was always who you "turned on" or who you hung out with that made you a heel, rather than your actions. If wrestling was still working a great heel/face dynamic in the ring, then Austin could have won WM17 by using total heel moves like chairs, tables, using the ropes, cheating behind the ref's back, etc. Fans would be confused but probably still cheer him. Then you have an excuse for having Rock lose, and atleast a month if not more of Austin becoming increasingly paranoid (thus making this part which was ultra cool, but lost on many folks that much clearer) and lots of interviews with JR or promos about doing what had to be done but not turning full blown heel yet. Then when the time is right he can join the Alliance because he was promised the top spot or he can become a Vince corporate lackey (as was mentioned below, wearing suits, a rug, etc.) if you want WCW to be the faces.


    But all that is moot because using heel tactics in a match by that point was meaningless, and it still is one of the major problems with today's product. You have heels that don't do anything particularly heelish in the ring compared to their opponents. You have heels getting sing along chants with the fans. Really the only thing that makes them heels is who they fight and that Michael Cole tells us how terrible they are. Then they wonder why it's hard to create real drama.

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  143. I wonder how many fans even made the connection.

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  144. Shane was really supposed to run it. I believe their first house show was supposed to be in May 2001 and Trenton, NJ.

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  145. Kevin Dunn was also the one who else pushed for and got Buff Bagwell instead of Lance Storm in the infamous "WCW" match against Booker.T

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  146. The Six Million Dollar Man as the Million Dollar Man's "Million Dollar Champion" and "Ringmaster".....maybe they WERE on to something there....heh. Nahhhh.

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  147. And no offence to Booker, but he wasnt the guy.

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  148. I gotta disagree there. One month into the mcmahon helmsley era I started nit watching as much. And mainly just followed it through scott keith unless a hot act made me watch (angle, radicals, rapper cena, punk, bryan). A habit I still stick to today.

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  149. And hilariously, Vince had already come back and won the WWF Title before Austin restored him to power.

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  150. F'N Body Slams - Dan SelbyJanuary 2, 2015 at 3:20 PM

    Yeh, I think Shane was the 'owner', per se, but Ross and Ace were dealing with the talent side of things, I think.

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  151. Indeed. I think the general feeling backstage was that WWF had won the war, so why should they put over the army they'd beaten. Pretty much anything would've been better than what we actually got, though.

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  152. I revisited the Invasion PPV the other day and was shocked at how fucking dreadful the Alliance team was. Just unbelievably poor.

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  153. Except for Taz. That one should have never happened.

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  154. not to argue with that, but yet it still managed to headline a WrestleMania that did an amazing buyrate (a lot bigger than the years after and even before).


    (I guess it just goes to show how much of a bigger star especially The Rock had become since 1999. also I think this match being a face vs. face helped the buyrate, too)

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  155. he would have been perfect for a feud with guys that were top stars but not yet on the "biggest names ever" level that Austin or The Rock were.

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  156. I think the ECW guys shouldn't have been involved at all. to me, the money was in WWF vs. WCW. why add more stuff just for the hell of it?

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  157. Yep, especially in that Summer to WM20 timeframe. Austin can put over Lesnar at SummerSlam then return to beat Goldberg at WM20 in a "can I still win the big one?" Sort of angle

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  158. and still had a fantastic buyrate. so generally the interest in an Invasion angle was definitely there.

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  159. Why was Mick even in that match?

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  160. I dig it but Rock was leaving after WM17 til summer

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  161. I remember being downright ANNOYED when Austin returned. The Rock had become my guy, and all of a sudden he had to get demoted to number two again, even though his pops, Raw ratings and PPV buyrates were just as good.

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  162. Really? Interesting.

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  163. It did create a cool moment, but they didn't do anything with it (true for entire invasion). They could have saved it for when they needed it, but having Steph be the leader was fairly horrid.

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  164. I can definitely confirm...I've seen it happen. People forget this now, but there was a segment of the population that began to turn on Rock...him taking time off to film stopped it from getting to Cena levels, although when he returned, he was starting to get booed again before he left (again). I still think he should've been turned heel then instead of Austin, as face Austin v heel Rock leading the Invasion would've been pretty spiffy. Actually....face Austin avenging the injured Rock (giving him time to film) would've ruled all.

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  165. I think Austin and Rock were so hot at that stage that even if they'd done their own version of the Katie Vick angle as part of the build, it'd still have got a mega buyrate.

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  166. I remember when the angle kicked off I was so fucking excited I couldn't talk about anything else. It was so damn thrilling I was even enthralled by not particularly inspiring stuff like the ECW formation on RAW. I still pop when I watch that moment, with Heyman's maniacal shrieking of 'FEEL IT JR, FEEL THIS MOMENT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!' - despite it actually largely being a bunch of dregs from a dead promotion failing to lay a convincing mass beatdown on two WWF wrestlers, followed by a very weak and incredibly brief Heyman promo. Amazing how much potential was pissed away in the blink of an eye - unbelievable that it was all over in about four months. If done remotely correctly, the angle could have run for years and still been fresh - and if Vince's ownership of both dead companies had been properly exploited, McMahon could've maintained wrestling's hot streak for decades to come.

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  167. Well it just means, that the bookers/writers have to be creative, so that we know who we should cheer for - or not.

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  168. but they aren't and haven't been for years. As I noted it comes down to who Michael Cole tells us is bad (and who JBL cheers) and who they hang out with. IMO either go bad to real heels and faces or just eliminate the concept completely (not my choice but better than what they do now).

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  169. I wish Austin could have kept going in the "special attraction" sort of role. There were still matches with Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and Hulk Hogan to be had. Maybe even one more with Shawn Michaels. He could have done a match or two a year, just to do big money dream matches.

    I think Lesnar vs. Austin at SummerSlam 2003 would have been great. Brock gets his biggest win by beating the "toughest SOB" clean in the middle. Austin returns around Rumble 2004 time frame and challenges Goldberg for WM 20 to prove he "can still win the big one". Austin beats Goldberg at MSG to send Goldberg packing. I feel like Wrestlemania 21 could have been an awesome time to run Austin vs. Hogan too, if WM 19 wasn't in the cards.

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  170. I'm of the same opinion; they just needed more name guys. I don't think it was ever as simple as having guys like Kanyon, Storm, and Awesome beating the Undertakers, Kanes, or even Rocks of the world to make WCW seem like a threat. They needed the dream match guys to be available to really make it work. I wish they had at least paid up to get Goldberg around for the WM 18 build. Having Flair, Goldberg, and the rest of the supporting cast would have been a huge help.

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  171. Yes. Having Goldberg around would have given them the legit star power they needed.

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  172. Goldberg vs. Austin at Wrestlemania 19 would have been tremendous.


    Come to think of it, without a ton of re-booking, WM 19 could have easily played into the bigger WWF vs. WCW narrative if they were willing to let a bigger story arc play out.


    Goldberg vs. Austin
    Rock vs. Flair
    Hogan vs. McMahon
    Jericho vs. Michaels
    HHH vs. Booker
    Undertaker vs. Big Show
    Steiner vs. (someone...Test? Kane?)
    Mysterio vs. Hardy
    Team Angle vs. los Guerreros (as WCW guys)
    Benoit vs. RVD (with Benoit as a WCW or WWF guy)


    Run Lesnar vs. Angle for the WWE Title with the rationale that Vince wants "just WWE guys" competing on the biggest show for his title.


    All could have fallen under the WWF vs. WCW umbrella

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