Lee Maughan: Barely four months have passed since the whopping 770,000 buys pulled by the InVasion pay-per-view, and already Vince McMahon has decided to draw a line under the whole WWF vs. Alliance issue. But why did it follow in the footsteps of the Jim Crockett Promotions buyout of Bill Watts’ UWF group to become such an unmitigated critical and commercial failure? Well, firstly there’s the fact that none of the major names associated with WCW came along for the ride, leaving Booker T and DDP to lead the charge early on. There was the introduction of Paul Heyman’s ECW and said group aligning with the WCW invaders, a move which made absolutely no sense to anyone who knew the history of the Extreme organisation, and served to blow at least a year’s worth of storylines in the span of about an hour.
There was the fact the entire invasion was simply a backdrop to yet another chapter in the McMahon family feud saga that was already played out, with Shane McMahon heading up WCW in place of Eric Bischoff, and the presentation of Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley as the owner of ECW, even though Paul Heyman himself was sat right there at ringside every Monday night, calling the action.
And then there was the burial of the Alliance’s top talent, with Booker T losing several times over to the Rock, and DDP getting continuously battered by the Undertaker until his credibility was completely shot. There was also the installation of the WWF’s top star and champion, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, as the leader of the Alliance group in a vain attempt to add more credibility to the outfit. Aside from the fact no WWF fan wanted to boo Austin, the whole exercise simply served to render the invasion yet another WWF vs. WWF feud, emphasised further when names like the Dudley Boyz, Rhyno, William Regal (all ECW or WCW guys in the past but since established as WWF names) and the likes of Christian and Test (WWF creations to the core) jumped ship to bolster the Alliance crew. Hardly anybody bought into it, certainly far fewer than the 770,000 who literally bought into the InVasion show, and McMahon felt he had no choice but to abandon the whole thing and hit the reset button on RAW the next night.
Before that however, there’s still the small matter of mopping up the debris with this show, a card ludicrously labelled “the most important, most significant pay-per-view sports entertainment extravaganza of all times” during the show opening. Mick Foley, again working as commissioner has declared all the titles will be unified tonight, and there’ll also be an immunity battle royal to guarantee at least one year of survival for whoever wins it, with either the WWF or the Alliance going out of business based on whoever wins the big 10-man main event elimination match later on this evening.
From the Greensboro Coliseum in the old WCW stomping grounds of Greensboro, North Carolina. Hosts, sadly for the last time, are Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.