Rick_City Rebooks the Invasion, Part 3

If you missed parts one and two, you probably have a life. Also, please check out the alternate rebooking by @johndospassos2.

Okay, so we left off on November 19, 2001 with WCW winning a big match at Survivor Series and Ric Flair returning to TV. So, here we go.

WCW Monday Nitro: November 19, 2001

As mentioned, Ric Flair returns to start the show. He announces that Shane McMahon has named him the new WCW President and that, thanks to Team WCW's victory at Survivor Series, WCW will return to pay-per-view on December 9th for Starrcade.

Flair will end up taking over the "on screen authority" role from Shane McMahon, who will remain WCW owner, but not be involved as much on TV for a while. This is to make sure WCW versus WWF doesn't turn into nothing but another McMahon soap opera.

Other than the Flair return, it's a pretty standard episode of Nitro. The Starrcade card is announced throughout the show and it will be:
  • WCW Championship: Booker T (c) versus Diamond Dallas Page
  • WCW United States Title: Lance Storm (c) versus Perry Saturn
  • WCW Tag Team Titles: Palumbo & O'Haire (c) versus Dean Malenko & Chris Jericho
  • WCW Cruiserweight Title: Billy Kidman (c) versus Chavo Guerrero
  • Mike Awesome versus Raven
  • Shane Helms & Shannon Moore versus Jamie Noble & Jimmy Yang

Eventually, William Regal will defend what will become known as the "WCW European Championship" against Chris Kanyon on the show as well.

WWF Raw is War: November 19, 2001

In contrast with Nitro, this episode of Raw is anything but standard. 

The show starts with Vince McMahon in the ring. He unleashes a tirade on the WWF locker room. He demands that every WWF Superstar come out and stand on the ramp while he rips into them. He calls them losers, he says they're destroying his family business, etc.

He then calls out some individuals. First of all, the team of Edge, Christian, Rhyno, Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy that lost last night. Rhyno, for being the final person pinned on the team and allowing WCW to win the match... "YOU'RE FIRED!"

Matt & Jeff Hardy are stripped of the WWF tag team titles, which they held. Vince tells Edge that he can no longer call himself "King of the Ring" because that title is stripped too. Christian, who had earned an Intercontinental Title match against champion Hardcore Holly, is stripped of that opportunity. 

Vince also tells Test that if he loses his European Title match against William Regal tonight, he will be fire. He does and he is.

These actions obvious upset the roster. Vince says "If you don't like the way things are run around here, THEN GET THE HELL OUT!" A few people (Mostly lower card guys: Albert, Al Snow, Bubba Ray, D-Von & Spike Dudley, Tajri, etc.) take this opportunity to walk to the back, presumably quitting the WWF. The camera tries not to focus on them, but the crowd at the top of the ramp looks a bit smaller each time it's shown.

Vince then turns his attention to the WWF A-Team (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, The Rock, The Undertaker & Kane). He tells all of them that they make him too much money to fire them, but they're on a short leash and that they'll be expected to "prove their loyalty" in the coming weeks if they want to stay employed. Gradually this aspect will turn Steve Austin from "Vince McMahon suck up" back into "Stone Cold Steve Austin." Kurt Angle will remain a suck up.

Other than the Regal win and the opening segment, nothing earth-shattering happens on Raw.

On the November 26th episode of WCW Nitro, Test and Albert debut as a team after being fired/leaving WWF and being hired by WCW. On Raw than same night, new WWF tag team champions are named in a four-team elimination match. The Undertaker & Kane defeat Billy Gunn & The Big Show, Crash & Hardcore Holly, and the returning Big Boss Man & Bull Buchanan. (The Hardys & Edge and Christian are not allowed to compete for the titles, due to disappointing Vince.) After the match, Vince orders the Undertaker & Kane to prove their loyalty to him to make up for Team WWF's loss. How? By facing The Rock & Steve Austin for the titles right now. If all four guys beat the hell out of each other to Vince's satisfaction, they'll earn his approval. (Kurt Angle gets back on "Team McMahon" by being a big suck up, by the way.)

Austin and Rock come out and they both say that they're not going to be Vince's puppets and dance when he orders them to Vince turns to Kane & Taker and tells them to prove themselves. They attack Austin and Rock. The four guys brawl around, but suddenly Big Show attacks Austin from behind, allowing the Undertaker to chokeslam him through the announce table. It then turns into a three-on-one beating of the Rock, while Vince eggs them on. The show ends with a beaten Austin & Rock bloody outside the ring while Vince celebrates with The Undertaker, Kane and Big Show. Paul Heyman ends the show with "Vince McMahon has gone mad with power!" He'll be publicly fired on-screen on SmackDown! for that comment because, obviously, Vince McMahon is mad with power.

On the December 3rd Nitro, they're in full Starrcade hype. It's otherwise another standard show. This is done to contrast the "smooth sailing" of WCW under Shane McMahon & Ric Flair with the "chaos" of Vince McMahon's WWF. Despite WWF still clearly having the better roster, the "war" looks more even when one side is disorganized.

On Raw, the locker room is in disarray. Steve Austin and The Rock aren't here. Edge, Christian and the Hardys meet to discuss what they will do if Vince's Army of Monsters (Undertaker, Kane & Big Show) attack them. In addition, Kurt Angle is named the number one contender for the WWF Title in a match that will take place on the December 10th episode of Raw. Since WWF doesn't have a PPV this month, they're putting on "pay-per-view quality matches" on Raw and SmackDown! on the week following what would have been WWF Vengeance. 

WCW Starrcade 2001 airs as follows (winners in bold):
  • WCW Championship: Booker T (c) versus Diamond Dallas Page
  • WCW United States Title: Lance Storm (c) versus Perry Saturn
  • WCW Tag Team Titles: Palumbo & O'Haire (c) versus Dean Malenko & Chris Jericho
  • WCW Cruiserweight Title: Billy Kidman (c) versus Chavo Guerrero
  • WCW European Title: William Regal (c) versus Chris Kanyon
  • Mike Awesome versus Raven
  • KroniK verus Hugh Morrus & Lash LeRoux
  • Elix Skipper versus Evan Karragias
  • Shane Helms & Shannon Moore versus Jamie Noble & Jimmy Yang
  • Test & Albert versus Mark Jindrak & Shawn Stasiak
The December 10th Nitro has DDP celebrate his title win and then defend his newly-won title in a triple threat match against Chris Kanyon and Mike Awesome.

The December 10th Raw is "PPV quality."

The show opens with The Undertaker & Kane retaining their tag team titles in a triple threat match against the Hardys and Edge & Christian, thanks to interference by the Big Show. Vince gives the Hardys and E&C a title shot in this manner because he "wants to see them beat the hell out of each other."

Vince McMahon comes out after the match to gloat about his collection of monsters, but he's cut off by Paul Heyman. And Paul Heyman isn't alone. He has the debuting Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer with him (yes, in real-life they debuted in July, but I'm holding this off until now). But that isn't all. Rhyno (who was fired by Vince) is there too. As is Justin Credible, Al Snow, all three Dudleyz and Tajiri. Jazz also debuts. 

Heyman announces that "ECW is here!" The crowd goes nuts and Vince flips. Heyman calms him down: "Don't worry Vince, we're not here to 'invade' WWF. We're here to help you - again. Remember back in 1997? You were struggling to deal with WCW, so you called ECW to help liven up your program. And we did. And we can do that again."

Vince doesn't respond and the ECW crew leaves with Heyman saying "Think about it."

Having ECW align with WWF (instead of with WCW like what happened in the actual Invasion storyline) makes more sense since the two companies did work together in the past. Their common foe was always WCW. ECW in this storyline won't be a completely separate company, but instead it will be a faction within the WWF roster that will identify itself as a separate company.

In the main event, Kurt Angle defeats Steve Austin for the WWF Title thanks to interference by The Undertaker, Kane and Big Show. The Rock tries to even the odds, but fails.

Things go this way for a while, with Austin and the Rock feuding with Vince McMahon, Kurt Angle, Kane and the Undertaker. The Hardys and Edge and Christian eventually start coming to the aid of Austin and Rock, giving the "anti-Vince" forces the numbers advantage (and elevating those two teams.) Meanwhile, the ECW stars put on a few "extreme rules" matches on WWF programming to "get ratings." They also occasionally show up unannounced on WCW Nitro, where they start trouble before being escorted from the building.

ECW causes so much trouble for WCW that Ric Flair agrees negotiate with Vince McMahon in order to "call ECW off." This is another advantage to having Flair run WCW instead of Shane. Him and Vince don't have enough animosity against one another as Vince and Shane do, so they can occasionally negotiate with one another.

The two agree to a special "non-title Championship Showcase" for the Royal Rumble. It will feature the WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page against the WWF Champion Kurt Angle against the last ECW Champion Rhyno in a triple threat match. This is mostly because it will be cool to see three champions from the three companies face off in a match.

Also booked for the Royal Rumble (and thanks to ECW causing Ric Flair to actually negotiate with Vince McMahon) are two opportunities for Steve Austin and The Rock to again "prove themselves" against WCW wrestlers. The Rock is booked in a match against Booker T and Steve Austin will face Chris Jericho. Austin and The Rock will not be allowed to enter the Royal Rumble match unless they win their respective matches.

Everything looks set for the Royal Rumble until January 7th, 2002, when Triple H returns.

WWF Raw is War: January 7, 2002:

The show starts with Triple H returning to the ring for the first time since May 2001. He comes out and verbally attacks WCW, specifically Chris Jericho who is blames for injuring him and putting him on the shelf for eight months. He also announces that he's going to enter the Royal Rumble and that he wants to see Chris Jericho there so he can "beat his ass."

This results in Vince McMahon allowing WCW wrestlers in the Royal Rumble match. It's negotiated and the company will get ten of the available 30 spots. For their help in making the card possible, ECW will be given five spots. Around this time, Rhyno starts being recognized as the actual ECW champion again, complete with the belt. It's announced that the winner of the 2002 Royal Rumble will be allowed to compete for either the WWF, WCW or ECW world titles at WrestleMania X8.

January 20, 2002: The Royal Rumble Event

The card for the 2002 Royal Rumble is as follows:
  • WWF Tag Team Championship: The Undertaker & Kane (c) (WWF) versus The Dudley Boyz (ECW)
  • WWF Intercontinental Championship: Hardcore Holly (c) (WWF) versus Rob Van Dam (ECW)
  • The Rock (WWF) versus Booker T (WCW)
  • Steve Austin (WWF) versus Chris Jericho (WCW)
  • Non-Title Championship Showcase: WWF Champion Kurt Angle (WWF) versus WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page (WCW) versus ECW Champion Rhyno (ECW)
  • The Royal Rumble Match, featuring 15 WWF Superstars, 10 WCW wrestlers & 5 ECW wrestlers

As you can see, ECW is rewarded with championship opportunities thanks to the fact that they have been helping Vince McMahon attack WCW. 

On the show, the Undertaker & Kane retain their titles, but Hardcore Holly loses his to Rob Van Dam. The Rock defeats Booker T to earn himself a spot in the Royal Rumble match while Steve Austin defeats Chris Jericho to earn a spot as well (thanks to Triple H attacking Jericho). Kurt Angle wins the Championship Showcase.

WWF looks to have rebounded with this show, winning several big WWF versus WCW matches. However, the Royal Rumble match itself is won by Chris Jericho, who eliminates Triple H last to claim victory. WCW stars can interfere here, causing WWF guys to come out to stop them. Jericho eliminates HHH in the chaos.


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