Given the tagline "Winner Take All," the 2001 WWE Survivor Series will be remembered as the night the battle between WWE and the contingent of former WCW and ECW Superstars, known collectively as The Alliance, would come to an end.
Greensboro, North Carolina, would house the event, which featured a traditional Survivor Series Elimination match as the main event of the evening.
The company built the event up with the idea that the colossal WWE could come to an end that night at the hands of The Alliance.
Following the purchase of WCW, WWE did its best to create a rival group to WWE despite having very few of the big names that once competed in WCW.
A few months after the purchase, ECW was added to the fold. In storyline, Stephanie McMahon was made the owner of ECW in order to team with her brother Shane, the owner of WCW, against their father Vince, the owner of WWE.
It had the potential to be a very good storyline.
The Alliance gained some momentum at the Invasion pay-per-view when Stone Cold Steve Austin turned on Team WWE in the Inaugural Brawl match.
Clearly, WWE was trying to compensate for the lack of stars in The Alliance, but it also showed some commitment to the rogue group by moving the company's top star over to its side.
Austin would captain The Alliance at Survivor Series, but there was some other action to get to first.
In the first big matchup of the night, Edge faced Test in one-on-one action. Edge would be putting his United States Championship against Test's Intercontinental Championship in a match to unify the titles.
Edge went on to win the match, leaving with both belts. This begged the question: If WWE was to cease operations should it lose to The Alliance, what would happen to the WWE Superstars who were in possession of titles?
Later in the evening, several Superstars representing both WWE and The Alliance hit the ring for a Battle Royal. This match was known as the Immunity Battle Royal. It was unique in that whoever won the match would be given immunity from being fired, regardless of which side won the main event.
After losing to Edge earlier, Test forced his way into the Battle Royal and won it all, last eliminating Billy Gunn.
At this point, you have a WWE Superstar holding both the Intercontinental and United States Championships and a Superstar from The Alliance who has just gained immunity.
WWE has pretty much given away the finish of this show by this time, right? Did anyone really think Team WWE would lose?
By the time the main event rolled around, Vince gave the members of Team WWE a passionate speech.
For Team WWE, The Rock would team with Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho and Big Show to take on Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam and Shane McMahon of The Alliance.
The teams matched up well with one another, but keep in mind that WWE had to switch Austin and Angle over to The Alliance just for things to be even. Booker T was the only regular competitor from WCW on the team.
The match itself was very good and was full of drama. WWE booked a match that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
For 45 minutes, the teams battled for supremacy—and survival.
In the end, The Rock and Austin were the last two men in the ring. But much like Austin did at Invasion when he and Angle were part of Team WWE, Angle returned the favor by betraying Austin.
The Rock delivered a Rock Bottom to pin his nemesis and win the match for WWE. The Alliance was no more.
The image of Vince coming out after the match and thrusting his arms in the air in jubilation while celebrating Team WWE's victory is hard to forget. But looking back on it all these years later, what did it all mean?
In short, it meant that not only was The Alliance dead, but so was WCW. It meant that any form of competition to WWE, even if it was with themselves, would be hard to manufacture.
It also meant that, as usual, plenty of logic holes could be punched through WWE's ideas.
Every member of The Alliance who was holding a title at the time (Christian, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boyz) would be retained for that fact. This was conveniently left out of any discussion on television.
Once all was said and done, the only thing apparent was that Vince had delivered the final blow to the company that once overtook him in the ratings war for well over a year.
Gone was WCW, and with it, so many opportunities.
When wrestlers like Goldberg, Ric Flair, Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash came in, they wouldn't be competing under the WCW banner.
So let's pretend for a moment that The Alliance won the Winner-Take-All match. How would that have changed WWE?
The company could have found numerous loopholes to bring back the name WWE, but had it kept The Alliance or WCW name, there would be two legitimate brands that to this day, which could have made things interesting.
WWE could have had Raw and WCW could have changed Smackdown into Thunder, in honor of their former Thursday program.
This would have worked. It would have worked for many years. Say what you will about the AOL Time Warner contracts that the big-name WCW stars had, but they all had expiration dates. WWE could have waited them out, and when the time came, it could have brought those names into its own version of WCW.
Instead, Vince seemed to be in a big hurry to end WCW once and for all. Vince could not get past the bitter taste that Ted Turner and WCW left in his mouth all those years. His agenda was to show WWE's supremacy not only to WCW but to everyone else.
WWE fans would have loved the idea of competition, even if it wasn't actual competition, had WCW survived.
If there were two separate entities—both owned by WWE—the possibilities would be endless. Imagine the interpromotional matches it could add to WrestleMania.
Perhaps then wrestling fans would be able to get some of those dream matches they used to envision when WWE and WCW were battling every Monday night.
But that won't ever happen. A mere eight months after purchasing WCW, Vince would drive a stake through it at the 2001 Survivor Series.
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