Vince McMahon is a very rich man and will probably remain that way until the day that he dies. His "WWE Machine" continues to make a boatload of money, yet he lost out on a huge amount starting in the summer of 2001.
WWF Monday Night Raw debuted as a one hour show on the USA Network on January 11, 1993. This was huge at the time as it was shot to a live audience. Then, on September 4, 1995, WCW started Monday Nitro and the Monday Night Wars began.
From that fall until March 26, 2001, the WWF and WCW engaged in a very bitter ratings war that finally ended when Vince McMahon brought his competition, thus winning the war.
Or so we thought.
The "InVasion" began at that year's King of the Ring pay-per-view when "Diamond" Dallas Page was revealed as The Undertaker's wife's stalker and reigning WCW Champion Booker T interfered in the main event.
At that point, it seemed like finally, wrestling fans everywhere were going to get a clash between WCW's and the WWF's biggest stars.
Apparently, it just was not meant to be.
Due to contracts with AOL Time Warner, many of WCW's biggest stars were not a part of the storyline. Obviously, that was out of McMahon's control, but that does NOT excuse how much he messed this storyline up.
There was no way that McMahon could have persuaded Kevin Nash or Rey Mysterio or Ric Flair or anybody else to come wrestle for him and make less money as opposed to sitting at home and making a lot more. But, he could have waited and gone with a slow-burn.
Think about it. The Sting vs. Hulk Hogan Starrcade 1997 match was built for 18 months. That pay-per-view netted WCW one of its highest buy rates ever. People were rabid to see Hogan lose and for Sting to finally take the nWo down. Although WCW completely screwed up the actual match, the buildup was excellent, hence the buy rate.
The WWF should have taken notes from that build.
Flair came in almost immediately after the InVasion was over. Nash, Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan all came in three months after the InVasion. Mysterio came in a few months later. Bill Goldberg came in about a year later. You probably get the point.
Had Vince waited and gone with a slow-burn, the "Alliance" would have been much better competition for the WWF and, with the star power they would have had, they would have undoubtedly been booked better.
That brings me to my next point. Due to the lack of star power on the Alliance, Vince felt the need to constantly have WWF Superstars "jump ship" to the Alliance.
The fact that the Alliance's team in the Winner Take All match that ended the angle consisted of Shane McMahon, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T and Rob Van Dam should tell you all that you need to know.
When people think WCW, they don't typically think Chuck Polumbo or Kanyon. That in a nutshell was the problem.
The Rock constantly beat Booker T (who was the WCW Champion, thus presumably was "The Man" for the Alliance in the beginning) cleanly. It seemed like every match that the Alliance won was due to some type of outside interference. Basically, they were always made to look inferior in every way to WWF guys.
I thought that the biggest example of this was the DDP/Undertaker mini feud.
From the moment DDP revealed himself, he was booked as a weak coward. In theory, he never recovered from it as he was somewhat of a joke during the rest of his tenure with the company.
All of this begs the question: why would every WCW and ECW guy be portrayed as a punk?
I've always thought it was due to Vince McMahon feeling the need to bury his ex-competition. To this day part of me believes that he ran this angle just to bury the WCW and ECW for good.
To laugh in Billionaire Ted's face.
To tell Paul Heyman that his ECW product was never a threat to Vince's Machine.
To tell Eric Bischoff that he was painfully close to putting the WWF out, but he couldn't finish the job.
Then there was the McMahon children's infusion into the angle.
In the beginning, I had absolutely no problem with Shane McMahon being a part of the angle, mainly because it added a little bit to his match with Vince at WrestleMania X-Seven and it helped make said match that much better.
Then it got ridiculous when it was Stephanie was introduced as the ECW owner. Now, I never watched ECW in its heyday, but I'm almost positive that this didn't go over very well with diehard ECW fans.
Much like other major angles in the company, Vince McMahon felt that a McMahon family member needed to be involved (in this case, three McMahons). Sometimes it works, others it does not.
This was a case of the latter.
It just came off as overkill. He had Heyman to run ECW. Had he waited like I suggested earlier, he would have had Bischoff to run WCW. Those three men essentially ran wrestling in the 90s and it would have been surreal to see them in the same company in 2002 in this angle. There was absolutely no reason to have Stephanie "running" ECW.
With all that said, what could have come from a successful InVasion?
Money, money and more money.
Can you imagine any fivesome of The Undertaker, Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Triple-H, Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels (since he made his return in the summer of 2002) against any fivesome of Nash, Hall, Hogan, Booker, Flair, Sting and Goldberg?
Fans of each company had been waiting for years to see any of those guys go against each other, but it never came to fruition (in this angle).
Then you toss in the likes of Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, Taz and the Dudley Boyz, you had a recipe for success and enough storylines to last you at least a year with a huge payoff, possibly at WrestleMania.
In the end, fans were left feeling disappointed from an angle that should have been the biggest in the history of the industry.
I was ten years old at the time of the angle and I will fully admit that I enjoyed it. But even I was disappointed that WCW did not have bigger names on their side that were actually best-known for being in WCW.
Looking back on it today and realizing what could have been is just sickening.
It is an absolute shame that we will never know what would have happened had the angle been booked correctly and that all wrestling fans were robbed of what would have undoubtedly been great television.
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