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The InVasion

Scott, love the blog and your work.  The Rocks past run has re-engaged my interest in WWE after being driven away due to the atrocity that was the Invasion period.   I'm sure you've answered this somewhere, but in your opinion why did the Invasion angle blow so much?  Was it because Vince didn't pay out for the big guns?  Was it the wretched involvement of the McMahons on every second of tv, or just terrible overall booking?  This should have been a great time to be a fan but ended driving me completely away for a decade.  Most importantly, what do you think would have been the most effective way to play this out?  Thanks MH
The main reason was because Vince didn't want to treat WCW as an equal to the WWF, even though he owned both promotions.  The money in the angle was simple:  WCW are the invaders and that's the last bit of kayfabe that fans would wholeheartedly accept.  So they immediately burned through that entire angle, plus the ECW involvement, in one show and had nowhere else to go with it.  As well, they were doing a half-assed attempt to keep WCW running as a second touring company (an idea which eventually became the RAW/Smackdown brand split) and just couldn't decide what they actually wanted to do with the whole thing.  So yeah, TERRIBLE booking plus Vince's ridiculous need to "humble" people who dared work for his competition equaled the most money left on the table in wrestling history.  And the thing is that they didn't even NEED the big guns.  The novelty of seeing DDP and Booker T would have been enough to make them into featured attractions, but again they didn't fit with Vince's mentality and so WWF guys had to become fake WCW invaders instead.  It was really cutting off your nose to spite your face.  


  1. The money was secondary to Vince jerking off to another McMahon angle for six months. It's too bad the majority of stockholders weren't wrestling fans -- they should have rioted and had McMahon overthrown after that debacle. They cost investors tons of money.

  2. I don't entirely buy the argument that no WWF guys should have turned on the company.  With their lack of star power, I think allowing Big Show and Jericho to go turncoat on the company would have helped add both some star power to WCW's invaders and some intrigue to the overall story.  The guys that ended up turning on the company nobody cared about.  Test?  Years past expiration by that point.  And the others were just as bad.  Jericho especially could have benefited from turning on the WWF to really cement his heel turn that was just sort of there when he ended up feuding with The Rock.

    But I do agree it didn't matter that they didn't have all the big names.  They could have made it work.  The only person they needed to put the whole thing over was Bischoff.  The fact that they brought him back literally the night after the Invasion ended was pretty much a fuck you to the audience because it showed they could've had him the entire time.  Did we ever get a real Mr. McMahon vs. Uncle Eric feud?  That alone would've been gold.

  3. In a lot of ways Vince was between a rock and a hard place.  He needed to capitalize on the enormity of the story that WWF bought WCW, but he also didn't have access to their top stars.  So, yes, Booker and DDP COULD have worked, but guys like Bischoff, Flair, Goldberg, and Steiner (as well as the nWo) all ended up joining the promotion within a couple of years of the invasion anyway.  It would have worked much, much better if those guys were willing/able to join in right away.

    The other thing was that they started referring to themselves as "the Alliance" instead of WCW and ECW.  I do believe there were some legal issues with using the ECW name and logo, but nonetheless, people wanted to see WWF vs. WCW.  Yet they weren't even using the WCW name.

    And finally, a big issue for me was that everybody still looked like they were from WWF.  Guys like Tazz and the Dudleys joined the ECW team, but they were still dressed like their WWF characters, not their ECW ones.  Appearance goes a long way in storytelling, sometimes.

  4. I think the lack of star power could've been fixed if in one night, you book Austin/Rock vs. Angle/UT (just picking big names) and you have DDP, Booker, Kanyon, Lance Storm and some others just come down and destroy the top 4 guys in the promotion (I think HHH was out this whole time wiith the quad) - gang style.  Instant threat and credibility, even though they suckered attacked and had more numbers.

    It really isn't that hard or difficult unless you somehow think WCW is still owned by somebody else.

    1. Yep - guys like Storm, Dreamer, Mike Awesome and RVD were brought in as midcarders when they should have been brought in as main eventers. They could always have been bumped down the card later if the fans didn't accept them.

  5. It still makes me sad to think of what could have been. All they really needed to do was buy out the rest of Goldberg's contract and get him to come over. Add Bischoff as the figurehead and it really doesn't matter who else they bring over. Have Goldberg destroy everyone in his path and build to Austin/Goldberg for the unification of the WWF and WCW titles. That could have been the biggest match of all time. It's astounding how badly they fucked up what could have been the greatest angle ever.

  6. It worked for a bunch of nobodies like the NXT guys...

  7. Man, what a waste. It's amazing that the guy who turned his biggest star leaving into the biggest angle of all time couldn't do something with this piece of gold that was dropped into his lap.

    Looking back, the best part of the entire story for me is Vince burying Jeff Jarrett during the simulcast.

  8. It's all about followup. You do something great, you have to take that momentum and fly!

  9. Exactly and I was thinking about that exact thing so many times during the initial Nexus run - "if only they just did THIS with the WCW guys..."

    To think that I celebrated when Vince bought WCW.  My mindset at the time, as a looooong time nwa/wcw fan, was that Vince actually knew what he was doing and WCW had been run by a bunch of idiots, that he'll be able to have a great invasion storyline and then create a new WCW show....boy was I off.

  10. Totally, but with the WCW Invasion, they didn't even have that initial impact.

  11. Not to be "that guy", but Bischoff didn't return the night after the "inVasion" - he didn't return until August of 2002, nine months after the angle ended at "Survivor Series, 2001".

    Although, now that I think about it, did you mean to say Ric Flair? He returned the night after "Survivor Series, 2001".

  12. Team Alliance at the Survivor Series winner take all match:

    Shane McMahon
    Booker T

    One of the biggest WWF stars ever
    One of the biggest WWF stars at the time
    The then heir to Vince's throne
    One WCW guy
    One ECW guy

    Most of their final team was WWF guys.  It was pretty clear they didn't know what they were doing.

  13. Vince should have sucked it up and bought out everyone's contract and told guys like Bob Holly and Bradshaw to shut the hell up.

  14. The storylines were terrible but the PPVs were pretty good.  My original blog post from here on InVasion (I miss our old usernames)

  15. But they definitely asked him.  In his book he talks about how they called him about coming in.  He would have really kept the kayfabe up if he was leading WCW vs. Shane.

  16. Bischoff declined an offer to be the figurehead so that one wasn't on them.

  17. No, with this angle you NEED the big guns or ain't gonna work.

  18. So the big WWF vs. WCW angle comes down to four WWF guys?

  19. No, he meant to start the angle off.

  20. It wasn't entirely WWF's fault.

    In my opinion, a big reason why the invasion flopped is because most of the talent that was left in WCW when it died were guys who hadn't really made a name for themselves yet - Storm, Jindrak, O'Haire, Helms, etc. - and so when they came over, it just felt like brand new wrestlers debuting, it didn't have that feeling of specialness that a protional war should have. Guys like Jericho and Big Show, for example, had at least made some sort of name for themselves before jumping ship, which is one of the main reasons their entrance into WWF had an impact. Same can't be said with the other guys mentioned. Overall, WCW didn't have enough 'star power' to compete with the overall roster that WWF had, which is why we got Stone Cold jumping ship, along with several others (Dudleys, Raven, Rhyno, Christian, etc.)

    Then you have Bischoff not being there, which would have made some sort of difference. You have a stale McMahon feud that should not be involved in a WWF/WCW war. You had possible politics as well (I always heard some of the WWF guys, such as Undertaker possibly, didn't feel right "putting over" people from the failed competition. Sort of a "you haven't proven you have a right to be here yet" mentality.

  21. Great points and of course, a proper invasion works much better with Flair, Hogan, Nash, Sting, et al. 

    However, I propose this question to you, how do you explain the success of the Nexus?  Those guys were on a low-rated show, disappeared for months and day of their "invasion", were looked at as a threat?  They didn't have Booker T or DDP to lead as the face of the group. 

  22. It's so idiotic that they had Ric Flair appear the night after Survivor Series. If he had confronted Vince at the end of Nitro instead of Shane, revealing that he had in fact bought WCW, that could've worked so much better.

    I imagine the way Nitro ended pissed off a lot of WCW fans. The DDT Digest report was not too flattering.

    "Well, this was NOT the Biggest Nitro In The History Of Our Sport™.
    Rather, this was really no different than any other Nitro, except that
    every title was defended and the matches were extremely rushed.
    However, I liked how all the faces (save one) went over and how Sting
    vs. Ric Flair closed out the Turner Era in WCW. I can definitely live
    with that.

    What I can NOT live with, however, is the fact that after Sting and
    Ric Flair wrestled a great match as the TNT finale, their celebration
    was abruptly cut after thirty seconds or so with the WWF feed. I know
    that Vince McMahon saw WCW as a threat, but the least he could have done
    was let the promotion have it's final day in the sun before The Great
    Changeover. Instead, he proceeds to shit on all the hard work shown by
    the WCW contingent by making himself the focal point of Nitro and
    basically pissing on two legends of the sport, turning what could have
    been joy for Flair and Sting riding off in glory into anger for taking
    WCW's farewell show and turning it into one big McMahon love-fest /
    pay-per-view ad.

    I understand that many of you will probably differ from my stance
    because tonight's show could have been viewed as a change instead of an
    ending. However, ask yourself — was Vince McMahon on your TV every
    other segment interacting with other WWF personalities beneficial to
    what would happen in WCW weeks or months from now? Wouldn't it been
    better had McMahon surprised us after the match? In addition, how would
    you feel if at your retirement party, your successor cuts you off and
    brags about how he's #1?"

  23. I would say that Nexus worked because they were made to look good.  They beat down Cena (and Justin Roberts) and Barrett helped carry things on the mic.  They wrecked main events (Sheamus keeping the title) and were booked as a force. 

    With the invasion, DDP was made to look like a chump from the onset and Booker T was buried by the Rock (after some nice matches over the WCW title with Angle) and then aligned with the heat deathknell of Shane McMahon.

  24. I think he has some good points there in that write-up and it calls attention to a factor that I don't think Vince himself was aware of at the time -- that the growing Monday night audience between 1995 and 1999 was not simply made up of "wrestling fans" but also of WWF and WCW fans that didn't necessarily watch both shows. 

    I think if Vince had been fully cognizant of it, that he would have proceeded differently and more carefully than he did with the brand.  I think he reacted in a bit of a knee-jerk fashion to kill it, due to the WWF fans crapping on the WCW guys in the arenas, but as a result, I don't think a lot of those fans ever came back. 

    By the time Goldberg showed up, I doubt many of those fans thought he'd get a fair shake due to the Invasion angle, while others had simply moved on. 

    There were weeks where the two shows were combining for over eleven million viewers.  What has RAW pulled on it's best week since the Invasion?  Six million?  Some of the viewer loss has to be blamed on WCW, as their own ratings eroded substantially by the end of their run, but I suspect many of those lost viewers were part of the core WCW audience that the WWF could have brought back into the fold.

  25. Nexus was a totally different situation. As I said, I think part of the anticipation and specialness of a WWF/WCW war was to see made stars (even in the midcard) from different promotions fight each other. Because WCW had a severe lack of that, or because they had stars who had already become associated with WWF but simply jumped ship (Austin, Dudleys and the others), it didn't feel special like people wanted it to. Of course, that's only one part of it. Having it based entirely around a stale McMahon feud and the Alliance getting buried a lot was another part of it.

  26. They basically assumed that WCW fans would just start watching the WWF, which is not true. WCW, for all its faults, was a wrestling company, not a sports entertainment company. Nitro usually started with a match, for instance. That core WCW audience, was sticking with WCW through all the shit, because of that focus and when you present them with Shane McMahon as the new owner of WCW, that doesn't exactly instill faith that the new WCW will be like the one they remember.

  27. It is CRIMINAL that DDP was booked the way he was, when he got that MASSIVE pop on his debut. You can hear about 20 000 people say almost in unison "DDP!!!!!!!!!"

    ...I remember how disappointed 12 year old me was when I saw DDP get beat up...relentlessly...with no counter offense....for about 10 minutes, at King of the Ring.

    I can't believe they gave DDP a stalker gimmick, when every person in the audience knew that DDP was married to a women that looked like this.

  28. They certainly did not disappear for months. 

  29. Flair came back the night after Survivor Series. Bischoff didn't come in until the following July, almost 9 months later. 

  30. I could be completely wrong (and maybe I shouldn't even be speaking for him), but I assume that Flair4dagold was referring to the way they were eliminated during the "NXT" competition - yeah, they might appear in the audience at times, but after a guy was eliminated, they wouldn't wrestle on the show again.

  31. I do think that that period of time gets a bit of a bad rap - yes, the storyline was a complete flop, but there was some FANTASTIC in-ring action going on.

    Granted, the "inVasion" was a huge misfire and should have been ten times bigger than it was, but I also think it's unfair to say that EVERYTHING about that period was terrible.

  32. I always disliked the way that Vince was replaced by Show right before the PPV - not only did it, from a kayfabe perspective, make the WECW side look much smaller (both in terms of size and star-power), but I thought it only made sense for Vince himself to get in there and fight for his company. We've seen Vince fight for what he believed in, and there shouldn't have been ANYTHING that Vince believed in more than his own company's superiority.

    Either Vince and Shane both should have been part of that match, or neither. It felt very lop-sided with only one of them in there.

  33. I do think that Vince gets *slightly* too much blame for the lack of top stars on WCW's side - it wasn't his fault that most of the top guys wanted to wait-out their contracts. I mean, really, we can call them "selfish" or whatever all we want, but if given the choice between working full-time for less money or sitting at home and being paid more money, 99% of people would choose the latter. Vince also had to strike while the iron was hot, he couldn't wait a year or two for those contracts to run out.

    That said, he still deserves plenty of blame for treating the guys that DID jump so badly; it was a pissing contest to Vince, and he was going to handicap the other side just to satisfy his own ego. "See, WCW sucks, look how easily Taker beats-up DDP!"

  34. I actually agree that somebody from WWF should have turned, but - and this is just my opinion - it should have been Austin and ONLY Austin.

    He's the top dog, the weakened WCW roster needed a shot in the arm and it made sense for Austin to be disgruntled and feel that he's done all he could and beaten everyone there was in WWF, but that should have been it. If Austin believed that WCW was better than WWF, then that should have been enough to give credibility to the rest of the WCW guys. Overloading the WCW roster with WWF guys only watered-down the whole idea.

  35. I didn't realize that, I haven't read his book. Still, that's on Bischoff, Vince couldn't force him.

  36. Yeah, that's what I meant.

  37. The tweenaged me was a huge WCW mark. I gave the invasion angle a chance, but seeing some of my favs like DDP get constantly BURIED/MISUSED turned me off big time to the WWF (which I still always watched but was loyal to WCW) and I went on a 10 year hiatus occasionally checking back, but always feeding my nostalgia fix with the vast array of taped ppvs I have from 95 - 01 (thank you pirate box).

    Vince is such a stubborn prick, he should have brought in Goldberg, Nash and dare I say Hogan Sting and Flair this angle could have given more legitmacy to WCW as a threat instead of a stable of Jobbers (minus the WWF jump overs).

  38. Flair returned the night after Survivor Series 01. Bischoff didn't arrive until June or July of 2002.

  39. The Invasion sucked but I never totally bought the whole "Vince's ego" thing. The WWE did more for a great deal of WCW guys than WWE ever did.

    The WWE bought the WCW name, but none of the stars. Booking a credible invasion with Booker T, DDP and a bunch of midcarders vs Rock, Angle, UT, Austin, etc, who were the industry's top draws was always going to be difficult.


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