JohnDosPassos2 Rebooks the Invasion

So, the Invasion....boy.

I stopped watching wrestling just before the whole Invasion angle took place. This was partly do to juggling work and my undergrad courses, but more due to the fact I was trying to have "the sex" with ladies and I didn't think acknowledging my interest in pro wrestling would help me (to be fair, neither did stating my love of history, literature, or The Simpsons). Anyway, I missed the Invasion, Evolution, and HHH's Reign of Terror - in fact, I didn't start watching wrestling again until seeing CM Punk's Pipebomb promo in 2011. So my knowledge of this whole angle comes from me trying to catch-up on my wrestling knowledge years after the fact.

That caveat out of the way, what I've been able to ascertain about the Invasion has been this: no one likes it. At all. And it has a reputation of being the greatest blown booking opportunity in wrestling history. Of course, that seems like a touch of hyperbole to me: from a logistical standpoint, the most popular wrestlers from WCW (Flair, Hogan, Nash, Hall, Sting, etc) were signed to lucrative contracts to AOL / Time Warner and far too expensive to be brought on board en masse. Additionally, this presumes the WWF/E could have had the capacity to book it properly in the first place: remember, this organization has used Hornswaggle as the surprise reveal for 2 major story-lines.

But to be fair, the Invasion pretty much sucked.

So when Rick and I decided to attempt to re-book the Invasion (we were, in the words of Homer Simpson, "sober-ish"), we certainly thought we could do better. And as a Flyera fan, I was also mad at Rick's pompous pro-Penguins tweets, so I was looking for some sort of outlet to vent my frustrations (PENGUINS IS A DUMB NAME, I DON'T CARE). Anyway, so here's our stipulations with our re-booking: we won't ignore major injuries or the order of when people were hired or fired.

So my solution? Follow the template that the WWE originally wanted to have: a Shane-led WCW as the face faction versus Vince and the WWE as the heel faction. I'll also follow the initial plans and progress so that Smackdown (or Raw) becomes a WCW-centered show with a distinctly different feel (which is what ended up happening with Raw and Smackdown as is, but give Smackdown a grittier, more Southern-wrestling-style show that competes with Raw and the WWE itself.

I'm also more a "big ideas" guy, so I'm ignoring some smaller details; also, this will likely be a two-part piece, so feel free to give me suggestions or hate-tweets to @johndospassos2

So, let's start the night after Wrestlemania 17: Vince, having lost to Shane the night before, cuts a promo in the ring which he passive-aggressively praises his son for winning last night, but reminds his spawn that he's still the "man." At that point, Shane comes out, and berates his father for everything that Vince has done leading up to that point: drugging his mother, using his sister as a pawn, demeaning Trish Status, etc. Shane then says he's leaving "this company" for a time to not only care for his mother, but also to try and salvage WCW - which his father has destroyed, just like their family. Vince then mocks Shane and asks him if any wrestler would actually work for such a "tainted" company? After all, WWE "won the WARRRR" and any sane person would want to be associated with the victors. He finally announces he has a surprise for Shane --- once his legal team has had a chance to "look things over."

The following week on Raw, Shane returns to a large pop, but is interrupted by Vince who details what his team - a bevy of sixteen lawyers - has found. Because of a loophole, all WCW wrestlers are free agents and are able to be signed by either Vince or Shane. What then follows over the next few weeks is a series of vignettes where various WCW wrestlers ranging from Lance Storm to Booker T to Shane Helms are pitched into joining either WCW or WWE. One important element is the nature of the pitches from Shane and Vince are drastically different: while Shane praises each wrestler's skills and achievements, Vince berates the wrestlers and offends them with low-ball offers (even though he can clearly offer them more money); Vince also reminds the wrestlers that their previous company died, so don't they need the security that his company can offer? But in the end, the lower card wrestlers (Storm, Chavo, Kidman, Helms etc) sign with Shane and the big names (Booker T, DDP, and Bagwell) sign with Vince.

(also, Bagwell will get fired here --- perhaps he gets a job as Linda's gigolo?)

Over the next few pay-per-views - King of the Ring and something that replaces Invasion, Shane's WCW crew (perhaps they even nickname themselves the Underdogs) try and prove themselves against established WWE wrestlers. But unlike the actual Invasion, the WCW guys actually win in compelling matches. After their wins, they are implored by Vince to come to the WWE -- and the wrestlers always reject such overtures: just picture Lance Storm saying "I will never work for you Vince: you've never shown respect for Canadian wrestlers - especially the Hart family." Throughout the summer, Vince is made to look horrible as past grievances from wrestlers (and fans) are lobbed in his direction. And slowly the rage builds inside him.

At Summer Slam, Shane and Vince agree to tag-team battle between Booker T and DDP versus Storm and Kidman. The match is very even, but eventually Storm and Kidman get a clean pinfall. As Shane and Storm and Kidman celebrate, both DDP and Booker walk over to shake their hands, but Vince grabs the mic and furiously demands they attack Storm and Kidman or else they'll be fired. Vince then attacks Shane and reluctantly, DDP and Booker T attack their opponents, pausing to say "I'm sorry" or "forgive me" to Kidman and Storm.

For the next few weeks, Vince enacts a "reign of terror," ordering anyone and everyone to do his wishes or risk being fired: when Commissioner William Regal protests, Vince fires him; when the Rock petitions to have his suspension overturned, Vince argues to do so only if the Rock promises to sign a "statement of loyalty." When Eddie Guerrero attempts to save Chavo from being assaulted at the hands of Kane, Eddie is fired (which will align with his own dismissal at a drunk driving charge in the fall of 2001). Wrestlers with any steak of independence - Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, even RVD - are punished or censured by Vince.

By the way, what to do with Austin during this year is really problematic. I think the easiest thing to do would be to not have Stone Cold turn heel at Wrestlemania 17 and keep him in an antagonistic relationship with Vince. I would, however, make Kurt Angle the WWE champion at some point in the year (perhaps at Summer Slam) and make his title reign to be the pet project of Vince.

In the buildup to No Mercy, both DDP and Booker T separately approach Vince about having a title shot as a reward for their loyalty. Vince agrees to each of their demands, separately, of course and eventually reveals that he's booked them to face-off against each other in a series of matches on RAW over a period of a few weeks. Vince then manipulates each man by pointing out what the other "really thinks about the other." This leads to a series of matches that gets progressively more aggressive and violent. Vince then announces that he will make a triple-threat match for No Mercy with Booker T vs DDP vs Kurt Angle for the World Title. Meanwhile, Shane meets with both Booker T and DDP and pleads with them to realize Vince is merely using them to put over Angle and to torture them because his father is a sadist. They respond to Shane that they still need security and are willing to do whatever to prove to their boss they are loyal and thus the match progresses. At the start of the Triple-Threat match, Angle takes a hard bump and appears to be knocked "unconscious," leaving Booker T and DDP to battle it out. The men fight hard and nearly destroy one another until DDP lands a Diamond Cutter on Booker, but it unable to counter. Suddenly Angle jumps to his feet and puts an Ankle-Lock on DDP and retains the belt. Bruised and battered, Booker T and DDP help one another out of the ring as they realize they've been duped. As they limp out of the arena, the camera follows the men as they move backstage and stop at the dressing room door of Shane.

In the build-up to Survivor Series, Vince and Shane begin to engage in another war of words: Vince berates his son for not being able to see the folly of his aims, while Shane argues - not incorrectly - that Vince has thrown everything he has at his team but hasn't really beaten them cleanly. Shane then says that he wants a Survivor Series match between a team of Vince's choosing (Let's go with Undertaker, Kane, the Big Show, and Kurt Angle) his team consisting of DDP, Booker T, Lance Storm, and Billy Kidman. On paper, that seems like a horrible mismatch, but again they are the underdogs in this and Shane's team selection only serves to make Vince all the more arrogant. Before the match is set, Shane asks for one stipulation: if his team wins, they not only get to free themselves from Vince's tyranny, but Shane will get to control one portion of his dad's territory (pun intended): Smackdown. And because he's drunk with power, Vince agrees.

So here's the scene: Survivor Series, Greensboro, North Carolina. Team Vince / WWE vs Team Shane / WCW.  In short order, Billy Kidman and Lance Storm are eliminated by Team Vince, but then DDP and Booker T mount a comeback, eliminating Kane and then the Big Show. However, Undertaker eliminates DDP, but Booker T then outmaneuvers Taker and is now set to face off against Kurt Angle. They battle for awhile until - shockingly - the referee is knocked out (as are Booker and Kurt). Shane, who is at ringside, attempts to revive the ref when Vince sneaks up behind him and knocks out his son with a chair; he then attacks Booker T in the ring and just about when Vince is about to slam another chair shot at Booker the lights go out and we hear Richard Strauss over the sound system.

Ric Flair enters the arena (yes, it's a day before he made his debut, but give me 24 hours to work with) and a shocked Vince stares as Flair climbs into the ring to the wild cheers of the crowd. He attacks Vince and puts him into a Figure-Four while the crowd roars. Angle awakens but before he can get to Flair, Booker T Axe-Kicks Kurt and covers him for the win. The crowd goes wild as WCW celebrates their win. Jim Ross yells "it's a new era for the WWE and Shane's WCW now controls Smackdown!"

So that's part 1; in part 2, I'll explore the new Smackdown and the entrance of the NWO and other things.

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